I woke up during brain surgery to clip an aneurysm. I grabbed the surgeon’s hand and said, ‘You’re hurting me.’ The staff, including the anesthesiologist, screamed. The doctor quickly asked about the pain and then yelled at the anesthesiologist to ‘get her under.’ The anesthesiologist later apologized.

BuzzFeed recently posted about anesthesiologists’ wildest experiences with patients. In the comments, people shared their own shocking, scary, and hilarious moments under anesthesia. Here are some of the unexpected stories:

1. “My father, who was 6’3” and weighed 200 pounds, was undergoing a hernia operation. During the procedure, he started coming out of the anesthesia and got combative, breaking the restraints. It took four orderlies to hold him down while the doctor stepped back to stay sterile. They finally got him back under and completed the operation.

However, the excitement may have affected the doctor’s process because the next day, my father’s stitches pulled out, and he had to go to the emergency room to be re-sewn.”


2. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The day after the stay-at-home order was issued, I was having my chemo port placed in my chest. I was terrified, more of COVID than the cancer because there was so much we didn’t know at the time. I kept shaking, trying not to cry. The anesthesiologist tried to reassure me, saying I would fall asleep and not remember anything, but that didn’t happen.

She kept giving me more and more propofol, and while I did stop shaking, I was fully awake and not relaxed at all. I heard everything they were talking about, including a debate on whether an Instant Pot was better than an air fryer. Thankfully, I didn’t feel any pain, and when it was over, I told them that clearly, an air fryer was the better option.”


3. “I’ve had many surgeries in my life, especially as a preteen (I’m a leukemia survivor). After one of my bigger surgeries requiring heavy anesthesia, I woke up to my doctor saying he’d love to see some pictures of Percy. Confused, I asked what he meant. Apparently, while the anesthesia was kicking in, I had started telling everyone about my pet parrot named Percy and how I’d taught him to talk and do tricks. The funny part? I don’t own a parrot, nor have I ever had one.

Another time, after getting my wisdom teeth removed, I went on a long, affectionate rant about the Statue of Liberty and how it was a gift from France. This led me to talk about the architecture of the Eiffel Tower. I don’t remember any of this, but apparently, I started crying multiple times.”


4. “I’m usually pretty good after surgeries, but the last time (they were removing part of my inflamed colon), I woke up and kept hiking my gown over my chest, flashing anyone who walked by. I’m typically a very conservative dresser, so that was very unlike me!”


5. “When I had my C-sections, it took two spinal injections to numb me. When I told the anesthesiologist about my previous experience, he dismissed it, saying the last anesthesiologist didn’t know what they were doing. But guess what? It took two spinals again, and even then, I felt more than I probably should have. Luckily, I have a high pain tolerance. The spinals also wore off sooner than expected.”

“In recovery, I could move my feet and legs much sooner than they anticipated. It was strange seeing my feet move under the sheet but not being able to feel them.”


6. “I woke up in the middle of a neurologist trying to clip an aneurysm in my brain. I reached up, grabbed the surgeon’s hand, and said, ‘You’re hurting me.’ Several staff, including the anesthesiologist, screamed. The doctor asked me where the pain was and then shouted at the anesthesiologist to ‘get her under.’ Afterward, the anesthesiologist apologized, saying it took four times the normal amount for someone my size (small) to stay out.”

“The doctor told me I was crushing his hand with the probe in it and that it took everything he had not to jump and stab my brain. They had never had someone wake up in surgery before.”


7. “I had all my wisdom teeth removed in one day when I was 18. They put me to sleep for the procedure, and my mom came to escort me home. Apparently, I started swinging and trying to punch people when I woke up. My mom said they had to restrain me.”

“No mention of saying anything wild — just random violence.”


8. “After a gynecological procedure, I woke up asking the nurse to make sure there was no baby because I didn’t want to bring another home. (I wasn’t even pregnant!) Another time, I woke up bawling and asking for my mom. To calm me down, my husband lied and said she was waiting at our house and called her to play along.”

“In both cases, it wasn’t the first time I woke up and talked — it was just the time I stayed awake. Apparently, I had the nurses cracking up with what I was saying, but I don’t remember anything until asking about a baby.”


9. “I woke up in the middle of a colonoscopy and partially sat up to ask, ‘Should I be awake?’ I remember the doctor waving at the anesthesiologist, and bam! I was back to sleep. Unfortunately, I remember it vividly.”


10. “During my knee replacement, I woke up because my arm was cramping. The anesthesiologist said, ‘Oh no,’ and told me to hold very still. I asked to move my arm, pulled it out of the cuff, laid it across my chest, and said, ‘Ok, I will stay still now,’ and went back to sleep.”

“My doctor was surprised I could recall conversations from the surgery. He said it had never happened before.”


11. “During my C-section, after being given an epidural, I felt super nervous. When the obstetrician checked if I felt anything before cutting, I said, ‘Maybe. Could you give me a little more, so I’m sure I don’t feel anything?’ The anesthesiologist agreed and increased the dosage. Well, I definitely didn’t feel anything. I was fully aware, heard everything, and saw everything, but I couldn’t move or talk. When they brought my son to me, I couldn’t even turn my head to look at him — they had to do it for me.”

“The anesthesiologist asked, ‘Are you breathing OK?’ In my head, I thought, ‘Yup,’ but since I couldn’t respond, he put me on oxygen just in case. A couple of hours later, he checked on me, worried I wasn’t breathing during the operation. I told him I was breathing fine but couldn’t communicate it. It was so scary and weird.”

12. “Last year, I had my first colonoscopy and endoscopy. Everyone said going under anesthesia is pleasant, but for me, it was terrifying. As they started to put me under, I felt extreme pain in my hand where the needle was inserted and was completely scared. I don’t remember anything else, but apparently, I had a strange reaction coming out of it too.”

“When I asked about it, everyone seemed awkward and avoided giving me a straight answer. Later, I called the anesthesiologist, and she told me I was one of the rare ones. Lol!”


13. “Years ago, I was getting ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments. One time afterward, I kept having flashbacks of the procedure: struggling to breathe, hearing the doctor and anesthesiologist talking to me, and then feeling the shock to my temples. At my next treatment, I mentioned it to my doctor, and they seemed uncomfortable. They told me I had likely been awake for that procedure.”

“He said they’d use more anesthesia next time, but that was my last treatment. Now, I’m terrified of being put under.”


14. “My dad was severely allergic to anesthesia. Before knowing this, he was given some after getting tetanus from a rusty nail in his foot. He described the experience as being able to hear and feel everything but unable to speak or see. He then almost flatlined, but thankfully, the doctors postponed the procedure and took care of him!”


15. “Back in June 2007, just before high school, I had cosmetic surgery to pin back my ears because my family wouldn’t stop commenting on them. The left ear surgery went fine, but halfway through the right ear, I started waking up. I was annoyed and tried to roll over while having a conversation with the nurse, thinking she was my mom and asking for five more minutes of sleep. The doctor was yelling at the staff to hold me still without touching the finished ear. I remember the whole thing, including someone by my feet coming up to help hold me still.

In recovery, I told them about the dream I had. The nursing student and my mom exchanged blank looks before the nurse said, ‘So, you’re aware of waking up and talking to us?’ My mom laughed, ‘Only you would wake up and talk during surgery. It’s like you don’t talk enough when you’re awake.’

I’ve woken up two other times during surgeries. Now, I have to stress that the meds don’t work right on me, so they give me relaxers first. Those times, I didn’t talk but was aware of what was happening and could feel the pressure and some sounds.”

—30, Massachusetts

16. “During my emergency C-section for my firstborn, I was really out of it after 27 hours of labor. My husband told me that as our child made her first cries, I started crying and said, ‘Oh no, it’s a duck.’ The whole ER burst out laughing and reassured me I had a baby, not a duck.”


17. “I’m a nurse, but this happened to me as a patient. I had a terrible tonsil infection that abscessed and was blocking my airway. It was incredibly painful, and I was breathing like Darth Vader. The ER doctors were going to try to manually drain the infection from my tonsil to avoid a tracheostomy. I was terrified. They gave me some Ativan and Fentanyl. Fentanyl is really powerful — just a little bit does the trick. They had me in a dental chair because if they had laid me back, I would have suffocated. The nurse (bless her) gave me the fentanyl and was watching over me with my mom (also a nurse).”

“Apparently, I started sliding out of the chair, and as they ran to catch me, I mumbled, ‘No wonder people steal this sh*t!’ Then I passed out.”


Whew. If you’ve been under anesthesia, what’s the wildest thing that happened to you? Share your story in the comments below!

More resources:

Leave A Reply