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ICU delirium/psychosis

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ICU delirium/psychosis

Postby Shantastic28 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:35 am

Hi. Really struggling. A year and a half ago I had. PE that put me in a coma. I was comatose for a week and apparently woke up in a rage when I finally came off the vent. Was then out in a medical coma bc of a massive freak out I was told I had. I was in the ICU for weeks and developed terrible delirium/psychosis. I thought the staff were making fun of me. I could actually see them mocking me. I thought that the Drs. Were actors and it was a game. I thought they wanted to punish me. I saw/ heard the different machines and Tvs light up all at once and "chatter" w each other. I had auditory hallucinations even till step down and when they would put the tv on it wouldn't make sense. Just a jumble of words and images. I was sure I was verbally abused by two specific staff members and now I am still haunted by the memories of these hallucinations. Does anyone else have experience with ICU psychosis themselves or thru a loved one. I'm still battling some paralysis in my arm but I am walking and seeing friends and taking voice lessons while I continue to treat my auto immune, viral liver and joint diseases. I was told I would never walk or be off dialysis or be able to gig again. ( I was a performer in NYC before this struck. I almost have my life back but the memory of these Delusions and auditory and visual hallucinations haunt me daily. Can't help but wonder if some were real. I'm seeing a therapist weekly and a psychiatrist monthly and am in Ativan. I only have 15 mins w the psych bc he just makes sure I'm in no danger or in need of a change in meds. My therapist in an hour a week and they check in w each other. I want to tell them that I still worry about the ICU psychosis and want to work thru the delusions I had but don't know how. Another delusion or " dream" I must've had was that at night mentally challenged students got to practice w me and all my monitors were toys. It all seemed so awful and real and need others in sight. Thank you! Blessed be.
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Re: ICU delirium/psychosis

Postby Cheze2 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:02 pm

That sounds like a very scary experience. I know that a lot of times if I have to go to the ER it makes my symptoms worse and I get psychosis/thinking that others are out to harm me. I can only imagine how waking up from a coma would make that worse.
Shantastic28 wrote:I want to tell them that I still worry about the ICU psychosis and want to work thru the delusions I had but don't know how.

Perhaps you could just print out what you have written here and show it to your therapist? Sometimes I have found that helpful in expressing things that are bothering me inside.
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Re: ICU delirium/psychosis

Postby Ada » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:03 pm

I had minor auditory hallucinations after a general anaesthetic. I can't even imagine what they might be like after weeks in the ICU. It's really common, though. According to one study. More than half the people who are in ICU have problems afterwards related to the delirium / psychosis they experience.

I'd agree with cheze about printing what you wrote here. Also, there's an account of it on the BBC news website that I read some time ago. That might be something extra you take with you perhaps? Even if your therapist hasn't heard about this before. This isn't in any way unusual. And hopefully your T will be able to support you in working through the memories. And in finding ways to cope when they're so strong.
We think too much and feel too little.
 More than machinery, we need humanity.
 More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.


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Re: ICU delirium/psychosis

Postby elnico » Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:13 pm

My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced the after-effects of ICU/life support/heavy sedation.

Currently, we have a sister in hospital who was on life support for two weeks. Long story short, she suffered a heart attack during the surgery, and we nearly lost her. After an exhausting 12 day stay in ICU on ventilator, she awoke and came back to us.

She has been awake for no more than 4 days and is suffering from a deep confusion, hallucinations, and swings of mood. She will be agitated at one time, and then another time she sits quietly, staring all around the room.

The one thing that is consistent-- she alternates between begging and demanding that she be taken home. In addition, the original surgery was to correct a problem in her stomach, which could not be entirely repaired. As such, she is not permitted to take anything by mouth, and she is being fed via gastric tube. She also begs for a drink, ice chips, or something to eat.

She clearly does not understand what happened or why she is in hospital. I tried to walk her through the sequence of events that led her to this state, gently recounting the major events. She will nod as if she understands. She had a very surprised look when told about the heart attack. As I or the doctor speak to her, she seems to comprehend the situation and why she cannot go home, eat, or drink. Only a short while later, the look of confusion/distress returns to her face, and she begins again asking to be gotten out of bed, taken home, or given something to drink.

The rest of the family, myself included, has had two weeks to come to terms with her condition and have become fair hands at living hour by hour. Our biggest hurdle in tending to her non-medical needs is to know what to say to her when she insists on going home or asks why she is in hospital or why she cannot have food or drink. We reassure her that she will go home, but that time is not at hand. Further, we remind her of the doctor's orders that she is to have nothing by mouth. At the time the last family members take their leave for the evening, she expresses sadness and wonders why her family is always leaving her. We assure her that we will return in the morning.

Having never taken a journey like this before, we are all at something of a loss to know what to say to our sister when she asks to go home or why we must leave at the end of visiting hours. Adding to our difficulty is her confusion and seemingly clouded memory.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences, any suggestions are appreciated.
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