Most of us will never be able to describe to others what heaven looks like (if you believe in that sort of thing), or what you experience while you are dying (walking toward a bright light, etc.). What do people experience when their not ‘there’ anymore?
Well another time when it’s not so clear whether or not a person is ‘there’ is in a coma, and most of us will never be able to describe is what that’s like either. But these people have had exactly that experience, and their stories are pretty unsettling.
1. On a sinking boat…
I was in an induced coma for just under a month.
For the most part I dreamed absolutely vivid and terrifying nightmares that incorporated the world around me. Most of the time I dreamed I was on a boat that was sinking (the bed I was on moved automatically to prevent bedsores), but there are also individual points that I remembered. A parade of friends who were either laughing or crying at me as I was tortured (a group of twenty or so friends skipped school to come see me), my father trying to fight someone (him yelling at a nurse about something), and someone trying to choke me (from being intubated).
As the medications were weaned and I started having a longer and longer periods of lucidity everyone had to keep reminding me that, no, I wasn’t on a boat, and no, you can’t pull the staples out of your scalp.
The boat thing really was traumatizing.I had nightmares about boats (and helicopters, but that was from the Life Flight) for a few years afterward. Before I used to love going out on the water, but afterward even going to the beach would cause me to shake and have cold sweats. It probably took almost a decade before I was able to go to the beach and actually enjoy it.
2. Just give me a damn slurpee
Induced coma for a week or so, resulting from a MVA.
I thought a machine at the end of my bed was a slurpee machine and I was being held hostage in a Mike’s Mart, and no one would let me have a damn slurpee (Kinda like a 7/11, I think they’re all Mac’s now). I remember hearing lots of screaming and hearing someone yelling at the screams to shut the fuck up. Apparently some of that was me. I remember my ex visiting me, I thought I said “I love you”, apparently what I actually said was “I like your hair”. I tried to de-intubate myself and I vaguely remember being stopped. I also said some weird shit to nurses about my health, like so weird they ran more medical tests on me. Turns out I was fine, just a product of whatever awesome drugs they had me on.
Anyways I can’t remember like 3 months before, and I barely remember the 3 months in the hospital, and then the next year is kinda blank too. In fact most of my memory went to shit after that.
Funny, I did the same thing, tried to pull my stitches out of my forehead. But my hands were casted so I couldn’t really do any damage.
High fives for staying alive!
3. Watch out for those gators
Not me but my dad.
He said, for what he thinks is the entirety of the time he spent in the coma (6 months), that he was in the sewer below his favorite bar, there was an alligator, he could see people walking over a sewer grate, cigarettes would be flicked down at him, and he was always keeping an eye on the alligator, and he knew if he made a sound it would get him.
It never occurred to him it wasnt real, or that alligators arent in the sewers, or that it was always night, or that no one looked down to see him. It was just his reality for 6 months.
Edit: yes i know there are gators in the sewers. This bar however is in pennsylvania. My dad is, however, from florida and used to keep gators as pets in the spare bath tub, until they got too big and hed release them. Hes always had a kinship with them, but not the one in his coma/dream.
4. “You talk A LOT”
I’ve been a registered nurse about 5 years. I work in Oncology now but my first job was on a Vent unit. This is a unit where they keep people who are downgraded from ICU or CCU on a ventilator usually after they are stable but there isn’t a lot being considered anymore about their complete recovery, OR chronically ill people kept on a ventilator long term. It was a sad place. I was working the night shift for a couple of years and I sort of started going crazy because everyone was comatose and on the breathing machines of course. The way meds were administered was usually through a stomach tube called a PEG or a nasogastric tube. I use to frequently talk to the comatose patients… tell them how my day was, how the weather was outside. If it was rainy I would tell them they didn’t miss any nice weather. I would tell them what medications I was giving, the generic name, and the side effects that I memorized from nursing school.
Long story short we had a guy in his 50’s who suffered a traumatic injury and was in a coma for about a month. He had a large foul smelling ulcer on lip where the ET tube was putting pressure. They said there was no brain activity anymore and they daily had family meetings about the plans. The Doctors told the family that they didn’t think he would survive extubation but the time would come where it would be humane to do a “terminal wean”. This is a very sad occurrence where they plan the removing of a breathing tube and expect the patient to die.
Well his “terminal wean” happened with his mother, wife and sister at the bedside. He did not pass away.
His vital signs were stable and oxygen remained normal with just a nasal cannula. He was still not responding but he was alive.
I was off for the following 3 days. I actually thought about him a lot. I slept a bunch to recoop since I was feeling all in all pretty depressed. When I came in 3 days later I said hello to my coworkers like normal, put my dinner away and talked some bullshit before the start of my shift.
One of my coworkers said “Oh by the way _______ is awake!” cguengone: What do you mean awake? coworker: He’s up and talking. Completely Alert and oriented.
I was shocked. I quickly got report and went in his room to see for myself.
From the doorway I heard him say “Hello!” before I even managed to put a pair of gloves on. Still in shock I walked up to him & introduced myself with his family around him…He was smiling at me. I told him how happy I was for him and that I’d become close with his family over the last month. He quickly said: “I know you. Little lady, you talk A LOT!”
Still to this day I cant believe it. He told me and his family things I had said verbatum. He said most of the time he was in a dream and other times when people visited and talked he knew what was going on.
After that, there was an unspoken thing between us. He got discharged about a week later to rehab and he told me to take care of myself.
5. So this is terrifying…
My mother was in an induced coma for several months. While she was under, they amputated both of her legs due to sepsis. When she woke up, we asked her a similar question – she replied that she hadn’t been aware of us, but that she had had some horrific nightmares about having her legs chewed off by demons and vampires.
6. A familiar voice
I was kept in a medically induced coma for a while. I wouldn’t say that I was “aware” of much. Rather, it was like being stuck in an extended dream state… Usually nightmares. I will say; however, that my mom sat by my bed and talked to me every night, and I swear, I somehow heard her voice. It brought me out of some bad places a couple of times.
7. Ice baths and nothingness
There are varying degrees of consciousness included in the blanket term “coma,” so there is not a single answer for this question.
I was unconscious for 11 days once. I remember my last moments of consciousness, I remember a moment when a nurse was giving me an ice bath and talking to me, and I remember a moment with my mother standing over me weeping. Otherwise, there was nothing.
8. Don’t remember a damn thing
I was in a coma for 11 days, and I remember none of it. Yay for amnesia! I don’t remember the 3-4 months before the coma, I don’t remember the car accident that led to the coma, I don’t remember being in a coma, I don’t remember waking up from the coma, and I don’t remember the hospital or the 3-4 months after the accident. TBH my memory is pretty spotty for a couple of years following the accident.
9. Whistle a happy tune
Not my own situation. My friends mother was in a severe car accident in her 20s, and was in a coma for 2 or 3 months following. They kept a radio playing at her bedside during the day because they were told it could help in some way. She woke up aware of current events and new songs but didn’t remember another single thing about the accident or coma.
Now, 40 years later she has dementia but still whistles the tunes of the few songs she learned in her comatose state.
I remember absolutely nothing from the real world while I was in a coma. I was in a motorcycle accident and they put me in a medically induced coma for about a week to heal me up. During this period, I was living my regular life except, there was this portal that would follow me around. One minute I would be driving my truck to work and all of a sudden I’d be zapped to somewhere in Montana (or whichever state it would bring me to). As if this was my real life, I would walk around to different gas stations looking for a phone to call my wife to pick me up. Every day that I was living irl, I would be “zapped” to different states about 5 times a day. When I woke up from the coma, I couldn’t remember ever being in the hospital. I thought that I had been living normal life the whole time. I guess my coma experience is very different compared to everyone else’s lol.
11. Like Han Solo…
Friend of mine was in one for 6 months. He said he was in a constant dream of being stuck in a wall and couldn’t move. And was thirsty. When he woke, all he wanted was water. He told his family if it happened again to pull the plug.
12. It’s going to be okay
Not me but my 13 year old student who was hit in the head by the side mirror of a passing car and in a coma in ICU for several weeks. His parents were lovely people though not well educated and at loose ends about their son’s condition. I would visit him most days after school and bring his 16 year old sister to visit when she wanted. The first few days I would tell him he was in excellent care and his body was resting up after an accident that bumped his head. Later days I would reassure him that he would be OK and tell him a little bit about his friends and how they all sent their best to him. Somedays I would tell him about the book we had been reading in class. Later when he woke, he told me he could hear me telling him he was safe and would be alright. He remembered me telling him his body was resting so he could get better. I was pretty surprised he had those memories, one never knows how deep the coma might be, and relieved that he was not afraid while under. Edit: “loose” ends Edit: Thank you for the gift of gold.
13. Cool story, bro
I was in a coma for 5 days, I had no idea until I woke up.
14. Never take family for granted
I was in a coma for 8 days after a grand mal seizure. I remember my husband, parents, and brothers in the room with me, weeping and not knowing if I would wake up. I still feel guilty to this day and always make sure I spend extra time with all of my family.
Edit to add: I couldn’t move, but it was like a dream and I didn’t realize that I couldn’t move/wasn’t moving.