Anesthesia Awareness: Waking Up During Surgery

Imagine this scary scenario: you're in the middle of a surgery when you suddenly wake up as the surgeons cut you open - you're aware (and terrified) but cannot communicate with the doctors.

Fiction? No, that's a condition called Anesthesia Awareness and it happened to this woman:

During surgery to remove a damaged right eye, Carol Weihrer woke up.

"I was totally awake and aware," she says, "but completely unable to communicate or move in any way at all. …I heard the surgeon telling the resident to cut deeper and pull harder."

Link | Carol's website Anesthesia Awareness

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I had this experience when I had to go under general anesthesia after my spinal didn't take for a C-section. I have had several surgeries before and had no problems. I remember waking up and feeling like I couldn't breathe. I tried to move my arm to signal the doctors that I was awake, and was actually able to move my left arm off the operating table! They put it back up there, and then must have given me proper anesthesia. After the surgery they told me they had trouble intubating me. I still wonder if that was the reason that I felt like I could not breathe.
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I had general anesthesia this past week and I remember three things. I remember them sedating me and feeling really relaxed right before they administered the drug that knocked me out. Then I fell asleep. The next thing I remembered was waking up and struggling with an intensity I've never felt before. I don't know if I was vomiting or being intubated but it was a very desperate feeling like I was violently ill or being strangled. I heard voices but then I was out again. The last thing I remember was waking up from surgery after the procedure, not feeling sick or scared, just tired. I had bitten my lip. I have visible broken blood vessels in both eyes and little pin prick blood vessel breaks all over my face from the "struggle." I see the doctor tomorrow for a recheck. I think I woke up when they tried to put the tube down my throat. I remember smelling a plastic substance in my mouth but not feeling a tube. It was like vomiting without being able to breathe. Scary.

I thought maybe the strangling experience was a dream until the next morning when I saw my face.
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I work for a daytime medical talk show and we are looking for a woman who has experience anesthesia awareness to share their story. if this is you please email me at with your name, age, location and a brief description of your story.
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sandman64 sounds like the typical anesthesiologist who tries to convince you general anesthia is basically risk-free and no big deal. I had bone surgery on my femur and the anesthesiologist came in 20 min before the surgery and basically refused to do a regional block even though i specifically asked for it, so I went along with him and had general. He must have given too much because I didn't wake up until 2 1/2 hours after the surgery was over.
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I had surgery under what was supposed to be general anesthesia; I told the surgeon that I wanted a board-certified anesthesiologist and she agreed. But I ended up with a nurse (CRNA) who was so unskilled and negligent that she let the sevo vaporizer run dry and I was paralyzed but awake/aware for 10 minutes. Horrible pain, unable to scream. The trend today is to use nurses (CRNA's) not anesthesiologists and they just don't have the skill set to do general anesthesia. I'm a physician and if this could happen tome, it can happen to you. Don't believe the BS that the "CRNA's are supervised by MD's"; they really aren't. Despite my experience and medical degree, I'll never trust anesthesia again; if they promised me an ansethesiologist and delivered a nurse, that's fraud. And the icing on the cake is that the CRNA tried to lie about what happened to me; that is until she found out that I was a physician. Nurses have a place in the O.R., but delivering anesthesia is best done by an anesthesiologist.
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