Sandra Webb 3m 820
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
The Dead Awake In ICU
I have been working as an intensive care unit nurse for a long time. Unfortunately, ICU is not a place for pleasantries or gatherings of good fortune, but rather a place where people are in intensive care, usually because they have experienced a life-threatening event from an illness, accident, or bodily harm caused by another. I swore in as a nurse who honors the policies of the hospital which is in accordance with the HIPPA Privacy Rule. Therefore, we may talk about issues with our immediate coworkers, but with anyone outside, including family, we must keep it confidential and private, so my family might see my stress, but they have no idea what I normally see and go through in my day.
The scene of an ICU unit is not anywhere anyone wants to be, not even the nurses or doctors that work there. Some days I dread coming into work, wondering what duties I will be facing that day, but I do know that I have a job to do, so I do my best to show up and face the day as best as I can. While there are certainly plenty of people in my unit who do eventually recover, there are many others who do not, ending up on life support for a long time, or eventually being taken off of it, in which they finally succumb to death. I do have some good news stories to tell of people being in the ICU for a few weeks to months at a time, who eventually recovered and went back to living their normal lives, and we are happy to celebrate these times before getting right back to work on our other patients. There are other stories where a life just ended in my workplace, and in many cases, there was nothing that any of us could do, no matter how hard we tried, no matter how many tricks we pulled, no matter what drugs or stimulants we used, there were just some patients whose time had come to an end.
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I had an ICU patient pass away, “flatlined”, and the doctor had declared her legally dead. About forty five minutes later, a coworker and I were doing postmortem care on her body in order to get it ready to be sent to the funeral home. After a few moments, however, the dead woman sat up, holding herself up in an unnatural and difficult position. The deceased woman locked eyes with my coworker, as I stared in horror, frozen, shocked, dumbfounded and scared, unable to do anything.
My coworker was also frozen in place, his eyes completely locked in her now black eyes. When she was alive, her eyes were a light blue. It seemed that there was some kind of unspoken communication going on, and after about a full minute, the dead body of the lady laid back down. My coworker ran out of the room, ran out of ICU and left the hospital without saying a word to anyone. I kept what I saw to myself though I did have a doctor re-examine the corpse of the woman and he had stated that this woman was definitely not alive.
My coworker’s wife later called trying to find out what happened to her husband. She said he had come home and packed a bag and left without speaking a word to her. He had disappeared and was gone for a week. When he came back to work, his behavior was so off it was scary. He dressed differently and his hair was different. He normally wore glasses, as he was legally blind, but during this time, he was not wearing his glasses at all. He was normally a talkative person with something to always say, but for this period of time, he was hardly speaking at all, and when he did speak, it was one-word answers, or very short answers, as if he was not interested in what was going on around him, just very distant, trying to register the things happening around him.
This lasted for a week and then all of a sudden he was back to his normal self, including his glasses. He had some memory of being gone, but did not exactly know where he went, and did not recall any of his weird behavior. It was so disturbing that the hospital had a psychiatrist come in just to be on hand and available to us, though we knew the psychiatrist was there for him. We all donated some of our vacation time to him so he wouldn’t notice his paycheck missing, for the week he was absent. We were really worried for him, but he has since returned back to normal with no signs of being any different. To this day, no one can explain what happened and he has no memory of being possessed at all.