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March 22, 1976

On Awakening Paralyzed During Surgery

Author Affiliations

Harlem Hospital Center New York

JAMA. 1976;235(12):1210. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260380013006

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To the Editor.—  Dr Blacher accurately points out the terror that patients experience when they awaken during surgery and are unable to move.A few months ago, I had my own head trephined under local anesthesia for a chronic subdural hematoma. I wished to remain alert during the procedure because a neurosurgeon seldom has an opportunity to himself experience what often happens to his patients. However, a mixture of droperidol and fentanyl citrate (Innovar) was given to me, and I also experienced an extremely unpleasant sense of being unable to function. Though I might be considerably more knowledgeable than most of Dr Blacher's patients, and I knew exactly what was going on, the psychological discomfort was no less.Nearly everyone has had a bad dream of trying to run away from some form of danger, but being unable to move. The dream usually ends with the sleeper waking. Though I