Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Funny how 'it's all still there'

By the time Ashlea and Audrey came home from the NICU as little babies its pretty safe to say I was completely traumatised by what we had been through.  I had post-traumatic stress flashbacks for months.  Years actually.  But now I feel like I have moved on.  I don't still feel the effects of the trauma on a daily basis like I did in the early years.  Mostly I don't give it a second thought.

Every so often though, there are little reminders that what I've been through with Ashlea has left its mark.

On the weekend I witnessed a child (not mine) have a seizure.  It was just a febrile convulsion in an otherwise healthy 2 year old - but I was surprised at how much it freaked me out.  They brought the child over to near where Ashlea and I were sitting, and I just had this overwhelming sense of "I have to get out of here".  Especially once I knew the ambulance was coming, all I could think was "I can not watch that child be worked on".  I could feel the panic rising and I made sure I got out of the way quick smart.

I think it is because I know too much.  I've seen too much.  I know what really goes on in hospitals and ambulances and PICUs - and I know that not everyone gets the fairytale answer.

It was a strange reaction in a way because Ashlea has never been worked on by paramedics.
She has been 'worked on' though - and because I have that image in my head of her being resuscitated - and because I can also picture some of your precious children being worked on - I couldn't watch.  It takes me right back to that day - and all the thoughts and feelings that go with it. 

I have the same reaction to the rescue helicopter too despite the fact my child has never been in it. I cannot see the helicopter without choking up - even if it is only the stationary half-helicopter at the Easter show. I think its because I know what goes on in there.  I know its life or death when you're in there.  And even though Ashlea hasn't been in there - she and I know what life and death is like.

So, even though I would now say I am no longer traumatised by our experiences in the nursery - in some ways 'it's all still there'.

I can't watch children get worked on.

Doesn't matter what it's for - I can't watch children get worked on.

I'm guessing I'm not alone in this???

PS The child was OK - seizure stopped and she didn't have to go to hospital and there were plenty of other people on hand to help out who didn't feel the need to flee the situation!


Lacey said...

I think if I wasn't in nursing, and hadn't made it my life passion, I'd feel the same way. Instead, when I see a situation like that, I want to jump in and take charge. Although after 17 weeks in the picu with Jax, watching children around me die, it was sooo draining. Emotionally draining!

Missy said...

I have to agree with Lacey, nursing has helped empower me to be stronger in that situation.

I guess I am also in the incredibly lucky situation where MM sailed through NICU with no complications. So I never experienced the life or death experience that you had to with your girls.

I have to admit though when MM had her first massive seizure, even knowing first aid, my nursing background... I was the the frantic, beside myself, messy crying parent on the other end of the 000 phone call. That completely freaked me out.

I havent been in the situation either where I have had to witness or be involved with a child being "worked on" or resus. I do think when I do (its a given considering my career choice) it will affect me greatly may be not so much because of my NICU journey but simply because I am a mother.

I remember watching a show on TV a few years ago about the NICU and babies in some hospital in Australia. I burst into tears as it was simply a reminder of our journey and all still a bit raw (crazy considering apart from the whole PVL thing our journey was quite positive!)

You are not alone and I can understand why you just cant watch these types of things.


Sarah said...

Yes I feel like that alot too.

I don't think I will ever get 'use' to seeing V have a seizure, it still freaks me out and Dave...well he is a whole other story! That's when I realise I am the more stable one out of the two of us.

Big brother, Little sister. said...

know those feelings too well. I cannot watch any tv show related to birth or nicu etc without feeling sick in my stomach. Saving babies came on tv the other day and Andrew teared up and had to turn it off too.....guess we are still dealing with a little trauma even though we think we are not!

Susan, Mum to Molly said...

Absofrigginlutely its all still there.

I can't even look at that Westpac chopper ad on TV (that's the exact one M was on twice).

You can see why I'm not keen to sign up for another brain surgery... Not sure that I'd survive it.

Sorry you had to witness that child's seizure. Very glad all was ok in that case.

S xx

Martina said...

I have taken to calling that emotion "being blindsided". 99% of the time you feel calm and in control (well as much as life ever lets you be in control) and then BANG! Its like being hit by a truck and all of a sudden you feel like - where did that come from?? Sometimes its a lyric in a song or for me more often than not it is seeing someone overcome a struggle and win (you shouldve seen me sobbing after the Melbourne cup! LOL, and at my nieces sports carnival - well you can forget about it!) Seems unrelated but in reality it is all linked with our struggle and the fact that Aurora will never do those things.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is that what you're going through is totally understandable. You have seen a lot more than most (even if your friend circle doesn't show this fully)and it is understandable that you have some war wounds hiding away under the surface.

ferfischer said...

I don't care how long it's been, some things just bring it all back. The smell of the green soap, the swish of the PICU doors, the helicopter, seeing the chaplain that met us that night, hearing about another child or seeing pictures of other kids hooked up in the same way - it brings it back. I imagine, in the moment, I would be frozen in my own memories, and unable to answer any coherent questions. Hugs.