My experience with general anaesthetic and fibromyalgia

Earlier in the week I went into hospital for a gyny operation under a general anaesthetic. This was the first time I have had a general anaesthetic since having severe fibromyalgia so I was very nervous.

So I got up really early to have my tablets and breakfast as I wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon. I didn’t sleep all night. I haven’t slept very well for months anyway but this time I really mean that I was up ALL night. I gave up trying in the end as it was only becoming frustrating and then I’ve lost the battle.

This lack of sleep only served to make me even more ill than usual. I felt awful and was so weak that walking was a challenge. I had to use the wheelchair as I couldn’t walk from the disabled car park to the ward. Hospitals are BIG. Even if you do park on the doorstep, if your ward is the other side of the building then good luck!

So off we wheeled. I checked into the ward and waited for several hours. The surgeon came to talk to me about the procedure and I signed the consent forms. It wasn’t really him that I had the questions for though.

Eventually the man I wanted to talk to, the anaesthetist, came by to talk to me. He was a lot more helpful. He knew all about fibro and had a fibro patient just the day before. He told me that my ECG had picked up an arrhythmia that was intermittent. I had suspected for years that I had one but hadn’t had an ECG. I can feel it when it happens. It’s referred to as palpitations with missed beats and ectopic beats (extra or faster beats).

My heartbeat itself is perfect. Hey, I got a perfect score on something! *Happy dance* The rate of my heartbeat is erratic though, even at rest. This is why I take beta blockers so I guess they aren’t working as well as I’d hope!

This erratic heart beat is another fault with the autonomic nervous system. I swear it is the bane of my life! It simply doesn’t work properly because of my fibro. My heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature all fluctuate widely and inappropriately. I can pass out on the sofa in front of the tv because my blood pressure just decides to drop! Now I know when it’s going to happen as my body temp will shoot through the roof first and I know I have to lie down straight away. Thankfully I haven’t yet had to so this in the supermarket but it’s been a close call many times!

The aneasthetist was really on the ball and made me feel a lot better. Given that my heart rate is erratic he planned to give me a drug to increase my heart rate while under anaesthetic. It’s better to have a temporarily increased heart rate than to have a slow one suddenly and the risk of it stopping. Serious stuff huh!!

He also said that the way my body reacted during the procedure would help him to gauge if I would be one of the patients who would respond with a lot of pain. If I was one of them he would give me IV morphine before waking up. What a kind man. I’m starting to see who the real experts are in theatre. The aneasthetist is the doctor while really the surgeon is the butcher! That’s why they give up their Dr title when they qualify. Just a little bit of trivia there for you. ūüėČ

It turns out that I was one of the patients who reacted with a lot of pain during the procedure so I was given lots of painkillers and morphine before waking up.

I remember clearly coming round afterwards. I woke up in floods of tears and asking for Meg. I was really upset and they asked who Meg was. I said, ‘My little girl. I want my little girl.’ through the tears. I was so upset for a good hour and all I wanted was Meg. She’s one of my best friends.

I did have pain from the procedure but to be honest I’ve had periods that were a LOT worse for most my adult life. I could bare that easily. The bigger problem was the fibro pain in my neck and shoulders where they must have aggravated the trigger points during surgery. It was agony. I was given oramorph for the fibro pain, not the procedure pain (which it didn’t touch funnily enough!).

After my operation. All went well.

After my operation. All went well.

 

The other problem I had was an allergic reaction to something. I didn’t pick up on this until I got home later and was thinking more easily.

My throat was really painful and swollen when I came around. So badly that I couldn’t talk very well. I assumed I had been intubated. However, before I was discharged I looked at my notes and I wasn’t intubated at all. The procedure wasn’t long enough and the anaesthetist did say that he tries to avoid it for this op.

I have multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome as part of fibro so I react to lots of things. When I got home I tried antihistamines as the swelling was so bad that I could barely talk and was having trouble breathing. This is why they gave me oxygen in my room afterwards. The antihistamines did reduce some of the pain and pressure.

I concluded from this that I must have reacted to something during the procedure. If I need a general anaesthetic again I’ll have to warn them and have benadryl to help with this.

As if all this wasn’t traumatic enough, the scariest part for me was the extreme weakness in my muscles after the op. I could feel everything but I was unable to move because my muscles just didn’t work. I’ve never had this with a general before.

The nurse was asking me to move but I couldn’t. She helped me lift my knee and when she let go I couldn’t hold it there and it dropped. Eventually I could wiggle my finger tips and toes. When I tried to lift my knee my leg¬†was shaking violently with the effort but I could not lift my knee.

I know this was the CFS part of my fibro but it was really scary. I was taken back to the ward and very slowly my left arm started to come back, then my legs and finally my right arm (which is most badly affected). It took about 2 hours for basic movement to return. It’s 2 days later now and I’m still having trouble controlling my muscles. They are so painful, like having run a marathan, and very stiff to move. Typing is challenging and slow today. I really should get the microphone out and use my speech recognition software but I’m too¬†lazy today.

Me and my best girl who I was desperate to see after the op.

Me and my best girl who I was desperate to see after the op.

I’m actually doing well from the operation. I haven’t got much pain from it now and I’m back to normal pain levels with fibro. Like I say my biggest problem is the CFS part and extreme fatigue. I’m sleeping a lot, which is nice as I don’t usually get much sleep, and I’m slowly doing things to try to get better control of my muscles again. Obviously I have to make sure to rest them as well. It’s a balancing act.

I expected a flare afterwards but I am hopeful that this one will calm down if I’m a good girl and rest. I’ve said that the house can clean itself this week (not that I’m great at that anyway) and I’m on sick leave!

If you have read this far then I’m very impressed. First with your patience and secondly because I must have written this post ok!

Please not that this is my experience with general anaesthetic and it doesn’t by any means mean that you will react the same way. Fibro by its nature is a chameleon and is different in everyone. This post might give you a few things to bare in mind though when you get time to ask questions.

I also want to say how friendly and helpful the staff were. They helped me to calm down and looked after my needs. There is just one little oops, the theatre staff lost my glasses and I’m now wearing sunglasses as I have no spares! I’ll have to ring up and see if they have found them yet!


Today I am grateful for:

  1. Faster than expected recovery from the procedure.
  2. A pajama day, again!
  3. Wonderful family support from hubby and Meg. I love you both xx
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