Cardiac arrest

My partner suffered a heart attack and cardiac arrest on the 19/09/16 and although he has come a long way in the last two weeks I.e. walking, talking, eating etc his past memory is not too bad but he is making up stories from what he is reading or seeing on tv. Is this a normal effect of his brain injury? I don't seem to get any information from the hospital and he is waiting for a bed on a rehabilitation unit.

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  • Yes Jacky it's quite normal for patients who've been in ICU to be disorientated for some time afterwards.

    With brain injury there will be confusion caused by the memory loss together with the disorientation of the unit's sterile and timeless nature. This can continue for several weeks afterwards until we gradually 'return' to the real world.

    It took me a while to stop greeting my daughter as a neighbour and saying how thoughtful it was for her to visit me. Naturally my daughter was disturbed and upset by this, but we laugh about it now.

    And in a pristine, state-of-the-art unit, I was constantly threatening (despite all my drips & tubes) to stand on a chair and clean the 'filthy' ceiling !

    And certain drugs will complicate things & mess with your husband's thought processes. I'm sure it'll be simply a matter of time before his brain starts to distinguish between fact and fantasy.

    If you haven't already, I'd advise you to phone the Headway helpline (free call ; 0808 800 2244 office hours). They will reassure you and provide helpful literature explaining the after effects of brain injury.

    Two weeks is such a short time for recovery Jacky, and, judging from the progress he's already made, I think you can expect better days for your husband.

    All best wishes to you both, Cat xx

  • Hi jackyk, sorry to hear about your partner but you have definitely come to the right place for help and support. cat3 has suggested contacting Headway and I totally support her recommendation. My understanding is that there is no 'normal' path to follow for anyone with a brain injury (I'm guessing your partner has some element of hypoxia due to the cardiac arrest?) - everyone is different but there are certainly things that occur a lot including memory issues. My husband sustained a hypoxic brain injury after a cardiac arrest just over 2 years ago and his long term memory is ok - its just short term memory thats a problem now but we've come up with many ways of dealing with it (white boards, alarms, messages, apps, gadgets) and he goes to work. Fingers crossed you don't have to wait too long for him to get his place at rehab and then he will be in the right place for him (and you) to get the right support and information :-)

    Take Care

  • I am sorry you both having to go through this experience. Yes, it is one of the possibilities. It's called Confabulation. Here is a link about it brainline.org/content/2012/... After surviving cardiac arrest myself, where I also sustained anoxic brain injury, I sometimes find I am telling made up stories, quite convincingly I might add. Something like the politicians do quite regularly. Haha I don't recognize it sometimes at all and other times, I'm thinking to myself, where did that come from? Please feel free to contact me should you want to communicate more about what you two are going through. My event happened Dec 2013. Wishing you peace and comfort on your journey.

  • I also lied for England when I was in hospital. For some reason I was convinced that Lewis Hamilton's private jet pilot drove the ambulance that rushed me from Lincoln to Nottingham. I told every single person that would listen that it was him. After my aneurysm had been coiled I told my family and the whole ward that coiling had been discovered by accident when they had been looking to do something else. I was so convincing that my daughter said that she and some of the nurses checked it out on the internet. Absolute rubbish of course. They were obviously things that I believed at the time but were completely without fact. I can laugh about them now but when I first came home I didn't want anyone to mention these things as I was really embarrassed about it. Now they make a good anecdote to make people relax about it all. I think if possible the answer is to laugh about it but that isn't always easy. My husband says I never let a lie get in the way of a good story! He is joking ...... I hope.

    Hope it all works out for you

    Maureen x

  • Hi Jackyk

    I was doing the same after my accident in 1994 for years I'd watch something on TV and talk about it later like I was there,and when people told me I watched it on TV I'd argue with them and think why are thay lying, it got that I stopped talking because I didn't know what was real or what I'd watched i couldn't trust myself, its horrible but if you don't correct him he won't even know he's doing it.

  • Sorry I ment to tell you that I was really bad for many year's, it's a very slow process but with the rite help and lots of determination I have gotten a lot better, never give up, anything is achievable, im happy now but it's a long hard fight for you both

  • I did that, too. 'Confabulation', as Cat pointed out, is a noted phenomenon in brain injuries, and I still have incredibly vivid 'memories' of things that didn't actually happen, while I was in hospital. As I was discharged, I came up with the convoluted theory that I had bits of time 'missing', and my mind had tried to 'fill the gaps'.

    Mine wore off, after the initial trauma/drug-fog, but I do still have to check myself, not so much the Baron Munchausen stories, but the remembering who I have shared which bits with, a bit like that thing 'other' people do, when they think of a reply to a text-message, or email, and then forget that they only thought it, and didn't send it.

    It's an awkward one, because I didn't realise at the time that I was telling massive great big lies, and I still have the odd flash of 'Did THAT happen?'. It really upset my son to see me so confused, and my ex-husband didn't help, by saying 'Yes, dear.' at the time, and then belittling me afterwards for 'talking some right rubbish.' (I'd just had a brain haemorrhage, and surgery, I was on who-knows how many drugs, in an unfamiliar environment, SORRY for insisting my work-bag was in my locker...)

    I don't know how best to advise you to deal with it, apparently I was FURIOUS with the ex a lot, when he told me I hadn't 'been to the shops' or whatever I was claiming to have done, while I was stuck to a bed with pipes and tubes and what-not, but then I have brief memories of also being infuriated by his patronising tone when he responded 'of course you did.'. (Fairly sure I threatened to kill him more than once, and goodness knows what other blurty-nonsense I spouted.)

  • Thanks for your replies. He knows who every visitor is but forgot that his wife died 3 years ago and it was heartbreaking to see him cry over that. Im hoping that today I can speak to the doctors and get him some physio/occupational therapy started as he is not getting the right support he needs at the moment.

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