Intensive-care units (ICUs), a relatively recent invention in Western medical emergency care management of critically ill patients, have been of dubious value ever since these were introduced on the logic that more care is better care. The truth, however, is otherwise.
In essence, watchful expectancy and minimum intervention seems to be scientifically a better choice that lets the in-built healing power of the body do its job. The do it-fix it attitude of the medical establishment does not allow the human body’s built-in wisdom to work. We believe that we could do all the adjustments ourselves from outside, to let the patient recover. This last one is a myth, as millions of chemical reactions occur inside every cell every minute and our biochemical balancing will certainly get out of control in any emergency situation.
Moreover, our body systems are able to make lots of adjustments as and when needed, including transmutation—transforming sodium into potassium, etc. There is so much of water in the extra-cellular compartment that water can easily enter the vascular compartment when needed, making our drop per drop fluid replacement calculations go awry. Even as much as a bottle of spare blood always remains in the pelvic veins for emergency so that auto-transfusion is done. when necessary.
How could we be accurate in our fluid and electrolyte balance in such a situation? This could be one of the reasons for so called unexplained deaths. When all the known parameters are normal, the so-called euboxic state, patients could die due to our dysboxic calculations.
Although formal studies of the conscious state of the unconscious mind have not been done so far, anecdotal references indicate the so-called intensive-care therapy is not all that pleasant for the patient. Rather, it could be a real torture.
A couple of instances come to mind. Dr Johnston was a great zoologist specialising in the field of delivery by pregnant lionesses. It is said that the pregnant lioness, during delivery, is very sensitive to noise or outside intervention. On one occasion, Dr Johnston was photographing a lioness delivering its offspring from very close quarters. He had taken all precautions to observe perfect silence, except for the camera’s clicking sound. As he clicked, the lioness became aware of the presence of a human being and pounced on him with ferocity. The forest guards intervened barely in time and shot the lioness dead.
Dr Johnston survived by the skin of his teeth and took months to recover. Now, writing his memoirs, Dr Johnston talks of his blissful happiness as the lioness was crushing him and says that the worst part of his intensive-care and surgical experience was when the doctors and nurses were intervening in the hospital! He wished he had stayed on under the lioness’s crush forever and ever after!
Similar was the experience of Professor Jill Bolte Taylor of the Harvard neurobiology department. She had a stroke of the right side of the body with loss of speech, one early morning as she was having a shower. She became deeply unconscious and was transported to Harvard’s neurological theatres. It took her a good six years for complete recovery.
In retrospect, she still remembers that the best time of her life was when she was getting the stroke and there was complete compression of her left brain hemisphere due to bleeding. At that time, she only had the right side of her brain working and was in a state of happiness that she now describes as nirvana. Her ego melted and she was one with the universe. There were no boundary walls and she felt completely connected with others and one with them. The worst part of her life, she says, was when the doctors started working on her!
Many other stories of those who have survived cardiac arrest show how distressed these unconscious patients were when they were having what we call helpful interventions from outside.
Let us look at all these cases holistically to get a view of the unconscious consciousness of critically ill people on the ventilator in the ICU. If the late J Jayalalithaa had her way and came back to life, she may have punished all those responsible for keeping her in an ICU for a month and a half.