November 19, 2022

Are Your Secrets Exposed Under Anesthesia?

Doctor explains what secrets are exposed by patients under anesthesia

Patients don't know that their secrets can be revealed when they're under anesthesia. Secrets about mental health, past traumas, and even alcohol and drug use can be revealed when patients are under anesthesia having surgery. And yes, even juicy gossip can come up if patients are under sedation (and don’t have a breathing tube in place for general anesthesia). Fortunately, silly things that are said in the operating room stay in the operating room!


These past traumas stick around in the body, even afteryears, and they influence how our body reacts not only in the operating room, but even in daily life. These past traumas come out, partly through our body language, even in personal and work relationships! They impact how we live our life, and can heavily impact our productivity, such as our presenteeism, absenteeism, and performance at work.


Back in the operating room, this is very important for patients to know because many are afraid that they might spill secrets. And this fear can lead to anxiety, and that anxiety in turn can lead to anesthesia and surgery complications. This is a result of the disinhibiting effects of anesthesia, meaning that our brain may not stop us from saying embarrassing things.


Your body takes a toll of everything that happens to it, even when we are not consciously thinking about it. It is these unsaid, or hidden, traumas, or perseverations, that can be revealed in the body under anesthesia, particularly under the stress of surgery. Anywhere there are nerves in the body there is a potential for anesthesia to. There are nerves in your heart, brain, bladder, stomach, muscles… pretty much everywhere. That’s why anesthesia can affect so many parts of your body. It's also why traumatic experiences can affect so many parts of your body.


Negative self-talk is a large determinant of the effects these traumas will have long term on the nerves throughout our bodies. “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I’m afraid.” these are all deterministic, self-prophesizing phrases that end up affecting the nerves all throughout our body.


In this video, I'll explain how the body interacts with anesthesia to reveal these secrets about itself. It's mediated through the nervous system, which stores so much of our past mental and physical health struggles. Because there are nerves everywhere in our body, not just our brain, but also our gut, bladder, muscles, pretty much everywhere, anesthesia really does tell us a lot about the body as a whole. Since good and bad things invariably happen to our bodies invariably throughout life, the bigger determinant about its toll on our body is how we consciously decide to react to the events.


Anesthesia and surgery can be far more than just an exposition of our past mental health struggles though. The stress and vulnerability of surgery can also open the window to impressive gains in resilience and health. You have more power over your physical and mental health than you’ve probably ever been told. I see this in patients in the operating room all the time!

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