If my PTSD were cured, it would look like me not having to go to the Emergency Room anymore for dehydration brought on by adrenaline dump.
I used to go to the ER a lot. Even on vacation. I can tell you about Emergency Rooms in Colorado, Washington and California. Mostly I can tell you about Emergency Rooms in New York and Nevada. I went to the ER so many times in 2010, I agreed to have my gall bladder removed exactly 6 weeks before my wedding. I was back in the ER with the same symptoms one week after that unnecessary surgery.
Healing my own PTSD has been a long hard journey. I have been able to reduce the frequency of ER visits through a variety of activities: Meditation, EMDR, Self-Hypnosis, Journaling, Reiki, Yoga, Bubble Baths, Potting Plants, Making Art, Reading, etc.
When you go to the ER more than once in a month for dehydration, that can feel depressing. When you can go long periods of time without having to visit the ER, that feels like success. Holidays get me. I was ready for Halloween this year. Having missed the past 2 Halloweens with my son in a row, I had a plan: I was not going to get sick.
I won. I did not get sick. I felt amazing. I went to a party. I trick or treated. I was totally there!
And I totally nailed Halloween. I did it. No hospital for ONE YEAR!! I cured my PTSD! Or so I thought…
The week before Christmas my son got a little stomach bug that caused him to vomit from about 6:30 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning. I held him, did laundry and changed the bedding at least a half a dozen times all through the night. My son was such a trooper. Advice that helped:
You are throwing up (he didn’t know);
Mommy and Daddy will take care of you (he relaxed);
Breathe when you can, hold on, you will be able to breathe again soon (thank god, right?).
I knew that night when he put his pukey little hand on my mouth that I was in trouble. I was inspired by my son’s ability to shake it off and have a great, even comedic, attitude throughout his sickness. I planned to have that same great attitude and pulled it off the next night for the first several hours. I threw up, cleaned myself up, closed my eyes and meditated. I may have even given some thumbs up out there. But then something happened.
I had a memory.
At the time, I was thinking: that’s interesting. It was not a foreign memory, but it FELT different this time because of the experience I had as a parent the night before, taking care of my own child. It was the difference between experiencing something as a child and experiencing it as an adult.
Instead of 100% meditative concentration, I began to go toward the new feeling. What’s that? What does this feel like? Why is it new?
Well I’ll be damned if I didn’t walk up so close to that new feeling that a bucket of adrenaline didn’t dump into my system. That’s right, a bucket of adrenaline.
At this point, I began to throw up with no breaks in between. As in, I was both throwing up from the flu and from PTSD/Anxiety/Adrenaline dump. I’m talking about thumbs down. I tried to tell my husband I needed help for at least 20 minutes. I couldn’t get out of the memory, which was now clearly some sort of flashback. I would open my eyes again and he would be looking at me and I would wonder, did I tell him I need help yet or did I faint again? Finally, after only 6 hours of throwing up (I should’ve been almost done!), I told my husband: I need to go to the hospital.
And I was right. I did need to go to the hospital. I hit a new record: 3 saline bags to rehydrate me. The flu alone does not explain that level of dehydration. Adrenaline dump does. Had I not told my husband, between throwing up, that I needed to go to the hospital, I would have died from dehydration.
Highlights from my last hospital experience: putting an IV into a dehydrated person’s vein is not easy, my arm is still swollen and bruised 2 weeks later; regardless of dehydration,the staff made clear they were angry at how long it took me to comply with the urine sample; the doctor at one point yelled in my face: OPEN YOUR EYES and when I did, he yelled: ARE YOU GONNA HURT YOURSELF?!
Did explaining at registration that I am having a PTSD attack help? No, not this time. Not every medical professional knows what that even is, unfortunately. Compassion is not a given. So I went home and tried to take care of my husband who had finally caught our son’s flu and then I just rested right through Christmas. I wanted to spring up and make Christmas joyful and high energy, like a music video. When I was unable to do that, I fought off feelings of self hate and depression and just watched movies under a blanket with my family on the couch. We all took care of each other.
In conclusion, it’s ok to get sick.