Who are you? Mysterious moments before and after surgery

Ever been concerned about the things you might have said while semi-conscious after surgery? Dianne Motton has.


They placed a strange blanket over me. It seemed like one of those old-fashioned hair dryers that were put over our heads decades ago – plastic attached to a tube pumping in hot air.

But this was a whole bed of plastic tubing all melded together, a vast sea of wobbling hot air. The warmth was quite a comfort, enveloping me. At one point I moved my arms out and was reprimanded. My whole body was meant to be warm, a prelude to lying on a cold operating table, being sliced open.

Across from me as I waited to be moved into theatre, another patient came back into recovery. She was still unconscious, tubes down her throat, her body inert, covered with white cotton blankets. A body, limp, at once both lifeless and alive. A nurse sat by her side, waiting for the first signs of consciousness, ready to remove tubes and offer comfort.

Days after my operation, a nurse bounded into my room and greeted me like a long lost friend.

“Oh, it is so good to see you!” she exclaimed with great passion. I frowned, a puzzled look passing over my face.

“Don’t you remember me? I was with you when you came out of surgery. You were so funny.”

I stared back at her. I had no recollection at all of seeing her, or being in recovery. The first thing I was aware of was being back in my hospital room, tubes everywhere, prone in the bed, glad to be alive but vaguely in shock.

Instantly though I wondered what I had said, what embarrassments I had committed, what personal secrets I had revealed to this complete stranger in a vulnerable moment. Had I sworn my head off, been rude or foul?

“Um, how funny, what did I say?” came my hesitant question.

“You just kept on asking me to tell you something about myself, to keep me talking to you about my life. You were insistent, it was quite funny really!”

I breathed a sigh of relief. Evidently, she hadn’t had a patient like me before. I have zero recollection of that conversation. Where is it buried in my deep recesses of memory?

Why had I reacted that way? Was I attempting to distance myself from the awful assault on my body? I believe some part of me clearly wanted to be seen as a human being, a person who wanted to engage with others rather than just a lump of flesh lying prone on the stiff bed sheets, another number on the conveyor belt of surgeries.

I am glad my subconscious rallied. Despite years of swearing like a fish wife and having a rich vocabulary, some sense of decorum prevailed. Phew!

Have you had an odd moment after surgery? Share your memories in the comments section below.

Also read: A tragic, but saucy, tale from hospital

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