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*Updated* Any tips for fears of general anaesthetic?


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#1 OneProudMum

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:06 PM

I have my admission time for my colonoscopy next week and I can't keep my emotions in check. I was a blubbering mess on the phone to the admissions nurse. I am so fearful of being put to sleep.

Does anyone have any tips?

Edited by OneProudMum, 07 February 2013 - 05:29 PM.


#2 Katie_bella

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:13 PM

I suppose it depends on what your actual fear is. Are you afraid of not waking up? or waking up during the procedure? or of allergic reactions? Something else?

The anaesthetic they use for scopes is a light, quick anaesthetic with a very low rate of complications and side effects. Hospitals do hundreds to thousands of scopes safely each year.

Is it worth asking if you can see the anaethatist to chat about your concerns, prior to the procedure on the day? Most hospitals do this, but not all.

#3 epl0822

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:14 PM

I totally sympathise with you. I was freaked out about being put under GA too. I had so many outrageous and irrational fears I must have sounded like a complete nutter. It really helped when I talked to a family friend who works as an anaesthetist. He basically described the whole process to me, step by step. I talked to him about all the stuff I was scared about (which I'm not going to detail here because I don't want to freak you out with my irrational fears) and instead of laughing at how silly I am, he told me calmly that while freakish things have happened to an incredibly small number of people, the chances of anything happening to me were extremely unlikely given my age and the fact that I had no major health problems. I realised some of my fears were due to my own specialist being a terrible communicator who didn't explain anything to me. If you can, talk to your doctor and ask them to explain to you exactly what is going to take place.

When I actually did go under GA it was not even 1% as bad as I imagined it to be. The only pain I felt was a prick on my arm when they administered the anaesthetic. Then literally a few seconds later I fell asleep and when I woke up, I wasn't in pain and the nurses were lovely and caring. It was a little weird waking up and totally losing the past 2-3 hours of your life and having no idea what happened...but I guess it's like that at night time when you sleep, too! It was like waking up from a hangover and I said some silly things to the nurses but they were used to it and treated me really well.

Relax, OPM - chances are, you're going to wake up and think "gee that wasn't worth all the fussing" - just like I did! Good luck original.gif

#4 Copper and May

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:15 PM

The anaesthetist can give you some calming medication beforehand and you will feel wonderful.

#5 OneProudMum

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:15 PM

QUOTE (whoisme @ 29/01/2013, 03:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Why are you fearful of an anaesthetic?

I had a colonoscopy 7 months ago and it was a breeze.  I was only under for 15 minutes and they call it "twilight sedation" I don't know why cause by goodness it knocked me out well and good, best sleep I ever had.

The nurses and doctors and theatre staff do a great job of occupying your thoughts by chatting to you and you should let your Dr know that for such and such reason you are scared and they will put you totally at ease.


I asked the nurse how long I am under for and she said usually around 45 minutes.

I am scared I will stop breathing, or I won't wake up.

#6 Gegemite

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:17 PM

I've had GA twice and loved it. Best sleep I've ever had biggrin.gif

#7 OneProudMum

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:18 PM

QUOTE (Gegemite @ 29/01/2013, 03:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've had GA twice and loved it. Best sleep I've ever had biggrin.gif


That's awesome. I wish I felt the same. Instead I feel like running away... fast.

#8 BetteBoop

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:22 PM

Do you have to have a general? My father had knee surgery recently under a twilight anaesthetic.

Usually they prefer to use general so you won't move during the procedure, but there's no fixed rule.

Is there any reason in particular why you fear stopping breathing? I understand it's a small risk overall and is usually an issue for people with other health problems.

#9 Katie_bella

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:24 PM

QUOTE (OneProudMum @ 29/01/2013, 03:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I asked the nurse how long I am under for and she said usually around 45 minutes.

I am scared I will stop breathing, or I won't wake up.


Ok, 45 minutes would be the total time you are in the operating theatre (anaesthetics then theatre and recovery) not under the anaesthetic in total, most people are under for 15-20 minutes, depending on what they have to do. Most hospitals can push about 2-3 people through in an hour and thats with cleaning between patients.

The anaesthetic is NOT a full general, yes you go to sleep, but you don't stop breathing, you don't get put on a respirator, it's just not that deep. It wears off quickly and you don't remember anything.

I've been a surgical nurse for 12 years, 15 with my training and i've NEVER, EVER seen someone not wake up from a scope.

#10 pitzinoodles

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:28 PM

Well the good news is you are not having a general anaesthetic - just some strong sedation. Well I can't say for sure, but that's what they usually do for a colonoscopy.

I has one last year. It is normal to feel anxious about not waking up, I know I did. When I did wake up I actually felt like I'd had the best sleep in a long time (having just had 1 year of very little sleep, thanks to unsettled DS it was great!). I have had a long GA 5-6hours and I did feel a bit strange for a few weeks after that, the sedation for a colonoscopy was a walk in the park!

Tell the anaesthetist you are very anxious and they may be able to prescribe you a sedative to calm your nerves on the day.

Honestly the bowel prep is by far the worst part of the procedure!

Hope it all goes ok!



#11 Justaduck

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:29 PM

Are you certain you are going under a general?
I have had a colonoscopy and multiple endoscopies before and all times they were under a local anesthetic.

Only times I have needed a general was for appendix/tonsills & big oesophageal surgery

#12 HRH Countrymel

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:30 PM

Twilight Sedation is AWESOME!

DP was in the theatre with me when I had mine and I wasn't even asleep - I kept everyone entertained with a long story about a duck apparently.

The one I had was what Michael Jackson abused and I understand why - it was the greatest feeling ever waking up from that!

Generals are a bit blah... but Twilight? Three thumbs up from me!

#13 lucky 2

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:39 PM

QUOTE
Twilight Sedation is AWESOME!

This.
I used to be terrified of having an operation or anaesthetic, I was frightened that they wouldn't notice I wasn't getting any oxygen and I'd die.
It was very hard the first time I had one, I was almost impossible to give a pre-med to, in the past it was usually given by IM injection.
I got over it eventually but things are much better these days, the drugs are better and the methods of giving them.
You'll get a small needle in your arm/hand than thats about the worst of it.
As pp's say you will only be getting sedation and it is great, I love the premed (midazolam), it relaxes me well.
So try not to freak yourself out, it is a waste of energy, the anaesthetist and assistant etc will look after you well, they do it all day every day.
I've had numerous colonoscopies and they are the easiest procedure I'd had.
I'm even ok with GA's now.
You'll be right mate original.gif .


#14 OneProudMum

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:39 PM

I wish I could share your enthusiasm.

#15 OneProudMum

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:42 PM

QUOTE (lucky 2 @ 29/01/2013, 03:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This.
I used to be terrified of having an operation or anaesthetic, I was frightened that they wouldn't notice I wasn't getting any oxygen and I'd die.
It was very hard the first time I had one, I was almost impossible to give a pre-med to, in the past it was usually given by IM injection.
I got over it eventually but things are much better these days, the drugs are better and the methods of giving them.
You'll get a small needle in your arm/hand than thats about the worst of it.
As pp's say you will only be getting sedation and it is great, I love the premed (midazolam), it relaxes me well.
So try not to freak yourself out, it is a waste of energy, the anaesthetist and assistant etc will look after you well, they do it all day every day.
I've had numerous colonoscopies and they are the easiest procedure I'd had.
I'm even ok with GA's now.
You'll be right mate original.gif .


I think my biggest worry is that the drugs wont mix well with the medication im on (Zoloft) and that maybe he might perforate my bowel. And then there is the results too! One of these days I will harden the f*** up.

#16 lucky 2

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:44 PM

Truly, when dd was little and I had my regular colonoscopies I'd be excited that I'd be getting an extra sleep.
I'm much less enthusiastic about the bowel prep, but once I discovered those flushable bum wipes it was much more manageable (sorry, alluding to things tmi).

#17 lucky 2

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:48 PM

Would it help if I said I have been on SSRI's for every procedure and never had my bowel perforated?
I suppose all you can do is keep talking about it IRL and with us if you wish, we can hold your virtual hand, keep calm and carry on!
Tell the Dr and the anaesthetist and the nurses on that day that you are anxious, it works well for me and that's what I do when I fly, different I know but that's another situation that presses my anxiety buttons.
I think it is very understandable to be worried and anxious and I don't think you need to harden up at all, you need to do what you can to get through as best you can.
As for the results, that's a different source of worry and it's a hard one to experience. We all get through it though as you will too yyes.gif .

Edited by lucky 2, 29 January 2013 - 02:52 PM.


#18 Holidayromp

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:51 PM

They gave me a valium beforehand and whilst waiting while they were prepping the operating theatre I got a syringe full of this marvellous stuff that made me feel very drunk as though I had had a great night into my canulla!

Mention your fears to your anaesthesologist and he/she will organise something for you - this is what I did.

Edited to add: I had very involved knee surgery.  biggrin.gif

Edited by Holidayromp, 29 January 2013 - 02:53 PM.


#19 OneProudMum

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

QUOTE (lucky 2 @ 29/01/2013, 03:48 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Would it help if I said I have been on SSRI's for every procedure and never had my bowel perforated?
I suppose all you can do is keep talking about it IRL and with us if you wish, we can hold your virtual hand, keep calm and carry on!
Tell the Dr and the anaesthetist and the nurses on that day that you are anxious, it works well for me and that's what I do when I fly, different I know but that's another situation that presses my anxiety buttons.


I just wish I could get my sh*t together. If something this small gets me so worked up and so "dysfunctional", how can I cope when the hard stuff comes?  closedeyes.gif

#20 steppy

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:55 PM

It is frightening isn't it? I don't like it either. I talk nervously at them the whole time. My only tip is that you honestly won't care once they've done it and will have no worries the entire time you are under. It really isn't that bad. Being woken up again is the less pleasant part.

#21 lucky 2

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

Self-understanding and self acceptance. Easy to type, not so easy to do but it's a worthwhile goal IMO.

#22 OneProudMum

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:58 PM

There are probably a lot more deeper issues at play here, I know.

#23 Maple Leaf

Posted 29 January 2013 - 04:06 PM

Odds are you will be having IV sedation. A lot less risk than the GA.

I have worked in the recovery room at a day surgery where we did a lot of scopes and every single patient (over the course of 2 years averaging 3 lists a week of GE patients) woke up just fine, relaxed and happy. Only issue has been they were convinced they didn't have the procedure yet and were angry about still waiting, yet had already been done.
One of the drugs commonly used has that effect. original.gif

You may have some residual gassy pains but just tell the nurse and it's usually relieved with a hot pack and when you get moving around.

You will be ok..I know it's scary but these people do this EVERY day and it's like second nature to them. original.gif

Complications with this procedure are pretty rare!



#24 Amy 1976

Posted 29 January 2013 - 04:22 PM

I was a bit fearful about not waking up before I had my first anesthetic. I had a chat to the anesthetist and he reassured  me that if I was to have an adverse reaction, the very best place to be was in a hospital.

He pointed out that they would notice straight away if I stopped breathing and they would revive me.

As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about and I felt fine. Small prick, fall asleep, wake up feeling refreshed.

I imagine it's very natural to be scared but anesthetics have improved so much in recent times that unless you have an underlying health problem, it should be very safe for you.

#25 elizabethany

Posted 29 January 2013 - 06:15 PM

I suffer from the same fears, and I mentioned them to my anaesthetist over the phone when I first made the appontment.  She organised some sedatives for me, and brought along her intern, whose entire job was to keep me as calm as possible.  I found that to be really helpful, as he would explain stuff as it was happening, and told me what was going to happen, so I didn't feel as tense.




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