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ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study Group - ARDS patient sees a pot bellied pig



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


Acute respiratory distress syndrome ("ARDS"), previously known as respiratory distress syndrome ("RDS"), adult respiratory distress syndrome, or shock lung, is a severe, life-threatening medical condition characterized by widespread inflammation in the lungs. Although it can be triggered by a respiratory infection, such as pneumonia, it is more often a result of sepsis or significant trauma.

A description of the experience

Information gathered from...  "ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study Group"

An educational website provided by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

(ICU Patients describe their Delirium Experiences.)


I don't remember most of the 40+ days I spent fighting ARDS in the ICU. I do remember bits, like snapshots – my Dad's warm wave and greeting when he arrived; I remember my Mom and sister lovingly giving me a bed-bath; I remember Dr. Wheeler and others talking. I also remember being asked questions over and over and answering by squeezing the questioner's hand. And I remember having my chest tube removed.

Unfortunately, I also remember being so overwhelmed by anxiety that my feet were in almost constant motion, back and forth, back and forth. My family began to recognize that when I shook my hands like that with my fingers splayed it meant that I wanted medication to help me tolerate the anxiety. They couldn't always give me anything.

Part of the time, I thought I was being restrained by elastic bands that held me down so that I couldn't move. The walls around me looked like I was being held in a multi-level pagoda. In my mind, I was plotting my escape to home, thinking I could pick at the threads of the imagined sewn elastic restraints and set myself free. Randomly I saw small Asian people who wouldn't look at me and I saw a black cat and a black pot-bellied pig. All the while, I was so, SO consumed by anxiety. Just remembering brings back shadows of anxiety.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps