Life Changer

I'm happy that I found this group for I have been having some difficulty coming to terms with my new life and my new beliefs.

About 16 months ago I was a regular hard-working man and all of a sudden I was stricken with a life-threatening condition that sent me to the ICU for nine days. I had family that I haven't seen in years come to my bedside from all over the country, I had friends that I haven't seen in years come visit me, friends I didn't even know were friends come visit me which was a very comforting and wonderful thing when you're in that kind of condition.

Somethings about the whole experience changed me for the better, the little things didn't really matter anymore, the petty things didn't matter, I decided to forgive all these people who I thought wrong me for years, people who I haven't talk to in forever and decided to forgive and forget. Why be angry at someone for something someone did to do to you or you thought they did to you that was so petty I felt life was too short to be that petty about someone or something that you can't even remember what you were angry about. Simple things look more beautiful to me flowers birds animals, I could sit for an hour at the zoo and just look at an elephant or or watch the birds they were more beautiful more majestic me to me than they have ever been before maybe it's because I value every second of my life that I have I said to my family this is my second chance and I'm not going to a waste a second.

On the other hand some things change not for the worse, but have change my views on things such as religion. I used to be a Christian man but my views changed in the direction of I don't really think there's a higher power. I think that man is mortal but man also has the ability to heal man and man is also imperfect but there's no higher being that is Striking down or creating miracles for you to be healed so I re-examined all of that I found some of my family doesn't believe in that but that's my own choices and they respect that.

The question I have for anyone here is, are the feelings I'm having unique or does anyone else feel any joyfulness for surviving their experience and/or do they have any change in their belief system or my the only one?

If you believe a higher power helped you survive, do you believe you we're saved for a specific purpose?

7 Replies

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  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings on a very personal aspect of the critical illness experience. These are very personal reactions but I think perhaps being able to see how other people have felt may be of some help in dealing with our own thoughts.

    I'm not a religious person through I'd regard myself as spiritual. I do remember wishing at one point, a short while after I'd been at back at home, that I was part of an organised religion to have a crutch I could lean on. I used to joke that I was founding the First Church of Doris Day - we don't say Hail Marys, we say Que cera ceras (the humour is probably lost of you don't know Calamity Jane).

    Though we have different starting positions, I do very strongly identify with the second chance and seeing things very differently afterwards and having a strong sense of the things that mattered in life and those which really didn't. It was as if before my critical illness I'd been living my life fast asleep and now I was wide awake. I am a little sad to say that as time passes and the pressures of daily life come to bear, I have caught myself being wrapped up in those things that don't matter again but although the clarity I felt post-ICU may not always be as clear as it once was, I hope never to lose it completely.

    I don't know why I survived or if it was helped by anything beyond the skill and dedication of the many wonderful healthcare professionals who brought me back from the brink but I did survive. When you know there was a moment where your continued participation in life could have gone either way, I think it's only natural to reassess all the things you've taken for granted. The specifics of what we reassess and what we now feel are very personal and shaped by our own history and experiences but the process must surely be a common one.

  • I to can relate to how you feel, Two years ago I was a healthy 52 year old when I was struck down with a sudden illness and was rushed to hospital and straight to ICU where I spent 3 months fighting for my life, the first seven weeks I have no memory of, I can remember after I was brought out of sedation a doctor telling me she went to church every Sunday and prayed for me, I was also told a lot of people I don't even know prayed for me, I'm not a religious person by any means but believe luck was on my side during those months.

    My experience has completely changed me as a person, I'm now back in touch with family members I never spoke to for years and the material things in life mean so little now, unfortunately my illness left me with some health problems and unable to continue working, so I now do something I would have never considered before, helping others that go through the trauma of a life threatening condition, helping them understand that what they are feeling is all quite normal when you're been through such trauma, I sometimes wonder is this why I survived? I just hope I can continue helping other survivors and give something back to those wonderful doctors and nurses that saved my life, I truly feel we are all the lucky one's.

  • Thank you for both of your comments. But maybe I need to elaborate on my questions. I have always lived by the notion that "In life, Death is the only constant, the only two variables are how and when." Meaning one should always live life to the fullest, for one never knows when the end will be. I some times feel guilty that I did survive thinking that it may have been my time to go, but then I also think that I made it and there must have been a reason for it, or maybe it just wasn't my "how or when". Am I nuts for thinking like this? Do you believe you lived for a reason?

  • I agree with you fully that you should live life to the full, I know from personal experience how short life can be, I lost my three sisters and my father to cancer,all before their time.

    I felt the guilt of surviving and what I had put my family through and thought would they have been better off without me, their answer is always no.

    I also think there is a reason why I survived, I am now a founder member of our local support group offering support that wasn't there when I really needed it, but now with the support from ICU staff we are helping others through a very traumatic time in their life, I believe this is my reason and purpose in life now.

  • I would like to set up a support group where I live. How did you start up your group? I have moved away from where I was in ICU but I really want to help others. Do you have any tips for me? Thanks

  • Hi Lucy,

    I was very fortunate my niece is an ICU nurse in the hospital I was in so it was fairly easy for me, if you look on the ICUsteps website you can get a guide on how to set up a group, Peter from ICUsteps is very helpful and could give you advice on getting started.

    I would also suggest visiting a local hospital with an ICU and have a friendly chat with the staff, they may already have a group you could help or even help you set one up, it's a very rewarding thing to, do as only those that have experienced how traumatic a stay in ICU can be, understand how hard it can be for both patients and relatives to come to terms with what happened to them.

    Best of luck to you and I hope you are successful in starting a group

  • Hi Lucy,

    We're working in a number of areas to try and make it easier for people to set up support groups but your post has prompted me (along with Luckyone's good advice) to start putting together some blog posts on setting up support groups. It may take a little time but I'm starting with the need for support groups and we can see how much interest it generates and I'm sure that will encourage me to find the time to do more.

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