Most knee or hip replacement surgery is performed under regional anesthesia, when patients are awake. Previous research has primarily focused on patients' experiences during general anesthesia. The aim of this study was to uncover the meaning of being awake during regional anesthesia and surgery. Nine interviews with patients undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery comprise the data. The phenomenological analysis shows that being awake during surgery can be compared with walking a tightrope because of ambiguous feelings. Four interrelated constituents further elucidated the patients' experiences: balancing between proximity and distance in the operating theater, balancing between having control and being left out, my partly inaccessible body handled by others, and the significant role of the carer. Anesthesia providers and perioperative nurses need to understand the awake patients' intraoperative experiences to support and confirm them when they can no longer experience or have full access to their body.
Copyright © 2012 American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.