Friday, March 21, 2008

Phobic and frustrated.

I guess I'm dealing with some very mild form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or something. It might also be that I'm simply nuts, I don't know. But I'm facing this Friday evening in a not-so salutary mood.

Short version: a little fallout from my stay in hospital -- and the events that took place there -- remains with me, and I'm not liking it at all.

For starters, I still get freaked out when I hear sirens. That's a regular occurrence here; it would be unusual not to hear them multiple times daily. No matter; when the Fire Department is headed this way, their sirens are no longer background noise as they were before the end of February. As they get louder, I fall into a kind of flashback state, replaying the unhappy moments before -- and during, and to a certain extent after -- I got my ride in the paramedics' ambulance. It's not so vivid that it causes physical pain or makes me want to hide under the bed, but is enough to distract me from everything else.

I'm just grateful I haven't been talking on the phone or dealing with anyone in person when the sirens sound. So far, at least.

Equally bad: I'm still having trouble writing for work. The concentration that requires continues to be difficult to maintain. I can do it, but slowly and with more interruptions than I'd like. It's just not the same these days.

What's the deal here? I can come up with the kinds of elegant phrases I need to provide, but connecting them into a sensible whole takes real effort. Having dealt with people who had speech impediments or other conditions that kept them from expressing their thoughts, I now understand their frustration. Completely.

There have been a few times when, awakening in the darkest, loneliest hours of the night, I have wondered what else I might have lost, what other little surprises are waiting to strike in an unguarded moment.

I know my energy levels have not risen to the old "normal." Yes, I walk every day -- always at least four miles now -- but feel a certain lassitude afterward. I still need to rest (not necessarily sleep) briefly in the afternoons, still have a disrupted sleep schedule.

These little quirks have a cumulative bad effect on me. They have made me, to a new extent, afraid. I don't want to repeat my recent experience and, worse, they have left me with the worry that I will not survive any further health problems, large or small, undamaged.

More positive distractions might help, but they are in short supply right now.

But I try. Tomorrow morning, for example, I'll go to the Saturday car show/get-together I've missed attending for some time. There are always people there I enjoy seeing and hanging out with, and I might take a photo or two if inspired.

In the afternoon, I have to go to a photo shoot -- we're doing it locally, thank goodness -- for yet another story I have on my to-do list.

PARENTHETICAL IT-COULD-BE-WORSE THOUGHT: At least this article requires only my perceptions and ability to get them down in words. No research. I might be able to crank it out with something approaching my former facility. It'll be an interesting experiment.

I write these things here because what I put down is unlikely to be read by existing or potential clients, all of whom would drop me like the proverbial hot potato if they thought my "powers" had diminished.

And I have to tell someone. Bottling up the feelings and fears has not been productive. Just the opposite, in fact.


Anonymous said...

Your siren reaction makes me wonder, not for the first time, what reaction Viet vets must have when they hear the oh so distinctive sound of a helicopter.

I guess I was a decade younger than you are when I ended up spending a couple weeks in a hospital. I remember recovery came in very small increments and it was quite discouraging at first.

Hope recovery continues for you.


Anonymous said...

I know what you're talking about. After my brush with death I was afraid of everything. I did fine for a while as long as I was taking care of myself but now I've fallen back into the state that I don't want to hear what they have to tell me. I need a therapist!
It will go away, MrS. Just take everything slowly and give it time. ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

I signed my name but it didn't work...Betty

DAL said...

That is what we're here for, Scribbs. We might not always comment, but we do read and understand. The phone line is barely used here, too.

John0 said...

I think you'll come back, and are, but differently. It very likely is not defectively different. Something had to give in many ways.
The reaction to sirens and such will fade. I remember going into a panic in cars doing certain maneuvers, if I wasn't driving, after a serious accident. It took awhile. I hope the feeling of less facility with the work fades as well.

Birdie said...

your inability to concentrate on work could as well have more to do with the lack of motivation, forking out tons of words in the hope of payment that then doesn't come!

I put up a car picture in my journal that might interest you, bzw. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Talk openly to your friends here, Scribbs. It will do you good. Regarding the siren thing...will your city allow a "ride out" wth the fire department? Several times I've gone on calls with our FD, both on the fire engine and the ambulance, and it is amazing, and inspiring to see how professional these guys and gals are. It might make you think differently...positively... about sirens. Hope you have a good day, friend.


Japee said...

I imagine it is PTS. I remember feeling that way when I heard strong wind after Hurricane Hugo - couldn't decide whether to run or hide.

After all you've been through it would be surprising if you didn't have after effects mentally as well - memory etc. All the medications, oxygen changes have to through off your balance. People who are under anesthesia for long procedures have a similar problem. Hopefully that will gradually resolve and improve.

Right now we are glad you are alive and back but this must be very difficult. Take good care.

MrScribbler said...

Scott -- I know how professional and caring the paramedics are, believe me. They were part of the reason I'm writing here -- or doing anything -- today.

That's one aftereffect I'm quite sure will pass in time. In fact, one memory of the ride was of the paramedic showing me my EKG and saying "'s not a heart attack!" He did everything just right.