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Son in ICU


I'm not sure why I feel the need to write this, as I'm not asking a question or after answers. I just wanted somewhere to write my thoughts and experience of being the mom of a 22 year old in ICU.

He has today been discharged home and I haven't shed a tear until now, when I'm on my own and reflecting on the passed week.

He was found by his girlfriend on Monday morning grey and not being able to breath (he is a known asthmatic). She obviously called an ambulance, they tried to cannulate him without success and gave him a nebuliser. On admission to A&E he was still fighting to breath. I wasn't there but he told me that he was begging for help and the nurse just kept telling him to calm down and relax, which he couldn't. He was told if he didn't relax they would have to put a tube down his throat, then apparently he begged them to do it because he couldn't breath. Not long after that he was sedated and transferred to ICU where he was ventilated for 3 days, then was moved to HDU for a further 2 days. Being by his side has been the most heart-breaking thing I have ever been though. He was not aware of me being there for 4 days, and the last day he was in HDU when I arrived in the morning he was crying because the doctor had tried 7 times to cannulate him without success. His arms and hands are black and blue. That afternoon I did insist that they use some local anaesthetic because he had had enough of being stabbed. In the end they did and also used the scanner to locate the vein. Still took about 5 attempts. I understand this needed to be done as he couldn't go to the ward with a central line in.

So now it's all over and he has gone home, but I can't stop thinking about it and am glad that he tells me he can't remember much about the whole experience.

Regards - and thanks for reading

15 Replies


What you are feeling is normal,i think. My husband was rushed into hospital boxing day,he stopped breathing and had to be ventilated. They informed me at one point that he was unlikely to make it. He was in itu for 29 days and then went to a ward. I spent most of my time with him.

I was fine until we got homes and I'm now a total wreck. I don't sleep,i cry all the time,I have horrible flash backs,panic attacks,palpitations. My husband doesn't really understand as he doesn't remember.

i can't cope and I've been a nurse for 20 years.

I hope things get better for you, time helps.


1 like

I've read both messages with great concern as I too suffered similar experiences after my husband had spent some weeks in ICU. However, I was offered help from ICU Steps, a UK national support group which brings together both patients, families, friends and carers who have experienced time in ICU or HDU. You can find further information about your local group here: or contact the hospital where the patient was treated. I have been attending my group for eight months now and I find it a great source of comfort, talking to other people who went through similar trauma as a carer. Talking therapy is good! After experiencing time in ICU whatever the outcome, be it good or bad, often leads to undiagnosed post traumatic stress which can be very debilitating both for the patient and the carer and ICU Steps addresses this from every angle and helps you recover. If there isn't a support group that you can attend, then contact the PALS department at the treating hospital and they may be able to advise you what help is available. Take care of yourself and never feel that your anxiety and sadness is unusual, it definitely isn't and there is help out there for you.


I can't cope! X


Hi mg99. Maybe you should see your GP straight away and let him/her know you can't cope. I'm sure s/he will understand and be able to help you. Also talk to your family and friends about how you feel but make that call to your doctor today, don't struggle on alone. Thinking of you. xx


Thank you. I only have one friend from work and no real family support. I've seen my gp who says i have ptsd (which i cant accept) so started medication.

I just dont understand why i can't cope.

Can't sleep and when i do I'm just having awful dreams.

I just want to go back to normal!


I am so pleased you have seen your GP and it has been acknowledged that you have ptsd. I do understand how you feel and can assure you that your awful dreams and anxieties will reduce in time. I found and still do find 15 months on that talking, talking, talking is the very best medicine and that is why the ICU Steps group became a wonderful source of support and still is. Everyone attending the group has been through similar experiences and there are always clinicians and counsellors at the group I attend to answer questions, guide and encourage you and offer you coping strategies. It is also a place where special friendships can be made which is what you are in need of now. And how about your husband? Is he recovering well? If he is then you can rejoice in the fact that although ICU was a dark time for you, it was a place where he started on the road to recovery. Just take your time and be kind to yourself and keep in touch with your GP who I am sure will support you through this difficult time. Take care - Val


Thank you. I'm just waiting for the smack in the face, i know it's coming now, I'm ready.x


I keep seeing the moment i was holding him in my arms in resus and he turned his head and looked at me and then was gone. All i could do was scream the name of my colleague from outreach. I lost it!


I've actually forgotten all about NY time spent in ICU. I say forgotten If conversation comes I can definitely recall it. But consciously it doesn't play in my mind any longe . Been 2 years exactly this week. So I guess it does get better. I guess I've accepted what has happened for what it was and tried to move on.i Appreciated the second chance I was given. . but I look to what's ahead. I was in ICU for a month by the way and then HDU another month..


I was in ICU for 32 days and do not remember all of it, but I cannot imagine what it was like as a spectator. Embrace the fact that he is out, hopefully on the mend. But get all of those affected by the event to talk to each other and get those bad thoughts away.

Be Well


I was the only one there! My thoughts and memories of everything are so raw now,especially when i worked with all those people. I was at one point called so brave by one of the nurses. Why can't I be brave now!


Don't beat yourself up about it, you been through a very traumatic time that most people will never understand how difficult it can be, I spent 3 months in ICU with double pneumonia, severe sepsis & MOF, 4 years ago most of which I have no memory of as it was full of terrifying nightmares & hallucinations, my wife being told on several occasions I was not going to make it, we both suffered greatly psychologically afterwards when I finally got home.

I felt so guilty of what I had put my wife and family through, my wife feared the illness would return, fortunately I have a niece who is an intensive care nurse who managed to get us an early ICU follow-up appointment where the consultant was very helpful and got us the psychological help we needed, we were very lucky in getting the help as it can a lottery depending on where you live. We found the most helpful thing for us was becoming involved with ICUsteps sharing our thoughts and fears with others that have been there and understand how you feel.

Ask your GP to refer you to a PTSD counsellor who could give you the help you desperately need, also try talking to your husband about your fears and any fears he may have, my wife and myself still talk about it all even after 4 years like it was yesterday, things do get better with time but it's something you can never forget.


I accept that we will be back there.x


I know how it affected my family. My wife in particular try and keep a PMA


I know exactly how you feel ,I too am a nurse (although retired ) and refused to believe that I wasnt able to cope ,with the flash backs,and the awful fear that it would all happen again. There was no help ,no follow up,and GP couldnt care less,and said that we could see a councellor at the practice if we paid !! I got to screaming point,and did in the garden ! Our life line was ICU Steps,to talk to others who understand.

Things will get better.Time will help,be kind to yourself,you have been through so much.xx


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