Rip Van Winkle must have had quite a trip when he came out of his prolonged slumber and awakened 20-years-later to a completely different world.
Similar to the fictional literary character, one could imagine how jarring it must be for patients coming out of a coma.
Wondering what it must feel like to witness the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel only to be pulled back into consciousness, Redditor RealLifeTaco asked:
The responses ranged from those who woke up with amnesia to those who lost certain abilities like reading.
Many of the comments focused on people having wild hallucinations and being unable to distinguish between what is real or imagined.
There was one commonality on which everyone could agree on: that they wished never to experience being in a coma ever again.
That and the fact that ice chips are awesome.
"I was in a coma for 2 days. I remember nothing. It took about two weeks for me to recognize my surroundings and start talking again, months and months for my memory and communication to come back to a level inferior to before. I lost huge amounts of memory from the years before the coma. The older my memories the less affected they were. My memory is still kinda shot 5 years later."
"Really sh**ty experience especially for my family."
Turning To Audiobooks
"I was in a coma for 4 days and then a medically induced coma for 10 or 11 days afterwords. Semi truck accident."
"I was a book reader before my coma. Afterwords, reading was a chore because I could no longer focus on words and comprehend the story. I'm ok in small bursts. I can do a chapter or two. But I still prefer audiobooks now over actual books."
"It has significantly improved my memory. Likewise, listening to books I know that I've read before but don't recall would usually bring back a flood of memories that the coma locked away somewhere. Half of the books I've listened to have been like opening a safe full of memories. Some good, some not, and not all real."
Three Comas In One Lifetime
"I was in a coma three times over a period of five months: for about three weeks the first time, a week the second and five days the third time, all due to hepatic encephalitis (brain swelling caused by liver failure). When I was actually out cold (most of the time), I remember nothing."
"I had horrific hallucinations - probably during brief periods when the doctors dialled back my sedation to see how I was doing or as I was emerging from unconsciousness as I improved."
"I was in hospitals in New England every time. But the first time, I believed I was being kept alive in a nursing home in Korea while my organs were being harvested. Apparently, I removed the breathing tube in my first attempt to flee. The next time I remember anything, I had on mittens that were like white oven mitts that I couldn't get off. I somehow managed to throw myself over the bed's guardrails. When I landed on the floor I realized that I there were catheters all over the place that made getting away hard. Also, people came running."
"The second time, I believed that I was stuck in a kind of purgatory where a bunch of people would come to my bed, torture me, laugh and leave. The weirdest part was, it was like watching a movie. Sometimes it played really slowly and sometimes really fast. But it was always exactly the same. It always started with a beeping sound that I came to dread. (In the cold light of day, a shrink came up with the idea that my mind formed a memory of a single instance of nurses repositioning me in the bed and suctioning my breathing tube, which made me gag. The beep was probably a blood pressure cuff. I believe that is correct.)"
"The third time, I believed that a semi-pro hockey team was trying to find me and kill me because I knew that my great-grandmother and the great-grandmother of the team's captain had been lesbian lovers and the team wanted to avoid scandal. I absolutely thought that I was being moved around the hospital and hidden. (The only time I left the ICU was for a CAT scan.) I have no reason to believe that my great grandmother was a lesbian."
"I also believed that I had decided to buy all of the nurses blueberry milkshakes, but that one nurse had stolen the money I gave her to pay for them. Apparently, after I was awake, I ranted about that for days!"
Between What Is Imagined Or Real
"Kinda weird. My coma was a few days but I woke up with memories of the past week really jumbled and to this day I cant tell what was real and what I imagined from people telling me."
"Plus I woke up on a breathing tube and that was the day I learnt what it felt like to deep throat someone."
"edit: I woke up from the coma but was still on anesthesia for a while so the moment I woke up I saw my entire family around me in tears and me being unaware I was in a hospital assumed I was still watching TV with my mom and, trying to be funny, my first words to her were 'Who died?'"
"It was weird I guess is the best way to describe it, I woke up with retrograde amnesia so I didn't remember anything from before. I remember waking up quite clearly though, especially when my family came in to see me. They all rushed in, tears streaming down their faces, hugging me. All I could think was 'Who the f'k are these people.' I had a massive panic moment when I realized I didn't know who I was. 0/10 would not do again."
"I was in a coma about 8 yrs ago it lasted 5 weeks. All I remember was having really crazy but very real dreams. One I remember was having a bees nest in my chest and doctors trying to coax them out with honey. As I said it was crazy but It was so real. Also I had dreams that mixed with things what were going on in real life. For example my dad would come in everyday and read his newspaper to me. I must have been taking it in as I would dream about some of the events as I was there."
Coping With Pain And Loss
"Was in a coma for a little over a day. Don't remember 10 days in all. It was like a blink, 30 seconds before the wreck then this guy was in a wheel chair talking to me about something. The only things I knew for sure was that I was married, I was in the Air Force, and I hurt all over."
"I guess I looked confused because the guy stopped and changed his tone. He suddenly sounded like he was bored answering questions he had already been over a dozen times. Then news was bad."
"'You're in Elmendorf AFB hospital, your wife is downstairs. You were in a wreck and your daughter was killed.'"
"I don't speak much of our daughter. It hurts too much, It is a wound I cannot seem to heal."
"My recovery has taken years. I lost a portion of my left frontal and temporal lobes. I had mood control and anger issues. I also have a speech problem remembering nouns. I switch names of things being discussed without realizing it, or I forget the name of somebody something entirely."
"I don't introduce my wife to people because it is very embarrassing to forget the name of the woman you love, heart and soul."
"I have a form of epilepsy that manifest as pain. Along with some very strange sensations."
"But I have a loving wife, have raised two children, and had a satisfying career. But I still deal with the disability everyday."
Ice Chips Are The Best
"This is my experience with being in a coma, that being I was in a medically induced coma. Not sure if they are different or not. I had a very bad car accident & almost didn't make it, I remember the same thing ambulance ride got to the surgery table/room bright lights people talking and moving extremely fast almost panicked type movements from everyone."
"Then I'm in icu, now I wasn't always awake but I remember things when I was in the coma which to me freaks me out. I remember my mother talking to me I remember my family visiting me while I was still in the coma, where they were standing helI I even remember the ones that cried their eyes out. It's weird because as you described I couldn't move or tell them I was ok, it was frustrating to say the least. I was restrained as well because I tried pulling out my ventilator tube which I do remember also. And F'KING YES I was parched. The ice does wonders I had the worst case of cotton mouth when I woke up."