A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Trauma

I'm afraid to say that I'm still not doing well on the emotional front.  Part of the reason I haven't posted for so long is because I've wanted to be more positive and more like my usual self when I've posted, but I've come to realise that if I do then then I'll be waiting a very long time, as will you.  The fact of the matter is that things are tough - very tough - the Crisis Team are still seeing me every two days, and I'm still phoning their support line most nights.

Most people wouldn't think of asthma as traumatic.  Most people think of it as a mild condition of childhood that's easily treated with a couple of puffs of an inhaler, and at some point the child will grow out of it.  This can be the case for some, perhaps for most, but for a minority asthma can be severe (and anyone with any 'level' of asthma can have a severe attack at any time).  For some, asthma can be life-threatening, and for an even smaller minority it can be repeatedly life-threatening.  I'm in that minority of the minority, but just because I've gone through a huge number of life-threatening/near-fatal asthma attacks, it doesn't mean that it gets easier.  Yes, I know what's happening, and I know what to expect in terms of treatment, but I never know if I'm going to survive.  The fear never goes away.

I'm good at keeping as calm as possible when I'm in the throes of a severe asthma attack - it's been commented on by medical staff more than once - but the fear and anxiety is merely under control, rather than absent.  It has to come out sometime.

For several years I have seemingly bounced back after each severe attack.  I've been tired, and it's taken a while to get my physical strength back, but I often haven't given enough attention to the emotional trauma.  Instead I've thrown myself back in to studies, concentrated on whatever essay or piece of creative writing I've had to do, and looked towards getting my degrees.  I have those degrees now.  I don't have essays to produce or books to study.  I don't have a guided focus.  I do have the two books I'm meant to be writing, but I can't concentrate on them.  I can't focus.  I can't get my words out sufficiently.  Even writing this is a real struggle.

To some extent, all these things have provided distraction when I've been discharged from hospital, but the counter-side is that they've also stopped me from dealing with the trauma of the events.  My last admission was particularly traumatic.  I felt traumatised at the time of the attack, and in the days immediately following it (after I'd been transferred from ITU to the respiratory ward), but then there was the severe pyelonephritis (kidney infection) on top of it all, and the combination has been overwhelming.  I have now been diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

My psychologist is good - helpful, attentive, works with me in partnership, works me hard, and I trust her.  None of that makes therapy easy - therapy is never easy - but it reduces any anxiety I have about talking about some aspects of the trauma.  However, at the moment we're having to fire fighting therapy - crisis management - so planning sessions from week to week isn't really working. Instead we have to deal with whatever is the most pressing and distressing thing at the time.  They're all connected, all part of the PTSD and depression, but some of the 'symptoms' are themselves distressing.

I was going to write some more, but I keep zoning out (dissociating) - one of the PTSD symptoms I've recently been finding very distressing (at least in the aftermath).  It's taken me two hours to write what I have!  Maybe I'll write some more about this at another time, but for now I'll have to leave it here.  Apologies if this doesn't all make sense.

10 comments:

Joy said...

It does make sense, Becky, albeit emotional to read.
I have no advice, nothing to offer that might be of any practical help but I will pray for you and for the professionals who are working with you.
Sending much love
J x

Sal A said...

It does make sense & it's beautifully written. You are writing and that is an achievement in itself - this one blog posting might help many many people. It's certainly helped me put my stuff into perspective - I was moaning cos I've had asthma & allergy problems for last 2 weeks but i'm going to shut up now! I'm sure you will help others feel the same - and may even help others in similar positions to you. xxx

vivinfrance said...

Becky, of course it makes sense: BTW it would have taken me longer than 2 hours to write that!

This suggestion may be totally out of order, but on the offchance that it might help:
while you were studying, you had mammoth tasks to distract you, and yes, they buried the stress. But you ARE a writer, so how about writing short - I mean 17 syllable short haiku or 3-1-4 syllable piku and let it all spill - use the stress as a writing tool.
e and hugz
ViV

Zim said...

Becky, I read last time a book about Marcel Proust - French writer, who lived with severe asthma. In his times there were no modern medicines for that, so his suffering was really hard, hard even to imagine. I don't know, if I could life by 8 years in my own home. But he had one good gift - writing talent. I think we all have something good from God, which can be therapy for soul. Maybe You also have it, but You don't know about it. Maybe asthma will be not course in this case, but blessing, which will help in development of Your hidden talents.
Greetings from (finally) spring south Poland - unfortunately full of pollens.

Rose Forrester said...

I hear PTSD is a frightening thing. More people have it then we even know. What's crazy is it began as early, known symptoms, as WWII. Thank you for your post. i found it while researching asthma specialists in Richmond.

Dawn said...

It's good to hear from you, Becky. I'm so glad that you have support and therapy right now. Please try to take care of you, and be kind to yourself
Gentle hugs,
Dawn x

piratejenny said...

Dear Becky

I've been following your comments for a long time on the OU forum and on your own blog. I think you're incredibly brave and I only wish there was something else I could say which might help. You deserve something better and I hope very much that you will find your way back into the light. Just don't try too hard...
Jenny

Sleep Apnea said...

How is it going right now? I have a friend who also suffered asthma when we were young but right now she doing fine how about you i don't really have a good advice to give you aside from giving more time to get recover soon. hope everythings gonna be fine with you.

BeckyG said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. I'm touched by them all and that you've taken the time to send me your thoughts and support.

A special welcome and thank you to those of you who are new to my blog/commenting on my blog.

I'm still not really able to focus long enough to reply individually, as I would like to. That disappoints me hugely, but please be assured that I am not ignoring any of you, and I value each and every comment that's been sent.

Viv, thank you for the suggestion of haiku and piku. I've never done piku before, and I did actually manage a haiku a few days ago. Yes, it was only 17 syllables, but it felt like a huge achievement.

Becky

vivinfrance said...

Becky, I'm so glad you've written a haiku. You were so good at poetry when we were studying, it's a pity to let a talent lie fallow!