Isn’t that what they always say? When an ordinary and unsuspecting day brings horrors too large to fathom, we never can see it coming. Thats what makes it all the more jarring and all the more life changing.
When you have time to prepare for inevitable pain you can choose to spread the pain out in small or large doses. You have the option to stay in denial as long as you need until you’re ready to swallow the truth of reality. I know that first hand, because much of the grief through my illness was spent in denial until I felt emotionally ready enough to accept the truth of my ailing health.
But once you feel a sudden loss, the kind that rips the rug right out from under you, you will never be whole again. That fall is so large that you shatter into a million pieces on contact. And even when you slowly begin to pick up the pieces and glue them back in place, you’ll never quite be the same.
I will never be the same.
On February 5th it was an otherwise normal day for me. I woke up, worked, made lunch, took a shower.. all the usual daily activities. You know that feeling when a moment is so mundane and boring that you feel completely comfortable? It was like that. My guard was down and I was completely at ease. I was listening to music while working on an Excel sheet when I saw my phone light up with a text from my dad. “Come down” it said, then “hurry.”
I made a mad dash downstairs thinking maybe he fell off a ladder (he was working around the house earlier), or maybe he needed help with something that was heavy. What I didn’t expect were the events that followed. I made it downstairs and saw that my dad couldn’t breathe, so I called 911 and ran to him. His breaths were hard fought and got weaker until they stopped altogether. At that point I began chest compressions while time seemed to slow down to a crawl. I spent 10 minutes fighting harder than I’ve fought for anything to try and save him. But ultimately he didn’t make it, and my entire world was shattered.
The following days and weeks were unrelenting. Every quiet moment or anytime I shut my eyes I would see the scene play out in my mind. I will be really frank and blunt when I say this - until you actually see a person die in a sudden manner you have no reference for how horrific it will be. There are movies and TV shows which reenact it in a way that seems peaceful; like they just nod off and it’s so serene. Unless someone is in a hospital or hospice that isn’t the case. The body has various reflexes to try and keep you alive. Even when you lose consciousness the brain stem activates the lungs to gasp for air (called agonal breathing). It’s shallow, yet gargled, yet it sounds so painful at the same time. The body fights like hell to cling to life and if you’re there watching it unfold it will haunt you forever.
How fast a human being can go from being ‘fine’ to ‘limp and lifeless’ is faster than you think, but still not fast enough. It’s quick in a way that shocks you at how fast someone you love is gone, but yet slow in the 10 minutes you (and their reflexes) try to save them. It’s this oxymoron I have in my brain that has made it largely impossible to digest. It’s the trauma of the situation replaying in my mind that keeps me from having a single moment of peace. And in the flashbacks from small triggers in life that paralyze me. I’ve seen a therapist and now understand that I’m suffering from trauma and PTSD. I don’t know the way out of this, because it feels rather impossible to escape, but I trust that they do.
So why am I telling you this?
Many reasons. For one, I will be significantly less active on this blog & my social media accounts while I try to pick up the pieces of my life and learn how to function again. I’ve always made the promise that I wouldn’t abandon my blog or the patients who needed me - so it stands to reason that I needed to share more that just “sorry I’m leaving for a while” and leave it at that. Last year 6 million people stopped by this little blog of mine, and thousands emailed me. I usually devote 1-2 hours each day to respond to every last email, comment, and DM because all of you mean so much to me. I want those people who read me to understand that if it were anything else I’d still be here to help in full capacity. But right now I am so overwhelmed and spread so thin that mentally I have to step back.
I don’t know when I’ll be back or when I’ll be more active. It may be many months, I'm not sure. But until then please take care of yourself and hug the people you love. Life is short; not just your own, but the lives of those you love too. Take time to cherish them.
Until we talk again..