As I’ve mentioned in Digestive Issues, I have a blood-injection-injury phobia. I’ve been in therapy, done hypnosis for it, and it alleviated much of the problem; however, with two breech babies inside me, I had a scheduled c-section. This meant my doc and I had to have a real talk.
“So what happens if I totally freak out and have a panic attack on the table?”
“We knock you out.”
“Great. Just making sure we have a plan B.”
My doctor also gave me a prescription for a mild anti-anxiety to be taken the night before if I started becoming anxious and couldn’t sleep. Well let me tell you, I took one at night AND one in the morning. It did nothing. My adrenaline kicked any pleasant effects out of my system. I woke up the morning of surgery just hungry, nauseous, and thirsty because you can’t consume any food or water 8 hours before surgery. I thought this was a stupid rule meant to make a very pregnant mother suffer unnecessarily. It’s not. I REPEAT. It’s not. There are VERY good reasons for not letting patients consume food or beverage before surgery, but I didn’t know that at the time. So I arrived at the hospital not feeling so hot and not very happy about it at all. We walked up to the room, and I got into my hospital gown and hair cap. I laid down; they hooked me up to the IV. So far, doing ok. Everyone was coming in to check on me: doctors, nurses, and finally the anesthesiologist came in. Before he says more than his name, I ask him, “Is there anything you legally have to tell me for this operation to go forward?”
“No, not really.”
“Fantastic. I don’t want to know anything. The more I know, the more I might freak out. I think all you need to know is that I don’t do needles, blood, surgery well, and the last time I came out of anesthesia, I woke up speaking French. So don’t be alarmed if I faint or speak a different language.”
He smiled and said, “Ok. Great.”
Unfortunately they had to push my surgery back an hour and a half because other unscheduled moms needed his epidural services. At first, I was like, “Oh. Ya sure. Take care of those other moms. I would want my epidural too!” But as the hour and a half dragged on, I became super thirsty and a lot less friendly.
Finally it was my turn! I walked into the operating room and saw white walls and silver equipment and blue paper everywhere. I felt like I was walking into an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and it did not go well. I immediately look at the floor and fumble to table where I sit down and hug the nurse in front of me to expose my back to the anesthesiologist. As soon as he starts to wipe by back with the alcohol laced cotton ball, I start sobbing, and I hear,”I need you to be as still as possible.” Ya right. Are you kidding me? I’m having a nervous breakdown. So I squeeze the nurse in front of me, and she’s telling me it’s ok. It was obviously NOT ok. And then all of a sudden I lose complete feeling in my legs. Just writing about it makes my stomach drop. I always thought there would be a numbness with anesthesia like how you feel after having a cavity filled, but this was a nothingness. It was as if the lower half of my body didn’t exist. I remember the doctor telling the staff to move my body to a lying down position quickly before I became a complete dead weight.
As soon as my shoulders touched the table, I turned to the anesthesiologist sitting on a stool to the left of me and said, “I am 100% not ok right now. I am not ok!” He told me some reassuring things. Blah blah blah. “I’m telling you! I’m– Oh no. I’m going to vomit. I’m going to be sick!” And he pulled out this kidney shaped plastic container that’s a little larger than the size of my hand (and I found out later they serve you food in those same containers during recovery!). “You’ve got to be kidding? There’s no way–” And that’s all I got out before I was sick for the entire surgery. Surprisingly the kidney shaped container was large enough because there was no food or liquid in my system (just stomach acid)! I started to feel like these people really knew what they were doing. They proceeded to tell me how 50% of patients get sick from nerves etc. That definitely wasn’t making me feel any better.
I kept begging with the anesthesiologist, “Please give me more drugs. Please. Please.”
“I can’t give you anything more until those babies are out.”
“They’ll be fine! They’re Russian. Who cares if they come out a little drunk? They’re almost out of me as it is! Just give me more drugs!”
So this continued back and forth, back and forth with me threatening intermittently, “The minute they’re out of me, you drug me up! Do you understand?!” I remember a few other snippets of surgery, such as telling my husband, “We’re adopting after this.” And the doctors saying, “Wow, they’re huge” and “They look so different.” The second comment offered me quite a bit of comfort because I was really concerned about being able to tell them apart. According to my online research (which was a mistake in retrospect), some twin parents confuse their children once they arrive home and the hospital tags come off. Finally the anesthesiologist pressed a little magic button, and my whole body relaxed, according to my husband. I have no memory of this moment. I don’t really have many clear memories of that morning until I woke up a few hours later with nurses trying to help me breastfeed the girls. And that was the beginning of taking care of newborn twins: L & R.