I woke up to find myself in ICU. How I got there I still have no memory of to this day. I personally felt fine. Couldn't understand why I was still in hospital. Nobody told me anything.

I was given medication (which I took), because I assumed someone would tell me why I was suddenly on so many new tablets. I can't remember anyone sitting down & talking to me,about what had happened.

My husband told me how I ended up in ICU, but no-one told him anything about the experience of ICU either.

What no-one, not even my doctor's, mentioned was the side effects I was likely to have. Mental as well as emotional side effects that is.

For instance no-one told me how WEAK I would be.

Did you know you can lose approx. 2% of body muscle per day in ICU.

Why? I don't know, does anyone?

ANGER because you feel unable to take your 2nd chance at life.

You loose WEIGHT when your in ICU. I lost 2 stone.

Did you know your NAILS (hand and toe) stop growing for a while.

CONCENTRATION & INTERESTS take a long time to come back. MEMORY LOSS, & HAIR LOSS is another example no-one tells you about.


You could end up with DEPRESSION &/or PTSD.

I could go on & on, but the most important thing is that you DO get better. It takes time, a long time, but you will get there.

Help is out there in the form of SUPPORT GROUP's. You can go on-line to find your local one. At the moment there are 12 different groups around the country. With more in the offing.

All the best to my fellow survivors

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25 Replies

  • Get well soon, i was in ICU a while back, it was a strange experience, ime ok now

  • I have had the same I lost 3 stone. with regards this lose what happens as it was explained to me is: You are fed by a drip as solids when in ICU or in a coma is not an easy thing to do. With the body being a clever beast it looks for protein to keep going. This is not found in fat but the muscle so you start to eat yourself to survive your shortcomings. when they tried to get me out of bed I could not support my own weight because of muscle wastage.

    Nails and hair are made of keratin which is a protein (food for ICU) you should see groves in your nails as that is the time it still grows but not so thick. Adults nails grow (on average) about 0.02 inches a week. Bigger the groove the longer you have been in.

    I suffered short term memory really badly for the first 6 months and my short term memory is not back to what it was but better.

    I have has sleep problems since my stay in ICU in 2008 but I know lots of people that get it back to normal.

    This is me we all are different.

    Be Well

  • Thank you for sharing the common effects so we all know its 'normal'

  • Thank you Kulta.

    That was my reasoning behind writing the post.


  • I am so glad u feel so much better but having no one to tAlk to and find out what happened must of been awful. You need to be assured and helpto get through I c u. I was lucky though they didn't no what was wrong with me had a traccy so couldn't to just lied there not being able to communicate but the staff were so lovely even just hold my hand wAs hopeful the after mental problems were worse for me when I got home but I had follow ups with the wonderful sister on I c u help from my doctor and gradually could see the end of a tunnel. Two years on I am 63 and still feeled tired but love the help group in Coventry and love helping others I am going to the conference in November and I can't stress enough how these groups are literally life saving. All the best health and if u fAncy a chat click on love xxxx

  • I was in ICU for a month in an induced coma on a ventilator after Respiratory Failure post-op for major bowel surgery. I still get flashbacks to the horrible hallucinations I had and the terrible paranoia about "the nurses trying to kill me" which I've noticed is very common to ICU patients. I've never had any follow up care and can only say the services in the Glasgow area are wanting. A year on I would still say my memory isn't as good pre-ICU and found the transition to HDU a bit poor at first and only one nurse had good experience with tracheostomies and had to show other staff on how to care for these. I've kept silent about my 6 weeks in hospital. This is my 1st post.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience. It is almost a parallel to my own experience. I went in for colon resection due to years of diverticulitis. The surgery went fine but on the 2nd or 3rd day I was put in ICU due to a terrible onset of C-Diff. I was placed in medically induced comas twice and intubated twice as well. I had total renal failure and was on dialysis 6 times. I don't remember anything "real" past the 2nd day myself until my 3rd week in the ICU. I have distinct and very clear memories still of the hallucinations I had. They were as real as could be! I thought I was in Mexico the whole time I was in there until the 3rd week and my wife was finally able to get me to understand I was still in my own town in Kansas. I to had an idea that some of the nurses were Russian spies that were there practicing English speaking skills and they were abusing me, forcing me to say things I couldn't. I wasn't speaking much yet and couldn't make the words in my head come out of my mouth. I couldn't believe how weak I had gotten in such a short time. I couldn't walk or hold my own weight up or push myself up in the bed. I remember looking down once at my hand and asking my wife "whose hand is that?" because mine were all swollen from edema. There is so much more that I am dealing with and it has been just over a year since that happened. I hope it gets back to normal some day. I am having a terrible time with depression and sadness. I just feel lost and desperate at times. I have flashes of things and ask my wife about them and she tells me what was actually happening at the time I am describing. I have had to have 3 subsequent surgeries for adhesions from my bowel attaching itself to my abdominal wall due to the awful C-Dill infection that almost burned through my bowel. The only 2 good things that came from it are that I am still alive and I lost 68 pounds.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I remember when I got home and all my long nails snapped off at once as the groove got to the end of my fingers!band almost all my hair fell out. It came out in clumps and looking back at photos my whole head was covered in a fine layer of new hair with really sparse long pieces. Looked so strange. No one told me about that! Also being in bed for 3 months I think a year in I'm still getting muscle tone back. I didn't feel like I lost a lot Of weight as my body was overloaded with fluid. This is gone now but my skin is very loose as it was stretched so much

  • My mom had a similar experience as you. Her nails now grow in sideways after falling off and it is very painful! I think she needs more protein, but she is 88 and has problems when she eats meat. I try to get her to eat peanut butter and other high protein foods, but many things disagree with her digestion. She also can't eat gluten and milk products, so those protein shakes are out of the question.

  • I went to my local hospital for my Xolair (anybody heard of it) jab for my Asthma. I told the Resp nurse that wwasn't feeling well. I had been bringing crap off my chest for a few weeks (after having my Flu jab!) She checked my Peak Flow and it was 200 instead of my usual 370. She rang A and E and wheelchaired me down there. My chest started to deteriorate and I went into Resus. A bit later ( after magnesium and corticosteriod infusions) I was intubated. I woke up on ICU 2 days later being told it was a viral chest infection that was the cause of the venting. After a week on ICU I was sent home from the unit, instead of going to the usual resp ward. I am feeling like I have hit by a very large bus. I am flash backs, daymares and bouts of extreme crying. I had PTSD before due to being in ICU sereval times and Vented 4 times in the past. Can anyome give me any advice or help please.

  • Dear Taffyrocker

    You are not the only one as you will find by perusing the many stories posted by others. As I have tried to put across, it does get better. You might get a bigger response by posting your own question.

    I found the best help came from my local ICU support group. There is a list which can be found at There is also a lot of useful information to be found on this site.

    All the best.

  • My son was in a medically induced coma for 5 days in January 2013. The side effects when he awoke were delirium, hallucinations, trouble knowing who we were, frightened, paranoid etc....couldn't sleep when he came home. Nobody told me this. He had severe pneumonia after a pneumonia shot two weeks prior. He was never the same again. Massive amounts of drugs are pumped into you. Then they try to wean you off of them, unfortunately my son died a year and three months later of a seizure caused by drug overdose. I am broken inside and wondered if this coma made him a different person. He was just 25 years old.

  • Hi Bella,

    I don't think anyone is prepared for effects of being in ICU, as patient or relative I spent 3 months in ICU with double pneumonia, severe sepsis and multiple organ failure, for me the first 71/2 weeks were completely missing, they were just full of nightmare and hallucinations, believing they were trying to kill me (a common belief) I to had so many drugs pumped into me, having to be weaned off making everything seem much worse. The first few months after leaving hospital were the worst for me I ended up in a very dark place, becoming very depressed I thought I had become a burden on my wife and family and thought they would have better off without me, I was lucky my niece is an ICU nurse and got me the help I needed, I've met so many people since then that have not been so lucky and are still looking for answers, things are now beginning to change and it's being recognized help is needed long after discharge from ICU, something all the volunteers at the many ICUsteps groups are helping with.

    Best wishes

  • Thank you. I wish my son were alive to have comforted him and to let him know these were results of his coma..:(

  • Hey, y'all. My dad is 79 yrs young. He went in for a colon resection, and the next day he was in icu for sepsis and pneumonia. Fast forward 5 days and we find out is pseudomonas, so the antibiotics he was on were resistant. He also Two days later he's on life support and in a medically induced coma. This lasted 11 days. He spent 2 days in icu after removing the tube to make sure his body could handle it and is now in a room. He's seems so confused at times, sleeps a lot, and is refusing to eat. My mom is staying in the room with him. She said last night he tried to get out of the bed, and, later tried to remove the the things off of his legs that are attached to a machine to promote circulation. This is breaking my heart and worrying me to no end. What do I do?

  • RebaFan At this point in time all I can suggest is talk to the ICU medical staff. Tell them of your fears and anxieties and put your trust in them. After all they have the expertise and the knowledge.

    Wishing your Dad a speedy recovery. Lacemaker

  • My dad has made it to a room, no longer in icu. He's having trouble swallowing water/liquids, and decided to quit eating. He says he isn't hungry when they bring his trays, and when he decides to take a few bits his food is cold and he gets frustrated. How can we help him? I've tried yogurt, pudding, diced peaches, oatmeal cream pie cookies, ice cream, etc. He'll take a couple bites then he through. One of his drs has told him if he doesn't try to eat he will end up in a nursing home which scares me. (My twin brother and I have always told our parents that we would do our best to keep them out of nursing homes.) Our mom is completely beside herself, as are we, but we don't know how to help him. Any help/suggestions would be appreciated.

  • I personally did not want to eat or drink anything for about 10 days after I left ICU. Then a doctor suggested I drink milk, which I did and thoroughly enjoyed but it had to be cold. Slowly but surely the appetite came back but I still like to drink a lot of cold milk. For what its worth, four years down the line I am still drinking up to 24 pints of milk a week and eating meals. I am not saying that although it worked for me it might not for your Dad

    As this is an old post, I think I am the only one who is seeing your posts. Although I am more than happy to respond, I think it would produce more responses if you started a fresh new post, within the ICUsteps community, with your story.

    Delighted your Dad has left ICU. Lacemaker

  • Hello, your life will return just take small steps, I can recall falling out of my hospital bed due to no leg muscle. I, too had problems with hair loss, ridges on my nails, sleep loss and memory loss. All these things are short term and I am now much better and remain positive.

    I hope you will take heart from what we all have to say. I wish you lots of positive thoughts and a sift recovery.

    Kindest wishes, Angie

  • four years ago i was admitted to icu unconscious with streptococcus pneumonia when i awoke i could't speak has trachiotemy and could't move my arms and kegs had a catheter inserted and tubes everywhere including my rectum i had horrid hallucinations. /after four weeks in was moved but still could not speak or ask any questions and no one told me anything, /since leaving hospital i have memory loss and depression. my doctor told me she had asked for me to speak to someone about it but i received no appointment and am still feeling ill four years on and cannot walk properly as i came out not being aboe to walk and no care and no frame just one trolley . I really struggled and don't understand why i had no care as i live on my own and was 70 at the time an now 75 and still have no answers to questions like why is it i have no body hair and hives in my head my hair is still sparse, although the nurses in Burton hospital were absolutely marvelous. This is my first post since that awful time and i am now afraid of hospitals full stop .

  • Sorry to hear you are still having problems. The best advice I can give you at the moment is to contact the ICU at your hospital, explaining the problems you are having. In addition contact PALS, (Patient Advice and Liaison Service), at the hospital. Your own GP should be able to put you in touch with Social Services who should be able to help you with mobility about the home.

  • Its been 10 years since I came out of a medically induced coma and I feel like I will never be the same again. There is pre-coma Lisa and post-coma Lisa. I struggled a lot in the beginning, so much it was almost impossible to deal with. Memory loss, inability to structure thoughts or sentences, anxiety, depression, weak, hair loss, etc, etc. Eventually things got better, not the same but better . . . but over the past few years things are getting worse! My symptoms are very similar to dementia. I have gone to many Dr's to get help Psychiatrist, Neurologist, therapist, anything to help make sense of this. The only answer they have is its probably a result from the medically induced coma. Does anyone know if there is research to the long term effects of being in a medically induced coma? Some days I feel like i'm going crazy.

  • Hi Lisa, I found this that might interest you

  • Hi Lisa, I also found this article below. I'm also interested to know more about the after effects of critical illness because I have been struggling with memory loss and impaired executive functioning skills too. I used to always check any writing with a spell checker for any careless mistakes however now I've had to switch to Grammarly pro otherwise people would have to read 20 line sentences and to fit in and take away words I forgot to add or take away.

    I have created an excel spreadsheet where the first row of cells contains the days of the week, like so, Mon, Tues, Wed, etc. horizontally in Bold as titles. Then, I list my daily to-do list below i.e. wake up, let the dog into the garden, stretches, coffee & morning meds. I then check my longer-term to-do list, which I have created on another spreadsheet and choose which things I can do today, dependent on urgency and energy levels. I copy and paste these things I have selected from my longer-term list to my daily list, without removing them from the hard copy. When I have completed each task on my daily to-do list, I fill the background with green, orange if part finished, and red if not done at all. By the end of the day, I will have a daily to-do list for that day all colored in like a traffic light and for the jobs, I copied over from the longer- term to-do list that I've now done or part done, I color my long-term hard copy accordingly. It might sound complicated, but it's actually very easy, and it means you don't need to wrack your brains each day trying to remember what needs to be done. I used to use this technique when I suffered from severe clinical depression, and it really helped me. On that list, I even had to write "brush my teeth" and "have a shower" otherwise I would just lie in bed all day looking at the walls.

    I've found that these lists, have helped me in my recovery. I've even added things I keep promising myself to do but usually don't such as 1 hour of studying, 1 hour of creativity, yoga, meditation with aromatherapy on my daily to-do list. I also have time limits set for stuff like Facebook and web surfing. For those who would still feel tempted to stay on social websites like facebook, you can even add a chrome extension which will shut pages like Facebook after 30mins or whatever time you set before it closes down for the day. My laptop also has to be closed down by 10:30 pm at the latest so that I still have an hour before sleep time. In that hour, I'm allowed to read anything I choose, except horror, sex, or thriller, (we don't want the heart to race or blood pressure to rise during this hour). It's important that during this hour before going to sleep, the lighting should be gentle, warm light, (We don't want bright light here, as it will upset our melatonin production (The sleep hormone)). You can also listen to gentle, positive music for the hour before bedtime (Preferably music with no vocals, though it doesn't have to be classical) while diffusing an essential oil blend specifically for sleeping. I also prepare a lovely hot milky drink like Horlicks or warm milk with raw organic honey (Remember not to add the honey while the milk is very hot otherwise it destroys some of the precious nutrients) and nibbling on five organic almonds that also help sleep. If I find that doing all of this doesn't make me tired enough to go to sleep, I pop on a guided meditation on very low volume and listen with my in the ear headphones; this never fails to make me drop off to sleep. :)

    If you or anybody reading this would like a copy of my to-do lists so they can adapt it for themselves, please feel free to write to me at

  • I was in an ICU-induced coma for two weeks. Actually, you loose 10% of your muscle mass every day, not 2% but because it reduces each day 10% of 100 is 10, 10% of 90 is 9, 10% of 81 is 8.1 and so on so after about ten days you have lost 50% of your muscle. I also have severe Fibromyalgia. This flare up has lasted over five years. I went into ICU 29th Feb 2016 and was in the hospital for 14 weeks, and though they eventually let me go home once I got home, I struggled to cope and still am. I'm left with bronchiectasis, and the doctors didn't realize that my bronchial asthma had come back. Initially I became ill with bronchial asthma after being attacked by my ex at age 21, however, years later I gave birth to a healthy girl when I was 30, and the pregnancy healed my asthma although it made my fibro worse. I kept having chest infections and was put on steroids NEVER AGAIN. Within two days of being on steroids, I could see aliens and spaceships and thought an evil presence was trying to scan my brain and that the housing estate I live in was actually an open plan prison and I saw fairies and elves. Whatever it was I saw around me. I also had hallucinations trying to watch a program I would think I was looking at babies being born and being swapped for hybrids so alien reptiles could feast on human babies. It was truly awful. It was bad enough that in my ICU coma an old Chinese woman with dyed black hair was trying to teach her granddaughter to kill my daughter with red silk with a unique martial arts move called the Japanese fighting fish. The red silk would be pulled so taught it could slice my daughters head off but as soon as anyone looked they wouldn't be able to find the murder weapon as it would now just be red silk.

    Oh and I met death, well actually he spoke to me, stood behind me in fact. He told me "I could let go, that my daughter would be fine" and I said no! So I had to row up the Congo and do lots of other challenges to get another chance to come back and be with my daughter who graduates this year. I think you can see I have a very vivid imagination lol. I blame the fact I trained as a professional in all sorts of mediums, including computer software art, media, etc. So I was adding a lot of crazy and very real looking special effects. It would make a great book or film, would blow The Matrix away. I didn't swallow the blue pill; I was the blue pill and rainbow technicoloured Pill too!!!

    A year later after being promised help from Social services and then after six months told, "No, sorry, due to cut backs you aren't getting anything", "Great!" I mean it's ok to give loads of help in less than a fortnight to a lady who can walk a trolly around Tesco's because she used to work in the services however, a bedridden lady gets zip after waiting six months. I wasn't depressed leaving the Hospital, but thanks to Social Services who were very very rude to me too I sure am now. The first lady insinuated that I was still in a relationship with my ex who I had caught sleeping with men so at first I had to live on 75 quid a week and my rent is 110 quid. So on top of being very poorly, I was completely dependent on my ex for help and still am, so that's REALLY HELPFUL. Please, wherever you live, just be grateful you don't live on on this Totalitarian Police State of an island that I do. Once my daughter finishes her Masters and Ph.D. in another 4 years, I am moving somewhere more civilised. It shouldn't be called the Isle of Man; it should really be called The Isle of Masons & Stepford wives club. If your face doesn't fit, you're not getting in, and you are not getting access to the support services that you paid with your National Insurance & Tax payments for all these years.

    I almost forgot. When the second lady called from Social Services wanna know what she said that was so lovely? While asking about my breakup and the fact that the more disabled I was becoming, the more abusive my ex-was do you know what her response was? Ahhhh Wouldn't he marry you?". I was gob-smacked and very nearly lost for words but managed to say No, I see marriage on this horrible little island akin to slavery. WTF, are social services supposed to speak to the disabled like that??? I wrote to the department after that saying that from now on I shall be recording any further visits and that's when they stopped me getting a cleaner the vindictive sows.

    BUT I will have the last laugh haha. My brilliant and very lovely daughter and her equally lovely partner are planning on having me live close to them. I am determined to live as independently as I can but safe in the knowledge that once my daughter and partner have their Ph.D.'s and are both working that is grandchildren are born I will be there to help and enjoy my lovely grandchildren. :) However, those horrible so-called ladies at Social services will always have to look at themselves and their black hearts in the mirror. I am 51 next week and am often told I don't look a day over 35. My waist length hair that fell out will eventually grow back, but those two women will never be happy, nice people who ever get to experience any real joy and no matter how prettily they plaster their faces on, they will never have beautiful, lovely hearts. I also remember that God in his Graciousness brought me back from the brink of death. The doctors were all amazed at the hospital that I survived as I was in such a bad way. I had collapsed just 10 minutes after waking with a cough, and I couldn't breathe. I don't remember much, to be honest. However, I do know this. I had a very severe reaction to swine flu. I had both bacterial pneumonia and viral pneumonia. I was antibacterial resistant, got the MRSA bug, my temperature was sky hi, and my ex-was told to call my immediate family and close friends to prepare then for the next call because the doctors didn't think there was any chance of my surviving my third night. Just before I came back, I saw my daughter as an Angel dressed in sky blue and apparently According to several rabbinic sages, blue is the color of God’s Glory.[4] Staring at this color aids in meditation, bringing us a glimpse of the “pavement of sapphire, like the very sky for purity,” which is a likeness of the Throne of God.[5] Many items in the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary in the wilderness, such as the menorah, many of the vessels, and the Ark of the Covenant, were covered with blue cloth when transported from place to place.[6]

    One thing I have learned through all this is that you have to focus on the positives and to be grateful for what you do have. One thing that really helps me is knowing that those two bitter B*tch, er I mean two lovely Social workers have to get up early to get ready to go to work Mon-Frid and I don't lol. Yes, of course, I would love to be able to work in the kind of jobs that I could before I became so ill. However, I am currently using this time to get certain qualifications. So that if I do become well enough to work again, the only person I'll ever be taking orders from is myself, unlike two certain women I know who'll always have a boss in a higher position of responsibility than them. Hey, who knows, maybe after my daughter gets her Ph.D. she might decide to go for the department head job of our local Social Services. Now wouldn't that be fun hahaha? See, sometimes now, having a vivid imagination isn't so bad, especially when you can cook up ideas of how to dish up your ice-cold revenge. Brrrrr lol lol. Or I could write a book. As it happens my daughter does have amazing English grammar skills & hates this horrible draconian island, and it's moronic civil servants almost as much as I do. Sometimes imagining that you are the protagonist of a book or film can really cheer you up when your health and body is letting you down. Sometimes escape into fantasy can be healthy. Hypnotists get you to fantasize seeing your ideal self-walking out of the front door. It's excellent for both your confidence and for your health. I believe some positive affirmations never hurt anybody, such as saying to yourself something along the lines of I AM getting Healthier, Happier And Wealthier, every day. It is said that I AM the name of God and a very powerful name it is too.

    I AM sending you all God's love, light, and healing. Gentle hugs and kisses everybody. Remember, you are not alone in this battle back to greatness :) xxx

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