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Colleen Young, Connect Director (@colleenyoung)

Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk

Intensive Care (ICU) | Last Active: Dec 16, 2022 | Replies (586)

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@kariulrich

Dear Rook, I am sorry to hear what you are going through. I have had several hospital stays that included ICU, but not nearly for the amount of time that you have been through. I do have nightmares at times that are so real and vivid that I am back at the hospital and no one can help me, I am constantly searching for my specific doctors but they are not there. They are frightening when they happen. I will read more about your experience. Thank you for sharing it.

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Replies to "Dear Rook, I am sorry to hear what you are going through. I have had several..."

Kari, are you woken from these dreams and still feel the fear once you are awake? How do you deal with them? Have they become less frequent over time?

Thank you for asking Colleen. Yes, when I have these dreams they are so real and vivid when you finally wake up there is a sense of confusion. I am not sure where I am and if what I experienced in my dream really happened or not.. I can describe colors, smells every last detail of the dream. When I finally realize it was a dream, it still affects me for the rest of day or days. I do not know if that makes sense to anyone. I am lucky that I can express what I have gone through in my dreams with my husband, but I do not think he truly understands the impact they have. My dreams seem to pop up again when I have symptoms. So In the past year I would say they have happened only a handful of times.

I think it is very difficult for the a person to truly understand what you are going throught, the amount of stress, pain, fear of the unknown and all that goes along with the after effects of trying to survive a severe illness, accident or trauma that has been life threatening. It really effects your brain chemistry as well. All those things must heal and it takes time and understanding. Perhaps if your husband could go through therapy with you to help him understand of and deal with his fears.

Hello,
I have had 4 surgeries at the Mayo Clinic and following each surgery I had vivid nightmares, similar to what you have described. I served in Iraq and have spent many years working in law enforcement, but have never experienced what I would consider PTSD. However, following each surgery I would have flash-backs that were vivid and seemed real. I could not sleep through the night because of how horrific the nightmares were. I went to a psychiatrist and he prescribed 20 mg of Paxil per day. Within a few weeks everything went back to normal; three of these surgeries were in 2012. March 8th of this year I had surgery again for a permanent end ileostomy and was admitted to ICU. Unlike the previous surgeries the nightmares and flash-backs started before the surgery. I went to a Psychiatrist and he prescribed 20 mg of Paxil per day, which stopped the nightmares and flashbacks, but didn’t help with the depression and anxiety, so a went to a therapist. The therapy sessions helped get my depression and anxiety under control. After the surgery the nightmares came, but were not as severe; probably due to the Paxil. I have continued my therapy sessions since the surgery. This week I have had no nightmares and I am feeling mentally and physically better than I have in about 2 years.

@qsam61404 First, thank you for your service.
I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have recurring nightmares. I was having occasional nightmares before my transplant. They would wake me up and my heart would be pounding. I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep for hours. They were so real too. One night I was sure someone was pounding on our front door but my husband never heard a thing. It scared the life out of me.

Thank God that this past week you have been feeling better. Hopefully you are beyond that hurdle and things will just continue to get better and better.
JK

@qsam61404, Welcome to Mayo Connect. Thank you for joining this discussion and sharing. I know that there are others who will benefit from reading this. It helps when we learn that we are not alone in dealing with these memories.
I hope that you continue to improve in health and in relief from the flashbacks and nightmares.
Rosemary