It is now day 9 of National Health Blog Post Month and today’s prompt is to tell a descriptive story about a memory. The memory I want to talk about is the night where it was finally ingrained in my head that I really had developed post traumatic stress disorder from the enormous trauma I had gone through over the past 12 years. I know most of you reading this already know a bit about me but for the new readers let me give you an extremely quick synopsis. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (a form of inflammatory bowel disease) at the age of 13. I have had 14 major operations, umpteen procedures, was in and out of the hospital more times than I can count, had way too many obstructions and I now have an ileostomy. I slowly developed PTSD from the repeated trauma to my body and mind. My surgeon allowed me to go home from most of my major operations after only three days because he knew the emotional toll being there took on me. I had been seeing a psychiatrist on and off for a while and was diagnosed with PTSD within the past five years and got progressively worse after I had to continue to endure so much and be in the place I hated the most. Part of post traumatic stress disorder is having extremely vivid nightmares which often make you actually feel like you are right back in the place where the trauma occurred. They have gotten a bit better but this past year they were the worst I have ever experienced.
My nightmares usually take place in the recovery room because that was what I dreaded the most. One time I woke up without pain medication and when my parents asked what was going on; their response was that it wasn’t ordered so the doctor probably felt I didn’t need it. Just to be clear…I have had organs removed, reconstructed and sewn up. Short of having an organ transplant, I don’t know of anyone having more difficult surgeries than I have (and other IBDers). One night I had a dream so vivid, so painful, and so real that I will remember it for the rest of my life. I remember I was in so much pain and trying to talk but the words wouldn’t come out loud enough for anyone to hear me. My mom was with me and although she got very close to me so she could understand what I was trying to say, she couldn’t figure it out. So she told me to rest as the nurse made her leave the recovery room. I tried to yell to my mom so she wouldn’t leave me alone in agony without anyone to advocate for me but because my words were just shy of a whisper, she didn’t hear me. I went into panic mode. I felt like my body had been completely cut in half. I was scared. I was all alone. I had no voice. I had no advocate. I didn’t know if I would survive. I could barely breathe. And then I felt something kind of fuzzy near me. I assumed it was a stuffed animal and pushed it away as I continued to feel like I was barely breathing. I tried to reach for the button in the hopes that someone would come and be able to hear me. When I reached, I felt something sharp and when I stretched my arm out a little more, I felt that furry feeling again. I thought I pushed the stuffed animal away. What was going on? I was so scared. I was so alone. I didn’t know where the button was and my parents weren’t with me. I could feel my heart racing. I started to be able to feel around and I semi noticed that things seemed softer than they usually were. I got more confused and as I am still trying to speak, still trying to grab on to anything, I felt something on top of my chest which was slowing my heart rate down. I felt a very heavy feeling on my stomach and chest and as I tried to speak I felt something wet on my cheek. As I moved my hands on my face and chest, I felt my
My sweet black lab mix, who was a day away from being euthanized in a South Carolina shelter, woke me up. I will never forget that night. She has nudged me awake many other times when I was having such painful nightmares. She is my friend, my transitional object, and my therapy dog. When my family and I rescued Holli, it was because we had just lost our chocolate lab and there was such a hole in our hearts. I had no idea that Holli would end up rescuing me.