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ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study Group - The nightmare seemed to go on and on

Identifier

012210

Type of Spiritual Experience

Dream
Vision
Hallucination

Number of hallucinations: 1

Background

It is a pity we don't know the sedatives or medication

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.)

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It's been two years and I'm still trying to sort out what was real and what wasn't. I still think about it several times a week and continue to ask questions of my family. I have a compelling need to know what happened to me. The final diagnosis was ARDS and Encephalopathy, however; they never determined the cause.

I was on a ventilator and heavily sedated for nine days. I experienced what I call a prolonged nightmare. The theme: I was in an experimental hospital to learn what it's like to be completely dependent on someone else. I am a nurse so figured it was my punishment. The nightmare seemed to go on and on with different twists and turns.

After I was extubated and sedation was discontinued, I continued to have paranoid delusions about the nurses wanting to harm me. I repeatedly told my family that when I was dead, the nurses were going to put my body in a large trash can at the foot of my bed. I was obsessed about it and no one could tell me anything to the contrary. I was hallucinating at times especially at night when I was alone. I saw outlines of skeletons on the wall, heard strange sounds, etc. I believed I had been moved into various parts of the hospital, including the basement. I misinterpreted environmental cues and attempts to help me were interpreted as meanness. At discharge, the Neuropsychological Evaluation (NP) revealed significant deficits. I have a history of depression which was also present at discharge.

I was never told by anyone what to expect. When I reported cognitive concerns to my neurologist at the follow-up visit he gave me a Mini-Mental which I could have passed in my sleep.

After 5 months I felt better and returned to work but was fired 10 weeks later. I was devastated because I am a successful professional and had never lost a job. At the same time, it didn't surprise me because I was struggling terribly. I couldn't organize my work; committed many errors in documentation; frequently lost things; forgot meetings, and did not manage my time well. I tried to hide it and compensate but to no avail. I also fatigued easily. At the follow-up NP evaluation four months after discharge (prior to returning to work), the report stated that I was "back to baseline," however; the written report noted numerous deficiencies. After I lost my job I called the psychologist who stated it was "semantics". I appealed to my insurance for a second NP evaluation by the psychologist at the hospital. It revealed deficits in attention and executive function. I experienced major depression which didn't resolve for 18 months.

I'm hoping to return to work in the near future, at least part-time but I'm very nervous about it. I think there's been improvement but I still experience difficulty in attention and organization and still lose things on a regular basis. I at least need to try.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References