My Funniest Anesthesia Experience

My Breast Reconstruction Surgery was the fifth surgery I had in 2018. In all, I have had eight surgeries in the past year and a half. Only five of these were related to breast cancer. In 2018 under the watchful eyes of surgeons, the answer to everything that ailed me became – surgery.

Thus far I have only shared the surgeries that were directly related to my breast cancer. Because I like a good laugh, I am making an exception. You’re welcome in advance for the laughs.

My hernia surgery followed closely on the heels of my breast reconstruction surgery.  Surgery itself was uneventful. Recovery, however, proved to be my funniest experience with anesthesia.  If you have followed my breast cancer journey you know I have had some funny experiences with anesthesia. This experience even trumps trying to make out with my husband and becoming the world’s foremost expert on polar bears.

I awoke in recovery with my hospital gown draped over me and an extra sheet wrapped around my upper body. My first thought was – this is unusual. I am sure my gowns had been removed during pervious surgeries, but I always awoke with it on correctly.  I was rationalizing this idea, when the recovery nurse wandered over.

The nurse spoke with me. I don’t remember all she said to me, but before she turned to walk away, she smiled rather amusingly. Then she commented with a chuckle –

Oh and by the way, the general consensus among the recovery nurses is that your chest looks amazing.”

Oh no! It immediately dawned upon me why I wasn’t wearing my gown and why I had an extra sheet wrapped around my upper body. Yep! All drugged up I was declaring how amazing my chest looked. If that wasn’t bad enough, I showed everyone to prove it. I was mortified.

After that revelation, I wanted to crawl under something and hide. I avoided further conversations with my nurse. I just wanted to get dressed and leave.

I was also anxious to speak with my surgeon. Was this behavior limited to recovery or the OR too?! What else had I done or said on meds?!

At my follow-up appointment I recounted my recovery to my surgeon.  She was almost in tears laughing.  She assured me I had been a model patient in the OR. Then she recounted her own surgery experience.

Knowing how people behave with anesthesia, she had been particularly worried about being under with coworkers she faced on a regular basis. Apparently, the nurses found her hilarious on meds. She said she was never brave enough to ask exactly what made her so funny.

She shared a couple other funny anesthesia recovery stories nurses had shared with her. We both had a good laugh. I was a little relieved to learn there were other stories on par with my own. And to think I had thought trying to make out with my husband and becoming a polar bear expert were embarrassing.

At my next follow-up with my plastic surgeon I decided to share this story with him too.  Not because I love being mortified. No, because this story is a testament to how pleased I am with my breast reconstruction results. It’s a huge compliment to his work.

My plastic surgeon was quick to retort I had successfully turned recovery into Mardi Gras. I quipped I didn’t even need the enticement of cheap plastic beads to participate. Also note to self – without any inhibitions I will show just about anyone my chest. We both had a good laugh. I doubt he will forget anytime soon how happy I am with his work.

I also have to admit, moments like these are some of my favorite memories with my surgeons. These interactions made me like them even more too. There is a time and a place to have serious conversations with a doctor. Believe me I have had my fair share of those on my breast cancer journey!

Having interactions with laughter and joking were a nice reprieve. These moments made my surgeons more personable to me too. These interactions weren’t necessary, but I appreciated them. I think laughter really is good medicine for the soul.  Hopefully this post allowed you a laugh or two as well.