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Effects of Someone in a Medically Induced Coma with Nothing Wrong?
mackinzie wrote in little_details
I have a character who I intend on having a bad guy put in a medically induced coma for purposes of the plot.

After doing some research I know what is used to put her in the coma (barbiturates) and what it does (slows down blood pressure to reduce brain swelling) and etc, but the question is...if she's perfectly fine, no brain swelling, what effect would this on her as far as side effects? Would it make her blood pressure bottom out?

The coma would last roughly a day or so.

I also intend on having her developing respiratory distress and needing to have a tube put down her throat when she stops breathing as a result of having a psychic link with the bad guy, who's also in a coma (this one real). As his health declines, so does hers.

Will the barbiturates make it harder for someone to resuscitate her?


Is she in a hospital setting or with a doctor while doing this?

As someone who's been there due to respiratory failure (distress won't do it, just means you're having a hard time breathing but are still able to on your own) there shouldn't be any side effects.

My experience: they had me medically in a coma for 3 days while I was on a respirator.

The drugs make it easier as the patient is less likely to fight while being helped.

If you don't mind my asking, what were you on the ventilator for? How much of your experience do you remember? As someone who has been on the "other side," I always appreciate hearing what it's like for those who have been through this. If you have a chance, I'd love to ask you a few questions about it. I think it helps those of us who are caretakers when we have a better idea of what it's like to be a patient every once in a while.

I was in an induced coma for 3 1/2 weeks, and I was also on an iron lung (intubation for 2 weeks) for 4 1/2 weeks.

The tube comes in when it's failure, not distress. Distress gets nasal oxygen. Intubation does not restart breathing. It is simply a measure to keep air passages open for oxygen and drugs to be administered. She will need to either be bagged or on a respirator.

After one day in a coma she would be hazy and a bit slow moving but there should be no lasting medical effects. Medical comas also restrict motion so the muscles are fatigued from lack of use.

There is a disorientation that comes with losing time as well. It took me a bit to grasp the fact that I lost weeks, and I imagine the same would happen to a lesser degree over a day.

After being trached the side effects are a scratchy, sore throat with a gravely voice to match.

Happy writing! :)

I hope you don't mind my butting in here, but if you have a chance, I'd love to ask you a few questions about your experience being trached and on a ventilator. I'm always interested to learn a little more about what it's like, since I've been on the other side as a caretaker but I dont' know what it's like myself. I know it's a very personal experience, so I understand if you don't want to talk more about it, but if you do have the time, I'd love to learn more.

I don't mind at all. Feel free to ask. I know my resp therapists asked many questions while I was there and once I was finally able to write. Anything to help others in that situation.

Btw, suctioning out the lungs was by far more horrific than anything else I went through, save the drainage tube that went through my back (between the ribs) and into my lung directly. The nurses and resp therapist would tell me, as my eyes teared up, they knew it was bad-they were sorry-they understood. That pissed me off so much because they didn't know. They hadn't been through it.

Thanks for being willing to answer! I’m just wondering—are you in the US? I know some practices vary from place to place.

About the suctioning—I have heard that from almost every patient I’ve talked to about it. It’s really tough for us, because it’s one of those necessary evils. Was there anything in particular that helped alleviate the discomfort? I always tried to be careful to withdraw the suction catheter away from the carina (where the two lungs split off from the trachea) before applying the suction, and that seemed to help. I think some staff always turn the suction level to “high”, but I always tried to look out for that and turn it down to the recommended level, which was much lower. Could the procedure have been explained better to make it less frustrating? I think you’re right—we don’t know what it’s like, so we’re not always very good at explaining the why’s and how’s. Did it get any easier as time went on?

What do you remember of the ICU? Do you know how long you were sedated and what medications they gave you for sedation and pain control? Did they stop your sedation suddenly or withdraw it slowly? Did it take you a while to wake up and realize what was going on? And what was it like beforehand—did you understand what they were going to do before they intubated you? And what was it that happened that they decided you needed to be intubated?

About the ventilator—do you remember what it was like at first? Did it seem like you had to work against it at first or was it fairly natural? Did it get easier to breathe with it as time went on? And could you tell when the modes were changed—like when they were weaning it and had you breathing spontaneously?

How long into all this were you trach’ed? Was it more comfortable with the trach or with the breathing tube?

Overall, is there anything you’d wish that could have been different or that you’d like to suggest that would have made it all a little more bearable?

Thanks again for being willing to give me a little perspective into your experience!

First off, patients who are placed in a drug-induced coma are already intubated and placed on a ventilator, since part of being in a coma means you're not conscious enough to properly protect your airway. I suppose that it is possible to titrate the medications so that her level of consciousness doesn't drop far enough to the point she can no longer protect her airway (that she would still have a cough reflex and be able to keep her airway open) or breathe adequately, but in the hospital these patients are always intubated. And if she is not drugged enough to be intubated, then in that case she would be more in a state of conscious sedation rather than a strict coma. (Of course, "coma" is kind of an amorphous term, and there are actually degrees of it--you might want to look up "Glasgow Coma Scale" to learn a little more.)

With that said, there are other drugs that are often used to sedate patients, if that is enough for your story. Drugs like Versed and Ativan are often used in the ICU, often on patients who are not already on a ventilator. Heavier drugs like propofol (the one Michael Jackson was given when he died) are sometimes used in unintubated patients for brief periods for certain short procedures, but if a patient is on it long-term, they will be intubated and on a ventilator, as it often depresses the respiratory drive (as can Versed and Ativan if given in high enough doses--but it is very dose and patient dependent). All sedated patients should be monitored under any circumstances.

And as far as bottoming out her blood pressure and all that--drugs that sedate patients often have adverse side effects like lowering blood pressure (look up "hemodynamics"--this might help you focus your research a little better), and often patients just have bad reactions to the drugs regardless. So I'd say you're safe if you need her to be unstable after being given these drugs.

Since she's healthy, a day under the influence of these drugs wouldn't have much lasting effects on her. For some drugs it takes longer to wake up (like Ativan), but others are pretty immediate (like propofol) after they're stopped. Barbiturates usually wear off a little slower, but she'd still wake up pretty easily.

And I can't promise anything off-hand, but I'd say that as long as the drugs aren't what caused her to need resuscitation, they really shouldn't affect her ability to respond to treatment, since she's otherwise healthy. (Complicate it with kidney or liver problems, and that's another story.)

I was induced coma due to doctor cut my main vein which is not his fault, that's another story. That's why I was induced coma. Anyway, now I have been noticing my mind isn't the same. I either forget things just like my mind gets in blank or when speaking to someone at that moment will forget what the thoughts were. Also, my sleeping habits have changed but have a feeling in head like if have air. Did have the experience seeing the white light. Is this normal? This has been 4 months ago.

Like you and others, I am searching for answers, that doctors can not explain. I had such vivid experiences of fighting to live after I "heard" several individuals state that I would not make it! I felt like I was nothing of importance to those in charge. The harder I tried to stay alive, the more, "they" ( whoever they were) tried to kill me!
I know something "special" happened and this is what I am trying to find out. Yes, I was on a lot of drugs (their excuse was I had a reaction to morphine)! I had more than a reaction, I saw things, knew things, experience things that my mind (brain) told me that it could not be labeled as a "drug reaction".
So my questions is, are their anyone out there "seriously" researching the effects and experiences of "medically induced coma patients?!

I was in a medically induced coma and I really want to know any side effects of the procedure. I crashed a motorcycle and busted up everything except my head... pretty badly. All I can find is information about TBI and neurosurgery. I tried to participate in a research study for people with paralysis but when filling out the form, they told me I didn't qualify because I had been unconscious for an extended period of time. Later, I was writing computer software in a mental health clinic and asked one of the interns what happens and she clammed up and acted upset that the researcher revealed that information. I am supposed to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, quit asking questions, and trust the "professionals" because they know what's best for me? It's frustrating.

I was also in a medical induced coma trying to find out the same stuff I saw things had odd dreams and at the end a preacher slashed into my arms asking if I believe in god and stuff like that then I woke up with a seven like bruise down the same arm .i just don't feel the same anymore my likes are different and me altogether is different

I was put in an induced coma for 6-1/2 weeks. I was diagnosed with Swine flu, which led to Puenminia, and bronchitis . My lungs hardened so I was on a vent and later treach.I was scared and Believe me I could not , hear, see, Nobody and Nothing but in a tunnel , cold , dark , and bad things being done to me. If anyone is put in a Medically induced coma you will not hear anything or see anyone, it is horrifying !
It is an experience that I can never be able to explain. The doctors wasn't expecting me to live but I found out that my God still can heal you. Thank God today I was to go to rehab for 1 year and God had other plans . I asked the hospital to take me home and they got me home and in my bed . After 1 week I was up on my walker and walking good after 1 month and rode my bike and drove my car . I am a Miracle!!!!!

Just this Christmas my son of 32 contracted H1N1 and Flu A. He went to a small hospital on Dec 20 oxygen was at 85% was there for 2 days the went to a large hospital for
2 days had a blood transfusion. Oxygen still dropping was vented at that hospital but could not get oxygen into lungs.Oxygen was at approx 79 or 80%. Hospital he was at
could do no more. Called Cleveland Clinic suggested using nitrious oxyside. Brought oxygen up to 85% and was life flighted to Cleveland Clinic he was in a medically induced
coma for 13 days while vented lungs began to harden. Used new tecnique where they flip the person from front to back on their face to help soften the harden lungs.
It worked and slowly but surely lungs began to heal. Taken off vent 13 days after he came in the hospital. He was then woke up. Very confused had dilerium and
memory loss. Began to heal slow but sure. As I write this we are still at the Cleveland Clinic in a step down unit. My son cannot swollow, has short term memory loss
and has feeding tube still in. Now has been diagnosed with pulmonary blood clot in the lung. Short of breath cannot walk as of yet has something wrong with his right
shoulder can't pick up right upper arm with out assistance. He has come a long way and has a long way to go. If all goes well we will be going to a long term rehab center
in a few days

Hi...Sorry to hear about your son, I hope he is well on his road to recovery. I was in a drug induced coma a number of years ago and placed on paralytics for 2 1/2 weeks, it was just before H1N1 arrived but it was a very similar disease. The one think about your sons story I found interesting is his trouble with his right arm. I had the same problem and went through months of physio to get it working again, I still have troubles with it but it's very functioning. I'm curious if they told you why his arm wasn't working, for me the doctors could never come up with an answer. I look forward to your reply.



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