Like any other medication, anesthesia can have side effects, though serious side effects are not common. Also, like any other medication, some people can be sensitive to anesthesia, resulting in it having a stronger effect on these people than most. The anesthetic effect often lasts longer on people who are sensitive to anesthesia and can make it difficult for them to regain consciousness and stay awake.
General Anesthesia for Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I developed gallbladder disease. Two months after she was born, I had to have my gallbladder removed. It was going to be done by laparoscopic surgery and required being asleep under general anesthesia. I had never had anesthesia before and was a little nervous about it, but wasn’t too concerned because I knew it was a routine thing done for surgeries. Setting my nervousness aside, I went ahead with the surgery expecting everything to be just fine. I was completely out within moments of getting the anesthesia and everything went well until after the surgery.
Unable to Move or Stay Awake
I don’t know how long I was out, but it must have been a long time because when I finally started to regain enough consciousness to hear what was being said it was obvious that the nurse was very concerned. She was shaking me by my left shoulder and calling my name and telling me I needed to wake up. I could hear what she was saying, but I couldn’t move or even open my eyes. As soon as she stopped shaking me and calling my name, I was gone again. I woke up to her shaking me and calling my name again and insisting that I needed to wake up, but once again I couldn’t move or open my eyes. She continued to try to wake me as she started to talk to my grandmother that I didn’t even realize was in the room with me. I heard the nurse tell my grandmother that it wasn’t normal to not be able to wake someone up this long after anesthesia and that it was very important that they got me awake and starting to move around or the anesthesia would settle in my body. I then heard the nurse instruct my grandmother to continue to try to wake me up and say that she would be back soon to check on me. Then I was gone again.
The Anesthesia Settled
I woke up to being shaken again, this time to the sound of my grandmother’s voice. I also felt intense pain in my right shoulder and realized that was the shoulder my grandmother was shaking, but I still couldn’t move or open my eyes or tell her I was in pain. As soon as she stopped trying to wake me, I was gone again. This continued back and forth for some time before I was finally able to open my eyes. It took even longer to finally be able to talk so I could tell her to stop shaking my shoulder because it hurt. The nurse had been in a couple of times through this and had come in again, very relieved to see me awake and talking. I was able to tell her about my shoulder and she explained to me that it had taken a very long time to get me to wake up and that the anesthesia must have settled in my shoulder, which would take several days to a couple of weeks to clear up. I was instructed to sit up as soon as I could and to start moving around little by little to help my body recover from the anesthesia. Everything took longer than normal to be able to do, but I was eventually able to move around and allowed to go home. I was told to take it easy and not overdo it as my body recovered from the surgery and the anesthesia. The pain in my right shoulder from the anesthesia settling was a lot worse than any pain from the surgery and took a couple of weeks to completely clear up.
Sensitive to Other Medications
Since my experience with anesthesia sensitivity, I have also found out that I’m sensitive to other medications. When I was given demerol for a severe migraine, I was told it could make me drowsy and I shouldn’t drive. The demerol ended up knocking me out till the next day. I have also had cold and pain medications with sleep aids in them cause me to not only sleep the entire night, but also be groggy and sleep most of the next day. I now avoid medications that have any kind of sleep aid in them and those that I have been sensitive to in the past. I also hope to never need surgery again since I don’t do well with anesthesia.
There seems to be a connection with my medication sensitivities and I would therefore recommend you let your doctor know if you are sensitive to any medications making you overly groggy or knocking you out before you have any general anesthesia done to find out your options.
Allergic Reactions to Morphine and Codeine
Drugs.com – Demerol
MayoClinic.com – General Anesthesia