The new movie "Awake" is based on a rare but real possibility during surgery that the anesthesia may not work. The movie is fiction, but the phenomenon is something known as Anesthesia Awareness.
Dr. Donald Matthews, an Anesthesiologist says, "There is a spectrum of experience that ranges from people who just remember little bits of conversation all the way to people who have these prolonged and horrific experiences."
"Many victims of awareness are told they're nuts, that they were asleep, that they had a dream, which in my opinion is an unspeakably, unforgivable word to say to a victim of awareness. It is not a dream." says Carol Weihrer, an Anesthesia Awareness patient.
Carol says she was aware during her surgery, and that's why she is waging a campaign now to make Anesthesiologists more aware that this does happen, so that they can watch for any clues.
No one knows why this happens in some patients. Anesthesia involves a combination of medications that provide pain relief, block the memory, induce unconsciousness, relax the muscles and inhibit the body's normal reflexes.
Doctors say there isn't much you can do to prevent anesthesia awareness, but they do stress that you have to be completely honest with your Anesthesiologist about any past alcohol abuse or any drugs or herbs you have been taking.