18 May 2007

Woman wakes up in the middle of eye surgery!! Aaagggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

FROM CBS NEW YORK: Even the thought of surgery is frightening, but usually we get some comfort knowing we'll be asleep for it.

So what happens when the doctors think you're asleep, but you're not?


Imagine lying on an operating table awake -- you're screaming inside -- but no one can hear you. That's what happened to this woman.

The sweet sounds of Carol Weihrer's life have faded after a traumatic surgery changed her forever.

"I was in the worst terror I have been in in my life," Weihrer said. "I wanted to die."

She was having surgery to remove her diseased right eye -- when things went terribly wrong.

"Suddenly I heard the surgeon say 'cut deeper, pull harder' to the resident and it occurred to me that something here was not right," Weihrer said.

And indeed it wasn't.

"And I realized suddenly I was awake and that they were not done," she said.

Carol was experiencing a rare, but horrifying surgical nightmare called "anesthesia awareness." She was awake, but paralyzed. The general anesthesia wasn't working.

"I was beginning to realize I was paralyzed," she said. "But I can move a finger. Nothing. Try a toe. Nothing. A foot, a hand. My head...”

"Anesthesia awareness" happens when the medications used to paralyze the patient on the operating table work, but the other medications don't.

"I was feeling all of these different sensations," Weihrer said. "I felt instruments being laid on my chest. I felt them playing with the tube, felt the automatic blood pressure cuff go off."

Twice the medication wore off just enough so that she was able to move a bit, only to be given another painful dose.

"It is like being on fire," Weihrer said. "It is like having ignited fuel going through your veins.

"I thought, well maybe I'm lying on the coals of hell and I'm really sorry to say this but I don't care. Just let me go."

Carol now suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder. She can no longer teach music and has panic attacks, nightmares and difficulty sleeping.

"I cannot sleep in a bed," she said. "I cannot lie down. I sleep in a recliner."

Carol said she never wants anyone to go through what she did. She's started a campaign to educate others about the tragedy, and advocate for the use of brain activity monitors in the operating room.

But the biggest fight of Carol's life is yet to come. To save her remaining vision, she has to have surgery again.

"I'm terrified, didn't think there was anything in the world I was afraid of anymore," she said.

Carol said she’ll rely on a higher power to help pull her through.

"My faith is extremely important to me," she said. "I thought, perhaps I'm in hell. And to this day it haunts me that I didn't care. I just wanted off that table."


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