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woke up during surgery

terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Chronic Pain
I love reading all of the horror stories on this site and it is like a car wreck you have to keep looking even when you want to turn your head away. i can relate and so can most people in chronic pain. well i was reading a post about disographies and the pain it caused. well to be self serving, i can up the pain level up about a thousand fold. i hope you enjoy.
i had what was once called a lasar discography. they used to use a lasar to cut your disc so one does not have to have a fusion. my pain dr felt i was an excellent candidate. well to make a story short. i laid on the gurney for about 3 hours because someone forgot the lasar. when they found it, they had to calibrate it which took some more time. well 4 hours later, they put me out and i was counting sheep when all of a sudden i felt a buring sensation that felt like a torch in my back. well the anathesia dr was smoking a cigarette or something and did not monitor me. i woke up in the middle of the surgery when they were cutting my disc with a lasar. i heard the dr say well no big deal because we are almost done. the dr told me i was screaming during surgery but said it was a good thing that i could not remember screaming. i told him very politely that sorry i was awake and heard everything and what was worse, i felt every;ting. he did not say a thing, he left and i went home. reminds me of th etime i was on a plane landing and they hit the runway very hard and broke the plane. as we walked out a passenger told the pilot on the way out, nice landing. the pilot just looked down and did not say a thing
anyone have a similar incident?
well ouch i am awake
take care
I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.


  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    Triple OUCH!!!
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • OUCH!!!!!!!

    Sadly yep, but not back or injury surgery. When I had my C-section I woke up as they were cutting me open and stayed awake. They had my eyes taped ( or something held them shut ) and my arms tied down. I could not let them know I was awake.

    The next day I told my Dr and he said "that is not uncommon, what is uncommon is you remember it". :jawdrop:

    My response was "who forgets being cut open". He said there is something in the sleeping meds to give patients amnesia in case this happens..
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • This is just too much. I can't take it. On my second surgery, I thought it was bad enough that I was awake while taken in the surgery room before I was put to sleep and had to see all the equipment, etc., but all this...well, just know that if I can't sleep tonight, when I'm absolutely exhausted, it's your fault.

    And you better be in chat at 2am if I can't sleep, since it's your fault.

    Oh, ack. Oh, oh, ack.

  • I have to say I have woken up during a shoulder surgery. Someone had asked "what time is it". I said it is 11 o'clock. The surgeon said who said that and I said I did. He was still confused whom was speaking so i clarified the answer once again. He was not happy but it was really no big deal sense they had blocked out my arm anyway. Should have kept my mouth shut I would have rather been awake.

    Cath, that should help you sleep now it is a easy one.
  • i hate to put another one on you guys
    i was having a tumor removed from my armpit and i remember i was on the operating table and i could not breathe. they were putting tube down my throat and i tried to talk scream anything to let them know is was still aware. hard thing was i couldn't breathe and i thought i was going to suffocate but finally i went out but this has stayed for me for 25 years. the other one with the microdiscemoty was about 10 years ago. every time i go under i think will i be awake again. another one was 1 yr ago i had to have surgery and a famous tv personality in north calif died of a heart attack the day before my surgery in the same hospital,famous one in north ca,at least the drs and nurses were very careful with EVERYTHING but was i paranoid. he had to go to emergency the day before his surgery and get meds to calm down because he was afraid he was going to die and not wake up.HE DID DIE AND NOT WAKE UP. that was why i was paranoid. hope i helped all of you out there waiting for surgery. cathie hope you are not having surgery any time soon
    good night and get a good night sleep
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Interesting, when I had my c-section I was awake and aware the whole time. From beginning to end. Got to listen to the docs make small talk while stitching me back up. It was strange.
  • I was awake during both of my C-sections.
    During the last one, I had some feeling coming back when they were tying/burning my tubes. I told the doc that it felt like something was burning, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery. I guess they must have knocked me out when I said that.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    Seeings how Cath enjoys this so much. And Jon talking about a celeb dying.
    When I got my first fusion, multi levle 360, anterior-Posterior.
    I had the anterior surgery and all went well. And my surgeon wanted to wait 3 days befor he did the posterior. So during those 3 days they had me on HEAVY morphine.
    Well durring the second surgery for the posterior. The anastesiologist or an assisting nurse screwed up and gave me enough drugs to make me flatline.
    I can remember being above the surgery theater in a white clowd. I was hearing warning bells, buzzers, and everyone screaming, and running around and my body on the surgery table. Up there in this whiite cloud, I was trying to tell them, it's OK leave me be. I've never been so peacefull in my life! It didn't seem to last that long.
    They did something to nutralise the drugs and got me back. I was awake just long enough to be mad that they brought me back. And it felt like a lion took a huge bite out of my lower mid section. And I don't remember anything else until I woke up. And I told my wife what happenend. She asked a nurse what went on. And the nurse at first just said that I realy had a rough nite, last night. My wife pressed the nurse to explain. And the nurse slipped up and said there was a mix up in the drugs while I was in surgery. And they had to clean my system out and neutralise it. And then start over again. Then the nurse panikced and said to my wife, I'm not supposed to say anything. Please forget what I said.
    Later I asked the surgeon, what happened to me in surgery? He said, I have no idea what your taking about!
    Sleep tight, Jim :D
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Yes, I awoke during hand surgery once, and like Tam, it was ok cause the area is frozen as well, but it was really freaky, and at first I couldn't talk, and could feel as they were digging in my wrist, not painful, but very uncomfortable, finally I was able to speak and said, Hey I'm awake, doc just said that ok, almost finished, and I stayed awake as he finished, and sewed me up,,

    My brother said he awoke one time during a surgery too, and we never believed him as he was child, bet he did/
  • I woke up as the were grinding bone in my inner ear. The pain was awful and I was finally able to move my head so they knew I was awake. Last year I mentioned this to the anesthesiologist before my last surgery and he said that he had done a study and could not find any evidence of anyone waking during surgery. I guess he should come on this board and done some studying.

  • there are plenty of studies out there of people waking up during surgery, and that is why drs have certain things they are supposed to do when operating. it is not real common but enough that one needs to talk to dr if one has had that experience. everytime i go under, i tell my drs that this has happened to me. it was not the pain that was the worse, it was when i wrote in previous post about not being able to breathe when they were putting me under. very very very very bad sensation, not being able to breathe and not being able to talk to drs or move to let them know.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Thankfully not during spine surgery, but during one of my endoscopies I woke up. I had that tube threaded down my throat into my esophagus and I woke up and started gagging and tried to pull it out. They had to hold my hands down. I freaked out and wanted that thing out NOW! They must have given me more meds because I don't remember anything else. So now, if I have any procedure, I always tell them of that experience. I don't want to ever again wake up while they are still working on me. Give me enough meds to keep me out, please.

    Geez, now I will have nightmares remembering that experience. Cath, maybe I'll have to come find you around 2:00 my time.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Ok, now I'm gagging. And I wet the bed last night.

    I remember when I was a kid, I cut my hand just below my index finger to the bone, cutting a major vein and my mom and dad rushed me to the hospital with my mom holding the vein in my wrist to keep me from bleeding to death and released it every few seconds so I didn't lose the use of my hand altogether.

    So I go into emergency surgery - now mind you, I'm only about 6 years old - and there are all these students around the table while the surgeon stitched up my vein and skin, etc. They didn't put me to sleep and my hand was numb, but the worst part was that the doctor said to me, "Don't you want to look at this? Oh, come on, you little baby, it's not that bad, take a look...it's really cool...come on, take a look..." The students were laughing and my head was turned as far as it could be from my hand and tears were rolling down my face. It was the most humiliating experience of my life.

    There, that's my worst hospital story. I'm still gagging and have to change the sheets.

    Oh, and Jim, my mom had an out-of-body experience when she died in an ambulance once while hemmoraging. She also floated above her body watching them bringing her back to life and didn't want to come back, but she had two little girls (I wasn't one of them at the time) with no dad and she prayed to please let her go back to take care of her girls. Her prayer was answered and she was brought back to life, but she said she'd never felt so peaceful in her entire life and was never scared of death after that experience.

  • Oh my...I had to stop reading after the first few posts....scary. I am glad I didn't see this before my surgeries b/c I was worried enough and this luckily was not one of the things.

    People...it's not Halloween...why the fright night?
  • I woke up during surgery. I remember the doctor saying, "She is awake," and I think that the anesthesiologist then gave me more medication. I remember the look of shock on my doctors face and I remember the pure fear that I felt. I did not have general anesthesia. I had the other kind, but I was supposed to be asleep. HORRIFIC!
  • Are about 1 in 1000 surgeries wake up, is the rough number I heard. The problem is with your eyes taped shut - you can't express your horror and its truly traumatizing. Flower12345, you probably only had pure propofol, it doesn't "knock out" everyone; but I don't get you being told it wasn't "general anesthesia". I had numerous "twilight" procedures and was awakely completely through them.
    There is a machine, kind of like an EEG that waves brain waves, that is the only sure way someone is out completely, ironically many insurance companies don't cover their use.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    These are horrible stories. Believe it or not for all my 7 surgeries not once did I think about waking up on the operating table. Well if I have to have surgery again you can bet this will be on my mind. When I was having a c-section ( I was fully awake) they used too much of the meds that were injected into my spine for numbness and I couldnt breathe, move or tell anyone I couldnt breathe. The last thing I remember is a nurse telling me I would be ok and I was out like a light. That is something I will never forget. I cant imagine waking up on a operating table while they are operating. Im with Cath on this one. EWWWW.
  • Just kidding...but really, this is just horrible. Did any of you hear that I wet the bed night before last? Do you see what you're doing to me? This is the scariest thing that can happen I think. Spine surgery is bad enough, but to wake up? OMG, I think I'm going to faint...

    Terror, you're truly living up to your name with this post. I'd really rather you stick to your opinions about meds. Well, I guess you are in a way, a lack of them...

    Where's my wooby?
  • When I did my surgery rotation in nursing school, I saw a woman wake up during surgery. The doc told me to hold her arm down-she was panicked and fighting-so I held her arm down and they just put her back to sleep. The doc said she wouldn't remember anything about it, but I wonder if she did.
  • Two surgeries ago they thought I was out and were about to start working. All I could do was make a gagging sound through the face mask. Doc pulled the mask off and I asked him (after a minute of "coming too" some more) if he didn't think I should be out for a fusion?! They gave me more meds and I was out. On the 4 level fusion in June of 2010 I told them what had happened in 08. They gave me a double dose of Versed (amnesia drug) and if I was awake, I don't remember a thing. That is a truly scary thing. All I could think about was all the horror movies I'd watched where the guy is awake as they start cutting through bone.
  • Ughhh...why not put a rating on this thread


    I'm sorry I looked :SS
  • Same exact experience - the doc was like mad, don't do that! Well, give me some more sleep aid then... Sheesh...
  • over 30 surgeries and have never heard of this prior to reading it here. I am so glad you all filled me in on this. I will have to have knee surgery in the future, and I really didnt need something else to worry about. Thanks, Not :S
  • I felt my leg jerk and I woke up and I hear the Dr. say 'What happened?' It must have been the Anesthetist, because his voice was close to my head say 'I don't know maybe her body jerked for some reason..' then I went back to sleep. I guess they gave some more sedation.

    You know they give you sedation and pain meds like Fentanyl when you're under so if you did wake up you wouldn't suddenly be in pain most likely,.. even if you do remember it!

    But Terror, image:)" alt=">:)" height="20" /> Jon a good subject that fits your SH name..TC Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • A hand full of years ago I crashed head-on into a dirtbike racing in the opposite direction on a motocross track in the middle of the desert. I broke my neck and after examination, I had an additional problem with bone spurs from an earlier/undetected fracture in the lower section of my neck. My surgery was fairly unique and somewhat critical. It was to involve numorous surgeons and be observed by students and for research. The operation was completely successful and as I rest in recovery I began having a repeated nightmare every time I fell asleep, nightmarish to a level of seriously interrupting my much beloved morphine tide of fun and I finally brought it up to my main Surgeon one afternoon. Self consciously I described what I vividly recalled as some kind of unpleasant sex dream I continuously had in which a large girl was basically dive-bombing my face with her privates and there was never any warning. One second I'm enjoying my legitimately earned morphine cruse, the next second my face has been attacked by an uninvited and overzealous octopus with an agenda!
    The good doctor considered a moment and almost like he just lost an internal argument, stood up and announced that "he thinks he can cure my nightmare!"
    He explained that during part of the proceedure I had, there was a step in which a part of the inside of my throat (the laranex?) or something was pulled across my face and temporarily clamped aside in order to operate on the GOOD STUFF and it was during this step that a nurse said, "hey, he's with us!" The good Dr. went on to tell me, when he looked down I was wide-eyed and calmly looking around the room when I was immediately zapped back to sleepy land! I don't recall the moment as it was in reality, I only recall the hideously overly slippery sensation of my own throat guts resting upon my chin and the relief that what I thought was rather rude sexual dreams stopped in their tracks once I was given the rest of the real details.
    Now it's one of my favorite adventures to recall on and I'm eternally grateful to those brilliant craftsmen and women who literally saved my neck!
  • Is a very tricky thing...when under "general anesthesia", sometimes everything looks wonderful and appears that the patient is completely anesthetized, but rarely there are incidences where patient have "recall". Doesn't happen very often.

    The monitor that optimist was speaking of is called a BIS monitor. It is an excellent tool for denoting how deep under anesthesia a patient really is. However, it is not completely fail safe. There is no monitor to date that is.

    Continuing to speak on "general anesthesia". There are certain situations where it is difficult to get the patient deep enough to ensure that they do not have "recall". This happens sometimes with C-sections, because they don't want to give too much that will cross the placenta and cause the baby to not breath or have severely low blood pressure at birth. It is a catch-22. I think that all mothers having a general anesthesia for C-section would agree, that they would prefer that nothing happen to their baby during those few minutes between making the incision and the baby coming out. After the baby is out, a healthy dose of general anesthesia ensues. This can also happen during heart surgery or a traumatic injury surgery, where they are worried about your blood pressure, since general anesthesia can cause severe hypotension. We would rather have perfusion to your brain and keep you alive than give you a deep anesthetic. Keeping you alive is first priority.

    Now there is "sedation" for surgeries or procedures. If you sign a consent for sedation, then there can be periods of time where you are awake during the procedure. It happened to me last year during an endoscopic lysis of adhesion, where a rigid scope was in my sacrum and I woke up...not fun and it was traumatic to me too...however...it was a sedation case, and that is the risk. When you have a procedure in a doctors office operating room, they like to do things under sedation for safety reasons. General anesthesia is more risky, and its preferable to be in a hospital setting.

    Then there is the general problem with doing sedation or general anesthesia on chronic pain patients. Because we take so many medications that effect the clearance of drugs, including anesthesia drugs, it is VERY challenging to do sedation or a general anesthetic on us.

    The enzymes in the liver increase many fold, so it literally eats the drugs so quick sometimes it is impossibly to keep the patient comfort or asleep. There were so many times that I could not count, that I would give versed, fentanyl and propofol to a chronic pain patient for something as simple as an epidural block, and still could not keep the patient comfortable and I considered myself "heavy-handed" as far as the anesthetic technique that I used.

    The more meds you are on, the more likely it is to happen. That is why it is so important that your anesthesia provider know everything that you take, including alcohol, smoking or even illicit drug.

    I hope this helps everyone at least to understand what is going on. It might not change anyones personal outcomes, but just to know why things are happening can be reassuring.


  • Lisa please explain the difference of general anest and what my Drs call "twilight" anest???

    I have had both several times and noticed no difference during before or after - well except for the time I woke up in the middle of my C-section ;)
    (that was over 25 yrs ago and was a general)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Wait dont close thread yet,

    I think i farted while under twilight, Does that count? Surgery came to a stop! Cricket, cricket, Dr i think you blew up another patient,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Twilight is a laymans terms for sedation. Anesthesia providers will say twilight because people seem to understand that better than the word sedation. There are only three types of anesthesia, 1) General, 2) Sedation, 3) Regional.

    If you were put to sleep for a C-section if was called General anesthetic. They can not give very much anesthesia until the baby is out because the baby could die. Therefore, sometimes women do have recall after C-sections for that reason.

    Hope that helps, Beth....good to hear from you...it has been ages. Hope you are doing well!!!

  • Well yes I woke up too! I was having reconstructive surgery on my nose and woke during the procedure. I was screaming inside my head for them to stop but I was paralysised by the anesthetic so couldn't make any sound.

    This was quite a number of years ago and I understand that nowadays brainwaves are monitored to ensure these types of things do not happen.

    The point of this reply is that if you have been through this kind of pain, you can bear and handle just about anything including back pain which after all won't kill us even if it is pretty bad!

    My sympathy and understanding to all.
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