“One of the most common treatments in ICU is the use of ventilators: breathing machines or life support machines. When you can’t breathe properly on your own, they put tubes through your mouth or nose so that the machine can send oxygen to your body. Sometimes, they make a hole in your throat if you are going to spend a long time in ICU.
This often means that you are unable to eat. In this case, you’ll need another tube: a feeding tube. This tube has to reach all the way down into your stomach. Tubes are also used when your digestive system is not working properly. Often, you will end up having multiple tubes inside your body when you are in ICU.
As innocent as it may sound, having tubes in your body is very uncomfortable; they have to use drugs to make you partially or fully unconscious.
These drugs can have strong impacts on your body and mind. ICUSteps, a website dedicated to ICU claims that “it’s common for patients in an ICU to have hallucinations or nightmares. You may have had dreams or feelings of being tortured, trapped in bed or felt as if you were being held captive… The fear this causes can remain for weeks after you have been transferred to a general ward or discharged from hospital.”
“My hallucinations related to one of the nurses in the ward trying to kill me,” Gordon, a patient at the Royal Berkshire Hospital says. “They [the hallucinations] are as real today as they were then”, he recalls.
Patients’ experiences vary; some say that it’s not that bad, some say they won’t go through it again under any circumstances. Often, patients don’t remember much because of the drugs.
But for some, it can be so traumatic that they develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which usually happens after extremely shocking events like seeing people get killed or being sexually assaulted. Some sources say it’s rare, whereas others suggest it can happen to one in three ICU survivors.”
The medical ICU is probably the scariest place I’ve ever been. The pediatric ICU is probably the saddest. I think there’s a convincing argument to refuse to ever utilize ICU services. Sometimes death is the better option.
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