Getting Back Her Lost Narrative


Patients hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit often have little or no memory of the time they spent in the ICU. This “lost narrative” of their life may contribute to some of the difficulties people can experience after critical illness. In order to help patients better understand all they’ve been through and in an attempt to foster a full recovery from critical illness, the ICU team at the MGH has established an ICU Journal project for its patients.

An ICU Journal is a diary account, written in plain language about day to day events going on during the time the patient is in the ICU. Members of the treating team as well as family and friends are encouraged to contribute to the journals, to offer words of encouragement and messages to the patient to help them later review and make some sense of this period of time.

Anne’s Story

Anne alonside Dr. David Hornstein and Family Nurse Bita Danechi

Anne considers herself lucky. After about ten days in a coma, several surgeries and a long recovery, she has now fully healed from the terrible accident that could have taken her life in December 2017.

“In December 2017, I was hit by a car while walking my dog. When I got home from the hospital, I received a diary of different moments during my time in intensive care. It was an extremely important and positive part of my recovery. I was the first MGH patient to receive a diary like this and I am living proof that it is an extremely beneficial initiative.”

Dr. David Hornstein is an intensive care physician at the Montreal General Hospital. He’s also responsible for the ICU Journal project: “Anne wrote to me a few days after receiving her diary. As I read her email, I started crying. I had read the literature, but I did not know how this project would be received. Thanks to the Foundation’s support, we were able to offer journals like this to many other patients. It’s wonderful.”

To read Anne’s full story in La Presse (in French), click here.

Your donations help us to support initiatives like the ICU Diary Project that go beyond the health care system’s standard services to make a real difference in the lives and recoveries of our patients.

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