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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness


Flashbacks plague former ICU patients

In 2003, Lygia Dunsworth underwent gallbladder surgery at a Texas hospital. The routine procedure became complicated when she developed recurrent bacterial blood infections, which then led to the insertion of a breathing tube and multiple abdominal surgeries. She developed pneumonia and spent weeks heavily sedated, in and out of consciousness. She left the hospital five months later.

As a nurse, Dunsworth, 45, knew she would require intensive physical rehabilitation. But she wasn’t prepared for the flashbacks. She was drowning, poisoned by nurses, crawling on the floor of a walk-in freezer full of amputated limbs. The images came to her unbidden, memories of events she had never experienced.

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