The purpose of this study was to investigate the perianesthesia experience from the patient's perspective. An existential phenomenological approach using Pollio's interpretive framework was used. Interpretations were conducted, in part, in a research group. The purpose of the interpretation was to recognize patterns or themes in an experience. Participants were asked to describe specific experiences that stood out for them because experiences which stand out are those that are meaningful. Ten participants (5 males, 5 females) ranging in age from 23 to 66 years were interviewed using phenomenological techniques. The interpretation found the perianesthesia experience to be grounded in self, others, and time, which become figural through experiences of control. Each participant relinquished control, lost control, or strove to gain or maintain control during their surgical experience. The perception of death lurking crossed into figural experiences as well. Images of death, while grouped predominantly with self, were interpreted as the ultimate loss of self, others, and time. Loss of control of self, the relinquishing of control to others, and the temporal experience of control may contribute to perianesthesia stress and anxiety. Nurses in the perianesthesia period have many opportunities to help patients with issues of control.