Thursday, December 04, 2008

Start where it starts...

So it's about time I buy a return ticket back to reality and writing seems to be the only vehicle that knows the way home. After all the fighting to stay true to who I am and not lose myself, I suppose I will admit that it was a forgone conclusion the entire time. I was never going to win. I was never going to be the same person I was before becomming a doctor. There is no way to learn the true nature of the human spirit, the miracles and horrors, and then walk around the supermarket like every one else. You are all walking trauma victims, heart attacks, and ICU players. I don't see you in front of me. I see your veins and gauge how easy it would be to start an IV. How quickly I can crack your chest. I look in your cart in line as we wait and try to guess whether its your diabetes or cholesterol that will initiate our first meeting. Your buying your grandparents 50th wedding anniversary cake and I am wondering which one of them will walk out of my ER alone. Lets face it, the chances of them dying together is fairly slim. One day Nana is going to lay down in her bed, and for the first time in her adult life there will be no one beside her. Although she can stretch out, she will curl up on her side of the bed, unable to break a habit that it took a lifetime of companionship to learn. His silver hair will still rest on the pillowcase, she will smell him in the sheets. And as her heart breaks and an empty house fills with anguished sobs, she will picture my white coat and hear those simple and inadequate words. "I'm sorry, he has died". When people think of the worst moments of their lives, they see my face. So lets stop pretending that you and I are the same.



So this particular free fall starts and ends with a popcorn ceiling and a pale pink room. I am starring up, and the light is streaming through the window in such a way I can see the dust dancing. It s early morning and I can't move. Like a trauma patient strapped to a backboard I can only look up and side to side. I hear my colleagues voice in my head, a very unexpected source of comfort. "Its okay, your going to be alright. Your safe now". For the last year I have heard this particular surgeon whisper these words to every terrified MVA and GSW in the trauma bay. And for the last year I've always wondered how no one, not even him, noticed that the most injured person there was the one at the head of the bed. I takes a second to piece together what has happened, a little anoxic brain injury I imagine. I have been lying unconscious on my daughter's nursery room floor because my husband just finished strangling me.

I was almost seven months pregnant when I got a call from another hospitals emergency room that he had been brought in to after having a psychotic break. In retrospect he has been unraveling for years, I was just too busy reaching for my dreams to realize he was uncoupling from reality. I blamed myself, my unwavering pursuit of the dream I thought being a doctor was. Our daughter was my last attempt to prove to him that I loved him more than medicine, more than myself. I thought it would give his life purpose again but it simply accelerated his demise. I just didn't see it then. I see it now.

I have spent the last year trying to reach him. Being the good wife and refusing to accept the diagnosis and all that it entails. Going to the doctor's appointments, the group therapy, counting out his pills. I've been chasing him down the rabbit hole that true mental illness is. This potion makes you bigger and this one makes you smaller, but I'm looking for the one that makes you my husband again. And it has taken until this moment and this morning to see that the man I fell in love with no longer is. He hasn't died, he didn't leave. He just no longer exists. Perhaps one day I will be able to explain it better then this, but not today. The loss is still too great and the wounds too fresh.

It starts with my daughter crying in her crib and me not getting there fast enough. I had just opened her door when he grabbed me by my hair, threw me down and began to strangle me. I trusted this man with my life and I have now learned the hard way, the hardest way there is, that I made a mistake. He easily overpowered me and the whole time I clawed at his hands, fighting for air, waiting to wake up from this nightmare, I looked at him. I looked deep into the eyes of the man who I have loved since I was seventeen, the man who I chose to walk to on my wedding day. I looked at him and realized that the man I was looking at was a complete stranger. He had no sorrow in his eyes, no regret, no remorse. He was and remains completely untethered from reality. He just gripped tighter and tighter. So tight I never had a chance to scream or get a tear out of my eyes. So brutal and quick I never got a breath in. I never got to reach him, to pull him back from the cliff and bring him back home. Back to a time when the world was ours and we were going to grow old together. To celebrate our 50th wedding aniversary. I looked into is soul and saw a madman there. One who didn't recognize me anymore. The last thing I remember as blackness began to envelope my head was thinking "Oh my God, he just fucking killed me"

Then I came to on the floor, staring at the popcorn ceiling in the pale pink room. The most violent moment of my life juxtaposed with the serenity of my child's room. A shattered life in a Mother Goose nursery rhyme. My life ended in that room that morning. I keep walking and breathing but I will never be the same. I am desperately trying to get out of my marriage right now. I walk through these hallways terrified most days, waiting for that madman to come out again. At work I see him in every 5150 that rolls through those doors, raving against unseen henchmen and pursuers. I am afraid to breathe wrong, to commit some unknown crime and suffer the punishment. I am struggling to be a good doctor and a good mother. I still hold true to my vows and be a good and faithful wife, but it is to a husband that no longer exists. I know I have to start over, to start somewhere. But I don't know how to get this train back on the tracks. I am lost, but I am trying. Everyday I put on my white coat and navigate through the sea of humanity that is the ER and wait for someone to give me comfort, to heal the healer. Someone to walk into the quiet room and tell me "I'm sorry, he has died". To let me be the griving widow and you be the bearer of bad news. I want to cross back over that invisible line that seperates us and be one of you. But we are not the same. And its about time I accept that.

So here's to starting over again, just as messy and painful as you remember. I had hoped to make myself something more, to make you all, my dear readers, proud. To tie everything up in a neat little bow. But if I keep waiting for that moment I will never get my feet under me again, never halt this year long decent into madness. So I will have to make my new begining here, from the floor of a pale pink room, instead. But as I heard someone once say: It starts where it starts...

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are still here, We hear you

White Clog Blogger said...

As a stranger who reads your blog I stretch my hands and my thoughts and compassion in your direction as a small pinpoint of hope that things will get better.

Anonymous said...

You have powerful writing skills. I hope that they help you through this incredibly difficult time. I pray that you fill find a place of safety and find the resources to make yourself strong. You can't go this alone.

Becoming a doctor is so incredibly stressful, but as a doctor, we are all aware that some things just can not be fixed.

Hold to what you know to be true -- the love of your daughter and your own sense of self. Being a doctor can be put aside for a while, but if you need that process to keep you sane, hold on to it as tightly as you can.

DJMooreTX said...

"I so desperately want to leave some kind of supportive comment on this post, but I cannot imagine what I, a complete stranger, might possibly say that would be of any worth."

Linked to instead, because you've said something important about being human that everyone should read. I thank you for that; I only wish the price was not so high.

scalpel said...

I'm glad you're OK. I would say that if you keep at it long enough, you may find that you will eventually become more like everyone else again while still retaining the skills that make you different. I can feel it happening sometimes.

Shauna said...

I can only say how sorry I am that you've gone through this and that I'm proud that you have come through this. I don't know you, but I know your story from countless other women who have endured.
I'm sure your other readers are proud of you for having come through this as well.

S.

Allen said...

Wow. Prayers for you and yours.

GruntDoc

Robin said...

Hugs...I care.

Medblog Addict said...

Welcome back. Here's to new beginnings...

~MA

Ali said...

Like the others... words have failed me. But my thoughts go out to you and your daughter.

buttercup58 said...

Prayers for you and your daughter to go on from here,and the days will not seem so stark and strange but will fill out and have color and your most horrible fears will not be realized. You will heal from this. You will have normalcy in your life once again and the fear will be less and then forgotten. You will find someone who is as a balm upon your wounds and you will heal.
Do what you need to for you and your daughter to get better. Be gentle with yourself.
I care.

NEO-CONDUIT said...

A beautifully written post. You have an admirable strength. This will change you for life, nether less you will become a new you. It does take time, and with love from friends and family you will survive. I always advise to stay away from people who may bring you down or indirectly blame you in anyway. They haven't lived your life they don't know your pain.
Kindest Regards
Kirst

Road_Nurse said...

From one stranger to another...I hope you find some measure of peace.

Nurse Traveler said...

your blog was linked on a travel nurse forum that I frequent and there were some wonderful comments. I would love to share these with you if you would email me I will email them to you (too many to post here).

Very powerful writing...makes me (an RN) think about the person inside those that I work with everyday.

khandilee@gmail.com

FridaWrites said...

I hope you've left already since your safety is in such danger. A domestic violence shelter should house you and your daughter and help you get back on your feet. Talking to other people who've experienced it (at a shelter or with a support group) might help you know when and how to disclose to others. Much love to you and your daughter. She'll grow strong and beautiful under your wing.

anne said...

The return ticket back to reality by writing. Yes. Bought and paid for, journey underway. Destination as yet unknown, but certain: you will come back, because you already are on the way. Severe disintegration of everything you thought you knew or had, can be, if not overcome, endured, and traveled past. Takes awhile. Be patient. Do not push too hard or think "I should be there now." This has its own pace and time. Above all, find a place you know to be safe. Live there. Find friends and colleagues who will walk with you. The day will come when you are serene in your core self: not the person you once were, but a different, tempered, tried-and-not-found- wanting mother, physician, and fully human being. I know, and I promise you it will be so.

Michael said...

Beautifully yet tragically written.

Bo... said...

Wow---prayers your way. I think you are very courageous.

Stefanie said...

I read your post and was sent back in time and space. For me it was not a husband putting me through such pain it was someone I thought would become my husband. I remember my fall and my popcorn ceiling. I can only offer prayers and well wishes. I send my strength to you, in hopes the extra will help you stand again. With time and determination, you can have your life back, albeit with scars that never go away but fade to a memory... Look for the light, it will lead you back home...

Ashley said...

That was a lot to take in.

Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

The times in the future will be tough! But yes you can make it! I had a similar childhood to your daughter; a father who was incapable of making good choices. He left my family some 20 years ago, and I could not be happier. Now as an adult, I veiw him as my mother's ex-husband more than a father. However, I am grateful to being raised by a tough single mother. Due her ability to keep going, I am able to keep my head up during tough times and am ready to launch a series of promising businesses. Life is tough, but you got to keep going for daughter! It will not be easy, however with much love and support (reach out) of friends and family you will survive.

seejanenurse said...

I can only express acknowlegement and nothing more.
I am with you, for you, in your corner, routing for you and wishing you peace and hoping you find the ground beneath you.