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What Is General Anaesthetic Like, What If It Doesn’t Work?

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alyxowl | 21:13 Thu 21st Dec 2023 | Body & Soul
24 Answers

Has anyone had one? 
I have one booked it's a while off yet but I'm apprehensive as I tend to have abnormal reactions to things. 

I am very hyper alert, take hours to get to sleep. I'm also very strong willed and quite physically fit I can't imagine just being knocked out easily by some drug. 

What is it like and what if it doesn't work?



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yes, and they've always worked. Some people may need more anaesthetic than others; that's what anaesthetists are for.

I was told to count down from ten, I started to do this and then woke up several hours later.


The anaesthetist will constantly be checking your vital signs to ensure that everything is going as planned.  (It takes a minimum of 14 years, after first getting top A-level grades, to become a fully-qualified anaesthetist.  So he or she will definitely know their job!). The drug will work!

It's all incredibly simple. The drug (or, more accurately, a cocktail of drugs) will be fed into a vein through a cannula, probably in the back of your hand. Before you even have time to say 'Good night', you'll be unconscious. Then, apparently immediately afterwards, you'll simly wake up from a deep sleep.  (A very few people might experience some  nausea or mental confusion but, with modern drugs, that's actually quite rare.  I felt ready to get up and dance within seconds of waking!).

it can depend, Buenchico, they sort of half-woke me up during my last one as they needed to monitor something; I knew something was happening but I didn't know what. It was deliberate, they knew what they were doing, but I did feel they could have warned me about this.

I remember one time they tried to wake me up and I refused to open my eyes.  I remember saying f*off either inside my head or out loud.

had four wisdom teeth out once, was told to count back from 10, felt nothing, just woke up drousy, then that cleared, so your answer is..i flet nothing, except the ache after a while of having the teeth out, but pain killers sorted that.

They've always worked fine.  Pre-hip replacement 1st time, they had run out of 'materiaux' for last minute X-rays at Poitiers so I didn't get pre-op the next early morning.  Instead I was trolleyed down to X-ray and then trolleyed up to Theatre (clutching my new X-rays); transferred to surgical couch and was chatting to the 2 nurses about their shopping lists before the anaesthetist arrived.

'Bonjour Madame, ca va?' I managed to count  to 6..........

I've now had 3 'Generals' and not got past  counting to 6.

Don't worry.  I do remember waking up and thinking 'I'm alive'.

I've had a few, you are completely zonked out and know nothing until you wake up later. 

I had a hernia op 3months ago, just like you I was a tad nervous/ terrified!

On the day of the op, they gave me pre-meds, then whilst still in bed, pushed me into another room, got me to sit up, all the time distracting me with small talk, next thing I knew a nurse walked behind me with a needle, the next thing I was waking up in bed with my wife by my bedside.

alyxowl , I can remember feeling like you do before I had my first anaesthetic.

Don't worry, it won't happen. You will be well away with the fairies before your operation begins, trust me.

I've had a few, and can only concur with previous answers. 

You will zonk out and wake as though you've been sleeping.

Relax, you'll be in good hands.

alyxowl  Hope we've all managed to put your mind at rest.

The anaesthetist will talk to you prior to the op and reassure you

Question Author

Thanks all for sharing your stories, it is reassuring when so many people say it's no big deal and come out the other side fine

Just to add my experience - nurse arrives by bedside with "just a small injection Canary as your pre-med". Next thing I know I'm waking up in the same bed, feeling a bit groggy but knowing nothing of what went on in between.

/// I remember saying f*off either inside my head or out loud. ///

One of the favourite occupations of the nursing staff is to inform you that while you were  coming round in the recovery room you were using the most foul language they had ever heard.  Or otherwise they taunt you with episodes of your life which you allegedly related on the same occasion.  I still don't know whether they were kidding 😁

I've just been counting how many ops I have had since aged  9.  I've recalled 10, one being long and complicated.there have neve r been problems with general anaesthetics.  Except I came round last time with a black eye! The anaesthetist came to apologise.  One of the nurses had knocked into a stand holding a drip and it fell down on my head!!   

not sure it's the anaesthetist who should have been apologising there, Countrylover! Maybe he drew the short straw

It's great. You will definitely be knocked out within about five seconds and when you wake up you will feel wonderfully chilled for a while.

Plus, whatever the surgery was will be done.

Omg countrylover - the black eye!  Could have been anything that happened as you wouldn't know!

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