Tag Archives: PTSD
When you hear the term PTSD, do you only think about people returning from war? That seems to be the most common association with that term; veterans and military. PTSD affects so many other people. People you may not have thought of.
I have post traumatic stress disorder. No I was never diagnosed, but I really don’t need a doctor to tell me something so obvious. The Mayo Clinic defines it as “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.” Many parents who have a child diagnosed with cancer (or any life altering illness) show symptoms of PTSD. The worst moments are usually around the diagnosis day, certain treatments and like myself, the final days of your child’s life. I have many moments of anxiety from past memories, nightmares that wakes me, and the never ending flashbacks. Then there are occasions that I didn’t think would affect me, but then the rug is pulled out from under me and I am gasping for air.
A few weeks ago, my son Valin needed an MRI on his knee. Just a routine MRI to see where the pain is stemming from. I was working, so Marco took Valin. I wanted to be there, but knew all we would be doing is sitting in the waiting area until the scan was done. That entire day I had a knot in my gut with worry. Marco kept telling me everything was fine and he would send me photos of Valin in the machine. My heart ached seeing the photos, as all the memories of Madox laying on the table getting his scan came flooding back to me. I started to sweat. The last time one of my boys were having an MRI, we received a cancer diagnosis. I was getting in my head and panicking. Then an hour later Marco texts me “heading home,” and all my tensions released. I immediately thought ‘they wouldn’t have sent them home if they saw anything.’ My racing heart slowed. I was able to catch my breath. My concentration on my current task returned. My anxiety attack left me as quickly as it arrived.
The following day I was working when I received a call from Valin’s doctors office. I missed the call, but when I noticed the number with no message, my heart began to race again. All the worst case scenarios came slamming into my thoughts. Then all the memories of Madox’s battle with cancer but now I was seeing Valin’s face instead of Madox’s. I called the office back 3-4 times until finally the physician called me back. “Hello Ms. Suzio? This is Dr. M. I just wanted to talk to you about Valin’s MRI results.” Panic. Fear. Dread. Thoughts of burying another son. “Everything looks good..” Silence. I didn’t hear anything else after that. My body released. Tears flowed freely. My son is fine. He will not go through pain and torture. He will grow up!
PTSD ebbs and flows. Many times knowing the triggers, and times not. The recurrent traumatic memories we all lived with and witnessed with Madox will never leave me. Trying to control them will forever be my toughest challenge. We live life as best we can, but there are simple moments that catch us off guard. Moments that are seen as day to day events to most parents, can be difficult stages to navigate for others. Living with PTSD will be a lifelong struggle.
I recently went to see an osteopath for my hip pain, and the first appointment was this week. I have had this pain since 2014, about a week before Madox was diagnosed. I have had MRI’s, X-ray’s, and bone scans. I have seen physiotherapist, chiropractors, and sports medicine. I have even tried yoga, which I have never been interested in. After being written off as “no anomalies to the structure of hip and surrounding tissue”, I have finally settled on it’s all in my head. No, I don’t mean I am making it all up. I mean the trauma of Madox’s diagnosis and death has been buried deep within me and seemed to settle in my hip. A small injury at the time that would have healed easily if I had tended to it instead of putting all my thoughts and soul into Madox and his care. Now 4 years later, I am struggling with everyday tasks due to this chronic pain.
As I am standing in front of the osteopath, he tells me he sensed a lot of unjust coming from that hip. Unjust. I never thought of it that way. That word really just hit me like it was the first time realizing it. It’s so obvious. Yes I am angry, and have guilt and still so very sad. Yet I never thought of thinking ‘unjust’ that puts all those feelings together. No there is no fairness in a child suffering and dying a slow painful death. There is no reason for a child to die at a young age while I continue to live. He was healthy, happy, and active. WHY was he given such a short life while murders, pedophiles and just terrible people live a long life with people they love. Madox would have been amazing for the world, making a positive impact with others, but instead gets cancer.
For those who “can’t understand why” I am still sad and angry about Madox’s death, think about what I just said. Think about how as Madox was dying in bed next to us, everyone was living their lives like nothing important was happening. Think about how we buried our 9 year old son while you laugh with your child. Think about how in a few days we will be standing at our sons plot for his birthday, while you happily share a meal with the ones you love. There is no fairness in any of it. It should have been me. It should not have been Madox. Never should be a child. NEVER!
So yes I struggle some days. I struggle with my anger. I struggle with depression. I struggle with PTSD. I struggle trying to find an answer I will never get. I struggle with people making comments about me. I struggle with pretending to care. I struggle. Everyday is a struggle. Either we have learned to pretend a little better or you learned to pretend not to see it. We all struggle through life. Sometimes it can be debilitating and takes on different forms.
Everyday I think that I need to post a new blog. I think about everything I am feeling, everything that is happening in our lives, everything that I need to release from my shoulders. Then I walk past the computer and collapse on the couch. Even thinking about writing some days exhausts me. It really isn’t just typing words on the keyboard. It’s my emotions, my heart, the naked truth. Today I decided to sit down and write. Write anything, about anything. So this may be just a mess of words not making any sense.
I don’t like to socialize much anymore. To be honest, I wasn’t big on it before. More of a homebody, hanging with my boys playing vids and board games. Never did I feel embarrassed saying to friends “naw, I think I’m gonna pass.” I adore my friends. Without them I would never have been able to stay afloat after Madox’s diagnosis. There was one nurse friend I called the day after we heard about Madox. I needed to talk to her, to hear what she thought we could do, but more for her shoulder. When I called her I couldn’t speak. There was silence. She knew instantly there was something wrong so she kept talking. “Is something wrong?” I whimper yes. “Is it Marco?” Silence and tears. “Is it one of the boys?” More tears and audible crying. “Ok whatever it is, we’ll get through it.” And I blurt out “Madox has a brain tumour. I’m losing my baby.” Silence on both ends now and I can hear her crying as well. She pulled everything in with all her power and started talking again. Trying to comfort me, trying to figure out a way we can get treatment. To be honest, I don’t remember much of what she said after I told her. I can’t even remember what I said. All I know is that she stayed on the line with me and listened to everything I said, or didn’t say as I know I cried the entire phone call. Well the other day was her farewell party as she took a new job on a different floor. I hadn’t worked with her in years, but clearly she has always been a connection I never wanted to be severed. I really didn’t want to go be with other people, in a lounge, being ‘normal.’ But I went for her, and for myself. I felt I needed to be with people who I knew cared about me and did so much for us while Madox was ill. Most of the people there were amazing supports for us, raising money so we can stay home with Madox. Amazing group of people I worked with. Truly! Yet with knowing all that, to be honest, I felt like bolting as soon as we got to the restaurant. I sat there most of the time I was there. Before I left, I hugged everyone I knew and chatted to everyone for a few minutes. It really was nice to see familiar faces but I felt like I wasn’t actually there. I wasn’t present, even when I tried. I left early, which was probably best for everyone. I’m sure they saw how disconnected I was. I did smile a few times watching my friend enjoy her farewell party. She is a riot! It was so nice to see her so happy with her husband, being the goof she really is. Marco was proud of me for going. He knew I really didn’t want to go. I’m glad I went, even if it was just for an hour or two.
Today we watched a movie called ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.’ A comedy we thought would be fun to watch. Yet I found myself in tears at one point in the movie. One son is getting ready for prom and taking his drivers test. Why I instantly started thinking about Madox, I have no idea. Tears filled my eyes at the thought of never being able to teach him to drive. Never taking him for his drivers test and feeling nervous for him. Never being able to celebrate when he passed and letting him go out to pick up his buddies—in my minivan of course. We need to embarrass him a little right?? But that will never be and that hit me. It hit me hard. And prom? Madox never graduating, never entering high school at all. It really hurt my heart when I really didn’t expect it. I hate how things just sneak up on me when I just want to be. Guess that will never happen. PTSD at it’s finest I suppose.
As I sit here with tears in my eyes, Valin walked up behind me and hugged me. That’s my cue to go be with him before bedtime. Nothing is more important than your kids. NOTHING!
Good night everyone.