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British Lung Foundation
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Please help me if you can...

I'm in a pretty poor situation and need as much help and advice as I can get!

I'm out in Tenerife with my parents, after my mum was admitted to intensive care with pneumonia. My mum is 66 and has COPD. She has been in intensive care for 10 days, 5 of these under sedation, and 3 or 4 waking up. She also suffered a partial collapsed lung. She seems to be making a very good recovery although she is very very weak. she was intubated for around 8 days with oxygen being fed directly to her lungs, yesterday she got the tube out and was breathing through a mask. Today even the mask is gone, and she has a small oxygen supply through ther nose. So she does seen to be recovering well.

Today is the first day she has been able to speak in 10 days and it was so good to be able to communicate with her again. She is very bright and very chatty. What's bothering me though is that there is a big element of fantasy to some of what she's saying. She told us today that general Assad of Syria is in the same unit. And that every night she speaks to the owner of the hospital and that all of the nurses are his daughters and grand daughters!

Is this normal? Is it just confusion? Is it a side effect of the oxygen treatment? Or is it possible there is an element of brain damage?

Please help me if you can as I'm struggling a bit with the Spanish doctors and can't find much info online concerning conditions this severe.

Thank you

30 Replies
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Hi I am sorry you are going through this - your poor mum. I cannot help I'm afraid but I am sure others will be in soon who can. I just wanted to wish you well. Hugs x

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A relative of mine had exactly the same, hallucinations after heavy sedation/intubation in ITU. Its the drugs they give you to keep you sedated. He was fine after about 5 days. So glad your mother is doing well & great that shes in good spirits, some people find that waking up period quite frightening. Robin

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Sedation can cause confusion and / or hallucinations but it's usually just a temporary thing. It's good to hear that your Mum is now well enough to chat with you, hope she will soon be fully recovered.

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Ah what a frightening experience for you - struggling with this in a strange language as well! Sounds like your mum is mending but I can imagine you might struggle with the shock for a long time! Poor you. You said parent(s) - how is your dad coping with this? Are you managing to look after yourselves besides worrying about your mum? Stay strong - good wishes x piggi

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I just did a bit of googling & found this website ics.ac.uk/icf/patients-and-... There are 3 booklets you can download which look very helpful, I had a look and it expalins that most people do have hallucinations delusions etc. The good thing is that your mum isnt traumatised but is as you say bright & chatty, thats promising. Robin

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Hi & welcome! What you are experiencing with your Mum is almost certainly the sedation she has been given for the first 5 days. It is perfectly normal that she's having these 'dreams'.

I was exactly the same when I was hospitalised in ICU & intubated then had a tracheostomy.

It is frightening for the family, I know my family were terrified I had brain damage, but my consultant said it was the sedation which takes a while to wear off completely.

Please try not to worry, I'm sure your Mum will soon be out of hospital. Are you on holiday or do you live in Tenerife?

Wishing you & your family all the best

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My mum and dad are on holiday here, mu mum was taken ill on their first night. I flew out to help after my mum was taken ill. Thanks for your reply

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Keep in touch & let us know how things go. πŸ’

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Thanks all, my mind is a bit easier after hearing your experiences. As soon as I finish writing this I'm off to read those three booklets. Piggi thanks for your concern, for once I'm being the strong one, and I'm doing ok, sorting everyone and everything out.but by doing it myself I have the peace of mind in knowing that everything is covered. My dad is 71, he's also doing well. He has his own medical conditions but is bearing up. The hardest part is the commute to the hospital which is 50 miles from out villa, my dad is doing the driving and it's taking it out of him, driving on the wrong side of the road with local maniacs who think they own it is terrifying. However on Sunday we are moving to Santa Cruz, to a condo near the hospital so hope fully things will be much better then. again many thanks for your help and I will keep you updated. Thank you!

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Good theyve got you. Dont forget to tell us how things are because we want to know. Robin

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Robin, I can't thank you enough for sharing that link and those booklets! I searched for hours on the condition/treatment without thinking to search for the method of care. I feel so much better having thoroughly read all three of them! I promise I will keep you posted. THANK YOU!

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Im just pleased they were helpful. You learn how to find things out when youve had an illness a long time! Hope you will worry less now &get some rest. Robin

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Hello Stuart x. So sorry to read your situation . If it's any. Consolation my dad was in Thailand and got. Sick , he was under sedation in ICU after surgery and became very confused after for a few weeks. . But improved later , Try not to get too anxious although I know how difficult it can be . Unfortunately we couldn't get to see dad as quick as we would have liked . However he is back I the uk with family now .. I'm sure there will be someone . Maybe a British expat that speaks Spanish that may be able to help translate for you . Or maybe the hospital could reccomend someone , don't be afraid to ask . I wish you well and pray your mum makes a full speedy recovery x

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Hello Stuart,the fact that mum is chatting freely is the best news.The medication used at these times will be very strong,morphine etc and this will cause hallucinations so don,t worry.I would,not mention it to mum as she won,t even realise ,leave it until she Is fully recovered and have a good laugh about it.I talk nonsense when in hospital and that,s without drugs,think it,s just nerves or maybe I.m just a nut job lol.Best of luck to you and family.D.

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When my mum ( who had COPD and heart problems) was admitted to hospital once she told me that at night a tiger came to see, after a big red curtain had appeared by the bed. We used to have a laugh about it, which helped my mum because she thought she was going mad. I asked a nurse on my way out and she said it wasn't unusual as my mum had been on sedation/ morphine because of her treatment. Maybe it's part of that ( was she sedated?) shock can do all sorts of things. I wish you well, and hope your mum recovers quickly.

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Hello Stuart, I am so glad you came here. We all wish you and your parents well.

Hallucinations are very common following surgery or severe illness. My daughter saw people round her bed who had passed away. My son was going on about being a soldier in a prisoner of war camp in WWI. Neither of them remembered much about it afterwards. High doses of Diamorphine can do this.

Stuart, I do hope you are remembering to take care of yourself and to eat properly. In such stressful times, it is easy to forget. Do take some time out with your Dad to sit in a nice bar or coffee shop to try and relax and just chat about everyday things.

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Don't worry! I was in much the same situation as your Mum and saw a helicopter land in the middle of the ward....and the clock on the ward went backwards...lol

It passes...so please don't worry.

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Oh bless your heart....dont worry it sounds like its just the sedatives and lack of oxygen thats caused it im sure it will settle down..

You have had some fab advice off members and i hope you didnt feel so alone after they mailed you......hope you all are doing ok now x

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Do not worry I suspect it is the steroids that are having that affect on your Mum's mind. I speak from personal experience having ended up in a Spanish hospital myself last year where they pumped me up so much on steroids and I had weird mental experiences, including paranoia, thinking I was living someone else's life, depression, rambling, etc. as they cut down her steroids after she leaves that will get better but will take a week or so - meanwhile just humour her and do not worry xxx

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Feel sooo sorry for you, there is nothing worse than being in a strange country when things go wrong. Re your problem I have no idea if this is normal, hope someone else on the site can help.. God bless...😊

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My son was born by c/section and that is not heavy sedation; they found me at 2.30 in the morning packing my stuff to move to another nursing home! Some chap had told me to do this and it was so real I swear I would recognise him again. Night nurses fell about laughing and gave me a cup of tea - said it was a very well-known after-effect of anaesthetic. Hope all goes well for your Mum.

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You've already had lots of intelligent replies which have helped you understand what's going on with your mum - but I'm going to add my two pennorth anyway.

I went through something similar 8 years ago. A casual visit to hospital re poor breathing, then complete respiratory collapse, into intensive care, intubated and unconscious, traumatised family summonsed to bedside, later tracheostomy, very slow return to the world. I was apparently unconscious for 10 days, but during this time had very vivid fantastical dreams which I still remember. When I did come to I was still living in the dream world though I knew my family - but I remember being really worried that I didn't know where I lived or how I met my husband. And because I couldn't speak I tried to write, but as I was seeing double, nothing I wrote made sense.

I won't ramble on, but what I'm really saying is that though very weak when I first came out of intensive care, with the help of supplementary oxygen things improved daily. Eight years on it's not something I've forgotten, and I'll talk about it with the slightest encouragement, but the brain is working fine (in my opinion!)

Very best wishes to you and your mum. Jan :-)

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Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences! It really has helped me understand what is going on. I was quite worried last night about the possibility of brain damage, but you guys have helper to reassure me that this if most likely not the case.

My mum is not so much different today, very very tired, but I'm not really surprised as yesterday was a big day for her. Www were told today that they will be keeping her in intensive care until Monday now, so we will just have to wait and see how she is then.

I really can't thank all of you enough, and I do promise to keep you all posted.

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No updates for a couple of days, I'm sorry. Mums taken a step backwards and yesterday proved to be a very challenging day. Unfortunately her Lung has collapsed again and she is back on the ventilator, 60-70% oxygen at high pressure to try and re inflate it. She's 100% awake and with us, to the point where she typed out on her iPad NO MORE RESUS. I then had to have that very difficult conversation with my dad.

She seems to be breathing easier today, but is so tired and so weak. Being in Spain is taking its toll now. The message she typed today was "I want to die at home and I can see it coming" so we are now talking to the insurance company, it's going to be a battle, but I think the time has come to try and get my mum home. I pray to god we can, and I pray she survives long enough to get there.

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Stuart, Im very sorry to hear it. But people can be in ITU for weeks, even months, wiith variious complications and come through it. The easier breathing is a good sign. Im sure she and you & your dad are very scared but try to stay positive. I hope to god tomorrow is a better day for you all. Thank you for taking time to let us know and please keep us posted. Robin

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Thank you again robin, and yet again your right, I am so scared! I never wanted to be the responsible adult! Yet here I am taking charge and making decisions! I'm trying not to give up hope, but my mother seems to have done that. I just don't know what to do, or what to say. We encourage her as much as we can, but she can't talk back, and being on a ventilator we eventually run out of things to say! I just wish we were home now, wish we were able to communicate with her doctors, and to get a prognosis. Every day we walk up the corridor of the ICU I don't know what I'm going to face at the other end. And I don't know what to do with the DNR info. I have written a letter to the doctor, and translated it into Spanish, I want to show it to him and make them aware of it, but I don't know how my father will react or if I should tell him? I'm just lost!!

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Stuart, I don't know what to say, sorry it's taken so long to reply. You are having such a tough time of it. Is your mum still the same today or is her breathing a bit better? To be told no more resus puts you in an awful position and I don't think any of us can advise on that. Is there an English speaking counsellor attached to the hospital who you could talk to just to take some of the pressure off?

My instinct would be to do your best to get mum home, but emphasise to her that it's because you know it will make her feel better and get well faster, not because you want her to give up the fight. I am 66 too (thought I don't often admit it) so I feel very strongly that she is far too young to give up, though I know how poorly she must be feeling. Take it one day at a time. As Robin says many people have been in ICU for months but recovered well. I do pray your mum will soon showing signs of her recovery. Jan

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Thank you so much Jan. we went in to see her this afternoon to discover that she has again been intubated and sedated. As much as it feels like we have taken a massive step backwards, in a way I was kind of releived, as she looked so peaceful, after the exhaustion and the battles of the last few days, she seemed to be getting a well earned rest.

The doctor in charge of her care today explained to us that he thinks is possible my mums right lung will never function properly again and that she may find it difficult to breathe without the aid of a ventilatior. He also told us that he wants us to perform a tracheostomy. I've been researching all afternoon and part of that included speaking to her GP at home in Scotland, and on his advice we will give our consent to this tomorrow. Her GP also said not to push to quickly for an evacuation, if she is being treated well where she is (which she is) then it will be best for her to stay here and get a little stronger.

I'm bearing up ok, I have caring in understanding friends and colleagues who I speak to regularly, am also staying strong for my dad. And in all honestly, everyone on here has been so kind, your advice and support has been a big help.

Thank you all

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Stuart lad what a tough time youre having but what a relief it must have been to see your mum resting and not struggling. Ive heard good things of hospital care in Tenerife from friends who lived there, am pleased youre happy with it, a great comfort for you and your dad. I suppose all you can do is take each day as it comes? And trust in the team looking after her. Its out of your hands isnt it, all you can do is encourage and support mum & dad as youre doing and hope against hope for the best outcome. I hope you are getting rest yourself and trying to eat well as you need to stay strong. Robin

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Oh dear, one step forward, two steps back. Agree with everything Robin says. It's good to hear you feel your mum is getting very good care. I think you are right in that keeping her sedated is the best thing for now. Our bodies do their best healing while we sleep. Try not to let the worst case scenarios get you down - easier said than done I know, but these days doctors do seem to feel obliged to worry us with the bad news before sharing the good.

Hopefully the tracheostomy will be another step forward and your mum will gradually start to improve again.

I'm glad you are not bearing this alone and have understanding friends and colleagues to talk to. Take care of yourself. Jan

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