Pronatalism and Anesthesia

When I had my knee replacement surgery, less than two weeks ago (!), they did not use general anesthesia. They used a spinal and two nerve blocks, and then sedation. The anesthesiologist said, "we'll make you sleepy, like a colonoscopy." I thought of my botched colonoscopy "sedation," stared him in the eye, and said, "oh god no. Make me ASLEEP. I don't want to hear any of the power tools." Because... They use power tools. Much more Home Depot than surgical supply. Drills, saws, mallets, etc. No thank you. I want no part of that auditory feast.

I was way more afraid of the spinal than the nerve blocks, although the opposite proved to be true in reality. The nerve blocks were terrible. There was numbing applied to my skin, but all the threading inside was horrible. So I was an absolute wreck about the spinal. 

The pre-op nurse said, 'it's just like when you have a baby!" That was weird because not everyone gets or chooses spinal anesthesia, but also NOT EVERYONE HAS A DAMN BABY. I said, "oh, well I didn't have one, but if I could have I would have had an epidural!" Ha. Ha. Ha.

Then they came to get my pee, and I heard the tech say through the curtain, "we can't roll her in until we do the pregnancy test." So I yelled, "I can save you some time, I don't have a uterus, had a hysterectomy a few years ago!" Seriously, why isn't that marked on my chart? I feel like I need a name tag for when I go in for x-rays or medical things: HELLO MY NAME IS JESS AND I DON'T HAVE A UTERUS.

I was told one more time when they did the spinal, in the OR, under some loopy looperson medication, that it was just like when you have a baby. ARGH stop it... There are SO MANY PEOPLE who haven't given birth for a zillion reasons, why make it sound like it is the default experience? 

When I woke up after surgery, completely lucid because no general anesthesia, they had that paper screen up to shield me from the horrors of what they'd done to my leg. I am grateful for the lucidity because my strong impulse was to yell, "WHERE'S MY BABY?!?" and then cackle madly, because it looked like every depiction of a C-section EVER. 

Don't worry, I didn't do it. But it would have been hilarious and a little tiny retribution for the insane pronatalist assumptions thrown at me up through that point. 


  1. Oh gosh, how frustrating....I am chuckling at "hello my name is Jess and I don't have a uterus". And also I kinda wish you did yell "Where's my baby?" from behind the screen. LOL.

    You story actually reminds me of an experience I had when I was having a baby (D). One of the ultrasound techs who examined me had the initials JW (this is my theory: I never did get a definitive explanation). She put her initials on my chart. Toward the end of the pregnancy, I had hospital staff tell/ask me at least three times "So you're a Jehovah's Witness?" (!!!)

    This freaked me out because 1) that assumption can have very serious consequences in an emergency (Jehovah's witnesses oppose blood transfusions, and imagine if I was in a position to not advocate for myself) and 2) my family actually WAS Jehovah's Witnesses till I was 4 years old, but not for decades! and it's certainly something I have never wanted nor claimed to be. So it felt like some creepy vestige of my distant past being dragged up to mess with me.

    Medical mistakes/oversights are a terrifying thing to contemplate....especially since we know they DO I'm glad in the big picture of things everything seems to have gone smoothly!

  2. Oh, I wish I could have been there in that alternate reality in which you wake up and yell WHERE'S MY BABY!? Cackle for sure.

    And yes, why is having given birth the default? I grrrrrr about this all the time, too.