I’m hoping a few of you are familiar with the Latin language. Most of us are familiar with the phrases, “carpe diem” or “caveat emptor.” The first of these phrases, “carpe diem,” means “seize the day.” The second phrase translates to “buyer beware.”
My Latin title translates to the words, “Patients, beware!”
Today’s post is somewhat dissimilar to what I usually write. Considering many of you are friends or family, I want to share with you an experience from my surgery. It is a side effect of the anesthesia used in my surgery back in March of this year.
Before my surgery, Oregon Health and Sciences University Hospital contacted me about a research study. The focus of the study was the mental impact of anesthesia on patients 65 and over. This was especially focusing on anesthesia over a period of several hours. I accepted their invitation to take part. It required two to three sessions for memory testing before and after surgery.
My surgery was slotted for approximately four hours. Due to minor complications related to hardware, the surgery took over eight hours.
After I had been home for a short while, I began to notice a difference in my ability to recall words, names, and dates. I also felt caught up in a foggy mentality, i.e. staring into space, inability to focus, etc.
I hesitated to mention it to anyone. Perhaps the preoperative testing left me believing this was happening when it wasn’t.
As time passed though, I asked my husband if he noticed differences in me since the surgery. He smiled, and I realized what he was about to say might be hard to swallow. But love shone through his eyes. Behaviors he had picked up on left him feeling like “he’d brought a different woman home from the hospital.”
At my sixth-month postop checkup, we mentioned these mental signals to my surgeon. He suggested that he would have expected this to have passed by this point. But he also mentioned it was possible there was a relationship with depression. Yet, the depression was being treated with medication all along before the surgery. I don’t remember any such symptoms presenting during that time.
Today I asked my husband how he believed I had progressed since that appointment. I asked after forgetting an appointment despite reviewing our calendar several times. Upon realizing my mistake, I went to our bedroom and fell across the bed in tears because that is so unlike me. It leaves me with a feeling of losing my mind. And yet there isn’t anything I can do about it.
Headed into a surgical procedure? Be sure to determine how long your surgery might last. Understand this time can change dependent on special circumstances arising during surgery.
Also, ask what side effects you should be aware of before undergoing the surgery. If you’re over 65, ask about the mental side effects.
Make sure you make family and/or friends aware of what you learn after asking these questions. It is wise to have others aware so they can let you know what they notice in your behavior.
I hope you find this information helpful. This is not only for yourself but also in the event you care for aging parents or other family members. I am confident I’ll return to the “real me” in due course. Thanks for reading and if you find suitable, please share with family and friends.