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Intensive Care: A Guide for You and Your Family

Your relationships

Social life

When you’ve been seriously ill, you may notice a change in how you feel about things. You may not want to do things you used to enjoy. You may not feel like seeing a lot of people at once. Start by seeing 1 or 2 friends at a time for short periods.

You may find it hard to concentrate. You may even find it hard to follow a TV program. This will get better over time. During your recovery you may find that you’re more forgetful than before but your memory usually improves as you get better.

Your recovery may take a long time. As you get better and begin to do more, you may find that things affect you more strongly. You many also find that you:

  • feel like you can’t handle too much
  • lack confidence
  • worry about your recovery
  • feel depressed

These can affect how you connect with people you know or how you feel about going outside of your home. Talking about this with your family or a close friend can help. If you feel depressed for a long time, or if talking about it doesn’t help, tell your doctor or healthcare provider.

Relationships and family

When you’ve been very sick, you may find that the relationships you had with the people around you changes. Your family and friends may be very concerned about how you’re feeling and want to do everything for you. They might not understand why you seem different, can’t focus, or why you aren’t interested in the hobbies you used to enjoy.

Your family and friends were very worried about you. They may want to do everything for you when you get home to show how much they care about you. If this annoys you or you want to start doing more for yourself, talk to them calmly about how you feel. Don’t keep your feelings to yourself.

Getting back to your daily routines

Lots of people worry about coming home from hospital or going back to work after being very sick. You may wonder if you’ll be strong enough or be able to do what will be expected of you. This is normal.

Talk about your concerns with your family. Together you can make a plan about how you can change things at home to help you. Getting completely well takes time and you won’t be able to do everything you used to do right away. It’s OK to ask friends and family for help if you need it until you’re strong enough to do things yourself.

If you have young children you may feel more pressure to get back to your usual routine. Do the important things first – other things can wait. Try to take a nap at the same time as your children do. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for help.

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

If you have a job you may need to be off work after you get home until you’re strong enough to go back to work. When you’re feeling better, you may want to go to your work and see some of the people you work with. Talk to your boss about when you and your doctor think you might be able to come back to work. You may need to start with working only a couple of hours a day or a few days a week. If this happens you’ll likely gradually add hours or days you work until you’re back to your usual schedule.

Sex after being very sick

It‘s normal to be worried about when it’s safe to start having sex again. Your partner is likely worried about this too.

Some questions you may have are:

  • Will my scars be healed enough?
  • Will my medical device (such as a colostomy bag, catheter, or pacemaker) get in the way?
  • Will I hurt or ache too much?
  • Will I be strong enough?
  • What if my partner doesn’t want to have sex?
  • What if I can’t continue or can’t reach an orgasm?
  • What’s going to happen?

If you’re wondering if you’re strong enough for sex keep track of how well you’re doing with your exercises. If you’re doing well with your exercises without being too sore or tired, you may be ready to start having sex again. Most people find it hard to talk about sex. Try to relax, keep your sense of humour, and talk to your partner about what you’re thinking. Take things slowly and remember that cuddles are an important way to build a sense of intimacy too.

Sometimes medical problems such as impotence (being unable to get and keep an erection) can affect your sex life. If you’re worried, talk to your family doctor.

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