Events are typically considered traumatic when they threaten the life or bodily integrity of the individual who experiences them. After experiencing a trauma people tend to develop certain predictable reactions. Examples are the following:
- Persistent and unwanted thoughts, memories, or dreams of the event
[while I have no memory of the wreck I was in, since I started dreaming again, I dream of being in wrecks, of my kids or family members dying in wrecks, and am consumed with many unwanted thoughts and various levels of anxiety when in a vehicle that varies from day to day. On my worst days this creates a lot of fear and anxiety]
- Heightened physiological arousal, such as tension, nervousness, irritability, startling easily, poor concentration, or poor sleep
[I can attest to all of this. This is one of the largest part of my recovery that I continue to work on and that gives me the most challenging hurdles to overcome and deal with]
- Avoidance of places or things or events that are reminiscent of the traumatic event
[ I can’t say that all of this necessarily applies to me. I do like to avoid driving in bad weather, as it makes me quite nervous and fearful. Stop and go traffic heightens my traffic anxiousness, and I have a lot of other challenges while riding as a passenger now…especially]
So, that being said, the wreck I was in was absolutely a traumatic experience.
I always felt I had a high pain tolerance before the wreck. I may have, I did give birth twice after all. Yet now I believe I was mistaken. Childbirth Labor does not compare to multiple fractures and the chronic pain that never goes away from multi-system traumas. At least with childbirth, eventually the pain stops and repeating that process is a choice.
My tolerance for pain has grown ten-fold. What I would have gone to the hospital for before, I wouldn’t even blink at for a Tylenol now. That being said, I have sunk into a new acceptance of this chronic pain filled body I live in now. I accept it as my new normal. My new cloak of pain I have become accustomed to. Chronic pain that some days holds me hostage from accomplishing what I desire. That is, until it raises its ugly head to show me it can still get worse with white hot nerve pain, muscle spasms, and a debilitating wave of continual sharp anchors that drag me down.
I have always had an intuitive relationship with my body. A polytrauma screws all that intuitiveness up. Some days it’s hard to know what is up or down or sideways with where that chronic pain is located. Some days I can point right to its origin. Other times it feels like it is all over me and I can barely walk or pick up my feet.
I have been hurting a lot since I got off of the pain pills on my own. My back aches, my feet intermittently get pins and needles. My right knee doesn’t want to cooperate with that left foot that tends to drag by the end of the day. My neck feels puffy, tight, and just hurts and acts like it has a little storm in there shooting electric lightening bolts down my arm to my fingers and up to my ear now and again. My ribs that are plated, like to play musical ribs for the spasms and often include the right lung and back in their spasm just for fun. My head throbs and I feel such intense exhaustion. Most days, it is a struggle to just get moving. Add that on top of the random high pitched dog whistle sound in my ear/head at inconsistent times. Makes things quite interesting.
I am driving more now too…so that means no muscle relaxers or pain medication while on the road or doing errands. I am strictly diligent about this. Of course, the trade-off to taking on more responsibility is being more irritable, hurting more, having more intense muscle spasms, shooting nerve pain, and dragging myself around literally days and weeks at a time without being able to get on top of the pain and discomfort.
I am a whining mess as I type this as I so get tired of hurting and aching. Here is the irony though. I love being alive so much, and value life so much, that the value of living is worth more than the miserable pain that continues to come in waves.
I got news for ya’ ….Chronic pain threatens body integrity as well. Any new flares that are not the new normal are seriously emotionally and physically exacerbating. It’s like “seriously how much must I take”. So the trauma continues and I remain….Hurtin’ for certain.