There is no arguing that our understanding of the human mind and body has come a long way over the last couple of decades. But despite all of the tremendous breakthroughs in science in technology in the recent years, there’s still a whole lot that we don’t know.
Questions like “why do we have fingerprints?“, “why do we have different blood types?“, “do humans have pheromones?“, “what happens when someone is struck by lightning?“, and many others have plagued scientists and doctors for generations. Although we’ve been able to answer some of these questions, many others have emerged as a result.
As you can probably tell by the title of this post, one such question has to do with what we know about comas. Before we dive into some of the lesser understood intricacies, let’s review what a coma actually is. According to the English dictionary, a coma is a “state of deep unconsciousness that lasts for a prolonged or indefinite period of time, caused especially by severe injury or illness.” Aside from that, we don’t know all that much.
Sure modern medicine allows doctors to place dangerously unstable patients into a medically induced coma (and then pull them out of it), but other than that – much information surrounding our unconsciousness remains speculative. Scientists are especially divided on whether or not coma patients can absorb and process what’s happening around them, form new memories during their time under, and whether or not they can dream.
The question about what it’s actually like to be in a coma is a very curious one, and as of now, scientists and doctors are unable to definitively answer it. That being said, it doesn’t mean that we have to keep guessing. A curious netizen decided to finally put this question to rest and posed it to one of the biggest online communities – Reddit.
Surprisingly, an overwhelming amount of people came forward and talked openly about what their coma experience was like. If you’re curious to learn what it’s actually like to be in a coma, then hit next below and find out!
20. He started gaming
Reddit user Dead_Dave01 shared his 3-month experience in a medically induced coma.
“I remember all my senses coming online very strongly – I was super uncomfortable in that hospital bed, the lights were super bright and my mouth was super dry. Turns out I had an ischaemic attack. As of today I’ve pretty much recovered. I still do speech therapy, which I do in the form of a YouTube gaming channel, because I do have a bit of stutter.”
19. Car accident
Another person reported being unaware of losing consciousness, or of any memories after the critical incident: “I was in a coma after car accident. I only remember one thing: I was walking down a street. I fell to my knees while coughing. I grabbed at my throat. I look down and saw my esophagus on the ground. I then fell onto my side. I learned later that was probably my vent tube coming out of throat.”
18. Very long dream
While some people feel that no time has passed, others may experience it as a “very long dream,” instead. A Reddit user shared their experience with a 3-month medically induced coma:
“I remember it was a very long dream. First it was a nightmare, I was being chased by all these Chucky dolls with knives who were trying to murder me. Eventually though, the dream shifted and Jesus came to me. He explained that he would take me to heaven if I was ready. My parents were there and they were very sad that I was going to leave them and I remember thinking about it a lot and weighing all the options, but I finally decided I was going to go with Jesus. When I told Jesus I was ready he smiled at me and said “Sorry it’s not your time.” He then went up into the sky and disappeared into light. I was very upset because I was ready to go. Then I remember waking up and 3 months had passed.”
17. Still got the attitude
In some cases, coma patients may slip in and out of consciences – making for very interesting anecdotes. One Reddit user shared her story of sibling rivalry during one such moment of clarity:
“I was in a really bad car wreck a few months ago and f***** up my internals and got an awful case of pneumonia, so they put me in a medically induced coma. I remember being awake a few times.
The first time was when my sister came to visit. I have really fuzzy memories about what happened, but apparently the only thing I said was ‘am I still prettier than you?'”
16. Life on pause
For this lady, the 40’s are literally the new 30’s:
“A friend of ours fell into a coma at at age 25 (~1992) and woke up at age 36 (~2002). She was a rhodes scholar nominee (I think, second hand information) and quite brilliant. She was still 25 mentally – as if everything was just on pause. Her body was really well preserved. She’s really fun and cool and sort of the ultimate cougar. Plus she totally woke up to the internet.”
Another reddit user shared her two week dream filled with fantasy hallucinations and otherworldly beasts:
“I was in a medically induced coma for two weeks or so, I was on a lots of drugs and had some horrible hallucinations, an experience I’m told by the ICU nurses is very common.
I knew I was injured/in hospital (apparently they kept waking me up every day to check my brain function) but was not aware of why, so spent a lot of time very confused, vague hospital based nightmares. Also, some Game of Thrones hallucinations, because my brother visited and talked about the show at my bedside, and I fought a dragon as a result. I can’t say exactly how much time passed because it was more than 2 years ago and I’ve tried to forget. Things from the outside broke in but from different times than you’d expect. The brain works in mysterious ways, especially when you’re high af.
14. ‘Twas all a dream
“I spent ten days in a medically induced coma following the birth of my youngest son. He will be three years old this September. When I woke up I remember being very upset about a conversation between two nurses that took place in my hospital room while I was sleeping. I’ve always wondered if that conversation really happened or if it was a dream/nightmare.”
13. The white room
“Before I entered a coma (fell from the second story of a gym under construction and landed on my head), I had watched The Grudge. So during the whole coma, I dreamed that I was trapped in a completely white room with the grudge girl. She never moved and just stood there, but when I woke up from that coma, I refused to close my eyes for a couple of nights from fear.”
Someone with the username CatalystCoin experienced partial lucidity in his comatose state – he claims to remember everything that happened around him.
“I was in a car accident at 18 and in a coma for three months. A couple of weird things happened. First I was fully aware of everything for a couple of days before actually waking up. I couldn’t open my eyes or move our talk but I heard and felt everything. It was terrifying because I honestly thought it would last forever. After two days of this I fell asleep and when I woke up I was fully conscious and never more relieved in my life. I thought at first that I had just slept for three months but after a couple weeks of being out of the coma I started having the weirdest most vivid recurring dreams and flashbacks of literally being another person.
I had never experienced anything like this before the coma. I had never had a recurring dream in my life but since the coma I’ve had the same four or five dreams hundreds of times and in each one I’m the same person but not me. They are freaky and I always wake up panicked and often find that I’m sleepwalking as well and that also never happened before the coma. I’m pretty convinced that during the coma I lived some other life in a super long and intense dream, it’s the only explanation I can come up with”
11. Last rites
Reddit user NZT-48 told the story about his impeccable timing. After failing to wake up from his anesthesia for nearly 5 days, he regained consciousness as a priest was performing last rites on him:
“I had surgery. It was 9.5 hours. I didn’t wake up. I have one memory of a nurse slapping me and screaming at me in the recovery room, then nothing. It was like I was a TV that was unplugged. The next thing I knew I woke up to a priest saying last rights over me. I am not Catholic. I croaked at him to f*ck off because I wasn’t going to die. He flees. A nurse comes running in and says I have been in a coma for four and a half days. I experienced nothing. I was here, then I was gone, then I was back. It was instantaneous. There was no sensation of the passage of time.”
A Reddit user by the name DanaScullysRevenge shared his story of a three week comma. Although he was pronounced dead several times over the course of his comatose condition, the worst was yet to come:
“I remember precisely nothing. Little flashes of faces and pieces of dialogue, maybe. Everything I know about that period was told to me by my parents, BF at the time, and doctors and nurses. Maybe some people can hear what’s going on around them while they’re in a comatose state, but I wasn’t one of them.
When I awoke, I wasn’t confused or anything. I recognized that I was in a hospital room, and I remembered being in the ER weeks before – it was the last thing I remembered. I thought maybe I’d been there a couple of days and had just slept off the worst of it. Then I saw the dry-erase board on the wall in front of me where someone had thoughtfully written the date.
Turns out the coma is the GOOD part. The recovery afterward – learning to walk again because your muscles have atrophied, waiting for your voice to come back because you’ve been intubated all this time, trying to pee without help, and oh man trying reeeeally hard not to get depressed – is the worst part.”
9. The key to waking up
“My friend told me that while he was snowboarding he hit a tree, fell unconscious and was airlifted to hospital and in a comma for two weeks. While he was in a coma he remembers walking in a field, a wolf by his side, walking toward a tree in the distance. For days he wasn’t getting any closer to the tree, then suddenly he and the wolf got closer and closer until they were at the tree. The tree was beautiful and it had a face but the face kept changing faces, from people he had met in the he past, to people he met later in life. The tree reached its hand out toward him and was holding a key. He grabbed the key from the tree, held it to his heart and the wolf disappeared, the tree disappeared and he woke up…”
8. Come to the voice
Sometime, comatose patients are capable of hearing and processing auditory information. Reddit user Noplzstop shared one of her dad’s anecdotes from the emergency roo”
“My dad told me about this woman in a coma he saw during his residency. The experience taught him that you need to treat everyone like they’re a fully aware and conscious person, even people in comas.Him and the other residents would all do their rounds. One woman was in a deep coma for weeks. Every time they’d come in, he’d say “Hi Ms. _, I’m Dr _ and I’m just here to check on you!”. He talked to her like she was listening to him, explaining what he was doing to her step-by-step, and a lot of the other doctors thought it was kind of silly. I mean, she’s in a coma, so she can’t be listening, right?Well, time goes by and the woman wakes up, all of a sudden. They’re doing their rounds and he walks in the room and says something and she immediately recognizes his voice: she came into the hospital in a coma and never saw the man, and never heard him talk while she was awake before that day. She immediately recognizes his voice and says “Oh, I remember you! You’re the one that was so nice to me!””
7. Morphine dreams
Morphine is an incredibly powerful narcotic, but who knew that aside from being a potent painkiller it was capable of triggering unbeliavable dreams.
“I was in a medically induced coma for a week and a half courtesy of a car accident. My family was at my bedside the entire time. Whenever I would move they would calmly say to me that I had been in a bad car accident, I was ok, and I was in a hospital. In my dreams I was going about my daily business of college classes and coffeehouses, the twist would be that I was introducing myself as having been in a bad car accident but I was ok and in a hospital, or in class I dropped a pen because my arm hurt and the student in front of me says that of course my arm hurts because I was in a bad car accident and so on.
These morphine dreams varied and were many, from the surreal to the mundane, then I had the realization that if I’ve been in a bad car accident that I should go to the hospital. So, in my dreams I walk into the local college town’s hospital, politely check into triage saying hi, I’ve been in a bad car accident but I’m ok and I wanted to get checked out. That’s when the nurses and doctors descended upon me in a life-saving frenzy. After that I opened my eyes.”
6. Time moved slowly
“When I was considered medically “dead” I couldn’t hear anyone, I was in a huge white room with no walls, just a floor. The floor would occasionally sparkle far off. I could not move, I could just look around, it was completely empty. I could still feel emotions, I had a heavy feeling of being nervous/worried. It felt like I was sneaking into a place where I did not belong, like a part of the house that was off limits to me as a kid.
Time went by so slowly, I felt every second of it. It was only for 4ish minutes but it definitely felt that long. I could not think, I just felt. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I felt helpless, everything was out of my control, I felt trapped. I don’t remember but when I was revived I screamed for minutes, I just screamed and cried.”
5. The king of rock
Neighbors kid was in a bad accident and was in a medically-induced coma. The doctors said that he might be able to hear what they said so sound upbeat, talk to him, play his favorite music, sports, etc. He liked Elvis so they played his CDs almost non stop. When he finally awoke from the coma he thought he was Elvis. It took a long time for him to accept the truth. He had a very long recovering because of his traumatic brain injury. He now works as an Elvis impersonator. 100% the truth. Everyone thinks I’m making it up when I tell them.
4. Dream within a dream
We’ve talked about time moving slowly, but the opposite extreme can also hold true. A Reddit user by the name of Nitzlarb, shared her story about her dad’s uber vivid experience”
“My dad was in a coma for about 2 months a couple years ago. Recently we were talking about the whole thing, and he told me that he had “dreamed/hallucinated” that he lived for 10 years, and did all sorts of things during that time. He said it was very vivid, and he walked across the country a couple times during it. When he woke up/got home, he said it would throw him off when he would run into people he hadn’t seen since before the coma, because at first he always expected them to have aged by 10 years. “
3. Unconscious but mobile
“When I was 19, I visited my aunt during the summer holidays. I was playing my cousin’s playstation although I was tired from the journey since I didn’t get proper sleep in the bus and had been awake for over 24 hours. I suddenly started getting an epileptic seizure and fainted.
My mom and aunt screamed and tried to wake me up. The neighbors came in hearing the noise and took out their car to take me to the hospital. They brought me to the hospital and I didn’t regain consciousness until almost 3 hours later.
The crazy part is that when I lost consciousness, I was still able to get up, put on the jacket, get out of the door and in the elevator, got in the car, sat on my way to the hospital, opened the door of the car and walked into the hospital before collapsing on the bed. I had absolutely zero recollection of any of this ”
2. Trapped inside own body
“I was in a medically induced coma for six weeks. There were a handful of times that I distinctly remember where I “woke up” in my head. What was the experience like? It sucked.
When I would wake up in my head, I had no idea as to what had happened. So I’m fully conscious, I know that I’m me, but I can’t open my eyes, I can’t move a muscle and I can’t speak. The first time it happened was terrifying. I started to panic and for a minute there, I thought I might be dead. Then I realized that I was thinking, so that didn’t seem right. I tried to move and couldn’t. I tried to speak and couldn’t. I tried to scream and couldn’t.
I realized at that point that if I didn’t calm myself down that I would go crazy inside my own head and no one would could help me. Though I was on a ventilator, in my head I did deep breathing exercises. I listened to the clicking of machines and tried to focus on those. Then I started counting the sound of something that seemed repetitive. That gave me enough to focus on until I eventually drifted off again.
1. Tied down
Reddit user CyberClawX spent nearly a week in a coma, but unlike most patients, his hallucinations were much more extreme. As a result, doctors had to take a few extra measures to assure his safety.
“A little over a week on the other side. My coma hallucinations were pretty bad, I kept trying to fight everyone, everyone (friends, family and doctors) was out to hurt or humiliate me to the point they strapped me to the bed so I wouldn’t hurt anyone or myself. When I finally stopped hallucinating, I was so tired of running away, and fighting (think inception, or dreams, I felt I was in there for months), that I didn’t even care much for the fact I had lost an arm, I was just glad it was over.”