WHAT'S UP, DOC?

IT'S EVERY SURGERY PATIENT'S NIGHTMARE: YOU'RE AWAKE ENOUGH TO FEEL THE KNIFE BUT NOT ENOUGH TO SCREAM

When Andrea Thaler, 46, was wheeled into the operating room for routine gallbladder surgery five years ago, she thought she was in a safe place. But as soon as the operation began, the Nashville, Tenn., HMO executive realized that the sedatives and pain-killers administered by her anesthesiologist hadn't quite taken hold. She could feel the surgeon make six "slicing, burning" laparoscopic incisions in her abdomen, but she was trapped by the paralytic drugs given along with the anesthesia, and she couldn't cry out or even open her eyes. "I was screaming in a black hole," she recalls. "I thought I would...

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