Sometimes surgery comes as part of being a sickle cell and surgery generally is very stressful on the human body so let's imagine how much more stressful it will be on a patient with sickle cell.
As a sickle cell patient we are sometimes going to be faced with having to undergo surgery on an internal organ, or bone. I am not saying we all will but quite a few of us do so. Personally I have had two surgeries. The first one was a Caesarean Section and the second was a laparoscopic cholecystectomy which is the removal of my gall bladder. I had cholecystitis.
For both surgeries, general anaesthesia was used. General anaesthesia (GA) is a combination of drugs that cause sedation, paralysis, amnesia and analgesia. They act together to help a patient undergo a painful traumatic surgical procedure without any sensation which is actually the Greek meaning of ANAESTHESIA. The main mode of action of GA is on the central nervous system. It suppresses the CNS which results in the above mentioned characteristics. Like with all drugs, there are side effects to GA which is why before heading for surgery the anaesthesiologist responsible for you life and health, literally and figuratively, comes in to ask questions, personal and somewhat uncomfortable questions which we have to answer truthfully 100% and not intentionally omit or distort any truth because it could mean the difference between a disastrous and successful surgery. They ask questions on past surgeries you may have had including dental procedures, there's mouth inspection too, age, on allergic reactions to foods, fruits and drugs, history of substance abuse, what drugs you are on both orthodox and herbal drugs, blood transfusion history and some other questions I cannot remember now. These will help them decide the right anaesthetic dose and duration and what to look out for during and after surgery.
Some of the risks of GA include postoperative vomiting, nausea, death, pulmonary embolism (this is blocking of the pulmonary artery which transports blood from the heart to the lungs by blood clot, air or fat) which in sickle cell can cause acute chest syndrome (ACS) and death. As mentioned above GA acts on the CNS and the CNS as we know from secondary Biology controls the activities of the body, it comprises of the brain and spinal cord. So if it controls our entire body activities and GA suppresses its activities we can only guess how very conscious and precise our anaesthesiologist must be. They have to monitor our hearts and lungs by our vital signs (blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate) since we cannot, move talk or tell them what could be wrong during the procedure.
It is the duty of the lead surgeon to tell the patient and relatives of the patient all the risks involved during and after the surgery and the means by which they can be prepared to prevent such from happening or if they happen the means by which to treat it. You should never go in for a surgery half prepared or relying on Faith without action. It does not work that way. I realize in Africa we have fear of being told the truth and we consider the messenger as the cause of the probable effect. Some people go on to harass the nurse or Dr who informs on what might happen so they have stopped telling us and just say everything will be fine then it goes wrong and the patients are left in chaos and confusion on what and how to solve such emergent issues.
Surgery does not have to be a death sentence. Be informed! Information is key to better health.