By Kathy Walsh
LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4)– An estimated six million patients spend time in intensive care in the U.S. every year. In the hospital, it’s a fight for survival.
Once home, many patients still battle both physical and mental problems called Post Intensive Care Syndrome or PICS.
The UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland is coming Together 4 Colorado to help patients and their families cope.
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“It was the most terrifying time of my life,” said Carrie Levi.
On October 9, 2016, her husband Jason couldn’t finish one set of tennis.
“I sat down on the grass and collapsed and had a major heart attack,” said Jason.
The 40-year-old was rushed to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies. He spent 11 days there, nine of them in intensive care. Much of that time he was in a medically-induced coma.
“I was delirious, I was hallucinating,” he explained.
The strong, fit father lost 17 pounds and couldn’t even lift his toddler, Olivia.
“I was a shell of myself. I was extremely weak,” said Jason.
Once out of the hospital and back home, Jason was mentally drained.
“All I wanted to do was watch mindless TV,” he said.
“He definitely was experiencing anxiety and there was depression,” said Carrie.
And Carrie developed post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
“Nightmares for me, it was anxiety, it was flashbacks,” she said.
The Levis were experiencing PICS.
“These are things that come up after they leave the ICU,” said Cardiac ICU nurse Jenelle Baer.
Baer and ICU nurse Janet Nelson say 75 percent of ICU patients struggle in the aftermath.
And as critical care advances, says Nelson, “That number’s only going to get bigger.”
The RNs started a Survivor and Family Support Group at MCR.
“To come together and really connect with each other,” said Baer.
“Just to know that you’re not alone,” added Nelson.
“It would have been great,” said their former patient, Jason.
Jason and Carrie have joined the new support group. They believe it’s critical to share stories, offer suggestions and show you can recover after the ICU.
Additional Information on the ICU Survivor and Family Support Group:
Link to flyer: http://bit.ly/ICUSurvivor
Email address anyone can reach out to if they have questions: ICUSurvivor-NC@uchealth.org
The next meeting is 4:30-5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at UCHealth Medical Center of Rockies, 2500 Rocky Mountain Ave., Loveland.