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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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Article: "I don't remember much about Intensive Care"

It’s extremely common for patients to remember very little of their time in Intensive Care. Sometimes patients “lose” the few days prior to ending up in Intensive Care and may struggle to make sense of how they ended up there. “The last thing I remember was…the ambulance. I don’t remember anything else until I woke up weeks later.” “It felt very strange…because I really wasn't sure whether I was ill, whether I'd had an...

Article: “I had these strange dreams.”

What kinds of memories or dreams do people have? It is very common for patients to have strange memories, dreams or hallucinations. They can seem very real...so real, that no matter how strange they are, patients are often unsure whether they happened or not. They can often be remembered in detail for some time afterwards. The dreams that people have can sometimes be very frightening, but sometimes pleasant or funny. Here are some examples of other people's dreams.We hope they...

Web Link: A family member's story

This link will take you to the webpage of NHS South Tees, and to Diane Bousfield's experiences of caring for her husband Tony. Tony spent many months in ICU, with a complex neurological (brain) illness. Diane has written a series of detailed and compelling poems and books about her experiences. She has very kindly given permission for them to be shared here.

Web Link: A-Z of health conditions

Many people who come into Intensive Care have pre-existing health conditions. Part of your recovery will likely include understanding and dealing with those conditions too. This link will take you to an NHS page with information on 100's of conditions, symptoms and treatments. It's not exhaustive, but we hope you find it helpful.

Web Link: Bereavement support

Sadly, not everyone survives Intensive Care. We are very sorry for your loss.This is the link to Cruse Bereavement Care. They are able to provide free advice or one-to-one counselling sessions.

Web Link: Bereavement support for children

We're very sorry for your loss. This link will take you to the website of childbereavement uk. They are a UK-wide organisation who can help support families with children and young adults, when there is a death in the family. They provide a free confidential Helpline, staffed by trained professionals, face-to-face support (in some areas), and helpful leaflets that you can download or print off. Please see their website to find out more.

Article: Blood pressure monitoring

We measure patients' blood pressure in Intensive Care using either a blood pressure cuff (like the one in a GP's practice) or using a device inserted directly into an artery (arterial line), usually the wrist or groin. An arterial line lets us monitor the patient's blood pressure accurately and continuously-helpsing us to identify problems quickly. We can also take blood samples (arterial blood gas samples) which tell us how much oxygen is in the patient's blood....

External Video: Bob describes his intensive care experience

In this short video clip, Bob (a former patient) talks about his time in Intensive Care. 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

Article: Catheter (urinary)

Almost every patient in the Intensive care Unit will have a (urinary) catheter during their stay. What is a catheter? A urinary catheter is a flexible tube that is inserted into the bladder to drain urine.It is collected in a clear drainage bag that is usually hung by the side of the bed, where it can be easily seen by the nurse. Why are they used in Intensive Care? Many patients are too unwell or too sleepy to use the toilet normally.It's very important that we...