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All of us are so very different. A stay in ICU is life changing, it brings us all together with a commonality of experiences and is a new beginning as we will never be the same .

Back in the early eighties I contracted Rheumatoid Arthritis which swiftly brought me down, it effected all my joints within months with a level of pain that exceeded the scale, not  just at the time but constantly . Drugs (legal) and alcohol had little effect, it saw the start of multiple operations and the likely loss of my employment, Fortunately I was able to draw on an inner strength and was determined that it wouldn't beat me although I must admit it nearly did .

Moving on several decades in the late naughties I had angina, not a big thing really but I needed a couple of stents. I then had AV not just once but on a number of occasions each time finishing up in hospital for short stays including one re-start. Off on holiday to France ...AF ... Hospital stay (couldn't have wanted better treatment) there it was identified I had a dodgy aortic valve . Once back in the UK I eventually had a replacement valve (open heart surgery).  It was planned including a day in ICU.  I decided on a tissue valve knowing that after about 10 years it would need replacing but using key-hole surgery . I really resented the heart problems and couldn't understand why having suffered all these years with RA that I had heart issues.  I had my MOT's each year and in October '19 had the good news that all was well and that the valve was good to go for at another 2 years.

And now for the rest of my tale I have to rely on what I have been told.

NO memory and MY Reality.

I am told ......Towards the end of November I wasn't feeling too well and went and saw my GP, I was not so politely told off and an ambulance was called.  I was caught in the A&E queues, gradually moved down corridor to outside the Assessment Unit where I had a heart attack  I caught pneumonia and it was discovered that my valve was rapidly failing . After some days I was sent home! 3 days later my wife rings for an ambulance - pneumonia & sepsis - swiftly into A&E and then coronary care. I was eventually transferred to the Birmingham QE, I was quite poorly and too ill to be operated on and moved into ICU. Just before Christmas my valve was replaced but they had to use open heart surgery again . It was touch and go in fact twice said not likely to survive . I was in a coma, had a trachy, drains, wires and tubes in fact the only orifice left untouched was my ears . I stayed in the coma until February. Despite attempts I wouldn't be weened off. During this time my family and wife visited every day. I have no idea of the trauma they went through. Why no memory? Forgetting the time in ICU I have no memory from about the beginning of October (3 months). I have been prompted about some things but really can only remember may be 2. The most distressing was not remembering any visitors during the early days before ICU . Once sedated and in ICU I then lived in MY OWN REALITY let  no-one tell me otherwise. I know exactly how I got to hospital, on a long boat, my body was cut up into several parts so that it was easier to work on.  I lived in different centuries and forcibly usurped foreign governments. I could go on. I had problems with the clock in my room and it transferred its powers to the toaster at home. I transferred out of the QE on 11th March 2000, the 12th was my 71st birthday and on 13th I was discharged into lock down. OT were quickly on the scene and provided material support - other than that I fell into the Covid void .

In June I found CC-SN then ICUstepsChester. They were a life saver, the mental and physical support was incredible. Privately I was supported by a CBT counsellor which helped me understand the issues I had about losing my memory and helped me develop strategies to deal with the hallucinations and delirium.

MY Reality has not been forgotten I know every part of it and can retell each episode in detail and without emotion - after all, it happened! The downside is that it is hard to work out what are real memories and what are not.  In my case ICU is not the end of it ..... I have now pulmonary fibrosis and sleep apnea  BUT that is 2 years on.

On the positive side we are a stronger family unit, my sense of humour is evil and my brain doesn't control my mouth . Thanks goodness I don't work any more, PC is out of the window and do you know what I don't care!

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