Elderly mom...major confusion after ICU (Read 741 times)

    Has anyone dealt with this? Mom had esophagus surgery a little over a week ago, and had complications the next evening. Her heart rate went way up and stayed up. She was transported from the small surgery center to the big hospital ER, where they kept her for six hours before putting her into ICU. She stayed there for four days. During that time, she also developed pneumonia. Anyway, she told some crazy tales, which we chalked up to morphine-induced dreams....until now. Wednesday, she was moved to a regular hospital room and seemed to be clear-headed. Today she went to a rehab hospital, where I went and spent a few hours with her shortly after her arrival. She seemed fine. She called me an hour or so after I left to tell me she couldn't reach the air conditioner controls, or get anyone to come help her. Someone came in to help her just then, so she let me go. I called back half an hour later and she seemed fine. Here's the part that worries me. She called me at 1:00 AM, trying to tell me they had moved her to someplace near Hereford (town an hour from here...we had a conversation about it days ago), and I could not convince her otherwise. She was very agitated. This worries me greatly. I called and told her nurse, and she hasn't had morphine or anything other than nausea meds since she was admitted. I will go see her in the morning. Is this common? My mom was mentally sharp before. She's 75. I'm worried this may be something bad. Sad
      Apologies for the lack of paragraphs. iPhones don't like paragraphs.
        We had a similar experience with my grandmother, my mom and my father in law. All of them got back to normal with time. FIL said that they were performing medical experiments on him. GM thought that the door to her hospital room went outside and that when people left her room they were leaving the hospital. I think it's a combination of medication and being off routine and under slept. HTH.

          Same here with father-in-law. After a major operation he was telling us about the "wild parties" the staff were having in the middle of the night. He was convinced of this. Everything soon turned back to normal though, the operation was a success and the "parties" were never mentioned again.


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            Those sound so much like the stories my mom has been telling. Thanks, guys...that reassures me that she'll return to normal.

            A Saucy Wench



              I think sometimes the combination of post surgical inflammation, pain, and the lack of peace in a hospital just overwhelms the brain.  Hospitals are just impossible places to rest.  Either they give you sleep meds to deal with the constant noise (which cause hallucinations in a significant number of people) or they dont and you get disjointed light sleep where your dreams and reality blend a liiiiitle too much. 


              I cant remember the specifics but when i was in the hospital I remember having one of my dreams mixing with the hospital noises and really believing that it had happened, except my rational brain was ABLE to say...no that isnt possible.  But I still remembered it as real, and I'm not sure I was really convinced except what I dreamed was impossible.  If i had dreamt something possible, like a conversation or moving to a different hospital or a party, I might still believe it.

              I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets


              "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7

                The sleep thing is spot-on. She's had over a week of just dozing off for 5-10 minutes, then waking back up. That's not real rest.

                Princess Cancer Pants

                  I HATE hospitals.  When I had my DS by c-section I had no choice but to stay 4 nights...I was pretty nutso by the end of that stay.  I'm not sure I got more than a couple hours of sleep/day the entire time I was there.  I am a SUPER light sleeper and the noise and lights and constant checks at all hours (one nurse actually woke me from a sound sleep to make sure I was breathing...fuck, stick a mirror under my nose if you aren't sure, bitch.  I needed that sleep after undergoing major surgery and dealing with a newborn) and visits from family and friends really did a number on me.  I actually don't even remember much of those days--probably due to some coping mechanisms.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that it brought on PTSD, but I probably wasn't too far from it (the events leading up to the CS, itself, and some of the treatment from a couple of nurses and my OB-gyn were less than ideal, for starters).


                  Years after my CS I underwent elective outpatient surgery.  I had the option to spend a single night in an outpatient ward.  I opted to ride an hour home that evening and sleep in my own bed with my DH acting as nurse.  And I really liked the nurses who were in that outpatient ward, but it was still brightly lit and full of commotion and other patients and their family in-and-out.  Hospitals can be really traumatic for a lot of folks.  It doesn't surprise me at all that the mix of physical trauma, pain meds, noise, and sleep interruptions would give people odd hallucinations.

                  '17 Goals:

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                  • Chemo-Radiation

                  • Surgery

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                  She was not strong. She was valiant. Radiant. Brave and broken. The beauty she discovered in the aftermath was unparalleled to anything she had known before, because it had come at such a cost.

                  ~ Unknown

                  Feeling the growl again

                    There are multiple reasons someone's mental state could be altered in that situation. Some are benign, some are not. She should be checked out to determine which it is. I do not mean to worry you, it may be nothing to worry about, but I would hate it if she threw a blood clot due to surgery and you didnt have her checked out because some others had similar symptoms that turned out to be nothing.

                    "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


                    I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills


                    Along for the Ride

                      I agree with Spaniel. Best to have a conversation with the nurses or her attending physician rule out true issues and not brush it aside as "ah, she will snap out of it."


                      Hospitals are tough on older folks. Since she was in the ICU for 4 days; she hasn't slept well in at least 4 days. If any. There is really no way for an ICU to be quiet. Patients have to be monitored constantly and some are not stable. Constant lights and noises and the strange surroundings can play a big role in confusion in elderly. Maybe reaction to the medications and just in general the change from the familiar surroundings at home to the hospital environment make a big difference. Hope she gets better and is back to her old sharp self real soon!

                      Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

                      Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.


                        Thanks, all. I did talk to her nurses today and explained that she's saying many things that don't make sense. I will put a call in to her doc, or better, hopefully catch him when he makes his rounds to talk to him personally. I appreciate all the info.