Waking up in the OR

  1. 0
    When my daughter was 5 years old, she had a T&A. From the time of her surgery to now (8 years later) she insists she woke up during the procedure. I always tried to pass it off as nothing. I would tell her it was probably the very beginning of the surgery when they would roll you in the OR and then start sedation.
    Now that she is older she adamantly insists that she was asleep and when she woke up she seen them in their garb and scalpels in hand, They told her it was okay and to go back to sleep.

    They never told me after the surgery she woke up. I never asked, really thinking my daughter was confused. It doesn't appear she suffered any mental anguish or anything. She just states it as fact. I believe her now, because she has been so consistent with her story for such a long time.

    However, if she did wake up, shouldn't they had said something? I know that getting the right med combination can be tricky, I have done conscience sedation in pediatrics alot in the ER. However, for any future surgery this would be good to know and report off, so that it can be handled better in a more invasive case.

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  2. 43 Comments...

  3. 10
    Here's my politically incorrect, but very truthful answer from an ICU RN point of view: What happens in O.R. stays in O.R.

    O.R. staff can be very tight lipped about what goes on back there. Usually, but not always, the anesthesiologist will stop by after and ask a few questions if the patient remembered anything from the procedure.
  4. 1
    I don't think they needed to tell you but if you asked and they lied that is different.
    Quit Floating Me likes this.
  5. 1
    She just states it as fact. I believe her now, because she has been so consistent with her story for such a long time.


    That doesn't necessarily mean it actually happened, simply that she believes it did. Also, she may have woken up after receiving sedation but before intubation and the commencement of general anesthesia.

    Does she remember being nasally intubated during the procedure? If she says she wasn't, she may not be correct that she woke up during the surgery and not beforehand.

    In any case, if she is convinced she woke up, there's probably not much you can do to change her mind, and as long as she doesn't feel anxiety or upset about it to the degree that she might one day refuse a necessary surgery because of it, there's probably no reason to argue the point anyway.

    I woke up during a D & C, but since I had eaten that day, I wasn't given general anesthesia, simply conscious sedation. I remember waking up and saying "ouch!" My doctor (not the anesthesiologist) felt really bad about it, but I didn't think it was that big of a deal since they put me right back under very quickly.
    Esme12 likes this.
  6. 0
    I have a foot problem and have had foot surgery multiple times. I have a close relationship with my podiatrist from seeing him so often. He told me that during my last surgery I kept sitting up trying to grab my foot, and was telling him that it hurt. I don't remember any of this, and he told me without me asking.

    It probably happens more than people realize. At least your daughter is not disturbed by it.
  7. 3
    Quote from blacksunflower
    I have a foot problem and have had foot surgery multiple times. I have a close relationship with my podiatrist from seeing him so often. He told me that during my last surgery I kept sitting up trying to grab my foot, and was telling him that it hurt. I don't remember any of this, and he told me without me asking.

    It probably happens more than people realize. At least your daughter is not disturbed by it.
    But if someone has a surgery during which they are intubated and receiving general anesthesia, they have usually been given a paralytic. They should ABSOLUTELY not be waking up while receiving a paralytic. That would be a horrible, horrible event.
  8. 0
    I woke up as I was being stitched up during my emergency c section, I was intubated and remember gagging frantically and trying to bend forward to sit up. Luckily I don't remember any pain, they never mentioned this to me and I just never thought to bring it up, I wonder what they would have said if I did?

    They did mention as soon as they extubated me I was screaming because I thought the baby died, I don't remember this though, thankfully.
  9. 0
    Quote from calinurse11
    I woke up as I was being stitched up during my emergency c section, I was intubated and remember gagging frantically and trying to bend forward to sit up. Luckily I don't remember any pain, they never mentioned this to me and I just never thought to bring it up, I wonder what they would have said if I did?

    They did mention as soon as they extubated me I was screaming because I thought the baby died, I don't remember this though, thankfully.
    How AWFUL.
  10. 3
    While there are cases where people have woken up during surgery, I don't think it was the case with your daughter. If she is describing seeing scalpels I think this was probably a dream she was having under anesthesia. We don't use scalpels on T&A procedures.
    KelRN215, azhiker96, and Rose_Queen like this.
  11. 1
    Quote from TakeTwoAspirin
    While there are cases where people have woken up during surgery, I don't think it was the case with your daughter. If she is describing seeing scalpels I think this was probably a dream she was having under anesthesia. We don't use scalpels on T&A procedures.
    That's a part that stood out to me as well. We only use electrocautery on our T&As. My guess would be that she was sedated before full general anesthesia started and maybe saw part of the setup or had a dream related to the stress of having surgery or as an effect of the medications.
    ScrappytheCocoRN likes this.


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