​In Real Time

My husband had emergency surgery on Tuesday. Everything went well and he is home recovering. He will need another surgery in about six weeks, which will hopefully be as an out patient.

Before they took him to surgery, my husband kept asking me if I was okay. I told him yes and not to worry about me. He said he was more worried about me than he was about himself or the surgery. I could see the concern on his face. He asked the surgeon to please come and talk to me after the surgery. He wanted to make sure I was not left to worry any longer than necessary.

I have an unnatural fear of losing him and he knows this. He also knew, because we don’t have any family or friends who live near us, that I was going to be completely on my own once the surgery began. When things like this happen I am on my own to find my way around and come home to an empty house.

I felt the emotions rise when they took him into surgery, but I was able to push them back. One of the medical professionals, I think he worked with the anesthesiologist, took me to where the waiting area was (it was on a different floor). On the way we ran into a nurse and he asked her to take me the rest of the way. As he was walking away and just about to turn a corner, I turned around and yelled out to him, “Please take good care of him!” He said he would and off he went. I sat alone in the waiting room in the silence and quiet. Everything felt surreal. I just dug deep and did everything that I needed to do.

In the evening, after his surgery, when he was back in his room sleeping comfortably, I returned home to feed our cats and try to sleep before returning early the next morning. Whenever the emotions rose, I just pushed them down and stayed numb.

When I returned to the hospital in the morning and we were waiting for him to be released, he kept asking me if I was okay. I asked him why he kept asking me this. He said because I seemed different and not fully here.

What I just went through with him, I did not experience in real time. I am aware that this is probably common for anyone experiencing this situation. What isn’t normal is to live your whole life in this state. This is what I realized through this experience.

I tried to protect my husband and he said, “Why? I knew, so why didn’t you admit it to yourself and me that you were afraid?” I began to ask myself the same question.

When you have been sexually abused, you are not present. You don’t experience it in real time. I just went through something traumatic but didn’t experience it or feel it in real time. Now I feel the after effects and it seems harder to process and function than if I would have just admitted my fears and felt my feelings as they were happening. This would not be a problem except it takes me back to a very familiar place. This disconnect of experience and emotions I realize is how I have lived my whole life.

This disconnect from real time emotions connected to real time events is what makes life so terribly hard for all those who have been abused. We can’t go back and experience those things to grieve them. We are just left with endless confusing pain. To really mourn and grieve and get beyond our pain we must live life in real time with our emotions now. This is what was not allowed to happen and has caused all the fear and anxiety and confusion we live with.

Because I stuffed my feelings, now I am left feeling emotional and out of sorts and vulnerable. I think this has made it worse. I should have told him I was scared and cried and felt all of my feelings while the experience was happening. I hope this is a lesson learned. Now he is home on pain medicine struggling through the physical pain and I am a mess emotionally.
 

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28 thoughts on “​In Real Time

    1. Thank you so much for the well wishes! From this experience we did find a kind and compassionate Emergency Room (free standing) and hospital. It was the best experience we have ever had. The doctors and nurses and ambulance techs were all so kind. It makes all the difference in the world! We have had some horrific experiences in the past, so this was a real blessing. What you do in your profession is so important, but how you do it is just as critical! Thank you!

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    2. I know from your blog that you are one of the caring and kind physicians, that last thank you was to you for making a difference every day in not just what you do, but how you do it! It really goes a long way in making what is already a very difficult situation better. And it instills a confidence that cannot be felt any other way. We need more physicians like you!

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  1. The disconnect you feel is a coping mechanism. It’s a protection device. You understand it. Someday…maybe…you will be able to grieve. Right now….leave it at that…maybe.
    It’s no wonder that you are an emotional mess…but try to stay strong.
    I’m so glad your husband is on the mend. Sending all the well wishes and hugs I have. 🙂

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    1. Thank you! Yes, this is a coping mechanism during a traumatic event. It was surreal to experience it during this situation, being aware of it. But not able to change it. I think I am disappointed in myself how much it has made me withdraw into myself… such a familiar place. Again, thank you so much Laurel!

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      1. Shit! You just rang a bell…maybe. Do you think that’s why I have always been so “cool” under pressure? Why I don’t lose it when I see injury and death? Is it because I disassociate myself? I know it’s not a lack of empathy…maybe because it’s so traumatic…I can block it out?
        Do you think that’s what happens to you? Seeing it, feeling it….is it like trying not to “relive” it…so you shut down?

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        1. Laurel this is VERY insightful of you… YES! And maybe you just helped to give me more words to describe it! We have a lot to think about!!! Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  2. In emergency situations our body goes into a survival mode. You finally are allowed to feel and im sure the entire thing was very scary! My husband is all i have and i am scared of losing my one person who is my safety and validator and friend. Im so glad he is ok. Thinking about you….

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    1. Thank you so much Bethany! I am sure you can relate to this fear! Yes!!!! And I am so grateful, that as scary as it all was, he did have wonderful doctors and nurses caring for him. Thank you for your thoughts and concern. I hope you are doing well Bethany!

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  3. Living on the fringe of life…..I know that feeling well. Being a part of life but not experiencing or really connecting to it, I have been doing that lately as well. Since we don’t have the benefit of just letting the emotions out the moment they are felt (having to be there for your husband and speak with doctors) and putting them off til later makes things really tough once the situation is over. It creates an overwhelming jumble of so many emotions it’s hard for me to sort out exactly what the emotions are. Hope you can connect with yourself and your husband soon.

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