Two days home sick with Baby Bear. Multiple temp checks. Multiple doses of Tylenol given. Two appointments at the doctor. One poke of his little finger and a swab of his nose. All the cuddles.
And some PTSD triggers to boot.
Damn, this whole PTSD thing is real.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Before living through my own experiences with PTSD, I expected it to be what I’m sure many people think. Something you are diagnosed with after something horrific, crazy, blood shedding, like war. Men and women coming home after being in the midst of battles, fighting for their lives, seeing things one should never see. You hear about these heroes coming home and not being able to function because they are mentally going back to that horrible place and that horrible time. Before going through it myself, this is what I thought of when I’d hear the term PTSD. Something that sounded incredibly difficult and life changing, but something I assumed I would never experience because I was never going to war.
Well, let’s take another look at the above:
– being in the midst of battles (medical battles) – CHECK
– fighting for their lives, seeing things one should never see (my child being poked and prodded, hooked up to machines, medically paralyzed, not breathing) – CHECK
– not being able to function because of mentally going back to a horrible place and a horrible time (needing medications for anxiety/depression, not being able to go to work, etc) – CHECK
Apparently, I’ve lived through my own version of war where PTSD is real. A war all too many experience for many more reasons than I had ever imagined.
Some PTSD symptoms I’ve dealt with have mostly been anxiety (hence the medication, my “chill pill” if you will) and trying to get certain thoughts out of my head, ones that I’m pretty good at deflecting as quickly as possible, most of the time, but it’s never easy.
A couple examples of triggers for me have been: ambulances at night, for one. First it makes me think about the red lights I saw coming up the street the night Quinlan passed, waving them down to get inside as quickly as possible. After getting passed the red lights trigger, I always question who is in the ambulance. Is it another child fighting for their life? Yuck, not a great thought.
The hospital where Quinlan was taken (and where I saw him for the last time) is another big one. This is a trigger I had to conquer head on when I was taken there, by ambulance at night (red lights) shortly after Baby Bear was born (there’s a couple triggers right there tied up nicely and handed to me with a bow). That was a jump in head first type of situation. Hormones plus triggers. Talk about a long night. All is good, thankfully, and I was able to kick that trigger in the rear (although I still hope to never go back there again).
Another trigger that I’d say sounds the oddest (if there is such thing as an odd trigger) is a particular album. Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. I would listen to the cd in the car on my way to the hospital to visit Quinlan when he was first admitted, before we knew the hell we would soon be experiencing. I hear any song from the album and I immediately go back to sitting in the car, usually on Rte 93 stuck in traffic, thinking about the early days when we thought that time was just a quick bump in the road. Clearly it was not just a bump. It sucks because I really like that album. That’s the thing with triggers, it takes away certain parts of your life that seemed so normal before. Something as simple as an album.
Now that Baby Bear has gone through his first real illness, the first illness since dealing with Quinlan’s illness, I’m trying my hardest not to assume he’ll end up in the hospital (for 10 months). Or thinking we’ll be adding a whole list of specialists that he’ll now have to see. Having him tested for RSV made me cringe. RSV is what put Quinlan back in the hospital, where he stayed for 10 months. I know it’s a completely different situation (and those words go over and over in my head) but that’s where my mind now goes. My sick child, apparently another trigger.
It’s tough. It’s real. It’s not always a physical breakdown that the world can see to know you’re dealing with it. It can be something as small as hearing a specific word that takes your breath away and puts your mind in a place you don’t want to be. It can be talking yourself out of it, knowing it’s a trigger, and remembering that it’s going to be okay. Or it can be something like taking medication every day to attempt to make it go away. All tough stuff. But unfortunately, all normal.
Figures one “normal” aspect of my life has been dealing with the “abnormal”.