Friday, March 23, 2007

Great minds

I was whipped up into a pretty fantastic frenzy by about mid-day yesterday. Anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety attacks will understand the shaky, light-headed, slightly out-of-body feeling that clung to me most of the day like some sort of horrendously putrified stink.

I reeked of fear.

But the thing is, it wasn't so much about the lap itself as it was (as it is) the fear of being a patient in a hospital again. I've thought long and hard about this - about why this fills me with such dread - and aside from the obvious reminders of Thomas' birth and death that will be all around me in sight, sound and smell, I will be powerless. I will have no control over what happens to me once I sign the consent form and lay down on the operating table. Things will be done to me, just like they were two years ago, and I can't control any of it. I will be voluntarily giving up all control - and control over myself and my body is something I've spent two years fiercely protecting. And reveling in.

The moment I shuffled through the doors of the hospital 5 days after Thomas' died, I reclaimed my independence and have not relinquish that control to anyone for more than the briefest of moments since.

Yes, I've been poked and prodded and tested and medicated through the fertility clinic on and off for the last 9 months, but I go there voluntarily and I am still in control 99.9% of the time. And when I'm not, it's for just a moment - long enough for them to inject sperm into my uterus or get a read on a growing follicle or draw a vial of blood. All very manageable lengths of time.

But Thursday I will be at the mercy of my OB and his team in a way I haven't been since I was in the hospital with Thomas.

I remember one awful night laying splayed out on my hospital bed with nurses working both arms trying to find a vein that wasn't collapsed in order to reinsert my IV, while a miserable little shit of an OB put in an extra staple to close a leak in my C-section incision (which, to My Beloved's horror, had been oozing blood for close to two days).

I was utterly powerless and completely vulnerable both mentally and physically. And all I could do was lay there and cry.

I know this is a different situation altogether. I know this surgery won't be like the last one. It's quick, relatively painless and, as I said before, there isn't a dead baby involved here. Not before and not after.

But I still have to give myself over to the kind of people who played a such a key role in the horror show that was Thomas' birth.

Being reminded of that day - and the days that followed - in such an assaulting way is going to be hard. Impossibly hard. And adding the notion of complete and necessary submission to the mix makes it very, very frightening for me.

It's not the pain. It's not the fear of dying. It's the fear of remembering too much too vividly.

It was My Beloved who was finally able to talk me down. He and DinoD (who left a comment here yesterday) both had the very same suggestion.

Why not look at this as a trial run for the next hospital visit (which we hope will be a successful, healthy, happy-ending C-section). Exposure therapy, DinoD called it. Better to face my fears now when it's just simple day surgery, and be that much stronger if and when the time comes to return to the hospital for the birth of another child.

It made so much sense when My Beloved made the suggestion. I felt my shoulders ease and my breaths deepen. I felt my body unclench and my mind clear, just a little bit.

It gave the fear purpose. It gave meaning to my light-headed terror, and in doing so made so much of it go away.

Today I am afraid. But I'm stronger too.

Already I'm stronger.


The Town Criers said...

I like that last thought, that this could be a trial run for a different day--a happy day where you'll still be scared out of your mind, but where everything goes well and you're holding a child.

I think when you go through something traumatic any reminder--returning to a hospital much less the hospital--can be so incredibly painful and frightening. I'll be thinking about you a lot next Thursday.

Ruby said...

Thats a great way to think about it. Thank you "Her Beloved" for easing her mind. If even just a little.
Sending you a hug.

Aurelia said...

Well, I thought about suggesting this but wasn't sure. Yes, this is a type of exposure therapy and what you did go through was traumatic.

But to get through it, try using a beta blocker. I blogged about this a little while back, but propranolol blocks the adrenaline surge you feel from overwhelming you. There's a whole bunch of research on this...really. It's generic, cheap, safe, and used during actual exposure therapy to get people through tough moments and eventually heal the brain.

Ask your Dr. He'll know what I'm talking about.

Bon said...

just wishing you luck and courage. it's really hard to go back into a site of so much powerlessness and pain and loss, even with the very cool focus of a trial run in your mind.

i hope that it is your chance to make newer, more benign memories in that space...and i hope that you have a chance to be a little closer to your memories of Thomas while you're there too.

cjzben said...

You are so much stronger than you think and you can do this, I just know that you can. I will be thinking of you and your beloved next week.

Sending you some love