October will mark my four anniversary. Acute pancreatitis hit me in October, and by the end of November, I had been in a coma, acquired severe sepsis, gone through two surgeries , and was relearning how to walk. Even after being released from the hospital, it would be another 10 months before I was completely released from the hospital's care. It would be another two years before I was able to go back to work, although only part time.

I suffered from all the usual post ICU stuff (PTSD, anxiety, depression, financial hardships, etc.). I even lost the ability to move my left foot and now wear a brace in order to walk. My memory isn't what use to be. Most of my episodic memory from 15-20 years ago is spotty to nonexistent (I may remember names or faces, but no recollection of how or why I know them). Losing those memories is more difficult than losing the use of my foot.

Even with all the difficulty and pain I just wanted to tell anyone who is going through it, that you can and will have a good life. You must decide what that life will like. It will be different from before the ICU, because you are different. The people who care about you may not understand, but that's okay. The only way to really understand it, is to have lived through it. I have learned to be patient, not only with friends and family, but with myself. I have also learned to relax and rest when I am tired. At the same time I learned to challenge myself and never give up (I will finish graduate school soon). Most importantly, I learned to not be ashamed of starting over. I know this post is way too long.

6 Replies

  • TWASH your courage shines through - respect.

    And you have some good, practical, advice.

  • My first Anniversary is coming up very soon, I don't remember much of it thankfully. My partner and family have been a wonderful support. I am determined not to let it get to me but still very angry with the GP who misdiagnosed me in the first place and was very lack in getting me to the hospital in time. I know she is a human and they make mistakes but to treat someone like that is plain disgraceful.

  • Inspirational! Thank you. I too mark anniversaries and I too feel like a totally different person than who I was before ... However for me, it's like the best of me is gone and what came back after the resus. and ITU admission is just wrong. You give me hope that I can learn to live with the change in me better than I do now.

    Best of luck in the future x

  • Thanks Twash I'm sure your post will give inspiration to others to carry on rebuilding a life after ICU

    It will be 5 years for me just before Christmas but I can remember it like it was yesterday, incredibly lucky to have survived, it changed my life in so many ways from trying to understand what had happened in the 3 months I was in ICU through some of the darkest days when I first came home, finally leading to me becoming involved with ICUsteps where I've found a new purpose in life, helping others try to understand what they've been through and reassure them that with time things do get better.

  • Thanks Twash, its good to mark these anniversaries, mine will be 5 years at Christmas. It keeps us grounded, gives us a perspective we could never have imagined. I recently had to visit a relative in the ICU and sitting there listening to all the bleeps and other sounds took me right back, it never leaves you but we are all proof that you can be lucky enough to survive. All the very best to all of you, keep strong!

  • Good post. My fourth anniversary is February 2016 but I have moved on and am now back to myself again. I mark the day with a smile and some nostalgia. My 4 weeks in a coma and being ventilated made me a better person and that's the irony. Took facing death (again, twice critical 2009, 2012) to finally realised to enjoy life and not take anything else for granted and never have a bad day just be happy you're here. Now after all the surgeries over the years and all the recoveries life is good for me now. When I am shaving I still notice the tracheostomy scar, stitch marks and all the central line marks on my neck as a reminder. Life is for living. Good luck for the future. Edward

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