Trauma is a slippery bastard. It creeps up on you and takes your breath away at the weirdest times.
It sneaks into your thoughts when you're lying in bed trying to sleep. Crowding your thoughts with doubts and deep seated fears.
It rears its ugly head when someone unexpectedly moves close to you and you cringe without realizing it.
As most of our followers know, Jacques was hospitalized for 6 days with a staphylococcus bacteria which triggered reactive arthritis. And with the current lockdown rules (as a result of the covid pandemic) my husband was not allowed to visit at all. It was Jacques and myself, alone, 24/7 for 6 days.
It was challenging, but nothing I couldn't handle at the time. The adrenaline caused by the situation kept me functional and we coped.
The first few days were "easy" as Jacques was in alot of pain and sleeping most of the day and night.
As he started to feel better it got a bit more difficult. He had the strength to fight against his situation, and unfortunately his "safe space" is me. He fought with me everytime they poked him, everytime they had to take x-rays or do some procedure.
I have quite a few new bruises. And unfortunately those bruises aren't just physical. The trauma Jacques experienced becomes my trauma because I was effectively a human punching bag for a few days.
But, as I said, while in the situation I could cope - I didn't have a choice.
The real trouble starts when we get home. When everything returns to normal and Jacques feels safe again. Then I have to sort through feelings, fears, doubts and other things I cant put into words.
This, I have learned is PTSD - post traumatic stress disorder. And it wreaks avoc on the psyche. It tries to invade precious moments. It makes you feel vulnerable and weak. You start to doubt in yourself and your abilities.
I have at least acquired some coping mechanisms that I have found help.
I write - this blog has helped me tremendously. As I write this post I get to work through my scrambled thoughts and also acknowledge what I am feeling. I have found that this helps enormously. Acceptance is an invaluable resource. Acceptance of my thoughts and feelings and not feeling guilty for having them.
I spend time with Ruben. My youngest son has saved my sanity a few times, hopefully without him knowing it.
I cook up a storm. One of my favorite hobbies is cooking. This is a love I inherited from my mother and cherish with all my heart. The smells and memories are very therapeutic.
I research Jacques' conditions. I slowed down with this a while ago as it scared me, but knowledge is power. I try to keep up to date on treatments and new findings on his various health conditions. This way I feel like I can at least contribute to his therapies. I know his overall condition will worsen over time but I can try to slow down the progression.
The last coping mechanism I will share isn't all that productive and I monitor my use of it carefully. I binge watch tv shows. I have found that I can get lost in fictional characters problems and give my mind a rest.
It will take me a while to get back to the emotional space I was in before the hospitalization but the journey to healing starts with recognition and acceptance.