The distress of waking up under anesthesia

Being awake and paralyzed during surgery is the stuff of nightmares—and the stuff of movies. The 2007 film Awake starred Hayden Christenson as a heart transplant patient who wakes up during surgery and discovers his doctor is planning to let him die and steal his wife. But the reality, according to this report, is thankfully not quite that dramatic, though the experience seems scary enough without someone stealing your spouse afterward. The “vast majority” of AAGA instances lasted less than five minutes, it found. There was also a wide variety of experiences—only 18 percent of people reported feeling pain. Some of the other experiences patients reported include:

An inability to move (42%)
Hearing noises or voices (37%)
Feeling non-painful touches (21%)
An inability to breathe or suffocation (11%)
“Dreamlike experiences” (5%)