I have seen such pain.
Put mine aside, I’m talking about the others.
I have lived in a pediatric ward where every day I saw families with children very ill. I saw the clowns that came in each day to make the kids smile. I saw the prayers. I saw the strength of women that were able to walk in unwalkable situations. But overall, just incredible pain. Mountains and years of it.
While I know this would be a painful experience for many, but for me…I was living in a personal nightmare. A real life torture chamber.
I mean I was a freaking teacher. I was a principal. My career is in helping students find their purpose. I think we all know how I feel about kids. And I found myself living around children in great pain and suffering. 24/7 for years.
And I could not help.
I could not help.
I could not help.
At first I tried. There was Joshua the child who had relapsed 3x and still could not read and was 10 years old. I thought I could be helpful there. I can teach him to read. That I can do. But when? When Jacob was getting a blood transfusion I tried once, but Joshua was in pain and in no place to learn. And it never worked out.
And I watched his dad alone in the hospital. We spoke rarely. How can we? Turns out sitting all day is a busy job. Sitting next to your child getting a blood transfusion for 6 hours is a big job. It sounds ridiculous because you literally just sit, but there goes the day.
And it wasn’t just the pain that was killing me. It was the guilt.
I had so many resources. I had friends coming in, I had family sitting there next to me. I even had a husband! Not all the women living there had husbands. And even if they did in theory have one, they couldn’t be there in the “sit.” Most families were seeking treatment away from home. Families split. Mothers in hospitals with their sick child, while the rest of their children and husband were states or even oceans away. Having a spouse is huge. And only a year before that wasn’t obvious to be true. Steve almost died too.
So I sat.
I sat while I heard a family mourn their child who died next door.
I sat while Jacob writhed in pain.
I sat while we celebrated holidays that came and went with the ward dressed up with the matching themed streamers. Red for Valentines day, orange for Halloween. The walls colors changed, but the sit stayed exactly the same.
I sat, because that was all I could do.
I sat to wait. To wait for news. All news that was completely out of my control. Making the sit that much more excruciating.
However, inside there was no sit. There was vigilance, there was constant pulsing of energy.
And that is what PTSD. It’s the energy. The energy of being in fight vs. flight for years that your body doesn’t know how to be without that adrenaline. It only knows how to sit with a fire through your veins.
And while life continues and we left the hospital, my body still is sitting. It feels exactly the same. At times I swear I can feel the chair. I can feel the material of it. This is my body’s new normal. In constant panic. So calming it down is really a lot of work.
It will take time. So quick update: Ended ketamine therapy. It did not work for me. That is NOT to say it can’t work for you. The studies are SUPER promising with PTSD. Really promising. But sadly not for me.
I am trying the following:
- Being kinder to myself- for example I woke up bad today and instead of getting frustrated and crying, I just laid there and let it be. Thanks Lady Gaga!
- Yoga- I hate yoga. But it makes sense for my body stuff. So trying that.
- Massage- trying this. Too early to report back anything
- Breath work- trying that next week
- Writing AND publishing (thanks Gaga). I have a lot of writings to finish. I need to document this to learn from it and publishing is CRITICAL to getting better.