Sedation is a curious technique that has been employed during the three spinal injections I have endured. It is defined as a “minimally depressed level of consciousness that retains the patient’s ability to independently and continuously maintain an airway and respond appropriately to physical stimulation and verbal command and that is produced by pharmacological or nonpharmacologic method or combination thereof”. I find sedation both incredible and rather terrifying. The thought that I react both verbally and physically during procedures and then have no conscious memory of it afterwards is completely mind-blowing.
My first concern after these procedures is what and how I may have expressed myself to those unfortunate individuals who happened to surround me in the operating theatre. Did I howl obscenities like a Tourettes patient or shed tears extensively or become as silent as a mouse? The method by which the surgeon became convinced that he had placed the needles in the problematic region of my spine was when supreme pain was provoked. I dread even beginning to imagine how horrendously unrefined I may have acted under the influence of tranquilizers combined with acute agony. The fact that I find it terrifying to postulate about how I act when I “lose control” is a reflection of how intrinsic my need to have control over my body is.
The second aspect, in respect to sedation, which I have been internally debating, is whether the pain I experience during these procedures is truly real if I have no conscious recollection of it afterwards. To what degree of agony is it ethically justifiable to let somebody endure if they will have no cognitive memory of it afterwards? Sedation may have had the power to momentarily depress my consciousness but, on a larger time frame, it has enhanced my cognitive awareness.