Monday, May 30, 2011

Before You Go Under

My first surgery requiring anesthesia was back when I was twelve. I was having my tonsils removed and I remember lying on the gurney being rolled into a room, people in masks looking down at me as they slid a mask over my nose and mouth. "Count backwards slowly, from 100." 100, 99, 98, 97... I was out. Evidently ether works fast.

Next thing you know, I'm waking up in a room with others all waking and woozy. A nurse came in and asked if I would like some ice cream. Mmm, did it taste good. Then I threw it up.

Today's newspaper features part 2 of a story about doctors and malpractice, and it brought to mind many other articles I've read in the past about hospitals and infections, and a book I read last year about a doctor who was suspected of killing patients on purpose. That book was pretty scary, highlighting the difficulties in getting honest, reliable information about the doctors who are treating us.

If you tend to be a worrier, all this bad press about doctors and hospitals could have a detrimental effect on your peace of mind next time you need a surgical procedure. For this reason, anesthesiologist Benjamin Taimoorazy, M.D., has written a book titled Before You Go Under.

In a typical year more than 30 million Americans will go under for some kind of medical procedure. To my knowledge there aren't very many books that answer the questions people have with regard to these matters. How does a doctor know I am adequately "out" before he starts cutting me? What happens if I wake up while they still have me cut open and they are removing my intestines?

The book covers more than just the anesthesia questions. The manual is really a prep for surgery and even answers the question, "Why is the operating room always cold?"

Here's something I didn't know till I saw it in this book. Redheads have a potentially greater sensitivity to pain and may require a bit more anesthesia. Also, allergies and artificial implants may have a bearing on how the anesthesia procedures are conducted.

The writing is clear, straightforward and matter-of-fact, nothing fancy. This book is not investigative journalism, nor is it a very exciting read, though it is an easy read. And if you've got questions, Dr. T has answers.

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