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Dad went to the ICU and was sedated and on life support for a bad respiratory issue. He has since been released and I talked to him today. He cried and told me about a dream he had while sedated. A figure tried to lead him to a "black hole" and Dad refused to follow. He recalled feeling lonely and sad and cried to me. Dad's usually a stoic guy so this emotion is hard for me to handle. I tried to calm him down and be soothing but it's scaring and making me sad too. Not sure what to do but just needed to express what happened.

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Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and stories.

I talked again to Dad today and he's in better spirits and recovering. Due to his Parkinson's, I couldn't hear him well enough the first time but now that he's calmed down, he shared the dream again to me (without tears or being jittery) and I misunderstood it a bit!

So it turns out that Dad saw two figures trying to lead him down a black tunnel. However, he also saw his youngest grandson standing off to the side crying, looking lonely and hugging a teddy bear. My Dad, wanting to comfort his grandson, decided to tell the figures NO and wanted to hug the little 2 year old instead.

So the loneliness he expressed was not his own, but that of his grandson's. Dad told my brother that wanting to comfort his grandson SAVED HIS LIFE.

I really found that beautiful and Dad moved on to joke a bit with me and we had a longer conversation than we usually would have. So I'm grateful he pulled through the ICU ordeal. Very very thankful.
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This remind me of the time when my father was in ICU when VRE. The beeping and thumping of the monitors was getting on my nerves, as I spent quite a bit of time there b/c Dad was in and out of a coherent state and I didn't want him to wake up and feel alone there.

One of the nurses told me about ICU psychosis, from the machines and the isolation and probably whatever caused the patient to be in ICU.

I have a suspicion that someday a Caregiver Psychosis may be a diagnosed condition as well. The demands, challenges, balances, and isolation from social activities would be major factors.

When I was in the hospital after my stroke, I just could not sleep the first night. I was so tired, so worried, not particularly comfortable, anxious and have never been so strung out as I was that night. I couldn't see much out of the windows except the top of the hospital with fans and other equipment.

I really think it, as well as being in an ICU, was somewhat comparable to sensory deprivation.

I felt like an escaped prisoner once I was discharged and could see trees and feel the breeze on my skin. Even if there was a blizzard, at least there would be real fragrances, of moisture, snow, fresh air, and not the sterile environments of hospitals.
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Many times the lack of sleep everyone experiences in ICU (due to the need for frequent care) will contribute to these dreams/hallucinations. I believe I visited my mother in the afterlife while in ICU. I found her living in a damp cave filled with green plants while her siblings were enjoying a sunny picnic outside. I definitely recognized her favorite sister. never actually saw Mum but I heard her say "Don't think you are coming in here!"
Later I had definite hallucinations. I saw a red squirrel in an air duct and another time a large knife and hubby's credit card on a rail on the end of my bed. Hubby bent as to pick it up and proved it wasn't there. One of the Drs said"She is hallucinating" "No I am not" I said.
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I had the absolute worst night of my life in the hospital. When I told that to the nurse she said, "Oh. some people do react that way when given morphine." Why am I being given morphine? "To deal with any pain that might occur."

I'll tell you what. I would definitely rather cope with pain than ever have a dream/hallucination like that again!

So perhaps you can tell your father that many people have really bad dreams in the hospital, that he is not likely to have one again, and that he will never be alone in this life. Even if you are not there, you are with him in spirit.
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Set a thief to catch a thief, eh? An inspired idea to appeal to your monk friend for help, and I'm glad you were able to ease your stepmother's passing.
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When my late stepmother was in hospice, the morphine and other drugs gave her awful dreams and hallucinations. Having been psychologically abused by a fanatical religious mother as a child, a lot of negative and frightening stuff came up for her at the end of her life, mainly around "the devil" and "hell." Her fears of her mother's vision of her afterlife, basically. I brought in a friend, who is a fairly modern Anglican monk. He managed to give her great peace at the end, by repeatedly suggesting a different vision in which she would go to be with my late father.

Is it possible your dad is subconsciously dragging stuff up from the past, maybe a negative religious experience, or messages from a negative religious person? Also I think our greatest fears about death come up a lot when we get sick and/or older....whether those fears are from outside influences or just the workings of our own brains. Mix in drugs that induce hallucinations or crazy dreams, and you've got the makings of the kind of nightmare that feels real and would shake a person to their core.
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A little while back there was a flurry of debate and publicity about psychological trauma among patients in ICU - if you Google that as a topic you'll see numerous "scholarly articles" about it.

I do love that expression - scholarly articles! Makes one feel very owlish and wise to be looking for them :)

Anyway. I wonder if your father might find it reassuring to learn that his vivid recollections and frightening experiences may well be related to the sort of intensive interventions, monitoring and of course drugs that ICU tends to involve. In short - it's not him, it's the environment he was in, and there are sound scientific explanations for how he is feeling.

Wishing him a full recovery, please let us know how he's getting on.
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I've had a couple of very disturbing dreams in my life, and I can only imagine the frightening dreams one might have while ill in the ICU. Poor man! I'm sure talking about it to his loving daughter was very comforting and reassuring -- if not at the moment, later when he had even more distance from the experience. Would he feel some relief talking to a pastor or chaplain, as well?
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Maybe you could tell him that you're so relieved he's doing better, that you're also glad (and honored) he feels comfortable confiding in you and that you're able to be with him as he moves forward toward recovery. He may need that reassurance that he won't be alone after the upsetting episode.
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I am so glad Dad is home! Not to discount the “near-death “ experience others may have had, but your dad’s psyche was under a lot of stress in the hospital. His brain may have been deprived of oxygen, he was on meds to sedate him and had machines doing the work of his organs. Even without those factors, I can tell you that I have had some dreams that weirded me out so bad they affected me all day. If Dad was in an induced state of unconsciousness, that could have made it worse for him. Regarding his emotional state, he is dealing with the fact that he was very ill and survived. That’s a lot to handle! It’s great that he feels comfortable enough with you to confide his feelings! Don’t discount his dream, but discourage him from dwelling on it. As he moves through his recovery, he will get stronger, emotionally and physically. God bless!
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