I’d heard about but not seen the video of the police officer arresting a Utah nurse for following police and hospital policy. In the video, you have the nurse, fellow officers and hospital security telling the officer why he should drop it and the officer finally says “We’re done” and arrests the nurse and forces her out into the squad car. I heard today that the officer was fired and the hospital has banned all officers from care areas… After the video where the security guard rips the doctor from the plane, and with all the violence, I am not sure how some officers continue to lose control like this. Is it stress? PTSD? An “us against them” mentality? Or has it always been there and is coming to light? I personally would be treading lighter if I were an officer as more and more video surfaces of rough arrests, etc. but then again I am not an officer. On the one hand, I’m glad the officer was fired, but on the other hand I’d like to know why he lost it like that – does he need therapy? Do more police officers need therapy? In a way, it underscores the lack of mental health care in the US.
In China Marine, EB Sledge has a few episodes where he realizes that people cannot understand what he has been through. For months on end, he slept in mud, watched his good friends killed on a daily basis and lived in a constant (i.e. hourly) threat of instant death where 90% of the people he went into battle with were killed, some in hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese. (As much as any book I’ve ever read, With the Old Breed made me feel like I was there). Now, here he is at home, the parades are over and life has moved on, and nobody knows the grind it took on a daily basis to fight the war. So in essence he is left alone to deal with his feelings…
My experience was nothing like EB Sledge in its intensity (I don’t know how the marines stayed sane, and many snapped after multiple campaigns). But I can empathize, since in that first year after getting my scary lung disease under control, I felt so alone. Here I was, a survivor, but there were no walks or ribbons (many people march for friends in support of breast cancer), no one knew what disease I had or that I was continuing to fight it (and Ankylosing Spondylitis), and everyone was able to continue their lives while I was still trying to get my life back. It was shocking. Lonely. Devestating. (And I experienced only a fraction of a percent of what EB and other combat veterans experienced!). It wasn’t that people didn’t care, but they had their own lives to lead and how could they possibly know what I was feeling? Which is why I burst into tears in the doctor’s office that day when he told me how boyant/chipper I seemed despite being through so much, and thank god I did since he sent me to therapy that got my life back on track. My life will neer be the same, and in some ways it is better while in other ways it is much worse, but at least it is back on track again (and, overall, I am *much* more content and less anxious now than I was pre-illness).
Anyway, on a minor level I can understand what EB felt when he returned home. And I continue to look foward to reading about his journey in China Marine. And I feel soooo much for that man, and the other people who have returned from battle (including our Afghanistan/Iraq veterans).
After feeling soooo off last night, where my health issues were hitting me so hard, I am feeling better today. Of course I am tired and sore (I am always tired and sore) but the overwhelming fatigue and pain has lifted some, and I just feel better. Again, what I love about therapy is that last night I was able to compartmentalize what I was feeling so that it was only physical, and not emotional/mental/spiritual. It is amazing gift that my therapist gave me, where I able to compartmentalize the misery. I will never be able to repay him for that (even though it has been more than a year since I last saw him).
On a side note, my night sweats have kicked back up again this past week. I’ll wake up damp in the morning, and when I wake up in the night my forehead is dripping wet, like I ran a sopping wash rag over it. Since lung disease, I go through waves – sometimes months at a time — of this, but at least my pajamas are only damp right now, versus drenched (as sometimes happens). It is strange to not be hot and to not even have a blanket on in 50 degree weather, yet drip sweat while I sleep. Yuck. 🙂
I don’t feel right tonight. Do I feel sick? No. But I feel crummy. My head hurts, my body aches, and I just want to close my eyes and sleep but still have errands to do (feed the dogs, eat my dinner, etc.). I have two choices: I can wallow. This is what I might have done before therapy. I would have thought: why did I get sick? How did this happen? Or… I can tell myself, “I don’t feel well, do the bare minimum, let the dishes sit, feed the dogs after you’ve eaten, have a small glass of scotch, watch a little Larry David, and don’t think about how awful you feel.” My understanding of meditation is it takes time and practice – with my therapist’s help with time and practice, I can now bypass the wallowing and get straight to the coping techniquess without too much effort. Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow.
For two glorious weeks we’ve been in Amsterdam, Scotland, England and Ireland in cities and countrysides I never expected to see. Now the vacation is over and we are nearly home. I am not feeling regret that it is over but happiness over the experiences I’ve acquired. There was a time when I would have focused on the “I don’t want to go back,” but my therapy really trained me to look at the positive rather than the negative. Am loving the year I spent in therapy, which originally was to help me recover emotionally from my illness but gave me countless other life skills, as well.
I am wired to smile. I am always surprised when I see photos of myself, because I am always smiling, even when I am not aware that someone is taking a picture. I mentioned it once to my wife and she said, “You are always smiling.” I’ve always been that way, even far back into childhood. So no one in a million years would guess, but the past few weeks I’ve been having my quiet panic attacks, where suddenly I am worried about work, money, the kids, etc. When they very first started, in 2009, we were in wonderful financial shape but I was having worry attacks about money (turns out, the worries were founded, since medical bills have wiped out our savings over the years 🙂 ). They went away for a few years, but are back again this month…
Thank goodness, for my therapy, because when this happens I take the steps he taught me (think of three positives, don’t worry about the future, five deep breaths…) and this almost always sweeps away the worry so I can go on with my day. I had one last night as we were being seated at Mexican food, so mentioned to my wife that I’ve been having them lately (again, no one would have any idea I was having those worries, and thank goodness, too, that I know that it is just chemical). My wife mentioned that worries her, because that was a retrospective symptom I had when I was first getting sick with lung disease – turned out all those worries I was having back when were a symptom of my sickening lungs. So she is a little bit worried that I am relapsing. I don’t think so, I think I am just tired and needing our pending vacation. But she makes a valid point, so I am going to make efforts to cut back on inflammatory foods for awhile (sugar, etc.). Fingers crossed! And for the millionth time, I am grateful that I care about my health, but don’t worry or stress about relapse or death — a day at a time. Once again, I have my therapist to thank for that.
This morning I awakened feeling overwhelmed about my day. On top of my illness-induced chronic fatigue, I was worn out from a busy two weeks and had a full day of responsibilities. But I my work day is nearly done and I not only survived but it was a reasonably successful day:
- Made and drank my coffee. Fought the urge to feel overwhelmed by blogging about it and reminding myself – step-by-step.
- Pulled myself from my chair,
- SKipped my morning ritual of making coffee for my wife, apologizing to her (she understood 🙂 ).
- Packed my laptop bag.
- Fed the dog – the part I hate most about the morning. Now I was feeling slightly productive.
- Took my walk. Skipped the gym, instead just walked two miles.
- At end of my walk, walked to grocery store, bought lunch items plus my breakfast fruit.
- After grocery store, walked to bank, got cash for cleaner.
- Plugged in grill.
- Made my fruit breakfast. Ate as I made my lunch.
- Made my lunch.
- Sorted laundry from cleaner before I stepped into the shower.
- Showered, brushed teeth in shower. Skipped my morning sit-ups/crunches.
- Dressed – skipped the shirt I wanted to wear, since it had be ironed, and put on a wrinkle-free dress shirt.
- Picked up dog poop in back yard (yuck).
- Took bus to work.
- Arrived at work, prepped for first meeting.
- Went to first meeting.
- Went back to office. Prepped for second meeting.
- Second meeting.
- Made a list of follow up items from the week that needed to be covered.
- Tackled them one at a time.
- NEar the ened of the work day. Prepping presentation for Monday.
- Tonight, I’ll have a coffee to make it through our five hour social engagement, will have 2 cocktails instead of my usual one to loosen up. Will make less of an attempt to carry the conversation, will simply stand and smile and engage anyone who approaches me.
- Tomorrow – a full day of rest!!
In short, I survived! What did this was my therapy. Before my illness, adrenaline and relentless energy carried me through days like this, but followoing my illness when the energy was gone I’d look at these days and think, “Why did I get sick? Life is so overwhelming now.” It was my therapist who taught me to look at one thing at a time, take it a step at a time, don’t look at the big picture.
Life is good sometimes 🙂