Thursday, May 18, 2006

ICU psychology

In the words of Julianne (Julia Roberts) in My Best Friend's Wedding "I only minored in psych, you understand. " Well, I didn't even minor in it, but I can share with you some of what goes on in a patient's (well, ok, this patient's) head.

You might assume that if a patient's in a coma, medically-induced or not, that not a whole lot is going on "up there." Well you'd be wrong, at least some of the time, because I was aware, occasionally. I knew that things were happening, I just didn't put them in a real context. For example, I knew that nurses were washing my hair, but I thought I was in some great Caribbean cabana (whilst attached to IVs and such), and not in a hospital room. I knew I was trying to (and succeeding) at pulling out the vent tube, but I thought I was doing it in a club house or something, not actually doing it in the present sense.

OK now this might be a wee bit morbid for some of you, but oh well. It's important. When you're somewhere between life and death (which can be a fine line), you know that you can, at any point, decide to, uh, 'cross over,' to put it euphamistically. But being the stubborn little Irish/German/ Italian girl that I am, I decided to stick it out and make the hard transition back from the lure of 'that' side to actually coming to again and thinking about getting my life back.

Do I remember people talking to me, or anything really specific? Not really. Things become somewhat clearer once I was "brought out" and the vent was pulled, but even then, things are kind of fuzzy. I remember some people coming to visit, people going in and out, stuff like that. I remember feeling like a fish in a fish bowl since the doors of the ICU rooms are sliding glass, like porch doors, and huge. You feel kind of like your bed is an island in all that sterility and machinery. And believe me, there was a lot of machinery.

Weird things hurt when you've laid essentially immobile for 14 odd days. Like your heels, from pressing into the mattress. Your elbows are sore from the same thing. And once you get back to the 'normal' floor, you find out just how quickly your body can totally abandon you if you give it the slightest little break.

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