I have been reflecting. Reviewing old notes, writings, posts from the first 3 years after the wreck. This was the epicenter of the hardest of my recovery. Also the hardest was not feeling listened to by certain providers, especially during that first year; these providers who dismissed my pain, and who I was supposed to be trusting with my care.
I have decided to share some of those thoughts here….in my Blog. This one was from 2014 just after the first of several surgeries to come:
I remember. I remember going to Spectrum Health Butterworth for surgery. I remember the surgeon calling me the night before after weeks of trying to get a hold of him to quash my fears and answer the questions, which to him were probably nonsense….but to me – were the words that drove my every waking breath and desire to understand what I was about to endure.
I needed his reassurance. His candidness. His time. His empathy. His patience and his understanding. I needed his apology, which I doubt I will ever hear. I remember feeling frustrated and angry that he told me to call any time with questions and then never responded to those questions, leaving me hanging perilously from day to day as if I were waiting for my death sentence.
Each moment, perhaps my last with each click of the clock which hung on the wall and taunted me so consistently with each passing hour, day, and night. To him he was probably busy, and thought I should just TRUST him because he was one of the best if not the best surgeon in his specialty/field…..but how could I trust when that trust had been shattered like the pieces that lay inside my body still broken, painful, and damaged?
That trust was broken by him when he didn’t believe me and my complaints of pain, and yet I craved his answers and solace to help me get through the coming days and weeks before that daunting day when I would go beneath his knife. I craved his humanity and his ownership for his role in my current state. Yet that never came.
I felt trapped. I knew I needed the procedure….this surgery. How could I trust once the betrayal had been sown? How could I believe that this was the right thing to do by this same man who cast me aside like a scrap piece of paper not worthy of his time until I got beneath the glaring lights of the cold and clinical Operating Room…..where I saw him momentarily.
How could I in the face of adversity and enormously high risk of dying on the operating table….TRUST?
I took a break, several in fact, and pretended like everything was okay, for my family’s sake. I don’t know how I made it through other than by faith, the driving and enormous desire for relief of the growing pain in my right side (where the ribs never healed) that never went away; and the increased loss of strength and use in my right arm (most likely from forcing myself through therapy for 12 weeks and putting forth my BEST EFFORT with tears flowing like endless waterfalls as I forced myself to continue each exercise…..not knowing that my shoulder/scapula was still fractured and had not healed at all either as well).
How could I push aside the rage and anger that made several professionals miss such an important detail that I was very vocal about? How could I give in to the experience when I had so much left to say, learn, live, and experience?
I just kept breathing…..deeply, slowly, studying each item, each line in the ceiling as I was wheeled along in the stretcher. I focused on the names of those pushing me, and their conversations and attempts to bring calm to me. I embraced each quirk on the face of my husband, mother, and Medical Case Manager as this may be the last things I see. I was acutely aware of every single detail and overwhelmed by the voices, noises, and conversations around me. The lights were bright, my headache grew, and I had to take myself to another place while still being exactly where I was. I know that sounds silly but I have no other way to explain it..
This fileting of my body with a magnificent dance of his scalpel tools and his skillful artistry beneath the clinical shroud of the operating room; a handful of specially trained staff who would bring me to the other side of waking up once more…..or so I secretly begged for – and perhaps begged for aloud as well.
I remember putting on my bravest face and not knowing if this was the day that I kissed my children goodbye for the last time before I saw them walk out the door to go to school; not knowing if this was the last time that I would see my mother’s face, feel my husband’s touch, and I was so afraid. I wasn’t afraid to die. I just wasn’t ready. I thought on this intensely. Should I have written good bye letters the night before. I had decided not to because to me that was the same as giving up. How do I find the words to say the things that I feel? HowI do I make the words in my head come out on paper in the way I wanted them to and to have enough of an impact to make everything up to that point feel “worth it” when since the wreck I struggle just to get my words to get from my head out my mouth in the way I desire.
How do I trust God and the Universe and all my spiritual beliefs and experiences? How do I know at this point that God is even real any more? Then I had to remind myself of all the miracles surrounding the wreck and force myself to believe that miracles would happen that day.
As it so happened…..the 3.5 hour surgery we were told it would take turned into about 8 including the 2 hours in recovery, per my husband and mom. The stakes were high. The man I decided at the last minute to trust with my life in its entirety took me on a journey and he and his team brought me out the other side.
This was my first post surgical feeling of gratefulness!!! When my eyes opened and I noticed people rushing around me in recovery, and seeing my O2 sats in the 80’s but just feeling such calm, feeling peaceful, acutely becoming aware again, and just blinking ever so slowly…….grateful in that very moment. Grateful that I had been allowed to once again survive that Journey…..
The Journey into the Dark Side.
~ Caren, 2014