Having surgery? Here is an important wake-up call

Before her recent surgery, the last thing on Peggy Kurlin's mind was anesthesia. Full Story
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Sandi

Pelham, NH

#1 May 1, 2007
An anesthesia error caused an air embolist in my daughters brain, putting her into a coma, and causing her a heart attack. She was a 20 year old cancer patient. This happened on Oct 4, 2000. She recovered despite the odds from the coma, but cancer treatment was delayed and she later died in 2002. We were told the doctor who screwed up would go no farther in his field, The doctor has moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and still in his profession. The sudden shock of the coma, caused by an accident in surgery was more tramatic than the knowledge that the cancer could take her at any time. Leeora lost some math skills due to the coma, but she was very fortunate we were told.
sunny day

United States

#2 May 1, 2007
I am a victim of Anesthesia Awareness. I was going in for an emergency c-section for the birth of my daughter. I was what THEY thought to be under ,but I was NOT. I could hear everything being said by the doctors and nurses at first and couldn't understand what was going on. Then I could feel the sudden fire !! I felt as if I was being burned alive. I tried so hard to give them a sign that I could feel and hear them. I tried to wiggle a toe or a facial muscle, I tried so hard just to wiggle my eyebrow even a little so they would know. Then the next thing I realized was that I couldn't BREATH !! I was trying so hard to get normal breaths of air but I was only getting a tiny blast and then nothing. I know I was panicking and I could feel my body moving from side to side. I was in HELL.After complaining, the anesthesiologist did come to my room some time later and he asked me what I "thought" I endured. I repeated to him everything they said and even a joke they told etc in that room during the surgery !!! He looked shocked, and then told me that it was normal and that it happened a lot in a c-section as they cant give you too much anesthetic since it is bad for the baby. No one ever gets a visit from the anesthesiologist after surgery !! I know now that it was VERY wrong to have suffered what I did. No one should ever go through that EVER>
Pankaj Nayyar

Brooklyn, NY

#3 Jun 10, 2007
I feel very sad for you and your daughter but can you give some more details. I am an anesthesiologist and I cant think of how an anesthesiologist can "screw up" and give a patient an air embolism short of connecting the oxygen tubing to the intravenous of accidentally or by pushing air in the iv bag under pressure in to the patient which happens very rarely when resuscitating some one who has bled a lot
Pankaj Nayyar

Brooklyn, NY

#4 Jun 10, 2007
you are 100% correct when you say that no should ever have to go thru "awareness under anesthesia". The problem is that very often, pregnant women' babies under go "fetal distress" where by if the baby is not taken out in the next 30 mins, it will die or sustain brain damage. Under such circumstances, the patient is rushed into the OR for a STAT C-Section. The baby has to be delivered within 3 minutes of Knocking you out, if you give too much anesthesia, its bad for the baby and if you give too little, awareness under anesthesia occurs and sometimes, the is no clear line between enough or too much anesthesia or too little and just enough anesthesia. No anesthesiologist ever wishes it to happen to there patients. When it happens to any patient of our, it makes us very sad and unhappy that somehow we have failed our patient.
AAA

Louisville, KY

#5 Jun 13, 2007
Pankaj Nayyar wrote:
I feel very sad for you and your daughter but can you give some more details. I am an anesthesiologist and I cant think of how an anesthesiologist can "screw up" and give a patient an air embolism short of connecting the oxygen tubing to the intravenous of accidentally or by pushing air in the iv bag under pressure in to the patient which happens very rarely when resuscitating some one who has bled a lot
Central line placement can be a source also. If the coma was from an air embolism as (opposed to cardiovascular collapse secondary to air emobolism ), then is very well could have been due to a paradoxical emobolism, in which case a minute amount of air can easily cause problems.
Pankaj Nayyar

Providence, RI

#6 Jun 13, 2007
Quite rightly pointed out, a central line placement can be a source. Typically, as it is often performed in a Head Down/Legs Up position, introduction of a significant amount of air through a needle disconnected from the syringe or the CVC Brown Lumen is very uncommon. Presence of a Patent Foramen Ovale (25%-30% of population) with elevated right atrial pressure in the presence of small amouts of air in the venous system could lead to Paradoxical Air Embolism, but again, it is very uncommon.
wayne from Juneau

Anchorage, AK

#7 Aug 21, 2007
I have a baby who's getting eye surgery tommorrow and I was wondering if the anesthesia is bad for a developing baby.......who's 9.5 months old. I'am nervous about side effects...anyone out there that has been through this and has some imput.
angie

Sandersville, GA

#8 Sep 10, 2007
my grandmother went in for hip replacement surgery last wednesday and after the surgery was awake and aware for @ 6 hours and then was and still is ( today being day 5 ) unable to wake up. how common is this? all the tests (ct and eeg) have come back normal. she's just asleep. How long will she be asleep? we've tried everything to wake her up.
stanley kristiansen

Newberry, IN

#9 Sep 11, 2007
sunny day wrote:
I am a victim of Anesthesia Awareness. I was going in for an emergency c-section for the birth of my daughter. I was what THEY thought to be under ,but I was NOT. I could hear everything being said by the doctors and nurses at first and couldn't understand what was going on. Then I could feel the sudden fire !! I felt as if I was being burned alive. I tried so hard to give them a sign that I could feel and hear them. I tried to wiggle a toe or a facial muscle, I tried so hard just to wiggle my eyebrow even a little so they would know. Then the next thing I realized was that I couldn't BREATH !! I was trying so hard to get normal breaths of air but I was only getting a tiny blast and then nothing. I know I was panicking and I could feel my body moving from side to side. I was in HELL.After complaining, the anesthesiologist did come to my room some time later and he asked me what I "thought" I endured. I repeated to him everything they said and even a joke they told etc in that room during the surgery !!! He looked shocked, and then told me that it was normal and that it happened a lot in a c-section as they cant give you too much anesthetic since it is bad for the baby. No one ever gets a visit from the anesthesiologist after surgery !! I know now that it was VERY wrong to have suffered what I did. No one should ever go through that EVER>
In an emergency situation such as a crash c-sectionawareness is a possibility as a light anesthetic may be needed to preserve the life of the mother or baby.
Without kowing the reason for the emergency c-section I cannot explain any further
Krystal

Mansfield, OH

#10 Feb 21, 2011
My grandfather went in for open heart surgery on 2/11 and after the surgery was complete they had him in a state of "medically induced paralysis" for 4 days because his chest cavity was still open and his heart was connected to an "ethmo" machine that was working in place of his heart. on 2/15 when they lifted sedation, he did not wake up. he still had a breathing tube and at this point a feeding tube. I visited him in his unconcious state on 2/16 and he still looked like my grandfather, just a little swollen and sleeping, by this time he had spiked an infection and a fever which they were treating and did not know where it had come from. later that afternoon he was put on dialysis to remove excess fluid his kidneys could not keep up with, and he now had swelling of the brain. it is now 2/28 and he has since passed. I went to see him 2/26 just one week after my last visit, and he was not the same person i had seen, his kidneys has failed and was on permanent dialysis, and now had brain damage and could not repond and still had not awakened. It was on this day we had to make the decision to remove his feeding tube and ventilator, he died a short 2 hours after this was done. But it leaves me to wonder, if this "mecially induced paralysis" which i can find NOTHING about in any book or on the internet didnt have a part in this. and also why the hospital kept his body alive and on machines when his fingers and toes were necrosing and turning black. be wary of hospitals and the things they do to your loved ones and be involved in every moment of their care, please. because we had to argue with staff and bring in our power of attourney to allow him to be let go and be in a better place.
stanley

Napoleon, OH

#11 Feb 21, 2011
The paralysis is often used in patients who are mechaniccly intubated after major surgery. It is a common practice and in no way contributed to the outcome.
diorna

Columbus, IN

#12 Jul 28, 2011
This stanley is a screwball
stanley

Englewood, CO

#13 Jul 29, 2011
This stanley actually practices anesthesia and has 5 years of criticl care experiance. Any google search will show paralysis and vent tolerence.
renee

Fayetteville, NC

#14 Feb 19, 2013
angie wrote:
my grandmother went in for hip replacement surgery last wednesday and after the surgery was awake and aware for @ 6 hours and then was and still is ( today being day 5 ) unable to wake up. how common is this? all the tests (ct and eeg) have come back normal. she's just asleep. How long will she be asleep? we've tried everything to wake her up.
we are going through this now. what was the cause and how did they get her awake?
Annie

Waterbury, CT

#15 Mar 2, 2013
I recently had an emergency csection and they decided to give me anestesia because at first the epidural didn't work. So first of all that was tramautic being cut & feeling it and second of all they gave me the anestesia and I couldn't breathe! I tryed taking off the mask at first because I thought I was dying and then I remember Somone taking my hand away and them talking saying keep it on her shell b ok and that's the last thing I remember.. I literally thought I was dying and that was it when I woke up they said nothing about it so I figured it was normal I thought maybe I had a reaction to the medicine or something.. Can people die when that happens ? I'm scared If I have another baby and I need another csection that's gonna happen again
Cheyenne Autumn

Bethlehem, PA

#16 Mar 2, 2013
Annie wrote:
I recently had an emergency csection and they decided to give me anestesia because at first the epidural didn't work. So first of all that was tramautic being cut & feeling it and second of all they gave me the anestesia and I couldn't breathe! I tryed taking off the mask at first because I thought I was dying and then I remember Somone taking my hand away and them talking saying keep it on her shell b ok and that's the last thing I remember.. I literally thought I was dying and that was it when I woke up they said nothing about it so I figured it was normal I thought maybe I had a reaction to the medicine or something.. Can people die when that happens ? I'm scared If I have another baby and I need another csection that's gonna happen again
The same thing happened to me when I went for a colonoscopy. I remember telling them I couldn't breathe. I was frantic with fear. I heard the doctor tell her to quickly check on me and she made some adjustment while the doctor was telling me to try and relax by counting backwards. After that, I was out. I've had anesthesia before and never had that kind of experience. It definitely scared me because it can be dangerous and people have been known to die. My last exam was over 10 years ago and I'm due for another, but I'm anxious and skeptical about my last experience, plus I have allergies and a variant form of Asthma. So as far as you feeling you couldn't breathe, you're not alone. I'll bet there are others who have had the same or similar experience. I've also remember having a tube put down my throat when I was suffering from Esophagitis. The anesthesiologist seemed to be confused about what arm to put the needle in and he was getting nervous. I panicked and told the doctor I changed my mind and wanted to go home. He calmed me down and assured me that all would be find. I stayed, but that was still a risk. I think it pays to find out as much as you can about the person administering the anesthesia; that is, their experience and credentials.
Robert Davis

Thailand

#17 Jan 19, 2014
I have a condition called RRP. I have to have surgery on my larynx every 3 months to remove laryngeal papilomas. After two recent operations I awoke paralyzed and unable to breathe. This lasted for a few minutes. On the last occassion . I still had a tube down my throat. When I mentioned my concern about this to the surgeon she just said this can happend sometimes. It was a terrifying experience, laying there unable to breathe, or signal to anyone my fear. Is this normal? did the anesthesiologist to something wrong? Am I right to be concerned?
cinderella

Clifton Heights, PA

#19 Feb 16, 2014
Robert Davis wrote:
I have a condition called RRP. I have to have surgery on my larynx every 3 months to remove laryngeal papilomas. After two recent operations I awoke paralyzed and unable to breathe. This lasted for a few minutes. On the last occassion . I still had a tube down my throat. When I mentioned my concern about this to the surgeon she just said this can happend sometimes. It was a terrifying experience, laying there unable to breathe, or signal to anyone my fear. Is this normal? did the anesthesiologist to something wrong? Am I right to be concerned?
It is possible that the surgical procedures were very quick, and the muscle relaxant given at the outset to facilitate placement of your breathing tube and to keep you still for your surgery was still too strongly in effect to be effectively reversed with another medication that we use for this purpose.

You should tell your future anesthesia doctor that this occurred twice, and ask that he/she review your prior anesthetic records, if they are available. If a similar situation occurs with the muscle relaxant in a future procedure, your anesthesia doctor can either keep you asleep until the muscle relaxant has worn off to a degree where it can be successfully reversed with medication, and/or give you additional sedative so that you are less aware of and less distressed by still being weak and having a breathing tube in place until it can be safely removed.

In countries other than the US, there is another medication that can be used to reverse muscle relaxants before they have worn off to a degree on their own; I don't know if this medication is available in the Phillipines.

It is important that you discuss this with the doctor who will be giving you your anesthesia for future procedures so that he or she can plan to keep you both safe and comfortable. It seems that you were safe in that they continued to breathe for you until you were able to be returned to a state where you could breathe effectively on your own without the breathing tub, but you were clearly anything but comfortable. I am sorry for your distress. Good luck in the future.
cinderella

Clifton Heights, PA

#20 Feb 16, 2014
I want to emphasize that you should tell your anesthesia doctor, even though you have already mentioned this to your surgeon.
Robert Davis

Thailand

#21 Feb 16, 2014
cinderella wrote:
I want to emphasize that you should tell your anesthesia doctor, even though you have already mentioned this to your surgeon.
Thank you so much for your reply

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