If Memory Doesn’t Serve. . .
Have you ever had an experience that you couldn’t remember a short while later, or the next day? I don’t mean anything mystical or abstract, but an actual failure of memory. (I don’t include dreams, because I’m not awake for them, and besides, they’re not real.)
This recently happened to me for the first time. It was unnerving.
I had a routine medical exam (I’ll spare you the details) that required a level of sedation known as twilight sleep, which is common for these procedures (it’s also used for some dental surgery). Twilight sleep sedative is administered through an intravenous needle. Although the experience varies from patient to patient, the idea is that you’re pleasantly dopey, but you can still understand and respond to directions and comments from the doctor, and provide feedback about any discomfort.
For the exam, nurses connected my IV, attached ECG sensors and placed an oxygen tube under my nose. A nurse mentioned that the breathing tube should start smelling “plasticky,” which it did. A few moments later, I woke up in the recovery room, feeling a little drowsy but otherwise quite normal. In short order, I was helped into a wheelchair, then wheeled out to where my ride was waiting. I slept well that night.
Now wait just a darn minute!
What happened during the procedure? When did I get dressed?
I’ve since asked my primary care doctor about this, and he confirmed that in all likelihood, I was awake for the procedure. I clearly must have dressed myself – my shoes were tied the way I like, my clothing was properly adjusted and personal items were where I normally keep them.
I’ve had procedures with full anesthesia, and of course I (thankfully) don’t remember them, because I was asleep at the time. However, I was essentially awake for this one, and yet I can’t remember it. The only other experience to which I can liken this might be blacking out after a night of drinking, which isn’t part of my background. I’ve remembered – at least for a while – every experience I’ve ever had, inasmuch as I was awake when it happened. Except this one!
I keep feeling that even if I can’t remember the details, I should somehow at least recall that something happened and that it took a particular amount of time. But no; several hours of my conscious life experience have simply disappeared.
Would this bother you as much as it bothers me?