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  #1  
Old 11-06-2008, 06:29 AM
Radegast Radegast is offline
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More Emotional After Anesthesia

Does anyone else find him/herself to be more emotional after being under general anesthesia? My father said he was more emotional -- certainly quicker to get choked up over something -- after he had open-heart surgery and was under for a long time. He claimed it had something to do with the heart surgery. I couldn't see any reason that should be the case.

Several years later, I had extensive knee surgery. Ever since, I've been more likely to tear up in situations where I would never have done so before -- movies, songs, etc. I'm thinking this is a side-effect of general anesthesia, and that it has something to do with how long one is under. I was under to have my wisdom teeth out when I was in college but didn't notice any difference at that time.

I've read that some amount of cognitive impairment is a common side effect of open-heart surgery. I'm wondering if the emotional changes aren't due to some degree of brain damage caused by the anesthesia. One gets a long list of possible side effects and complications before agreeing to general anesthesia, but I'm never seen this result listed.

Do any other others have similar experiences, or am I just getting old and sappy?

Last edited by Radegast; 11-06-2008 at 06:30 AM..
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  #2  
Old 11-06-2008, 09:16 AM
metronome metronome is offline
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I don't anesthetize well. At all.

When I had my wisdom teeth out a few years ago, I woke up in an absolute panic. At one point I was screaming, convinced that my sister was dead. She was alive and in the waiting room, but I would. Not. Shut. Up. Until she came in.

When I was a teenager, I had eye surgery and woke up freaking out, too--screaming and sobbing, and I wouldn't let go of my parents' hands. Would not. I mean, death grip, or as close as you can get when you're still out of it. The nurses had to take the heart rate monitor off my hand and put it on my toe because I refused to let go (of course, then I bitched that my sock was off, because I couldn't remember why my sock was off...).

I think, for me, it must have something to do with being really, really anxious before the anesthesia. I know if I'm anxious before I take generally enjoyable substances, I flip my [stuff] pretty bad.

Not like it matters. I still never want to have anesthesia again.
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  #3  
Old 11-06-2008, 09:37 AM
gigi gigi is offline
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Facing death and/or significant surgery with risk and fears can alos shake you up for a while. My non-emotional father just had major surgery but this was combined with thinking about death and making decisions about how to treat his illness. He also would have a rush of relief that it seems to have gone well so far and that he's still alive! It's not wonder he got a little choked up and more in touch with emotions.
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  #4  
Old 11-06-2008, 09:43 AM
DianaG DianaG is offline
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metronome, every time I've undergone general anaesthesia, I've woken up sobbing. Every time. And I wasn't especially anxious beforehand, and I am certainly not a crier, in general. It's a physical reaction, I'm pretty sure.
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  #5  
Old 11-06-2008, 11:18 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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The more problems I have thinking the more emotional I become. Filler words in sentences are swearing, until I get short and say stop grilling me. Too rapid of input from idiots asking you questions confuses you and you get very emotional.

It goes for other situations too. My emotions are harder to control when me logical self is less capable.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 11-06-2008 at 11:20 AM..
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  #6  
Old 11-06-2008, 11:42 AM
Jelly Roll Jelly Roll is offline
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I wake up sobbing from anesthesia. But I don't feel sad. In fact, I usually wake up in a great mood and am able to talk, joke around and laugh fairly quickly afterwards, but with tears streaming down my face and in between sobs. It's weird.

But it doesn't last, if that's what you're asking Radegast. I'm usually back to my old self within an hour or two.
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  #7  
Old 11-06-2008, 12:01 PM
Santo Rugger Santo Rugger is offline
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I had ACL reconstruction about 6 months ago (and got my final clearance, sans contact activity, yesterday!). When I woke up I was very sensitive to lights and sounds. I actually yelled at my dad to shut up; I haven't yelled at him since I was a teenager and lived with him 9 years ago. The worst part is that I didn't even feel bad, and I was still upset that he wouldn't stop talking until I woke up the next day.
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  #8  
Old 11-06-2008, 12:47 PM
Szlater Szlater is offline
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I've had more than 20 general anaesthesias, and I've woken up in a variety of emotional states. Ranging from "fighty" when I managed to destroy a pulse/ox machine, to "oh my god, I died" last time (Aug 2006) when I woke up in intensive care surrounded by my family in white gowns. When I was a kid I apparently used to cry alot. Shortly after the death of my mother (when I was 9) I woke up and told everyone that I'd seen her whilst I was asleep (so was very emotional for a while).
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  #9  
Old 11-07-2008, 06:50 AM
CrazyCatLady CrazyCatLady is offline
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Dysphoria is a pretty common temporary after-effect of anesthesia, but effects directly related to anesthesia ought to wear off as the drug is filtered from your body. In other words, if it lasts more than 12-24 hours, it's most likely not the anesthesia.

Increased emotionality after open heart surgery is pretty much par for the course. My father and grandfather both had it, though it manifested in different ways. Grandpa alternated between bitchy and weepy, while Dad was...well, he was scared to do anything at all, which isn't like him. And the hospital staff warned us about that before both surgeries, along with the fact that they'd look 3/4 dead when we saw them post-op.

What families tend to forget is that open heart surgery is some scary shit for the patient too, especially in an emergency situation. We're scared to death before and during the surgery, while they're doped to the gills and ain't worried about shit. Once they're off the vent, we start feeling better because we know they're going to be okay, and by the time they come home the family is in pretty good emotional shape. But the patient is just now starting to come to terms with "Holy shit, I almost died," and they're doing it at a time when they're weak and in pain. When doing little piddly stuff they always took for granted a)wipes them totally out and b)makes them hurt even worse than they already did.
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  #10  
Old 11-07-2008, 06:56 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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I absolutely find myself being more emotional after every major surgery. I don't know if it is anesthesia-related, or simply the fact that surgery is very traumatic for the body and the mind. Maybe it is the pain-killers. I haven't figured it out.

I also often get very depressed after a major surgery. This last time I wondered if that depression was/is withdrawal symptoms from the pain-killers.

I don't have any answers and I was disappointed with my surgeon who brushed the discussion off. I guess he doesn't have any answers either.
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  #11  
Old 11-07-2008, 11:24 AM
Neeps Neeps is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
I also often get very depressed after a major surgery. This last time I wondered if that depression was/is withdrawal symptoms from the pain-killers.
I had the opposite effect after my last major operation. I woke up with a sense of elation that lasted a good few weeks. This despite the fact that I am not a very upbeat person in general, I was pretty sore and unable to do what I wanted, and I was waiting on pathology results (small chance of cancer).

I am not sure if I could attribute that to the anaesthesia, or the fact that I had come through the operation in one piece.

I wish it could have lasted longer.....
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  #12  
Old 11-07-2008, 03:04 PM
lizardling lizardling is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DianaG View Post
metronome, every time I've undergone general anaesthesia, I've woken up sobbing. Every time. And I wasn't especially anxious beforehand, and I am certainly not a crier, in general. It's a physical reaction, I'm pretty sure.
This. I had general for my wisdom teeth surgery -- all four in one go. I'm NOT a crier. At all.

And yet, I woke up in absolute *hysterics*. Tears, wailing, the whole nine. Cried in the OR. Cried all the way home. Cried myself to sleep. And then when I woke up, the painkiller fog kicked in.
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  #13  
Old 11-07-2008, 06:54 PM
Cyn Cyn is offline
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I've observed the whole spectrum of emotional displays from patients coming out of anesthesia. I tell those who are appalled by their reaction that their body has just undergone a huge insult and reactions are to be expected.
I also smile, look them in the eye and say "You were just fine" when they ask if they did anything "funny" while they were under...no matter what they said.
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  #14  
Old 11-08-2008, 06:33 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyn View Post
I've observed the whole spectrum of emotional displays from patients coming out of anesthesia. I tell those who are appalled by their reaction that their body has just undergone a huge insult and reactions are to be expected.
I also smile, look them in the eye and say "You were just fine" when they ask if they did anything "funny" while they were under...no matter what they said.
Do people say things under anesthesia? For me it is like turning off a switch. One minute I'm awake, next thing I know I'm in recovery. There is no in-between for me where I might say something silly. Or if there is, I don't remember it even a little, this after 8 operations since 03.

Last edited by Khadaji; 11-08-2008 at 06:33 AM..
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  #15  
Old 11-08-2008, 01:56 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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I've had more than a dozen generals and as far as I know have never had any remarkable moods or actions.

One of the stepkids giggles uncontrolably when he's waking up. The other issues great, racking, heartfelt sobs.
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  #16  
Old 11-09-2008, 05:46 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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One thing I remembered last night: After some of my operations I had difficulty with watching violence. The Discovery channel was right out, because watching the lion bring down the gazelle was an issue for me. Shoot-em-ups bothered me.

That faded as time passed, but it was a weird thing. That may or may not have been the anesthesia. I had some difficult ops and it may have been the recognition of my own mortality.
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  #17  
Old 11-10-2008, 04:42 AM
Radegast Radegast is offline
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Maybe I need to clarify. I'm not talking about immediately after waking up from anesthesia. I would expect to be wacky at that point. I'm talking about permanent, long-term, lasting effects, years after the anethesia.
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  #18  
Old 11-10-2008, 06:24 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radegast View Post
Maybe I need to clarify. I'm not talking about immediately after waking up from anesthesia. I would expect to be wacky at that point. I'm talking about permanent, long-term, lasting effects, years after the anethesia.
So was I. Well, long-term, not necessarily permanent. Everything I spoke about lasted for months after my operations.

I do believe anesthesia has affected my memory, but my docs say no. I now stumble through things I had no trouble remembering and I do so on a regular basis. Maybe it is because I'll be 47 soon, but I wasn't like this 5 years ago.
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  #19  
Old 11-10-2008, 12:38 PM
Thinks2Much Thinks2Much is offline
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I think it is just a product of getting older. I have not been under since I was 24, and in recent years I am much more emotional than I used to be. I am not even 40 yet. I can't pinpoint when the change happened. I cry for stupid commercials even sometimes, and I never used to be like that. Schmaltz annoyed me. All the movies I take my kid to make me cry. It is embarrassing!!
My father was a real hard a$$ when I was a kid, and he cries very easily now too. I first noticed it when I graduated from college - it was the first time I saw him cry, but now he cries just when he talks to me about my son, even.. He had never had surgery when he started the turn to a maudlin old fool.

The human brain insists on finding patterns where there aren't any... you're just getting sentimental in your old age.
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  #20  
Old 11-10-2008, 03:42 PM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Originally Posted by Thinks2Much View Post
I think it is just a product of getting older.
Possibly this, coupled with the "brush with mortality" part of major surgery.

Immediately after anesthesia, and when under the influence of drugs generally, I tend to be maudlin.

Once my back went into spasm, which happens to me sometimes, and is always - unpleasant. Very, very unpleasant. They wound up shooting me full of either Demerol or Dilaudid, along with a potentiator to make it work better. Whoo doggy, did it work better. I was telling my wife how much I appreciated the care that she gave me, how much I loved her, I was grateful to her for helping me in my hour of need, etc., etc., at some length.

So I recovered from that episode. Fast forward about a year and a half. Sure enough, my back went out again. My wife wheeled me into the emergency room and said, "He needs a shot of that stuff that turns him into a nice guy."
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  #21  
Old 11-11-2008, 02:38 PM
Nan Sequitur Nan Sequitur is offline
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I had minor surgery a few years ago which required general anesthesia, and was puzzled by a statement on the after care printout they gave me which warned not to make any life altering decisions for a few weeks following the surgery. They seemed to be aware that general anesthesia can cause erratic or overly emotional responses. I was a blithering basket case for a couple of weeks, so was relieved they gave me a heads up that I wasn't actually going nuts. It surprises me that others haven't gotten the same warning.
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