What it's like to be in a coma

Nurses General Nursing

Updated:   Published

Specializes in ER.

What it's like to be in a coma? by The Clarity Project

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.

Interesting to see. I worked with a nurse who was also briefly in a medically inducted coma, she talked about thinking the nurses and doctors were attacking her and spiders were coming out of the ceiling. This young lady's experience sounded a little less scary, but it does highlight the need to speak to patients, and in a soothing tone. Thank you for posting. 

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

From empirical knowledge, there are different levels of being in a coma, and from my experience of a three week closed head injury induced coma,  I could site three levels:

1) Deep coma: No outside stimuli gets through to cognition. During this stage, I experienced what I would later equate to an NDE, where I was in this great place, like a gray fog (The Tibetan Book of the Dead's first bardo) feeling a part of everything, surrounded by loving souls, one of whom was my deceased maternal grand father.

My experience was much more involved, similar to others who experienced NDEs, but that's the gist.

2) The Dream Stare: Again, no connection to outside stimuli, just a steady stream of dreams. Mine included going through an old mansion and trying to get ahold of a dark shadow in every room that I visited, riding a motorcycle made out of my VW Beetle on a Summer day, and the like

3) Incorporation of outside stimuli: Here's where my experience matches the one as described in the video, in that my family members a d loved ones spoke to me, and I to them, which I couldn't have with a tracheostomy, and they were in different settings. For example, my older brother told me that I was in a motorcycle wreck while on an old suspension bridge.

There was a substage to this level, as I misinterpreted my true surroundings. For example, I knew that I was a patient in a hospital, but believed it became a lounge at night, with the doctors acting as bartenders, the nurses became waitresses.

 Being in a coma was very entertaining, to say the least!

Specializes in Oncology.

I listened to a fascinating podcast that featured a nurse who worked in an "awake and walking ICU." She talked about how prolonged sedation can have significantly negative psychological effects. Incredibly interesting.


Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.
JBMmom said:

briefly in a medically inducted coma

induced, please excuse my typo. (was too late to edit)

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

@GitanoRN and I discussed our coma/NDE experiences in great detail through PMs here on allnurses some years ago. His experience was quite involved and longer in duration than mine, and I thought if he still visited this site, he might want to share.

Edit: GitanoRN last visited a couple of months ago, so there's a chance he might pop in.

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

After submitting a post to my thread inspired by this one, a memory came to me of a song that I penned following my coma experience titled, "Three Weeks Down":

Layin' on my back, I don't see a sight,
Lord, three long weeks seemed like one night.
The dark pulls apart, and the dreams come 'round,
Layin' on my back, I was three weeks down.

Me and Cat and Tim, lookin' through some rooms,
In the corner of each was a big dark gloom.
I try to grab it, but it keeps gettin' away,
If I would have caught it, death would be my pay.

Now, there's my brother Eddy, standin' on a bridge,
Talikin' 'bout a truck that ran o'er the ridge.
Doctors tryin' to convince him my head was sound,
But he didn't know I was three weeks down.

(I cannot recall the first two lines of the next verse, but the last two lines are:)

Ridin' down the highway on a gray VW bike,
I know I'm in trouble, but this is what I like.

The dark pulls apart, as if cut by a knife,
I'm on my way, my way back to life.
I'll get back on the love that I've found,
After travelin' a long way, bein' three weeks down.

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