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Claire - Ex Critical Care

I’m Claire and I have been coming to the monthly support groups since they started in April 2021. I was in ICU for ten days back in July 2020 after suffering from toxic shock syndrome and severe sepsis; which brought on kidney injury/dialysis, blood clots, pneumonia, ARDS and a few other things. I had two emergency operations also which saved me.

Coming home I was so weak and exhausted, but so grateful to be alive. I had regular calls (not meetings due to Covid) with Holly and sometimes consultants through the ICU follow up clinic. This was helpful as I was struggling with a number of things, they’d talk me through everything and refer me to the relevant professionals for further support.

I always thought I was fine and handling everything ok as I was just so grateful to be alive. Forever grateful to the paramedics, consultants and nurses that saved me. Being told that you nearly died twice at 44 and not remembering a lot of the time in ICU due to being on a ventilator does play on your mind. I had various memories that I was unsure if they were real or not.

Thankfully the support meetings started up, so I thought I’d give it a go as I’d got to know the lovely friendly caring Holly from the calls we’d had and I remember seeing her in ICU.

I was so nervous attending the first one, as being in ICU had totally knocked my confidence. I didn’t feel like myself anymore as I was quite weak still, suffering with anxiety and had cognitive problems so very aware my speech wasn’t always good. But I went and I’m so glad that I did. It has massively helped me.

The first few meetings I was very quiet just listening to the others experiences, but it makes you realise the delirium and other strange experiences of ICU are totally normal. I have great friends and family who I can talk to about what happened and the professional help I have received has been excellent. But coming to the meetings and chatting to others who have gone through similar experiences of ICU is priceless. We chat about all sorts of topics, experiences , issues. It is very informal and we also have our regular psychologist often at the sessions which I have found extremely beneficial, as you can have 1-2-1’s with him if needed.

I can honestly say coming to the support groups has/is helping me process the trauma of what I went through. I don’t feel alone with the feelings anymore as everyone has similar experiences. To anyone who has been thinking of coming to one of the sessions but worried for whatever reason, please don’t be. Everyone is super nice and there is no pressure to tell your story if you’re not ready, everyone understands as we’ve all been there

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