Welcome to All, from PostICU Co-Founder Jim Cannon
In late September 2005, Post ICU, Inc. co founder Jim Cannon walked into his community hospital to undergo a test his doctor assured him posed only a 2 percent chance of finding a problem. Expecting to be back to work before noon, he was in fact escorted out of the hospital in a wheelchair 8 days later. Basic recovery took more than a year. During this time, a disturbing set of new health problems emerged that continue to plague him today.
These problems were not diagnosed as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) for more than a decade. During these years, traditional medical care professionals provided little help despite Jim’s persistent pleas. Roughly 5 years into his recovery, Jim initiated, with the support of his wife, a number of coping mechanisms to live with his new and seemingly permanent physical, mental and cognitive impairments. One of his self-initiated therapies involved reconstructing a written record of his experiences.
Over the years, Jim wrote and rewrote dozens of diary entries. Some were based on examinations of his actual medical records. Some were based on interviews with other players in the drama, including several doctors and his family. Most were based on his own memories, including remembrances from being in the throes of death. The diary entries weren’t edited or vetted by medical experts to ensure accuracy. They were not professional, but they had one profound effect: Jim felt better after writing them.
In the last few years, use of patient diaries has been promoted by many in the medical community as an important therapeutic tool to prevent and ease the effects of PICs. A number of hospitals now encourage ICU patients to start diaries, and studies are underway to access their effectiveness. The results to date are unclear, but appear promising.
Since co-founding Post ICU, Inc. with Rob Rainer, Jim has been reviewing and organizing his diary entries chronologically and doing some editing to make them more readable. They are presented in this blog, Jim’s Story. He is undertaking this project because working with his diary still helps him recover. More importantly, however, is his hope that they will help other PICS sufferers clarify and cope with their own experiences and inspire them to tap into the healing powers diaries offer.