The World of Hallucination After Surgery
edited: Thursday, June 06, 2002
By Kathern D Welsh
Posted: Thursday, June 06, 2002
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This article is taken from my book, The Dark Side of Surgery, now being considered by an agent.
Revision of Article published in Suite 101 (suite101.com)
Women’s Health & Herbs
“That’s not my wife!” Sonny exclaimed. “What’s happened to her? What’s going on?”
These were my husband’s words after five days of my delirious after major back surgery.
Have you ever wondered what it was like to have a hallucination? Well, so did I and I found out. It’s another world within your mind that seems totally real and unless you can separate the real from the unreal — well, it would be very easy to get lost and succumb to the enticements and lure of a world of characters and things that doesn't exist in the real world.
I was admitted to the hospital on a Monday morning in 1998 to have my second lumbar spinal fusion the following day. The first operation, done through the abdomen a year before, had not healed, but had not caused any other long lasting ill effects. This time, the surgeon opted for cutting open my lower back. I had to have three vertebra fused and bone grafts were taken from my hip bones. These bone fragments were meticulously placed by the surgeon and then a titanium clamp inserted with a long screw around the whole area in my lower back.
Everything went well, except that I had an unexpected reaction to the anesthetic, which resulted in days of hallucinations and nearly constant periods of delirium.
I ended up being “out of my head” for about 10 days, and what an experience it was! To my mind, those ten days seemed like three weeks. I had amazing adventures that seemed so real... it took quite some time to realize it was all in my mind; purely figments of my unconscious imagination.
“Don’t touch me or I’ll fall off the bed!” I warned my husband soon after I was taken to a regular room from intensive care.
“What are you talking about?” he asked, looking at me strangely and then noticed how my toes were firmly braced against the foot of the bed while I held onto the mattress with both hands spread out to my sides.
“My bed is standing up against the wall,” I explained, in my delirium, “and if you bump me I might fall off!” In my mind the feet of my bed were up against the wall with the foot of the bed nearest the floor. The whole room was tilted and I marveled at how the nurses, and visitors could walk through the door, across the floor, and then right up the wall to my bed.
The sensation of the room being turned over, with the TV on the floor, and me against the wall, lasted for nearly two weeks, and then periodically for about two more weeks.
Another hallucination was more within my own mind, although to me, it was actually happening.
“I thought you were dead!” I exclaimed one day as my husband walked into my room.
I couldn’t understand his shocked expression. I was the one who should be surprised because I believed he had been killed! In my mind I had experienced quite an involved adventure. I had been kidnapped, visited a world of evil spirits and escaped from being held on board a ship. After surviving a fall onto a hatch cover, I had been taken to a large, old house, where Sonny had found me, and in trying to help me escape, I had believed he had been killed.
“I’m not dead, I’m right here!” Sonny said as he gently took my hand.
That was the first time I began to realized that all the experiences I’d been having to that point, had not been real.
There were extraordinary experiences which were on the soul level and caused some drastic changes in my life. I know many people will doubt that experiences such as this are real and claim they are caused by the anesthetic and are nothing but “bad trips”. I respect their right to their opinions. As for me... I am convinced that there is an unseen world and that there really is life after death and that my soul will live on in a wondrous state of ecstasy and freedom such as mortal man cannot hope to comprehend. The whole “in-hospital” ordeal lasted three weeks, although to my mind it seemed more like two months, and there are many pieces to the puzzle. I hold only a part of the story — the part no one else knows. Some of the extended effects to my health, mind and spirit have lasted to the present time.
Many have said that I would be unable to remember the events I experienced in my delirium, but while it was still quite vivid in my memory, I wrote it all down, and I’m putting it in book form.
While it looked to others like I was lying there quietly in the bed, my mind and soul were having some extraordinary adventures. These experiences were so real, that the memories they created in my mind seem as authentic as actual events.
I came out of the experience changed in many ways. Foods that tasted good before no longer hold any appeal for me. Also, my enormous cravings for sweets have dwindled radically. Another change is my addiction to the ABC soap operas. For years I watched them every day. I would even listen to them in the car. Now they no longer hold my interest.
As I came out of the anesthetic, I scared my husband, Sonny, with my ravings and weird behaviors, although the drastic extent of the delirium didn’t become fully evident until days later.
Three days after the operation, he got a phone call after midnight to come to the hospital and help calm me down. I had fallen out of bed, and pulled out the central line in the vein in my neck and they needed help in calming me to put it back in.
I still clearly remember that night, only my version is different.
The fall out of bed is when I was being chased over the deck of the ship, and I fell over a rail and fell on my back onto a wet, hard hatch cover.
I remember pulling out the tubing from my neck, but I thought I was pulling off a pin, a piece of jewelry someone had pinned to my neck.
Same results, but much different are the memories associated with them. I know now mine were hallucinations, but the memories are as though my experiences were real.
“That’s not my wife!” Sonny had exclaimed, on the morning after his midnight call. “What’s happened to her? What’s going on?” He was trembling through to his very soul. He didn’t know how to let any of the family know what was going on because he didn’t know what to tell them. At that point, five days after my surgery, he didn’t know whether I would ever come out of it. No one had filled him in on the terrifying situation until Saturday, after he pressed for and demanded some explanations.
He was finally told about the adverse reaction to the anesthetic and that there was no way to know how long it would continue. Most patients would come back to themselves after two or three days, but as time went on, I was still hallucinating and recovery was uncertain.
Sonny knew he had to tell my daughter, Lori, what was going on, because she was very concerned. I didn’t act like her mother and every time she called, I just talked nonsense to her and to other friends who visited, and everyone was apprehensive.
I’m writing this article because I think it's important to let you in on one of the well-kept secrets of "what might happen after surgery.” I'm sure if we had been forewarned, we could have responded with much less anxiety. Even during my excursions in "other world" experiences, I feel I could have reacted to these bizarre wonderings, within my mind, much better if I'd been allowed to plant the possibility of hallucinations in my subconscious before the surgery.
You can contact me at designsbyk.directvinternet.com if you'd like to know more about this secret world and be better able to cope with your own, or a loved one's possible venture into the unknown after-world of surgical hallucinations!