Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When you have R Rated Memories

Sometimes my memories are R rated straight out of a horror film.

My R rated memories are graphic, scary, gory, painful or plain old awful and inappropriate for those under age 17.

When Jaycee came home in June this year after a three week hospital admission, my R rated memories of that admission were flooding me whenever I wasn't busy for a minute. The sounds and sights of Jaycee being suctioned down her intubation tube was horrific. The panic came back when I thought about her blood pressure dropping multiple times.

Beyond this last admission, there have been numerous times in the past 9 years when a moment became a long lasting R rated memory. Without being too graphic, here's a few:
  • The moment Jaycee's heart rate was in the 200s while the ER staff frantically worked and I saw a crash cart wheeled near her for the first time (Thankfully it wasn't used.)
  • Watching Jaycee's chest tube come out after her heart surgery (Trust's gross. My husband got physically sick during this!)
  • Seeing multiple unsuccessful IV attempts on an infant Jaycee until they finally got one in a vein in her head
  • Seeing Jaycee turn blue multiple times at home due to respiratory distress and frantically trying to administer her emergency medicines
  • Seeing the puddle of blood when I stood up from my wheelchair at the hospital during my miscarriage
  • The times I have been given terrible news about Jaycee's condition worsening (Multiple anything you have seen in a movie X 100)
  • Watching a PICC line come out of Jaycee's arm (Once was enough for me! Didn't watch the second time!)
  • Seeing Jaycee being bagged in an extreme oxygen desaturation in the ICU (Second and third time was just as scary)
  • The "crime scene" look to Jaycee's bedroom after her hemorrhage post tonsillectomy
  • Knowing the child in the ICU room down from us is dying and seeing the parents walk out empty handed afterwards (Broke my confidence that only miracles happen in ICU)

What do I do with these R rated memories? They happened. It's part of what has shaped my life, my thoughts, and how I view the world. There's plenty of them to sift through too. My question in my prayer time with God this summer was, "God, what am I suppose to do with these awful memories?"

Choosing not to think about them seemed like avoidance and denial. Not dealing with them felt as if I never worked through them. Yet thinking about them made me feel depressed, anxious, and fearful.

I wanted to get my R rated memories down to a manageable level where I could think about these things without so many emotions.

I learned from wiser Christians how to pray about these memories. I prayed that I would no longer have those emotions when they popped up in my head. I prayed for my peace. I prayed that God would help that old self of mine in those memories to be strong and be comforted.

Memories after all are just memories. The fear that accompanies some of them is no longer a real threat to me now. I survived these experiences. They are over.

And so I will keep working on these R rated memories so that they will no longer feel like I'm trapped in a horror movie in my mind but more like a boring, low-key documentary.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think avoiding them helps, focusing on things to be grateful helps. I do break R rated memories into avoidable and unavoidable - the avoidable ones I try to learn what I can to avoid similar situations and go forward. The unavoidable that help my kid get better I make peace with and we work on ways she can cope with repeated bad experiences. The rest I have trouble with and accept some (e.g. seizures might never be controlled) and rail against others.

    Getting an IV line in the head is not uncommon for infants. That's the only thing that worked for my daughter's first surgery. The surgeons were joking about the anesthesiology docs after, did loosen some of the tension but it made a short brain surgery take almost two hours and we were pretty freaked out. We are good buddies with the IV team because they are the only ones who can get a line in for countless trips to the hospital. Lots of suffering (via know it all nurses) until we got connected to them and they made sure her IV instructions require calling them (and other steps staff don't normally do). Most of those R rated memories could have been alleviated by people recognizing the situation and calling in experts sooner and that stings. I don't stick with medical people that have any red flags when I can avoid them.

    The surgeon saying he doesn't think he'll be able to address constant pain issues more than temporarily at best is hard for me to digest for an 8yo. Child still will need surgery at times for the rest of her life, just doing more than is necessary can make things worse and that line is different for every patient/family.


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