We recently asked the anesthesiologists of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the wildest, scariest, or most bizarre moments they've had on the job. Here are the shocking results:
1."As this woman was waking up and still pretty drugged, she told me that she murdered her husband. I called the police, but an investigation revealed that she had never even been married. I have no idea what that was, but as this was around 20 years ago and she was quite elderly at the time, I assume she is no longer with us."
2."Anesthesiologist here. While he was falling asleep, a patient told me to make sure his wife doesn't find out about his mistress."
3."There was a fire in my OR on the last case of my career! On the LAST scheduled case of my LAST day of work prior to my planned retirement, I had just anesthetized the patient for a dental reconstruction when there was a loud bang in the corner of the OR. In stunned amazement, we found ourselves looking at flames that were jumping 4 feet into the air as dark, acrid smoke filled the room."
"(The lithium battery pack in the dentist's portable X-ray machine had exploded.) Someone jumped into action with a fire extinguisher, and I quickly transported the patient to the recovery room and woke him up there. The hospital fire alarm system was triggered, and fire engines arrived in the parking lot. Nobody was harmed. I finished my 38-year career in anesthesiology with a BANG!"
4."I was an anesthesia resident working on the cardiac bypass service. My patient was on bypass. During that time, it was necessary to mix up the drugs you would need in your next case (nitroglycerin, phenylephrine, etc.). This was before it was done by the pharmacy. I was frantically trying to finish this task because they were about to take the patient off bypass. At that time, there was a tower of monitors and other electronic devices, including a printer that would cascade a wide sheet of paper onto the floor showing the vital signs, arterial tracing, ECG, etc., that had occurred during the case. At the bottom of this tower was the defibrillator. The surgeons had been given the sterile paddles, and they asked me to charge up the defibrillator. I pushed the paper to the side slightly and pushed the button to the defibrillator. A clear voice in my ear said, 'Check the setting!'"
"I mentally argued with it for a second, thinking, It is always on 60 joules. The voice was more insistent: 'CHECK THE SETTING!!!' I rolled my eyes and pushed the paper aside to show the setting. It was on 360 joules! The surgeons had the paddles in their hands when I told them not to use them. Their response was the same as mine: 'It is always on 60 joules!' I often think back to that day and what would have happened had the voice not warned me. The patient would have died, and I would have been devastated. I am certain that I would never have recovered. My budding career (which has now spanned 40 years) would have been destroyed. The voice has never spoken to me again. I can only think that this was the intervention of God or an angel. I am forever grateful and humble."
5."My husband is an anesthesiologist, and he tells me some of the wildest stories about when he's sedating patients. One story involved a man who had these peculiar scars on his face. When prompted, he said something to the effect of, 'Oh, you wouldn’t believe me.' My husband decides to engage while placing the IV, and the man proceeds to tell him how he was abducted by UFOs as a child."
"He had quite a story — something about a car crash and being beamed onto the ship — but unfortunately, all of it was gibberish after the propofol was running."
6."My other favorite story from my husband was this lady who was very, very made up for her surgery. Unclear why. We are talking lashes on, full makeup, etc. While she's waking up, she proceeds to declare her love for the surgeon and how she is madly obsessed with him. Unfortunately, my husband took off half of her lash extension when removing the tape from her eyes. He saved it and handed it back to her when she was fully conscious. She was not too happy about her postoperative look."
7."I woke up a patient at the end of their colonoscopy, and he slapped at his butt, saying, 'No, buddy.' When he came to, he said he thought his dog was licking him down there."
8."I'm a veterinary anesthetist and I've had a couple of patients bark, but I think the worst patient was the one who was sedated for an X-ray and suddenly sat up and tried to bite my face off. He got more drugs!"
9."I'm not an anesthesiologist, but I'm a midwife. I had a patient who had a fully working epidural. Like, 'slept through labor' working. An anesthesiologist came in, gave her the usual top-up of drugs, and off we went. All checks showed, again, a full block from the epidural, so the obstetrician started cutting. The patient pipes up and says, 'Should I be feeling this?' We’re all like, 'Oh, it’s normal to feel some pressure, but as long as it doesn’t hurt, you’re good.' The patient says, 'Oh, right. Well, this is agony.' Absolutely no outward signs, no screaming, nothing. She just really calmly stated this. The doctor stops operating, and we all stand there like, 'WTF.'"
"I have no idea if she just had a super-high pain threshold or what, but I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. She ended up having a general for the section, and that worked fine."
10."We had a man sit up while he was being transferred from the operating table and basically saying, 'F you all — I’m going home.' He was trying to get up and walk out the OR, and then suddenly, it was as if a switch flipped, and he couldn’t apologize more."
11."When I worked at a main trauma hospital, a patient who had been shot was in cardiac arrest for a few minutes on the operating table. I had the job of updating the family because it didn't look as if he was going to make it. Thankfully, he did live, and when he finally woke up, I was going to explain to him what had happened during surgery and what we had done, and he stated, 'I saw everything.' He was able to tell us details about the surgery — and even my conversation with his mother (while he was technically dead) — that there was NO WAY he could know."
"He detailed his mother's reaction, even though we weren't on the same floor as the OR and he hadn't talked to her yet. It was wild! But it definitely made me believe that we do have a soul or some sort of higher consciousness."
12."I'm a veterinarian. One of my technicians wanted to watch me neuter her dog. In retrospect, it may not have been the right choice. But she was a newbie with an interest in the field, and I like encouraging it. Sedation, induction, intubation, and surgery all went perfectly. On recovery, once he was off anesthetic gas, he just stopped breathing entirely. His pulse started getting thready, and his tongue started turning blue. The new technician was standing there the whole time. Luckily, she didn't know enough to know the panic my surgical technician and I were going through."
"I reversed his sedation, and he immediately started breathing and his color came back. He was very slow to fully wake up and extubate. To this day, I'm not sure what went wrong, because all his vitals had been perfect until that moment. And I don't think she knows how close to dying her dog was while she stood there and watched."
13."Middle-aged man coming out of anesthesia for a hemorrhoidectomy said, 'Now that you've seen my a-hole, I think it's only fair that I see yours.'
14."When I was a resident, one of the anesthesia attendings would always say to the patient as he began sedation, 'Now I want you to count backward from 5,000.' Some would start and, as per usual, not get very far at all. However, one gentleman started, '5,000, 4,999, 4,998, 4,997, 4,996, 4,995...4,995...4,995..." He kept repeating and repeating the number. This anesthesia was only twilight, so after 15 minutes of '4,995' and eyes all over the OR begging for it to stop, the anesthesiologist said, 'Welllll, that's enough of that!'"
"Then you heard the patient snoring and, well, a collective sigh of relief from all present."
15."My father was a neuroanesthesiologist at a trauma center in Chicago. He worked on a lot of the gang violence victims. He's heard and seen a lot of sad stuff from patients. Nothing he wanted to repeat."
"Also, he performed on the first open brain surgery done on a gorilla. Removed a brain tumor successfully, and the gorilla lived many years after. But there were concerns about it waking up during surgery."
Fellow anesthesiologists or other medical professionals, what's the wildest thing you've encountered on the job? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.