Skip To Content

    17 Wild, Unbelievable, And Terrifying Stories From People Who Accidentally Woke Mid-Surgery

    "I remember waking up during my wisdom teeth surgery. I woke up to a buzzing vibration. That was when I knew exactly what they were doing — they were sawing my teeth into pieces."

    A while back, we wrote posts where people who accidentally woke up mid-surgery and people who had freaky experiences while under anesthesia shared their stories. In the comments, even more readers revealed what it was like waking up during surgery — and what happened after. Here are the wild results:

    1. "I woke up during a colonoscopy while they were taking the biopsy. Sooo painful. I remember the dude saying, 'It’s OK; I’ll make it go away.' Anesthesia makes me really sick, but I have to have a lot of it. Also, when I broke my leg in half, I begged the ER to knock me out. The nurse said they had to dose me three times because I wouldn’t stop talking."


    Health professionals in protective gear caring for a patient in a medical setting

    2. "I woke up while under for a hysterectomy and once during a hip replacement. The hysterectomy was by far the worst. I could feel everything but couldn’t move or talk. When I had to get the hip replacement, I told the anesthesiologist that I had woken up before, and I didn’t want it to happen again. He seemed annoyed, but I was already at the hospital and getting ready to go under."

    "I did wake up again, but some lovely person made sure I was really numb and even thought [sic] I sat up that time I didn’t feel a thing."


    3. "I remember waking up during my wisdom teeth surgery. I had four of them, and I knew going in that they had to saw my teeth into pieces to take them out since they were coming in sideways. the nurse said 'goodnight,' and I was out. Then, I woke up to a buzzing vibration. That was when I knew exactly what they were doing — they were sawing my teeth into pieces."

    "Then, all I remember after opening my eyes was 'she needs more!' Then, I was out again."


    Dentist in scrubs holding dental tools, close-up, from patient's perspective

    4. "When I was 17/18 I had surgery while on an Air Force base in Turkey to repair a knee that I injured. Had scope to repair my meniscus and clean up some scar tissue. Woke up partway through to feeling a tourniquet tightening on my leg and hearing the words, 'Why isn't the bleeding stopping?' I said, 'What bleeding?!' And then, I was back out."

    "Woke up in recovery, and the first thing I said to the staff was 'Guess the bleeding stopped?' They were surprised I remembered that."


    5. "I was 18 weeks pregnant when I had to get an emergency appendectomy. While they were in there, they found and repaired an umbilical hernia. I was awake while they cut open my belly button but couldn’t move or say anything. I could hear them talking and could feel them pulling on something inside my tummy. I was screaming in my head and was panicking because it doesn’t feel like you are breathing when you have the tube down your throat. All I could think about was something terrible was happening to my baby and that’s why they were cutting open my belly."

    "When the surgery was over and I fully woke up, I told the doctor I was awake during the procedure and they said, 'Oh, you must have just dreamed it' and was totally brushed off. It was horrifying, and I had nightmares for weeks. Thank goodness the baby was unharmed and born healthy!"


    Woman lying in a hospital bed with eyes closed and hands over abdomen

    6. "I woke up during my wisdom teeth removal surgery. I don’t remember any pain, and I didn’t open my eyes, but I distinctly remember that I was holding someone’s hand, and they tried pulling their hand away; I just held on even tighter before I was out again."

    "I woke up normally in the chair after it was all over."


    7. "When I was in my 20s, I had cancer and had to have several surgeries. Never had an issue until I went in for a rather major one. It was supposed to be a two-hour surgery that turned into over 12 hours because of the spread of cancer. I apparently woke up several times as they were trying to keep the dosage right. The surgeon later told me I started talking and told him not to look inside me while he was scraping tumors away from my aorta (I was cut open from my sternum down, and I guess felt vulnerable)."

    "Later in the surgery, I tried to break free of the restraints, and it was so violent that I still have visible scars on both ankles. That time, I apparently kept saying 'help me' over and over. I also technically died twice while I was out so there’s that."


    Surgeons in scrubs performing an operation in a well-lit operating room

    8. "Oh boy, my parents love to tell this story but this time I get to tell it. At about age 17, I went into what was supposed to be a routine surgery that turned into a major surgery. So, I didn't know what I was waking up to. When I finally came to, I started screaming f***k really loudly from the pain and then profusely apologizing for doing so. I did this about ten times."

    "The funny thing about this is my parents were very strict and never let me curse, so even under anesthesia I knew that I messed up and began crying after saying that in front of them. They laughed about it, but I thought it was the end of the world."


    9. "I have been put under about 10ish times in my life. Every single time, I’ve woken up early, remembering bits of conversations I shouldn’t, and had nurses rushing around me to remove tape and tubes before I woke up. I tell them every time I fight it, and it takes some time for me to get there, but they don’t listen — you think they would make a note of it. The last time, I told a nurse I was worried, and she told me the anesthetic now has something in it that makes you forget if you wake up, which was the worst lie ever, too."

    "I mean it’s not even like I was a kid; I was about 25."


    A patient's hand with a pulse oximeter attached, resting on a hospital bed

    10. "I had a cardiac ablation, and I swore I woke up. I couldn’t move, but I was awake a few times, and I kept thinking I needed to tell them I was awake, and I couldn’t. It was a several-hour procedure, so it’s very possible I was starting to come out of it, and they had to give me more."

    "I asked about it afterward, and they just quickly brushed it off and said I was probably dreaming 🙄."


    11. "I had an emergency C-section during my first pregnancy due to a life-threatening situation. I needed general anesthesia; I was very frightened about the anesthetic not working, waking up paralyzed during the operation and feeling everything. The anesthetist promised me he would not let that happen."

    "After the operation, he anxiously asked me if I had woken up, and he looked so upset, I promised him I hadn't. I did wake up while they were working on my baby and stitching me back up. I remember being angry, being told off, and trying to get to my baby. Then, I was gone again. I think there was pain, but I am not 100% sure, but 31 years later I kind of have a strange vague memory of pain. Not excruciating, but a burning, pulling pain. I have never felt traumatized. My baby survived I am very glad to say!"


    Woman holding and gazing affectionately at her newborn baby

    12. "I also woke up during my first ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatment. I remember the zap vividly — it felt like it was going through my eyeballs, even though I don't think that's the precise location. I cried profusely and explained I'd been awake during the zap. They told me repeatedly this was impossible, but they changed the anesthesia mixture for the remaining treatments. The new stuff burned like hell going in, but I never woke up during the procedure again."


    13. "I too woke during a colonoscopy. I was about 17. I remember slowly coming to a twilight stage of sleep — foggy not fully awake but aware. I kept repeating, 'Ow, ow, OW, OWWWW,' until I was fully awake with my eyes open. The doctor turns to see me awake with eyes open yelling and tells the anesthesiologist to pump me more."

    "After the procedure, the doctor came out to apologize profusely to my mom and say I’d be asleep longer than what’s expected in recovery 😂. For my second and third colonoscopies, I told the doctors that I woke during my first and would need more, but they assured me, 'Sometimes people think they remember hearing things in the operating room' 🙄. Nope. Started to happen again during the procedures lol."


    Person in a hospital bed with medical equipment in the background

    14. "I have been put under and woke up during the procedure and was put under again. I felt like I had visited hell and never wanted to go back again. After that was the worst — I was in shock, and I truly felt like I got a glimpse of the other side. Scary AF."


    15. "When I got my wisdom teeth removed, it ended up requiring about two more hours of work than the doctor initially allotted. I woke up in the middle, so they administered more anesthetic, but I guess because of the different doses or something, different parts of my body woke back up at different paces."

    "When they were done, I woke up and could see and hear before I could breathe consciously or speak properly, started suffocating, and the doctor kept asking what was wrong because I was just weeping and making panicked noises. Then, I passed out. At least that means I likely didn't blurt out anything embarrassing afterward!


    Dentist performing a procedure on a patient with dental tools and overhead light

    16. "I had an endoscopy. Woke up in the middle of it with the thing down my throat. I panicked and I remembered everyone in the room scrambling. A few seconds later, I was lights out again."


    And finally...

    17. "My dad was in the emergency room because his wrist was broken. Guess they didn’t put in enough anesthesia because he woke up while the doctors were trying to twist his hand back to the place. He yelled at them to stop because he could feel the pain so badly."

    "They were shocked that the anesthesia had worn off so quickly. After that, we went to a specialist because it seemed as if they didn’t know what they were doing."


    Patient in surgery with an oxygen mask and surgical drape

    Wow. Have you or someone you know ever woken up mid-surgery? Feel free to share your story in the comments below.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.