I was wheeled into surgery to have my tonsils removed, but woke up in a living nightmare. I was trapped in my own body…
By Sarah Thomas, 23, from Watford
I was plagued with tonsillitis from the age of 11. The infections were so severe that I was hospitalised, where antibiotics were administered through a drip, and I’d miss great chunks of the school term when I was off sick.
Gradually, when I was being struck down around 10 times a year, I grew to accept tonsillitis as part of my life. But then, in June 2013, I was completely floored by a particularly bad bout.
Finally, doctors agreed I should have my tonsils removed and I was placed on the waiting list.
I was counting down the weeks until I finally got the call to say I was scheduled to have the procedure in November that year. I was thrilled.
I couldn’t wait to get rid of my tonsils – and get my life back.
I felt nervous as I was wheeled into surgery for the routine op.
I remember receiving a cold injection in my hand and being told to count backwards from 10. 10…9….8… then I was plunged into darkness.
I expected to wake to be told the simple surgery had been a success. Instead, when I came round, I was trapped.
I couldn’t open my eyes, which were taped down, and my legs wouldn’t budge either. I was paralysed – and petrified.
When I heard the voices of medical staff and felt a burning, excruciating pain in the back of my mouth, the horrifying realisation dawned… I’d woken up during the operation.
It was like something from a dreadful thriller movie. I was terrified and in agony but there was nothing I could say or do to tell anyone.
I didn’t know how much longer I could bear it but then, after around half a minute of being trapped in utter agony, I heard a nurse speak up.
‘I think she’s waking up,’ she said, panic in her voice. Quickly, I was plunged back into a deep sleep but when I awoke, I hadn’t forgotten the horror.
The next day, I filed a complaint and a hospital inquiry was launched.
It ruled that the machines which monitor consciousness hadn’t been checked.
They’d failed to sound an alarm in time, which would have kept me under the anaesthetic. It was only a light flashing on the machine which had alerted the nurse to what was happening.
In May 2014 I was awarded £22,000 compensation for my ordeal which has had a deep and lasting impact.
I’ve since suffered with panic attacks and insomnia but I’ve recently started my own business and I’m positive about the future.
But I’ll never forget the panic and pain I endured as I woke on the operating table to feel every cut and slice of the surgeon’s laser.
As told to Helen O’Brien Google