I woke up completely unclothed surrounded by a dozen doctors and nurses all peering over me and discussing things I had no idea what they meant. From what I could tell I was being sponged down by one person as another person tried multiple times to get IV access. It was all a blur. I had just had one of the worst seizures I had ever had, and woke up in the ER at Methodist.
The nurse had just pushed potassium chloride, in an effort to bring my potassium levels back up. Over the past few weeks my body had been potassium dumping, an adverse effect of one of the few medications available to treat POTS. As she pushed the potassium I instantly felt it as it felt like fire running through my veins. It was late at night and I was all alone. My mom had to stay home with my sister because my dad was out of town and the flu ban was enacted at the hospital. I fell asleep that night in my hospital bed alone as potassium chloride filled my veins, unable to understand why any of this had to happen.
I don’t have a lot of memories of the past five years when it comes to my accident. Most of it just meshes together and it’s hard for me to pick out actual details and specific events. I have vague memories of bigger things but most of it is just small reminders. There are however a few significant things that stick with me, and no matter how hard I try to forget them they will always be there.
I usually avoid talking about things like this because they are unpleasant to hear. In my opinion why talk about the bad, when you could talk about the good instead.
I recently have found myself in a weird position. I’ve gotten used to being the caretaker lately, but have found myself back in the patient position recently. Two weeks ago I had my annual neurology appointment, and my annual labs done. To much shock they came back funky, and I am in the process of finding out if it was just a fluke draw, or if my crazy body has decided to throw a curveball at me. (Anyway enough of that back to the story.)
So as I was getting my blood drawn today I somehow got on the topic of my accident with the phlebotomist, as I explained that I fell ten feet head first I saw the hair on her arms stick up to which she shivered, and announced “Oh my god! That made the hair on my arms stick up, my daughter is a cheerleader!” I laughed, because while I am used to most people responding with the like, ouch or oh my! I have never seen someone cringe the way she did. I kind of giggled in my head as I thought to myself, “oh you think that was terrible, well how about the five years that followed it!” However instead I kindly smiled and responded with “yeah it was rough, oh and by the way could I please have coban instead of a band-aid I’m adhesive sensitive.” She slapped some coban on my arm, thanked me for sharing my story with her, and on my way I went.
As I drove home to visit my sister I thought about our interaction. I got frustrated because she saw me as this “heroic overcomer” as someone who experienced a tragedy and is now something admirable. And don’t get me wrong it’s not that that isn’t what I want to be viewed as, because I do. But part of me gets frustrated because outside of my family, very few people know what I actually had to go through to get where I am today.
But then, in the middle of my frustration I had to stop myself and remind myself that these people weren’t in my life five years ago. How could they have known I used to experience seizures, and everything else? They coldly have known because there is no sign across my head that explains the last five years. I can’t expect someone to automatically know what I went through, and that’s also pretty selfish of me, because how do I know that person also didn’t have something terrible happen to them. I mean come on Merideth, get it together you aren’t the only person on this earth with feelings.
I laugh often with my friends about explaining my accident to new people I meet, and most people that know me well and are around me often know my famous phrase “my brain is broken” because sometimes I just don’t want to explain the last five years, or tell you about how as a teenager I unknowingly lost control of my bladder.
I guess the moral of this post is that it has been a long journey. A lot can change in five years. And with it comes new adventures. Every day as I heal a little more I find myself introducing myself more as just “Merideth” instead of “I’m Merideth, and I have a broken brain”.
While most of my days being the patient are that of the past, every now and then I am reminded of the past, and it does hurt. It hurts knowing that I had to miss out on things because of something out of my control. It hurts knowing that I am even aware of the feeling of sore muscles, not from the gym but from having a seizure.
I’m thankful that as I heal more I am able to talk more about the ugly. I take comfort in knowing that it is no longer my normal, and that instead of it being a what-if fear it is a flashback scare. I think that as I open up and talk more about the ugly times I am able to sort of feel relief from them.
I know that there is nothing that will take away these feelings, and I take comfort in knowing that when I feel like talking about them I have a space of my own to talk about them, where I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s feelings but my own. This little online corner of my life has provided more healing than I ever would have realized at the beginning of its creation. So I suppose with that being said the feelings of this late night post are:
Sometimes no matter how old we are, things are scary, and that’s okay.
Sometimes no matter how brave we are, things are scary, and that’s okay.
I’m thankful for all the medical professionals over the years that have provided the comfort I needed at the time to continue on and fight. And to all of those that comforted my family as well. These last five years haven’t been easy, and I still have my days, but I am so much stronger because of people like you, that were there, for people like me.
I’m also thankful for my friends that snap me back into reality when I try to convince them, along with myself that I have contracted some foreign parasite, or extremely rare virus. (flashback to my last post about me being a worrier, lol.)