Asthma UK community forum



Long ramble blame the hormones..

In Nov last year I had a servere asthma attack which led to a respiratory and cardiac arrest. Since then I have been confused and have mixed feelings and was wondering if this is normal..

I have no memory of the event and what I do remember amuses me... spilling water over my pizza in ITU and still eating it.. Asking where I am every five minutes...But everytime I hear an ambulance I feel sick.. Been in them since then.. When I was imprisoned last week ( hospital ) my sats were still down so I was moved to resus that I didnt take any notice of untill the man next door was put on mobile life support... When I think back, I was only in ITU four days then discharged straight home due to lack of beds I was in ITU sixty miles from my home town as it was the only bed... So I think to myself I cant of been that bad... I met with the paramedic ( he was lovely ) and he told me in his opinion I should of been in my grave at best brain damaged.. he was also amazed to know I was still pregnant I was 14 weeks gone when I had the arrest.. ( my little boy is now 3 weeks old )

But what bothers me is I cant seem to get over it ... I keep thinking to myself what if etc.. My two other children saw it all and they are so young I feel selfish for them having a wheeze bag of a mother ! I am terrified It will happen again and I wont survive the next one.. I also feel kinda deprived that I never saw a white light etc etc and cant remember being dead... Half hoping I will have flash backs of watching the medics work on me ( the paramedic I met was rather tasty tehe )

Rather Random Ramble over am I normal to keep going over it etc...

4 Replies

heya hails!

i know how u feel honey, i had the same situation but on the other side of the world! i was on holiday with some m8s in austrailia in perth in 2005 when they had some hurrendous bush fires, the smoke set off an attack and the next thing i knew was i woke up a week later in ICU, miles away from home with no family. if it was not for my m8 finding me unconious in my hotel room and foneing the ambo i would not be here today. the whole event left me with nightly nightmares and every attack i had i was sure i was gong to die! finally after about 5 months my consultant refffered me to a phycoligist after i broke down in an outpatients appiontment (consutlants can't cope with patients crying lol) the physcolist was awesome and after baout 2 month of treatment i was as right as rain! seriously, think about asking for a refferal if not for u then for your kids! my problems were only main worst by the fact that my story hit the local and national press:

see!! so i know what u r going through, stick with it honey, it does get better!

message me if you need a privite chat, talking does make it better!

take care

lv rob x x x



I had a bad admission last Novemeber whilst staying with family in North wales. I'm from Manchester but my parents were on holiday in Thailand and my family didn't really know how to deal with me when not well. I didn't feel to bad to start with but decided not to take my chances and when an ambulance crew arrived they decided HEMS was needed and I was air lifted to the nearest A&E and went to ICU from there. Things went dramatically down hill after a day or so and end of life discussions were made with me and my family. I don't really know how I got through but I did. About the only positive thing I took away from there was I could say 'look what I've lived through'. The thought of going back there scares me and I saw a picture of myself last night in ICU and it brought tears to my eyes. I haven't got over it and I don't think I ever will but I concentrate on that positive and I think that helps me be strong. I have since been offered counselling and will be taking the offer up at some point. That maybe worth asking about.

Tks xxx

P.S I have a personal website that has my story and pictures on it, I'm not posting the link on these boards but if you want it PM me.


hi hails,

What you describe is so much a normal reaction after a life-threatening attack/arrest/resuscitation, everything you mention is really understandable. It might be best understood as post traumatic stress disorder. It just so happens that this sort of area (in children) is my line of work - I agree with pp that a psychologist (or psychotherapist, or psychiatrist - just depends who is interested local to you!) will definitely be able to help, it is exactly what they are here for! Your feelings are natural, but you are stuck with nasty symptoms (emotional ones I mean) that can be helped by a variety of talking methods. I am surprised that ITU didnt follow you up psychologically, they normally do these days. BTW I'm not talking about counselling, that's a bit different, though it might help you in the first instance and if it doesnt you could ask for another referral on to a psychologist (or..... etc).

You can ask your GP to refer you, or your resp consultant or nurse.

Good luck!



Hi Hails

I am so sorry you have been so unwell and have had such a rough time.

A lot of what you are saying is very familiar, and I can tell you that what you are experiencing is a totally normal and understandable response to what you have been through.

I first experienced cardiorespiratory arrest and intubation as a result of brittle asthma nearly ten years ago, and I can tell you that there are aspects of that experience then, as well as subsequent similar experiences, which will never really leave me. However, the feelings do get less acute as time goes on, and you will not always feel as scared and vulnerable as you do now.

It is normal to have very little memory of the event, and what memories you do have are likely to be distorted by the effects of low oxygen levels, high carbon dioxide levels and the drugs that they use. A lot of the drugs that are used to sedate you in ICU are hallucinogenic, and are likely to produce very strange dreams/hallucinations that are often interwoven with the real experiences that are happening. These dreams/hallucinations may also be sexual in content, which can obviously be very upsetting, and not something that is often talked about, but again this is totally normal.

I too can sympathise with feeling somewhat aggrieved that I have never seen a 'white light', felt feelings of peace, seen dead loved ones etc! If you have to have a near death experience it might at least be a proper one! Derren Brown, the TV pyschologist/illusionist, was saying on his TV show the other day that the state of cerebral anoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, produces an intense feeling of euphoria and bliss. I can't say I have ever found it so. All the memories I do have of being in that situation are fairly negative. Again I think this is totally normal. Everyone's brain responds in a different way to the extreme conditions that it is being put under - think of drug users having 'good trips' or 'bad trips'. To those who do experience near-death as a euphoric or spiritual experience, I am very happy for them, but it is not my experience. We should not feel guilty or deprived because our brains have not responded in this way!

I remember being very worried on several occasionns that I had sustained some kind of brain damage (while I was on the ventilator that first time my family were told this was likely as I had been deprived of oxygen for some time and one of my pupils was dilated, which can be a sign of brain damage). It is quite normal after a traumatic experience to find that you are forgetful, emotional, and have difficulty in concentrating on things - I experienced all of these things and was convinced that they were signs of brain damage... in fact they are very normal responses to stress and trauma! One of the ICU registrars later put it in perspective for me by saying that, yes, I probably had lost a few brain cells.... but no more than most people lose on a standard Saturday night's boozing! (I was a student at the time!)

The fear of ambulances etc is also very normal... for a while I would freeze whenever I saw or heard an ambulance (not good when you are learning to drive!) and found the hospital environment very difficult, especially ICU where the 'whooosh-hiss' of the ventilators would really freak me out. I also found talking to and dealing with other asthmatics very difficult. I was a medical student at the time so all these things had to be done, and in a way that was the best treatment I could have had - I had a wonderful personal tutor at the time who saw to it that I had a graduated exposure to all of the things I found difficult to cope with, with easy escape routes if things got too much, and it gradually improved. I would really recommend going back to the ICU if you can, and talking to as many people who were involved in your care as possible. You've already obviously talked to the paramedic, which is great. The more you talk to people, and the more exposure you get, the easier it will get... but take someone with you who can provide psychological support and who can get you out of there with a minimum of fuss if it all becomes too much.

You must be feeling intensely vulnerable right now... I can remember feeling a very strong awareness of the fragility of life, both my own and other people's.

I can remember thinking to myself, for example, that I would never dare wear latex gloves again, for fear of triggering an attack, even though I have never shown even the slightest tendency to be allergic to latex! The vulnerable feeling will fade, but it will take a while, and may always be there to some extent... again, for me, the trick was forcing myself to expose myself to situations that I found frightening, such as going out on my own (within the boundaries of common sense and safety, of course)... every time it does get a little easier. It is difficult to get the balance between keeping yourself safe and living your life, and I can't say I've got it right every time, but it does get better!

Most important of all, go easy on yourself! You have had an incredibly traumatic experience which no-one would find it easy to recover from. It is still very early days and things will get better. If you need to seek professional help, do so sooner rather than later (the availability of such help on the NHS is very variable - I had to go privately to get the sort of long-term help I felt I needed, and I recommend this if you can afford it).

Remember you are not alone and there are others here who understand what you are going through. Do not feel guilty for being ill. People are probably telling you you should be feeling 'lucky to be alive' - I am often told this, and I do feel lucky, I really do, but I also at times feel incredibly p***ed off that any of it happened in the first place.

Do PM me if you want to talk more - I might take a day or so to respond due to intermittent internet issues/energy level issues but I would be glad to talk further if it would help.

Take care of yourself

Em H


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