I’m pretty much freaking out right now — complete body stress reaction — I can feel the adrenalin pumping through my body — my nerves are on edge — my mind is racing — my heart is pounding. Why? Long story.
I’m writing this out because it will help calm my nerves and help me think through this and process all of my feelings.
I started having this reaction when I was writing the last comment (at the time of this writing, May 23, 12:47 a.m. — my blog is set to Greenwich Mean Time — it’s really not quite 8 p.m. right now in my time zone) on this post, the one about delayed cord clamping. Pinky and Reality Rounds and I have been having a nice conversation (in case you haven’t “met” them yet, they’re both L&D nurses, and both are skeptical about delayed cord clamping because of what the NICU docs they work with have said, and how they practice), and I started thinking about some of the bone-headed things doctors used to do, and used to train others to do, which were not supported by medical literature prior to them being done, and were eventually stopped when it was finally shown to be either not helpful, or possibly even harmful. Of course, it’s not too hard to find things — pubic shaving, enemas, 100% episiotomy-and-forceps birth, etc. But since we’re talking about babies and the harm or benefit to them from either delayed or immediate cord clamping, I thought about stuff that used to be done to babies that has changed. The big thing that came to my mind was that they used to perform surgeries on babies, particularly premature babies, without anesthesia, because doctors were trained and taught that babies didn’t feel pain, or at least did not feel pain like older children or even adults. You may say, “Oh, here she goes again — that was what they used to say about circumcision.” Yes, but more than circumcision — we’re talking major surgery — heart operations, drilling holes in a baby’s neck — that sort of thing.
So, I knew they had done this for years — I remember reading about research done in the 50s and 60s in which doctors poked babies with pins and noted — not their pain response — but their “primal reaction”. They had made up their minds that babies didn’t feel pain, so when the babies were very obviously showing that they were in pain by crying, screaming, trying to move away from the painful stimuli, etc., they had such blinders on that they didn’t even register that the babies were in pain. IDIOTS!! So these stupid doctors taught the next generation of doctors these “facts” who taught the next generation, etc.
If you check out the link above, you’ll see that these surgeries were performed on babies up through the mid-80s (and perhaps beyond)!
[Ok, I was getting less stress as I was typing the above, and now it’s just come flooding back.]
The babies were given paralytic drugs, so that they couldn’t move — i.e. STRUGGLE BECAUSE OF THE PAIN — but were not given anything for pain. Many babies died because of the shock and trauma. Their little systems just couldn’t handle it. Most if not all parents did not even know that their babies had been sliced open without so much as a Tylenol, until one set of parents found out and went public. Then more parents asked questions, got their children’s hospital records, etc., and raised such a big stink about it that practices changed. But it was butchery that went on in the name of medicine. If animals had been treated in such a way, the perpetrators would have been put behind bars. But it was not questioned because doctors in white coats who all that medical training, so knew what is best. [HAH!]
I’ve known that preemies were operated on without anesthesia, but I did not know that it extended past that time — perhaps a few days or weeks, maybe a few months. Also, I thought that the reason they thought preemies couldn’t feel pain is that they assumed that babies weren’t developed enough prior to term; so I thought that they only operated on these helpless infants, without anesthesia, up until when the baby would have been “term” had s/he not been born prematurely. I was wrong.
Just a few minutes ago, when I was looking at when this barbaric practice ended, I saw this link, a letter to the editor, which had the following quote:
Your article on infant pain and its belated recognition by the medical community (Science Times, Nov. 24) suggests that unanesthetized surgery has been limited to newborns and that the practice had largely ended by the late 1970’s. However, surveys of medical professionals indicate that as recently as 1986 infants as old as 15 months were receiving no anesthesia during surgery at most American hospitals.
Now here’s where it gets personal. Intensely personal.
I was born in the late 70s. When I was about 3 months old, I underwent a heart operation due to holes in my heart. Frankly, I now believe that I was not given anesthesia. And that is what caused my stress reaction when writing the comment I did that I mentioned above.
Although the overwhelming feelings I listed above have faded, the only other time I remember feeling like this completely out of the blue, was when I wrote this post, last October, when I felt the same sort of near-panic attack kind of feelings, when I read what a typical C-section was like, and started flipping out thinking about being completely numb and unable to move. [Just to be honest, even though it is getting to be very stream-of-consciousness here, and I apologize for that — writing the last sentence made me almost cry. The rational part of my brain says that that is totally nutso; but the tightening in my chest is returning regardless of logic and reason.]
I don’t remember my surgeries, and have good memories of the hospital. But I have no choice but to say — logic be damned! — that my body remembers the surgeries (whether I had anesthesia or not — and I say probably, almost definitely NOT).
I hate this feeling. HATE IT! It’s the same way I felt when my brother (who is six years older than me) would tease and torment me, and I couldn’t stop him because he was so much bigger than me. It’s this feeling of utter helplessness. Like my arms are bound by my sides, unable to move. It’s horrible.
In all honesty, right now, my body just feels basically numb (except for my fingers) – -my arms literally feel very heavy, as if they have weights attached to them… or have been medically paralyzed.
Sorry that this isn’t an uplifting post. It also has nothing to do with cord clamping (feel free to read the comments on that post, though, because it has been a most interesting conversation). Nor does it really have anything to do with birth — although it doubles or triples my stance against circumcision, particularly without anesthesia. But don’t let anybody tell you that babies don’t feel pain. And if you or someone you know endured something painful as a baby, at least be open to the idea that s/he remembers it, even if s/he doesn’t “remember” it. I used to think that it was hogwash, myself, but not any more. Now, I’m a firm believer. There is just no other explanation I can offer as to why I have such a visceral reaction when these topics are brought up.