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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) wakes up during surgery

 TheSystem - Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:09 am

I'm 56, female and a very high functioning, mostly integrated and co-concious multiple personality (MPD/DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder). I'm a professional, respected in my field, highly published and have worked long and hard to achieve the stability and success I have. However - now I have to have elective surgery for some joint repair. I'm concerned because in the past (seven major surgeries) I "woke up" in the middle of the procedure last time. This was prior to my diagnosis and treatment for MPD/DID. It startled the docs - and the anesthesiologist who increased the anesthesia. As a result I had a very difficult time waking up after those two surgeries. Years later, after the MPD/DID diagnosis my doctor and I recognized something happened to trigger the "switch" during surgery. My dentist has also documented the need for additional injections after numbing when there is a switch in personalities as well. And, nurses and ER personnel have seen me arrive with a life-threatening allergic reaction (swollen and unable to breathe) to multiple hornet stings only for that (and the stings) to "go away" when I switched and return when I switched back - until the affected personality was treated. So this has been documented medically. It's not a fluke.

My question is, I'm concerned that these upcoming surgeries will trigger another switch during surgery as well and I would like to know if there is literature on this that would help prevent or control the switching during surgery. I've advised my doctors and the anesthesiologist so this time (different hospital) they're aware of what's happening and why. My psychiatrist has agreed to be in the Operating Room during the procedure as well. However, we're all just hoping it doesn't happen. I'd feel better if there was something I could read/share with them about this happening to others.Has anyone else experienced success with this?
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:15 pm

User avatar Dear TheSystem:

If I understand you correctly, the integration/co-conscious state has occurred since the surgery during which an alter woke up. I'm just guessing, but it would seem that since the integration has occurred you might not be as susceptible to such events. The problem is that information about your specific problem is really quite sparse.

I have heard of different alters having different medical conditions, different gender, different sexual orientation, different ages, different handedness, etc. It is a fascinating topic, that is not well-understood. Searching the internet simply gives me sites that note that this sort of thing happens, but none I've seen so far has an explanation for why or how.

I'm afraid I'm not much help to you on this particular problem. Maybe you could ask your psychiatrist about the process of integration somewhat eliminating the problem.

Do come back and let us know how this all works out.
 TheSystem - Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:50 pm

Dr. Eisle,
Thank you for your reply. I admit it is fascinating. As a researcher myself I've been scouring the internet and medical databases for information for years. I can't tell you what a relief it was to learn that I wasn't crazy, that others also had the alternating medical reports. Maybe it's cruel of me, but I take great satisfaction in seeing the disbelievers look at EEG's and EKG's and other hard data and watch it change from alter to alter.

I think you really did come up with something I hadn't considered though. The co-conciousness and integration may help tremendously with this problem as well. This week my therapist and I were able to determine that the two surgeries in which this occurred happened when an orthopedic surgeon was inappropriate during surgery. My therapist, a psychiatric nurse specialist, was in a procedure when something similar happened - an inappropriate response by a medical person after I was sedated. She observed it happen then, which was nice because up until then all I had at that point was my own testimony that it happens!

Anyway, thank you for your reply. I appreciate your time and this service. Even with the co-conciousness there are still alters who aren't totally co-concious and with stress and certain situations we split and revert again. It's frustrating, but I'm leagues away from where I was 15 years ago so I can't complain!

Thank you,

Us All
 TheSystem - Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:35 pm

I recently had surgery after posting here about my fears of waking up during surgery as I switched while under anesthesia. I advised all my doctors of this problem and all but the anesthesiologist were very understanding - even if, as most admitted, they did not believe the diagnosis or that this was possible they were willing to keep an open mind about it. Today ALL but the anesthesiologist believe something is happening - even if they aren't sure to call it multiple personality disorder or a miracle.

My question tonight is how to proceed to officially address what happened. After my therapist (who is a psych nurse) and I both explained this problem and the fact SHE has seen this documented medically in other cases when I have been in the ER, the anesthesiologist said SHE had never seen medical problems (broken bones for instance, allergic reaction to bee stings where heart stopped, then started when personality switched) happen and then resolve and then happen again with switching.

She said she did not believe in MPD/DID or what I was telling her. I told her to please administer her "happy juice," as she referred to it, and I would show her.

I told her it would not put me out or make me sleepy. Unbeknownst to me at the time she hit me with a DOUBLE shot of it while in my hospital room and proudly announced I would "be out" before I rollled through the hospital room door. I was not. I was still sitting up and talking all the way to the OR. At which point the orderly pushing me leaned over and said, "Aren't you sleepy? She gave you a double dose. You should be flat out!" I told him - no, I'm not affected by drugs.

When I was rolled into the OR and she saw that I was talking with doctors and carrying on intelligent, undrugged conversation and people were beginning to talk and she looked foolish for making fun of my condition (I was told), she then came over and while I was talking to another doctor gave me a shot of some white/opaque drug - at which point I switched and went under per our agreement that I would change once I made my point. I had. She had agreed to talk to me and ASK me what was happening before hitting me with more drugs - she did not. The drug she gave me was the same combination as a date rape drug - the only drug that does affect me since it is what my father used to drug/molest me with. Not only was I then knocked out, but I took four hours to come out of the anesthesia for a 30 minute surgery. I had hallucinations and a severe abreaction in the recovery room - betrayal by a doctor - since it was my father who used to do the same thing. Rather than ask for the part who was to have the surgery to come out, the protector part who did not trust this anesthesiologist stayed out. The anesthesiologist made my therapist leave after having been told by doctors she could stay! She wanted NO witnesses to this abuse!

My doctors - the REAL doctors, not like the perp posing as a doctor (the anesthesiologist) saw the personalities switch when we were threatened with "not cooperating" .... they came into my room afterwards and told my therapist they didn't believe in MPD/DID until they saw the dramatic switch happen in front of their own eyes. Then they saw that what I had predicted - the not being responsive to drugs, then the doubled up dosages and the taking longer to wake up - because all the other parts had overdosed by receiving four times the medicine they needed...well, it made some converts of everyone but the anesthesiologist.

I'm angry. I believe I was retraumatized so this anesthesiologist could "protect" her ignorant beliefs. Now I want to know who I can report her to and what recourse or actions I have available to me. There were plenty of witnesses - more than a dozen, including an instructor (this is a teaching hospital) and department head.

I told her I didn't care if she believed me or not - that my medical history showed it had happened. I am more than angry. I am furious that she caused me such grief.

I further demonstrated that the part of me that did not have the tumor was not reactive to the foot long - 50 stitches incision and showed that only 12 hours after surgery I had FULL range of motion in my arm - after a lipoma was pulled out of the shoulder joint. The lipoma was such a size that it reached from my spine and neck TO inside the shoulder joint.

What does it take to PROVE to some doctors that the brain is an amazing organ and capable of this stuff? Even when they see it themselves they don't believe. Will a lawsuit benefit my cause and FORCE them to believe when "I perform" in open court? How many dog and pony shows must I give to make so-called educated people realize that what they've believed is not right. Why won't doctors - of all people - have an open mind? I am still saddened and angry at what I had to endure because of this one anesthesiologist who LIED to me, traumatized me by using drugs rather than a simple request, and humiliated me by calling my disorder "attention seeking" rather than waiting to see if what I predicted was true or not. She told me that I could "rub it in her face" if I was right because she was so sure I wasn't. But when I didn't respond as she thought - she had to push it to the point of doing medical harm.

And you all wonder why MPD/DID folks prefer to hide their condition rather than risk this sort of thing.....It's sick and it's sad.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Thu Aug 23, 2007 11:44 pm

User avatar Dear System:

I'm so sorry things turned out the way they did.

Unfortunately, ignorance is not selective. This incident makes me think of a T-shirt I saw at a shopping mall the other day. It said:

"Stupidity is not a crime. Therefore, you are free to go."

As far as making a complaint, I'm not sure, but I would expect that going to your state's medical licensing board would be a place to start.

There are still psychiatrists who don't believe in DID, but the reason they don't believe, in those I'm familiar with, are at least logical. Those who don't believe in this diagnosis say it's because they've seen too many patients get diagnosed with it only after having been seen by less-than-reputable "professionals" who hypnotized them. They believe that the multiple personalities are simply different personality traits that were then given names by the therapist's suggestion. Most psychiatrists, however, if not believers, are merely skeptical and remain open to the possibility.

Not to make excuses for the anesthesiologist, rather, to speculate on the reasons she may have responded the way she did, I would not be surprised to learn that she had a very poor medical school education in psychiatry. Unfortunately, this does still occur. There are many, many, many doctors out there who still think that psychiatrists are not real doctors, and that mental illness is "all in your head." Those are the physicians who would be most likely to take the stance of the anesthesiologist.

I'm not sure that doctors like the anesthesiologist will ever believe--even if you were to bring a lawsuit and win it. I'm not advising you in either direction, here. Before you do that, I think you should very carefully consider whether the stress of such a thing is worth the risk of winning only on paper. Those who will believe you likely were prepared to do so anyway, by virtue of their open mind. The other equally possible risks are that you will win and the anesthesiologist will become a martyr, or that you might possibly lose if the jury is not open-minded.

Again, I am not advising you to act in either direction. I will tell you the same thing I tell anyone else who asks, you should do whatever you believe is the right thing for you to do.

I agree that the attitude with which you were treated is sick and sad.
 TheSystem - Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:33 am

Thank you for your reply. I know you aren't taking sides. I am expressing anger, dismay and frustration. While still in my hospital room I was given drugs via IV that were supposed to put me to sleep or at least make me very woozey and sleepy. I told the anesthesiologist they would not have that affect. She said they would because MPD is not a "real" condition, but an attention seeking disorder. She personally administered the drugs and stood there with a smug look on her face. I did not react to the drugs. She may as well have put water in the line. She nodded to the aide who handed her another needle with more drugs. Again - nothing. I explained that no matter what she injected until I opted to switch - it would not affect me. She stomped out and down to the OR. She assured me I would be "out" before I got there. I was not. I was not sleepy, not woozey. I was wide awake.

My therapist was beside me and we talked the whole way down. I smiled and waved to the anesthesiologist once I was wheeled into the OR. She came over and gave me another dose of medicine, Nothing. At that point I had made my point and told her I was switching. That's when the doctors told me later they became believers. They saw the switch and the change. This has been SO documented and still people do not believe. How can you look at two totally different EEGs, EKGs or whatever and not believe? I can't falsify tests like that! They have seen the heart rate change,..seen medical evidence - not just my word - but physical test evidence! It's not a matter of anyone believing it's all in my head. Machines and test results are not subjective! She gave me four doses of medicine that should have knocked me out but did nothing. Why? that alone should have been clue number one. The EEG and EKG strips confirmed what she was seeing as well - NOTHING was happening.

The whole point of having the therapist in the OR was so she could talk to the parts who needed to be there. The doctors reported watching this growth change as the alters changed! Time after time doctors who work with me see that this is NOT a casual misdiagnosis. I am truly a multiple - a high functioning one at that. I have had doctors diagnose a broken ankle and then have an alter change and the x-ray change!

You'd think (me being a researcher myself) that doctors would want to see more, to explore this unique ability. No. They'd rather bury their collective heads in the sand. This is why medicine is still in the dark ages. Too many doctors don't believe. It's disheartening. I like the shirt you mentioned. However, in this case my response to her would be the t-shirt I saw - "Your village called. Their idiot is missing."
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:15 pm

User avatar Dear System:

I have to say that I am truly awed by you. With your condition it's a wonder that you were able to work through whatever caused your personality to fragment, partially re-integrate, and function at a high level.

I've seen the village idiot t-shirt also--I like it!
 TheSystem - Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:32 pm

I appreciate your comments. I have worked hard for more than 15 years, had great therapists and have made my personal wellness my mantra. It's been both a help and a hindrance. If you are "too high functioning" then you aren't really DID/MPD. For some reason people insist on believing that your intelligence has to be lowered to be a multiple. The fact is, I think IQ has to be significantly higher in order for the brain to segment and function effectively. Sadly I wonder what I could have accomplished in medicine or any other field if I had been nurtured and my innate intelligence molded rather than shattered.

I have volunteered to do education seminars for doctors and haven't had any takers yet. My therapist is working on that. If you would like to talk to her I'm sure she'd like to know what questions would be helpful to have answered. The problem is her getting to you and verifying who you are so the trolls who also read these boards aren't alerted. I am for real.
 Tattoo Man - Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:48 pm

Hello System,
I am a 47 y/o male that also is coconscious and have had some of the same problems that you speak of. I had to go in for a colonoscopy and my younger guys were afraid of the procedure. I have a comfort room set up inside and I had everyone go there for the procedure. I was fortunate when I told the nurses and dr's about my alters they took down their names and ages so they would be able to help them understand what was going on. I only had one problem during the procedure I woke up. I should have gone into the comfort room also. I do want to let you know that I appreciate your frustration that you have gone through with the medical staff not believing in DID. Usually when they meet one of my little guys they are convinced also. I have 5 remaining alters 4 have integrated. I know it is frustrating when people don't believe you and think that it is only for attention. They should live a day in our world. Take care and I wish you peace.
Tattoo Man

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