General anesthesia is deemed safe per most doctors and hospitals. A majority of individuals have gone through it. I have been through it three times. Once when I was 4 and had my tonsils taken out. Once when I was 20 and had my wisdom teeth taken out. Both of these were done with complete sedation. Then, when I had my daughter, I had to have a C-section. A different form of anesthesia, but anesthesia none the less. I don’t do very well with anesthesia. With the sedation, I get ill and emotional.
I remember when I had my wisdom teeth taken out, my mom told me that the doctor’s had to come get her after the procedure because I was crying hysterically. I have no memory of this, just what I was told. My mom said that she had a difficult time calming me down and that I was crying the whole way home. No idea as to why. I do, remember, pulling into the garage at home. From this point, my memory is in pieces. I can remember the garage. I can remember my mom leaving the car and me still sitting in it. I can remember my dad coming down the stairs into the garage. I can remember seeing a hand reach out to me and then I remember just seeing the color white. I’m assuming I passed out or just took a little vacation at this point. The next thing I remember is getting into my room and vomiting. Then, of course, the crying began again. I have no idea why it does this to me. Just a reaction, I guess. After that, I slept for 3 hours and woke up perfectly fine (except for the chipmunk cheeks).
Supposedly, I was the same way when I had my tonsils out when I was 4. Woke up crying and puking. I also woke up mid-procedure. I clearly remember, to this day, waking up and seeing the doctors and nurses around me. I tried to sit up and a hand was placed on my forehead, pushing me back down. After that, they must have administered more medicine because I blacked out. I also woke up understanding, or remembering, some French words. I was told afterwards, by my dad, that the doctors were speaking French during the procedure.
With all of this done and survived, you would think I wouldn’t be as panicked as I am when told that my baby has to be put under general anesthesia for an MRI that is scheduled July 13th.
She is undergoing an MRI for a possible tethered spinal cord. Here is the definition for a tethered spinal cord for those of you who do not know what that is.
Tethered spinal cord syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by tissue attachments that limit the movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column. Attachments may occur congenitally at the base of the spinal cord (conus medullaris) or they may develop near the site of an injury to the spinal cord. These attachments cause an abnormal stretching of the spinal cord. The course of the disorder is progressive. In children, symptoms may include lesions, hairy patches, dimples, or fatty tumors on the lower back; foot and spinal deformities; weakness in the legs; low back pain; scoliosis; and incontinence. This type of tethered spinal cord syndrome appears to be the result of improper growth of the neural tube during fetal development, and is closely linked to spina bifida. Tethered spinal cord syndrome may go undiagnosed until adulthood, when pain, sensory and motor problems, and loss of bowel and bladder control emerge. This delayed presentation of symptoms is related to the degree of strain placed on the spinal cord over time and may be exacerbated during sports or pregnancy, or may be due to narrowing of the spinal column (stenosis) with age. Tethering may also develop after spinal cord injury and scar tissue can block the flow of fluids around the spinal cord. Fluid pressure may cause cysts to form in the spinal cord, a condition called syringomyelia. This can lead to additional loss of movement, feeling or the onset of pain or autonomic symptoms.
Pretty scary stuff to hear as a parent, especially when the pediatric doctor she had been seeing since she was 9 months old said that her little crooked butt crack was nothing, when asked a few times about it by both my husband and I.
It wasn’t properly diagnosed until we had to switch health plans this year, resulting in a new pediatric doctor. My daughter had gone in for a bumpy rash that wouldn’t disappear. When the doctor looked at her bottom, which is where some of the rash still was, she immediately asked, “How long has she had this deviation?” (pointing to her little crooked butt crack). I told her that she was born with it. The doctor said that she was going to go get a camera and take a picture of it to send to a neurologist. I, of course, immediately began to cry. What was wrong with my baby? Was she going to be okay? Why wasn’t this diagnosed sooner?
A week went by and the neurology department called me, wanting to set up a consultation. At the consultation, the neurologist checked for any leg weakness (which my daughter had none) and other symptoms of a tethered spine. Everything seemed to be normal, but the only real way to check was to have an MRI done. An MRI? No big deal. That’s simple enough, until she told me that my daughter would have to be put under general anesthesia to ensure she would not move during the MRI. I understand that an MRI can be loud and scary, especially to small children, but putting my child under complete sedation? Was this truly necessary?
Time passed by and the MRI department finally called a few weeks ago to set up the MRI appointment. I reluctantly set up the appointment and immediately began to panic. Would she be okay? I don’t like the thought of them putting her under. Of course, I can’t be with her when she is having the MRI, so I will be pacing the floor waiting until they are done and I can go to recovery to be with her again. On top of this, what makes me more nervous about the whole situation is that my husband is starting to slightly freak out.
Let me explain a little bit of how my husband and I work. When I’m a nervous, emotional wreck, he is the sound of reason. That calming voice that says, “Everything will be okay.” When he is a nervous wreck (which is not often) I am the calming voice. So, if he’s becoming a nervous wreck over this, and I already am, than my gut is telling me something is wrong.
I wrote the neurologist with a BUNCH of questions, mainly about the anesthesia, hoping it would calm us down. She told me that she would have a pediatric anesthesiologist contact me to address any concerns I had, since I would not be talking to the actual anesthesiologist until the day of the MRI. I am still waiting for this phone call.
The doctors act like:
And then there’s me:
I try to do my research, but that’s doing nothing but freaking me out more. Still not sure if I will have this done now or if we will be waiting for it to get done. I know that this MRI is a preventative procedure and if she does, in fact, have a tethered spine, then she will need surgery to snip that little thicken filum that connects your spine to your tailbone. Another major worry. And then they make you sign all these waivers that say you will not sue the hospital if something happens to go wrong during the procedure. You better bet your ass I am going after somebody if something does go wrong. Praying to God that it doesn’t.
What about you? Has your child ever been put under general anesthesia at a young age? Did you have the same type of worries?