As most of you know I had quite the time this summer as far as my health is concerned. To be completely honest with you I still am not exactly sure what happened, or why I got so sick. I went up to have my two kidney stones removed, which they were and that part couldn't have gone better in our medical opinions. Like 7 years ago my surgeon placed a stent to help pass any remaining pieces of the two stones that might still be there.
This time we decided that we would just leave the stent in for a week or ten days then have it pulled out. It was decided that I would go back home and then come back up in a week to have the stent removed in the OR. I stopped for gas about 30 minutes out and when I got out of the van to gas up I could immediately tell something was wrong, very very wrong. I just didn't feel good and I knew I would not be able to make the 10 hour drive home, and if for some reason I did make it home, there wouldn't be a chance in hell I would be able to make it back. So I decided to turn around and get a hotel room.
Doc found out and ended up taking me back to his house, which I was fine with, and I am very glad I did and I'm guessing he is too. Most of this story you all know so I will be brief. I got really really sick and Doc and his wife had to drag me out of the house and take me to the ER where I was then admitted. By the end of the week I got the stent out and was feeling a bit better for a few days but then things went bad again. I almost completely stopped eating, drinking, moving. Apparently I would lay in bed for days.
After a good 6 weeks to 2 months maybe it became apparent that I needed 24 hour around the clock nursing care, and from a nurse that I couldn't bully and get my way. So I spent 3 weeks doing so at my best friends house. I got better, slowly, but I got better. I had some residual issues from being that sick like almost no short term memory, I was stuttering which isn't something I do, and I was severely lacking in fine motor movements. Also, I had trouble putting a proper sentence together and I would get words and word tenses mixed up all the time. All of which were completely annoying.
I have severe insomnia as it is but when I can't remember things it completely drives me crazy. I won't even allow some anesthesia meds to be used on me because it causes me to loose time, memory and that drives me crazy. So for the past 4 months every time I tried to sleep my mind raced and raced trying to remember basically 3 months of my life this summer that I had not been able to remember. Every night my brain would fight with itself, sometimes going back as far as when I was 2 maybe 3 years old with the first of my memories in the hopes that all of them would fall into place again and I would be able to remember what happened to me this summer.
I just wasn't remembering crap. So now to current. Last week I went back up to Doc's house because I had a dentist appointment. As we all know, I hate dentists with a passion, not them as people mind you, but what they do. So needless to say I wasn't feeling all that warm and fuzzy to start with. I also had a weird feeling about this trip like something was going to go very wrong. That's never happened before either. I had also been awake for 48 hours, and just driven the last 12 of that. I had about 2 hours before I had to be at the dentist's office. Just enough time to get myself and suitcase in Doc's house and take a hot shower.
So I opened the door and walked inside. I closed the door behind me and took a few breaths and then it started. It took less than a minute of just being in Doc's house to this PTSD panic attack to be full blown. I have to tall you, I have had a few anxiety/panic attacks in the past but this was a very different animal, very different. I have always been very smell oriented which isn't all that uncommon really. Smells for many of us bring back memories we have often forgotten, or remind us of times past etc. I think my sense of smell is something that I have just always thought about and relied on more than a lot of people. I smell everything. Once when Doc and I were in bed and it was our last night before I had to leave I put my nose in his neck and just smelled him. He asked me what I was doing and I told him, "I'm making a memory".
So standing in Doc's house for the first time since I had left when I was very sick sparked a chain reaction in myself that I was not at all ready or prepared for, or even expecting. Everyone's house has it's own smell. It's hard to explain what Doc's house smells like but the best I can describe it is that it has a clean smell, and smells like fresh cut wood in the fall. It's always been a very comfortable smell for me, welcoming.
This time was very different. Smelling his house through me into this PTSD situation. For the past 3 months or so I had been fighting every single night to remember what happened to me both in the hospital and while I was in this house. Within a couple of deep breaths about 90 percent of everything I had forgotten and had been fighting to remember suddenly came flooding back all at the same time. I can only explain it to you what it looked like and felt like as when someone says that their life flashed before their eyes. It was sort of like that.
The problem with those memories coming back so quick and so vividly I also remembered that I almost died in this house. I should have died probably but had it not been for the love and dedication of Doc and his wife taking care of me, I would have been dead. As crazy as this sounds, I was suddenly afraid I was going to die in this house. Then the black stars started darting in my eyes, my hands and fingers were tingling, and I was getting very light headed. I was going to pass out real quick if I didn't get out of that house.
I made it back out and sat on the porch. I was crying uncontrollably and shaking. My whole body felt like I was sitting on a very rough hard running tractor if that makes any sense. I called Doc and let him know. I did make it to the dentist office after a hot shower but was still shaking so badly it took me a half hour to fill out my name, address and telephone number. It was terrible.
After that appointment I went to Doc's office. By this time I was so nauseated, and not any better. I felt like I was getting sick all over again which just made the PTSD worse and the attack continue. Then I started vomiting, again, which again is exactly how it all started this past summer. I was basically convinced I was going to die. I was freezing and sweating profusely at the same time. Again, exactly what happened when I started getting sick earlier this summer. My face went from ghostly white to a deep red and blotchy, and then back again. It was the craziest thing.
Lucky for me my boyfriend is a doctor and I was puking in his office bathroom. He felt the need to sink some Zofran into my backside, which I needed and it did help with my nausea somewhat. He assured me he wasn't going to let me die, and I trust him enough to believe him.
I think we finally went to bed about 2am. I still was in the middle of this PTSD attack. So it has been going on for about 12 hours. I was exhausted, beyond exhausted and I actually fell asleep very quickly and slept very well. But I also knew that Doc was just a few feet away if I needed anything.
I woke up the next day well rested. The attack was finally over. I went downstairs to an empty house and my thoughts and again, as crazy as this sounds, made peace with the house, my feelings, and with myself. I sat on the couch for a few hours going over and digesting all the thoughts and memories that I was finally remembering. Not all of them were good things or things I wanted to remember, but some of them were good things and good memories. Either way though I have most of my own memories back and having them back meant that I could deal with them and file them mentally where I needed to so that I could move forward finally and put the ones to rest that needed to be.
It was sure hell that day, but it was a much needed day of personal growth for me. The only residual effects I have from that day is a huge stress knot in the back of my neck. With time that too will relax and go away or Doc will do a trigger point injection and make it go away, but one way or another, it will go away.
Sometimes as a nurse, I am often thankful for going through things personally so that when I have a patient going through the same thing I can honestly say I know how they feel.