Trauma life

I haven’t written in a while, I know… It isn’t that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s just, I didn’t know how to articulate all the things that have been going through my mind the last several months. I feel some days, as though the veil has been pulled from my eyes and I see so many things about life so much clearer. Although, that doesn’t make the day to day any easier, it has just served to remove my comforting safety blanket from around me. Which, I have always said, give me the truth, even if it hurts— no matter how ugly it is.

This week was a real tear. Our daughter was in the hospital again, first time in quite a while. So, that in itself is quite the victory. But it doesn’t make this week any less painful. We were beginning to see shades of last years misadventure in her health, so I knew it was time to take her in. The trauma life is exhausting. I have spent the better part of my silence with the blog meditating and finding new ways to usher in peace. Because to be honest, the old ways weren’t cutting it. I grew frustrated with muttering scriptures and listening to worship music, when some days I just didn’t believe the words. I’m being utterly honest. There is a brutal truth though, I must say to the power of renewing the mind. I believe it is key. But the well from which that renewal comes from isn’t as small as I once believed it to be.

Trauma, when experienced in life as an extreme series of events begins to mold who you are. I’m not speaking of an isolated event, although those carry their own weight too. But I am addressing here is, one event after another and another, sometimes adding up to years of trauma. Inescapable trauma. As for our household, we take all manner or measures to prevent undue trauma. We foresaw the events that unfolded this last week and fought to prevent them but did not have the “modern medical community’s” cooperation. What we experienced could have been prevented, had they listened and acted.

Trauma can be likened to magnets. When one counterpart moves, the other moves. There is an awareness, that is almost superhuman in place that has to exist as such. Without it, survival is compromised. It is living hyper-attuned. You see, after a series of traumatic events and remaining there (especially because you have to) you cannot go back to who you once were because that person no longer exists. The woman I once knew is long gone. We share memories; some common interests, maybe even music but she is far behind me.

I have spent the past several months rediscovering who I am. What makes me tick. What lights my soul on fire. What ushers in peace. What music do I REALLY like? Wow… I have learned so much about myself! I have learned that meditating before bed really helps me quiet my mind so that I can fall asleep faster. I have discovered that smudging sage before bed helps me to feel like I am in tune with nature— even though we live in a concrete jungle. I love watching tv shows and movies that are historically based, maybe with a little bit of a love story to it. I miss rain, a lot. I love reading, it is quite possibly my favorite leisure activity. I have discovered my strength again. I have learned that I CAN keep my mouth shut when I need to and that I don’t have to let my emotions run me. I have discovered that not all my thoughts are mine but that they are in fact things that people have told me, about me. I have learned that to master your mind, you have to be an observer of your own thoughts, rather than allowing them to just run wild on their own. I have realized that I don’t like being told who to be; how to act, dress, speak, what to believe. Now these things, being told who I am, those things nearly choked the life right out of me. I will never be a list of what to do, how to act, what to say. I was not created to be subservient and mild. I have learned to find my voice again and I am learning how to use it, tactfully.

Trauma choked me. It choked the uniqueness right out of me. Other people choked it out of me. Religion choked it out of me. It isn’t anyone else’s fault, I must have allowed it to happen at some point. But a few months ago, I had a realization that it was time I took my power back. I have something that doesn’t belong to anyone else but me and that is ME. Though the world around me presses in, beckoning to shape me into who IT wants me to be, I can stand my ground. Though living a trauma life has molded me into someone completely different than who I once was, I have the choice to not allow it to make me a bitter woman. Instead, I will allow it to add to my storehouse of wisdom and skill. Religion will not place its shackles around my wrists, Christ died to set me free and I am dearly loved! No person or establishment will tell me who to be, that is for me to discover.

This is freedom. These are the wide open spaces that all of us so desire. This isn’t, Hey anything goes but this is figuring out who we are in spite of all that we have been through. And we have a choice. Be a better person, a brighter- more forward looking person? Or do we sink into the depths in our pity and woe and remain there? You choose friend, who are you going to be today? The choice is yours.

Be blessed.

Over coming PTSD and medical related anxiety.

“But first seek his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

I used to sleep with one eye open. We had a very long hard road when Lily was born and there was no end in sight. On her 5th day of life she was put on oxygen, we were told her lungs were underdeveloped even though she was full term. Immediately upon birth she had already been whisked off to the NICU and had been experiencing an extended stay in the hospital, with the newest development, her stay was extended. Sitting in the corner of that room holding her, there were alarms going off everywhere, a lot of the time. Sometimes it was her, sometimes it was other babies. They don’t call them alarms for no reason, when it is your child panic rises up within you. I felt as though my heart was going to jump out of my chest every time her alarm went off. All I could think was oh dear God, please tell me it isn’t something major.

Her oxygen saturation would drop out of no where and for no known reason. To tell you the truth, it didn’t even make sense that her lungs were underdeveloped either but we went along with the doctors as they seemed to know somewhat, what they were doing. Oh the alarms my friend… I’m holding my dear little one, trying to bond with her amidst all the noise and chaos and trying to allow my mommy instincts to kick in when; beep beep beep beep beep. Not a quiet beeping but a long terrifying one. It was awful.

Lily only spent 10 days in the NICU but she was set to go home on oxygen. I fought to get a pulse ox sent home with us, as they weren’t going to send one. We spent one night in the parent suite with her to do a test run. The nurses were just a short way down the hall from us. I laid in bed while she slept with one eye open. I was watching her oxygen saturation bobble between 98% and 87%, I knew her alarm would sound if she dropped to 85%. So here is where it began. I was waiting for her to dip that extra 2%. She had done it many times during waking hours, why not while asleep too? I was terrified to try and fall asleep and have that alarm wake me up. It was an awful sound. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know how to, it was as though I forgot. In a matter of a few days a little machine that was monitoring my daughter had slapped its terrifying handcuffs on me, I was subject to the machine now. In an effort to get some shut eye, when she woke for her next bottle and diaper, I zipped her into my favorite mommy hoodie, reclined in the rocking chair and closed my eyes. I slept for 15 minutes.

When we finally did take her home, the homecare medical team met us at our house and showed us how to use our new equipment. We had ample tanks of oxygen, plenty of canulas and plenty of line to stretch across the house. Oh yes and of course a pulse ox to alert us should her numbers take a dive. We were all set right? Ready for success! Wrong. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I watched those numbers for many nights, it became a game. Were they going to go up again or move down a percent? Finally I reached my cracking point, I broke emotionally from sleep deprivation. My husband and I made an agreement to take shifts. Oh my gosh, what a relief! He stayed up all night with her so I could sleep and I got up bright and early in the morning so he could go to bed. We finally figured out the sleep thing.

I had to start doing normal stuff again like leaving the house. Panic would set in. I wasn’t afraid to leave Lily with my husband, I was afraid to talk to people. I didn’t want to talk about what I had just been through. What else was I to talk about? If I saw anyone I knew, they would know I just had a baby and ask how the baby is doing. So there was that anxiety. The next one was far worse, going to stores. If I managed to not feel like I was going to vomit anymore and mustered up the courage the step over the threshold of the store, the first thing I was bombarded with was people noise and the beeping from the cash registers. Deep breaths as I moved through the aisles. I would hear a loud noise and jump, my heart rocketing up into my throat. I was so grieved that I was experiencing this, I beat myself up about it for quite sometime, having a pep talk like; hey, you are a healthy individual who is also very outgoing and social, what the heck is wrong with you!? I just couldn’t do it. My dear husband took over on grocery shopping for a while. I drew the line when I came home sobbing from the store one day. It wasn’t just PPD for me, it was all of the above. It was the death of the child we thought we were going to have. It was PTSD; it was anxiety, depression, grief, sleep deprivation… I could hardly eat!

I think I have painted you a clear enough picture, I hope. What did I do? I began to say no. I began to do it scared. I began to get back out there and try to socialize. I said no to the thoughts and feelings that accompanied all these diagnoses and reaffirmed who I am in Christ. One of my favorite scriptures that I clung to; “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I cannot take credit for the changes that were made within my mind. God did all the work but my part in it was handing it over to Him. I couldn’t do it. It was well above my ability to take good care of a sickly baby and take care of myself. I was so depressed and distraught, I didn’t cook for 6 months! If you know me, you know I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

I reached a place in my journey where I realized how severely broken I was and I wanted change, I did not want to live like that anymore. I did not want to jump when I heard a loud sound. I did not want my heart to feel like it was going to beat right out of my chest. I needed to be calm first, for myself but also for Lily, children feed off of our energy. I didn’t want to be basket-case mom anymore. It was painful physically and I felt like it was killing me. So, I gave it to Papa and little by little He helped me through the alarms and the noise and talking to people again. He helped me get free.

Lily was cleared to get off oxygen at 6 months of age. I kept the pulse ox on her at night for a while just to be certain and eventually when i felt like it was time, placed it in the closet. That was a huge faith step for me. Little did we know we weren’t done with alarms. Lily has spent many nights in the hospital hooked up to all kinds of monitors. She came home on TPN (total IV nutrition) last summer before her g-j tube surgery. The pump on the TPN had an alarm. The pump for her gtube has an alarm. Now my husband and I have a phrase that we have shared with others on how we handle the alarms, we say— it’s not oxygen and we chuckle knowing we already tackled that one.

I know this is a long post but I also know someone needed to read this. I know there are folks out there suffering in the grips of PTSD; anxiety, medical trauma, social anxiety etc. There is a way out. I don’t know if you have a relationship with Papa God but He is an amazing Father that deeply cares about you and your mental health. He didn’t cause your trauma. I could have easily blamed Him for Lily’s condition, citing, that if He was such a loving God how could He ever allow something like this to happen to an innocent child? (or one of the many other atrocities in the world) I do know He didn’t cause it. We live in a broken world but as light bearers in this world we have the privilege and ability to bring light to dark circumstances. I have Christ within me and He is the light! He is the reason why I have any hope at all! Friend, I hope this blessed you. If you are struggling, please reach out to me or to someone else, there is help and His name is Jesus, I will happily tell you all about Him. God bless you all.