“Some Truly Horrifying Dreams”: People Who Woke Up From A Coma Describe What It Was Actually Like (30 Answers)
Most of us have no clue what people experience while in a coma, whether it's a natural or medically induced one. We hear some describing it as a dream-like state, and hit TV shows convincing us that it’s just a few days of quality sleep that leaves people refreshed and ready to conquer the world. However, it’s much more complicated than that.
If you've ever wondered what this condition really feels like, the Ask Reddit community has got you covered. Three users, whatchalookingatboy, yummygumdrop, and _bread-boi, decided to learn more about this perplexing unconsciousness. They asked people to describe how they slipped into this state and what they remember (or not!) about it. A deluge of responses from coma survivors flooded the threads, and each is more interesting than the previous one.
From having vivid dreams, to mixing up fiction and reality, to understanding everything around them, it looks like every person reacts differently. We at Bored Panda have combed through the answers and handpicked some of the wildest stories that are equally horrific as they are fascinating. Continue scrolling and let us know what you think in the comments! And after reading this piece, make sure to find even more coma recollections right here.
A friend of mine was in a 6 month coma after an accident. Afterwards he made sure to tell everyone around him to talk to people in a coma because they can hear you. BUT he noted that they should always tell the person in a coma what happened, where they are and what's happening to them because he said that his moments of lucidity were mixed with some truly horrifying dreams and he had trouble distinguishing between what was real and what were dreams. He said he just wanted to be told what was real and what was happening.
I spent eight days in a coma last year after a particularly traumatic surgery, my waking thoughts were wondering if I had died or made it. I couldn't open my eyes, and I was on a medical air mattress, so I felt like I was floating; this lead me to think that I had died, and I remember thinking it wasn't so bad and wondering if my dad would come find me. Once I realized that I was still alive, I thought I had been injured fighting in a war and worried that my wife might not know I was still alive. Trying to communicate with the nurses while intubated and drugged was very difficult.
What I learned later from my wife is that she was there the whole time and while I was fighting against the doctors and nurses, I would immediately calm down and cooperate when she held my hand and sang to me. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of the love and devotion she has shown to me during this time.
This is really bizarre, but my uncle — a very serious, strict, and rather dry man — had an accident and went into a coma a few years back. He never believed anything he couldn't touch, no talks about souls, or anything similar. But he was in a coma for a few weeks until he woke up and had this crazy AF story. He said he saw himself in a bubble, floating around in a white place, and it was peaceful and beautiful. But then, he said there were other bubbles he could see around him, and they had other people in them. He distinctly remembered a black-haired woman singing in the bubble closest to his, until one day, her bubble burst, and she disappeared. When he woke up, he could give a very clear description of her body, age, and all that. Now here's the wild part...
There was a woman, one floor below him, in a coma who sadly had passed away before he woke up. You guessed it — black hair, age, body all correct. He had never met or seen this woman in his life. His whole idea of life changed after this. It still makes me think sometimes... Where was he? He thinks all the people in bubbles around him were patients in the same hospital. Could it be? We'll probably never know.
Our fascination with the experiences people live through while they’re comatose is nothing new. As you can notice from reading these stories, a lot of weird stuff goes on in their mind while plunging into this perplexing condition, ranging from wild dreams to horrible nightmares. This happens because there are different severities of comas, and people’s brains respond differently depending on their level of unconsciousness.
While scientists are still trying to figure out what exactly happens to people during this state, healthcare professionals use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) as a way to determine and communicate about the coma level of patients with an acute brain injury. This scale ranges from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 15 and is used to assess a person’s consciousness and ability to open their eyes, move, and speak.
A GCS score of 15 represents a fully awake and conscious person, so the lower the score, the deeper the level of unconsciousness is. For example, a score between 3 and 8 likely suggests the patient is in a coma since they show little response or awareness, or none at all.
A friend of ours fell into a coma at age 25 (around 1992) and woke up at age 36 (around 2002). She was a Rhodes Scholar nominee (I think, second-hand information) and quite brilliant. She was still 25 mentally — as if everything was just on pause. Her body was really well-preserved; she's really fun and cool and sort of the ultimate cougar. Plus, she totally woke up to the internet.
My friend was in a coma about ten years ago for roughly three weeks. Car accident. When he woke up we visited him and when I was alone with him he told me it was like a lucid dream. The real world was gone and he felt like he was in a world he could create himself for years. He was dead serious too, he talked on and on about how he had a slight understanding that he was not in the real world anymore and that he thought he might be in heaven. About how he felt like he was actually dying and his last few second just stretched on and on forever. He said that's what it felt like. He mentioned that he could fly (in the coma dream) and that it was amazing. He spent a little while in the hospital, then went home, did physical therapy for about two weeks before killing himself with pain pills and vodka. People thought the pain was too much, that it was an accidental overdose, or that the therapy and the accident made him feel helpless and depressed. Honestly, I think he wanted back into his lucid dream world. The way he talked about it was like the best thing he ever experienced.
I was in a coma for four days. When I woke up, everyone was talking about the baby boy I had. I had lost my long-term memory and didn't even remember being pregnant. My son was at the children's hospital in the NICU. I delivered him via C-section at 29 wks. All this was due to me having Crohn's disease (which I found out after I woke up); my colon had ruptured during my pregnancy. My husband said I was talking like a child when I first woke up.
When I woke up, I felt super tired, but then the next few days, kinda restless. I remembered one conversation my mom had with a nurse while I was under. After a couple of days, I got my long-term memory back and remembered everything up until my second surgery then nothing until I woke up. My son was my third surgery. So, my son was what surprised me.
General practitioner, medical researcher, and founder of PrimeHealth Clinical Research, Iris Gorfinkel, M.D., explained to us in a previous interview what a coma actually is. "It's a state of prolonged unconsciousness [that] can last from days to years," she told Bored Panda. "Basically, for whatever reason, the brain is not getting the oxygen that it needs and that can happen because of trauma that can [be caused by] cardiac arrest. That actually accounts for a full quarter of why a coma happens. Stroke is another 20%."
"But it can also happen because of things like brain tumors and infections, whether viral, bacterial, or fungal. It can happen because of drugs ... [or] other toxins like alcohol, and also because of blood sugar (it's either too high or too low), because of heat ... What happens to these individuals is they simply stop responding to the things we normally do. They don't respond to light, they don't respond to sound, they don't respond to pain," Gorfinkel said and added that even though these people have their eyes closed, what they're experiencing is not sleep. "When we look at their brainwaves, the pattern is totally different."
EDIT: Thanks for my first gold!!
I was in a coma for about 2 days when I was 22. I have Crohn's and had been in a severe flare for a few weeks prior. Lots of blood loss, unable to eat dehydrated etc. I fell asleep on my parents' couch. The next thing I remember is walking up in the ICU and thinking about how I needed to use the restroom. Since I had no idea what had happened or where I was I just got up (or tried to anyway) and all the machines went off and a nurse came running into the room and told me to sit down. I don't remember anything that happened during the coma, no dreams, no sense of time moving. Just like a dreamless sleep. Apparently though I was able to do basic commands in the coma. Like a doctor told me to open my eyes so they could take my contacts out. I'd squeeze a hand if told to, but otherwise I didn't move or respond to anything. I don't recall any of it though. Doctors think I went into this coma as a way to preserve energy to keep me alive. I had to get 5 pints of blood and had IV drips in both arms while I was out. It's weird to think about how it happened I was there and yet I have no memories of it.
I know this will get buried but I’ll post my experience anyway. I went to the hospital with renal failure and a pulse ox reading of 32. I remember the nurse saying my pee looked like root beer and when she stabbed my arm to give me an IV all she said was “Uh oh...” My arm got really warm and my dad moved my head so I wouldn’t see how much blood was coming out. Next thing I know I’m in a hospital bed, tearing through the desert at 60+ MPH. Nothing but me and a hospital bed. No motor, nothing. Just cruising through the desert. I’d see all sorts of weird things, most specifically was Ronald McDonald. I saw him all the time. Then my hospital bed would come to a screeching halt and I’d be in the living room of someone I knew. Gramdma, good friends, former coaches... basically any living room I had spent time in with someone I cared about. The weird thing was the living rooms were always three walled. One wall was missing and beyond that wall was a barren desert. We would talk for awhile about god knows what, then I’d be pulled back into the desert cruising at 60 mph again. It happened over and over again. Sometimes the same living rooms would reappear, but almost all of them were unique. When I came out of the coma everyone kept commenting how good my hair looked. I couldn’t figure out why they kept saying that so I finally asked my mom how long I had been asleep. She said 13 days. And I had cards and flowers from all these people who’s living rooms I’d been visiting in my coma. It was surreal and I definitely can’t explain it. Especially since most of the cards came from people who weren’t allowed to visit me in intensive care and were sending well wishes in writing, not in person.
I was in a medically induced coma (with induced, full-body paralysis) for six weeks. There were a handful of times that I distinctly remember where I 'woke up' in my head. What was the experience like? It sucked.
When I would wake up in my head, I had no idea as to what had happened. So, I'm fully conscious, I know that I'm me, but I can't open my eyes, I can't move a muscle and I can't speak. The first time it happened was terrifying. I started to panic and for a minute there, I thought I might be dead. Then I realized that I was thinking, so that didn't seem right. I tried to move and couldn't. I tried to speak and couldn't. I tried to scream and couldn't.
The next time it happened was when my best friend came to see me. Again, I can't move, I can't see, and I can't talk. But when I 'woke up' in my head, I could feel her holding my hand and asking me to squeeze if I could hear her talking. I tried as hard as I could to squeeze my hand, and I could feel it doing absolutely nothing. When she let go to walk away, I was completely devastated. I tried to scream for her to stay, but obviously, nothing happened. However, I was so glad that people I knew were there wherever I was and that I was getting help (even though I felt completely helpless). That kind of helped. I had to calm myself down again so that I could drift off again.
When I was finally brought out of the coma, my parents were there and that didn't make any sense because my parents lived two states away at the time. I eventually learned that they had been there the entire time. They dropped everything in their lives and came to be with me and stayed there throughout the entire ordeal. After a couple of days (I think), some doctors came in and asked me a bunch of questions. The first question was what year it was — that I knew because I remembered getting sick on New Year's Eve, so I knew it was 2000. Next was who the president was. I answered Clinton, so I got that right. Then they asked if I knew where I was. I assuredly said, 'Honolulu' because in my dreams, I had been in Honolulu. When all of their faces had that confused Scooby Doo look is when I realized that wasn't quite right, so I figured that I must have been back in Salt Lake City (somehow). They appeared quite relieved when I came up with that.
Having someone close to you in the hospital with this condition can feel overwhelming. It’s a distressing time for everyone and can especially take a painful toll on the family members. They may have countless concerns and questions in trying to cope with looking after coma patients. However, it turns out that talking to the person and sharing stories can help awaken the comatose brain. Research from Northwestern Medicine and Hines VA Hospital revealed that loved ones' voices telling the patient familiar stories can speed up recovery from the coma.
It found that those who heard tales from family members four times a day for six weeks regained consciousness significantly faster and had an improved recovery than patients who did not. "We believe hearing those stories in parents' and siblings' voices exercises the circuits in the brain responsible for long-term memories,” said lead author Theresa Pape. "That stimulation helped trigger the first glimmer of awareness."
I was put in an induced coma when I was 9 years old after a pretty bad car accident which left me with a fractured skull. All I remember is a bad dream about having a bad headache, and hearing my older sister telling everyone, including my parents, to get the f**k out of her way because she wanted to see me. I found out later that this was on the night it happened, and they were trying to calm her down before she saw me.
Edit: For those who are telling me to let her know how awesome she is, I made sure to, not quite but almost, hug the life out of her when she got back from work.
I was in a coma for nine days. When I woke up, I was still on a ventilator. When they took me off the ventilator, my body didn't remember to breathe on its own. I literally had to relearn how to breathe. It took me a few days; I had no natural sense for how deeply to inhale, how long to hold it, how long to exhale. I had to put all my mental focus on breathing. It was really weird.
For all the people wondering how I slept, I didn't for the first couple of days. If I dozed off, my blood O2 monitor would start beeping and wake me up, then a nurse would yell at me from across the ICU to remember to breathe. I couldn't talk because I'd had the tubes down my nose and throat, but I remember one time I woke up, really exhausted, to that damn beeping. So, I started focusing on breathing again, but I was really angry about it. My nurse came running over yelling at me to breathe. I glared at her, and screamed in my non-existent voice, 'I. AM.' She must have read my lips and felt the rage because she just put her hands up and said, 'All right. All right. Good job,' then walked away. My ability to breathe normally was back within a month or so, and my health is good nowadays, so I wouldn't say it had any permanent effects.
I was out for 45 days, no white light, no tunnel, nothing. Woke up and couldn't remember who I was. For six months, never really fully recovered so I just started life again. Turns out I'm a completely different person than I was and that is a really good thing. I get memories now and then, they aren't pleasant. A woman came and sat by my bed for six weeks, turns out she was my ex lover. I couldn't remember her. Didn't recognize my mother.
*** Afterward** This is the second time in my life I have related this much about my life publicly and it has been good and at the same time really painful. Thanks to everyone for being kind. I wrote this story seven months ago and published it in the lounge and I really hurt my self doing it. This time I wanted to share about the life afterwards and I hope it has been of some benefit to others that struggle with mental issues. This place saves lives, gives hope and guidance to millions of people and i feel lucky to be part of the community.
When the person wakes up, friends and family can feel a severe amount of pressure to go the extra mile to help them with a swift recovery. Iris Gorfinkel told us that when most people emerge out of a coma, they are suffering very significant difficulties. "These include physical deficits (because if a person has not been moving for days, weeks, months, or years, they're going to have muscular atrophy from disuse) and intellectual disabilities. Their thinking may not be the way it used to."
The researcher added this goes with anybody who has been threatened with their life. "We see that 50% of people who have heart attacks experience clinical depression. People who emerge from a coma struggle tremendously with very deep questions about life and its meaning."
Ooh I can answer this one! I was in a medically induced coma for two weeks, about 3 months ago. I had open heart surgery, it didn't go well, had trouble coming off the ventilator so they just put me in a come to try to give me time to heal.
I had nightmares the entire time from the medicine they were using to knock me out. I thought I had been kidnapped by a nurse and was a victim of sex trafficking. I thought my drug addict aunt had her friends rob my sister and her husband, killing my brother-in-law and one of their children, and I thought I was constantly being grabbed by people under my bed. It was not fun.
I can't say that I knew I was in a coma or anything. I am usually one of those people that when I have a bad dream, I can tell myself it is just a dream and wake myself up in order to end it. This was not like that. I was convinced it was all really happening.
I'm a burn survivor — I was in an explosion in my backyard when I was seven years old. Whilst I was in the hospital, I was in a medically induced coma to make my chances of surviving higher. I do remember a few things that happened while I was in said coma; I remember my father reading the seventh book of the Magic Tree House series to me, and I remember hearing the screams of new patients that would come in, but I couldn't move my body at all, nor could I give any signs that I could hear my family or medical staff.
I spent two weeks in the coma and another 48 days. Today, I'm a happy, healthy 17-year-old. If I can say anything about what happened that day, it's that it changed my life for the better.
Back in the '90s, my great grandfather had a stroke. He was in a coma for three weeks, and when he woke up, he could not speak English — all he could speak was the Choctaw language. He had learned it when he was a kid, because his family lived right near a Choctaw reserve, and he played with a lot of those kids. He spoke it fluently at that time, but forgot it over his life to where he couldn't remember any of it by this time. This went on for around 10 days, and then he woke up from a night's sleep and could suddenly speak only English again, not remembering a word of Choctaw.
He was also able to repeat verbatim every conversation that had been held in the room that he was in.
You and the people around you change. A lot. I had a narcissistic sister and mom & dad used to fight on the most trivial stuff lots of raised voices. I bet that’s why my sister behaved the way she did. She was sarcastic, too. It never ended. Going home felt like a room to take a bath in and hit the sack at, with a touch of sarcasm and constant entitledness(if that’s even a word).
I had a brain surgery. I was under for 5 months. The lobby lady told me, she was there every day. Never missed a day, there was no need to come visit me. But she would stay there after school till night fell. So like 5 hours.
I never felt so loved ever. It swept the ground (what I thought of her) from under my feet. I was blank.
When I did wake up. She was the first thing I saw. There she was, my sister. Who always hated my guts. I don’t know what made her change, I never asked but I was glad. I knew it was genuine. She wasn’t even surprised, she just looks at me and says “Took you long enough.” We cried and hugged it out.
And she was a complete different person after that. I don’t know what it does to/in people that changes them. But I’m glad that it does.
Then I realised why people just didn’t get up from a bedridden state and need help. Because the back is stiff. XD lolz
I was in a medically induced coma following a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I don't remember much but my family described moments of me appearing to be awake. Most notable, an apparent attempt at humor. Apparently they put these mits on my hands to prevent me from ripping my ventilation tubes out over and over but I pretended they were my lobster claws. I have no recollection but it's a real me move.
Edit: Gold was really too generous. Thank you so much. It's also my first gold, so big hugs to you, Stranger.
Edit 2: I've never known so much kindness. Truly. My heart is very full right now.
Dunno. I was in a coma for 11 days, severe brain injury. I don’t remember being in a coma or waking up from a coma. I lost several years of memories prior to the coma, and my brain didn’t really start to “retain” information again until ~6 weeks after I came out of the coma.
I’m told that my personality changed afterwards. I had to rebuild most areas of my life. It sucked, but it was probably a good thing.
Although I’d be lying if I said I never wondered what my life would be like if I’d never had the coma.
My mom was in an induced coma for three months. When she woke up, she thought the hospital was trying to kill her. She tried to get out of bed, and she fell on the floor because she couldn't walk. She was mostly freaked about how her feet had lost their form. They were humped over from not being used. Every muscle, she had to learn again. She couldn’t talk well or write at all. She has different handwriting after re-learning. She said she hated how perfect her hands looked. Her nails and cuticles were perfect and clean from not being used. I remember trying to brush her hair after she woke up, and almost all of it fell out. And she almost died pretty much every day she was in her coma.
She had sepsis from a diverticulitis surgery gone wrong. A lot of her hair has grown back, and she can walk but has brain damage that makes her seem very drunk. She is always dizzy. But it’s been five years now, and her recovery has been miraculous.
My girlfriend of 6 years and sort of fiance was in a severe car crash when she was 16. Both of her best friends died instantly. She was the only survivor but they didn't think she would make it. She was in a coma for 9 months. She was in what is called a waking coma. She retained normal periods of sleep and open eyed wakefulness, but no higher brain functions.
Here are some things about her experience.
She doesn't have any memories of the year prior or the year and a halfish after her coma and obviously no memories of the car crash.
She suffered a TBI and when she first got out of the coma she would get naked and sexual with people and anger very easily. These are common problems of people who suffer a TBI.
She went back to school after the coma, but her brain was still healing a lot. She was held back another year because her brain was still not retaining anything.
Today she is a wonderful, bright 30 year old with a college degree. She has a slight speech impediment, gets frustrated easier than most, and it took her a while to get driving down. Honestly, she still scares the hell out of me when she drives, but there are worse drivers out there.
After being in a really bad accident that left one of my good friends (the driver) brain dead, they put me into a chemically induced coma for under a week to prevent brain damage due to swelling.
When I first woke up, my memory was much better than it was as it gradually faded in the days to come. I have a journal my mother recorded things in, and I recalled many things I shouldn’t have been able to immediately after waking up. Today, I have very little memory of it all, but I can definitely say that having positive people around you definitely helps when you’re in a situation like that.
If you have a friend in this situation, don’t disregard them. Even though your life has moved on, they may wake up one day, and in their mind, not a day has passed since the last conversation they had with you.
3 month coma here. I did know I was in a coma, but had no sense of time. I had some minor awareness of what was going on around me, sort of the inverse of a dream. Speaking of dreaming, I learned lucid dreaming. I remember using Legos to build walls against the pain. I remember alternating between feeling like I was freezing and on fire and used my newfound lucid dreaming powers to try to mitigate those feelings. I remember writing a book in my mind, and visualising it like a movie as I wrote it. I remember feeling the tears of my wife and hearing her cry, and talking about how she was running out of strength. I remember wanting to comfort her, I remember wanting to tell her about the book I was working on.
When I came out of it the next 6 months were hell. I had no appetite but somehow gained 40 pounds pretty quickly. I felt like my whole nervous system was off by a millimeter and had to relearn touch typing. I've never recovered the energy I had before. I lost the ability to lucid dream. It'll happen sometimes, but very rarely. I held onto to the details of the book in my mind for about two days, which wasn't nearly long enough to write it all down, especially since I had to relearn touch typing. There were times in that first six months I wished I was back in the coma.
That was three years ago but I only have about $30k of debt left. I'll never be able to buy a house. Due to the debt I lost my security clearance, which cut off my entire career track. I still feel bad for my family having to go through that but I think it made us closer. I'm happier with what I have, and grateful for the small things in life, which is fortunate because beforehand I was very driven and ambitious. Now I'm more cautious and reserved. Me of three years ago wouldn't like me now. He'd think I gave up and should work harder for more tangible success. Current me is happy with the love and loyalty of my family.
Sometimes though I miss the ability to create fully fleshed out worlds in my mind.
I was in a coma for a few weeks. It. Was. S**t. It was like being in a nightmare. A lot of darkness, voices, flashes of images. No real cohesion or comprehension, but a bad feeling and confusion hung over the 'consciousness' I had. The transition to being awake was similarly disturbing and very difficult for me to distinguish from the comatose state. I needed a lot of feedback about where I was, what was happening, how much time had passed. My family weren't there so I assumed I was still unconscious and that this was part of the bad dream. Took me almost a week to see a familiar face and put it all together. It took years to come back from that, mentally. The sense of dark uncanniness stuck with me for a long time. Probably only a year to recover physically.
I was in a coma for three days after an emergency C-Section (thanks eclampsia). They actually lost me for a couple of minutes after they delivered my twin boys. I remember hearing the sound of my dad crying close by. I could hear people talking around me, but any time I would try to focus on what I thought I was seeing it was like looking in a kaleidoscope.
I was in a coma for three days after a car accident where I hit my head. Pretty much, I was driving then I saw the color purple, and then I woke up three days later. There really was nothing. It's not even like sleeping because when you wake up from sleeping, you know you were asleep. It is like blinking; one second you are doing something, then the next something totally different. I do have a vague memory of being on a table with a cute guy wiping my nose and it hurting really bad. I remember saying, 'You are super cute,' but that's all.
I believe that was before I went into the coma after the accident. I had a brain bruise or something like that, and it caused speech problems for about six months after.
I was in a coma for 3 weeks, from September 2nd to September 26th, 2001.
I was driving through Pennsylvania on my way to Ithica NY to meet with the head of marketing for the company I worked with at the time. I'm making this trip on September 2nd, 2001 and I don't exactly remember much of what happened except what was told to me by EMTs and hospital staff but the gist of it is, I was hit or forced off the road by a drunk driver trying to cut across 3 lanes to get to an exit I was in the furthest right lane. Basically I was in his blind spot at the wrong time, on top of him being drunk as shit. pretty much everyone on here can guess the thing that would happen on September 11th, 2001. It feels like I teleported or traveled through time because one minute I'm driving, the next I'm broken and bloody, I'm in a hospital bed with a back and neck brace, burns from the gas of my airbags deploying, an IV in my hand and a few other minor injuries.
When I woke up I was in an entirely different world from the one I left. Before I went to sleep... the economy was doing alright I guess, it SEEMED like America had her shit together for the most part under Bush. Generally things were cool in the world.
And then I woke up.
Chaos.. That is all for now..
I was in a coma for about two weeks following a cardiac arrest as a teen. I was technically dead for over an hour, in fact. People often ask me if I could hear my family talking to me or if I was dreaming. The answer is "No."
There is a huge hole in my memory beginning about two weeks before the coma through a week after "waking up." And waking up is in quotes because I would wake up, ask a bunch of semi-incoherent questions, fall back under, then wake up again and ask the *exact* same questions, in the exact same order. Repeat six or seven times.
The coma was not even blackness. It just does not exist. I remember having the hardest time believing it was actually mid-October when the last day I remembered was late-September.
When I was considered medically "dead" I couldn't hear anyone, I was in a huge white room with no walls, just a floor. The floor would occasionally sparkle far off. I could not move, I could just look around, it was completely empty. I could still feel emotions, I had a heavy feeling of being nervous/worried. It felt like I was sneaking into a place where I did not belong, like a part of the house that was off limits to me as a kid. Time went by so slowly, I felt every second of it. It was only for 4ish minutes but it definitely felt that long. I could not think, I just felt. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I felt helpless, everything was out of my control, I felt trapped. I dont remember but when I was revived I screamed for minutes, I just screamed and cried.
I was in a coma for 5 weeks due to Meningococcal. I had A LOT of "dreams", most that I can still remember pretty clearly.
You can definitely take in what is being said from the people around you. I was 12 at the time (22 now), and my mother was reading Lord of the Rings to me while I was out. I had some pretty vivid LotR related dreams. Like eating some ice cubes under a bridge with Bilbo Baggins.
When I woke up, it felt like I'd been gone a long time, but without knowing how long.
I was in a medically induced coma for several months after a car accident. I don't remember much. But i do recall coming out of the coma briefly a few times. The first time i started flailing around and had to be tired back down to the bed till i was put back to sleep. A second time i woke to see some of my organs out on trays sitting on my body (still attached, but just being held out of the way) i also had a dream about being "locked" to a couch in cuba and could only watch tv in Spanish (i think it was). I say "locked" because i was able to get up and move, but only to a certain distance. Like after 10ft id hit an imaginary wall. Like when in a video game and you reach the end of the map.
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