Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What It's Like To Be In a Coma

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The last thing I remember is going to bed that night.

I was six years old and had been having an asthma flareup for the last week or so.  But what happened after I went to sleep was completely unexpected.

What It's Like To Be In a Coma

This next part is what I've been told.  I don't remember it at all even though I was conscious for part of it.  I found out later that young children sometimes block traumatic memories out which is what happened to me.

My parents heard me coughing in my sleep, which meant I was having an asthma attack, something that happened fairly frequently.  As usual, they got up and gave me my inhaler, but as my dad was holding me, I went limp in his arms and turned blue.

My mom ran to call 911, and my dad started CPR.  Right before I went unconscious, I looked up at him and begged, "help me."  Being a parent now myself, I can imagine how awful that must have made him feel.

When the EMTs arrived, they ran up the stairs to my room and stopped dead in their tracks, taking in the scene.  They quickly realized that they were out of their depth and called for the medical helicopter to airlift me to the nearest hospital which was 30 miles away.  The ambulance raced me to the middle school football field on the other side of town where the helicopter landed.

I was intubated in the helicopter and, once we arrived at the hospital, the doctors put me into a medically induced coma to give me a chance to recover from the near fatal asthma attack.

Here's where my memory kicks in.  It's a little fuzzy, kind of like being in a dream, but I definitely remember things from when I was in the coma.

Want to know what it's like to be in a coma? Find out in this firsthand account!

I heard lots of different voices, most of which I didn't recognize.  Those must have been the doctors and nurses.  Sometimes, I would hear my mom and dad's voices too, and they made me feel safe and secure.  I remember feeling calmer whenever my parents would talk, especially when they were talking to me.

The doctors told my parents that I could hear things while I was in the coma so they bought me a lullaby album by Michael Card called Sleep Sound In Jesus and played it repeatedly in my hospital room.  When I woke up from the coma five days later, I had the tape memorized.

Sleep Sound in Jesus lullaby cd by Michael Card

I remember waking up from my coma.  I opened my eyes and was confronted with strange surroundings.  Scared, I tried to talk, but couldn't since I was still intubated.  My mom was sitting by my bed, and she quickly assured me that I was okay and explained why I couldn't talk.  After my breathing tube was removed, my throat felt sore and scratchy for a while.

Kids are resilient.  An adult would've taken some time to recover, but I bounced back pretty quickly.  I spent the next two days at the hospital before being discharged.  Because I was so weak, my dad came up with a game to encourage me to work at getting my strength back.  He would hold out his hand and ask me how strong I was.  I would squeeze his thumb as hard as I could with both hands, and he would pretend that he couldn't feel it so I would squeeze harder.

When I got home, I drew a picture for the ambulance crew to thank them for coming to help me.  They framed it and it still hangs on a wall in the firehall today.  The ambulance chief stopped by our house at Christmas and gave me a book from the whole crew with a very sweet note written in the front, wishing me well. 
Want to know what it's like to be in a coma? Find out in this firsthand account!

I listened to my new lullaby tape all the time after I went home from the hospital.  The cassette eventually wore out and was replaced with a CD.  Even today, when I hear it (yes, I'm 31 years old, and I still listen to a children's lullaby album!), it has a calming effect on me.

When my son Davy was hospitalized for nine days at the age of two months old, I spent hours rocking him in the hard, creaky hospital rocking chair or walking with him the six steps across the tiny room and back while singing him songs from Sleep Sound in Jesus.  My favorite was "All You Are" because it seemed like it was written specifically for my precious little boy, and I sang that one the most.  Today, when I sing it to him, he relaxes in my arms to listen.

All You Are
(by Michael Card - based on a poem by George MacDonald) 

Where did you get those eyes so blue?
They're from the sky that you passed through.
Where did you get that little tear?
Did you find that it was waiting for you here?
And what about your little nose?
He knew you'd need it for the rose.
And as for your soft curly ear,
He knew there would be songs for you to hear.
For all you are and all you'll be,
For everything you mean to me,
Though I don't understand,
I know you're from the Father's hand.
How can it be that you are you?
He thought you up and so you grew.
Because you're mine, it must be true
That He was also thinking of me too.
For all you are, and all you'll be,
For everything you mean to me,
Though I don't understand,
I know you're from the Father's hand.

Over the years, I've had many more severe asthma attacks, several of which resulted in more helicopter rides, but none as bad as that first one when I was six.

I know my experience with being in a coma isn't the same as what everyone else's will be, but I do know that most people who are in a coma can hear what's going on around them.

Have you or someone you know someone who has been in a coma?  I'd love to hear others' experiences as well!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Just wow, Hannah. You are truly strong and resilient. Hats off!


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