Intensive Care

Not remembering what happened to you is very common

Patients' memories of Intensive Care can often be hazy or “jumbled”. It can be difficult to piece together what happened before being admitted to Intensive Care, and what happened while you were there. Some people remember only the end of their time in Intensive Care, while others remember almost nothing.

Some people are happy not to remember very much, but for others, "not knowing" can be upsetting. Some people are only ready to find out more in the weeks, months and sometimes years after getting home. Others just want to put it behind them. It's completely up to you whether or not you'd like to find out more about what happened in Intensive Care.

Having strange dreams or nightmares is very common

It's really common to have strange and sometimes frightening dreams or hallucinations (sometimes called "delirium"). They can seem so real that it can be difficult to work out whether they actually happened or not. Making sense of your time in Intensive Care can therefore be difficult. In this section, we've provided examples of other people's experiences, including easy to use links to other websites, where you can watch short video clips or listen to voice recordings from other patients.

Would you like to find out more about what happens in Intensive Care?

Some people find it helpful to "fill in the blanks". Others prefer to put it all behind them. There's no wrong or right, and it's completely up to you whether, when and how you want to find out more. In this section, we’ve provided some general information on common equipment and treatments, including how and why they’re used. We’ve also provided some information on routine care, the types of staff involved in your care and the sorts of things they will have done to help you.

 

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Web Link: Diaries in Intensive Care

This link will take you to the Healthtalkonline website and their page on the use of diaries in Intensive Care. Here, you can watch short videos and listen to voice files on other people's experiences of keeping a diary for their loved one.

Article: Diaries in Intensive Care (family information)

What is a diary? A diary is a booklet written for patients about their time in Intensive Care. Some Intensive Care Units use patient diaries and some don’t. They’ve been used for a number of years in other countries, but are only just beginning to be used in the UK. More research is needed to find out if and how they help. Why might (some) patients find a diary helpful? Patients often can’t remember how they ended up in Intensive Care, or what happened while...

Article: Diaries in Intensive Care (patient information)

What is a diary? A diary is a booklet written for patients about their time in Intensive Care. Some Intensive Care Units use patient diaries and some don’t. They’ve been used for a number of years in other countries, but are only just beginning to be used in the UK. More research is needed to find out if and how they help. Why might (some) patients find a diary helpful? You might not be able to remember what happened to you in Intensive Care, or have strange dreams or...

Article: Dietitian

What does a dietitian do on the wards? The Dietitian works closely with the ward staff to make sure that you are able to take in enough nutrition to support your recovery. This might involve things like checking your weight and what you are eating, arranging for you to have additional snacks or supplements (usually high calorie or protein drinks) and giving advice on the types of things you should eat after you go home. Some patients continue to need nutritional support through a...

Web Link: End of life decisions

Sadly, some patients don't survive Intensive Care.In some cases, incredibly difficult decisions have to be made about whether it's in the patient's best interests to continue treatment, when it seems certain that their condition won't improve.We're so sorry, if this is the case for you.It might help to hear about other people's experiences about making these types of decisions, both within the family and with the medical staff on Intensive Care. This link will...

Article: Feeding Tubes

Feeding in the intensive care It’s very important for patients in the intensive care unit to maintain an adequate nutrition and calorie intake in order to fight the infection and aid recovery after prolonged illness, so while they are unable to eat enough normally, we use tube feeding. There are several feeding tubes that may be used in the ICU: Nasogastric tube - A nasogastric tube is the most common type of feeding tube used.  These are long thin tubes, placed by a nurse or the...

Article: Fluids and medications

Fluids When patients are connected to a ventilator or breathing machine, they are unable to drink normally. Fluids are therefore given directly into the bloodstream via drips or lines.The nurses carefully monitor and record how much fluid the patient receives along with the patient's vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure,etc), daily blood tests and how much urine they pass to make sure that he or she is receiving the right amount of fluids. Medication Medication can...

External Video: George's experience of Intensive Care

In this video, George talks about his experiences of being a patient in Intensive Care following an operation.You can read interviews,listen to voice recordings and watch clips of other patients' experiences of Intensive Care by using the link to a free website called Healthtalkonline. http://healthtalkonline.org/search/all/intensive%20care

Web Link: Hallucinations in the ICU:a short video from former patients

This is a link to a short video in which 2 former patients talk about their strange memories of the ICU.  Borrowed, with grateful thanks, from the INSPIRE (ICU) research team in NHS Glasgow & Greater Clyde.

Article: Handover

The nurse will usually start the shift by hearing about the patient's progress since they came into Intensive Care and over the previous shift (handover). She or he will usually carry out a full assessment of the patient by checking their charts (including things like vital signs, blood results and medications), checking that all equipment is working as it should and carrying out a full body assessment (eg checking the patient's skin, including any wounds and dressings and...