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.