New to ICU

My husband is 59 years old he went in for a triple bypass when they opened him up they found a major leak in the mitral valve that they repaired, he was recovering in the ICU everything seemed to be going well. The second day his breathing became erratic . Almost like a pant. They put him back on the ventilator, now he is sedated and has been for 5 days. His heart rate was so fast on day 4 they had to give him meds to slow it down. It's under control now but he is 100% paced . On day 3 he started getting dark purple or black on his fingertips and toes. I am so scared and I feel so ignorant. I was trying to educate myself through the Internet and quickly figured out that was a bad idea, to much information, to many variables. I figured the best way to learn more is by people who've been through similar experience . Please give me your story's this roller coaster I'm on is taking its toll on me

12 Replies

  • Stay strong and have hope, Angela. I have read posts here from people who were in ICU for many, many, weeks, and they recovered. But it takes time and requires a lot of patience.

    And being in ICU is very frightening for the patient and their loved ones. ICU staff are highly trained and specialised, so perhaps you could ask their advice about the spots on your husband's fingers and toes if you are still worried about it: and please avoid the internet - not a good idea to self-diagnose!

    It's often said here at ICU Steps that relatives must be sure to look after themselves: at a time of great stress, you need to make sure you are eating properly and getting enough sleep. Support from friends and family is essential. Have some little treats. Try and stay positive. I hope your husband is soon beginning to recover and wish you all the best for 2016.

  • Thank you so much for your kind words, today is a good day, things are looking up.

  • Hi Angela,

    I can only emphasize on what muncii is saying, ICU is one of the most alien places you're ever likely to be, so many machines beeping away and loved ones with so many tubes and wires connected to them. Your husband has the most caring and skilled doctors & nurses looking after him and is in the best place, but don't be afraid to ask questions about any concerns you have how ever trivial they may seem.

    I was in ICU at this time 5 years ago, for 3 months and many of my posts on here document what I went through and the process of recovery.

    I would also agree you must look after your own health and if possible get family and friends to help you through these very difficult times.

    I hope your husband is soon on the road to recovery and you both have a 2016 to enjoy.


  • Great advice, I can't thank you enough, things are looking much better today. 😊

  • 2 steps forward 1 giant step back, was just told my husband has pneumonia. This is one rollercoaster ride.

  • Hi Angela,

    I'm sorry your husband has taken a step backwards, my wife and family have been on that roller coaster ride, with that feeling will it ever end, I have almost 2 months missing from my time in ICU, but thanks to my wife & daughter who kept a diary of that missing time for me I aware of what happened.

    Have you had it mentioned to you about keeping a diary?

    My wife wrote in mine every day about how I was, who had visited me and how daily life was for the family, it helped me greatly in my recovery when I was ready to read it several months later.

    My wife spent as much time with me as possible even though a lot of the time I was in an induced coma and she had to sit in the waiting room for long periods, she felt comfort being close to me, she kept talking to me and holding my hand, this may sound strange but even in a coma I'm sure I heard some of the conversations by my bed.

    I hope this is just a blip in your husbands recovery and he continues to make good progress, continue to look after your own health as it's very easy to let it slip and don't be afraid to ask questions over any concerns may you have.

    Best wishes to you & your husband on a full recovery.


  • Thank you that's a great idea, I have decided to start a journal as well, I really appreciate your support

  • Hi Angela, So sorry to hear about Your husband and that you are off on a rollercoaster ride. I went through this with my husband, not once, but twice. The first time he was in a coma for 5 weeks (the second time "only" two weeks). I know how frustrating it is when it looks like things are going well, and then something else pops up. My husband had a brain haemorrhage, but although things looked well only two days later, he got on the rollercoaster and subsequently had problems with his heart (at one point they talked about putting in a pacemaker because they couldn't keep his heart going) an infection, and collapsed lungs. Several times I thought it all looked pretty hopeless, and even when he came out of the coma, it took a few days until he was really "back". He's about the same age as your husband, by the way.

    The main thing is to look after yourself. My priority was going to the gym. It really helped me relax (!) and something about doing a hard cardio session and working my lungs and heart hard made me feel like I was making up for him somehow. If People offer to help, give them something specific - "I can't face taking down the Christmas decorations myself - can you help me with that" or "there's a film I really want to see and I don't have anyone to go with".

    Don't feel you have to spend time at the ICU, especially if he's unconcious. In retrospect I spent way too much time there; even the second time around when I should have known better. As you get to know the nurses on the ICU, find one you like and get them to explain to you more about Your husband's condition.

    Wishing you both all the best, and although it's easy to say, try not to get too disheartened by the setbacks on the way.

  • Thank you so much for all of the advice I find it very comforting to know I'm not the only one that has felt this way. I'm generally a very realistic person, logical. But I have never felt so ignorant in all my life. I have had so many different emotions going on in my head it's hard to sort them out. I woke up this morning feeling lost and scared cried for a while, felt sorry for myself. But I am done with that for now, going to the hospital to talk with the doctor about where we go from here. Thank you so much for your kindness it really makes a difference. I feel blessed to have the support of people like you and thank goodness for this website its amazing

  • Hope Things are going okay With you and Your husband, Angela. I remember when my husband was in ICU the first time, i was very frustrated that the doctors wouldn't tell me how long he would be in a coma, why his body was reacting in an unexpected way, the prognosis etc. I realised eventually that they didn't tell me because they didn't know. Perhaps he would Wake up the next day, or the next week or the next month.

    I am also a logical person, and it was frustrating that they couldn't say "because A has happened, then B will happen after C number of days".

    Anyway, thinking of you and hoping you are managing to get some time to yourself.

  • Thank you so much, fealing frustrated right now, I think I am going home, I feel so guilty when I am not here, and like I'm being judged by the hospital staff. I know that's probably not true but I can't help it. He's actually doing better but it doesn't feel like it. It's easy to feel very alone and I can't seem to shake off the guilty feelings.

  • I've been away last week so without e-mail access for a while - sorry for delayed reponse. I know what you mean about feeling guilty when not at the ICU, but honestly, no-one is keeping check. I live quite close so would go in twice and sometimes three times a day. Usually it was for my benefit, but other times I think it was probably for the brownie points. And because it was the only thing I could do, even though it wasn't any help. Hope you are managing to look after yourself. Find someone who asks if they can do anything who actually means it, and go out for a coffee with them or something fun. Look after yourself! Hugs.

You may also like...