Undergoing anesthesia puts you in one of the most vulnerable positions you can experience. You have entrusted your life to someone you don’t know to keep you safe. I hope that these five tips, based on my 20 years caring for patients as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or CRNA, will ease your mind as you prepare for surgery.
Staying Safe Under Anesthesia
1) Information is the key. Your anesthetist will have reviewed your chart and know your medical information. Let them know about any changes in your health. Some of the most important health issues have to do with: heart problems such as chest pain, and high blood pressure; lung problems such as asthma or emphysema (COPD); kidney problems, diabetes and vascular problems such as stroke. Give your anesthetist an updated list of your medications including herbal supplements which may affect on your anesthesia. Ask your anesthetist any questions about the anesthesia, how anesthesia affects your body and recovery from anesthesia.
2) Anesthesia is very individualized. Two people can have the same surgery, be given the same medications and respond completely differently. It’s always helpful to hear from friends and relatives as long as you keep this in mind. For all of your serious anesthesia and surgical questions, turn to your doctors.
3) The internet is a useful tool. It can help you understand what anesthetic you may receive and what the expected affects will be. There are many excellent medical sites such as mayoclinic.org and the National Institute of Health website at nih.gov. Very few patients have the knowledge or background to make decisions based on what they read. Use the information to make a list of questions to ask your anesthetist.
4) Quit smoking. It will help no matter when you quit. Quitting weeks or months before surgery will improve the resiliency of your lungs. If you quit even two weeks before surgery, your blood cells will be better able to carry oxygen during and after surgery. Even if you quit the same day your body will have better circulation and more oxygen, which will help your surgery sites heal.
5) Relax. Isn’t that a crazy suggestion! Anesthesia complications are very rare. There are medications and procedures to deal with any complication. Most people who have an anesthetic complication were quite ill before their surgery. Going under as calm as possible will help you wake up calm and decrease nausea and pain.