Hanging on

I am enjoying the daily poems, but finding that I am missing my usual come- to- the- keyboard- and- pour- out- all- my- thoughts posts. So here is one of those. I need one of those.

Yesterday was a doozy. And by doozy I mean a hellish nightmarish stressful panic ridden day. Just in my home, just in my own self, before I even saw the news of so many other people having a hellish nightmarish day in Boston. So I am not being selfish here, not taking away from their suffering with my own little story, that has nothing to do with them, and needs to be shared.

I’m going to try to explain what it was like to have an intense PTSD flashback, so be warned, the rest of this post could be triggering.

Tomorrow I see my therapist. And so I need some processing for my own sake.

Yesterday morning, everything was fine. Breakfast was fine. Got the kids off to school fine. Kept up fine with some chores and my work projects.  I made a vet appointment for my dog, because he had been breathing rough and just slow and acting weird the day before and seemed a bit anxious during the days lately. I was not that worried, just wanted to check him out.

And then I went upstairs to get my youngest ready for preschool, and noticed my dog still sleeping in my bed, at noon. He’s usually up and following me, and would have had his breakfast and been outside by then. I was doing so fine being busy that morning I did not notice his absence. I was not alarmed yet though. He is 14 years old and has been slowing down, and has slept in before. But then I petted him, and got no response. I mean nothing. I could see and hear him breathing, but his eyes were empty and did not seem to see me. I patted him harder and spoke to him, and still no response. It was like he was sedated.

I’d like to say my first response was to call the Vet, or something reasonable like that. No. My first response was to have a flashback, and then a full on panic attack. The situation triggered a flashback to a terrible traumatic event in my childhood, when my Dad poisoned my Dog. The image of my childhood dog kept flashing and merging with my current dog. Reality was flickering and I was struggling to remain present. I felt like I was suddenly 7 years old again and helpless, powerless. I did not just remember the event, I was transported through space and time to mentally re-live the sad death of my childhood dog. I saw blood pouring out of my current dog, then blinked to erase the memory and see my dog was still alive. Everything in me began to shake, and I sobbed uncontrollably. I rushed to the bathroom and closed the door, trying to escape the flashback, but, well, it followed me.

But then I accidentally looked in the mirror. I saw I was not 7. And then I saw I was 7, again flickering, old image superimposed on the real one. And then I looked at my hands. My own hands. And I remembered I was not helpless. It still took some time, but I worked through it and forced my brain to help my dog. I was not going to get in trouble for calling the Vet. No one poisoned this dog. My Dad isn’t here. I am safe – but my dog needs my help. I got dizzy and had to sit. I sat on the floor and kind of bumped my head against the wall until I could breathe and see again. And then I wiped my nose and eyes, and went back to my room. I tried again to rouse my dog. He straightened his legs a bit, but did not lift his head.

I went back downstairs and googled my Vet. I don’t what I’d do without google. In that state of mind, I couldn’t remember where I kept my phone number list, but I always remember how to google. The Vet asked way too many questions and finally said I could bring him in.  But then I nearly panicked again. My dog weighs 50 pounds – there was no way I could carry him down the stairs myself. I managed to tell the Vet I would have to find someone to help me and would try to get him there. I hung up and had another panic attack, overwhelmed by feeling weak and powerless. And stupid. And oh the shame, and the guilt. I cried it all out again.

Feeling drained, but calmer, I decided I needed to find my husband. I called and texted his cell phone, but got no response, which is normal, it is very loud where he works. He does not have a desk phone and I could not think through the next step. So as I waited a bit for him to call back, I instead emailed my coworker, just to share it with someone. I got back some instant sympathy, along with a bit of strength and clarity. I wasn’t alone.

I’ve never called Hubby at the new factory, I had no number there. So I googled again, called his corporate headquarters, then called his factory, then waited for someone to find him on the floor. I could barely speak when he finally answered, the relief at just hearing his voice was so great that I started crying again and I could barely tell him what was going on. I was already planning to call his Dad, who lives an hour away, to help if I couldn’t find him at work. Just hearing him say hello, meant the world to me. I knew he would help. I knew I did something to help my dog this time. That I didn’t have to just stand there and watch him die this time. Hubby just said, “I’ll be right there.” No questions. (He later told me he heard the pain in my voice and knew I had been triggered, and that he would have come to help with the dog, but that he was really rushing home to me.)

He called me on his cell as soon as he got out, and I was already so much better, knowing he was on the way. I knew it would be a while, about 30 minutes, so I got out the dog brush and gently brushed and rubbed my doggy to let him know I was there with him. I thought even if he didn’t make it, he would not be alone. I could do that for him. I brushed his one side, and then scooped him up to roll him over to do the other side. Rolling him still did not change his altered state. He even let me brush the frills on his legs, and the tangles on his tail and back side – areas he never let me near without a fuss. And then I scooped him up again, onto my lap, and as I held him, something happened and his glassy eyes recognized me. He nuzzled me and leaned in to my arms. Then he tried to stand, but fumbled, like he was a newborn deer. But he held up his head, and reacted to my affection. And then, just like nothing even happened, he jumped out of bed, ran down the stairs, and barked at his food bowl, as if complaining that breakfast was so late today.

I fed him, took him outside, and barely tried to have the hope that was filling me up then.

Hubby arrived, took him to the Vet. We don’t have an actual diagnosis yet. Just a bunch of things we know it isn’t. Bloodwork shows an infection, not sure what kind. His gums were pale, indicating low oxygen. Never knew to check that on a dog, makes sense though, only skin we can see. He started on some super Meds. At least I hope they are super Meds, as don’t want to say good bye to him yet. But I also know, that if he doesn’t make it through, he will know he is loved, and I will know that my love saved him this time. And maybe, just maybe, that other horrible memory can finally be processed once and for all, never to haunt me again since I finally looked directly at it and grieved for my first doggy, and also, more importantly,  for the little girl that watched him die.


And then I saw the news. Or I should say I read the news, because I had already averted my eyes from the images, and knew better than to hit play on that video. My heart hurt for them, but I did not dwell there. I did not ask ‘Why’. I stopped asking that question long ago.

But what I don’t understand, is why are those videos on constant loop? I know what it is like to see horror and try to move on. Why does the world traumatize itself by watching those videos? Will we ever get a news media that can report without adding to the pain? Just because it was caught on camera does not mean it should be publicized. You don’t prove you care by watching those videos and getting hurt and angered all over again. All that happens is the news channels get supersized ratings. It does not help anyone to see the blood and pain and looks of horror – images they will never erase. There used to be a very small population that ever saw tragedy like this first hand, only if it happened to you or your town. And now we must see the world’s tragedy, over and over, and even in high def. I am not a coward. I am not playing ostrich. I just think it is in poor taste and I don’t understand why the tragedies of our times must be re-lived on every news channel, on TV or web, to repeatedly traumatize the world and make everyone, everywhere a victim right along with those that were actually involved.

I say read the headlines, say your prayers, and help out if you can – otherwise move on – so the healing can begin.  But who am I to say these things. Who am I.


20 thoughts on “Hanging on

  1. When my brother’s dog went through that he had to stay at the vets overnight but was fine the next day. Something similar happened to my dog. I wonder if I’d been more patient she would have come out of it. I put her down because I thought she was already gone but for her heart still beating. I’m glad you have a little more time with your dog.

    I used to choose not to watch. Now, I refuse to turn away. If they had to live through it, I can watch. I think the media is truly about what bleeds leads, but I chose to change my perspective. I started following an airman on FB. He shows the grizzly pictures of what’s happening to soldiers. My prayers on behalf of those in harms way have intensified because I see what’s happening. I don’t recommend this for anyone. I simply wanted to share how I changed the way I viewed the tragedies.

    The trouble with the media’s coverage is they put their own spin on it. There’s that innate sense of underlying deception. They talk of concern and compassion and yet their insensitive questions and premature speculation screams “I don’t care about you; give me the story that will give me the ratings I want.” The devastation is bad enough without the media behaving like vultures.

    • Thank you for the concern for my dog. He’s hanging in there, too soon to tell anything. I know I’ll have to either lose him, or make a tough decision one day about putting him down. I know. I’ve never had to do it though, he’s my first old pet, the first one I raised in my own house.

      I totally get what you’re saying about choosing not to look away, and I commend you on that too. I’m not saying we should hide from it, and some of that I do think more people need to know what our soldiers do and see. I don’t think we need to see it played on a continuous loop though, as like you said, the media vultures like to display. There is one thing to be informed, and another to be overwhelmed. Just asking for tact I guess. Or news delivered by journalists with no propaganda. But I may as well ask for the moon.

  2. Why do you call him ‘Dad’?
    “home is the resort Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where Supporting and supported, polish’d friends And dear relations mingle into bliss.”

    • You are right. He was not my Dad in any sense of the word, only by birth. I refer to him as such to note his position, but there is no endearment, and certainly no joy, peace or love associated with that term for me. If I referred to him as Monster, or Destroyer, it would be more fitting, but possibly confusing to anyone who happens to read my stories. I am open to any suggestions . . .

      Thank you so much for stopping by, reading one of my more painful posts, and hitting directly on such an important point.

      • Take a look here:

        Reading your answer I wonder, aren’t you still in denial? ‘My Dad’ sounds like someone close to you, not only because he is Dad, but because he is Yours.

        ‘If I referred to him as Monster, or Destroyer, it would be more fitting, but possibly confusing to anyone who happens to read my stories.’

        Would it be more confusing to readers or to yourself? If you called him Destroyer how could you write your stories? Human being destroyed by Destroyer can’t do anything, can’t write stories, can she? By referring to him as Monster would you possibly admit to your readers being partly monster yourself (You are in fact his biological daughter)?

  3. I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by my reactions to this comment. I am not sure if you are well intentioned and concerned for me or just entertaining yourself with some witty wordplay or actually angry, which makes me wonder if you know him, or someone like him. I don’t know how much of my story you have read. I don’t know your story at all. Nevertheless I will respond, because it is in my nature to do so. I am no longer in denial, but lived there for many years-nearly to the point of delusion. He is my Dad, yes belonging to me. I don’t attach the personal closeness to that title that you must think I do. Never having a Dad that would live up to what others must think is a Dad, well, I have no problem giving him that title and really never thought of it all until your comment. Fascinating. I could also say “My stomach ache woke me up last night” and it would would mean an an ache in my stomach belonging to me, but certainly does not imply affection. To call him my male parent does not change anything. He is a destroyer, and nearly was MY destroyer, but you are right. I am still here. He is a monster, and I have no problem owning that I am an offspring of a monster. But I have never applied the term to myself. If you would like to continue this discussion further, I am more than willing, as I relish analysis of this sort, but I do try to keep this a safe, gentle place for myself and also for my readers.

    • I expeted possibility of you getting angry, though it was never my intention to make you angry. It would be interesting to continue further, although I am happy to wait until you calm down, rethink if necessary and express your wish again whether to continue or not. There’s no rush and surely you are not obliged to continue this discussion when you don’t feel like it. You don’t have to prove anything to me, things that you are ready to face and for what price or that you are perfect for replying to comment that you find questionable. Reassess and let me know, maybe “yes” or maybe “no”. Public blog creates the opportunity of many different people looking at your reality, how you are going to use it and if at all, this decission belongs to you.

      • I am not angry. Your comments are intriguing and making me think. Surprised me perhaps. I love your last line here. I did create this public blog so many different people could see my reality and for me to see the reality of others. Blogging has been an amazing experience and has been instrumental in my growth this past year or so.

  4. I am so glad your four footed family member is fine for now. I had to send mine to her last sleep a couple of weeks ago, I miss her presence in my life and home. I was crying with you. The trigger was terrible and as always, I wanted to find your Dad and beat him senseless for your pain. You though are doing so well to own these moments, find your safe places and reach for the help you need.

    • Aww, so sorry to hear about your loss. They are family members and leave a huge hole.

      I feel more in control, which sounds strange after sharing this story, where the flashback took control of me perhaps. But it was different this time. I faced it, and like you said, owned it, and got through it. And it felt great to actually rely on others and not feel like I was worth asking for help. And I feel like I have one less memory to haunt me now, that I have now filed that one properly.

    • No, really, more of a “what is this?” reaction. Not anger. Not that anger would be wrong or imperfect, not saying that, just pretty sure it wasn’t there. I don’t think I could get angry at someone asking me to think or dig deeper. Your comments are different from most that I receive and I do approach with hesitation, some for my protection, and some for whoever you may be. I would love to hear more from you and I invite you to email me, the address is posted here for anyone. I am open to all. I do struggle with my obligation within this blog at times, still somewhat new to the blogging etiquette, and I am not sure our conversation will benefit the readers here. Although maybe it is exactly what someone needs, need to think on that more. Quoting Thomson and NIN has my attention and perhaps we can learn from each other. I don’t entirely disagree with you and I am not afraid to explore, examine, analyze. Actually I am nearly compulsive in that I must do those things, and will do those things, just usually not with a willing partner. “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” I will admit to some vanity though, and I’m not sure I want your most recent comment posted along with my poem, at least not yet. I don’t want that poem attached to any meaning other than what a reader may conclude on his/her own, again no avoidance or disrespect meant there, just artistic ego perhaps.

  5. I am sorry to hear your dog is doing so poorly. I am glad that you were able to revive him and he is back on his paws for awhile. I also chose to turn off the endless loops trying for the highest ratings. I usually know most of what is going on but so much is not something I can do anything about except pray. I work hard at avoiding situations that bring on a full flash back…they are nothing like how the movies portray them…Movies leave out the emotional hell that engulfs making time meld into itself. Finding a measure of relief afterwards by sharing your story is part of what a counselor does. Writing the pain is a way to bring it outside yourself. I am sorry to hear that your dad was such a cruel man that he chose to see you and your first dog to suffer. Deepest sympathy… :,(

    • Thank you for understanding. Doggy seems to be recovering, the meds are helping. I am afraid to be hopeful, but he is no longer wheezing and is nearly back to his usual silly,energetic self. He was up for a run yesterday, begging to go.

      Cruelty is where my dad lived, and what he doled out to us. You are right, movies do not portray flashbacks correctly, which is not surprising. So many misconceptions are bred and cultivated in Hollywood. I’m sorry you understand that pain though, as I would not wish it on anyone.

  6. Pingback: Interesting question… | The Project: Me by Judy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s