Being aneasethised for the first time! Worries! - Thyroid UK

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Being aneasethised for the first time! Worries!

Good afternoon guys.

So in the next 6-8 weeks I will be having my first surgery. I am having a full thyroidectomy due to Graves disease and would like any advice about being put asleep because I am so worried that I'll never wake up again. I went through the pre-operation assessment 2 weeks ago and the nurse told me I'll be fine but would like to hear any stories about your first surgery.

Best regards


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We all have same worries. Well most of us when it comes to anaesthetic and I was worried just like you.

May I ask if your operation is necessary?

Do you know what will happen after they cut out your thyroid?

Are you prepared and well informed on life as hypo?

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Back in 2000 I had my first ever surgery (not thyroid related but removal of parotid gland due to a tumour ) and I was terrified. I did not care about pain or discomfort after the op as long as I came round out of the anaesthetic. I had been told my op would take about 6 hours. I was 40 yrs old at the time but on the night before the op I was seriously trying to work out whether I could escape out of the hospital ward bathroom window - that’s how scared I was. . A nurse friend advised me to ask for a ‘pre med’ - so, I got a wee pill to take about 2 hours before I went to theatre. I was so relaxed ( and talking complete gibberish but what the heck ) that I didn’t care one jot about what was going to happen to me.

And, of course, I did wake up and felt absolutely dandy.

Please discuss your fears with your medics - it’s probably quite a common worry and they can help you with it.

Best wishes.


Don't worry. First you'll get a relaxant injection which will help you to lose anxiety. Then, while you are feeling quiet and relaxed they'll give you the anaesthetic without any fanfare or directly telling you - you aren't worried at that point anyway. And then! You wake up wondering "did I go to sleep, is it all over?" The whole problem is getting worked up about the remote possibility things will go wrong, and transforming it into "Things will go wrong" before the actual event. I've done three - natural worry about not coming round each time, but the people make sure you don't go into the operation on hi doh.


Gavin...I think it's completely normal to be apprehensive of having a GA.

I've had a few anaesthetics and the last couple were interesting as I was also a vet nurse at the time and the anaesthetist was most interested as to what we used in animals (pretty much the same, propofol, halothane) and I was still a bit apprehensive despite knowing what goes on to maintain anaesthesia and all the's normal human behaviour. :) Anaesthesia these days is totally different and supremely controlled compared to the early years of anaesthetics when chloroform and ether were used in a rather haphazard fashion and yes those were two very tricky agents. Thankfully consigned to the history books!

Yes, I remeber starting to count backwards and the next thing was a cheery nurse saying, "hello there" and me going on about "well have you done it yet or what!" :D ......and the delicious coolness of oxygen through the nasal cannula. I imagined I was on a Swiss mountain!

As MrsGraves says, do tell your team about your anxiety and apprehension. It's pretty common for the anaesthetist or an assistant to pay you a visit before you go to theatre, so make your feelings known.

Wishing you all the best. :)


I felt just like you when I had my first surgery and told the surgeon. He was so lovely and held my hand until I must have stopped counting and was out for the count. He was drop dead gorgeous and so it was worth every inch of the worry! Anesthesia is so very safe nowerdays, try to remember this. All the best for your op!


I felt exactly the same before my first and only general anaesthetic a few years ago, especially because I had to fill in a questionnaire a few weeks before and was a bit economical with the truth about my weight! It was only on the way down to the operation that I wondered if they would have used this information to decide how much anaesthetic to give me and I started panicking. It was all absolutely fine and I had no need to worry at all in the end of course. One useful thing to know is that when you wake up afterwards you might have an oxygen mask on (I think that's pretty standard for everyone post surgery) and I remember I kept trying to take it off when I was a bit drowsy. It was actually quite a nice feeling being all sleepy and having someone look after me. It really is completely normal to be nervous but I hope everyone's replies are reassuring.


My first anaesthetic was for an emergency caesarean after a day in labour with lots of pethedine so I wasn’t all that bothered about going to theatre. I remember waking up afterwards though and I felt as if my nose was right up against a textured ceiling tile, kind of like these out of body experiences you read about. I remember thinking ‘Oh God, I must have died’, then thinking ‘Hmm, I don’t think I have died, my stomach wouldn’t hurt if I had’.

Second time I was still nervous and I can remember rambling on to the theatre staff about how they were to be careful about what they were doing with me because my babies needed me. I also wrote out messages for my family and put them in my toilet bag so that they would find them if things didn’t work out.

I know exactly why you are nervous and it’s understandable but I’m sure you will be fine. Once you’ve had that pre med you won’t give two hoots. So good luck with your operation and here’s to good health afterwards.


You will be fine. This might be your first op but the surgeon and everyone else in the operating theatre have performed probably thousands of similar operations. They know what they are doing. Trust them. Also, tell them your fears. You won't be the only patient to worry about this and they will have advice to reassure you.

You could also make an appointment with a hypnotist or therapist who could help you with relaxation techniques before the op. See if your GP could give you some names.

I've had 2 thyroid operations. My memories of the first one - I felt slightly carsick as the bed was pushed down to the operating theatre. The second time I mentioned this and they changed something (can't remember what, maybe had me sitting up instead of lying down?) and I was fine. I can remember chatting to nurses and the anaesthetist in a small room about the surgeon cycling into work. Then I walked into the theatre and climbed onto the table. I remember thinking everyone knew exactly what they were doing. The anaesthetist couldn't find a vein on my arm to begin with and I remember laughing about this. (May have had some pre med by this point!) And the next thing I remember is waking up in bed.

Advice I'd give - ask your GP if you can start taking ferritin tablets for at least a month before and a month after the operation. I was totally shattered after the first one and only started feeling better after eventually being prescribed them. Second time, about a month before the operation I happened to see another consultant for another autoimmune disease, told him about my upcoming op and he prescribed them to start immediately - made a world of difference to how I felt afterwards.

Also, begin moving your neck regularly in all directions as soon as the surgeon says it's ok (probably within a couple of days) A friend at work wasn't told this and now has a very stiff neck with restricted movement.


Hi Gavbkk83. It is entirely normal to be nervous and scared. I would worry if you weren't. But as the posts say anesthesia is very safe nowadays and the staff is prepared for any eventualities. It's easy for us to say don't worry- we're not having the surgery but we will be thinking about you and want to hear how it goes. I hope everything goes smooth as glass for you. BTW I was an operating nurse for years but when it'smy turn I still get nervous. It's perfectly normal. The sugggestions re telling your caregivers about your anxieties are a good idea. They want you to be relaxed and will give you what you need med-wise to make things as easy as possible for you. Take care. irina1975


I had a TT in 2011. They said, 'Count down from 10...' I said, '10, 9...' and that's all I remember until a nurse asked me if I was in any pain. I was....they cleaned my lips off and I needed some chapstick pronto! It really isn't the surgery that is the issue, it is the thyroid hormone replacement afterwards. But one thing at a time :) Godspeed!


Ive been put to sleep 4 times and have been nervous everytime but the most recent one i had severe anxiety and took diazepam the days before and had a panic attack in the hospital. But the anesthetist came and spoke to me and put my mind at rest. The staff let my husband stay with me right up until i was wheeled down to the surgery and the ward nurse was allowed to come in with me and held my hand and helped me breathe when i went under. Next thing i know another nurse is calling my name and its all over! Felt like only minutes had passed! Tell them your fears as it really helped me!


The only patients I saw not do well following surgery were the infrequent ones who were not candid with their anesthesiologist with what they had on board in their bodies. Those that drink heavy, or take recreational drugs need to be upfront about this with their anesthesiologist to avoid post-op complications like confusion. Anyone who smokes needs to stop as soon as possible beforehand. Following these common sense measures will insure a safe outcome.

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