People share their first-hand experiences of what a coma actually feels like
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in a coma?
A injury to the brain, such as a severe head injury or stroke. A coma can also be caused by severe alcohol poisoning or a brain infection.
While everyone's experience differs, the science remains the same. The person’s eyes will be closed and they’ll appear unresponsive to their surroundings.
It’s not often that they will respond or be able to communicate or perform basic reflexes, such as coughing, and they’re unlikely to react to sound or pain. They may be able to breathe with no support, but in more serious cases, they may require machine assistance.
The person may gradually regain consciousness and become more aware of their surroundings after a few weeks.
According to the NHS, some people will wake up after a few weeks, while others may go into a vegetative or minimally conscious stateGetty Images/iStockphoto
As with anything, there are different levels of severity. This can impact the seriousness of the coma and brain activity. We often see TV shows and movies liken comas to dream-like states. One Reddit user, @iwillcorrectyou, shared how their experience wasn’t as depicted in the media:
“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 to 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.”
“I would wake up, ask a bunch of semi-incoherent questions, fall back under, then wake up again"Getty Images/iStockphoto
One of the most asked questions around being in an unconscious state is whether a person can hear you. One woman shared her experience with Distractify.
She explained: “I could hear every word...
“I heard my husband singing ‘if you’re happy and you know it and your wife won’t let you show it...’ and it HAUNTS me.
“I was in there the whole time. I didn’t know he was unhappy or felt obligated and I was just there to make him happy.”
She learned a valuable lesson from her coma: “Be nice to people because you never know who’s listening these days, and to what.”
Journalist Geoffrey Lean also shared his experience with The Independentabout his ability to “hear every word”. He added: “I could also feel my dear wife’s hand in mine, our fingers entwined. I could hear her telling me that the children were all right and that their schools and my office were being supportive. I could not work out what she was doing in the strange world I now inhabited, but her presence was enormously reassuring.”
People often wonder whether a person recalls going into a coma and how it happened. @heyrainyday on Reddit shared how they didn’t have any recollection of it at all: “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 [around] 6 weeks after I came out of the coma.”
Another user added: “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.”
For more information and guidance from healthcare professionals and the families of people in a coma, please visit the following websites: