Night In Room 4: Trauma Unit

“So dear, how many seizures would you say he’s had tonight…” the nurse asked me while I choked back sobs.

“Uh… I’m not sure, maybe 20?” Greg held his breath and yet again cringed and turned ashen as another wave hit him, and he let out a big exhale as it passed.

“Okay, height, weight, any known allergies?” She asked again.

I dappled through the litany of questions, while Greg shook and we headed into the ER entrance right away and he was lifted to a stretcher.

TWO HOURS EARLIER THAT EVENING…

“Hey honey, how was work today?” I asked, stirring a pot of noodles waiting for Greg’s arrival.

He dropped his lunch box to the floor and headed upstairs.

“Pretty good, I’m just going to head upstairs and shower before dinner.”

He came downstairs shortly and wolfed down a bowl of tortollini and salad. Once cleaned up from dinner and loading the dishwasher, we sat on the couch to watch some Seinfeld reruns. Greg took some more cold medicine, he’d been fighting symptoms all week, but was getting better…or so I thought.

As we laughed between jokes on TV, I noticed Greg was gripping the couch in an odd fashion. He closed his eyes and braced himself, once then again and again. It was as if he was having contractions, that was the best way to put it. One would come and then leave, then they got closer together. I figured his blood sugar was low, he had been sick after all. So I grabbed him some orange juice. He downed a glass in a single gulp and seemed to be okay for a few moments. Then they came on him again, this time worse than before. His body twitched and contorted.

“Let’s go Greg, NOW! We are going the On-Call clinic.” Why I didn’t just bring him to the ER, I have no idea. I willed my brain to work.

“Why? I’m fine.” He uttered.

“No you definitely aren’t.” I raced for my keys and flip-flops and headed out the door.

When we reached the On-Call clinic they insisted we go the ER. On our way over, Greg began to twitch and contort voraciously around in his seat. I said his name, shouted it out and he didn’t respond, as if he didn’t hear me. Then he uttered a huge exhaling breath and slunk back in his seat exhausted. I lost my focus and tried to regain it while racing to the ER.

BACK TO PRESENT IN THE ER

They led us back to a room, Greg being raced over on the stretcher. We entered the room and a short but lean looking doctor entered, no lab coat, but rather a t shirt tucked in and cowboy boats. He had curly long hair and ice blue eyes with a weathered face.

“Hey, where is this guy’s EKG, where’s his chart?” They hooked Greg up to monitors and determined it was his heart that was starting and then stopping, over and over… 30, 50, 100, 120, 50, 40, 15, 0… flat lining…

A nurse entered the room…

“We are going to move you to room 4.” They moved the stretcher out quickly and I followed suit. When we got to the door I noticed the large glass windows that pointed toward the monitors in the hall with a team of doctors gathered. The door read, “Room 4, Trauma Unit”. I prayed Greg was too incapacitated to read it.

The nurses rushed around taking blood and reading the machines.

One nurse moved toward the bed with a device, paddles and a box. I knew what this was.

“Honey, this is just going to go on your chest, just as a precaution…”

I knew it wasn’t, it was very possible they’d need to restart his heart.

Soon after more vitals were taken, a cardiologist about seven feet tall entered the room.

“Hello, folks, I’m the cardiologist on the floor tonight. Now I see some wild stuff is going on with your heart and I’d like to put in a temporary pacemaker.”

A pacemaker I thought? That’s for old people who really need it… this can’t be good.

“We also gave you antibiotics for lyme disease because it’s very rare that this would happen in someone so young and healthy.”

“Potential risks of the pacemaker are a collapsed lung. But the risk is low.”

Greg nodded, we prayed and he was rushed away without any hesitation.

The dam behind my eyes broke and I wondered what exactly would happen if and when he returned from the OR.

TO BE CONTINUED.

photo credit: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=0ETW5W0P&id=0B6BDB52A503062BC2A78A4720903DA28AAA8CC7&q=flat+lined&simid=608024416818237155&selectedindex=6&mode=overlay&first=1&thid=OIP.0ETW5W0PZ_p8caxLnTkLJwEsD6.

THAT TIME I THOUGHT I HAD FORGIVEN

It’s something that I never thought I had a problem with, until I went to lunch with a longtime friend.

“But you don’t understand what they did. They made me feel so betrayed at a time I was so vulnerable…”

I went through my laundry list of excuses, reasons why I was justified in feeling hurt. I didn’t think it was me holding a grudge or withholding forgiveness, it was just my feelings. But no, my hurts had piled up from years of being so annoyed that this event had happened that I had withheld forgiveness by default. Sound familiar? And since I didn’t see these people hardly ever, I had buried the hurt and it only came back in rare occurrences, giving me the illusion that I was “fine” or “over it”. But I realized that when someone pokes at an issue, and it fires you up, it usually means that you’re still not over it. Just because someone hasn’t “poked” at it in a while, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I had tried to forgive, to forget certain events that happened around when my mother left and the things people had said that were supposed to be out of concern but came across as crude or ignorant. I had thought that I had. I had prayed, written, been pensive, as I tried to make peace. But somehow, when a person or event was brought up, I’d be fired up again. Why? Why couldn’t I get past it?

It dawned on me, about ten years after the events had unfolded, why I couldn’t move forward. You see, when I looked at the events from my paradigm, it was all, of course, through my eyes, my lens. I saw things that hurt me, and rightfully so. However, I didn’t consider the other people, those that hurt me, as people. I realized I only saw them through my hurt, and somehow, dehumanized them. When they were dehumanized, it was easy to stay bitter, to say, “you hurt me and should pay”. But when I saw their own fragility, humanity and struggles, I felt something different. Genuine empathy. And once I reached this milestone, the feelings of bitterness slowly left me.

We are all only human, here today and gone tomorrow. We have limited time, capacity, and abilities. To lose someone from an event that maybe wasn’t positive, but also not irreparable, is such a shame. Because together we really are better; better ideas, passions, and problem solving.

What this doesn’t mean, is this: you’re not an open door for neglect and abuse. But what it does mean is good-willed and intentioned people make mistakes. They sometimes jude too quickly and react harshly. And to shut someone out, even if it’s just in your heart or mind, forever, just isn’t fair.

So today, maybe start looking past your pain, and looking at your enemy as a human. It’s extraordinary how it may just change your mind and heart forever. It did mine.

#forgiveness #ilovepeople.

MY MISSED MISCARRIAGE: PART TWO

I sat in the old white whicker chair in the waiting room. As I looked around anxiously, I saw women of all stages of life. I saw a lady coming in with her newborn in a carrier, a young teenager, and an older lady waiting patiently across from me. I brought a book with me but in my nervousness I just couldn’t bring myself to read it.
 
Eventually the ultrasound tech opened the door, “Christina!”
 
I got up and walked toward the entrance…
 
“How are you today?”
 
“Good as I can be, I guess.”
 
She led me to the ultrasound room and had me get into the gown from the waist down. I watched her look at the screen so stoically.
 
“Anything change?” I asked, hoping for the best but ready for the worst.
 
“No, sorry. It looks like the sac has filled with debris and it’s shrinking in size.”
 
I was still processing, still upset, but somehow knowing for sure, that the twins were gone, gave me peace. I could let go.
 
I walked into the doctor’s office, the one who had told me about the miscarriage last week. She asked what I wanted to do. I couldn’t quite deal with the idea of delivering what was left of my kids at home, whenever that would happen. So I chose the D&C option.
 
“I know it’s the week of Christmas… can you guys still schedule the surgery before Christmas Day?” I asked but figuring it would be post-poned.
 
“Let me check with the surgeon. I think we can do that for you. I want to do whatever will make this easier for you,” she said, with such compassion.
 
“Dr. Smith, can we do a D&C this week before Christmas? Christina sadly, miscarried so we are trying to help her by getting her in quicker.”
 
“Sure, honey…I’m so sorry…” And I think she truly meant it.
 
I completed the forms for the surgery and went to get more bloodwork done. I called my mom, asking her if she could come with me for the surgery to drive me back home.
 
That night, I went home and couldn’t eat anything for the coming surgery. I called my co-workers and requested the week off to heal. When I went in for surgery the next day, I was greeted with more bloodwork. Since I hadn’t eaten for the surgery, they couldn’t locate my veins properly, having to stick needles in both arms and my hand. Normally that doesn’t bother me but I cringed all the way through it. They then led me down a narrow hallway where I was given a room and a gown to wear. I was given an IV to give me fluids since I had nothing in my system.
 
While I waited for the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, I watched some Christmas movies on ABC Family. It seemed to take my mind off of things.
 
The anesthesiologist came in and explained the drugs they’d use during the procedure. I mostly just nodded my head, not really knowing why it mattered, just that I wouldn’t be in pain.
 
Now it was starting to get more serious and I felt my nerves start to rise. They carted me to the surgery room which was felt like ice. Warm blankets were placed on me and my head was set in a set of foam blocks. The lights from the surgical spot-light were blinding. The anesthesiologist did his best to say a joke…I appreciated the effort. In a few moments, I drifted to sleep.
 
*********************
When I woke up I felt no pain, just a groggy feeling and a need to urinate. Nurses helped me when I came to, and I couldn’t believe how much blood was on my bed. It just reminded me of what happened, what I’d lost. I looked over and mom was sitting there with an iced tea reading an Angel magazine, as always.
 
“How’s it going kiddo? Feeling okay?”
 
“I want some ice cream.” I told her and the nurse.
 
They went and found me some. Once I was done, I was helped up and into my clothes. I sat with some more IV fluids for a while and waited to feel a little more normal. My nurses were angels and comforted me as I recovered. I was wheeled out of the hospital and went to the Olive Garden with mom, and ate more than I should. As moments passed, I felt less and less upset and more at peace. After I ate, mom drove me home and helped me to the couch and prepped it with blankets where I stayed waiting for Greg to come home from work.
 
After the bleeding subsided, which went on and off for a while, I went to the hospital for weekly bloodwork, which is hard for someone who’s trying to move past their loss. But eventually it was over… eventually after three long months, my body had healed.
 
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I say all this not for myself, but for so many women who suffer or cry in silence as new life leaves them. It’s the taboo subject… don’t tell anyone you’re expecting until post 1st trimester, you could miscarry! As if you should have to live in that pain by yourself. Many women have miscarriages and, somehow, have the strength to try again, to believe it can work again. This story is for all of you, the ones that persevered and suffered alone. Your grief and story is real.

WHY I HATE CRITICISM

It’s a fact of life; people are going to either give you positive or negative feedback. They might do it in a helpful way or in a more destructive fashion. It could be your boss, co-workers, friends or family. But the truth is, receiving criticism isn’t going to go away.

For me personally, I think I’ve always had a really hard time with criticism, both constructive and destructive. But when someone gives me the impression that I didn’t do a good job, or my idea was substandard, I almost feel defensive. How dare you tell me I didn’t work hard enough? How do you know what I put into this? It’s like I need to defend myself, my work. They could have told me I did something 99% correctly, but for some reason I don’t see that, my focus goes to the 1% that they are unpleased with. Know the feeling? 

I think this starts in childhood. We had a parent or adult figure in our lives that told us what we were doing wasn’t good enough…our grades weren’t perfect, our hair looked funny, or we didn’t do as well in sports as our peers. Then when we grow up, this voice doesn’t stop in our heads… it begs us to listen saying, “They weren’t too pleased…you screwed up again…”. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. Far too many of us live with that critical spirit and tone in our lives.

Nine times out of ten, our bosses, and family, and friends aren’t being critical of us. They aren’t trying to be destructive, they are trying to help. But when we hear them through the lens of our own hurt, our own past, we miss the message they are sending. Thus, it makes us defensive and appear wounded and snippy. I don’t think that is our intention. Today, and every day, let’s take some steps toward recovering our minds, silencing the negative voices, and hearing what our critics are really saying.

Misunderstood: Mental Illness & Autism

Mental illness, is such a hard thing for people to grasp who haven’t had any experience with it, whether by a family member or personally. You can’t see it, they don’t “look” sick, so are they just weird? Faking it? What’s wrong with them? Can’t they just “snap” out of it? Now, you’d never say that about someone dying of cancer in hospice, but you can see the cancer, you can see the amputee solider, or the child with whooping-cough and you would never blame them for being sick. But mental illness doesn’t manifest in that traditional way, you can’t touch and feel it, so it often gets dismissed as they’re “crazy”. It’s just not as tangible.

I’ve seen the firsthand effects of mental illness, because for about 18 years, that was my life–not my personal illness, but in my mother. Mental illness, from what I’ve seen or read, stems from a deep-seeded, childhood trauma or just a trauma in general. It is almost as if the body is trying to process something, that it wasn’t meant to deal with. It’s a coping mechanism, a defense, that the body and mind create, that manfiests into an illness–it’s trapped. This is what happened with my mother. I later learned about her horrible childhood experiences and her trauma that almost froze her in time. There were times where she’d speak in a little girl’s voice, not in a playful way, but a very “off” way, it was as if there was a little girl trapped within her, the last time she was probably truly well. Over time, things started to make sense, after I’d gained some perspective, distance, and education on the illness. But in the moment, the throngs of my own childhood, I resented her, and desperately wanted to feel safe and secure.

As a child, I knew nothing about mental illess, there was no way to pick a part what was going on with her behavoir. One minute she’d be very loving and affectionate, the next erratic and manic. So to try and gain stability, I tried to do the things that I thought might make her less “manic”, as if I could control it.  It made me really exahusted from trying to earn and stay in her “love” and good graces.  I become so tired, both physically and mentally. Later in life, it left me feeling as if I needed to keep everyone happy in my other relationships and it took time to unlearn this pattern.

I do have compassion for people with mental illness because I know it comes from a place of pain.

It wasn’t like my mother was trying to be evil, or to do wrong, the illness took over. And that’s not an excuse for bad behavior, but it is a reason. I wished she’d gotten help, but I don’t think she knew to get well, knew how to really get out of “herself”.

Those who have to live or “deal with” a family member or friend with mental illenss, it can be very challenging and draining. I had a hard time because I was in this state of being “on edge”, waiting for another manic episode from a family memeber or friend, not being able to be in large family gatherings, or social circles. I felt the need to control what was around me, to feel safe again… to be “normal”. But for those who walked alongside someone with mental illness, you have a road to recovery too, and you must walk it to be well.

I went to speak with a therapist. I decided I needed to process and work through the pain and confusion that my mother had caused. At the time I was working at a school for children with autisim and other neurological impairmennts. My therapist said something that stuck with me, “You work with kids’ with autism… so, when they have an episode or can’t handle a particular noise, you don’t get mad and frustrated with them, do you? You have patience and walk them through what they need until they are calm again…”. And it was true. They can’t control their impulses when they have an impluse or a tick, or when they can’t communicate properly. It is the same when we work through trauma. We can’t expect to get there overnight, to just be fixed from a problem that took 18 years to cause. But over time, little by little, just like the kids I worked with everyday, we can get better too.

It’s a road to recovery, not a short stroll. And being well again, the healing process, is so worth the pain of the recovery.

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 [Emphasis mine].

Photo Credit: Huffington Post