When Carol Weiher was having her right eye surgically removed in 1998, she woke up hearing disco music. The next thing she heard was “Cut deeper, pull harder.” She desperately wanted to scream or even move a finger to signal to doctors that she was awake, but the muscle relaxant she’d received prevented her from controlling her movements.
“I was doing a combination of praying and pleading and cursing and screaming, and trying anything I could do but I knew that there was nothing that was working,” said Weiher, of Reston, Virginia.
Weiher is one of few people who have experienced anesthesia awareness. Although normally a patient does not remember anything about surgery that involves general anesthesia, about one or two people in every 1,000 may wake up during general anesthesia, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most of these cases involve the person being aware of the surrounding environment, but some experience severe pain and go on to have psychological problems.