February 27, 2020 | Maria Cruz

People Share What Happened When They Woke From A Coma


Experiencing an awful accident is upsetting enough. But, experiencing one bad enough to knock you into a coma only amps up the fear. From having to re-learn basic muscle movement to forgetting how to read, these people share what happened when they finally came to.

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#1 Baby Boy

I was in a coma for four days. When I woke up, everyone was talking about the baby boy I had. I had lost my long term memory and didn't even remember being pregnant. My son was at the children's hospital in the NICU. I delivered him via C-section at 29 weeks. All this was due to me having Crohn's disease, (I found out after I woke up). 

Something had ruptured during my pregnancy. My husband said I was talking like a child when I first woke up. When I woke, I felt super tired, but then the next few days, kind of restless. I remembered one conversation my mom had with a nurse while I was under. After a couple of days, I got my long term memory back and remembered everything up until my second surgery, then nothing until I woke up. My son was my third surgery.

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#2 Remembering Choctaw

Back in the '90s, my great grandfather had a stroke. He was in a coma for three weeks, and when he woke up, he couldn’t speak English. All he could speak was the Choctaw language. He had learned it when he was a kid because his family lived right near a Choctaw reserve. He played with a lot of those kids. 

He spoke it fluently at that time, but forgot it over his life to where he couldn't remember any of it. This went on for around 10 days. Then, he woke up from a night's sleep and could suddenly speak only English again, not remembering a word of Choctaw. He was also able to repeat verbatim every conversation that had been held in the room that he was in.

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#3 Inhale, Exhale

I was in a coma for nine days. When I woke up, I was still on a ventilator. When they took me off the ventilator, my body didn't remember to breathe on its own. I literally had to relearn how to breathe. It took me a few days. I had no natural sense for how long or deeply to inhale, how long to hold it, how long to exhale. I had to put all my mental focus towards breathing. It was really weird.

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#4 Re-Learning Muscles

My mom was in an induced coma for three months. When she woke up, she thought the hospital was trying to hurt her. She tried to get out of bed and she fell on the floor because she couldn’t walk. She was mostly freaked out about how her feet had lost their form. They were humped over from not being used. Every muscle she had to learn again. She couldn’t talk well or write at all either. She has different handwriting after re-learning.

She also said she hated how perfect her hands looked. Her nails and cuticles were perfect and clean from not being used. I remember trying to brush her hair after she woke up. Almost all of it fell out. She almost passed pretty much every day she was in her coma. A lot of her hair has grown back and she can walk, but has brain damage that makes her seem very out of it. She’s always dizzy. But, it’s been five years now and her recovery has been miraculous.

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#5 Skipping Ahead

A good friend of our family went into a coma for half a year. When he finally woke up, he was stunned that his wife looked so old. He actually lost the last 15 years of his memory. He knew he had two children, but they were babies and he didn't even know about his third child. Worse, the memory never came back.

He skipped from having no mobile phones all the way to smartphones and then to laptops. Everything was new to him. Being stuck in the early ‘90s but actually being in the 2000s, there was a lot of change to handle. But, learning that he had missed all of his children growing up was the hardest challenge for him.

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#6 Washington, DC

My wife was in a medically-induced coma for two weeks. When she woke up, she had very wrong memories. They were all based on conversations people had while in the room with her. For example, she thought they flew her to Washington DC for treatment. While she was in a coma, my father-in-law mentioned how he just flew back into town from DC on a work trip. Somehow, she overheard this while out and her brain interpreted it to mean she flew to DC. Even after we explained to her the reality of where she was, it took days for her to come to terms with reality.

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#7 Found Them

My stepdad was in a coma for about three weeks. When he woke up, he couldn't find his teeth. We looked for a week, but completely forgot where we put them. Then he completely dropped at the bathroom sink in the hospital. It came out of nowhere. They revived him. They couldn't figure out why, but he could barely breathe. Then the hospital sat us down and showed us the X-rays… with his dentures in his body. They forgot to take them out when they put the tubes in his mouth, blocking his air pipes. So yeah, we found them.

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#8 Notepad and Pen

I was in a coma for four days due to complications from bacterial meningitis. When I woke up, I was actually completely deaf! I had to communicate with my parents and all of the doctors with a notepad and pen. Some of my hearing gradually returned in my left ear, but the right ear is still 100% deaf to this day.

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#9 Lost Memories

My wife was in a medically-induced coma for four days. She had a reaction to contrast dye and her heart stopped for 20 minutes. For nearly three months, she was confabulating about her long-gone parents. She would speak about them like they were in the next room. Or she would say her daughter or brother called... but they hadn't. Over and over, she thought her mom was alive, then her dad. 

It drove me crazy having to (gently) correct her many times per day. She would come up with amazing tales about what people (relatives, friends, neighbors) were doing, what they said. It was truly creative fiction. Three months later, she began to come back. The confabulations stopped. Now, things are reversed. She can remember recent events but her long-term memories are gone. I don't know what that's like, but it must be awful. She cries sometimes for her lost memories but overall she is doing very well.

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#10 Remember That Time…? 

About 20 years ago, my cousin had a severe head injury from a fall. He was about 20 at the time and was in a coma for almost four weeks. When he woke up, he fairly quickly discovered that his memory was eidetic. He could repeat entire conversations back word for word and even tell you the date and time of you said something. Also, he could memorize images with just a few seconds’ glance. His memory is still eidetic today. It's super annoying. Whenever he reminds me of something I said in the past, usually something I can't even remember, I suggest that we hit him in the head again.

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#11 Mushy, Runny Time

DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) sent me into a coma. I have vague memories of being sick beforehand but my overall sense of time was just mush. Even years later, I can't establish a correct timeline. I only have flashes of memories of different doctors coming in and out of the room. Once I was out of the coma, I was still pretty out of it. When you're on an insulin drip, they check your sugar every hour. I could never actually sleep, but I felt asleep the whole time? It's a hard feeling to describe — just mushy, runny time.

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#12 Up the Stairs

I was in a coma for close to six weeks. When I woke, I had to learn everything again. I had most of my speech abilities, but my motor control was horrid. I had to figure out how to wipe myself as well as walk up and down stairs again. That took about three weeks. I had lost a ton of weight too. I was 6'3" and weighed about 145.

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#13 Excited Kid

My cousin was in a coma because of a motorcycling accident. When he woke up, it was like he was transported back to his younger days. He acted and talked like a kid. He’s better now after about seven years, though there’s still something off with the way he speaks. He stutters and talks fast, like how children do when they’re excited. He has gotten talkative, too. So, what surprised him when he woke up is the fact that he had a daughter of his own.

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#14 Coming to Terms

I was in a medically-induced coma for approximately a week due to sepsis. When I was in, I thought I was a bird, with my wings outstretched, that was slowly freezing to the ground. When I woke up, I thought a bunch of stuff. I was in Taos but it looked like Raton. I also thought I was 10 years younger. I thought I had gotten into a wreck and that my fiancè at the time was an ex-boyfriend. 

I also thought my fiancè had found me on the side of I-25 and had taken me to a veterinary hospital. It was all really weird and it took another month and a half for me to understand what happened. I was in and out of surgery and even passed away a couple times in that time. Once, they were changing out my wound vac and I looked down and saw inside of me. Then, things started making a little more sense.

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#15 New Personality

I spent about two days in a coma and almost lost my life. While obviously nothing changed in two days society wise, my personality changed heavily. I don't consider myself the same person as before the coma. I feel like that side of me passed and different parts of my brain took over, creating a new personality in control.

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#16 Did You Forget?

My nephew (14) was in a medically-induced coma for over three months. During that time, he had lost about 30% of his body weight as his muscles atrophied. His first remark upon seeing himself for the first time was, "Did you forget to feed me?" That was incredibly hard to hear since his family had sat crying at his bedside every moment he was unconscious.

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#17 Two Days Gone

I was in a hypoglycemic coma for two days. I woke up utterly confused at the time and day. I didn't know if it was morning, evening, or what day of the week it was. I couldn't believe where and what time it was. I was also very agitated. I had vague memories of what happened before it all went black, but they were very confusing and erratic ones. 

I turned on my computer to check the date and time. I realized I'd missed an exam and that a whole two days had passed without my knowledge. I freaked out about that. I frantically charged my phone to check for messages. My absence mostly went unnoticed and I felt extremely lucky... then relieved. Then sad and started bawling uncontrollably.

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#18 Filling in the Blanks

I very recently went into a three-day coma following an injury I had. I have very specific memories of watching How to Train Your Dragon during that time. I don’t know what happened exactly, but my guess is that it was playing on the television in my room and my mind filled in the blanks when I was out of it.

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#19 Don’t Do This

I was in a coma for three months, but the time really messed me up since it crossed the new year. So, it felt much longer than it was. I was also really groggy and had leg surgery. However, I totally thought it was amputated, so my first response was to freak out and start ripping everything out. Do not do this.

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#20 Learning to Read

I wasn't really in a coma, but I remember when I woke up from having my appendix removed. When I woke up, I couldn't read. I was 13 at the time and I loved to read books, so I wasn't illiterate or anything. I could see fine too, I just wasn't able to read. It only lasted for a few minutes, but it was very weird.

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#21 Twin Towers

I was in a coma for 16 weeks back when I was in New York. I woke up and two hours later looked out my hospital window. (It was October 16, 2001.) I looked to where the Twin Towers were supposed to be. Imagine my surprise when all I saw was crews of people cleaning up rubble. I was only seven years old at the time.

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#22 Stan Lee

I was once in a coma for 15 days during November 2018. Do you know those jokes about a person waking up from a coma and hearing something critical changed or that someone had passed away? Well, Stan Lee passed away while I was comatose and I saw it on the news when I was recovering. It made me pretty sad to see.

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#23 A Big Nothing

I was in a coma for nine days. I was probably most surprised by how I had to relearn how to use the washroom and swallow. Also, I was surprised that if I never woke up, I’d have just never known. No light, no dreams, just a big nothing that I’d never be aware of if I hadn’t woken up. I don’t know what I was expecting. I’m not particularly religious or anything, it’s just weird.

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#24 Invisible Injuries

I was in a coma for one day and don't remember anything from the day before to two weeks after the fact. There were a lot of surprises, though. I was in a hospital one state over from where I lived. But, I couldn't remember where I lived in my home state. I thought I was still in college after having graduated two years earlier. 

Another change was not only being in a wheelchair, but having to be strapped down into my bed at night. My memory was also complete garbage. I had double vision due to a cranial nerve palsy, so that was surprising. The whole thing sucked, and I was ready to leave the hospital. It was also surprising how much harder life was outside of the brain injury hospital when I was doing so well in the hospital compared to the other patients in that ward. It surprised me how impatient people are with people who have invisible injuries.

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#25 Missing Tragedies

The space shuttle Columbia exploded while I was in a seven-day medically-induced coma. I watched the memorial service when I woke up. It actually took a while for me to realize I had no idea what happened. Similar experience with the tragedy during Boston’s marathon. I was having my right hip replaced while it happened. Balloon Boy also happened while I was having surgery on my broken right hip. Sandy Hook took place while I was having my left hip replaced.

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#26 Screaming Patient

I was in a coma for almost two weeks. The thing that surprised me was the personality change. I went from a meek sweetheart (per my husband) to a total raging witch. It lasted a couple of weeks while in the hospital. If you’ve ever been in a hospital where there’s always one patient screaming at the top of their lungs, that was me.  I yelled at everyone nearly. One nurse actually threatened me because I was just that bad to him. 

Secondly, I was surprised how quickly your body actually deteriorates while you’re bed-bound. I went from relatively strong to not being able to sit on the edge of a bed without someone holding me up. I was like a sack of potatoes. Not to mention I had bed sores. I had no idea that they could happen that fast.

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#27 Where Are You Going?

A friend of mine during childhood was in a coma for three months. The doctors were not optimistic and he flatlined several times. His family had a rotation where someone was always with him night and day. One day, they were getting up to go to dinner and halfway out the door he said, "Hey, where are you going?" The entire room froze. His entire family burst into tears. The nurses came in and also burst into tears. Then a doctor came in and he burst into tears. Everyone was crying. He had a full recovery and is doing great to this day.

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#28 Week-Long Nap

I was in a coma for a week. When I woke up, I couldn't believe that I slept for a week and it bothered me that I couldn't remember anything about that week. I kept checking the date online, on my cell phone and an actual calendar. I couldn't get over the fact that I was asleep for a whole week. I got the feeling that I “passed away” for seven days and was fortunate to wake up. My son worried that I might have lost some mental functions and insisted that I take an online IQ test to see if I “lost” anything. I didn't.

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#29 Making it Official

I was in a coma after being hit by a car. When I woke up, the man I was seeing decided he would have been way too sad if I passed away, so he was my boyfriend from then on. He also still is! We talked about making it official beforehand but decided that because his status in the country was uncertain we'd leave it open and see how it went.

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#30 A Lot Can Change

I was once in a coma for a total of four months. During that time, my father took up an addiction and had succumbed to it entirely. So, my parents split up. Also, my grandma had a small heart attack and couldn't walk anymore. On top of it all, I had parts of my intestine cut out and an ileostomy. Quite the time!

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#31 Baseball Game

I was pitching in a baseball game. Their heavy hitter came up, but I knew he couldn't hit my fastball. The first one zinged by him, the second he ripped. He said he thought he'd ended my life. He said I finished my pitch, went into a fielding stance and the ball went off my forehead. I was told I dropped like a burlap sack. 

I was taken to the hospital and for 131 hours, I was out. I don't remember anything after hearing the crack of the bat. I woke up slowly, but when I was fully awake, I had a slight headache. There was no brain damage and some stiff muscles. The guy who hit the ball was grateful I hadn't lost my life. I was somewhat pleased as well.

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#32 Nowhere to Go

My friend had a bad car accident on his way home. He ended up in a coma for a few years. He woke up from the coma on the anniversary of the accident. Apparently, he remembers everything up to before the accident. Unfortunately, his wife was then married to one of his caretakers and he had nowhere to go home to. He’s never been the same.

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#33 My Fish and Chips

When I was about 14, I fell off a roof and landed on my head. I woke up in the hospital a few days later and couldn't speak at all. All I could do was mumbling noises like a baby. The only thing I could say, which I said a lot, was "Where are my fish and chips?" Turned out, I'd had the accident while my mom had gone out to pick us up some fish and chips for dinner. I didn't know who anyone was but hadn't forgotten how to play Playstation… 

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#34 Growing Up

When my mom came out of her coma, she acted like a child and basically grew up again over the course of the first two days. It was freaky! We had to keep reminding her who she was, where she was, and what happened to her. Also, she refused to believe her legs were broken. She had internal fixtures, not casts, so she kept trying to get out of bed. It took her about two weeks to be fully aware and functioning again, but her personality was forever altered by the trauma to her brain.

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#35 In Control Again

I was in a coma for a week. I was surprised by how hard emotional regulation is after a good long break from having to do it. I was okay when I started to come out of a coma, but then I'd feel tired or uncomfortable. I would then just start bawling without really understanding why. It took me a few days to feel in control of myself again.

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#36 Call From Mom

My mother was in a medically-induced coma for five months. When she was finally stable, they woke her up and she had lost a lot of her memory. I’m the youngest of three; I’m 23, my brother is 41 and my sister is 39. She couldn't remember me, but she did remember my brother, sister and my dad. She actually thought I was a long lost son of my dad's because I look so much like him. 

When we tried to explain to her that I was her son, she was confused and actually panicked a little. But, then when I went home after being awake for nearly 50 hours, I got a phone call from the hospital just as I was about to go to bed. It was my mom. She remembered me and was crying hysterically that she'd forgotten about me. So, I went back to the hospital and she hugged me and told me how sorry she was. I told her that it wasn't her fault. We both cried our eyes out. She's doing very well now and we're closer than ever.

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#37 Life-Saving Stranger

I woke up in a hospital not knowing what happened to me. I ended up crashing a motorcycle into a jersey barrier and had internal injuries and broken bones. I was lucky to be alive. Luckily, someone saw me flying through the air when it happened late at night and they called 911. Whew. I still don't know who that stranger was who saved my life.

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#38 “Mother’s Instinct”

My parents and I were in a pretty bad car accident when I was a baby. My mom was in a coma for about two weeks, in a separate hospital from my dad. I was at a children's hospital. When my mom woke up, her only concern was me. She remembered the accident very clearly, including what she was wearing, what lane we were in, and that the car coming at us was blue.

She kept asking about me, but she didn't ever ask how my dad was doing. She remembered the accident but she didn't remember that my dad was also in the car or that she even had a husband. She got really confused when the doctors tried to update her on his condition.  She eventually remembered after several days. The doctors explained it as a "mother's instinct." Her brain was so concerned for her child that she couldn't think about anyone else. She doesn't remember now that she didn't remember him. 

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#39 Scottish Accent

A guy I dated for a few weeks in high school was standing at a bus stop once when I was driving. I waved at him, he just looked totally bewildered. So, I messaged him on Facebook to be nice. It turned out that he had no idea who I was because he’d been in an accident. He was in a coma for nearly half a year. 

He somehow woke up with a Scottish accent and had to relearn to walk. His family finally figured out that the Scottish accent was because his ultra Scottish grandma was with him a lot as a baby. I guess that’s what his brain latched onto. He’s now a happy ren-fair performer who used to be a very troubled guy headed for military service. I guess he’s happier, but it really makes you wonder who he would have become. 

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#40 Passing Slowly and Quickly

I was in a coma for almost two weeks after I had several surgeries. Waking up was...interesting. When I woke up, I sat up and started choking. I still had the tube in my throat. So, I ripped it out. I had red running all down my chin. Then some nurse came in and started screaming. So, that was my welcome back.

Apparently, during the time I was out, I was able to respond by drawing? At any rate, during that time, the surgeon that messed up the initial surgery had filed for retirement, my sister was separating from her husband, my little sister had a boyfriend, and my brother had gotten an award at his sales job. In such a short span of time, so many things had happened. Yet, it seemed like it passed slowly and quickly at the same time. It's a weird feeling.

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#41 Cousin’s Crash

It was 2013 when my cousin was in a car with three friends. They were all around 19-20 years old. He was in the backseat with a girl and two boys were in the front. Early in the morning, a truck hit them from the left on an intersection. My cousin lost consciousness but woke up a few times while stuck in the car. 

He was in an induced coma for eight weeks so he could recover. When he woke up, he was assuming that it was only a short time after the accident. He could only whisper because the breathing and food tubes messed up his throat. He kept asking for the girl that sat next to him in the car. He knew that she was gone because he saw when he woke up for a moment in the car. But then he got the confirmation. Also, the boy driving had passed as well. The boy in the passenger seat walked away unhurt.

This experience obviously hurt him a lot and he got very messed up. He was depressed and I think he had PTSD, but he wouldn't talk to anyone about it so it wasn't diagnosed. He was never as happy like he used to be. He did, however, become very motivated and obsessed with work and making money. He started a business and did extremely well. Earlier this year, he sold his business, which made him a millionaire at 25 years old. But he didn’t care.

The only thing he cared about was that girl who was his best friend since they were young. They were always in love and strangely obsessed with each other, but they were never an actual couple. When she got back from college, it finally looked like they were starting their long-awaited relationship. But, it didn't work out. At that point, he lost all hope. In his mind, all he had left were his PTSD symptoms and he had to live with the guilt. 

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#42 Senseless With Panic

I was in a medically-induced coma for a week when I was younger. I remember waking up and being almost senseless with panic. I don't really remember anything about being in a coma as such, but I had obviously somehow convinced myself that I was a goner. It apparently took three days and a lot of confused crying because I was convinced that I was alive and not some ghost that people could see. It also took quite a bit of therapy after that to stop having nightmares.

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#43 I Know Childbirth

I was in a coma for three days while eight and a half months pregnant. I remember nothing. When I woke up, it was like nothing had happened, except for catching up on the news. I heard nothing, recall nothing. All I know is that people around me were terrified. I almost wish I'd felt or heard something more because looking back, the nothingness is frightening.

My brain, my outlook, my memories....nothing changed. While I was still in the hospital, my baby decided to be born. He was five weeks early and none of the nurses believed I was actually giving birth. They all just thought I was still just some woozy lady just out of a coma. Nope, after three kids, I knew what giving birth felt like. He was born six minutes after my water broke.

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#44 Car Accident

Back in the early 2000s, I woke up from a two-day coma. I found out I was in a really bad car accident where the driver (a childhood friend) passed away. I remember most of the day but don't remember stepping into his car or anything after that. The paramedic who visited me said if he hadn't gotten there any sooner, I wouldn't have made it. I was on heavy medication for one week and everything seemed like a blur. Strangely enough, there was a passenger in the back seat with no seatbelt on and all he had was a few bruises and a sprained ankle.

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#45 Fear of Sleeping

I was in a coma for seven weeks. When I woke up, the first thing I remember was the gagging feeling of them taking out my ventilation. I had no idea how much time had passed and actually cried when I found out. I also remember staying awake for 48 hours after waking up because I had an extreme fear of sleeping. 

I also couldn’t remember how to breathe. I would panic regularly. I had injured my leg prior to being in a coma and for me having to entirely relearn how to walk was the biggest surprise. Additionally, given the length of time I was in a coma, I woke up to a layer of fine baby hair all over my body because I had lost so much weight despite the feeding tube.

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#46 Frequent Hallucinations 

I was in a coma for just two days. But when I woke up, I couldn’t see and struggled to breathe for about 10 minutes. I was 16 at the time and really began to panic. I remember holding my mom's hand really hard, trying to hear her. When I came to my senses, I hallucinated a lot due to the medicine I was on. I still don’t remember passing out but I remember the day before clearly.

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#47 Good With the Bad

I was in an induced coma for two weeks due to a surgery gone wrong. I had a hard time realizing those dreams for the past few weeks weren't real. Those dreams were scary as well. I saw a lot of graphic, terrifying things. Some dreams weren't scary, though. I dreamt about going back and forth on a train to my grandparents’ house, seeing the kids and wife, and various activities with family members. I had good dreams of those who talked to me in the coma, but bad dreams of those who didn't.

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#48 Mom's Plea

I went into a coma for a few days because of bacterial meningitis. I woke up to my mother pleading with the doctor to pull the plug. I was severely paralyzed from the neck down, so for six months I couldn't do anything. Moving me would make me black out from pain. 13 years later, I'm able to walk with crutches and talk without a trachea. But, I have not seen or talked to my mother since. That was the last straw for me. I mean, there were plenty of other people in the room and I feel horrible for them seeing that mess.

My family isn't the best "family,” but waking up to her arguing with the doctor and my father to pull the plug changed me. She was saying it was inhumane to do that to me. All the while, friends and family were there, I guess mourning the situation. I mean, I know I was considered a goner, but I'm doing so much better now. No machines, tech, or serious meds either. But she wanted to turn off the ventilator, less than a week into a coma. 

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#49 Youth Church

I was in an induced coma for a week. Upon waking up, I remembered bits and pieces of that time but, they were all wrong. I remembered things like nurses were missionaries and the ventilator was a man in an iron lung. After waking up, I thought I was being held against my will in a youth church. It took four days for the hallucinations to subside.

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#50 Student Nurse

I was in a car crash that had me out for about five days. I woke up screaming in pain and scared the daylights out of the nurses in the room. You see, there was a nursing class doing clinicals and they were doing catheter removals and putting clean ones back in. The student nurse did not deflate the balloon before pulling rather hard on the catheter. I’m glad I finally woke up, but had a rather sore piece to go along with my other issues.

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