Medical nightmare: A young patient wakes up during her own operation and cannot move

Medical nightmare: A young patient wakes up during her own operation and cannot move

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The patient experiences abdominal mirroring with full consciousness
The story is the nightmare that came true: The Canadian Donna Penner woke up during an abdominal surgery and got everything from the use of the scalpel to the discussions with the doctors. A traumatic experience that the affected person could only process with the help of psychotherapy. Now she has reported on the events at the "BBC" station.

Those affected want to provide clarification with their story
For many people, what Donna Penner experienced in 2008 is one of the most gruesome things that can be imagined: the Canadian woke up from anesthesia during a laparoscopic surgery - even before the doctor put the scalpel on. A nightmare of which the woman has now spoken on the BBC.

No problems with anesthesia so far
Donna was 44 years old when she drove to a hospital in her home province of Manitoba in 2008 to have a laparoscopy for heavy menstrual bleeding, the report said. She had had experience with anesthesia and knew that general anesthesia would also be necessary for the upcoming examination. With an abdominal mirroring, instead of a large abdominal incision, several small incisions are made in the abdominal wall, through which a special endoscope (laparoscope) and surgical instruments are inserted into the inside of the abdomen.

"I never had a problem with anesthesia, but when we got to the hospital, I felt very scared," said the patient. At first, everything went as normal - she was prepared for the operation, connected to the equipment and given anesthetist by anesthetist through an intravenous drip. Then the doctor put a mask on Donna's face and said, "Take a deep breath." The patient did so and fell asleep.

Anesthesia ends before the scalpel is attached
But the anesthetic only lasted for a short time - far too short, because the procedure had not even started. "When I woke up, I could still hear the sounds in the operating room. I heard the staff knocking and rattling and the machines running. I thought, "Oh well, it's over, it's done," says Donna. She was lying there and feeling a bit shaken, but at the same time she was attentive and relaxed.

However, that changed a few seconds later when she heard the surgeon say, "Scalpel please." She was frozen and thought "What did I just hear?" Donna continues. The attempt to make herself noticeable failed because she was immobilized by a muscle relaxant. This is not uncommon because such a medication is given before an abdominal surgery to relieve muscle tension in this area. "Unfortunately, general anesthesia did not work, but the muscle relaxant did," said the patient.

Muscle relaxant causes immobility
As a result, she had no chance to draw attention to herself and was fully conscious when she realized that the first cut had been made. "I have no words to describe the pain - it was terrible," says Donna. She wanted to say something, move - but couldn't. Even crying was not possible.

"I was in a state of sheer terror. I could hear them working on me, I could hear them speak. I felt the surgeon make these incisions and push these instruments through my belly. ”The operation lasted about an hour and a half, in which Donna experienced excruciating pain.

Because she was temporarily paralyzed, the doctors had intubated her and connected her to a ventilator. This released air only seven times per minute - even though her heart rate was 148 beats per minute. "I choked. It felt like my lungs were burning, ”reports the person concerned.

The patient experiences out of body experience
When she realized that the Relaxans was waning, she moved the breathing tube that was still in her throat with her tongue. The anesthetist noticed it - but was unfortunately wrong in assessing the paralysis and removed the breathing tube too early. She could not breathe and felt like she was outside of her body. "I was no longer on earth. I knew I was somewhere else. It was quiet. The sounds of the operating room were in the background, I could still hear them. But it sounded like they were very, very far away, ”reports Donna. Fear and pain were gone and "I knew instinctively that I wasn't alone," she continues.

Eventually, the doctors brought her back to life using manual ventilation, and the anesthetist gave her a means to combat the paralysis. It was not long before she could speak again and report on her torments. The anesthetist cried when he later spoke to her again and apologized several times - but the pain remained. Immediately after the operation, Donna started therapy to process what she had experienced.

At least 8,000 cases every year
The nightmare that Donna Penners had to experience first-hand is a rare case - but it always happens. According to a review by Petra Bischoff and Ingrid Rundshagen, the so-called intraoperative alertness occurs in this country with a frequency of one to two cases per 1,000 anesthetics (0.1 to 0.2%). Based on an estimated 8 million anesthesias per year, 8,000 or 16,000 patients per year are affected by such a waking phenomenon. Forty percent of those affected would subsequently suffer severe psychological damage, according to the BBC.

"I want people to understand that this thing can and does happen. I want to raise awareness and maybe get something good out of this terrible experience, ”explains Donna. (No)

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