The most hellish,nightmarish and perfectly awful thing that ever happened to you

For me, the answer is easy:

When I went in for tubal ligation surgery, went under general anesthesia, and my brain woke up too soon. The doctors had no clue of any kind that I was conscious, because I was completely paralyzed. I couldn’t blink, i couldn’t twitch. And in fact, I couldn’t control my breathing and I was desperate to breathe. I felt like en elephant was sitting on my chest, I was in agony and convinced I was suffocating.

The only way I can describe it is to say: imagine being bound from head to foot, extremely tightly, in heavy packing tape. No part of you can move, and your mouth and eyes are also taped shut. You are bound so severely that you cannot expand your lungs beyond perhaps a teaspoonful. Then someone gives you a dose of LSD, tosses you in a lake and dumps a boulder on your chest.

That’s pretty much what it was like.

And you guys?


PS: Know that what happened to me was NOT unusual. Happens all the time. Happens to people getting open heart surgery! My pet theory for why people who are otherwise doing well in surgery suddenly die: they wake up and cannot bear the terror and the pain, so they just die. Because get this: when you go under general, they do not give you anything for “pain”, because you are not expected to be conscious. So if your brian wakes up but your body doesn’t, you still FEEL it. Fun, huh? Could you wonder why I am truly PHOBIC about anesthesia now?

My aunt getting 4 inoperable brain tumors. And the downhill road from there, until she died at age 49.

I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.

Stoid…:frowning: I’m sorry. But if its so common, shouldn’t they do something about it? like give you something for the pain instead of just knocking you out? I would so sue the anaestheologist if that happened to me.

ARe you sure? When I had oral surgery, they gave me IV anasthesia AND novocaine locally. So I was out and numb.

When my son was born, there were complications, and they had to clear his airway… when they were done, they set him down… and he wouldn’t breath on his own.

The scariest site in the world is seeing a doctor listening for a heartbeat on my newborn son, while a nurse worked him with a bag to breathe for him.

He just celebrated his 3rd birthday about a week ago. He is a holy terror, and that site is in the back of my mind when he clambers up into my lap… I give him extra hard hugs.

Hmmmmm too many things to count or really think about.

Just gets me depressed.

I was born.

Personally I think that had to be pretty bloody awful at the time.


Finding my roomate after he shot himself in the head. Still wake up thinking about it, and its been about 10 years now. Incredably helpless feeling.

Know what you mean. When my son was born, he didnt start to breath on his own. I saw them take him off to another table, and for just second I was sure that he didn’t make it. Then I heard him cry and that was the most wonderfull sound I think I ever heard.


[hijack] I absolutely mean to take nothing away from the horror of your experience. We have disagreed often in the past, and I’d like to think that you would consider me honest and straightforward.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine who is a surgeon regarding “lucid surgery under anasthesia,” and was assured that this is impossible.

What actually occurs is that your last thoughts while going under anesthesia are about the surgery you are about to under go. As you wake up afterwards you are pretty much in a dream state, and your mind replays your ealier thoughts regarding the surgery. You may also be in discomfort and have uncomfortable respiration as a result of the surgery an anesthesia, as surgery entails trauma to the body and anesthesia typically is a depressant upon the respiratory process. Naturally, your dream encompasses these feelings, and you awake beleiving you were lucid during the surgery, though in fact you only dreamed you were.

By mentioning this I in no way wish to diminish the horror or discomfort of your experience, but I thought you might be interested in this explanation. Frankly, I’m surprised that you it wasn’t explained to you when you described the experience in recovery, as knowing it was just a dream seems to provide people with a level of comfort. On the other hand, it’s not particularly common.[/hijack]

Well, using those particular terms, I’d say it was the following incident.

While visiting my sister in Arizona, I decided to take a dip in her pool one afternoon. Yes, I was home alone. Just as I was about to enter the water I noticed a very large furry brown spider floating on top of the water. Didn’t know what kind it was, but I assumed it had drowned.

So, I go grab her pole net to fish it out of the pool. Mistake number 1. It wasn’t dead and it started climbing up the pole. Shocked, I dropped the pole net and very quickly got out of the water. I noticed that the spider hung onto the pole and went down to the bottom with it. No problem, I’ll just wait 10 minutes and it’ll be dead.

After a little while, I go back to the pool and notice that the spider is not floating on top of the water, but still clinging to the pole net at the bottom of the pool. After pausing a moment, I decided that no way could it survive that long under water. It must be dead.

So, I get in the water and reach down to grab the pole. Mistake number 2. It began to move again as soon as I moved the pole, so I quickly struck the pole against the pool bottom. I managed to smash it enough, so it floated up to the top, fatally injured.

That turned out to be mistake number three. As soon as the now dead spider reached the top of the water and hit the air, I saw something bubbling out of the spider’s body. It was hundreds of baby spiders pouring out of her body!!

I got out of the pool, quickly, and watched hundreds of these tiny spiders swim towards the sides of the pool and begin climbing up the sides of the pool.

Needless to say, I went back into the house and stayed there the rest of the afternoon! Later, after talking to my sister about the incident, I learned that it was a wolf spider. A good spider to have around since they kill black widows. Next time I see one, I think I’ll just walk away.


I’m very sorry to hear about your aunt. I know how difficult that is.

I don’t know if any of you know what a Cardiac Catheter is, but i sure as hell do now.

Before i had Opean Heart surgery (i was, incidently, totally and thuroughly knocked out for the whole thing) i went through a few months where the doctors though i was faking what was wrong with me. They had to do all sorts of tests, some i knew, some were new. The Catheter was new.

Now not too much really scares me, but needles make me freak. And this is, basically, the biggest god damn needle in the world. They start it in an artery at the top of your leg and it runs up into your heart and lungs. You can feel it inside your heart.

Then they release bursts of radio active die into your blood stream, which makes you feel like you’re being burned alive from the inside out. All this while you’re remembering the form they made you sign because of the chance of heart attack, stroke or death and despiratly trying to remember what you’ve picked up about Transendentional Meditation because you don’t want to be there.

After an hour and a half or so you’re wheeled out to a step down unit and told not to move for 3 hours.

I had 3 alltogather, 2 at once the first time and one a week later. And, as it turned out, they didn’t proove anything, while the paneless MRI i had later was all they needed to know to OK the surgery.

The ICU after the surgery was pretty hellish, but at least it was worth something…

Edlyn, no more spider stories! But, oddly enough the kids and I just learned about those very spiders today on animal planet. Wolf spiders are the only spiders to carry their young on their backs.
And Stoid, I had something like that happen when I got my tonsiles out. I remember fully waking up and them putting me back under. Some maybe not the same, but scary. I think it was because I was a child and they used gas, and it is hard to judge weight to amounts. That was in the 70’s, and I have had a few surgeries since and no problems.
And hey, you might be on to something with people waking up and not being able to do anything and being scared to death. Sorry, I believe it can happen.
Scylla, I know you weren’t trying to make waves with what you said, but don’t you at least agree that if it happened one way or the other it would still be scary as hell?
I have had my first two born not breathing. One swallowed amniotic fluid and one with the cord wrapped around his neck twice. I will also say that the sound of their first cries were the best thing on the earth.

The worst thing that tops them all for me is when my son, the one who had the cord wrapped around him at birth, was hit by a car in May.
When I first got to the hospital and got to see him I thought he was going to die on me. His head was bruised, and he had blood comming out of his mouth, his ankle was gone, and his leg was broken so bad it was comming out of his skin.
His tummy was bloated from his system going into shock and stopping. He was surrounded by Iv tubes, monitors, and a few other things I have no idea about.
We went through x-rays and catscans and blood tests.
And you know what?
As bad as he looked, the worst of his injuries were a compoud fracture of his right femur, and some serious road rash. When they took him to surgery to place the rods in his leg, they found that the skin on his ankle had just rolled into itself, and they were able to fix it without grafting skin.
Oh, yeah, while he was still in surgery I had to go home and go to bed because I couldn’t miss work since I didn’t have my 45 days in. I ended up losing that job and having a mild heart attack all in the same day.

Damn, does my life suck or what?

Emergency Surgery freshman year.

I was in a lot of pain and some friends eventually dragged me to the Emergency room. Where I was told that I needed surgery just about a week ago. I was at school, six hours away from my family. My mom showed up as I was going into surgery. I was out through the whole thing. I healed a week and a half before finals. Had to fight a prof for a passing grade in a class I earned an A in over differing definitions of excused absences. Got to experiance the wonderous feeling of pulling internal stitches when I thought I was better and went out…it was the last two blocks that were bad. Got the even more fun experiance of getting addicted to high level pain killers. (I’m a stubborn person so the realization that I ‘needed’ them for daily life rather than physical pain was closely followed by getting rid of them) Yea, that was pretty crappy.

Getting little sisters almost pales in comparison.

having an U/S and being told my baby was dead at 36 weeks. That was on a Sunday and he was born on the following Tuesday.

His funeral was surreal. For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me that we weren’t bringing the body home with us after the service. They had to carry me out of the chapel.

Damn I think I might go and hug the living offspring

  1. I almost got the shit beat out of me by a swarm of police officers during a peaceful political protest. They chased us about twelve blocks down Ste-Catherine street and tried to hem us in (the better to douse us with pepper spray). I fortunately escaped.

  2. I almost got queer bashed one night. I was shivering for three hours and didn’t go to sleep that night.

  3. One day I watched a really sad movie exactly when I shouldn’t have. To make a long story short I ended up staring into a metro track as the train came in. Fortunately I chose to get on the train instead of in front of it and went to my best friend’s house. Then I had a screaming match with my father and it was all good.

  4. One time I came home pissed off about what the prime minister had done, and Dad threw me out of the house and slammed the door on me.

And I hope you would think the same of me.

With all due respect to your friend, whom I do not know, he is either:
a) ignorant of well-known fact
b) electing to keep you in the dark about this topic, which is where most doctors prefer people to be, since they haven’t found a satisfactory answer to this problem.

Oh, they certainly did try to tell me that lie. Which only made the whole experience that much worse. Try experiencing the absolute worst thing you have ever experienced in your life and have people tell you it was all in your head.

Now let me enlighten you about all the ways and reasons that I know, without the tiniest scintilla of doubt, that what I experienced was absolutely real, true, factual and on the money.

Do you think that I just underwent this experience, thought it sucked, and went on with my life? Not bloody likely…did you read the title of this thread, Scylla? Do you GET that this was LARGE in my life? I wanted INFO…why, how could this have happened to me? Why didn’t someone tell me? Why dion’t people know about this? I’d always been afraid of never waking up from anesthesia, no one ever even hinted that waking up too soon was possible! And now I’ve got a true phobia about this…I better never need surgery, because I have no idea how they will get a team of horses in the room to hold me down to administer the anesthesia!

In the four years since it happened, I have made it my business to find out as much as I can about the phenomenon, and have learned from MANY sources, INCLUDING MANY DOCTORS I have spoken with personally, that while in terms of percentages it is rare, in terms of raw numbers it happens a lot. Thousands of times a year.

There is a woman named Jeanette Tracy who had this experience while undergoing surgery for what was thought to be a hernia. I spoke to her in he weeks following my experience. She gave it its name, I think, when she formed her foundation: “AWARE” (Awareness With Anesthesia Research and Education) She became conscious almost immediately, and was aware and in pain during her entire surgery, from first slice to sutures. Her doctors tried to feed her that same crappy horseshit that your friend fed you. Then she repeated their conversations to them verbatim, including their rude remarks about her body, the discussion they had about a movie they saw, and the surgeon’s dismay upon discovering (after poking painfully around in her guts) that she did not have any hernias. They offered her lots of money if she would be quiet. She told them to fuck off and formed AWARE, offering solace to people like me.

I’ve seen at least two television shows covering this, Dateline and Oprah. On both, actual doctors, just like your buddy, admitted that this is a fact. Happens every day. I think it was Dateline which showed fascinating information about ways that they are trying to overcome this problem, since the paralysis of the body defeats most measures they might otherwise use to indicate consciousness. One of the tests they ran in order to demonstrate the phenomenon involved tying off a volunteer’s arm so that it would not receive the paralysis drugs being administered. They then spoke to the volunteer, who was able to move JUST that arm which had not received paralyzing drugs.

Now, about MY experience in particular:

  1. I remained aware, and I felt them remove all the tubes and instruments from my body. I began to regain control of my body (sooner than expected) and immediately began to struggle violently to sit up, desperate to breath, and also in severe pain in my shoulders (which had something to do with them blowing air in my abdomen for the procedure) I heard the nurses freaking out. “She’s awake! She’s awake! Calm her! Get her down” in panicked tones as they were rolling me. One of them spoke to me, trying to shush me and telling me that I was going to upset the other patients.

I saw other women come into the recovery room after me. None was awake and flipping, as I had been.

  1. After the asshole doctors scrambled to LIE to me and tell me it was all in my head, one of my nurses came to me and surreptitiously assured me that I was not crazy, that I had in fact awakened too soon, begged me not to say anything about her telling me, she’d get in trouble.

  2. Two days later I called the woman who had done the intake at the clinic, asking for my file. She was very sweet and she and I had been very friendly. She told me that I had been one of three women who had experienced awareness that day, but I was the only one so far who was raising a stink. She met with me a week or so later and told me that the director of the place was having a cow and telling everyone to lie to me. She got fired shortly afterward.

  3. I got my file. It didn’t explicitly state “patient woke up too soon”, but various details contained in it gave it away.

  4. All the above is supporting information for OTHER people, because here’s the fact: I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. I WAS THERE.

I tried to sue, but all the lawyers I called felt it was weak because I didn’t suffer any permanent injury. I consider PTSD and phobia about anesthesia permanent injury, but that’s just me.

Scylla….I’m not going to rip your head off, although upon reading your condescending pat-on-the-head assurances that I must be mistaken, and I just dreamed it all, I was quite tempted. (after all, you sounded just like those motherfuckers that treated me that way when I was in the throes of dealing with it) But here’s what I invite you to do: look it up. The internet is a wonderful source of info, as you know. I’m sure you can find information on it.

And then ask your friend why he either:
a) lied to you
b) is ignorant of such an important reality of surgery?

PS: I did a quick poke myself, check this:

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–February 1, 1999-- MedSearch, (OTC
BB: MDSX) is proud to announce that Jeanette Tracy, D.D., Ph.D, President and
founder of Awareness With Anesthesia Research and Education (AWARE) has
joined the Board of Directors of MedSearch. Dr. Tracy is recognized as the single
most influential figure in the anesthesiology field world-wide.

Following her personal experience with awareness during anesthesia, Dr. Tracy
was interviewed by CNN, Inside Edition, Dateline, EXTRA, Oprah Winfrey,
Leeza Gibbons, Fox News, ABC, KNBC, NBC, and CBS National News. She has also
been interviewed by Time Magazine, Redbook Magazine, People Magazine,
Allure Magazine, and US News and World Report.
I’m sure you can find plenty more.

Stoid, you’re out of line, regardless of your experience.

Why, exactly?

I disagree Mr. Cynical, Stoidela’s reply seems incredibly civil to me, given what she was responding to.

Anesthesia is not a hard science, it’s more of an art, and mistakes are made all of the time. My neice was supposed to recieve a three drug combo during her back surgery, by mistake, only two drugs were administered. The anesthesiologist admitted his mistake to her parents after the fact - much to the dismay of the hospital who fired him. My niece, Lisa, was conscious and paralyzed, but fortunately she was not able to feel more than pressure as they did the surgery.