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!