I feel like I’ve barely been able to breathe the last few days.
It’s been 16 weeks since Johnathan died. Every day I’m feeling a deeper and deeper sadness for the loss, I have also realized that the events of that day are starting to resurface in my mind. They had previously been walled off to protect me from some of the stress. But just as time can heal, time can also bring up more pain.
To protect his privacy, I won’t go into detail, but my husband had a very real medical emergency three days ago. This was truly life threatening and every minute was nerve wrecking as I drove him to the Emergency Department and got him seen by the Physician Assistant.
They tried to transfer him out to a higher level of care facility, but were unable to because all the beds were full at the larger surrounding university hospitals. There went plan A, B, and C.
Next, plan D was to admit him to the hospital we were at and wait for the appropriate surgeon to be available. He stayed in an ED trauma room for the next 32 hours with nurses watching for airway compromise.
Finally the correct specialist arrived and he went to the OR. The surgery only took an hour, then I waited alone for an update from anyone.
This is when the anxiety started to multiply.
I was personally not prepared for how he would be post-op. The potential for airway obstruction was still very real, he was in more pain than I’ve ever seen him, and the reality of the severity of his condition was brought right to the forefront of my mind.
This all triggered a massive PTSD episode.
My mind went to the worst possible places and I pictured my husband dying in front of me the same way Johnathan slipped away out of our arms. I selfishly realized in this moment that I wouldn’t have the strength to go on if he didn’t make it through this recovery. I was dizzy and lightheaded and could barely breathe. After three hours in PACU, he was moved to ICU over night for close monitoring to be sure his airway stayed open.
Worst night of my life for fear and anxiety.
You would think it would be the night we lost Johnathan, but he was gone. That’s a different loss, it’s not fear of loss, it is a deep aching pain of actual loss.
This fear that night was that I would lose him. That he would die and the only other person on this earth that can truly understand the loss of Johnathan as his parent, would be gone. The anxiety of wondering how I could ever manage alone was overwhelming.
People like to say that grief from child loss is like being caught in an ocean current with wave after wave hitting you and not being able to find the surface for air before you get pushed back down further by the next wave.
Now add a hurricane.
That was how I was feeling, but he made it through the night. He texted me the next morning that he felt better. I finally could see the sun for the first time in days and was able to take in a big breath of fresh air.
Only to stand up long enough to cut my foot on a seashell. Metaphorically.
For days my mind was so focused on my husband, that I “forgot” that I was grieving. It was like the anxiety and the fear trumped the loss and the pain. Then in that one moment of peace, the guilt of not thinking about my son sliced my foot open and I started to bleed all over again.
This was the first time since December that I went more than a brief moment without thinking about Johnathan in someway. And then when I realized that I had gone so many hours without him crossing my mind, I immediately felt a stab of guilt take me to my knees because how could I possibly ever not be thinking about my son.
I think there is only so much a person can handle and then our minds and hearts will wall off the rest and keep it buried until it pops back up at a better time. I kept my focus on my faith in God as much as possible. I know I can’t change His plan, but I just prayed for strength to get through it.
As of right now, the hurricane has passed and we’re back to just the constant waves crashing around me and trying to catch a breathe of air every once in awhile.