Coma Part III – Human Side of Memories

One thing I haven’t talked about what was going on in my life at the time I went into my coma. We had just moved from Denver, Colorado, to about twenty miles east of Colorado Springs and we lived a 35-acre ranch on the sandy plains. There were only about four neighbors within a mile or so from where we lived. We had a 500′ long dog run for our puppies. Most of it was behind our house.

(Photo shows what the land was like on our ranch. I am playing with two of our four puppies).

When I got sick, Chris really didn’t have any people to support her on a daily basis.

One day after I was in my coma, a friend, Ana, came down from Denver to sit with me so that Chris could have a little time off.

In my coma, I knew Ana had visited me. I was aggravated that I could not see her. I was sitting in a classroom and she was directly behind me and I couldn’t turn around and talk to her. All I could do was reach my hand back and squeeze her hand.

Note from Chris: When I got back to the hospital, Ana was so excited because Cee had squeezed her hand. It was the first response we had from Cee in many, many days. It was be quite a few more days until we had any other indication that she was still with us.

I really had no sense of how long days or weeks were. All I remember is that in the upper left of my room there was a big display that showed the date. The blocks were big so you could see it at a glance.

At one point, I swear Chris had taken an eight day vacation. Why eight days, I have no clue. I remember “visiting” a friend of ours in Arizona, Tami. (I was still in my coma, not real life.) I would sit on her bed and I kept asking her why Chris took off on vacation. Tami kept reassuring me Chris was at my side everyday. All I remember is that I watched the number of days go by on those stupid blocks.

(Note from Chris: I actually heard about this from our friend. Tami called me in a panic because Cee had “shown up” in her room. It was like seeing a ghost. I asked Tami what she said to Cee. She was so startled by the whole experience that she just screamed at her, “You’re not supposed to be here. Go away!” Not very helpful. LOL)

(Tami saw Cee again the next night and was still pretty upset about these ghostly visits. After Cee had initially gone into a coma, the doctors gave her drugs to keep her in the coma. They said that her body had suffered enough damage that the coma was keeping her pain level down and giving her time to heal. After Cee started “traveling” I talked to a nurse who I thought would be understanding and accepting of these out-of-body experiences and asked her to discontinue the medication. The doctor agreed to do that, but it still took another week for the medication to clear her system and for her to start to regain consciousness.)

(About the eight day vacation… when Cee did wake up, that was all she could think about. She was so mad at me but couldn’t tell me why because her muscles had atrophied to the point she couldn’t talk and make herself understood. When I finally figured out what was making her so angry, I was dumbfounded. I dragged in the charge nurse and had her swear to Cee that I had been there the whole time. In fact, they had to kick me out everyday so they could clean her up and change her sheets. I never left her. The experience was so real to Cee that it took a while before she started to believe it and forgive me.)

(One thing I learned about was ICU psychosis. People who are in Intensive Care for extended periods of time start to suffer from sleep deprivation because the lights are always on and people come by at all hours to check vitals and draw blood, take x-rays, etc. So people like Cee don’t get any REM sleep and start to hallucinate. Cee turned into someone I had never known, swearing like a drunken sailor and getting angry very quickly, all of which was totally out of character for her. The staff explained ICU psychosis to me, and then worked with all of her doctors to bundle treatments together so Cee would have some uninterrupted sleep time. It was nice to have my wonderful partner back again after a few days of REM sleep.)

Did you know that hospitals wax their floors with big buffing machines? Well, in my mind I could hear the machines.

In my mind, I thought I was hearing a zamboni machine smoothing out ice on a hockey or skating rink. I swore it was every Thursday night at 10:00 pm. The worst part was all hospital employees went skating during this time, I was left alone. I really dreaded Thursday nights. (Note from Chris: yes, I really was there all those Thursday nights. Never saw the zamboni or the skating doctors and nurses.)

Remember my medical boat on my last post I wrote? There was one guy on it who was pretty cool. All I know he that he helped me breathe. He was about 55 years old with salt and pepper colored hair. His hair was long and pulled back into a ponytail. He was a real gentle person. After I woke up and could talk, I explained this guy to Chris and she said I described my respiratory therapist perfectly. Now keep in mind, I never saw him in my life, but yet I could identify him perfectly.

One of the last things that happened to me while I was in my coma, was that I got a staph infection. For real, not imagined. That is one thing Chris and the doctors did talk about in the room. All I know is I said to myself, “Yikes, you can die from a staph infection. I had better wake up.”

Other Coma posts.  Next time, I will share what it felt like waking up from my coma and my rehabilitation experiences in the hospital.

My Coma Experience, Part 1

Sitting Beside a Coma

Coma – Part II Memories

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