We’ve reached the end of my Delirium Diaries but there are a few loose ends!
My deliriums fall into 2 categories: ‘I remember exactly’ and ‘odd bits’! I have 10 vivid deliriums that absolutely, categorically happened. Now we know that they didn’t and that in reality it was my mind playing tricks because of infection, medication, situation etc. But to me they are as real as day and night. I can remember the sights, sounds, touch, feelings, colours – everything. The sound of a northern Irish accent now sends shivers down my spine; the mere mention of riots puts me right back in the moment. But I also have so many random memories. Were they delirium or was it my mind confusing interventions that were actually taking place? I don’t know the answer but they sit in my head, causing me so much intrigue! Because they are random and not connected to any of my deliriums (or so I assume!), I’ve decided to bullet point them:
- Being rolled from side to side whilst being given a bed bath. Screaming in agony, struggling to breathe whilst nurses held me on my side not taking any notice of the pain I was in. I was completely ignored but absolutely remember the overwhelming pain.
- Being left in a wheelchair in a cold, bare cubicle – freezing and all alone
- I was in incredible pain and a nurse was trying to get me to stand for an x-ray. I couldn’t walk so I sat on the edge of the bed and was made to stand up using a piece of equipment, feeling so cold and having no strength. I remember gripping onto this ‘contraption’ for dear life whilst feeling utterly vulnerable. The nurse wheeled me away from the bed and I was put into a chair, being told to ‘get up and walk’, but I couldn’t. I think a mobile x-ray machine came to me?
- Jet black men with white eyes dancing in groups in front of my bed
- A black cat that would walk in and out of my room. I remember asking people if they’d seen the cat….
- I remember one night; I was in a small hospital. It was the early hours of the morning and opposite me was a waiting area. There was a reception desk and I was in a dark corner. To one side of me a staff member was putting up Christmas lights. They were inside the ceiling, plugging things in and everything was a blue colour. I remember suddenly becoming very agitated and I began calling for help. Eventually someone came; the receptionist. She asked what was wrong and after staying with me for a few minutes, she left. I became agitated once more, screaming and shouting. The receptionist returned, this time with a gift. She gave me a knitted headband, one of a few that she was making for Christmas gifts. She placed it around my head and sat next to me, holding my hand. I was breathless and frightened. It was dark, but she spoke softly to me, in a reassuring way. I remember having a feeling of calmness come over me and drifting off to sleep.
- I vividly remember being on the set of the TV programme ‘Soldier Soldier’. I’m convinced that my nurses were talking about it earlier in the day! I was in the programme but it had a ww1/ww2 theme. I remember being in an Army uniform, walking between sandbags. I was really scared and frightened and I couldn’t sleep – every time I closed my eyes I was back in ‘Soldier Soldier’! I tried everything I could to not think about it. There was someone in a nearby bed, a man I assumed as he was snoring incredibly loudly. All I kept thinking was ‘I wish I could be asleep like him’.
- Apparently I told my dad that I’d flown a Spitfire?
- I remember talking to a nurse, telling her that when I got better I was going to change career and become a nurse!
- I had such a friendly nurse who told me that she would come in on her days off to help me get up and washed!
- A nurse invited me to take part in a Christmas craft session, if I could get up and walk.
- Several nurses were horrible to me. I was in such pain, yet they kept asking me to ‘bum shuffle up the bed’ or turn onto my side. None of them seemed to care or comfort me. I felt like a complete nuisance.
- In the middle of the night, I remember being rushed for a CT scan. There was much excitement as I was in the brand new scanner!! I was in the most unbelievable pain and lying down was utterly unbearable. I remember being left by the radiologist, feeling completely abandoned. I had to control my breathing, panting through the pain. The scan went on for what seemed like forever. The voice of the scanner stopped talking to me and I began banging on the machine, panicking….feeling like I was dying.
Every time I think or write about my Deliriums, more details emerge. Every time I read one of my blog posts, I remember something else, like reading it triggers my thoughts. I’m forever making little adjustments.
Will I ever stop trying to piece everything together? Will I ever find reasons for these thoughts or find explanations? Unfortunately, – probably not! I know from conversations with professionals that deliriums can sometimes be linked to or triggered by something physically happening. For example; whilst in the convent I could hear the noise of ambulances outside – I now know that it was actually probably the sound of mobile x-ray machines coming in an out of the unit. During the performance by the ‘Pencarrow Players’, their soundtrack was a very distinctive chugging sound – which was most likely my I V infusion pumps on high speed.
Nothing makes sense and that irritates me more than anything. One of the most irritating things about Delirium is the not knowing what is real and what isn’t!
I am so glad that you have recovered. Your experience sounds horrific. I used to work with people who had similar experiences using a therapy called EMDR. This may be available to you through the NHS
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Hi Julie. Thank you for your message. I’m lucky to have received psychological support and EMDR therapy from the ICU Psychologist at my hospital. It made a huge difference and has allowed me to share my story in the hope that it might help others.
I received EMDR as part of my ICU PTSD therapy and it was amazing! I’ve no idea how it worked but it did and it fascinates me. I highly recommend it for anyone who has been in a similar position. Thank you for your comment 🙂