Help! Has anyone experienced Post Operative Delirium??

Mum in law (56) had a total gastrectomy on Monday, with lower half of oesophagus removed too... She's been doing soooo well & been sat out of bed yesterday... Today she started talking very random things & unable to keep her eyes open.... It got worse as the day progressed & they've said it's related to the op they think, rather than the Tramadol that they first thought... Does anyone have any advice or comments? We're so worried xxx

11 Replies

  • I was 3 days post op when I started to hallucinate and truly believed that the whole thing (the cancer, operation etc) was a set up to try to kill me while I was unable to defend myself, planned by the IRA! No matter what anyone said to me I didn't believe them, with this culminating in when I went for an X-ray I was convinced the porter who joined me us in the lift while the bed was being taken down to the imaging suite took an oxygen cylinder off of the wall to batter me while I was in the lift in the bed unable to defend myself. I had a small oxygen cylinder on the bed and used that to 'defend' myself against him. I can assure you it was so real. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was reacting badly to the morphine I was on and as soon as that was changed I was fine. In retrospect I think it was because I was told that self administering the pain relief I would stay out of pain, but I most certainly was not and the pain in fact got worse every time I click the button to get more relief, seems they didn't tell me that if I had already had my 'dose' I would not get any more. It was the most scared I had been since arriving on the streets of Belfast on my 18th birthday to be involved in a shooting incident before midday . To me the threat was very real, but , as I say, this was quickly resolved when my medication was changed . Hope thins helps. Ray

  • I had the same reaction. I was convinced all the other patients were murderers using the ward to hide out and were working with the medical staff planning to kill me. I refused to sleep for 4 days and was texting friends at 3 in the morning asking them to come and get me out. It all seemed so real and logical at the time.

  • Just a shot in the dark but has she developed an infection somewhere even possibly a urinary one. I do remember post operatively spending a day with the fairies due to an infection. May be worth a try sally

  • I would say it's the pain relief. Tramadol and morphine can do strange things to the imagination. Hope she is better.


  • I would fall a sleep when people were talking to me and I couldn't speak ... nothing physically wrong I just couldn't mentally speak to anyone i was told it was the morphine and it effected people in different ways so I think it may be the pain relief

  • I had an eosophagectomy, and was on highest dose of morphine. This led to very strange delusions. Although I was fully conscious and not at all drowsy. I hope this helps. After the morphine was reduced I returned to normal.

  • Thanks very much all of you for your comments xxx it's somehow reassuring to hear that others have had similar situations xxx this forum has been invaluable for us since her diagnosis, really appreciate your replies x

  • It's six and a half years since I had my TG at the age of 79. After my operation I was in Intensive Care for almost three weeks. There are unpleasant memories moments I can still recall. Confused, I asked to speak on the phone to my late wife as I drifted in and out of consciousness. One of the nurses I heard tell a colleague: "He's lying, he said his wife was dead." What I wanted was to speak to my daughter. It really upset me to hear her remark. When I was moved to a General Ward I had a number of hallucinations. In one, I followed my coffin in the back of a horse and cart in a small town in Germany and heard family members crying. On another occasion I jumped through a window to escape a bomb. There were many tubes attached to me; one in my nose to feed me, a number in my arms, others attached to either side of my waist with a bag as I was leaking. There was another with a button I was told to press to relief pain. When the nurse noticed I did not use the morphine she questioned why? I explained I'd rather suffer the pain than hallucinations. She offered Paracetamol but I declined and managed without painkillers. After five weeks in hospital I was pleased to return home. Though I live alone and rarely see anyone other than my daughter, I'm content and still making good progress without any medication. It's another lesson of my life's tough experiences, but as the saying goes: what doesn't kill you, make you strong. My best wishes and prayers will be for your recovery.

  • My husband also suffered chronic paranoia and kept telling us to check our phones for a scam. Apparantly the nurses on the icu ward were out to get him and us!! He still has nightmares about it now!!

  • Thank you all so so much xxx She's seeming less delirious now & managing on just paracetamol....she had low potassium, racing heart & a sepsis/leak scare today, but CT revealed it was a pocket of fluid on her chest which they are now monitoring,,,,

    She was only in intensive care for a full day & a bit so it all feels really rushed & scary xxx Your support is amazing xxx Thank you xx

  • Alan had Post op delirium. The hospital staff acted as if it was odd but the painkillers given after the op are heavy and it seemed obvious to me that that was the cause. At the beginning of each day he'd be asked what day it was. Unsurprisingly difficult to answer accurately in hospital where it's very easy to lose track of the days. Also, Alan is on the light side and weight doesn't seem to be taken into account when giving painkillers, plus lack of food.

    It all worked out fine!

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