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Mental Health

Psychological Fear of Sedation

04/11/2008

Question:

I read with interest the previous comment of the "control freak having anesthesia" and find myself in a very similar and very uncomfortable situation; probably a psychological or psychiatric problem....so here goes. I`m 50, just retired from the military and have had no consistent medical care or PCP; luckily, I have been fairly healthy except ofr a strong family history of colon cancer. It`s a no-brainer that I needed to get a colonoscopy done at 40; but the fear of sedation (I once saw a friend have a severe reaction to " conscious sedation") has me about 10 years overdue. I was the designated driver for a friend who is a nurse while she got her colonoscopy and got a first hand view of this procedure: she cried and begged them to stop, but the "conscious sedation" prevented her from remembering the procedure. Not for me, no thnaks, I can deal with the pain. I have the exam scheduled, but the endoscopy center says that "you are crazy to request the exam without sedation"....This is not a medical question, I know that a minority of these exams are indeed done without the amnesia-inducing "conscious sedation" and that there is indeed some pain involved. My question: is it so wrong to be willing too have a little pain rather than experience a temporary "chemical lobotomy (as my nurse friend describes her experience)??? I`m asking because I`m going to cancel the test if they "require" sedation. thanks

Answer:

As you correctly identify, a family history of colon cancer is a strong reason for you to undergo a colonoscopy. A gastroenterologist and anesthesiologist can answer this question directly, but I am not clear that what you witnessed is common. I recommend scheduling appointments with physicians in both disciplines to discuss your concerns about the procedure and what modifications would improve the chance of completing that successfully. You can also them directly about the advisability of undergoing this procedure without any conscious sedation.

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Response by:

Ram Chandran  Kalyanam, MD Ram Chandran Kalyanam, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University