Friday, July 17, 2009

Surgery and sleep apnea

Last summer I had cataract surgery which for most people is a relatively easy and safe procedure. Of course it wasn’t for me. My first problem was the kind of eye problems (glaucoma) that I had. Before the surgery the pupils in my eyes were very small which made the surgery difficult and required a cornea specialist. And at the time my meniere’s disease (a disease that is similar to vertigo where you have spinning attacks) was probably the worse it had ever been. I had many attacks that just came up on me. I worried that I would have an attack during the surgery.

I discussed this with the surgeon before my surgery date. He explained to me that he usually put the patient into what was called ‘twilight” not completely out but in a very sleepy state. When I told him about my meniere’s disease he suggested that I might be better served if I was completely under anesthesia during the surgery.

Then I told him about my sleep apnea and he decided that putting me completely under would definitely not work because of the complications that might occur if I jerked around while he was trying to remove my cataracts.

So we went with plan A, I was put in ‘twilight’ and the surgery went off without a hitch. No meniere’s attack and I didn’t have to worry about my sleep apnea.

All this made me think, what if I had an emergency surgery and the doctor didn’t know that I had sleep apnea. I know they administer oxygen but would that be enough to keep me breathing. And what about the millions of people out there that don’t even know they have sleep apnea. What if they needed surgery?

If you think that you or your partner has sleep apnea, please go to a doctor to get it checked out.

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