Waking Up During Surgery
Being aware but paralyzed during surgery is one of those enduring urban legends that has survived in horror stories and campfire tales forever. Unfortunately, as we've kindly revealed previously, many urban legends happen to be totally true. This is one of them. Welcome to the world of anesthesia awareness.
This is either a training exercise or robot torture.
See, the drug that puts you to sleep (usually nitrous oxide) and the one that prevents you from moving or screaming are two separate things. Anesthesia awareness usually occurs when not enough nitrous is administered, but there's no way the doctors can know that, because the paralysis drug is working like a charm. Did we mention that the nitrous is also the thing preventing you from feeling the surgery? We really should mention that.
Just let us self-administer, you fucking hacks!
Sometimes, the experience is nothing more than a vague, post-surgery recollection of the doctor gathering the nurses around your genitals while laughing and taking pictures. But in almost half of anesthesia awareness cases in which the patient survived to tell the tale, they reported full consciousness and feeling the cold steel cutting into their flesh. One of those patients, Carol Weihrer, is in the unenviable position of knowing what it feels and looks like to have your eye removed, because she woke up during her 1998 procedure. You might say that she had a front row seat.
How worried should you be? Well, they say the chances of waking up paralyzed under anesthesia are about 0.2 percent, but they can rise almost tenfold for higher-risk operations such as cardiac surgery. In case you missed that, the surgeries that are most likely to kill you are also the most likely to ensure that, "So that's what it feels like to have a complete stranger wrist-deep inside of me," is the last thought that ever crosses your mind. In fact, we actually don't know how common it is, because gathering those statistics depends entirely upon how many patients survive to complain about it afterward. And, like many nightmarish experiences, it's thought to be vastly underreported because of sheer trauma.