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Thu, Jan 23 11:27pm · Anniversary of my hospital stay/ Pregnant in the ICU in Intensive Care (ICU)

@cinditree I have been thinking about you since I was tagged by @colleenyoung yesterday and read your post. My heart just aches for you. The pain you are experiencing is so very real, and it is so difficult to explain it to others who have not been there. I understand what it is like to have to face friends and family who just can't comprehend the trauma and how long it stays with you. When others suggest that you should feel "grateful" or "happy" it complicates the pain in profound ways (even though they almost always mean well). I am so sorry for what you are going through.

I share my story with hope that perhaps you might feel less alone in your own path through trauma and healing. In February of 2018, I entered the hospital to have my baby. During labor, the baby's heart rate dropped and the doctors recommended a C section. The C section seemed to go smoothly and our baby boy entered the world. My husband went to the nursery to help give the baby his first bath and I was taken to a recovery room. Just a few minutes after arriving in recovery, my blood pressure began to plummet, sending off every hospital alarm. I slipped out of consciousness and the team rushed me to the Shock Trauma ICU. A team of 25 doctors and nurses had to work frantically to save my life; I have been told by many of the people who were there in Shock Trauma that night that I would have died within minutes without this major medical intervention and access to a massive amount of blood for the blood transfusions I needed. I was taken back into surgery where they did an emergency hysterectomy and tried to for several hours to stop the bleeding and save my life from what they later determined to be an Amniotic Fluid Embolism (a rare complication of childbirth that happens 1 in every 100,000 births and has a mortality rate as high as 80%). I narrowly survived and was intubated and in a coma for a week. The coma felt like a nightmare that I could not wake up from. After I "woke up", I began experiencing profound delirium. I very much relate to what you said about hallucinating relationships with the nurses and staff…the people that took care of me were very much wrapped up in my world of halucinations. After about 3 days, I started to realize that my reality was not lining up with everyone else's reality and I was terrified that I had lost my mind. I was so embarrassed (for all of the things I said!) and just completely fell apart one dark night in the hospital.

There is much more I can say about delirium, which I can share with you sometime if you are interested. I will tell you that you do not need to feel shame about anything that you imagined, said, or experienced. I found some peace by writing down (in first person) what it felt like to live in delirium…I described my halucinations in writing and somehow they seemed to have less power over me after I saw them on paper and shared them with a few people that I trusted.

I wanted to share some things that I learned near the time of my anniversary last year. Before this trauma happened to me, I mistakenly thought that survivor anniversaries would be a celebration of life. All year, I thought that I would do something really special to celebrate my baby's birthday and my one year survivorversary. However, as my one year mark got closer, I found that I was actually a mental and emotional wreck, and the LAST thing I wanted to do was have a party on the day that everything fell apart. I am in total disbelief that your trauma happened on YOUR birthday and that you now share that birthday with your baby. This is a complicated situation, and I am so sorry.

I don't know what the right solution will be for you, but I wanted to share briefly a few things that brought me peace as I faced my own anniversary.

I considered not having a birthday party at all for the baby (he wouldn't remember it, after all), but ultimately, I realized that the party meant a lot to my family (I have other children who were 9,7, and 5 at the time). I asked my 9 year old daughter to plan the party, and it brought me joy to see how much fun she had planning for her baby brother. I share this cautiously because every situation is different; perhaps you will find more peace by holding off on celebration until you feel better. There is nothing wrong with this at all! You must trust your own instincts about what will be right.

After the party was over, I decided to really focus on self care during the following week, as I remembered the days I was in a coma. I spent a lot of time writing and listening to music that brought me peace. I watched movies. I took bubble baths. I just let things go and tried to give myself a lot of grace.

Cindi, you are not alone. You are going through a very tough time and my heart is with you as you navigate the path ahead. The people on this support group were there for me when I was very deeply depressed last year. While I still have many tough days, I feel hope again now. I know that you will find hope in your own way and in your own time.

Take care of yourself and accept the help of others that is offered. Please let me know how you are doing over the next few days, and how you feel on the day of your anniversary and birthdays.

With sincerity,

Amanda Grow
Kaysville, Utah

Jun 6, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

@muriel66 Today I re read the messages you sent me almost six months ago. I feel deeply grateful for your insight, which has been so important in my own healing. I am moving forward in my life, trying to be kinder and more patient with myself through the long road of healing. I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and hope that you are well in your own journey of healing. From Amanda

Jan 23, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

@muriel66 Thank you for your beautiful messages. I have read the messages you sent already many times…they carry so much meaning because I feel that you understand things that few others do. Last night, I read what you had written yesterday out loud to my husband. When I turned to look at him after I had finished, I saw that he had a tear running down his face. He said, "I have not known how to help you." We both feel such gratitude for your kindness in reaching out to me to give me hope for the road ahead.

I have just started seeing a professional counselor (today was my first appointment). I was very grateful that she talked to me about the process of grieving. I think she will be a good fit as a counselor, and I will be looking forward to our future appointments.

I am also grateful for your insight on spiritual healing. The depression I have been facing since mid November has made it difficult for me to feel God's spirit in the same way that I used to. I used to regularly seek God's guidance for what I could do for others. I held a leadership position in my church (I supervised all of the children's sunday school and activities). I was released from this calling just after I came home from the hospital and I have had a hard time understanding where I fit in now. I am no longer one of the people in charge, and that has been a major adjustment for me. I used to be the one who served others, then over the last year I have become the one being served. I so appreciate your insight into the very personal experience of spiritual growth, healing, and joy. I think in the busyness of my former church life, I may have been missing some of the spiritual power that perhaps I can access now, in my quieter life. I also look forward to having a "treasure hunt" with God to try to understand the purpose of my new life.

I am holding fast to the quote you sent: "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." I have hope that someday I will feel peace and joy in the places that now feel hollow and sad. The important thing is…thanks to your incredibly insightful messages…I have HOPE.

Thank you. Your words have meant more than you will ever know.

Amanda

Jan 22, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

@andreab Thank you so very much for your kindness and support. I so appreciate the acknowledgement of pressure building to play the part of the strong survivor who bounced back and has a new appreciation for life…it does indeed complicate recovery, even if it is all just imagined pressure I am putting on myself. Thank you for the article and just letting me know that I am not alone.

Jan 22, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

Murial, my sincere thanks for your reply. My ICU stay was also related to a routine medical procedure….having a baby. Just after I was moved to the recovery room, my blood pressure plummeted and I was rushed to the shock trauma ICU where I had a massive blood transfusion of over 75 units of blood. I was in a coma on a ventilator for a week and then I woke up to a whole new reality. At first this new reality was not so bad…I think because I had this incredible outpouring of support…my family actively shared my story on social media and people all over the world prayed for me. My family and I were showered with support, gifts, and even money to cover our medical expenses. I guess I saw the silver lining before I saw the clouds.

I am coming up on the one year mark and I expected it would be a wonderful celebration of life…but I am surprised that I am actually a mental and emotional mess. I really identified with what you said…."I had lost life as it had previously been" and I guess I must grieve that as I would have to grieve the loss of someone close to me.

I would be so grateful for any insight you have about healing your inner life…I really want to heal!

Jan 20, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

I just need to hear some experiences of life after Post Intensive Care Syndrome…please tell me I will be able to move forward from this someday! I have no history of depression at all and I just feel this terrible anguish that is consuming my inner life. It is so hard because on the outside, it looks like I am back to normal…but I am totally on autopilot, living out only one hour at a time. It is so painful to have people say, "looks like you are back to 100%" and "looks like you are doing so well" when I feel like a total mental and emotional mess. I have a hard time looking ahead and making plans, even a couple of days out. I just can't seem to find anything to look forward to. How did others in this group who lived through PICS find joy in their lives again? I have so much to be joyful about and grateful for, but I just don't feel joy. I have four young children that are counting on me for emotional support as they navigate life, but I am just barely surviving myself. Any advice?

Jan 9, 2019 · What did you find most surprising once you were out of the ICU? in Intensive Care (ICU)

Shortly after the birth of my 4th baby, I experienced a rare childbirth complication known as Amniotic Fluid Embolism. I was so fortunate to have been in a hospital that had enough blood for the rapid blood transfusion that was needed to save my life. I was given 75 units of blood during the surgery to stop the massive internal bleeding. I spent a week in a medically induced coma on a ventilator in the Shock Trauma ICU. During that same time, my baby was in the NICU. We are so grateful to the doctors and nurses that saved our lives!!!

Your post asks about what surprised us, and this is the surprise I have been dealing with as of late…It has been over ten months since my time in the ICU. I have returned to the patterns of my life, started working again, and am busy with my four children

But over the last month or so, I have experienced this overwhelming sadness that I did not expect. I have no history of depression and this inability to rally my mood has been so surprising and difficult. Has anyone else experienced overwhelming grief so long after a medical event? I truly thought I was over this and could move on with my life, and now I feel like I am a bigger mess than I was when I first got out of the hospital.