I woke up during surgery, Have you?

  1. 0
    I was responding to another thread the other day and made mention of the fact that I woke up DURING my last surgery. I got to wondering if this had ever happened to anybody else, so I thought I'd ask.

    It happened to me last year. I had a vague memory of waking up and seeing the overhead operating room lights, and being in excruciating pain. I thought I had imagined it, until two different anesthesioligists (teaching hospital) came up to my room, on separate occasions, and asked me if I had any memory of waking up during my surgery. I was shocked to find out that it actually did happen. :uhoh21:

    I later requested a copy of both my hospital records and my surgeons records for my own file, and amazingly enough, it wasn't mentioned anywhere in my records. I wooooonder why...Hmmmmm? Of course, my surgeon downplayed the whole incident at my follow up appt.

    Has anybody else ever had this experience before? If so, what do you remember, and did your surgeon own up to it?

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  2. 126 Comments...

  3. 0
    Sounds terrible, but what do you mean did the surgeon own up to it... it's the anaesthetist that is controlling your anaesthesia?
  4. 0
    You poor thing! I am so sorry this happened to you. And even more that it was not documented appropriately. It's never happened to me, although I did have a grand mal seizure under anesthesia once, and ever since then I have seizures now and then.
    I would call the anesthesiologist, or better yet, make an appointment to see him/her, and find out what happened.
    Good Luck!
  5. 0
    Discovery Health did a whole documentary on Anesthesia awareness.

    I don't believe that it's negligent for a CRNA or a DA, if a patient happens to
    wake up....briefly.

    However, they were explaining how they are trained to watch for signs of AA such as heart rate that is suddenly elevated, respiration, etc. I'm not a nurse yet, so I don't know all the names of the drugs that are used during surgery, but I think one paralizes you and the another specifically slows down your heart rate and resp, and another that puts you to sleep (among others that I'm sure they give)...so what happened to this one lady that woke up and stayed awake during her surgery, is that her heart and resp started going way up (obviously, she was in distress), the surgeon heard the monitors going off and stopped and asked the CRNA to check to make sure she was fully under. The woman said she did a sign of relief because she thought, "Thank God! They know I'm still awake!"....she heard the CRNA say, "Hang on, I'll fix that."....and all he did was turn up the drug to bring her heart rate and resp back down....that still left her fully awake.

    It turned out later that the tank that contained the drug that puts you to sleep was empty.

    THAT is negligence.
  6. 0
    Never happened to me. I'm pretty sensitive to meds, and the last time I had to have anesthesia for a biopsy, I quit breathing on them in Recovery, so they had to re-tube me.

    I must've been trying to "help" them with the procedure because I woke up in wrist restraints.
  7. 0
    I've never had it happen to me, but I've sure heard of it happening, surprisingly often!
  8. 0
    Quote from augigi
    Sounds terrible, but what do you mean did the surgeon own up to it... it's the anaesthetist that is controlling your anaesthesia?
    OMG!!! I hear ya! I actually had a nursing instructor last year mention something like this to us......she said people will always say stuff about hoping the surgeon is good , knows what their doing etc....and well ...what about the person putting you under.. ..........funny because I never gave that a seconds thought either until she said that and now I always think of that whenever I hear someone talking about their surgery and how they hope the surgeon is good....lol!

    So I gotta say I agree there with you augigi...lol! I mean they could kill you with those drugs......so could a surgeon kill you too but most likely they can fix something they messed up......you can't fix a brain once it's damaged......Good observation!!!!!!!!!
    Maybe Gator simply intended to mean that the surgeon didn't mention the fact that she woke during surgery because he knew she did? But I know what you mean!
    Last edit by KellieNurse06 on Dec 2, '06
  9. 0
    I woke up briefly during my lap chole, breast lumpectomy, muscle bx. It was a burning excruciating pain. I heard them say "doc she is bleeding too much" the next thing I knew I was in recovery. I later asked about it and they confirmed what was said my muscle bx site was bleeding.
  10. 0
    omg! this happened to me in 1975 when i was having a thyroidectomy. i was told years later by another anesthesiologist who was doing my pre-op exam that during that time there had been a lot of incidents of that happening and that it was due to the anesthesia that was used.

    i can recall it as clearly as yesterday. it was a very emotional experience. i was aware of waking up. i couldn't move or see anything. i now know that it was because i was paralyzed with pavulon most likely and that my eyes had probably been covered with drapes since they were working on my neck. i tried desperately to shout out that i was awake, but couldn't make a sound. again, because i was paralyzed and although i don't remember feeling the presence of the endotracheal tube, i was intubated. then, i felt the surgeon cutting and working on my neck. and, it hurt! he was rough! i was trying in the worst way to say something or move to let them know i was awake and just wasn't being successful. my hearing was very acute though. it seemed like i could hear everything that was going on. then, i distinctly heard my surgeon, in his very distinctive southern accent, say, "jesus christ!" and i heard what sounded like someone a bucket of instruments fall over and all the activity on my neck stopped. so, did the pain, thank god. and, then i went back to sleep. when i saw the surgeon the next day, i told him i had woke up during the surgery and heard him say "jesus christ!" he nor the anesthesiologist who visited me too never acknowledged that i had woken up during the surgery, but they didn't deny it either. i know what i experienced. i have no doubt that it was my surgeon's very distinctive voice i heard using jesus' name!

    since, i've had a number of surgeries and told every anesthesiologist about the experience. more than one has told me about the phenomenon of people occasionally waking up during surgery. they all have assured me it shouldn't happen again and it never has. the scariest has been that for the last two surgeries they told me they would have to intubate me while i was awake. that scared me because when i worked on stepdown and as a supervisor i assisted many intubations. if i was awake, i sure don't remember. i just hope i didn't do anything embarrassing or punch anyone. this past summer i had surgery yet again and was told afterward that they had a lot of difficulty intubating me. great! i'm sure it's not because i was uncooperative. i've had a number of surgeries as well as major radiation therapy to my head and neck so i'm sure my airway is pretty well beaten up. i'm glad they didn't tell me until after.
  11. 0
    this happened to me during my c-section. I had been hooked up to pitocin for 24 hours with only minimal contractions. The ob doc came in and broke my water. The contractions started with a vengence but the babys heart rate started to decel. They finally figured out the baby was breech, tried to stop my labor, and rushed me to the or for a crash c section. I was put under, but I was awake for part of the surgery. I couldnt move, and I couldnt scream. The pain was unbearable. I also remember hearing the dr say something about the baby having a birth defect. When I woke up in recovery I asked about my baby and the birth defect. The nurse looked like she was going to pass out, because at that point the Dr hadnt told me, and my husband hadnt been in recovery to see me. The Dr at first didnt believe me until I was able to tell him about some of the conversations going on while I was supposedly under. Luckily, this hasnt happened to me since, I have since had another c-section, tubal ligation, and lap-chole done.


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