Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Postcard from an edge of darkness

Me: "Definitely the left."
Male Voice:  "Better than the right, or just because I'm on the left?"
Me: "The right's a bit busted up, the inside's deviated and stuff."
Female Voice: "I'll do the right then."

Time seems to pass. It's still dark.

Me: "No, that's not working.  Try again."
MV: "How's that?"
Me: (thinking) "I think it's too big"
MV: "But the right's no bigger..."
Me: "Right...haha...the left is better.  Try twisting to the left..."  Humour?  Really?

And the picture came clear for me.  A moment of apparently perfect synaesthesia, where I could see what I was feeling as if from a point within my own body, so I could act as a better guide.

Me: "OK, that really hurts; you might have to go smaller"  And interestingly, I knew it hurt, but was not in the least bit troubled by the pain.
MV: "Does the pain trouble you?  Sorry about that"
Me: "No, it's fine, we'll just try again.  Just thought you'd want to know if it hurt."
FV: "I'll have a look and make sure it's OK, .......how's that?"
Me: (flooded with this wonderful sensation of coolness and ticklishness) "That's great"  I may have purred.  The glidescope felt like a feather after the rough plumbing appliance of a moment earlier.

FV: "Looks fine enough, but yes, you'll have to twist to the outside."
MV: "His left?"
FV/Me: (in unison) "Yes."

MV: "OK, here we go....is that the spot?"
FV: "Not far enough for me to see yet"
Me: "Yes, now twist a bit to the left and push......unnnghh" As the painful pressure returned.
Me again: "Yes, OK, hurts, yes, left, push, hurts still, ow, no back right a bit, push, unghh....aaaaahhhh."

And the pain and pressure which had been like trying to pass a Rubik's Cube suddenly flooded away leaving in its wake a blissful cool slipperiness, sweet air and solace.  It was really almost sexual.

Time seemed to pass.

MV: "OK, head back a bit, quickly now!" A bit agitated and urgent, with noises from the female voice too, and all of a sudden I realise there's this detached feeling of distress and utter panic within me, yet I'm not bothered by that at all.  My airway is being blocked - some huge thing is being forced into it with only partial success, so the person on the end of it is sort of repeatedly working it in and out a bit.  This time it is decidedly unsexual.
Me: "Unggh!  Hnng un, trr nww....nu,  unggh, nu....." Still doing my very best to be helpful.
FV: "Nearly there, have to breathe now, breathe IT in..."
Me: "Oh...."

Time definitely passed.

Funny how clearly I remembered having an anaesthetic intubation through my nose and into my lungs whilst mildly sedated.  The very nice anaesthetist had reminded me they were doing it 'sort of awake' so I could help as he gave me a slightly worried, sorry look.  surgeons never seem to show compassion IMO, but anaesthetists to date have been the very epitome of caring.  Maybe it's the drugs, I don't know.  The female voice (I never did see her) was an assistant with the fibre-optic scope going in through the other nostril.  What  really struck me in remembrance were two things - the clarity with which I could visualise the tube getting stuck in the couple of places it did (the reason I was 'there') and help with guidance, but even moreso the split in my personal experience.  I was aware of things like pain, or that special airway-blocked drowning panic we're hardwired with, but also entirely detached from that, able to assist dispassionately.  Given what I've heard from other patients under sedation, I must be fairly pleasant and helpful to work with, which is a nice feeling.  Or maybe they're the only bits you remember.

Still, I'm fairly happy to have been fully under for the main show though.  Somehow I feel that memories of each of ten teeth coming out would probably be a lot like World War One.  A grinding sort of attrition.  Kudos to the crew though, when I saw myself in the mirror 24 hours later I was shocked at the swelling (hey, look, it's Bert Newton with hair!) but also knew I'd gotten off very lightly.  I've seen worse results just from the two wisdom teeth.  Thanks guys.

Just thought you'd like to know what it's like being intubated - since you're not usually there :-).

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