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  • Writer's pictureRitika Mehdiratta

PATIENT GUIDE TO AWAKE SURGERY!

As your surgery date gets closer, you are ought to have that build up of anxiety and fear.

After all going, under the knife with eyes and ears wide open can make anyone uneasy.

But the more you know about ‘what to expect’, the easier it becomes.

Staying awake during surgery has become a routine with the advances in modern medicine- for certain procedures, like some:

•Caesarean sections

•Upper and lower extremity surgeries

•Eye surgeries

•Procedures needed after traumatic injury

•Even, brain surgeries

Awake surgeries can be quite terrifying.

However, research suggests many patients have a favorable experience with the 'wide awake approach'.

Regional anesthesia numbs a large part of the body, such as from the waist down. It is an excellent analgesia which facilitates early rehabilitation and discharge.

The awake surgery patients are much more stable in post-op and spend less time in the intensive care unit recovering as compared to the fully sedated patients who spend more time at the hospital, require more pre-operative testing and also report greater anxiety and concern prior to surgery. Still many patients regard regional anesthesia with great apprehension. Generally, they fret about: fear of being awake in surgery, fear of needle pain at puncture site, paralysis and backache, fear of pain during surgery, fear of loss of control, and psychological phenomenon of intrusion into personal place.

What worries you, masters you! Some people may feel overly anxious or thrown into a panic during awake surgery.

I know how hard it could be waiting in the elevator to reach the OR floor; lying on the stretcher, the nurse pushing the stretcher through the hallway of OR's, hearing the squeaky sound of wheels surely gives you the scares, trying to imagine 'what might happen next'; the big, empty, white washed walls; the nurses standing in hallway wearing their masks, head caps though minding their business- can freak you out; suddenly the squeaky sound stops, you think ‘what's wrong?’; they enter a code, the glass door opens, and veer the stretcher in the OR- the reality strikes right on the face, you have arrived at your destination- can indeed give you goose bumps; the OR table looks so small and the lights above it gigantically beaming; so many surgical tools aligned in a kidney tray, with an interdisciplinary team waiting to treat you well and take away the discomfort you are facing.

PERSONAL ANECDOTE:

I remember my awake surgery, I survived a life altering car accident. A head-on collision occurred, which caused me to lurch forward breaking my left femur into multiple small fragments for which, I had to undergo an implant surgery. At first, I was terrified as I entered the OR, I saw the nurse placing all the surgical tools according to their sizes. I was soon attached to a monitor and given epidural anesthesia, that sedated me from the waist down. I could sense everything happening on me but couldn't feel any pain. I heard the doctor asking for the blade, drill, screws and many precise medical terms which were incomprehensible to me.

Soon, I heard the sound of a drill as if someone was drilling in the wall to hang a canvas but the only difference was that, that the wall was my leg.

Inspite of being involved in a horrendous mishap, I was fortunate enough to have doctors who kept me in engaged in light conversations. If I am asked to go through all that again, which for the fact I have, I would be stronger and more confident than the last time. I am forever grateful for the help that came to my side in that OR in the form of my doctors.

Doctors are actually mellow enough to answer all your queries during procedures. As for them, patient satisfaction is integral.

‘4 Questions’- feel free to ask while in surgery:

1.Be vocal about what you're feeling-

“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.”

Tell the doctors about your fears, so that they can calm you down! Have the opportunity to be reassured.

2.How much more time is it going to take?

3.Ask about what you see-

Uncomfortable in the operation theater environment:

Monitor, IV catheter, surgical tools– it helps to know, as it calms your nerves.

4.Music-

Believe it or not I was asked multiple times: if I wanted to hear any songs during the surgery. I would have definitely said 'Yes', if I had a good taste!

Throughout my recovery, in the midst of healing from my physical pain, I have felt an immense urge to share this experience. I write this blog with hope to help people in some way.

Sharing your experiences, can help you and others, benefit from realizing that you’re not alone.

SHARE this post with all those anxious preoperative patients out there!

FOLLOW: @thetraumacine for those survivors going through!

LIKE, if this post was helpful!

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