STATIC DISCLAIMER: All the stuff in here is purely my opinions, and they tend to change depending on what mood I'm in. If you're going to get bitter if I say something about you that you don't like, then maybe don't read. I avoid using names as much as possible, and would request that people who know me do the same in their comments. Basically, I often vent my frustrations on here, so if you happen to be someone who frustrates me, expect to read a description of someone very much like you in here!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Midazolam rocks my... um... I forget

Well, part 1 of my aforementioned worry is now out of the way. I'm sitting here with a bandage across part of my neck where they extracted a "chain" of my lymphnodes from next to my jugular vein. Apparently they had shrunk a bit, which I think is a good sign. Now I just have to wait for the results... :s

However, there is one thing about this whole operation bit that has totally piqued my interest, and that's midazolam. I think that's what it's called - I asked my doctor and I remember her saying "miazopan" but I couldn't find that in the medical encyclopedia, so maybe I heard wrong. Anyway, this is the drug that makes you forget stuff, and I can remember the exact moment where it hit my brain yesterday. I said to the anesthesiologist (sp?) "Am I supposed to feel dizzy?" to which he replied: "Yes." From that point on, things get mixed up and blurry. Like, I remember that at one point they had a mask on my face and were feeding me some kind of gas, and I said "That tastes funny" but I don't remember them putting the mask on my face specifically. I also have very, very vague recolections of the operation itself but nothing concrete - so much so that I wonder if my brain just made them up. And this is why I find this so intreguing. After my wife's families' car accident last year, her step-father was in an induced coma for a while. It was during this time, talking to doctors and whatnot that I realised that the idea of concious/unconcious is nowhere near as black and white as we non-medical people tend to think that it is. Even in a reduced state of conciousness, you remember stuff and can respond to things - hence the midazolam in operations. You don't want people to remember that kind of thing, so you give them a drug that inhibits their ability to store short term memory. For me, this whole concept is quite interesting... It's like if you don't remember it, it never happened. That's... not entirely true, and yet also not entirely refuteable. Hmmmm...

I'd like to just think and type about this some more, but I could be here all day just typing random thoughts as they come to me, so I think I'll leave it at that. Suffice to say I find the whole idea/concept quite thought provoking. Hmmm....

4 comments:

Tam said...

I suppose that explains why, when I had "exploratory surgery" *cough cough* I remember them removing the tube because of the pain, and I remember them being suprised that I was awake, but I don't remember the tube being inserted or removed.

I wonder what it is like for people supposedly non-conscious?

Joel Baltaks said...

Yeah, consciousness is a weird thing. How can you measure how aware you are? The biggest tell for me is suddenly realising that I haven't been listening. It's all about mental state, and one of the hardest things ever is to accurately assess your own mental state, because that requires your mental faculties. And how do we know that our experience of the world is similar to other people's? Say, autistic people I'm sure have a very different experience of the world, sometimes being able to absorb and remember large amounts of sensory information that most people are utterly oblivious to. For me, this also ties in with a train of thought I've had for a while, which is the fact that mental illness can abscond you from responsibility from your own actions. It's a special case where your identity (as far as motivations and intents are concerned at least) is defined by your mental faculties, and when you're not in control, then who is?

Anyway, memory is another interesting way of looking at it. Alot of science fiction has explored this. For instance in the movie total recall, Arnie goes to a simulated holiday shop to get memories of a great holiday implanted into his brain. It's a great concept. But then after this, the rest of the movie plays out like the holiday that he asked for, so you're left wondering if the rest of the movie is really just the imagined holiday.

If you don't remember experiencing something, it doesn't necessarily mean you didn't experience it. Likewise, assuming there's some way of implanting memories, then remembering something doesn't necessarily mean it really happened. Here's a thought - if they had a machine or technique that could tamper with your memories, how would you know? Ah! Conspiracy!

Reminds me of the movie Dark City. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it - it's a good spin out.

Nathan Zamprogno said...

I recently had a general anaesthetic for the first time. The propect fascinated me, especially the part where they're about to administer it and you count back from ten. I wondered if mere concentration would permit me to fight the effects or feel myself slipping away (like HAL in 2001: "My mind is going... I can feel it.")
In reality, no such thing happened. It was like a light switch. My anaesthetic was intravenous. I felt a heaviness spreading up my arm, and then click!, I'd been switched off. Then, click!, I woke up in recovery. Any amount of time could have elapsed. I could have been frozen for a millennia whilst transported at sub-light speeds to an exact duplicate of the Earth where stupid, bizarre things are different, like George Bush being President. Aaaargh!

Seriously, we're just glad to have you still with us. All will be well.

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