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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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External Article: What is Intensive Care?

This link will take you to NHS Inform's section on Intensive Care.It provides a general summary of what Intensive Care Units are, what we do, easy to understand explanations of the equipment, and common issues after Intensive Care.

Document: What to do after a death in Scotland

Sadly, not everyone survives Intensive Care. We are very sorry for your loss.This booklet from the Scottish Government gives advice on what to do after a bereavement. It includes things like how to register a death,how to arrange a funeral,legal and money issues, and where to get emotional support.

Article: Why can’t I remember what happened to me?

Why can't I remember what happened? There are a number of reasons why this happens; the sedative drugs we use to keep patients sleepy and comfortable whilst on the ventilator or breathing machine (sedation), how very ill you were or the type of illness you had. It can take a while to clear sedative drugs from the system, especially if you needed large amounts or if you received them for more than a few days. Patients who develop kidney problems can sometimes take longer to...

Article: Why did I have strange dreams and nightmares?

It’s very common for patients to have strange memories, dreams or hallucinations which can seem incredibly real and can be remembered in sometimes great detail for some time afterwards. We’re not entirely sure why this happens, but medical reasons include a combination of things like the sedative drugs used to keep you sleepy and comfortable, the severity of illness, any infection you may have had and disturbances in sleep pattern. Patients themselves often have their...

Article: Withdrawing care

Sadly, not all patients survive their time in Intensive Care.Sometimes, very difficult decisions have to be made about whether or not we can or should continue providing Intensive Care treatment.