Waking Up In The Intensive Care Unit

By Adam Pick - Patient, Author & HeartValveSurgery.com Founder

I'm often asked, "Adam, what is it like waking up in the intensive care unit after surgery?"

For that reason, I wrote this post to share my experience with our patient community:

 

Adam Pick Waking Up In The Intensive Care Unit After Heart Surgery

Me Waking Up in the Intensive Care Unit

 

I exited the operating room at three-thirty in the afternoon. 

My surgery was four hours long. Both my aortic and pulmonary valves were replaced. I remember nothing of the event. I especially don't remember my gurney rolling out of the operating room and into the intensive care unit, also known as the ICU.

The general anesthetic would keep me asleep for another two hours following surgery.  Then, at about five-thirty in the afternoon, my eyelids separated and light stimulated my pupils. 

I was awake.

Seconds after I opened my eyes, I slipped back into sleep.

Sometime later, my eyelids would lift again. This time... I was conscious. 

I was now able to center my attention and comprehend the surrounding stimulus. 

My first cognitive process centered on the image of my father standing before me. My dad was on my left side, standing tall, not more than a foot away. 

What I then experienced was beautiful. I saw my father, Jerry Pick, smiling from ear-to-ear. Even though his hands were tucked in his pockets, there was joy and love radiating from his heart to my newly, stitched heart. My dad was my hero.  

 

My Dad, Jerry Pick, & Me

 

In that moment, my father was beyond happy. I took that as a good sign. I was relieved. I wanted to talk with him.  I wanted to know what had happened.  I wanted the details.

But...

I could not speak.

Unknown to me, a large tube had been inserted into my mouth and down my throat. This foreign structure, known as a ventilator tube, rendered my vocal capability useless.  There were several other tubes sticking in me or out of me.  I could not tell. 

While it was quite uncomfortable, I remained calm and chose to enjoy the silence. Then, I noticed Robyn (my wife) standing quietly behind my father.

I fell back to sleep.

 

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Page last updated: January 15, 2019

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and The Wall Street Journal.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and The Wall Street Journal.