Awake during surgery??

I just caught the very end of a CNN report about people who, under general anesthesia, were completely conscience and aware of every scalpel cut, and suffered the full impact of the unbearable pain. Supposedly, the panic induced from paralysis coupled with the terrible pain drove them insane.

The voice over said something like this could be happening to thousands of people every year!! Pardon me!! This can’t really be happening can it?

They’re probably exagerating the numbers and the trauma for ratings, but it’s a real phenomena.

The master speaks.

ETA: Perhaps there’s been an upswing in cases (or awareness thereof) in the past eight years.

I woke up during knee surgery. Fully awake. And it hurt. The anesthesiologist wouldn’t put me under again.

It happened to a friend of mine. She was awake and paralyzed during her knee surgery. The doctors didn’t believe her when she came out of it until she began repeating the conversations they’d had during it. She had serious mental trauma afterwards. I know at least once she woke up screaming in the middle of the night and started running around naked. Not good.

Been there, done that. Worst experience of my life.

I’m sure the trauma doesn’t seem ‘exaggerated’ for those who’ve had the experience. I regret my choice of words, and withdraw them.

My God! I can’t believe this has happened to you guys. It’s beyond my belief that I’ve never ever heard of this before. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if this happened during something like abdominal or some other major surgery. I seriously think I might kill someone if this were done to me, especially since the program said this can be prevented by using some kind of a machine.

Just to be clear: I was fully awake and able to communicate. I saw my knee flayed open. I told the anesthesiologist that the pain was excruciating. He said they were ‘almost done’ and refused more anesthesia. It took about another half hour or so.

Well, I was awake for my knee and shoulder surgeries, but that’s because I had a spinal block. I chose the spinal because when I asked the anesthesiologist what he would choose if he were under the knife, he said “spinal”.

During my knee surgery, I asked the anesthesiologist what was causing the intense pain in my thigh. He said that was a tourniquet and seemed surprised that I felt it. About that time I felt a cold trickle down my back and the pain went away. As did the anesthesiologist, the OR, and everything else for a little while.

In the book The Mind’s I by Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennet, I read that at least some phsyologists (or whoever it is that studies this kind of thing) think that the anasthesia we use during surgery works, not by rendering you unconscious, but rather, by rendering you paralyzed and unable to form memories. So you experience it–but then don’t remember it afterwards. The unfortunate people we’re talking abotu in this thread would, then, be those who managed to form memories of something everyone experiences during surgery.

It brings up an interesting (admittedly IMHO-forum type) question. If you knew surgery really is like this–you knew that you would be conscious and fully cogniscent of the agony of bein cut into and having your insides rearranged–but you also knew you’d have no memory, not even unconscious, of the event, would you still be willing to undergo the process?


I’d reply that I will sue his ass for malpractice unless he puts me back under.

I can…sort of. I did wake up in the middle of my esophageal replacement surgery (~34 years ago). Even tried to sit up on the operating table, while they had me cut wide open. Luckily, I didn’t actually feel anything, but I do still recall the images and sounds of very panicked surgeons. They put me back under anesthesia with extreme haste.

Isn’t this one reason why they use drugs like Versed that have amnesia effects, so if you wake up or experience pain, you will be unable to remember it?

Given the number of Dopers owning up to experiencing this, it seems it is relatively common! :eek:

:eek: Holy fuck Johnny. At this point what you should have done is reached out and grabbed the anesthesiologist’s family jewels and informed him that you were going to transfer some of the pain to him, if he did not put you back out. Like they say “When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” :smiley:

Interesting. I have had two operations in my life (one 57 years ago and one 2 years ago) and both were spinal. I don’t recall much about the first one, but during the second I had an interesting conversation with the anasthetist and felt no pain. So I guess spinal is the way to go.

There’s a notion that the meme of rmeembering being abducted by UFO aliens, strapped down to a table, and poked and prodded by creatures looking like they’re wearing surgical masks, then waking up in a bed may have originated in this kind of experience.

I had a spinal block during my knee surgery as well. I woke up in the middle, watched the surgery on the TV for a little bit, and then went back to sleep. I would definitely go that route over general anesthesia if you can, if only to avoid complications with general anesthesia. No pain, I got to watch it (which was pretty cool), and afterward none of that coughing and deep breathing stuff to get your lungs properly inflated again.

Not if you don’t wake up.Probably not wise to threaten an anaesthetologist.

I recently has a tough cataract surgery that took 3 times the normal 20 minutes and my sedation wore off during it. No pain at all but I could hear the pump used to suck the pulverized lens out of the orb and heard the doc call for another lens implant when the first one tore during insertion, then heard him say “done” to which I responded “Halleluliah, I can see again!” He said “Amen”.

Anecdotal: I had stitches removed when I was 10 or so under local anesthesia – except somehow I was immune to the anesthetic, so I was aware of the pain the whole time, including when they were pulling stitches out of a scab. I think my mom got me ice cream afterwards because I never even made a sound.

Anyway, I think the only reason this seems common is that nobody who didn’t wake up during surgery is posting, leading to a false sense of numbers.