Ever wondered what it's actually like to be in a coma? Well, the internet's got you covered.
In these Reddit threads by u/whatchalookingatboy, u/yummygumdrop, and u/_bread-boi_ from a while back, people shared how they ended up in a coma and what their experience was like — and let me tell you, I learned A LOT, and it's not like what you see on TV.
Here are some of the most fascinating — and wildest — stories:
1."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."
2."A friend of mine was in a six-month coma after an accident. Afterward, 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."
3."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."
4."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."
5."I was in a coma for 11 days from a 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 about six weeks after I came out of the coma. I’m told that my personality changed afterward. 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."
6."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."
7."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."
8."My friend was in a coma about 10 years ago for roughly three weeks after a 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. He felt like he was actually dying and his last few seconds just stretched on and on forever."
"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 dying by suicide."
9."I was in a coma for four days from bacterial meningitis. When I woke up, I was completely deaf! I had to communicate with my parents and doctors with a notepad and pen. Some hearing gradually returned in my left ear, but my right ear is still 100% deaf to this day."
10."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, 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 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."
11."My girlfriend of six years and sort of fiancée 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 nine months and 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 half after her coma and obviously no memories of the car crash.
She suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury), 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."
12."I was in a coma for close to six weeks. When I woke up, I had to learn everything again. I had most of my speaking abilities, but my motor control was horrid. I had to figure out how to wipe my ass as well as how to walk up and down the stairs again. That took about three weeks. I had lost a ton of weight, too — I was 6'3" and weighed about 145 pounds."
13."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."
14."I held my grandfather's hand while he was comatose on his deathbed. I spoke in his ear my feelings toward him and the effect he had on my life. I swear he could hear me because he squeezed my hand during some of the more heartfelt things that I said to him. Even typing this now strongly reminds me of that experience, and it's making me cry. People can hear you. Never lose the chance to say what you need to say to them."
15."I was out for 45 days, no white light, no tunnel, nothing. Woke up and couldn't remember who I was. For six months, I 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. I also didn't even recognize my mother."
16."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."
17."My dad was in a coma for about two months a couple years ago. Recently, we were talking about the whole thing, and he told me that he had 'dreamed/hallucinated' that he lived for 10 years, and did all sorts of things during that time. He said it was very vivid, and he walked across the country a couple times during it. When he woke up/got home, he said it would throw him off when he would run into people he hadn't seen since before the coma, because at first he always expected them to have aged by 10 years."
18."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."
19."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."
20."My wife was in a medically induced coma for two weeks, about 10 years ago. When she woke up, she had very wrong memories. They were all based on conversations people had while in the room with her. For example, she thought they flew her to Washington DC for treatment. While she was in a coma, my father-in-law mentioned how he just flew back into town from DC on a work trip. Somehow, she overheard this while out and her brain interpreted it to mean she flew to DC."
"Even after we explained to her the reality of where she was, it took DAYS for her to come to terms with reality."
21."I was in a coma for three days following a serious cycling accident, medically induced. I woke up with zero recollection of why I was there or what was said while I was out. It is easily the scariest situation I've found myself in, but I can't say I remember it. I woke up to my mom and dad in the hospital with me, and my body in traction of some sort and that was way scarier to me."
22."I was in a medically induced coma for two weeks, about three months ago. I had open heart surgery; it didn't go well, and I had trouble coming off the ventilator, so they just put me in a coma 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. I thought my 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."
23."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."
24."I had a seizure and was in a medically induced coma for three days when I was 17. To be honest, I don’t remember anything. I remember fading in and out of the anesthesia, trying to pull my breathing tube out, and that my hands were restrained to the bed so I couldn’t. When I woke up and was coherent; I couldn’t recall anything from actually being in the coma. They had even moved me to a hospital over 100 miles away. It was really just nothing but black. No dreams, no lights, no voices, just nothing."
25."My dad is an emergency room doctor and told me about this woman in a coma he saw during his residency. The experience taught him that you need to treat everyone like they're a fully aware and conscious person, even people in comas."
"He and the other residents would all do their rounds; they had regular patients at the hospital, and they would go from room to room checking on them with the attending physician who instructed them. One woman was in a deep coma for weeks or months (I'm a little hazy on the details). Every time they'd come in, he'd say, 'Hi Ms. ____, I'm Dr ____ and I'm just here to check on you!' He talked to her like she was listening to him, explaining what he was doing to her step-by-step, and a lot of the other doctors thought it was kind of silly. I mean, she's in a coma, so she can't be listening, right?
Well, time goes by and the woman wakes up, all of a sudden. They're doing their rounds, and he walks in the room and says something, and she immediately recognizes his voice; she came into the hospital in a coma and never saw the man, and never heard him talk while she was awake before that day. She immediately recognizes his voice and says "Oh, I remember you! You're the one that was so nice to me!"
That makes comas seem really terrifying to me — the fact that she was conscious enough to recognize not only a voice, but how someone treated her while she was in a coma. Still, shows you that you can't just assume someone isn't listening, just because they aren't talking."
26."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."
27."My wife was in a medically induced coma for four days. She had a reaction to contrast dye, and her heart stopped for 20 minutes. For nearly three months, she was confabulating about her long-dead parents. She would speak about them like they were in the next room. Or, she would say her daughter or brother called...but they hadn't. Over and over, she thought her mom was alive, then her dad. Drove me nuts having to (gently) correct her many times per day. She would come up with amazing tales about what people (relatives, friends, neighbors) were doing, what they said — truly creative fiction. Three months later, she began to come back."
"The confabulations stopped, and now, things are reversed. She can remember recent events, but her long-term memories are gone. I don't know what that's like, but it must be awful. She cries sometimes for her lost memories, but overall, she is doing very well."
28."About 20 years ago, my cousin had a severe head injury from a fall. He was about 20 at the time and was in a coma for almost four weeks. When he woke up, he fairly quickly discovered that his memory was eidetic. He could repeat entire conversations back word for word, and even tell you the date and time you said something. Also, he could memorize images with just a few second's glance."
"His memory is still eidetic today. It's annoying as f**k. Whenever he reminds me of something I said in the past, usually something I can't even remember, I suggest that we hit him in the head again."
29."I was in a medically induced coma for approximately a week due to sepsis. When I was in, I thought I was a bird with my wings outstretched that was slowly freezing to the ground. When I woke up, I thought I was in Taos, but it looked like Raton (I was in Albuquerque, in a hospital that I had worked in for years). I thought I was 10 years younger. I thought I had gotten into a wreck and that my fiancé at the time was an abusive ex-boyfriend. I thought my fiancé had found me naked on the side of I-25 and had taken me to a veterinary hospital. It took another month and a half for me to understand what happened."
"I was in and out of surgery and died a couple times in that time. Once, they were changing out my wound vac, and I looked down and saw inside of me, then things started making a little more sense. (When I looked down and saw myself open, it resembled a cheeseburger that someone had cut in half and left in a fridge uncovered for two weeks.) I still can't eat cheeseburgers."
WOW. What do you think about these stories? Have you or someone you know ever been in a coma? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.