Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Carol Weihrer - Awake during surgery

Last week I read a news story that illustrates one of my fears - having surgery and being aware of what's going on, feeling the pain, but being unable to communicate that to the doctors. It's called anesthesia awareness. I've always thought that maybe the patient still feels the pain and is aware of what's going on, but that the anesthesia makes the patient forget it.

I've had surgery once, and after the anesthesia was started and they asked me to count backwards from 100, I only got to 97. I wasn't aware of anything else until I was in the recovery room. Once I had two wisdom teeth removed and the doctor "sedated" me -- same effect for me - I was out of it until after it was over. I figure I'd be a great candidate for drug addiction because I remember the feeling of being sedated. Despite the tooth extraction. I woke up in happy land.

Back to the point of this post. The story I read was about Carol Weihrer, who awakened during surgery in 1998, but because the paralyzing portion of the "anesthesia cocktail" made her unable to move or indicate that she was aware and that she was feeling pain, she was trapped - aware but unable to communicate the situation to the doctors. She described what was going on - the pain, the music, the sensations, the surgeon's words. It's scary to think about. Apparently it happens more often than you'd think. There are machines that can monitor a patient's brain activity and that should help to eliminate some of those horrifying experiences. If I ever have surgery again, it is definitely something I'll ask the doctor beforehand.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Oh My! Horrifying! ()