My HuffPost Article on Surviving ICU

I just wanted to share my HuffPost Personal article here. This is why I travel like there’s no tomorrow and savor every minute I spend with my loved ones. ~ LiAnn

I Spent 4 Weeks Near Death In The ICU. Here’s What I Learned Struggling For My Life.

36 responses to “My HuffPost Article on Surviving ICU”

  1. Thank you for writing your story. I picked it up after a fellow ICU survivor shared it on a Facebook group that i’m a member of (most of us in the group have survived H1N1 Swine flu and ARDS with the use of a medical procedure called ECMO). Your story about how your body and brain reacted to being on the ICU for so long struck a number of chords with me. So much of it seems to be the same as my experience. I too quite like the idea of writing my story down, all the way from the moment i thought i had a slight cold, to then being rushed into hospital…and then emerging over a month later as a somewhat fit human again. Your travels look amazing. My wife and I were supposed to be flying to New York City (from the UK) on the very day that i was rushed into hospital. That holiday didn’t happen of course, but we’re planning a bumper visit to the US this Christmas to make up for it. Stay fit and healthy. Aaron

    • Wow! I hope you are doing well. I saw the word ARDS in my file. At one point in rehab I was given internet access and told that researching my injuries and ailments might be helpful, but each one on its own could have killed me. I got through typing: sepsis, subarachnoid hemorrhage and pseudoaneurysm before I decided it was better for me to just focus on healing. I had a trip planned to Spain that I had to cancel, but I rescheduled it for later and made it a physical therapy goal. Seeing the world, meeting new people and exploring different cultures is my lifeline 🙂 stay strong and thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you so much for telling your amazing story! I have been an ICU nurse for 6 years and I always wonder once patients leave the unit what they remember of their stay. Sometimes I’ll see a patient who had been in the ICU for a while on a different floor, now wide awake, eating, sitting up in a chair or doing physical therapy in the hall- I am always so excited to see them doing better, but usually they have no idea who I am. This is one of the hard parts about being an ICU nurse- patients leave an impact on you but, when they get better and transfer out you (thankfully) never see them come back to the ICU, but are always wondering how they are doing and if they regained a normal life again. In your post, you describe the sedated limbo that you were in with such amazing detail. The inner dialogue you had with yourself to get better, to try to figure out the time or what was real and what was not, was profoundly interesting- as someone who works in that environment- to read. Thank you again for sharing. I’m glad it was a nurse who encouraged you to get on the helicopter in the planetarium and that you chose to go with her 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing! It’s so true. I had to go back to ER at one point and a few nurses rearranged their shifts so they could work the ER that night and help me get through my setback. I didn’t know who they were but I valued their passion for their jobs and dedication to their patients. It’s a remarkable job you do!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It has been four years since I survived a 3 week medically induced coma and 2.5 month icu and rehab hospital stay after acquiring ARDS (I lost 90% of my lung function) resulting from medical error. It is comforting to know I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you survived and are thriving.

  4. I just read your article and it brought tears to my eyes. Your bravery, your mother and family’s commitment, the nurses and staff at the hospital who cared for you through the night and panic attacks- it really touched me. I’m so happy to hear that you are living life so fully <3

  5. I just finished reading your article about your time in ICU I am a retired ICU nurse and I am so appreciative that you are talking about that time we need to be ever vigilant about our care and the stories help us improve our care and Compassion. Thank you

  6. What an amazing story of courage and survival!! You are a hero and role model to so many people. May you have zillions more stories to share. (As a three-time cancer survivor I, too, am an optimist and am always looking forward.)

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story, even though it’s bringing back painful memories of the several months my wife spent in ICU/hospital/rehab after a similar high-speed “t-bone” collision 11 years ago. Unfortunately she was somewhat older than you at the time of her accident and repeated complications lengthened her hospitalization and limited her ultimate recovery. Your photos are eerily familiar, and the story of your long struggle back from such a trauma is inspiring and also familiar. I could never have imagined what damage a person is capable of coming back from if I hadn’t have been through this experience with her and though her recovery is somewhat more limited than yours, it still seems miraculous and the memory of her closeness to death at times fades away much of the time until something like this story you wrote brings it back. Though the memories are painful, they also make me more conscious of just how far she has come since then and because of our experience, your story fills me with empathy for your struggle and great joy at how you’ve been able to recover and lead such a fulfilling life since your accident. I hope many people without experiences like this in their lives will read your story and be able to better understand what life is like after such dramatic trauma and be able to better understand and empathize with people who have gone or are going through such events and their aftermath. It’s a terrible and wonderful story, thanks again so much for sharing it!

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s so important that people understand the struggles of their neighbors. We all have struggles and some aren’t as easy to see. The recover from head and body trauma is a rocky, lifelong road. Stay strong! ❤️

  8. Thank you for writing this article. I am so happy you made it through ICU and Rehab and are enjoying life with passion. Your article really touched me, I too was in ICU for a double lung transplant. I am recovering by living with my daughter & her family & lots of at home therapy at home. I too had several complications in ICU but that is now behind me. It’s been 4 months since my surgery and I am learning how to walk, talk, and do modified showers. It can be frustrating because I remember when I could be independent. I am grateful for your story and wish you well. It’s amazing but I have never known what happens in ICU even though my husband went through it just a few years ago. He never spoke out, to complain his discomfort. He has passed away due to complications in ICU. Sigh. It’s a fine line living and surviving. Again, thank you.

    • Thank you for sharing. It is a difficult experience to talk about. I’m glad I have my story out there now and it’s comforting to hear of others’ experiences, too. I wish you the best in your recovery. I know how frustrating it can be when you’re suddenly limited on what you can do.

  9. Thanks for your article and for sharing this with all of us. I was in ICU for 1-1/2 months after an open heart surgery that did not go well. I lost knowing what day it was, seeing drama on the walls everyday and losing track of time. I forgot about the call button and probably couldn’t have pushed it even if I remembered it. I thought I had been there 1 year instead of 1-1/2 months. I thought they had moved me to a house in the middle of the desert. I was lost. The PT nurse tried to get me up once and I screamed at her as it made me so dizzy I could not tolerate it. So I couldn’t walk or even sit in wheelchair. After 1-1/2 months they moved me and told me I was getting better and then I hemoraged and they took me back to ICU. They wanted to operate again but I refused and went home. I was in hospice for 4 months. But they saved my life. I told one doctor about my experiences and he called it ICU Psycosis. And then I compared it to the DT’s and my doctor agreed with me. I’m sorry for what happened to you but I appreciate reading your article and learning I was not the only one.

    • Oh my goodness. I’m so glad you came through! It’s amazing how similar I am learning that ICU experiences are. I often found myself in the desert, too. Perhaps that was because I was so thirsty. I frequently thought people were trying to steal my stuff or steal me all together, but there were also celebrations, like the circus performance and one time, I thought the Denver Broncos cheerleaders were doing a charity performance at the hospital and left their costumes in my room. At closer examination, I had a lucid moment and realized it was just curtains, not costumes, hanging in my room!

  10. Loved your story at HuffPost so much, Liann, and have such admiration for your courage.
    It was wonderful for you to share your experience with the world!
    Continued bright blessings on your journey!
    And check out Zion NP sometime, eh???
    Late fall and winter are best, because the tourist stream is not a raging river then!

  11. I I went through a similar experience 6 years ago, not as the patient, but as the person who sat next to that patient. My husband also spent a month in ICU, but he did not live. Reading your experience, finding out what it was like for you as you spent that time unable to move or communicate, brought back so many memories. I was crying when I finished reading it. I am so glad that you made it through. Thank you for giving me some insight into what it may have been like for him during that month.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. And I shared it with my daughter who is a early-career nurse. I wanted her to think about all the thoughts going through her patients’ minds, whether they were conscious or not. Bravo on your recovery and new life!

  13. This article moved me so much. I am currently going though lots of health issues that affect my life daily. Trying to find courage is difficult. Thank you for sharing your important story. God bless you.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. Our son was badly injured after being hit by a box truck. He was a pediatrician in Brooklyn, New York. He spent 2 1/2 months in the hospital in Manhattan and another in a subacute in Queens. I left our home in Tucson, Az to be with him. He sustained many injuries; TBI, fractures, broken bones, ruptured diaphragm. He is doing well back here in Arizona continuing his rehabilitation. Your story gives me inspiration. Thank you, Cathy Teran

    • Thank you, Cathy, for sharing—and for being a brave parent. The world can’t function without those ❤️ Best wishes to you and your son and the recovery process.

  15. Read your story on HuffPost. You are a survivor. I’m an ICU survivor too. I could relate to a lot of what you wrote. Thank you for sharing your story. I like your blog!

  16. Just read your story and wanted to say thanks for sharing. Watching the rest of the news cycle can be disturbing and its nice to read about your positive and uplifting journey. Aloha pumehana.

  17. Thank you for sharing your story. I am a nurse, but have had a peculiar experience with surgeries to my head and neck that I didn’t need that landed me in the ICU. It was a living hell. But for me, what added to the physical pain of a fusion of head and neck and literally not being able to move my head and neck afterwards, I ended up with chemically-induced brain damage severe enough to see on MRI from long-term prescribed sedatives and pain medications. My first unneeded lower spine surgery was like waking and feeling like a truck ran over my pelvis. Trying to move in bed, roll over, or sit up would cause me to scream. Doped up on meds, I literally don’t remember leaving the hospital, the airport, flying home, etc . What I want to thank you for is describing your experience. Especially the brain damage. I too have residual damage. Though I’m working as a nurse again, despite that we never thought I could, I do struggle with rooms full of people. It is just overwhelming noise that I can’t tolerate for long. I don’t beat myself up for it. It is what it is. I have trouble with word-finding and speech when tired, sick, or stressed. Organizing my thoughts can be rough too. I want to thank you because with your sharing, I don’t feel so alone.

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing this. The brain injury is so tough because it’s invisible but impacts daily life. I tend to live an active life but sometimes I need to retreat for several days at a time to get centered again and focused. It’s comes with the territory for sure. I wish you the best. You’re not alone with this struggle ❤️

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