What Teen CLAIRE WINELAND Can Tell You About What A Person In a Medically Induced Coma Knows, Sees, and Hears
In light of Bobbi Kristina‘s tragic situation where-for six months, she lay in a medically induced coma after suffering a drowning in her bathtub and found unresponsive, with reports her situation improving and the next-no, one can’t help but wonder if she is aware of the goings on around her as she lays.
This is a great story and one such that brought me back to when I took a psych class called Brain and Mind Studies while taking another philosophy class called the Psychology of Thought.
Interchangeably, the discussion centered around the notion (or question) as to whether thought was a mind or brain function-and what the brain processes v. what the mind processes and whether or not the mind and brain or two different or one in the same.
The conclusion was that the mind processes thought and the brain is a function of the body-it does not process thought. Brain and mind are two different things.
Well to me, there’s no better teacher than experience. And Claire Wineland’s story can answer that question easily as, for two weeks straight (while in a medically induced coma) she kept picturing herself looking at forests, caves and wildlife. And in her mind…that’s that she was doing (so said her brain). But actually, she was being ice-packed in a hospital bed the entire time.
“I remember sitting there and staring at the most beautiful scenery ever for hours and hours … it would be freezing cold but I didn’t care. Turns out I was being ice-packed the whole time.”
ABC’s Gillian Mohoney reports:
Experts say it’s helpful to hear stories about what patients go through in the ICU when under heavy sedatives. Dr. Michael DeGeorgia, a neurologist from University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said patients can face post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma from being left in the dream-like state during sedation. He clarified that a medically-induced coma is different from a coma caused by traumatic brain injury.
“When you’re dreaming, your entire brain is not [synchronized]. When you wake up from dream, the memory is almost there but can’t quite get it,” DeGeorgia said “When you’re in and out of sedation [your brain is] not quite synchronized in laying down memories.”
DeGeorgia said sedated patients will try to make sense of their surroundings, even though they may appear unconscious or out of it. For Wineland, this meant she thought she was in Alaska when ice packs were applied to her body and that she was on a hammock when she was inverted to drain fluids.
“My brain would make up a story for while I was in those positions,” Wineland said in her video. “I was upside down and swelling like a balloon. In my head I was in this weird hammock thing and my foot was stuck.”
DeGeorgia said in recent years doctors are now recommending using less sedative because patients can have traumatic experiences from their time in sedation when they can’t make sense of what’s going on or what procedures they may need.
“We now know that to varying degrees that patients can be aware of what you’re saying,” said DeGeorgia. “ They may indeed be partially aware of what they’re saying. You have to be attentive to patient and assume they’re listening to you.”
Wineland told ABC News even after she “woke” up from her coma she faced problems. As the drugs were slowly reduced she was unclear when she was hallucinating. “I can’t remember what was real and what wasn’t real from that week,” she recalled of the week when she first woke up. “Every time I talk about it, I remember something else.”
Wineland, a recent high school graduate, said she wanted to share her story on her website and Youtube channel so that people could understand more about what cystic fibrosis and other chronic disease patients face.
“[There’s a] hidden world and subculture of being sick,” said Wineland. “No one really talks about it, it’s [always] a story of dying person and not (cont’d)