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Intensive Care

Not remembering what happened to you is very common

We know from other patients that their memory of Intensive Care can often be hazy or “jumbled”. It can be difficult to piece together what happened in the days and hours before being admitted and what happened while you were there. Some people remember only the end of their time in Intensive Care, while others remember almost nothing at all.

Some people are very glad not to remember very much, while for others, "not knowing" can be upsetting.It's entirely up to you whether or not you'd like to find out more about what happens in Intensive Care.Some people find that they are only ready to find out more in the weeks, months and sometimes years after they get home.

Having strange dreams or nightmares is very common

It's extremely common to have strange and sometimes very 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 Intensive Care 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 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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Web Link: Medical records: how to access them

Some people want to see their medical notes, so that they can make sense of their care or treatment, and why they needed it.This link will take you to the NHS Choices website. It gives you information on how to get permission to look at your medical notes (including the forms you will need to fill in and whether you might have to pay a small fee).

Article: Money issues

What if I can't pay the bills? It can be stressful enough, worrying about a family member in Intensive Care, without the added stress of worrying about money and how you're going to pay the bills. This is especially true if your loved usually dealt with money issues, if either of you are self employed or you need to take a lot of time off work in order to visit him or her or to look after children. Can I get access to his or her bank account? You may need access to...

Article: Monitors

Every bed in the ICU has a monitor that will display what we call the patient's “vital signs”. These include the heart rate and rhythm (or ECG), blood pressure, oxygen levels (or “saturation”), respiratory (or breathing) pattern and fluid status (CVP or “central venous pressure”).The nurses will keep a constant eye on the monitor and will carefully record the vital signs in the patient's charts.The monitor has in built alarms that will tell the...

Web Link: Muscle wasting in Intensive Care

This link will take you to the ICUSteps website and a to a short video by Dr Zudin Puthucheary on muscle wasting in Intensive Care patients.

Document: My epic journey: a poem by a former patient

This is a touching, insightful and inspiring poem written by Rose about her time in Intensive Care and beyond.She has very kindly given permission for us to include it here. My epic journey; a poem by Rose Fraser Edinburgh Time stood still 27 March 2013 At the Royal Infirmary Another world was dark Not knowing was sad Voices, voices repeated Time will test your desire How much do you want to live? Noises, echoes, echoes Ice-cream, Ice-cream Chocolate,...

Web Link: NHS Choices: what is Intensive Care?

This link will take you to the NHS Choices website, and their pages on Intensive Care.There is some easily understandable information on what Intensive Care is all about, and what to expect in terms of visiting, treatment and recovery.

Document: NHS Lothian Interpreting Services Information

This short document sets out NHS Lothian's policy on providing free help with language, translation and interpretation.Contact details are provided.

Article: Nutritional support

Why is nutrition so important in Intensive Care? Being very ill can increase the rate at which the body uses up energy, which means that patients can lose a lot of weight while they're in Intensive Care.Another common effect of very severe illness is muscle wasting,which can affect things like mobility and result in patients becoming tired very easily. Putting weight back on and regaining muscle can often take some time. It is therefore very important that patients are well fed...

Document: Physiotherapy and recovery from Intensive Care.pdf

This booket provides information about physiotherapy and exercise during and after a stay in Intensive Care.

Article: Physiotherapy in Intensive Care

What do physiotherapists do in Intensive Care? Physiotherapy has a very important role in the care and treatment of patients in Intensive Care. There are two main things that the physiotherapist can help with; breathing and exercises. Help with breathing Many patients in Intensive Care need help with their breathing, even if they're not connected to a ventilator or breathing machine. Patients who are not connected to a ventilator or breathing machine may struggle to...