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There are many experiences in this life that people are curious about – but also that we really, really hope we never have to experience ourselves.

Like being in a coma.

If you’re curious about what it’s like to wake up after a good amount of time to find out the world has moved on without you, these survivors are giving up the goods.

1. Not a happy ending.

Had a friend who was in a coma for 8 months, after he woke up he had to relearn everything.

Family and school pressured him and he ended up hanging himself in his room 2 months later.

2. Things come back slowly.

Not a coma, so I feel awkward commenting. But I got such a bad knock out and concussion that my memory basically reset by a few years. At the time I was working as a research scientist but when I came to I thought I was still working as a semi-professional musician. My memory came back pretty quickly but not all of it and not all at once.

When I came to I also thought I was still with an ex boyfriend. I remembered him but thought we were still together and because what happened to me I was not in my home state and was in his state, I reached out to him. Despite a rough breakup years earlier he was incredibly kind and patient and understanding.

Over the next few weeks I had friends calling me who heard what happened. It was very weird. Some I didn’t remember. Others it felt like I knew them but I had no real idea or context as to her they were.

My memory came back a lot over a few months. I ended up attending a conference months and months later – basically during the first few weeks a good friend said on the phone “so you were supposed to go to Canada for a conference in a few months time…” I decided to still go, and that friend and others were there with me. I spent a lot of the conference with my friend/colleague telling me who I apparently knew and how. It was extremely weird. I was also registered to give two presentations on my research. I pulled out of one but managed to muddle through the other after lots of revision and some help preparing.

Mostly everything is back. But occasionally things still come up that I just don’t recall at all or I need a lot of clues and context for the memories to come back, this includes events, people, and just day to day things. I still sometimes get a weird disconnect between what I woke up thinking my life/what year it was. Including, consistently forgetting my real age but a few years, and occasionally having a weird disconnect between what I think I should be doing with work and other things. Thankfully things are pretty normal now aside from very occasionally just not remembering random things or people – a bit more than just the normal human brain mishap but not enough for it to be an issue 99% of the time.

3. To be fair, the world changed a lot.

My mom was intubated on, like March 11th, 2020 with covid. When she pulled through and woke up (thank god), it was April 1st. The first thing she saw was a woman in a bee keeping outfit asking her what year it was.

She was so confused, when she went into the hospital, there was no PPE gear, so when she woke up she thought this lady had a bee keepers outfit! She then decided she wanted to be married to my dad again (they got divorced 6 years before after 38 years of marriage).

She called him and said, “fly over here, let’s work it out!” He was like “you don’t understand, no one can fly. All planes are grounded”. She was like “what?! That’s ridiculous. There must be a way…”.

She had no concept and missed how the world completely shut down in a few short weeks.

4. Recovery is a journey.

Not as long but I was in a medically induced coma when I was 7 for a major heart surgery. Back 1997 and they basically had to stop my heart to get it fixed. I was only 7yo and chances of me making it was 50-70%. I was fortunate enough to be a “demonstration” subject for an Australian heart surgeon teaching my local doctors so everything was free. Only 10 of us were chosen and I remember some of my ward mates didn’t make it. I remember one family tried to sue the hospital for malpractice or something but never succeeded.

Anyway I was told I was in a coma and didn’t “wake up” until 3 weeks later. Gave my family a lot of heart ache. I had to relearn walking and it was so bizarre knowing you should know this but your limps are not responding to your thoughts. It was frustrating and difficult. Relearning how to hold your utensils and particularly chopsticks. Aiming your spoon into the soup bowl and then missing your mouth when you tried to eat then making a mess. I was STILL being reprimanded for making a mess.(by the head nurse and my family) Gotta love the tough love SEA mentality.

I was also made fun by my family for walking like a penguin. Love them but in retrospect it was so cruel of a joke and no one thought of refraining from such teasing on a young traumatized kid. My family have done a lot for me but I still wished they hadn’t made fun of my recovery journey.

5. Confusing and strange.

Not me but my grandfather woke up from a coma a few months ago, he was in a come for 13 months. He had a brain tumor and he had to do a surgery to remove it.

The surgery was a success, but apparently one of the surgeons damaged his brain accidentally and because of that he was in a coma for 13 months. When he woke up he could barely speak and he had to make a recovery at the hospital, after 2 or 3 months of recovery he looked a lot better, but unfortunately for our family he was a completely different person when he started to speak more clearly which was very sad.

But when his memories came back he was acting like before the coma, which made everyone in our family very happy again. I asked him a few weeks how was the experience, he said it was confusing and strange but at the end it wad all good because everything is back to normal

6. Even basic tasks are hard.

I was in a coma for 3 days after a cardiac arrest (yes not the premise i know) and waking up is alot different than people expect. It took 3-4 days before i started making memories again and the rehabilitation is a bitch. It wasn’t as bad for me as some people on here but still.

Basic tasks took everything out of me for months, constant headaches, 0 stamina. After months i went to do groceries for the first time and after 10 seconds just walked out of the supermarket after insane sensory overload.

Its been 3 years now and i feel like I’m still getting better every month, i can do everything again but still have to think about when and where i spend my energy or suffer from headaches again.

7. Confusion abounds.

Not me but my uncle (so I don’t know that much) but he just couldn’t fathom the idea that he wasn’t a teen anymore.

He couldn’t remember anything from years but could vividly remember sh** that had happened like 40 years prior, he just kept asking where his mum and dad were and my dad got tired of seeing him get upset every time he found out they were dead

8. Use it or lose it.

Most people who are in a coma that long will have mush for brains. It’s also extremely rare to regain any degree of consciousness after a whole year.

If they do, they will not prioritise catching up on world events and tv-shows, they will be learning to speak, eat, move, recognize friends and family, the names items around them, etc.

9. It’s not a restful time.

I was in the ICU for ~45 days but I was so sedated I don’t remember most of it.

The dreams I did have and the stuff I remember now mostly revolved around being trapped, unable to move, being stuck, etc.

I also had a very hard time when I was first waking up of just realizing where I was, what happened and why I was there.

Scary stuff but it saved my life.

10. Everything is hard.

I was in a drug induced coma for between 2 and 3 weeks. Don’t ask me how long, I can’t tell you. That was years ago and I still can’t make a timeline for it work. I was “awake” for a day or two and realized my vision was really fuzzy. I finally remembered that I wore glasses. I wasn’t able to put them on myself or take them off.

Putting my hands to my face was completely exhausting. Rehab was horrible, but it worked well, 2 months to the day I’d gone in, I went home, using a walker and reliant on nearly every one else for every thing else. I could manage getting 8 feet to the toilet and that was about it. Rehab lasted about a year. It sucked!

I have such admiration for people who have worse struggles than mine. The amount of pure grit it takes when your “only” problem is muscle atrophy is minuscule when compared to folks with broken bones or missing muscle pieces. I figure they much have real gravel, not just grit!

11. Not once, but twice.

I went comatose twice in my life, 7-10 hours the time and I’ve no recollection of the second time. Both originating from the same head condition, hydrocephallic pressurization and I ended up a potato. The waking up from the first coma, I was dazed but functional. Came to and tried to figure out why I was tied down to the hospital bed while I’ve got all my family members standing in my room crying. I could talk and think, it was just the haze of coming out of anesthesia that made things difficult that time.I was only in the hospital a week, but had to relearn how to walk.

The second coma, I have no recollection of. It’s like my brain intentionally decided to shield me from the event, but from what I’ve gathered, I went from functioning normal up to the day before, told family I was going to take a nap and proceeded to sleep for about approx 18 hours. My mom and brother managed to get me to “wake up” long enough to walk out to their car, while my boyfriend pulled up to check up on me. Some hours later (after the second surgery), I wake up and I’m talking, conversing to everyone like normal. My partner says it was terrifying to experience, but the absolute worst part was after coming to, I kept saying I wanted Cici’s Pizza cause it just looked so tasty.

12. It’s an adjustment.

It wasn’t long, however, I was unconscious for 4 days in June.

The first “memory” I have waking up is that one of my aunts, and one of my uncles (neither of which were there in the ICU, they are married to other people and wouldn’t have ever been together) were wearing top hats and helping get me changed while trying to cheer me up and feed me.

Then there’s was one point where I thought I was in hotel themed after one of the Super Mario Worlds. I have very vivid dreams of being there with the people I was with before I ended up unconscious. Only to wake up and realize I was in a hospital and was very, very confused how I got from the hotel (that didn’t exist) to the hospital.

When I first woke up and regained consciousness, which I have no recollection, my cousin said that I looked at her, confused then smiled, while excitedly saying “HANS?!?!?” No clue who Hans is. My cousin’s name is Kristin.

I’m still adjusting in a lot of ways 12 weeks later. 0/10 do not recommend.

13. Everything was different.

Best friend of an old colleague of mine who I met a few times at drinks etc…

She was in a car accident when she was about 20, spent a few months in a coma.

Upon waking up apparently her whole personality changed, especially her goals and stuff. Before the accident she wanted me to a teacher and was in uni, but after the accident she couldn’t think of anything worse and wanted to become a hairdresser.

She couldn’t remember a lot of her teenage years and she said some things like her favourite food and TV shows had changed (from what people told her she liked before hand) and taste in music.

I was absolutely flabbergasted by what she was telling me

14. None of this sounds fun.

I was only in a coma for seven days due to Covid kicking my ass. On day six, I was fighting the sedatives and pulled, I think my feeding tube out. So they tried to bring me out of the coma then. My oxygen was too low so they stuck me back under and successfully brought me out of the coma on day 7.

Two-thirds of patients – like me – on a ventilator experience what’s called ICU delirium. I was tripping balls for three days after waking up.

the nurses were trying to kill me

I had killed someone outside a nightclub which is why the nurses and doctors were happy to kill me

the whiteboard on the wall was a computer (it wasn’t) and the doctor spent his day writing messages on it to taunt me with

I had HIV

the ran out of blood for my transfusions (delirious Cal is dumb, like the IV bag was clear, it was probably paracetamol or antibiotics
a bunch of my friends walked past my room to test if I could recognize them

I tried to escape on day two, this shows how weak I was – it took me like 10 minutes to swing one leg over the railing of the bed. A nurse called Rachel saw and stopped me, although I think I would have passed out before getting the rest of my body over it. I felt pretty guilty about this the next day when I broke out of the delirium as me and her got on really well!

On the second day awake my mum and twin were allowed visit me as they figured it would help me mentally. I just thought they were there to say goodbye. I kept talking my brother through where to find my will. I also told him that the nurses were trying to kill me and asked him for our secret word. Which I got wrong! So I figured he was in on it or just didn’t care. They were allowed visit me as they had recovered from Covid. I’m not sure if they realized it yet but this was the beginning of an episode of acute pancreatitis so i was throwing up any food they tried to give me and asked my mum to try feeding me. She was so proud that I was eating the jelly and ice cream from her! Then I vomited it all over myself and her 😂

By day three I was aware that they weren’t trying to kill me and had in fact saved my life. I think I knew it was Covid but I thought I had been rude to them and racially abused a ton of nurses which apparently didn’t happen. The physios came that day and helped me sit up and put my feet on the ground. I thought screw this I can walk, and fell onto the physio. She caught me and the other physio had to run over and get me into bed again.

The physios helped me sit up in a chair beside the bed and asked me to remain sitting up for 45 minutes. I remember this being a fucking torture. I called and chatted to my parents for 15 minutes after which I couldn’t hold my arm up anymore. I was so proud to have lasted the full 45.

I wasn’t able to keep tablets down and my veins were dogsh** and kept not working for the cannula. So my team got Radiology to use their imaging equipment to place a large semi-permanent cannula into my brachial artery (right on your bicep) and threaded that to just outside one of the chambers of my heart. It’s called a PICC line. I mention it because one of the ICU nurses came with me for this. I was piss-terrified. Its a very simple procedure but everything was scary at that point for me. She held my hand during the procedure and was an incredible support. For anyone curious, at this point I now had one cannula in my left hand, one in my right, a PICC on my right arm, and my mainline in my groin.

I then got discharged down to the regular ward that evening.

On the ward I was so much more aware of what wasn’t working. I had a catheter in dealing with the pee but pooping was a challenge, I had to use a bed pan the first few days. I was so happy when I was strong enough to walk the 2 meters to the bathroom and poop myself. I had to carry the catheter bag on the Zimmer frame and try not to jiggle it – which was rather painful…

A day later the catheter came out (which wasn’t terrible) and I could pee on my own but I had very little sensation so I had a pee bottle by the bed. I’d get like 20 seconds warning from my body. I had much more warning for poops but I was still vomiting and not eating enough to make a poop.

It was around this time that the emotions started coming back. Either I was just too sick for them in ICU or it was a way of dealing with how scary ICU is, but I was very passive the days I was awake there. Like “oh they’re trying to kill me, well ok then, isn’t that a shame.” So now I remember crying a bit and then recall laughing for the first time since waking up.

I was another three weeks building my strength up and getting over the pancreatitis before I was discharged home.

The rate of recovery was unreal, nearly every day I had some small improvement like oh today I walked all the way to the bathroom without the frame or today I put on my slippers so mentally I was doing really well.

This all happened in January this year and I’ve pretty much made a full recovery now. I’m back at my old physical fitness, no breathing issues or any lung damage. I have three clots and am on blood thinners but they’re not affecting me. And my heart rate is normal again. Resting at 60 right now. At my worst lying in bed one evening in the hospital it was 153!

The staff in the hospital were incredible, I’m so fortunate to have survived this.

15. The whole year was gone.

My sister was in a car accident and sustained a massive head injury. She was in a coma for over 5 months. Waking up from a coma doesn’t happen suddenly. It’s gradual. She had to relearn everything starting with swallowing.

She’s missing her last year of high school and she cannot remember many things since since her accident. Her short term memory was damaged. Her damaged memory makes her very frustrated.

Edit to add: Her accident was in 1994. She graduated in 1993. She cannot remember grade 12. Sorry for the confusing statement. This was stunning for the family because she had just graduated. That whole year was GONE.

16. You’re a little confused.

I was only in a coma for about two days, but I totally relate to the not understanding where you are. I barely remember my suicide attempt, and then suddenly I woke up in a creepy asylum.

Apparently that’s just what ERs look like at night. I got up to investigate, and suddenly there was this horrible pain on the inside of my left elbow. I had an IV in.

17. It can mess with your memory.

As someone with a damaged memory, I can relate. The feeling of knowing something is supposed to be in there but it’s not is really hard to describe and so incredibly frustrating.

The closest thing I can think of to describe it is a word or name being on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite recall it, only instead of words or names or titles, it’s with memories. Some are worse, like having absolutely no clue what someone is talking about when they are reminiscing about something.

Others are better, remembering small snippets of something happening but not the whole thing. Some are just straight up disconcerting, having no idea what happened during months of time of your life.

Still yet some can be down right baffling. Most recently I was in a craft store and had some super strong emotional reaction over drawing pencils but have no clue why or what’s important to me about them.

It can be pretty exciting and overwhelming when something finally clicks and a whole flood of memory comes rushing in at all once though. I bought the pencils hoping one day it will trigger.

18. He could hear it all.

My uncle & dad were in a terrible wreck when they were both 19. My dad was out about 6-7 hours, remembers nothing.

My uncle was in a coma for 6 weeks . He said he could hear every conversation, knew when people visited him but he couldn’t communicate or move a muscle. He can still recall conversations people had while visiting him.

He said his greatest fear was they would think he was dead and bury him. He was terrified because he couldn’t react or communicate and didn’t know what they would do with him.

Then he woke up. He had some life long disabilities but went on to become the VP at his company in Texas.

19. A waking nightmare.

I was out for just over a month, it was surreal, like a dream I couldn’t quite wake up from. When I woke up, my arms and legs didn’t work and my vision and thoughts were really fuzzy.

I thought I was out for a few days and was unpleasantly surprised to know it has been over a month.

20. It’s not over when you wake up.

Does it count if you can’t remember a single thing for 6-8 weeks? I was technically “out”, but my wife says she had a conversation with me every day.

I don’t remember anything but was medically sedated for almost 2 months after getting hit by a car cycling.

Anyway, I couldn’t walk or use any extremities upon coming to. Extreme muscle atrophy required almost 2 yrs of PT to regain full independence. Not fun at all.

21. There should be provisions for that.

I feel like the state should automatically give you disability or at LEAST assign you a case worker to suspend your bills and store your stuff while you’re in a coma.

Like, there should be a system where the hospital logs you as a coma patient and then social services step in. Wtf.

22. Like starting from scratch.

Hollywood’s depiction of waking from a coma is shockingly wrong. I was really stunned when my friend was in one for about a month and had to relearn virtually every basic function.

It’s not just waking up from an extended nap. The majority of comas are caused by traumatic brain injury, and a LOT of people even if they wake up are never the same again and are often permanently mentally and physically disabled.

23. The details could fill a book.

I was out for 40 days after a motorcycle accident, but I don’t remember much for about 6 weeks after that as well. I was sedated with ketamine and a mix of opiates and started to wean off of them while still on a ventilator and ECMO. I was extremely confused and seeing double so I was terrified. Communicating was very hard because of the confusion and that I couldn’t talk or write. The thing I remember most vividly is the insane hallucinations I had as a result of the ketamine.

I was hallucinating something that was making me freak out and try to rip the tubes out of me, including my ventilator, chest tubes, and arterial line so they had no choice but to tie my limbs down and put boxing gloves on my hands. I had no idea I was doing any of that, but I had moments where I was significantly more aware of what was going on, which were so frustrating because I was completely tied down and again, couldn’t communicate.

The doctors and nurses kept trying to explain to me what I was doing and that I needed to stop, but I did not understand. I felt like I was being tortured and I couldn’t understand why.

At the time of my accident, I was in an online relationship that had become very rocky. I had booked a flight to meet the girl and my accident happened the day before my flight. This was only somewhat of a coincidence, as I was riding my motorcycle extremely recklessly due to my emotions and frustration in the relationship, and with my life for other reasons.

My family knew about my relationship and was able to tell her, but it wasn’t until about 3 months after the day of the accident that I talked to her for the first time by sending her a video. One of my respiratory therapists put a device on my tracheostomy so I was able to talk. This was an extremely emotional moment and my mom was the first person to hear my voice.

I used the device to talk on the phone with the girl, but it was difficult because the ventilator was loud and the device did not sound like my normal voice. My relationship with her was not the same and not recoverable. In hindsight, this was for the better, but in the moment despite all the terrible things I was experiencing, the feeling of having lost the connection with this girl who was my first love was awful.

By this time I was becoming completely aware of what I did and what happened, and extremely conscious of what I had put my mom through as she had been by my side every day in the hospital not knowing if I would survive, or if I had sustained significant brain damage.

After 5 months in the hospital I was transferred to a rehabilitation facility, and two weeks later (December 2019), discharged home with a wheelchair and walker. I was gaining the ability to walk short distances on my own and even decided to start college again. Then covid hit, and I also experienced some unfortunate medical complications that kept me in and out of the hospital for most of 2020.

This is all very recent, but every aspect of my life has changed post-accident. My finances are in ruin. My physical health and pain is terrible but given the fact that I have all my limbs and can still walk, I feel like I can’t complain. I value time completely differently because of my continuing medical complications. I don’t think I will live very long. It’s a lot harder for me to get angry or upset about anything because it all feels insignificant compared to being tied down, unable to communicate, and in pain.

I could write a book filled with details of the past and how I’m doing now, so I’ll cut it off here.

24. A part of me is missing.

5 day coma after severe TBI. I can tell part of me is missing and I have no attachment to even my family. They were suffocating me because I couldn’t care about them so I moved to the other end of the country to get away.

Right side of my body was paralyzed from nerve damage and bad tail bone and back injury so needed lots of help yet chose to go camping on a sport bike for 34 days in a row before ending up in another city forcing myself to be self sufficient.

Mostly recovered physically but that’s all. I can’t go back to who I was. And I’m extremely aware of it.

25. They thought he was faking.

In basic training, I caught meningitis and was in and out of a coma for about a week. I remember my military leadership visiting me, calling my wife to tell her, and being ambulanced to another hospital. But that’s it.

When I was awake, I was fully paralyzed from the neck down. My wife came to visit me and she told me I smelled like urine because they didn’t give me a catheter nor did anyone help me to the bathroom. So, I just laid in bed and pissed myself over and over.

I remember being so, so thirsty.

When I fully woke up a few days later, I had very little feeling in my legs and was very wobbly when I walked. I couldn’t fully outstretch my arms without severe pain in my hands.

When I was released, I asked about why no one helped me and they told me they don’t help any patients because they have too many people faking symptoms to get out of training.

They sent me back to basic training where I slept for three days straight, only being woken to eat.

When I woke up, after those three days, they gave me all my gear and sent me on a four mile forced march, during which I tripped 74 times (I counted and still remember) and fell down six times.

Because I didn’t quit on that march, they kept me in training and I graduated with the same class I started, which is unheard of and completely insane. I couldn’t even finish the final fitness test, so they just pencil-whipped the record, all because I didn’t quit.

It took me months to regain full feeling in my extremities.

26. No financial forgiveness.

I had no idea where I was. I had no idea what happened. Months later I was still learning about who did (or didn’t) visit, pray, call, ask.

Finances were a total mess (trust me, companies DO NOT CARE). Massive debt and financial penalties.

And took over 18 months to get a job after painful physical rehabilitation and explaining over and over and over that I was in a coma, not just not working.

Then COVID.

27. I would have lost it, too.

 It’s been a financial nightmare for me too, I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this. There is no forgiveness for us. Recently, I totally lost it on a debt collector, I was screaming through the phone at him “Do you fucking think I planned this! What part of zero dollars do you not understand!”

Fortunately I was given Social Security Disability so the working thing has a little relief but it is a penance of what I used to earn.

Unfortunately because I got behind on child support (due to coma) the State is taking a major chunk out of my Disability income to make up the arrears, I have to come up with 3K I don’t have to go to court and “maybe” get that reduced.

Both my boys are Marines now but the State still taking money for child support arrears putting me further in a financial hole.

Some days I think about just robbing banks to get out of this. If I don’t get caught great, if I do I can go live with the Feds (prison) Either way it is a win/win situation.

28. Not the same person anymore.

a friend of mine was in coma for the better part of a year. he isn’t even remotely the same person anymore. he has some similar interests that he used to have but now operates mentally at the level of a 12 year old (he’s in his mid 20s).

he also has severely limited motor skills. s*%t is so sad 🙁

29. Lots of weird dreams.

I was in a coma for 3 weeks. Not that long but my dreams made me feel like I was out for decades.

I was really confused and didn’t understand where I was or why.

30. Not like the movies.

I was in an icu for 8 mos. TV was on, I could care less what was playing. One of the 1st movies I recall was Steven Segal’s Hard to Kill.

A week after awakening from a multi year coma, he was already kicking ass and taking names. MF’er, it took 3 mos of hard ass rehab to walk unassisted.

I think this is so interesting, but yeah – I hope I never have to go through it, either.

If you’ve got some experience, share the details with us in the comments!