Friday, May 02, 2008

Anesthetic Awareness

Yesterday I just saw the film 'Awake'. I didn't know what it was about. All I knew was that it is a thriller.

The film is actually about Anesthetic Awareness, a rare case of a patient regaining concious during surgery but yet the body is paralysed. In the movie, the male lead was put on general anesthetic but he did not lose concious. All it does was making his body paralysed and so he was unable to tell the surgeons that he was having concious.

Can you imagine the trauma of having to experience the pain of the whole surgery and yet you cannot do anything about it?

In the movie, the male lead's experience was really traumatic. He was thrashing and screaming in his mind shouting for them to stop but the surgery continued with him fully awake.

I think I die if I were him!!!

I tried to find some information on this condition and it was reported that patients who experienced anesthetic awarness normally regain concious for just a while, maybe a few seconds or a few minutes before losing concious again. Most of the patients hear voices and feel pressure when regain concious while some rare ones will feel the actual pain.

Cases like in the movie 'Awake' is a highly rare case. However, I read some accounts from some patients who experienced it...

Case 1:

Eight years ago Yvonne Coleman drifted off to sleep on a New York
operating table as a team of surgeons prepared her for a two-hour
surgery to remove an abdominal hernia.

"I remember the surgeon asking, `Are you ready kiddo?'

"`Ready for what?' I thought to myself," says Coleman who, at that
point, wondered if her surgery was over and she was being awakened.

Then she felt a knife cut her open. "I felt every tug and pull. I
heard them making fun of my weight. I heard them making plans for the
Christmas party. But I was completely paralyzed," she says.

"In my head I was screaming. I wanted to die."

Any patient who's lived through the horror of regaining consciousness
in the middle of a surgical procedure will never forget the surgeon's
scalpel slicing their skin, the sight of their own blood, the smell of
cauterized flesh and the business-as-usual conversations going on
above them. Meanwhile, they lay still, unable to wiggle a finger,
blink, cry out, or in any way indicate they're awake.

And there is Case 2:

Carol Weihrer recalls waking up during eye surgery nine years ago.
Weihrer, speaking from her home in Reston, Va., says her life was
destroyed by the experience.

Back in 1998 during an operation on her right eye, Weihrer regained
consciousness but could not move. She heard the surgeon say to the
resident, "Cut deeper, pull harder." She was awake, paralyzed, and the
surgery was far from over.

Weihrer says the trauma has left her unable to sleep lying down and
she spends every night in a chair - sleeping for 90-minute intervals -
terrified to let her brain relax into a deep, REM sleep.

Eeeee.. I think I will have fear of going operations after seeing all these! (touch wood!)

I think the movie is very nice though, anyone interetsted should go see it...

1 comment:

fr said... makes you wince.
It reminds me of the Japs doing experiments on live human during the war, terrible, right..