What it feels like to be in a Coma
I have a rare genetic disorder that existed within me since birth, but did not affect my life until I was 10 years old. This created a lot of problems since I was at a very pivotal age in growth and development. It also made me a lot more aware of what was happening to me and I remember most everything I went through. Being a young child and suddenly being ambushed with a life threatening illness was very intense, and in some way I would say worse than if I were to have gone through everything as a baby since you usually do not remember things from such a small age.
Now I will post other HUB's that tell more information about my condition in the future, but in this particular HUB I wanted to share with you just how it feels to be in a Coma.
I was chatting with my sister the other day and I was telling her what it felt like to be put into a drug induced coma and be hooked up to a Ventilator. When I looked up and saw the horror-ed look on her face it dawned on me. I was telling her this as though it was an everyday occurrence and a normal thing to have experienced, a normal topic of conversation. She, who has never had any major health problems, was terrified by the idea and totally freaked out by what I was saying. So, I thought I should write about it for those who have loved ones in this position or are just curious.
My intentions are not to upset anyone, or freak anyone out. Especially if you have a loved one who is going through this right now. I am just trying to share my experience with being put into a drug induced coma and having to be on a Ventilator in ICU for a couple weeks.
There I was, in the hospital again. Briefly I will say my illness has to do with my intestines and I have had about 24 feet removed over about 10 surgeries. I was in the ICU after a very lengthy surgery that left my body very drained and not able to keep myself alive on my own, I was placed on a Ventilator. I was also put into a drug induced coma because the pain from the surgery and the ventilator was so much they did not want to risk me going into shock or not being able to tell them how much pain I was in. Now I am going to share with you just how I felt being in that state. It might be a little weird since the memories flow in and out of my mind, but as I try to channel them I will write what I remember and then try to make it make sense for everyone else.
I remember hearing people around me. Everyone was staring at me and I could feel it, but I couldn't open my eyes to look at them. I remember hearing the familiar voices of my loved ones talking about my every movement like it was a miracle. "LOOK! She moved her finger!" someone would say. "I wonder if she can hear us?" someone else would ask. Then I heard my mom, my rock, the one with all the info (which she made sure of to the best of her ability) "Yes, she can hear you." She told them. And at that moment I relaxed because I knew as long as she was there I was safe and everything would be ok.
She then took my hand and started talking to me. She would talk to me for hours and never let go. I could feel her warm touch and it made my heart smile deep inside, something I still had control of. I had many thoughts and emotions but didn't have the power over my body to express them. So I lay there very aware of my surroundings when awake and then drifting off to sleep. When I slept, because of all the drugs I was on, it was like being in a whole other world. A world where I was on acid and things were very similar to the movie Alice in Wonderland or Dumbo. I even started telling my aunt and grandmother about the pink elephants that were dancing around the room and was amazed that they could not see them, they were everywhere!
The dreams were crazy and I am not sure I could ever really recall them for they only made sense in the moment. As for the actual have a machine breath for me part. I describe it as one of the worst experiences I have ever been through, like a sort of slow torture. The machine pumps oxygen into your body and breaths for you at a set pace that is appropriate for your size and age. The oddest thing to me was that it was set to set an abnormally slow pace that I constantly felt like they were suffocating me. Its felt like a slow torture where I would nearly die of no oxygen then they would give me some at the last second before I died. I guess that is a normal feeling, to feel like your suffocating and part of it has to do with the huge tube you have inserted into your throat.
Since I was on it for so long, they started to decrease my medication a little so that I could actually open my eyes and communicate with my family. That was nice. I had a notepad and I would write notes to everyone and talk that way because it was to painful and nearly impossible to speak with the large tube in my throat. I remember getting to see my sister, dad, step mom, stepsister, best friend, aunts, uncles, grandparents, pretty much all my close family came to sit with me. They would bring me presents and I would get to open them over and over again, each time being just as surprised as the last time because I never remembered getting it before! That was pretty cool.
I remember actually being happy to have so many loved ones surrounding me. I cannot tell you enough how much the support of those people helped me get through that time and pull through. Without them I may not be alive today. My sister and my best friend both wrote me notes. Long notes expressing their love for me and telling me of all that was going on in the world that I was missing and how I needed to hurry and come home so I could join them once again. Keeping my hope and spirits alive, that's what they were doing. They were beautiful notes and I cried not only when I read them the first time, but much later when I got to leave the hospital. I was going through my bags and bags of stuff I came home with (you acquire a lot when you are there for months at a time) and I came across these letters. To my knowledge I had never seen them before, so I ripped them open and read them all over again. I cried and cried because I really felt the sadness in my sister and best friends hearts and couldn't imagine how it must have felt to see your sister laying there half dead. I remember getting mad at my mom for not showing me the letters, thinking she tried to hide them from me so as not to upset me and she said no honey you read and reread them many times while you were there. I said "oh".
So, I guess what I am trying to say is that if you have a friend or loved one who must endure this procedure, just know how much you being there, talking to them and holding there hand, makes a difference. I can tell you from experience, I truly feel I might have given up a few times without them. So when your there by there bedside wondering what's going on in their head. Talk to them, they can hear you, they can feel you, even if they cant tell you how much it means to them. You are making a difference and be sure to inspire hope and create possible future scenarios to instill the future they still have and remind them why they are fighting.