Dazed and confused

Five weeks ago, my partner sustained a major trauma, when he fell down some steps and basically impaled himself on a broken glass bottle from the shopping he had been carrying, causing him to be partially disemboweled. He had emergency surgery to stem the bleeding, remove part of his damaged small intestine and repair the damage to his liver, then a second operation three days later to rejoin his small intestine and generally tidy up after the first operation. A CT scan confirmed that he had not sustained any head injuries. He was placed in an induced coma in the ICU for two weeks, during which he succumbed to aspiration pneumonia and a further infection in his bowel. He did not initially respond to antibiotics and the doctors expressed serious concern that he might die. He was given a tracheotomy after around 12 days, whereafter his sedation was reduced. He did not, however, begin to wake up for another 12 days or so, and after being transferred to a general ward one week ago, he remains very dazed and confused. For example, when I spoke with him this morning, he was convinced that he had just played a gig - he is a musician - and was waiting to be paid. He had no concept that he was in hospital and refused to be persuaded that this was the case, becoming very irritated in the process. Is this normal, and how long is this likely to last? As I said, he did not sustain a head injury, as has been reconfirmed by further scans.

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  • Hi Coulsey It is not unusual to have delirium after being in an induced coma. Ask the hospital if they have any leaflets which will explain exactly how people can be affected. I thought I had been held hostage while I was in hospital and I could "see" fish swimming under my bed! When I was told there were no fish I said the penguins must have eaten them! Our bodies are pumped full of powerful drugs in order to save our lives but these same drugs also have side effects and it makes sense that some of these will affect our brain. It can take a while for reality to kick in and everyone is different. In addition to asking for information on delerium I would seek advice as to how to deal with your partner's delusions. Take care and I hope your partner's health continues to improve.

    Healing thoughts to both of you.

  • The thing to understand is whilst you know his delusions are not real they seem as real to him as your recollections of yesterday.

    He will be irritated it's a scary world he's been in. It's quite likely he'll be absolutely convinced the nursing staff are trying to kill him.

  • Confusion after a prolonged ICU stay and prolonged induced coma is nothing unusual

    Please check out these articles and videos here

    THE 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOUR LOVED ONE IS CONFUSED, AGITATED AND DELIRIOUS IN INTENSIVE CARE!

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    AFTER WEANING OFF A VENTILATOR IS IT NORMAL TO BE CONFUSED?

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  • Thank you all for your replies. I am pleased to report that although my partner continues to have vivid dreams, which he thinks are real, for the most part he is now cogent and lucid.

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