CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Berkshire Life today CLICK HERE

Anne Diamond talks medical nightmares and local hospitals

PUBLISHED: 11:34 18 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:34 18 July 2013

Anne Diamond

Anne Diamond

Archant

Our vital intensive care units save lives every day but for some patients the experience produces ‘memories’ straight from horror films, says Anne Diamond

It’s been like discovering a well-hidden secret - but not for a second am I implying anyone has deliberately kept it so. It’s just one of those things that Those In The Know have accepted and the rest of us haven’t even suspected.

What I am talking about is how a few life-saving days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of your local hospital could cause you a lifetime of awful, horrible, terrifying hallucinations and recurring dark dreams.

I couldn’t believe it when I first heard the true facts, as I was broadcasting a series of live outside broadcast programmes for BBC Radio Berkshire from within the NHS. I was trying to find real life true stories from those who experience the NHS as both patients and professionals.

I met impressive former patients who were convinced they’d been terrorised, probed, and tortured by aliens during their time in ICU.

I say impressive because I want to convince you these people aren’t weirdos. These are people you’d be happy to have as your next door neighbours and trust babysitting your children. And the professionals, the doctors and nurses who have treated them, take them utterly seriously.

Fact is, according to them, they’ve been restrained and tortured, they’ve been haunted by ghosts and bewildered by visions both (occasionally) comforting and (usually) terrifying. And their visions, their experiences, live with them to this day, months and years after their time in ICU.

It’s a problem, I suspect, the professionals are only just beginning to understand. At the Royal Berkshire, they acknowledge, it’s common (more than 65% of those who have been on life support). And they now hold clinics for former patients who remember their time in ICU as desperate and terrifying.

Many hospitals have yet to understand the terrifying legacy they endure, which occurs through no-one’s fault.

As well as the patients, can you imagine how dreadful it is for a dedicated, caring ICU professional to be thought of as an alien, masked, torturer?

Gordon, from Reading, a cardiac patient, has revisited ICU many times as a volunteer, but still feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end when he sees his nurse, one of the team who literally saved his life after a multiple organ failure.

He still recognises her as a creature from outer space, with a squeaky voice and gruesome equipment, who was trying to kill him.

Sally, another former ICU patient, ‘remembers’ staff trying to slowly kill her, cause her utmost pain, probe her and carry out painful experiments. Her partner, bewildered by her hallucinations, even videoed her - the most graphic and upsetting images I’ve ever seen. In the video she’s plainly under the best hospital care, with tubes and breathing equipment keeping her alive, but she’s seeing an entirely different reality. At times, she’s desperately upset. Then she’s seeing her newborn baby (she went into crisis whilst giving birth) or choosing to wave ‘goodbye’ to long lost relatives.

Others I spoke to remember a paranoia of pain, tubes, and blood dripping down the walls whilst much mourned loved ones entreated them to either walk towards, or retreat from, a blinding light.

Are we to understand all of this as biological - the bi-product of necessary but aggressive medical treatment or as some sort of spiritual experience? I know not. I’m just glad the NHS is just beginning to try to understand, and help.

I only hope that many more hospitals respond to this growing awareness with comfort and support for both patients and NHS staff.

***

Listen to Anne on BBC Radio Berkshire, 95.4 and 104.1FM, from 10am to 1pm

0 comments

More from People

Wed, 11:26

If you have been lucky enough to be a homeowner for any significant length of time then you would certainly have been aware of how the value of your property has increased over the years

Read more
Mon, 12:48

Strictly’s waspish judge talks candidly about the show, why same sex couples should be given the chance to dance together and the day one irate fan slapped him on the face in Newbury

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The only limit to what you can achieve when redesigning your home is your imagination. Award-winning interior designer Nicola Scannell tells us what she loves most about working on properties in Berkshire

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

The impressionist, actor, singer, writer and now pianist shares some thoughts on everything from music to the less welcome sounds of Heathrow before appearing in Berkshire

Read more

Unsurprisingly a common question our clients ask during their annual reviews is: “What effect will Brexit have on my investments and future plans?”

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ascot knows how to raise a glass or two, but might need a double as Absolutely Ascot is filmed, which seems a long gallop from reality in East Berkshire

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Stoke Park’s chef has his first cookbook out, so you create culinary masterpieces at home to impress family and friends

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

Drew Burnett’s path to becoming a wildlife photographer is as extraordinary as the images he now captures for us all to enjoy

Read more
Monday, August 13, 2018

Some of the best ideas grow from a chat at the family dining table, and this one blossomed into products now delighting mothers across the country

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

While the sounds of national anthems as rowers collected gold medals yet again was once music to his ears, veteran coach Mike Spracklen is ringing the changes

Read more
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The former GB athlete shares the reasons why he loves returning home to Stockgrove, the beautiful spot you too could visit this summer

Read more
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Jax Meehan knows quite a bit about racing ahead, so when she tired of heading to the capital for her favourite ‘smart casual’ styles and labels she set up shop in her home town

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

Paul Kidby was mesmerised by the work of Bucks author Terry Pratchett and one day a phone call would lead to an extraordinary meeting of minds for the next two decades

Read more
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Wokingham furniture designer recalls the moment he decided to tell his wife – and mother of their two young children – that his commuting days were coming to an end

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Berkshire Life weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Property Search