My wife always said that an hour waiting outside ICU was like a day anywhere else, she dreaded being there and she dreaded not being there.
The emotional rollercoaster of ICU drains everyone of energy, keeping a vigil waiting expectantly for something to happen is awful whether you are outside the ward, outside the hospital, sitting at a bedside or sitting at home, fretting.
My wife said she waited at my bed because although she wanted to, it was also because she was terrified that something would happen & I would take a turn for the worse or die when she wasn’t around.
J said she couldn’t make sensible decisions at first - she was embroiled in the awful soap opera of what was going on. She got to a point, in fact all my family got to a point were they had to take breaks - hospital food isn’t all its cracked up to be either.
She also realised she needed to take exercise, it gave her time to work out her feelings and raise much needed endorphins.
She struggled with people’s optimism - she found she had to have realistic outlook - neither ridiculously optimistic or unduly pessimistic - people meant well when they said “He will be fine, I know it “ but that didn’t really help her with her emotions - in fact it made it worse - she wanted to ask them since when were they an ICU expert? It was a rollercoaster ride, one minute optimism filled the room only to be sucked out as soon as the consultant did their daily summing up.
I was often brighter in the morning and would dip at night - so my family started to anticipate the early hours call saying they should come and say their goodbyes, anxiety and sleeplessness took their toll.
She started to ask very specific staff about my wellbeing - certain staff had a poor sense of emotional intelligence whilst others were brilliant - ask who you are talking to if you phone in & find them sympathetic & approachable.
Controlling the barrage of phone calls and messages was a task - a good family friend took on this job - disseminating the daily update of information about me to who needed to know, my family found this exhausting. People would turn up at the door and expect a full disclosure without considering it’s impact.
I know that many relatives will not have the luxury of talking face to face with medical staff or seeing their loved one at this time. You may have been spared from seeing things that you will never be able to unsee. My wife is traumatised, 4yrs on, by the first time I was proned for instance, although there are numerous other occasions.
This forum is a brilliant forum - but there is a network of groups out there - we run exercise & yoga groups for critical care patients and their loved ones. We have a general drop-in meeting & relatives drop-in meeting every week. If you are looking for answers or just wish to aid your own rehab, wellbeing - why not try us out. Our sessions are free and funded by ourselves. Free doesn’t always mean second rate.