An Anaesthetist Gave The BTS Tea On All The Fucked Things They Do To Us When We’re Under

Screenshot of a surgeon's face with the caption 'Things you didn't know about General Anaesthetic' and a photo of Elmo

The sheer thrill of general anaesthetic is you’re conked out, right? You’re dead to the world while the best of the medical business tinker with your body like they’re playing Operation and you’re the man with the big, red clown nose. There’s also some hectic stuff that happens while you’re zooted on happy gas, too.

Once you inhale that nitrous oxide or start counting backwards from 10, what the surgeons do to your floppy body is a mystery.

A straightforward appendectomy? They just knock me out, cut me open, yank that inflamed puppy out and we’re good to go, no?

I’m no surgeon, so I actually don’t know. But I do know about the ‘knock me out’ side of things, thanks to an anaesthetist on TikTok who uploaded a video revealing exactly what people like her do to our sedated bodies.

And it’s not good.


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♬ original sound – Olivia Reeves

“I have to tape in your endotracheal tube, the tube that goes down your throat and into your windpipe,” anaesthetist Olivia Reeves said.

“I have to tape it in place, across your cheeks, while you’re asleep.”

Exsqueeze me? Is this the reason you wake up post-surgery with a throat that feels as scratched as a record a DJ has gone hog wild on?

“I also tape your eyes closed. I keep them closed to prevent corneal abrasions,” she said.

“Some of you sleep with your eyes slightly open and it can dry out. Not good. Keep them closed. Keep them moist.”

In the grand scheme of things, an anaesthetist taping your eyes closed during surgery to prevent scratches on your peepers isn’t that bonkers. But what Olivia said next is certifiably unhinged.

“Sometimes, I am required to suck up the contents of your stomach; a gastric tube can also be placed down your nose to enter your stomach,” she said.

“When suction is applied I suck up your stomach contents into a bucket. Literally.”

I can’t inhabit the mental space of someone who has to vacuum a latent Zinger Burger Combo from a stranger’s stomach through their nose into a bucket. And I don’t want to try.

Next, Olivia held up a revoltingly long tube, which she said is used to check your temperature.

“It literally goes down your throat and sits at the back of your oesophagus and takes your core temperature.”

Again: sore throat, record scratch, DJ, et cetera.

Anaesthetist in scrubs holding a tube against her neck.
Seriously? Look at the size of this thing? Image: TikTok

Some of the BTS tea is fairly standard, with Olivia explaining how she uses drugs to stabilise a patient’s blood pressure and heat to regulate body temperature while they’re under general anaesthetic.

The way she keeps bodies warm is quite cosy, actually. Even if it uses a tube that reminds me of the vacuum cleaner from the Teletubbies.

“While you’re asleep, I blow warm air onto you,” she said.

“It’s in a closed circuit called a ‘bear hugger’. It goes in a tube from this, through to a blanket that inflates with warm air.”

The perfect solution to the nippy weather conditions plaguing Australia, if you ask me.

Anaesthetist crouching down with a ventilator.
Need one of these bad boys to pump warm air under my doona, STAT. Image: TikTok

If you’re having general anaesthetic soon, please fast beforehand. I want to go back to the time when I didn’t know anaesthetists slurped up patient’s old food through a straw.