Dreams are one of the most mystical, magical, and strange phenomena we humans experience. Every night, we close our eyes for hours, entering a dormant state where our brains run rampant with the information it already has stored, manifesting our feelings and memories, spinning them into surreal journeys we march through while we sleep.
Now, imagine that turned up to 11. That's what appears to happen when people fall into a coma which, when you think about it, is really just a more intense form of sleep. Being severed from consciousness, from reality, sounds bone-chilling, but that doesn't quell the curiosity of wanting to know what it's like.
A Mysterious Happening
Winding up in an accident that causes you or someone you love to enter into a coma is one of the scariest things imaginable for many. That feeling of uncertainty, of not knowing whether the person in question will wake back up and, if they do, what will change from there on out is beyond frightening. After all, what else do humans fear most, if not the unknown?
There are still plenty of mysteries about existence within a coma. Still, thanks to some forums online, people who have been in comas before have shared their experiences and described what it was like while they were under—experiences that have been gathered here.
Calm And Collected
"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."
An Alternate Life
"I was in a chemically induced coma for two weeks. My situation wasn't normal. They didn’t know what was wrong with me other than that my lungs were totally full of fluid and that my brain was on the fast track to shutting down. They told my mother I was going to die and they couldn’t do anything about it. [...] If others' dreams were anything like mine, they won’t want to tell you about them. It’s not 'dreams' so much as it is another reality. I remember meeting people that I’d never seen nor heard of, becoming really good friends with them, then watching one of the girls die in a horrific car wreck. Apparently I came to at some point and started asking, 'The girl, is the girl ok?' It was the most vivid thing I’ve ever been a part of.
[...] There was some really dark stuff that I really don’t want to talk about, much less write down. I have 'forgotten' some of it I suppose. It was terrible for me. Some people’s experiences may be different, but mine was drug-induced and I wouldn’t wish those dreams on anyone."
"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."
A 'Famous' 'Friend'
"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."
"When I came to, I wrote welcome to Jeopardy on a pad of paper with my limited motor skills at the time. I was terrified that they were going to amputate my leg and I was convinced that it was going to happen or had already happened but the doctors and my parents were afraid to tell me. I tried to be strong and not upset anyone else because my family had been through enough so I was going to accept the amputation and I would be okay.
It took me 3 days once I was awake to ask about my leg. They all looked at me like I was crazy, no they were not going to amputate my leg, why would they do that? I found out that in the next room over, there was a gentleman who was diabetic and they were going to amputate his leg and I heard that when I was in the coma and assumed they were talking about me."
"I was in an medically induced coma for almost a month due to Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. [...]
Anyway, the dreams. Everything I dreamt revolved around me being sick or in the hospital, so I knew that much. I had a dream about getting dragged under the ocean, they were taking me somewhere I could be fixed and that was the best mode of transport. I remember being in a hospital out in the desert and [an] army of bone/poverty stricken people invading the hospital who wanted to be helped, banging on doors yelling to be let in. I dreamt that the light fixture they could move around above the bed was what was feeding me pills, I could see them falling down the arms of the light.
I also dreamt that I was in a room with a pyramid of boxes that I could walk up and choose and each one took me to a different time/place with one of my friends or family and I could watch over what was happening."
"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 [recovery] 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."
Two Helping Hands
"Years ago, my brother was in a coma for 2 months after a horrible car accident.
After [waking up], he told my mom that he saw himself from an aerial point of view laying on the hospital bed, in a tremendous white room. Beside him were two kids, one on each side of the bed. On the right was a little boy, that would always tell him, 'Remain calm my boy… everything is going to be okay I promise. I’ve never left your side after all these years. You’ve grown into a fine young responsible man. I love you.' On the left was this little girl, that would tell him stories about my brother’s best childhood moments to keep him entertained. He said he felt like the boy was our grandpa from my mother’s side [...] He also said the girl was probably his best friend, who was in the backseat during the accident and died due to not wearing a seatbelt.
I believe my brother was taken to a part of heaven, but it wasn’t his time so my grandpa and his best friend watched over him as he recovered enough to wake back up and join us. Everyone has their time to leave the earth, I’m glad it wasn’t my brother's time and he’s still with us."
A Greusome Vision
"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 [my] throat."
"Not me, but a friend of mine had some serious complications due to his chemotherapy so they had to induce a coma for a few months when we were both 16. I asked him if he dreamed when he was in the coma and he said the following.
'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.'
Should also be noted that he and his family are Catholic and very religious. This obviously reaffirmed everything he believes. He went on to be a Doctor."
Nothing But Feeling
"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."
"It was a short coma, a couple days, following a craniotomy. A lot of the dream/terror was a linear progression of time. All of the people had emotionless faces with dead eyes, no personality or life behind the eyes. Oddly, a lot of those people I saw in the terror/dream were random people from my past. [...]
I wandered down endless hospital corridors of my mind trying to get out. They were freaking long, epic hallways with locked doors. I would struggle past these random people from my life trying to find a way out of the endless, bland, white corridors. [...] I also recall feeling the forces of good and evil fighting over me. I really hated that. Once, during a 'battle' I looked evil full in the eye in order to understand what it really was…and it was ignorance.
Hospital [medication] and a damaged brain made for interesting terrors that I never want to deal with again. I wouldn’t recommend it."
"I spent 3 months in a coma after hitting a goal post during soccer practice. [...] Month 3 I woke up recalling exactly how practice went. The headaches afterwards of trying to process that 'yesterday' wasn’t actually yesterday but 3~ months ago were awful.
I have no recollections of any dreams during that time. It's very cliche but during my slow process of waking up my mom’s yelling still sounds like it was yesterday sometimes, I remember it very vividly.
Doctor came and told me [...] that I was lucky to be alive. In the process I destroyed several eye nerves and the snail shell shaped thing in your ear that keeps fluids that control your balance. It got damaged and I lost 2/3rds of the fluid. Other than a week or so of physiotherapy I had no damage to my brain or memory."
An Unfathomable Reality
These stories are absolutely fascinating, and though a comatose experience can likely differ depending on the person, there's a common thread of strange and vivid dreams throughout each of these accounts.
Since being in a coma is, in some ways, adjacent to sleeping, maybe this shouldn't be too much of a surprise, but the dreams' intensity and feeling of being 'real' is unmatched with normal sleep.
There was another comment on this thread from a nurse which was rather sweet, serving as a reminder that no matter what, someone will be watching over us. "I worked as a neurosurgery nurse for three years. I worked with a number of comatose patients and I assumed they would hear me. I always told them what I was doing to them, the kind of day it was, complimented them in any little way. When I think about it, I could carry on a fairly long conversation with them. I hope they didn't mind my ramblings…"