Being in a coma and then coming out of it must be one of the strangest things. When you seem coma patients portrayed on TV, it either seems like they just wake up and start doing things or they have forgotten their entire life. According to actual people who have been in comas, the truth lies somewhere in between.
On Reddit, folks are sharing their experiences waking up from a coma.
And what comes across is that it is HARD to rehabilitate from the experience. Physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and emotional therapy is necessary to get back a semblance of your life. Some patients have a more difficult time than others, and not a lot of corporations are sympathetic when it comes to debt. Oh, and the dreams and hallucinations — not for the faint of heart.
“I had no idea where I was. I had no idea what happened. Months later I was still learning about who did (or didn’t) visit, pray, call, ask. Finances were a total mess (trust me, companies DO NOT CARE). Massive debt and financial penalties. And took over 18 months to get a job after painful physical rehabilitation and explaining over and over and over that I was in a coma, not just not working. Then COVID.” — North-Technician
“I was only in a coma for about two days, but I totally relate to the not understanding where you are. I barely remember my suicide attempt, and then suddenly I woke up in a creepy asylum. Apparently that’s just what ERs look like at night. I got up to investigate, and suddenly there was this horrible pain on the inside of my left elbow. I had an IV in.” — Spencer2091
“My uncle & dad were in a terrible wreck when they were both 19. My dad was out about 6-7 hours, remembers nothing. My uncle was in a coma for 6 weeks . He said he could hear every conversation, knew when people visited him but he couldn’t communicate or move a muscle. He can still recall conversations people had while visiting him. He said his greatest fear was they would think he was dead and bury him. He was terrified because he couldn’t react or communicate and didn’t know what they would do with him. Then he woke up. He had some life long disabilities but went on to become the VP at his company in Texas.” — innovationflow
“Does it count if you can’t remember a single thing for 6-8 weeks? I was technically ‘out,’ but my wife says she had a conversation with me every day. I don’t remember anything but was medically sedated for almost 2 months after getting hit by a car cycling. Anyway, I couldn’t walk or use any extremities upon coming to. Extreme muscle atrophy required almost 2 yrs of PT to regain full independence. Not fun at all.” — dal1999
“I was out for just over a month, it was surreal, like a dream I couldn’t quite wake up from. When I woke up, my arms and legs didn’t work and my vision and thoughts were really fuzzy. I thought I was out for a few days and was unpleasantly surprised to know it has been over a month.” — phageblood
“I was out for 40 days after a motorcycle accident, but I don’t remember much for about 6 weeks after that as well. I was sedated with ketamine and a mix of opiates and started to wean off of them while still on a ventilator and ECMO. I was extremely confused and seeing double so I was terrified. Communicating was very hard because of the confusion and that I couldn’t talk or write. The thing I remember most vividly is the insane hallucinations I had as a result of the ketamine. I was hallucinating something that was making me freak out and try to rip the tubes out of me, including my ventilator, chest tubes, and arterial line so they had no choice but to tie my limbs down and put boxing gloves on my hands. I had no idea I was doing any of that, but I had moments where I was significantly more aware of what was going on, which were so frustrating because I was completely tied down and again, couldn’t communicate. The doctors and nurses kept trying to explain to me what I was doing and that I needed to stop, but I did not understand. I felt like I was being tortured and I couldn’t understand why.” — office365makesmekms
“I was in a coma for 3 weeks. Not that long but my dreams made me feel like I was out for decades. I was really confused and didn’t understand where I was or why.” — ocyries
“I went comatose twice in my life, 7-10 hours the time and I’ve no recollection of the second time. Both originating from the same head condition, hydrocephallic pressurization and I ended up a potato. The waking up from the first coma, I was dazed but functional. Came to and tried to figure out why I was tied down to the hospital bed while I’ve got all my family members standing in my room crying. I could talk and think, it was just the haze of coming out of anesthesia that made things difficult that time.I was only in the hospital a week, but had to relearn how to walk. The second coma, I have no recollection of. It’s like my brain intentionally decided to shield me from the event, but from what I’ve gathered, I went from functioning normal up to the day before, told family I was going to take a nap and proceeded to sleep for about approx 18 hours. My mom and brother managed to get me to “wake up” long enough to walk out to their car, while my boyfriend pulled up to check up on me. Some hours later (after the second surgery), I wake up and I’m talking, conversing to everyone like normal. My partner says it was terrifying to experience, but the absolute worst part was after coming to, I kept saying I wanted Cici’s Pizza cause it just looked so tasty.” — foxtrousers
“In basic training, I caught meningitis and was in and out of a coma for about a week. I remember my military leadership visiting me, calling my wife to tell her, and being ambulanced to another hospital. But that’s it. When I was awake, I was fully paralyzed from the neck down. My wife came to visit me and she told me I smelled like urine because they didn’t give me a catheter nor did anyone help me to the bathroom. So, I just laid in bed and pissed myself over and over. I remember being so, so thirsty. When I fully woke up a few days later, I had very little feeling in my legs and was very wobbly when I walked. I couldn’t fully outstretch my arms without severe pain in my hands. When I was released, I asked about why no one helped me and they told me they don’t help any patients because they have too many people faking symptoms to get out of training. They sent me back to basic training where I slept for three days straight, only being woken to eat. When I woke up, after those three days, they gave me all my gear and sent me on a four mile forced march, during which I tripped 74 times (I counted and still remember) and fell down six times. Because I didn’t quit on that march, they kept me in training and I graduated with the same class I started, which is unheard of and completely insane. I couldn’t even finish the final fitness test, so they just pencil-whipped the record, all because I didn’t quit. It took me months to regain full feeling in my extremities.” — WhiteSquarez
“It wasn’t long, however, I was unconscious for 4 days in June. The first ‘memory’ I have waking up is that one of my aunts, and one of my uncles (neither of which were there in the ICU, they are married to other people and wouldn’t have ever been together) were wearing top hats and helping get me changed while trying to cheer me up and feed me. Then there’s was one point where I thought I was in hotel themed after one of the Super Mario Worlds. I have very vivid dreams of being there with the people I was with before I ended up unconscious. Only to wake up and realize I was in a hospital and was very, very confused how I got from the hotel (that didn’t exist) to the hospital. When I first woke up and regained consciousness, which I have no recollection, my cousin said that I looked at her, confused then smiled, while excitedly saying ‘HANS?!?!?’ No clue who Hans is. My cousin’s name is Kristin.” — hungryandneedtopee
“Not as long but I was in a medically induced coma when I was 7 for a major heart surgery. Back 1997 and they basically had to stop my heart to get it fixed. I was only 7yo and chances of me making it was 50-70%. I was fortunate enough to be a ‘demonstration’ subject for an Australian heart surgeon teaching my local doctors so everything was free. Only 10 of us were chosen and I remember some of my ward mates didn’t make it. I remember one family tried to sue the hospital for malpractice or something but never succeeded. Anyway I was told I was in a coma and didn’t “wake up” until 3 weeks later. Gave my family a lot of heart ache. I had to relearn walking and it was so bizarre knowing you should know this but your limps are not responding to your thoughts. It was frustrating and difficult. Relearning how to hold your utensils and particularly chopsticks. Aiming your spoon into the soup bowl and then missing your mouth when you tried to eat then making a mess. I was STILL being reprimanded for making a mess.(by the head nurse and my family) Gotta love the tough love SEA mentality. I was also made fun by my family for walking like a penguin. Love them but in retrospect it was so cruel of a joke and no one thought of refraining from such teasing on a young traumatized kid. My family have done a lot for me but I still wished they hadn’t made fun of my recovery journey.” — Arilysal
“I was in a drug induced coma for between 2 and 3 weeks. Don’t ask me how long, I can’t tell you. That was years ago and I still can’t make a timeline for it work. I was “awake” for a day or two and realized my vision was really fuzzy. I finally remembered that I wore glasses. I wasn’t able to put them on myself or take them off. Putting my hands to my face was completely exhausting. Rehab was horrible, but it worked well, 2 months to the day I’d gone in, I went home, using a walker and reliant on nearly every one else for every thing else. I could manage getting 8 feet to the toilet and that was about it. Rehab lasted about a year. It sucked! I have such admiration for people who have worse struggles than mine. The amount of pure grit it takes when your ‘only’ problem is muscle atrophy is miniscule when compared to folks with broken bones or missing muscle pieces. I figure they much have real gravel, not just grit!” — NotTheGreenestThumb
“I was in a coma for a short amount of time. I think I still had awake/sleep cycles. During what I’d describe as my ‘awake’ cycles I remember my grandmother talking to me. I have no clue what she was saying to this day, but I knew she was there. But ‘there’ wasn’t really ‘here’ in my world. Difficult to explain. Almost like dream-like. Either way, I knew I wasn’t alone. 8 years later my brother got into a coma and almost died. Just as she never left my side, she never left his either. I was there a lot as well. He also describes remembering that she was there, but also unable to remember what she was saying. But…we both knew we weren’t alone. I think it helps that we are both very close to this woman and we both have a very, very strong bond with her.” — FutureMDdropout
“I was in a coma for 3 days after a cardiac arrest (yes not the premise i know) and waking up is a lot different than people expect. It took 3-4 days before i started making memories again and the rehabilitation is a bitch. It wasn’t as bad for me as some people on here but still. Basic tasks took everything out of me for months, constant headaches, 0 stamina. After months i went to do groceries for the first time and after 10 seconds just walked out of the supermarket after insane sensory overload. It’s been 3 years now and I feel like I’m still getting better every month, i can do everything again but still have to think about when and where I spend my energy or suffer from headaches again.” — Xanziz92
“I was in an induced coma for a month, when I woke I had a tracheotomy in my throat so couldn’t speak. I was heavily sedated with a large open wound in my stomach for the next four months and had so much muscle wastage I couldn’t even turn over in bed, I had to be rolled over and propped every 3 hours by staff to stop pressure sores. Don’t even ask about the morphine hallucinations.” — JadedBrit
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