Anesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness
"An obsessive, mystical, terrifying, and even phantasmagorical exploration of anesthesia’s shadowy terra incognita." —The New Yorker
Anesthetize: to render insensible
First there’s the injection, then the countdown—and next thing you know, you’re awake. Anesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness is the story of the time in between, an exploration of that most crucial and baffling gift of modern medicine: the disappearing act that enables us to undergo procedures that would otherwise be impossibly, often fatally, painful.
In the past 150 years, anesthesia has made surgical intervention routine, from open-heart surgery to the facelift. But how much do anesthesiologists really know about what happens when their patients go under? Can we hear and retain what’s going on? Is pain still pain if we don’t remember it? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body’s experience of being sliced open and ransacked—and how can we help ourselves through it all?
Kate Cole-Adams weaves her own personal experiences with surgery and its aftermath with the explorations and personal accounts of others, doctors and patients alike—accounts of people who wake under the knife, who experience traumatic reactions, dreams, hallucinations, and submerged memories—accounts that evoke and illuminate the provisional nature of the self.
Haunting, lyrical, sometimes shattering, Cole-Adams leavens science with personal experience, and brings an intensely human curiosity to the unknowable realm beyond consciousness.
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amnestic Anaesthetists Anesthesia & Analgesia Anesthesia Awareness anesthesiologist anesthetic drugs anesthetized patients asked awake Awareness in Anaesthesia Bernard Levinson BIS monitor Bispectral Index body brain breathing British Journal Clinical colonoscopy consciousness didn’t doctors dreams Eger emotional ether experience eyes Eyes Wide Shut feeling felt going Hank Bennett happened hospital Hull hypnosis hypnotized Ian Russell Implicit Memory interview Intraoperative Awareness Isolated Forearm Technique Journal of Anaesthesia Kate Leslie knew later look Memory and Awareness Michael Wang midazolam mind monitor mother move muscle nitrous oxide nurse operating theater pain paralyzed Paul Myles perhaps procedure propofol psychologist recall relaxed remember reported researchers response Russell Sebel sedation seemed sense sleep Society of Anesthesiologists someone sometimes sort staff story surgeon surgery surgical patients talking tell there’s things thought told trying unconscious Veselis voice volunteers wake Wang woke woman words