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Anesthesiology/Amnestic/Anxiolytic Drugs

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Thank you for your reply Dr. Levy. I guess I had not thought of the what happens during the procedure itself. I believe that most of my problem stems from an assault that happened years ago in which a type of amnestic drug was used. Just the thought of lying on the table with my arms strapped down and being exposed for several minutes while the prep is done and drying is already producing anxiety add on top of this that I won't be aware of what happens during this time period or be able to remember it and the fear and memory of the previous incident just comes back full force. My rational mind knows these people aren't there to harm me but the other part of my mind just can't get past the fact that I won't remember what was done to me before the drapes are placed. I know this sounds silly to most people but it is a very serious situation to me. I don't want to experience the depression/anxiety/anger again it is devastating to me and I don't know the best way to deal with the situation.Is there a way or would it be reasonable to be "there" for the prep and once they are done and the drapes are placed they could give me something to relax/forget? Would it be rude of me to ask for an all female surgical team,if possible? Could the surgeon refuse to operate if I won't accept amnestic medications? Should I speak with the surgeon about this as well? Thanks for your time,some of this is hard to talk about and it just seems easier via text.Sorry this is so long.

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Let me see if I can answer your questions although I fear that you may not be happy with the answers.

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Is there a way or would it be reasonable to be "there" for the prep and once they are done and the drapes are placed they could give me something to relax/forget?

In theory yes. The problem is that the amnestic sometimes has some retrograde amnesia so you may still not remember being "there" for the prep.

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Would it be rude of me to ask for an all female surgical team, if possible?

This is not an unusual request and can often be accommodated if requested in advance. We sometimes do this for our Muslim patients. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask.

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Could the surgeon refuse to operate if I won't accept amnestic medications?

It's usually not the surgeon that is the problem. Aside from the amnestic properties, these drugs have other beneficial effects that your anesthesiologist may want and they may choose not to proceed without them. Again, talking to them [a day] in advance can avoid problems on the day of surgery.

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Should I speak with the surgeon about this as well?

You should speak to the operative team and explain your concerns.

I think you need to separate out the issues that really concern you. Are you concerned that people will see you naked and/or make comment (not likely as they are all professionals and this is their job), or are you concerned that you are going to miss something important that happens (this was true for your delivery but you are missing nothing from this surgery). I am concerned that if the surgical team actually follows through with your requests, that you will actually be more anxious for any future surgery. There are reasons why we give amnestics and they are all for YOUR benefit, not to hide something that the operative team doesn't want you to know.

Ronald Levy, MD
Professor of Anesthesiology
UTMB-Galveston  

Anesthesiology

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Ronald Levy, M.D.

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Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. I am a board certified anesthesiologist who can answer all questions related to any type of Anesthesia with the exception of Pain Management.

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