Saturday, December 5, 2009

I lost it in the sushi restaurant



Dave and I went out for sushi tonight; we haven't seen each other much this week, and needed time to ourselves. We were in the middle of downing spicy tuna rolls when Dave glanced up and said "Hello!" It was Mindy, Max's first physical therapist, on her way out. I hadn't seen in her in years.

Mindy came to us through our state's Early Intervention program when Max was a month old. She stayed with us till he was three, and I credit her with really helping Max learn to walk. I can still picture her in our family room the first time she stopped by: Max lying on the carpet, Mindy wiggling his legs and checking them for stiffness, me sitting there and telling her about Max's stroke and all the awful things he was at risk for.

I pulled out my wallet and showed her a photo of Max. "He's still so handsome!" she said. Couldn't argue with her there. I got her phone number, so we could make plans for her to come see him. And then I mentioned I'd been doing a blog about Max, and that I occasionally got e-mails from moms with babies who were at risk for problems and it made me feel good to console them, because I knew what they were going through.

"Yes, those years were rough," she said.

WHAM.

I started tearing up.

"Sorry," I told Mindy. "I guess I still get emotional about that time." I was a little mortified to be upset in front of her, in the middle of the restaurant. She nodded, knowingly. We agreed she'd visit, then she left.

I kept crying for a bit as Dave held my hands. Seeing Mindy brought me back to that time in Max's life, and mine, when I was a walking mass of worry and fear. I was surprised that, nearly seven years after Max's birth, I could still recall how I felt when he was a baby. Viscerally recall.

In my head, I am no longer sad about what happened to Max.

In my heart, I may never be over it.

Photo by juicybits/istock

25 comments:

  1. Oh wow. I just started crying as I read this. My son Thomas had a stroke in utero. It's a painful thing to go through. My then-husband's friends all thought I was too blaze about it at the time. I was in denial. I was just so happy to be a mom at that time I didn't care then if he could walk or talk or anything else. Well, there were pages full of stuff I could say about that time. This post reminded me of it all.

    Thank you for sharing all that you do. It's nice to know I'm not alone!

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  2. Completely understood, Ellen. I don't think we will ever "get over" it. I too cry over Daniel quite often - both for the good and the bad.

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  3. Its so odd how sometimes we are the consolers and other times out of the blue we are the ones that need consoling.

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  4. Your post made me tear up, I know that worry and fear all too well. Being pregnant again is bringing it all back, and somedays it's a lot. You are smart and brave and witty and a great mom, I love your blog and your an inspiration to so many. Thanks for your candid posts and for wearing your heart on your sleeve =)

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  5. Just one of those reminders that we don't "get over" - our journey takes us through, and sometimes, some how, back again.

    My hard times are when life seems to be falling apart like it is now with 2 clogged toilets, a disaster in the kitchen, wet sheets and blankets to be washed, all thanks to Luke.

    And life goes on, but the tears help in a strange kind of way

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  6. I think it's post-traumatic stress disorder, and I'm not kidding! I can't even think about the Winter from Hell in PICU without crying, and any time anyone mentions that she'll recover from a surgery in PICU, I lose it.
    I wish I could go back and do it again with the peace that I have now, but in all truth, we had to go through that to get to where we are now.

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  7. You're not alone. And I completely agree with @Finding Normal - I think it's PTSD. Certain "triggers" can put me right back into that dark place where I didn't know if Emmett was going to make it. Even certain smells will remind me of the NICU and I'll feel shaky and sick.

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  8. PTSD for sure. I get it. I so, so get it. 13 years and counting.

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  9. Awww what a sweet post - tears and all. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. I came here wondering how many of your readers started crying when they read about your "trigger", because it triggered their own memories.

    I know I did. And that's why I love your blog...because you show all sides of this road. I know I can't help but cry when I think of those early days. It's one thing to write about it on my blog, no one sees the tears that fall then. It's when I'm out in public I'm surprised I can't hold it back!

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  11. I agree with the others. It doesn't go away. It just shifts to a place in the back of your mind until something, or someone brings it forward. I had S asking me questions a little while back about the time he was in hospital. When I told him it was for almost a month he started to cry. And then of course I started to cry......
    Nope. Never goes away ;-(.
    I hope that you were still able to enjoy your sushi regardless!
    xo

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  12. It was total PTSD, you guys have nailed it. It slunk back to its black hole soon after it emerged, and today, the world was bright again. Thanks for the support, I'm sorry if I upset any of you. Giveaways are so much more fun, aren't they? :)

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  13. Wow. I teared up reading this. Emily is only 2 and I guess in some ways I am still in that fearful place. I have a few more answers now then I did when she was born, but as she gets older it brings more challengs and different questions along with it. I love reading your blog - I know that you have been there, done that and it brings me comfort to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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  14. Oh gosh, I can totally relate to this. I cried all over my laptop when I read it. I agree with all the toughts about PTSD. Emma just turned 6, and I have it too!! I guess because I do the exact same thing often---and just when I think I am over it too.

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  15. Yeah, I've been there. A few years ago, E., my autistic son, broke four bones, one after another, in a span of two months (two were at once). We had to go to different hospitals to keep DYFS away until we got the official diagnosis of low bone density. The world was just spiraling, and yeah, I can put myself back there in a split second. I think it wasn't just the memory, but the therapist standing in front if you- it's amazing what will trigger memories.

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  16. I was just having irrational worry this afternoon and it was really not about today. It was all about what I should have noticed back then. It's crazy!

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  17. Ellen- giveaways may be more fun but it's also nice to know we are not alone in something like this. It's not always happiness and hope. Being able to read about another's struggles, down the road with the past, helps us retain hope in the here and now that others have been there and got through it, so can we. Does that make sense?

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  18. I can completely relate to this post and have like moments when I least expect them. I remember when I read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking - she often talked about going about her routine in ways to specifically avoid these kind of pitfalls and never feeling safe from unexpected triggers. At the time, I found myself thinking how sad that must b; a few years later after my son was diagnosed I found myself wanting to call her an give her a hug. Feel the same about you Ellen. Hang in there.

    Julie (Dave Sexton's wife)
    http://she-cooks-he-cleans.blogspot.com/
    http://cheznoonie.blogspot.com/

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  19. i just went through something similiar recently. my son had neurosurgery when he was 6 months old. recently i had to go through paper work from back then, and it triggered all kind of nasty memories. it was awful then, but i dealt with i(had no choice), but looking back i was like 'omg how the hell did i deal with that then?'

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  20. All of these thoughts/comments along the lines of "How did we get through this?" Reminds me that the Lord truly will never give us more than we can handle. Even when we think we can't, we do. When we think "That's it! That's the limit!" We shift and shuffle and find just a bit more room to handle something new.

    Aren't we all amazing?

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  21. Oh how I can relate. I can not bring myself to attend the NICU reunions. I know I should but seeing all the nurses and other families just brings back some strong emotions I'm afraid I can't conquer in front of everyone.

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  22. These comments are so heartening. And yes, Heather, I know what you mean about how reading about someone else's struggles helps you see how you will get through the same.

    And Faith, it's so nice to have your voice here. Everyone here, Faith is my oldest friend in the world, and we only recently found each other again because of the Internet. In honor of my recent birthday, she has been sending me a blessing every few days. How wonderful is that? Today's was funny-true: "May you always have enough money, self respect and common sense to buy new underwear when you need it and to throw out the old ones."

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  23. I think many of us have "moments" like this - for me, it's a visual reminder of a family photo we took the day after we heard Alex's CP diagnosis from his 1st neuro. I had been up crying the night before, for many hours, and I feel like I can see the sadness in my face (and bags under the eyes) every time I see that photo. And Alex was 11.5 mos old in the photo session and we struggled and struggled to help him sit unassisted in the photo, which I remember vividly.

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  24. charlie had this mobile that he used to listen to ALL THE TIME when he was in the hospital and when he first came home. One day I accidentally set it off I swear I was like a war vet or something--it all came rushing back to me--nothing specific, just a rush of emotions.

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  25. I can understand your range of emotions and your reaction, delayed as it was--PTSD is the right way to describe it. You went through a LOT, swiftly, dramatically, and were given no damn hope. Your entire being was motivated toward coping and ameliorating.

    Our circumstances weren't one tenth as traumatic, we just kind of eased into our reality. There's a real difference in "degree of impact" in terms of how treacherous the diagnosis is, how it's delivered, and whether you get a rash of bad news all at once, or the "dribs and drabs" approach of "lowered expectations."

    Screw the doctors. They always give the worse case because they don't want to be accused of dealing in false hope...

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Thanks for sharing!