A British woman has undergone major surgery on her foot without an anaesthetic after she hypnotised herself into feeling no pain.
Bernadine Coady insists that she could not feel anything as a surgeon cut skin and muscle, sawed through two bones and stretched tendons during the operation on her right foot. The 59-year-old nurse – pictured after the 15-minute operation – says she used self-hypnosis. ‘I just tell myself I won’t feel any pain and I don’t – it’s as simple as that,’ she said.
It is the second time Mrs Coady has had surgery without anaesthetic. The first was 18 months ago when she needed a similar operation on her left foot. She was reluctant to be anaesthetised because of a blood condition which can leave her starved of oxygen. ‘I will never have anaesthetic,’ she said. ‘Even if I had to have heart surgery I would still use hypnosis. ‘It’s something everybody can do with the right training.’
Mrs Coady took only three minutes to prepare herself mentally for the operation at the private Fitzwilliam Hospital in Peterborough. Surgeon Ahmed Shair chatted to her throughout.
Mrs Coady, who kept her eyes shut and imagined she was standing beneath a waterfall, did not reply but was fully aware of what was being said to her. An anaesthetist was on hand but was not needed. Minutes after the operation, Mrs Coady said: ‘I feel really good. Last time I wasn’t really aware of anything going on. I was aware of everything this time.’
Mrs Coady, who came over from Belize to train as a nurse more than 30 years ago, received a diploma from the British School of Hypnosis in 1994. Her initial request to have an operation without any anaesthetic took Mr Shair by surprise. Normally, such an operation requires an overnight stay because of the anaesthetic, but Mrs Coady, who is married to a civil engineer called John, was back home in Wimblington, Cambridgeshire, just hours later.
Anaesthetics can result in adverse reactions such as nausea, headaches and vomiting and, for those suffering chest or heart problems, the complications can be serious.
She regularly uses self hypnosis to boost her self confidence and says she cured herself of hayfever with positive thought.