It's a miracle! After years of being in a unconscious state, people who were in long term comas finally came out of it.
Comas can be caused by a number of things, like traumatic head injury from an accident, a stroke, or a brain tumor. Comas can even come on through infection or alcohol poisoning.
It may seem that there isn't a lot happening when someone is in this state of involuntary "deep sleep" but there's actually a lot going on under the surface.
The real question though, after all that time, what happens when someone has finally woken up and has to go back into the world? What are they asked to face? How will they become apart of society after all that time?
We went to Ask Reddit to find out first hand accounts of people coming out of their coma.
Redditor Real_Joe_Mom wanted to know:
"Redditors who have been in coma for a long time (>1 yr) what was it like to "wake up" again? And how did you adjust to literally a long fast forward?"
Let's get into it.
"I had no idea where I was. I had no idea what happened. Months later I was still learning about who did (or didn't) visit, pray, call, ask. Finances were a total mess (trust me, companies DO NOT CARE). Massive debt and financial penalties. And took over 18 months to get a job after painful physical rehabilitation and explaining over and over and over that I was in a coma, not just not working. Then COVID."
"Damn man, glad you pulled through."
"I feel ya. It's been a financial nightmare for me too, I don't think I'll ever recover from this. There is no forgiveness for us. Recently, I totally lost it on a debt collector, I was screaming through the phone at him 'Do you f*cking think I planned this! What part of zero dollars do you not understand!'"
"Fortunately I was given Social Security Disability so the working thing has a little relief but it is a penance of what I used to earn. Unfortunately because I got behind on child support (due to coma) the State is taking a major chunk out of my Disability income to make up the arrears, I have to come up with 3K I don't have to go to court and 'maybe' get that reduced. Both my boys are Marines now but the State still taking money for child support arrears putting me further in a financial hole."
"Some days I think about just robbing banks to get out of this. If I don't get caught great, if I do I can go live with the Feds (prison) Either way it is a win/win situation."
"I feel like the state should automatically give you disability or at LEAST assign you a case worker to suspend your bills and store your stuff while you're in a coma. Like, there should be a system where the hospital logs you as a coma patient and then social services step in. Wtf."
"I'm not American, but from everything I've heard about American healthcare, it sounds dystopian."
"Don't worry in comas or similar situations, it's not just the healthcare that screws you!"
"Dude oh my god when I read about that vegetative person in a facility who gave birth and no one even knew she was pregnant…that was f*cked up"
Time passing without knowing.
"Ever think 'Sh*t, I hope this is still the coma?'"
"I got hit on the freeway and crashed into the median and knocked unconscious when I woke in the morning after having a weird seizure sleep paralysis it took me 30 min to convince myself I was actually alive."
"My roommate was sitting in his car, about to start it up when a drunk driver plowed into him. One minute he was fishing out his keys, the next minute was waking up three weeks later in a hospital bed. That's how he described it, as if no time had passed at all."
Hollywood was wrong.
"Hollywood's depiction of waking from a coma is shockingly wrong. I was really stunned when my friend was in one for about a month and had to relearn virtually every basic function."
"Yeah, my friend was in a coma for a couple of weeks and it took days for her to wake up. Then she had to relearn movement, speech, walking, everything. Crazy."
"Just before my grandpa died, he stopped eating and drinking and kind of went in and out of comatose states for a few days, and the doctor was explaining to us that doctors don't really like the terms 'coma' and 'wake up' because it implies a binary of coma and consciousness, when in reality it's a spectrum with lots of shades of grey."
"My dad was in a coma for 3 months due to complications after surgery for pancreatic cancer. It was just like that. Sometimes he was completely out, sometimes he'd look at me but it wasn't clear if he actually 'saw' me. At one point he gave thumbs up and smiled when my 2 year old daughter visited him and said hello, and seemed to hear what we were saying to him. Clearly he was in varying degrees of consciousness. He doesn't remember much of that period though."
"I was in a coma for a few days after falling from a roof when I was 10. I don't remember falling or anything until I woke up with my mom beside me."
"Evidently, I was awake during this time to have answered detailed questions about chess moves. But I can't remember any of it."
"Reading all these stories, I feel fortunate as I've had no long lasting effects. However, I did some psychoanalysis a few years ago and under regression I relived the fall. I had never really thought much about it but I mentioned it happening to the shrink."
Severe memory loss.
"Does it count if you can't remember a single thing for 6-8 weeks? I was technically 'out,' but my wife says she had a conversation with me every day."
"I don't remember anything but was medically sedated for almost 2 months after getting hit by a car [while] cycling."
"Anyway, I couldn't walk or use any extremities upon coming to. Extreme muscle atrophy required almost 2 yrs of PT to regain full independence. Not fun at all."
"My dad also lost several weeks of memories after being run over by a car whilst he was out cycling. Weird how similar your stories are. He spent 2 months in hospital too but couldn't remember anything that had happened for weeks beforehand. The accident happened in January but when he was taken out of his induced coma he still thought it was the year before and couldn't remember Christmas or anything."
"My dad was in ICU for 72 days and was 'awake' but doesn't remember it. Like we had convos with him and he knew who we were, even the time he was on a vent and couldn't verbalize he would talk with his hands and shake his head yes and no. I knew he had delirium from the meds and stuff and wasn't right but he genuinely had no idea any of it happened. It took him 3 days to believe us when we told him how long it had been."
"The delirium was incredible. Some days I fought going to sleep just to not have those lucid dreams. Lost every time. Recalling events that never happened made people think I had brain damage. I recall getting upset because every single day staff would drill me with the most mundane questions. Where are you? Why are you here? What is your birthday? etc. Every damn day. It was some sort of sanity check to make sure the pain killers weren't having a psychotic effect on me. The rest of your comment sounds very very familiar."
Lost in the passage of time.
"I was out for just over a month, it was surreal, like a dream I couldn't quite wake up from. When I woke up, my arms and legs didn't work and my vision and thoughts were really fuzzy. I thought I was out for a few days and was unpleasantly surprised to know it has been over a month."
"What were the dreams like?"
"Oddly enough, walking around the streets of my home town. There was music that seemed to come from the sky and someone was talking to me, but they sounded really far away. Turns out my best friend had sat next toy hospital bed, talking toe and playing a lot of our favorite music!"
The Best Questions To Ask During A Job Interview | George Takei’s Oh MyyyWhen heading to a job interview, many candidates only prepare to answer questions about qualifications or past experience. But they should also be ready to a...
"I was out for 40 days after a motorcycle accident, but I don't remember much for about 6 weeks after that as well. I was sedated with ketamine and a mix of opiates and started to wean off of them while still on a ventilator and ECMO. I was extremely confused and seeing double so I was terrified. Communicating was very hard because of the confusion and that I couldn't talk or write. The thing I remember most vividly is the insane hallucinations I had as a result of the ketamine. I was hallucinating something that was making me freak out and try to rip the tubes out of me, including my ventilator, chest tubes, and arterial line so they had no choice but to tie my limbs down and put boxing gloves on my hands. I had no idea I was doing any of that, but I had moments where I was significantly more aware of what was going on, which were so frustrating because I was completely tied down and again, couldn't communicate. The doctors and nurses kept trying to explain to me what I was doing and that I needed to stop, but I did not understand. I felt like I was being tortured and I couldn't understand why."
"At the time of my accident, I was in an online relationship that had become very rocky. I had booked a flight to meet the girl and my accident happened the day before my flight. This was only somewhat of a coincidence, as I was riding my motorcycle extremely recklessly due to my emotions and frustration in the relationship, and with my life for other reasons. My family knew about my relationship and was able to tell her, but it wasn't until about 3 months after the day of the accident that I talked to her for the first time by sending her a video."
"One of my respiratory therapists put a device on my tracheostomy so I was able to talk. This was an extremely emotional moment and my mom was the first person to hear my voice. I used the device to talk on the phone with the girl, but it was difficult because the ventilator was loud and the device did not sound like my normal voice. My relationship with her was not the same and not recoverable. In hindsight, this was for the better, but in the moment despite all the terrible things I was experiencing, the feeling of having lost the connection with this girl who was my first love was awful. By this time I was becoming completely aware of what I did and what happened, and extremely conscious of what I had put my mom through as she had been by my side every day in the hospital not knowing if I would survive, or if I had sustained significant brain damage."
"After 5 months in the hospital I was transferred to a rehabilitation facility, and two weeks later (December 2019), discharged home with a wheelchair and walker. I was gaining the ability to walk short distances on my own and even decided to start college again. Then covid hit, and I also experienced some unfortunate medical complications that kept me in and out of the hospital for most of 2020."
"This is all very recent, but every aspect of my life has changed post-accident. My finances are in ruin. My physical health and pain is terrible but given the fact that I have all my limbs and can still walk, I feel like I can't complain. I value time completely differently because of my continuing medical complications. I don't think I will live very long. It's a lot harder for me to get angry or upset about anything because it all feels insignificant compared to being tied down, unable to communicate, and in pain."
"Best friend of an old colleague of mine who I met a few times at drinks etc..."
"She was in a car accident when she was about 20, spent a few months in a coma."
"Upon waking up apparently her whole personality changed, especially her goals and stuff. Before the accident she wanted me to a teacher and was in uni, but after the accident she couldn't think of anything worse and wanted to become a hairdresser."
"She couldn't remember a lot of her teenage years and she said some things like her favourite food and TV shows had changed (from what people told her she liked before hand) and taste in music."
"I was absolutely flabbergasted by what she was telling me."
"Roseanne Barr said a similar thing. apparently she was in a car accident at 16 I think. before that she had to watch and care for her siblings, was a square, never cursed etc.. after the accident (I don't think she was in a coma) her first words were 'I need a cigarette'. she left her family without notice, moved away, had sex, got pregnant, put the baby for adoption, had more children, wasn't afraid to speak her mind. I found it really interesting."
"I'm reminded of a story I read a few years ago about a rugby player who went into a coma after he broke his neck or had a stroke (it was one of them) when he was training."
"When he woke up, he was a totally different person as before the stroke, he was a straight man with a fiancée and he worked at a bank but after he woke up, he was now a gay man who then left his fiancée for a man and he also left his job at the bank and became a hairdresser."
A sister who lost a year of memory.
"My sister was in a car accident and sustained a massive head injury. She was in a coma for over 5 months. Waking up from a coma doesn't happen suddenly. It's gradual. She had to relearn everything starting with swallowing. She's missing her last year of high school and she cannot remember many things since her accident. Her short-term memory was damaged. Her damaged memory makes her very frustrated."
"Her accident was in 1994. She graduated in 1993. She cannot remember grade 12. This was stunning for the family because she had just graduated. That whole year was GONE."
"The story of what happened:"
That weekend my sister had double booked herself. She was supposed to head to a car rally with me and my husband. She came to me and asked me if it was alright if she went to Whidbey Is. with her best friends. This has bothered me for decades. If I had been a b*tchier sister I would have told her to postpone her trip and come with us. But I wasn't and I'm still not like that. I told her to go have fun with her friends."
"That Saturday we got the call that she had been in a car accident. She was traveling down a rural highway when a lady blew a stop sign. My sister swerved to the left to avoid her (she's left handed). Her car started to spin she tried to correct and ended up swerving the car into on coming traffic. She hit a pick up truck that was driving in the opposing lane and her car crumbled. She had her driver's side window partially down. Her head slammed down on the open window and she was cut from her ear to her chin. She was thrown against her friend in the passenger seat and broke her clavicle and her pelvis. Her friends had minor injuries. She was wearing her seatbelt but the twisty nature of the collision swung her from side to side."
"They used the jaws of life to extricate her from the vehicle. She was posturing which is what happens when a person has a massive head injury. The emergency crew had a ferry return to dock so they could load her on."
"For three days we didn't know if she was going to survive. They drilled a hole in her head to relieve the pressure that was building due to her brain bleeding. She survived. Our family has been by her side ever since."
"As someone with a damaged memory, I can relate. The feeling of knowing something is supposed to be in there but it's not is really hard to describe and so incredibly frustrating. The closest thing I can think of to describe it is a word or name being on the tip of your tongue but you can't quite recall it, only instead of words or names or titles, it's with memories."
"Some are worse, like having absolutely no clue what someone is talking about when they are reminiscing about something. Others are better, remembering small snippets of something happening but not the whole thing. Some are just straight up disconcerting, having no idea what happened during months of time of your life. Still yet some can be down right baffling. Most recently I was in a craft store and had some super strong emotional reaction over drawing pencils but have no clue why or what's important to me about them."
"It can be pretty exciting and overwhelming when something finally clicks and a whole flood of memory comes rushing in at all once though. I bought the pencils hoping one day it will trigger."
Feeling like it's been a whole new life.
"I was in a coma for 3 weeks. Not that long but my dreams made me feel like I was out for decades. I was really confused and didn't understand where I was or why."
"Sounds like the guy who made a post about how he lived an entire lifetime, married, kids, everything, only to wake up from the coma and realize it was all fake."
"That one left me feeling bereft. Like when you're really into a great book, then it ends. Only worse. Way worse. Dude was fully grieving a life he thought he had."
The story was posted by u/temptotosssoon who woke up after an accident and was mourning the life he had inside his mind while unconscious.
Mush for brains.
"Most people who are in a coma that long will have mush for brains. It's also extremely rare to regain any degree of consciousness after a whole year. If they do, they will not prioritize catching up on world events and tv-shows, they will be learning to speak, eat, move, recognize friends and family, the names items around them, etc."
"This. I was in a drug induced coma for between 2 and 3 weeks. Don't ask me how long, I can't tell you. That was years ago and I still can't make a timeline for it work. I was "awake" for a day or two and realized my vision was really fuzzy. I finally remembered that I wore glasses. I wasn't able to put them on myself or take them off. Putting my hands to my face was completely exhausting. Rehab was horrible, but it worked well, 2 months to the day I'd gone in, I went home, using a walker and reliant on nearly every one else for every thing else. I could manage getting 8 feet to the toilet and that was about it. Rehab lasted about a year. It sucked!"
"I have such admiration for people who have worse struggles than mine. The amount of pure grit it takes when your "only" problem is muscle atrophy is miniscule when compared to folks with broken bones or missing muscle pieces. I figure they much have real gravel, not just grit!"
"Yes, doc here. People assume that you can just stay in a coma indefinitely and then wake up and recover. In some cases that sort of thing can happen, but it is so rare that those cases usually make the news. Usually folks who can't wake up even a little after about six weeks have a very low chance of full recovery, and the recovery that they do have will be long and arduous. Learning how to swallow again is shockingly hard, much less other things like walking and regaining your mental faculties. It can permanently alter your cognition and your personality, and that's assuming that the reason you were comatose isn't related to brain damage to begin with (which it often is)."
"I went comatose twice in my life, 7-10 hours the time and I've no recollection of the second time. Both originating from the same head condition, hydrocephalic pressurization and I ended up a potato. The waking up from the first coma, I was dazed but functional. Came to and tried to figure out why I was tied down to the hospital bed while I've got all my family members standing in my room crying. I could talk and think, it was just the haze of coming out of anesthesia that made things difficult that time. I was only in the hospital a week, but had to relearn how to walk."
"The second coma, I have no recollection of. It's like my brain intentionally decided to shield me from the event, but from what I've gathered, I went from functioning normal up to the day before, told family I was going to take a nap and proceeded to sleep for about approx. 18 hours. My mom and brother managed to get me to 'wake up' long enough to walk out to their car, while my boyfriend pulled up to check up on me. Some hours later (after the second surgery), I wake up and I'm talking, conversing to everyone like normal. My partner says it was terrifying to experience, but the absolute worst part was after coming to, I kept saying I wanted Cici's Pizza cause it just looked so tasty."
Being trapped in your own mind for so long, unaware of what's really happening in the world and how much time has passed sounds like a nightmare in itself. But upon waking is when the real nightmare can start.
Especially if you live in America.
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There are three different types of comas we can have. One is called toxic-metabolic encephalopathy, which is caused by illness or infection across the body. There's the medically induced coma which is caused by medical professionals to temporary cause a deep state of unconsciousness. Then there's the persistent vegetative state where the patient is the unaware of their surroundings and unable to movement.
However, after u/Pilot_Mosley asked Reddit, we're not so sure that every coma patient is completely unaware of their surroundings. Many people reported hearing their family or the nurses talking to them. Some said the had vivid dreams, only to learn those events actually happened.
Redditor Pilot_Mosley wanted to know what actually is going on in the unconscious mind and how it changed them after:
"Patients who woke up from a long coma, what's your story? How different were things?"
Read on to find out how the coma effected these people, whether it was a day or years.
"I had a friend who was put into a medically induced coma after a bad accident that lasted months. When she woke up, she recalled being able to remember hearing everything since the moment she entered the hospital. She even remembered things her mom had said to her while she was being transferred from one hospital to another."
"She said things looked different than the way she had pictured it in her head, but she was conscious and heard everything, she just couldn't move, speak or do anything really."
"I had the same experience. I was out for 12 days. I could hear and remember every conversation. My mom, and family was crying and hugging my body, holding my hand, I felt it all. I wasn't able to respond though."
"So was it awful or did your brain make it comfortable for you?"
"It was on off, almost like a dream. I could hear and feel everything (seeing blurry images) and suddenly it was just nothing/black. I thought it was just a very intense dreams because I am one of those people who could remember their dreams vividly. When I was awake from the coma and started to feel better, I shared with mom that I had a dream of day 1, I remember scissors when they cut my hair and someone stitched my head, I could feel the whole process but I wasn't in pain. the 2nd day it was my grandma crying and she hugs me, and I can see her wearing a specific shirt, and so on until the 12 days. I was surprised when my mom told me those weren't dreams. All of those really happened when I was unconscious."
"I was 16 when that happened, now 14 years later I can still feel and remember the way my mom and grandma hugged me and squeezed my hand. Hearing their cry and calling my name in prayers."
"It's ironic that now both are passed away and this are the memory of them that keep repeating in my brain."
A year long coma.
"Back in high school a girl I knew who was younger than me was in a car accident. She was in a coma for around a year, maybe a little less. When she came out of it, she remembered snippets of conversations around her while she was "out" and even seeing a few people. The only thing was, she said everything she saw was red-tinged; so she'd see her mom at her bedside but it'd look like a red filter had been put over her vision."
"She was annoyed at how many times people told her it was all right to go on, that her mom could be free if she did. She identified a few voices she knew for sure and told her mom, who had a lot fewer friends afterward. She was 14 when the wreck happened and never made it back to school, getting her GED at 19. She still has mobility issues 30+ years later but she's doing pretty well now considering everything."
"I never thought about how I would feel knowing people would want my loved ones to move on. I mean I think I would want them to move on too. but I would also be aware of all it by the sounds of it. That sucks."
"I had a good friend die after 6 months in a coma. It's a extremely hard decision on whether or not to want them to pass on or hope for the better. At a certain point where there isn't much to do about it anymore. They don't seem to be getting better but you don't want to lose hope either. It feels like hell when that point comes."
At the start of the pandemic.
"I was out for seven weeks."
"I woke up to a pandemic and no one allowed in. Thank God for Skype."
"You lived the beginning of 28 Days Later."
"The Walking dead plot almost achieved."
Still 17 at heart.
"So, my husband was in a coma for about a month when he was 17. His was due to a frontal brain injury. Arrested development is usually seen psychologically, not necessarily physically. Like, their body will go thru puberty, but their brain development does not equal that. My husband is not still '17,' but there are times where I can see the delayed development when it comes to decision making, emotional responses. Physically, nothing stopped. But it effects a LOT. At least a brain injury does. Even when it comes to sexual drive. Sometimes it's like they never got out of that 17 year old boy phase."
Accidental overdose coma.
"Well it first started off as a dislocated shoulder and after they put it back in place they just kept giving me Dilaudid and at first it was like every hour then they switched it to every 30 minutes then they switched it every 15 minutes and I just got so sleepy they moved me up into a room last I remembered from the ER and then my friend kept saying my name but I couldn't move I couldn't open my eyes but I could still hear her. Then I heard one of the nurses come in and she couldn't get me to wake up so then the head nurse came in and she claimed that I was faking it but no matter what she did she just said I wouldn't wake up."
"So it was at this point they said that the nurse who was in charge of my painkillers put me into an accidental overdose coma. And even still in a coma they kept giving me painkillers for a while like probably one or two days before the head nurse actually noticed. I mean it wasn't a long coma but I still felt like I wanted to share my experience."
"How and why did they keep increasing the amount? Did you ever get an answer?"
"Yeah I tried to sue them but they said that I signed some papers which I don't remember signing about how they couldn't be held liable or something. And the nurse who is in charge of giving me medication told the head nurse, 'She kept saying she was in pain so I kept giving her more medication,' and the head nurse said, 'That's ridiculous she can't even move let alone talk right now. How in the f*ck do you think she even can tell you she's in pain?' And it went quiet for a while and then the head nurse said that she's in charge of me for the rest of my remainder in the hospital which was about a week because they wanted to monitor me for after that happened and I had to have several tests to make sure it didn't f*ck up my brain."
"My dad was in an induced coma for a bit over a month years ago had to undergo a very difficult surgery and he had multiple complications afterwards so that's why it took them so long to wake him up."
"Not a very long coma, but he couldn't wrap his head around how we went from freezing temperatures to nice spring sunny days."
"Maybe off topic but I have to tell this one, he had some very weird dreams during the coma. He told us one time, he dreamt about being at his own funeral... and I'm not kidding, the walls of the hall were covered in PESTO LASAGNA. Ok, it's a bit less weird maybe since we're Italian, but I still laugh thinking about it."
"Omg the dreams. I still remember them 10 years after. I was in a medically induced coma for months and all I remember is the relentless racing from dream to dream but recognizing something was wrong. Maybe due to having sleep paralysis I can sometimes wake myself up but it was not possible in a coma and it was horrible."
"I was in a "run of the mill" surgery. Everything was fine until they removed the instruments. Someone had forgotten to sheath the scalpel after they inserted into my thigh on route to my heart. When they removed the instruments my arteries were cut open from my thigh into my heart. I lost all but one liter of blood and was put on life support after extensive attempts to control my bleeding and 12 blood transfusions."
"When I came out of the coma 3 months after the surgery they removed five tubes that had replaced my normal bodily functions, at that time I could only breath deeply enough to saturate my blood to the 70% level (mid to high 90s is considered a normal range). I had to learn how to breath, something that is normally an automatic function from birth onward. It took 1 month to learn how to breath without using an oxygen machine and an additional 3 years to be able to stop using the machine."
"Prior to the surgery I had 3% body fat and was leg pressing 1100 pounds on a 5 day a week schedule. When I had a ' new to me' doctor come to ask if he could examine me I agreed but asked why he wanted to do that. He said he had previously examined about 20 patients who had similar mistakes made to them but that I was the only one he had ever seen other than in the morgue and wanted to understand why I was alive."
Though some of these stories are heartbreaking, they all have lived to tell us the tale today.
Remember, if a loved one is ever in a coma, and you decided to visit them, be careful what you say because they may remember it when they wake up.
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."
When we see comas represented in TV and movies, it's almost always pretty identical to sleeping, and a person just wakes up one day. In reality, though, a coma can consist of floating around through various levels of consciousness.
Okay, those are all great words, but functionally what does that even mean? What is it like to exist that way? For that, we turn to Reddit.
The responses left us sitting with a heavy train of thought. A lot of the people responded that one of the things their minds did was create false memories that, to them, feel just like any other. For a while, they couldn't tell the two apart.
Some peoples memories were disjointed but others, like the woman who remembers a family vacation that never happened, create clear storylines that they are emotionally invested in.
If we fell into a coma, lived a cherished memory, and then woke up ... would I want to know the thing I imagined wasn't real? Does the woman really need to know the family vacation never happened? What about the people who imagined awful things? How do you ever believe that this experience you really felt just didn't happen? How do you accept and move on from that?
Like we said, heavy.
I was in medically induced coma for about a week.
The coma itself is not much to talk about - there is just a gap in your memory, even from before it happened (I don't even remember the accident that brought me there in the first place).
Waking up from it is much different story though. Since I was fully dosed by painkillers and sedatives and whatnot I was basically high as kite and since the trauma I suffered was very serious my brain constructed very stressful, vivid nightmares I remember to this day.
Waking up was like the shallow sleep when you're semi-aware of your surroundings but you're also half dreaming. The former made me realize I'm in the hospital and that something bad happened (could not figure out what though), the latter combined with the said meds made the experience utterly terrifying.
But yes, at some moment I realized that I need to wake up, but I didn't know how. Also, there were several timelines concurrently going on in my head (as crazy as it may sound) and I could not determine which one is the correct one to wake into...
Turns out none of them was the correct one, although the fragments of reality were present in each of them, and I didn't have a conscious or any other control over choosing between them. It's not like I chose my reality, it's more like those delusional ones receded eventually.
My wife was in a coma for about a month. At first I didn't bring the kids up because of how she looked but in the third week her color was closer to normal and there was less 'stuff' going on as she was pretty stable compared to the first two weeks.
Anywho....I had told the kids that while Mom wasn't responsive there was a chance could she hear us so they should be as brave as they can and sound as happy as they can. I described to them everything I thought that might spook them from the tubes and wires to things beeping randomly and Dr's & nurses coming and going.
They were awesome. Even in the initial shock at seeing her with a ventilator they were vocally loving, hugged and patted, held her hand etc. We sat in the room a while and just talked.
At one point I asked the kids what their favorite vacation was. Instead of our Disney and Universal Studios trips they both agreed it was the road trip we took from Vegas down to Arizona...driving all over and seeing all the incredible sights...we talked about rides & amusements in Vegas, then Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, cave dwellings, petrified forest, silly road stops, a cheap motel we stayed in Flagstaff...we laughed and cried (just a little). It was as nice as it could be. They kissed her goodbye saying "see you soon".
My wife heard it all...but in a hallucinatory way.
She now has, to this day (near 10 years later), a vivid memory of a second Arizona vacation she went on with us. She even asked me early on after she woke up if we had gone on a vacation recently. Her mind went through every detail we talked about and even added on to it as if it all actually happened and the memories of it are as real as any.
10 Days of Grief
10 days I don't remember anything about. Not sure if it is a blessing or a curse. Hit by a drunk driver. My wife and I lived, our daughter didn't.
To me that stuff on tv where the pt wakes up and everything goes back to normal is bullsh!t. When I woke up I was in a conversation with another pt. Air Force had sick bays, not individual rooms. I can only compare it to a computer, I had been hung in an update and then, flicker, new screen.
I had "woken up" several days earlier, but nothing stayed with me. My wife says I was paranoid that they were "putting acid in my I.V." because I was tripping. I was hostile and aggressive. I read the medical records, they kept me restrained for a couple of days after I hit an nurse. I started acting normal so they moved me from ICU to the sick bay.
The blessing is forgetting 10 days of some pretty intense pain. I was broken in a lot of places and bruised in all the rest. Never knew you could bruise some of them. That freaked me out.
The curse was I wasn't there when my wife needed me most. There is that tinge of guilt that she faced that grief alone for 10 days. I know, couldn't be helped. I know it's not my fault, but live through it and tell me how it feels.
No Football AllowedGiphy
Not me, but my dad has described his coma after his car accident. He was pulled up a little too far at a stop sign, and a guy who was speeding and on his phone swerved off the road.
So he was in a coma for about two months. On my end, it wasn't like the movies. He didn't just wake up miraculously. It was two months of steady improvements. One eye opened, then a few days later his other eye was half open, then he could wiggle a toe, then he could move his fingers, etc.
On his end, he said he could hear bits and pieces of what was happening around him, but it was like a dream that he couldn't wake up from. When me and my two younger siblings would come in and talk to him, his heart rate would go down. When a football game was on and his friends came to sit with him and watch it, the nurses made them turn it off once his team started losing because his heart rate blew up. He's a fan of the Miami Dolphins, so I guess his HR never fully returned to normal.
Worst Nap Ever
I had a motorcycle wreck a few years ago. Someone texting blew a stop sign and ended up t-boning them. Not sure if coma is the correct term, but I was definitely unconscious for two days, honestly just felt like the worst, least refreshing nap in the history of naps. Had the wreck on a Sunday, woke up sometime Tuesday afternoon/evening and asked if the bike was ok.
Was hit by a car when I was 5 years old. Ended up with toxic shock syndrome and went into a coma for 4 months. I just remember some very weird 'dreams,' which i can still recall vividly 26 years later. Someone mentioned something about visiting another realm, and that's pretty close to the mark.
My favorite dream from the coma involved me floating over a huge grey colored ocean, and i saw something rise up from the water that i can only describe as a dragon with scoliosis. It moved its head like it was smelling the air and then turned and looked right at me.
In another one my favorite cousin had abandoned me and now lived in the ceiling above my hospital bed with my two best friends, Jason and Jason, who were also twins. They just moved a tile out of the way and would just stare at me from above.
The OG Power Rangers came to see me in one of these dreams too. Except Tommy. They just stood around my bed wearing their colors, and Jason picked up my little stuffed red power ranger pillow. Then he pointed towards the door and just outside on the cliff was Numb and Skull sitting at a bar and waving. I thought that was real until i was about 12.
Back To Sleep
I can only compare it to when you're little and wake up at a friends house and don't know where you are. I was in a coma for 2 months after a bad car accident. It wasn't medically induced, it was thanks to brain damage. When I woke up I was alone in the hospital room and had no clue what happened or why I was there. I had a neck brace on due to a broken neck so I figured something was wrong with my neck but was unsure how or what happened.
For some reason I thought I was 60 years old (I was in my 20s). I was paranoid and scared, but didn't know why I was there. I used context clues to figure out I was in the hospital. It was frightening. After about 5 minutes I decided to go back to sleep. 2 months of sleep wasn't quite long enough.
When I was in 5th grade I fell out of a tree and bonked my head pretty well. I woke up 3? days later in the hospital. For me, the experience is easily summarized in three parts:
- When I fell, I blacked out before I hit the ground... or at least that is where memory fades. And "fades" is really the best word. It was as if my consciousness was drained away and then blackness and nothingness. It was as if my body knew how badly it was going to hurt and so it shut down.
- I have very, very, very, vague memories while in the coma of hearing my Dad reading a book, or my Mom telling me that she knew I would pull through, or of a tube in my nose. But these were always super fuzzy moments and I never was conscious during them, it was more like a half second of being aware of one particular thing--the way the tube felt being taped against my arm and wishing I could reach out and move it--and then back into the nothingness. I think that I was somewhat aware of the fact that I was a little more aware each time that this happened but honestly I am not certain of even that much.
- Waking up was sudden. So, so sudden. I was in blackness. Had a moment of awareness, like "my neck hurts" and then the pain was magnitudes higher. No longer a distant perception but something that I was actively conscious of. Waking up was the most painful moment of my life and I just started crying and then couldn't even cry it hurt so bad. I think that had more to do with injuries sustained to my neck and head than the coma, but that is what it was like. After an hour my body was used to the pain and I was totally normal, albeit very weak, hungry, and thirsty.
I survived and am fine now without any lasting issues.
So Many Casualties
Survived (sort of) a major auto collision after a drunk Marine driving home from the Del Mar race track drifted onto our side of the highway.
Sadly, my older brother and fiance did not. I suffered a TBI and my family was advised I wouldn't live thru the weekend. All they could do was perform a burr hole procedure to drain blood from my brain and relieve pressure -- then wait. Dr.'s pumped me with barbiturates and fent to keep me under for 5 days. Woke up 16 days later.
Took about 8 hours to realize what was happening. Don't know about others, but my coma was not a deep sleep as some might imagine. It's like you're swimming underwater, but near the surface. I was in a nightmare within an adventure.
When I woke up, I didn't ask to see anyone or wonder what had happened to me. Apparently, the first word I said to anyone was "water." I have never experienced such thirst in my life.
Shortly after I regained my senses, a doctor casually notified me that both my brother and girl had perished; furthermore, the neurological damage was irreversible and I would now walk with a limp for the rest of my life. What made it worse was my girl didn't die right away. She stayed alive for 4 days hoping I would wake up so she could say goodbye. She passed away thinking I would soon die as well.
Unlike portrayed in TV & film, accident/coma survivors don't simply go home and resume their lives. For me, the accident and the coma's after-effects set in motion a cascade of personal loss which took 10 years to somewhat recover from.
I later revealed to friends & family that we were on that road because we were headed to pick up concert tickets I found on Craigslist. Her parents blamed me for her death.
Although my dad never directly accused me, he resented me and he distanced himself from me for the next few years until he passed. My older brother was his pride and joy. He stopped treating his hypertension and essentially gave up on life. I consider him a casualty of the accident as well.
I was crushed.
Polite And Compliant
Coma for three days from medication cocktail suicide attempt. I remember getting REALLY tired. Like my entire body suddenly dropped even lower into the gurney in the ambulance. Then my head started falling sideways and halfway down I lost consciousness. I woke up three days later with zero memories. I don't know if they had me drugged because of the reasons I went in, but I had no emotions at all for like three days after. Just nothing. I was incredibly polite and compliant.
I say it was like a blink.
I was in a coma for two months after a car accident, and suddenly I became aware that everything is different. But two months had passed and I didn't remember any of it. Of course, I was 40 pounds lighter and couldn't walk and couldn't talk and half my head was shaved, so clearly time has passed, but I didn't feel any of it.
It was like I blinked and everything changed.
I was in a coma for 2.5 weeks in my early 20s. I had meningococcemia (the kind of meningitis people get vaccinated for now) and my body just shut down. I was on a ventilator and IV nutrition as well.
I had these wild hallucinations/dreams while I was out of it like that there were ninjas in my room and people trying to come take me out of the room. There's a period of time I don't have any recollection of at all, though, where everyone had to tell me what happened after I woke up. I remember parts of being weaned off the ventilator and the only thing I can compare that to is being way under water and not being able to breathe but seeing the surface of the water and knowing if you can reach it you will get in a good breath of air.
It took them 3 or 4 days to wake me up enough to get off the ventilator. For the most part my family said they sat there and talked to me throughout the entire time. There was one period where they turned down the sedation and I thrashed around and restarted ripping my IV's out and tried to grab the ventilator tube but I was so weak a nurse was able to stop me. I would not recommend.
When I woke up, my body had used most of my muscle mass in fighting off the infection so I could hardly move (I couldn't even put chapstick on myself). My lips were all chewed up from me trying to get the ventilator tubing out of my mouth, all the tape they had to use on me peeled my skin off and I had ventilator assisted pneumonia. I also lost both of my legs below the knee and 2 fingertips.
In retrospect, the coma was probably the best part of it all. Its waking up from the coma that is the hardest part and all the things you have to deal with afterwards.
Just over a year ago I was in a car accident, a pretty bad one, and ended up walking away with only a few scratches.
Fast forward 5 days and I was going in and out of conciousness in my apartment, feeling very sick and delirious. Got to the ER down the street via my dad picking me up late at night, don't remember the entire thing but all of a sudden I was on oxygen and people were checking on me constantly, and I realized I was slowly losing the ability to move, or at least it felt like it.
I remember fading in and out, and truly fading seems to be the best word, because as I remember it, it was like fuzzy memories of the following week.
I had a severe case of sepsis (not sure if that's how to phrase it exactly), and abscesses had formed around a few of my organs including my kidneys and liver. Also a horrible case of aspiration pneumonia to top it off so I couldn't breathe on my own either.
All I remember from the week was random moments of pure discomfort, and then immediately fading to black, I only seemed to wake-up/be aware when the pain would start/I had run out of whatever heavy-duty pain medication they gave me.
When I finally woke up, or was woken up, I was in agony and after a few hours I felt jolted into being extremely aware of everything around me and was confused for awhile. I remained in hospital a further 4 weeks, had to learn to walk again since the muscles in my legs forgot what to do (that has a name, I can't recall rn).
Still dealing with health issues over a year later. I often dream about that week of being kept under, like random moments of nurses fixing my oxygen, my parents sitting looking at me, and doctors murmuring to my parents, or my least favorite, just dreaming about knowing I'm not conscious but still feeling the pain, like I'm back there all over again.
When my mum was late teens she had multi organ failure and went into a coma for three weeks. I just text to ask if she had any of these crazy dreams that others have written about but she replied 'I had the best dreams ever'.
When she woke up she was in hospital surrounded by nuns who's first words were,'Jesus wants you for a sunbeam'. When she looked through the glass she could see her dad (who had been in another country when she went into the coma) so she thought she had died!!!
Her heart actually stopped beating at some point and she said that all she felt was pure peace so she is not afraid of dying now. So I thought I'd share as this gave me quite a bit of comfort 😂
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Comas are one of those unique experiences many people will neither see nor live through. It's the living through part we're focusing on today, as people put into comas, either through accident or medically induced, opened up about what it was like in the deep sleep.
Reddit user, u/yummygumdrop, wanted to hear what it was like when they asked: