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Intensive Care: A Guide for You and Your Family

Your body

Weakness and weight loss

You’ll probably feel very tired and weak when you first start getting out of bed. Your muscles lose strength when you’re ill and not active. The longer you’re ill, the weaker your muscles will be. This happens faster if you’ve been on a breathing machine (ventilator).

When to call the doctor

Call or talk to your family doctor if you:

  • need more support
  • have symptoms that you’re worried about
  • have questions about anything to do with your health

You may also have lost weight because of this muscle loss and being ill. You’ll begin to put weight on again as you begin to get better, eat more, and exercise. You will get stronger, but it takes time. Physical recovery should be measured in months instead of weeks. In some cases it can take up to 18 months for you to feel fully like yourself again. Set small, realistic goals. One way to help you keep track of how much progress you’re making is to keep a diary. You can read it when you don’t feel well or when it feels like you’re not getting better at all. Even small changes can make you feel better and feel like you’re making progress​.

Your best chance of making progress is to stay positive. Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do anymore. If a full recovery back to your usual activity and strength is not possible, you can still live a full, purposeful life.

Breathing
Your voice
Your skin and hair
Changes to your 5 senses
Going to the bathroom
Smoking
Sleep
Hallucinations and paranoia
Appetite and eating

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