Waking up from medical coma: Hi, I'm just looking... - ICUsteps

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Waking up from medical coma



I'm just looking to see if anyone has shared in my experiences when waking up from a medical coma as I feel nothing I have read on here feels like what I went through and my doctors really haven't been that helpful.

A bit of back ground first... I am 19 years old and due to complications of a fairly common virus I ended up in emergency surgery where they proceeded to intubated me and keep me in a medical coma for 5 days.

The first thing I remember when waking up was a complete sense of delusion, as I was not aware of the fact I had been asleep for 5 days I wasn't sure where or when it was. I proceeded to drift in and out of nightmareish dreams of being in different countries and weird lands and for the brief time I was conscious I was shouting and crying because I felt as though I was crawling all over with insects. This was a very intense time for me and my family who stayed with me all day, rarely even taking bathroom breaks due to the distress I would be in if they left me. I felt like I was in a really terrible terrible nightmare and although I know now that the staff were amazing and were only there to help me, in the state I was in I couldn't help but feel as if they were trying to hurt me this feeling only intensified after my family had left for the night. I also wasn't fully aware of the surgery or what procedures has taken place, I was intubated through my mouth and not my neck but when asked to try and take a sip of water I cried hystericaly because I believed that it would seep out the hole in my neck where I thought they had intubated me, even with constant reassuring I could still not grasp that there was to gaping hole in my neck.

Thankfully I was released back to a normal ward the next day after really pushing myself to drink, eat and even try and take a few steps, the familiarity of the ward I was on prior to my ICU trip made me feel more at ease and most of these problems went away, with the exception of a few vivid nightmares.

I'm just wondering if anyone can relate to my story in anyway as I cannot understand how I can have experience something so different to what I have read everyone else has.



8 Replies

Hi Rosie, What a horrible experience! My delusions and hallucinations were a lot less scary but still very real. Talking to ICU staff afterwards, they said it is quite common for people to have all sorts of delusions - some of them very scary. So you aren't at all unusual.

Do you know if your hospital does an ICU follow-up? I found it quite helpful to see the ICU under better circumstances and I was referred for counselling to help deal with some of the after effects of my stay in ICU. It might be worth asking.

There are two different types of ICU delirium- hyperactive & hypoactive - maybe you have only read hypoactive cases - having said that, your story seems as standard to me as many others.

Icu delirium and it’s intensity is not connected to your length of time in ICU. It is a combination of the drugs, organ damage and not being able to rid the body of the drugs or toxics from what ever got you into ICU, it is also a result of sleep deprivation and that the sedation is not proper sleep - so the body does not go through it’s natural process of healing. It is also the brain trying to make sense of what has gone on - it senses it has been under attack....have a look at hyperactive delirium- mine was hypoactive but I can still connect with your experience.

I was in the ICU from sepsis and ARDS back in 2005. Although it has gotten better over time, there was not a single day since where I don’t think about my experience. When I woke up from my coma, I thought I was in Florida and that the nurses were alien robots trying to do scientific research on me. I was 23 at the time, but I thought I was 78. Every time a hospital staff came into my room they would ask me what my name was, how old I was, and when my birthday was, which further confirmed to me that they kidnapped me for experimental purposes. I thought my family members were madd up replicas by the aliens. I felt terrible nonstop fear and tried to escape a couple times. Every time I got up to escape, I would fall because I wasn’t able to stand. The scariest part was the fact that these hallucinations felt unbelievably real. The thing I suffer from the most after that experience to this day is the fact that no one, unless they’ve been in the same circumstance, will understand what you went through and the detrimental affects from it unless they’ve been through it. This may be the thing to worry about the most for her, which is the post traumatic affects. Getting psychological help for post coma experience will help get through it. Good luck and I wish the best for you both.

I have just recently been discharged frrom the hospital after being in ICU in an induced coma for 5 days, i didn't do well so they induced me again for 2 more days from a serious infection. With my situation i feel totally lost.i have serious brain fog, i have had panic moments while being in the grocery store, i literally could figure out what to do so i could leave the store. My thought process is like that of a 5yr old. I wake up a lot at night from nightmares. From my research, the experts say its different for everyone. Some people come out fine and some don't

Hi, Rosie. My experience mirrored yours pretty much exactly. H1N1 leading to bilateral pneumonia had put me in the ICU intubated and in a medically induced coma for 2 weeks. To complicate matters, I had been 7 months pregnant at the time and they had to deliver my son while I was in the coma. I had wretched nightmares (captivity themed) that felt very real. I woke up not knowing where I was at, why I truly there, extremely paranoid, and unable to remember almost anything about my life prior to the coma. That all came back in time. I had terrible auditory hallucinations while coming out of the coma also. It took me about 6 months to really feel back to relatively normal, both psychologically and physically speaking.


Oh yeah kiddo for sure I know EXACTLY what you’re describing. I was on life support for 7 days in 2012 and all it was was continuous nightmares, truely believed I had been kidnapped, taken away, tied up and held for ransom. They had also tied my hands down to the bed( I bet that helped my subconscious think I was kidnapped). It was scary, annoying and those nightmares stuck w/me for quite awhile. You’ll be back to your normal self I’m sure very soon. You may cry for no real reason( also happened to me) but it will all subside. I hope yoy’re Feeling better ASAP

Hey Rosie - wow for someone so young to go thru this is incredible scary! I share a similar story. After a sudden unexpected massive heart attack( died came back & put in coma) I, too woke up not knowing what the hell happened, where I was& confused! I have no memory of anything including what my death/coma felt like. I’m not a doctor but I think with all the drugs they pumped into u to keep u in the coma - those drugs are so powerful that weird horrible nightmares make sense( not good by any stretch) but maybe explains what happened to u- doctors tell u nothing/don’t explain anything which makes it worse.. I hope with time ur nightmares will start to lessen as the drugs get out of ur system! I have no memories- (which might be a good thing after reading ur story.. but drugs do very weird things to ur mind/ body.. big hugs honey.. ur not alone ..

Hi Rosie,

A few years ago I was intubated for 14 days for bilateral pneumonia & respiratory failure among other things.

When they decreased my sedation meds and started attempting to wake me up things really got scary.

I had horrible nightmares of being dumped in an alley in my hospital bed, xray techs dressed like snowmen, nurses purposely leaving off my oxygen & sufficating, being in horrible home care situations.

Finally, I thought they were sending me somewhere to be killed & I was trying so desperate to ask a dr for help that I struggled to lift my head to my restrained hand and pulled out my breathing tube.

For several hours after that, I laid in bed staring at the doorway scared because I thought the pt care tech was the one who’d dumped me in the alley. In thought my dreams were real.

I still have nightmares about it.

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