But then…..

I blame him for the fact that I suck at feelings.

I want to scream at him every time I mess something up in my life that’s related to feelings, because I blame him.

I don’t trust the way I used to before him.

He changed everything in my life, and I know he probably didn’t even think twice or consider the fact that he was creating a snowball of a problem in my life.

I know he didn’t think about me.

Because if he did he would have understood just how much he was going to mess up.

I do not find light in him being gone.

I do not find peace in him being gone.

I do not find comfort in him being gone.

My soul is not at rest at the end of the day knowing he is gone.

My soul is ripped in pieces at the end of the day because of his absence.

I do not see out of rose colored glasses.

I cannot see out of rose colored glasses.

I do not see how anyone can see out of rose colored glasses.

Maybe they just haven’t experienced the soul ripping.

I over exert myself in every friendship/relationship I have ever had because of him.

I spend half my paychecks on pointless things for people who have done nothing for me because I fear that they too might disappear.

I over invest myself in every conversation I have ever had because of him.

I don’t shut my mouth and I speak over others because I need to be certain that it is obvious that I am still here, and that I haven’t disappeared.

The truth is Matthew altered every aspect of my future the day he ended his, and everyday since then has been altered.

The truth is I hate more than anything that people can feel helpless, hopeless, and unhappy in this world.

The truth is I feel this way sometimes too though.

The truth is that I spend my life worrying so much that others are content and fulfilled in theirs that it is eating me alive in mine.

The truth, the real actual truth, is that none of this is relatively easy.

This year is 5 years out from the time a permanent decision was made to a temporary problem, and I will forever be scarred by it.

I wish I could say that I understood what compelled him, and all the others, but I don’t.

I sometimes think about the topic, the outcome, should I have made such a decision.

But then I smell the air after it rains.

But then I feel the warmth of the sun after a long winter.

But then I remember the chirping of birds.

But then I remember the sound of thunderstorm.

But then I remember life.

LIFE.

And then I don’t think about it anymore.

And then I don’t desire for it to be over anymore.

And then I don’t wish for an end.

I wish for an eternity.

I wish for a lifetime, and then some.

I wish for every living soul to remember too.

I do not find comfort in his decisions, I find anxiety, restlessness, exhaustion.

I find pure let down.

I blame him for the fact that I suck at feeling because he took them from me and replaced them with overwhelming worry.

I blame him but I am trying not to because there are thunderstorms, and chirping birds, and warm sunshine’s, and crisp air.

And I get all of these things.

All of these gifts are entitled to me.

And suddenly I don’t even think about it anymore. Suddenly I am content, suddenly I can feel.

And it FEELS good.

Advertisements

Sometimes I get Attached…..

One of the first things they told me was to not get attached….

Your care ends after you walk out the doors, your job is done……

You can’t get attached…

and I don’t….most of the time…..

but sometimes I have to….

I NEED to.

I need to get attached so that I can remember why.

I need to get attached so that I don’t forget the feeling.

I need to get attached so that I can keep going.

I need to get attached because I need to remember that it wasn’t all for nothing.

See the thing is my job might be to care and provide for patients, but at the end of the day they’re providing to me.

In a weird emotional way it’s like every time I get the chance to care for someone the giant gaping hole in my heart from all the chaos being sick has caused me heals just a little more.

I’m not sure the hole will ever entirely be full again but I know that everyday I get to care for patients, a day farther out from being the patient, the hole fills a little more.

I remember my first hospice patient, and the month after that in which I checked the local obituaries every day wondering if they had passed away.

I remember the first child I said goodbye to, as I tucked them into their bed, whispered in their ear and brushed their hair out of their eyes. I hugged the mother knowing that I was the last medical professional she would see until her child passed away and I stood there until she was ready to let go.

A lot of the memories aren’t happy, in fact most of them are painful. It’s not a career full of glitter and balloons. It’s a rare day that we hear the ending to the story. We are there when it starts, when its happening, but how it ends, we usually never know. For us, it stops at the automatic doors leading back out to the ambulance bay, because we aren’t supposed to get attached.

The truth is talking for half an hour with an elderly patient about our pet cats isn’t just a distraction to them, it’s an assurance that I, me, MYSELF can be the someone, in that moment that someone needs. It’s the reminder that I am capable.

The truth is making stuffed animals talk and growl while dancing through the hallways before the patient goes in for radiation isn’t just to make them laugh. It’s the reminder to me that amidst all their chaos they still have a little bit of their childhood left. That they won’t be scarred forever, their holes will fill too.

The truth is explaining to parents that their child who wants to harm themselves, gets better and that this world is cruel and harsh and difficult for growing teens isn’t just to reassure them, it’s to remind me that Matthew’s pain was temporary, and that these kids that didn’t make a permanent decision to a temporary problem could have been him too.

The truth is that as much as I am there for them, I am also there for me too.

As much as I wake up each day and go to work with the mindset of helping others, I also go to work with the mindset of helping myself.

I find healing, in partaking in healing others.

I find comfort in comforting others.

I find strength in strengthening others.

I am who I am now, with the mindset I have now because of them.

So I have to get attached sometimes….

I HAVE to.

I refuse to be the robot like medical professional that provides care in a uniform way to every patient, every time. Who forms no bond with the patient, who shows no emotion.

I have to get attached, and I have to show emotion.

If those that cared for me didn’t show me the same attachment I have now I wouldn’t be here with this job. In fact I would be as far away from it as I possibly could. There’s some days I left offices and clinics and wanted to never face another medical professional.

But I refuse to be that way. I refuse to make others run anywhere but towards my care.

So sometimes I get attached, because I’m human, and it’s a human thing to do, but also because I need to.

Because it keeps me going.

My Date wasn’t a Death-Defying Date….

Everyone I’ve ever talked to that has had some type of Traumatic Injury/Accident remembers the date.

It’s almost like a birthday, regardless of how many years or decades ago it happened, they can tell you the exact date.

For me: December 7th 2012.

I don’t know if it’s because their life flashed before their eyes, or they had some surreal experience, or they died and came back to life, or should be dead, or what.

All I know is that I never saw the big guy, he never appeared and gave me some big talk about how it wasn’t my time. I never saw the light. I never felt the warmth.

In fact nothing happened, at all.

One minute I was in the air, and the next I was on the ground, with a really bad headache.

I had no out of body experience.

If it weren’t for me falling, that day would mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s the anniversary of my accident, but that’s it. It isn’t the day my life started over, I wasn’t reborn, I wasn’t given a second chance, I literally just fell and hit my head.

I was never close to death. There has never been a point in my life in which it was questionable whether I would live. (Except for that one time I went in to have a scheduled surgery and passed out, and the new RN panicked and pressed the code button. Now that might be debatable but other than that I’ve never headed towards the light.)

I follow lots of different people who have become sort of angels to me. I don’t know them personally but I feel like I do because I just connect so dang much with their stories. I follow their social media platforms that they’ve used to turn into this incredible source of strength and hope. They are like real life gods to me. I find so much resemblance in them. Like when I grow up, I want to be them.

(I got to see one of them speak at an event and I almost peed myself from excitement. I was so nervous and excited that I was sick to my stomach. I was the real definition of a fan girl.)

I relate so much to them.

Except for one tiny, well really big thing.

They all almost died.

(And if it wasn’t physically then it was mentally/emotionally.)

Their dates, their December 7th, 2012’s, those were almost their last.

I don’t know what it’s like to be close to death, to teeter on such a fine line between seeing a tomorrow, and never having another.

So when they discuss their trials and difficulties, it makes sense. They went through this overwhelmingly horrific event. They defied odds, and somehow managed to survive. They fought death, and they won.

And then I look at my trials and difficulties and I’m just confused. It doesn’t make sense. All of these people, they found the good. They had the “re-awakening”, the “realization”. They’re able to have an undying amount of love for life because they know what it’s like to almost lose it.

I run a fine line between my love and hatred for life. I am left in awe everyday of the mere thought of life, because it’s just so cool, but I also have days where I’m just really stinking mad at it.

I don’t have the reminder of why I can’t be mad at life. I don’t have that thing that the big guy or the universe dangles above my head. There is no voice that says “Merideth you can’t be mad at the universe, you can’t hate me, I spared you.”

I just have an unlucky experience, a date that’s just a reminder that something unlucky happened to me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For a really long time I wanted the why, in fact there’s probably a handful of these blogs about trying to figure it out. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t still occasionally hope for it.

I think the reason I so badly wanted a why, was so that I could know that bad things didn’t just happen to people for no reason. I wanted/want to know that the universe, the big guy, don’t just throw hurdles at you for no reason.

I’m at a point in my life that I knew would happen eventually, well I figured it would, but didn’t hold on to hope or dream about it, or realize it would get here so soon. I’m at the point where my POTS is basically unnoticeable.

It’s a place in my health I’ve never been before. Now I’m not saying I’m healed, because I definitely still have POTS, and I do still have to receive treatment for it. What I’m saying though is that there aren’t any big arrows pointing at me anymore screaming “sick girl”.

I could meet someone new and have a friendship with them, and they would never know I was sick unless I shared it with them.

My Invisible Illness has finally become Invisible.

So what the heck am I supposed to do?

It seems like those that are in the significant date club either end up two ways:

– They get the sign from the universe, they have their magical moment. They end up with a different outlook on life, a reason why. (Or at least they figure it out.)

– They magically get healed and are left without significant deficits/results. They’re able to move on and forget about it. Their date eventually becomes just another day.

(And I guess technically there’s a third ending too: you die.)

So where do I fit in?

None of the above 3 things happened. Big Shocker, but I ended up the odd one out again.

I once wrote a book (or half way did), and if you’ve known me from the beginning of all of this then you’ve probably heard about it.

It was this great (according to my mom) compilation of learned lessons, and acquired interesting outlook on life.

But I stopped writing it. Because I didn’t feel like I had a valid enough reason to write it. Why would anyone listen to a young girls experience if she never even had the “aha” moment.

Why would you read something if it didn’t leave you with a positive push to better your life? I don’t have the qualifications that the people I look up to do. I don’t have the certified death defier sticker that the others do.

I just have this oddball story. This strange compilation of things that have happened to me because one unfortunate event changed everything.

So where do I fit in? Where do any of us fit in?

What happens to those of us that don’t get the fancy message from the universe?

Why are some of us death defiers, and others not?

How do you find your why? Or do you ever?

A long December…..every December.

December is almost over. Thank the calendar gods.

I was once the most festive of festive humans. I LOVED Christmas. I was basically Christmas balled up and stuffed inside a human.

My freshman year of high school I planned a Christmas party at my house and basically invited my entire grade. Christmas was my jam.

And then on December 7th, 2012 I fell on my head and slowly but surely I lost my festivity.

I tried so hard to remain festive, that I even strung Christmas lights on my neck brace.

Yeah you read that right.

I strung CHRISTMAS LIGHTS on my NECK BRACE.

I tried so hard to continue to love the holiday, and not attach the holiday to my accident but that is so much easier said than done. I took the concussion test three times in December. I wore a neck brace for the entire month of December, (and January.) I received muscle relaxing creams and Advil as presents. I became a “frequent flyer” in the ER. But Merry Christmas y’all, let us be thankful and reminisce on all the wonderful things, let us appreciate the cards we have been dealt. All while I model a neck brace and get told by medical professionals I’m faking things. But happy holidays anyways!

How are you supposed to celebrate the holidays and enjoy all of its festivities when you look like a robot. You can only hide so much of a neck brace with a scarf, at some point you’re either going to have to just strut your stuff, or resort to using a curtain as a scarf because maybe then you’ll have enough square inches of fabric. Or I guess in Baby Mer’s case just throw some Christmas lights on there……*facepalm*

So December is almost over, and then I can finally sigh my sigh of relief, and breathe again. Because I hold my breath for most of December, I become a Scrooge, I shut down and am a not so friendly version of myself, I try to ignore all that this month so kindly likes to remind me of. I don’t know why I need to grieve for the entire month. My accident took up all of 5 hours of that month. So why do I need an entire month to throw myself a pity party? I don’t know, I guess because I’m human? Is that a valid excuse? Do I need an excuse? I mean I’m sure I could throw a pity party all 12 months of the year, people would probably get real tired of it, but I suppose I could do it.

I still give the gifts, and I wear the matching PJ’s with my sister, and I decorate a tiny tree. I try to be festive again, but no matter how much I force the festivity it doesn’t happen.

I feel like I’m suffocating in December.

I feel like I’m trapped in December.

I feel like I’m drowning in December.

No matter how hard I try to breathe, to escape, to swim, I can’t get away from it. So I just try to survive.

December is merely a month of survival. I tell myself at the first of December every year, it’s just 31 days, you just have to make it 31 days, then you can breathe again, it will all go back to normal, whatever normal is.

I’m not depressed, I mean I am, but so is every other chronically ill college student, but I’m not depressed about life, well not really, I love life, probably more than most people, but I hate December’s and I dread them, and I loath them.

I picked up over 250 hours this month between my two jobs so that I could try to forget that it’s December. I worked Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve, and Christmas so that I could keep myself as busy as possible in hopes of forgetting things. In hopes I won’t see the festivity as much.

When I see people post pictures of their presents I want to scream in their faces. I turn into the grinch. My Christmas was ruined, stop shoving yours in my face to remind me. And then I have to mentally slap myself because good lord Merideth you are not the center of the earth. It does not matter that you don’t get to enjoy Christmas like you used to, stop ruining it for everyone else. Let them enjoy the fact that life didn’t kick them to the curb on this one.

There’s 6 more days until I can breathe, until I can stop crying about everything, I bet you’re shocked to know I’m crying writing this post right now. For once this month they aren’t tears of sadness, well those are mixed in there, but a majority of them are tears of relief, because finally it will be over, and for 11 more months I can almost completely forget about it like I usually do.

I don’t cry, crying is not my thing, but December turns me into Niagara Falls. The whole entire waterworks plus some. Mention vanilla lotion and how it’s your favorite scent and the waterworks will begin to form because for some odd reason I can’t remember, vanilla lotion is tied into the awful nightmare that is the original December.

So decorate your trees, or your neck braces, sing your Christmas carols. Sorry I’m not overly excited to wish you a merry Christmas and whatever else festive people do now. I try my best to look enthused about the month, but I won’t lie, I’m real bad at fake emotions.

December is almost over, soon I can breathe. I can’t wait to breathe again.

“And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.” -Counting Crows

*this post was sad, and I don’t like to end things on a sad note so go ahead, I give you permission to laugh WITH ME about my glowing neck brace.

Linda is…..

There is one thing in my life that is completely predictable and routine, yet completely unpredictable all at the same time- Monday’s.

Every Monday I spend my day in Pendleton, IN. at the fire department. I have for the past 6 months, and I hope to for a long while.

It’s the only real routine in my life, and it’s kind of a saving grace. It’s the one thing I can count on. From 06:00 to 18:00 every Monday my life is the most routine it will be for my entire week, but it’s also the most unpredictable.

I can count that every Monday I will be on the ambulance in Pendleton, but what exactly my day will hold, that I’m not entirely sure.

But I know Linda will be there with me. (Unless she’s taking part in her more adventurous and social life than I live.) So unless Linda’s adventuring calls, I know I will have her by my side every Monday

I won’t lie, Linda scared the crap out of me when I met her for the first time. I questioned wether I should have listened to Gentle Giant about working here…..I had a feeling this woman was not going to like me. I was loud and had no filter, I would annoy her to the end of time.

But I was wrong, well not entirely, I’m definitely positive I annoy Linda at times almost once a week, usually more. But she has become one of the most consistent, reliable, and predictable things in my life.

She’s become my fire mom. I’ve become her fire daughter.

Linda is everything I hope to be one day.

It’s almost entirely too difficult to explain Linda to you. There just isn’t quite the exact, most perfect, combination of words.

Linda is a strong woman, she’s been through a lot in her life, but she still walks with her head held high (except for the days we both pull our backs out while lifting things together we should have left for the big fire guys with the big fire muscles to do), so unless it’s one of those days where we both walk with a slight hunch, then she walks with her head held high.

She is wise, she has decades of experience in this career, and I am beyond lucky to learn from her. She teaches me silently, she doesn’t have to physically explain her ways, she just works, and I learn by watching her ways and picking apart her reasoning.

She is patient, she puts up with me for 12 hours each week. All of my loud ramblings, my broken-brain moments, my useless rants, my hot mess of a life events, and so on, and so on. She is patient and listens, and when she can’t stand to listen to my random rant on the medical marvel that is “fetus in fetu” she nods her head and pretends to listen so that I can continue on in my ridiculous explanations and marvels at all that is science, so that my insides can feel listened to.

She is set in her ways, Linda takes no BS. I wish I was as good at this as Linda is. There is no time for BS in life, Linda will let you know, and when you’ve landed knee deep in BS, Linda will let you know. I wish I could walk out of knee deep puddles of BS like Linda can.

I’m not sure I really believe in fate, or the mushy-gushy “everything happens for a reason”. I think life happens, and sometimes in weird, mysterious, unexplainable ways, sometimes things finally work out in ways they should.

The ability to learn and be taught by Linda every Monday is one of those things.

And while we sit at McDonald’s eating our breakfast this morning, like we do every Monday morning, and tell our adventures and recap our week with drawings and explanations, I am certain that this is where I am supposed to be on Monday’s.

And not because the town of Pendleton needs me, but because I need the town of Pendleton.

I need the Linda’s in the world to be a part of my world. To remind me why I am here, why I chose the job I chose. Why I do what I do.

I used to dread Monday’s, now Monday’s are the one constant good day in my week.

I can count on Monday’s, and I can count on Linda.

Linda and I are a well oiled machine, we are a killer team, we don’t have to talk to know what the other person is going to say (except for when I’m processing things extra slow and don’t get it) we work well, and we work efficiently.

We are a true dream team. An adopted mother/daughter fire duo. We are a force to be reckoned with.

And for that I am entirely thankful, and beyond blessed.

It’s not “Seizure Girl”, it’s Merideth.

They called me “Seizure Girl”.

I haven’t had a seizure in 4+ years.

But they called me “Seizure Girl” anyways.

I’ve become very good about making light of my accident.

Joking not to fall off things or, “you’ll end up like me”.

Joking that “…..it’s the broken brain”.

But they called me “Seizure Girl”.

I’m not a very sensitive person. I mean, I used to be, but then my accident happened. I went through so many different emotions in such a short period of time. It was a rollercoaster. I got so tired of emotions, and having to deal with feeling them that I eventually told myself I was just going to stop, feeling them. That I would pretend they weren’t there.

So when jokes were made about my accident, I laughed and chimed in too. Because I wasn’t feeling emotions anymore. I was pretending they weren’t there.

I’m the underdog in life. I’m the odd one out. I’m the rare pumpkin in the patch, but not the good rare, the strange rare. I have been for five years now.

Apparently I’m the “Seizure Girl”.

You know it takes a lot of effort to not feel feelings anymore. Or rather to pretend they aren’t there.

For the last five years I’ve woken up every morning and have been reminded that I’m different.

Our society isn’t very accepting of different.

So for the last five years I’ve joined in on the jokes. In fact I make a lot of them now. Some of them even leave those around me in shock. Those that don’t know me find it odd I would laugh at myself. “She’s used to it” those that know me will say. “She doesn’t care” they add when you laugh or make your own joke about it.

They’re right, I’m used to it. But they’re wrong, I do care.

I care so much that for the last two weeks I haven’t been able to get the phrase “Seizure Girl” out of my head.

“Oh get over it” says family. “You’re better than them” says friends.

But they’ve never been the “Seizure Girl”.

Do you know what it feels like to wake up on the floor of a parking lot surrounded by people staring at you?

How about being told by an MD that there’s nothing wrong with you, that it’s all in your head?

Or even better, let’s get real vulnerable here. Being stripped in an ambulance because you’ve pissed yourself from seizing?

Telling the stranger that used the flash on their camera “it’s okay” after they’ve made you fall over?

Asking for someone to help you open the door for you after they’ve watched you try to in your wheelchair from across the hall for five minutes?

Yeah I didn’t think so. So when you try to tell me that I’m not the odd one out, or the underdog, you’re wrong.

Those things made you cringe didn’t they? They left you feeling uncomfortable didn’t they? You just thought, ‘wait that really happened to her’ didn’t you?

For some reason our society doesn’t want to hear about the ugly, they only want the good. And when they hear about the ugly anyways, they need to quickly make light of the situation, and make a joke so that they can laugh and no longer feel uncomfortable about the ugly. Well let’s face reality, there’s a lot of ugly that exists. Why are we turning our heads to the things that make us uncomfortable? This is life people. Uncomfortable things exist, and they probably wouldn’t be uncomfortable if we all stopped turning our heads and accept that they happen.

Yes I used to have seizures. It was miserable. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But I’m not going to beat around the bush and leave out the parts that were hell for me just so that you can feel better about yourself or warm and fuzzy on the inside. My story isn’t all warm and fuzzy, it’s uncomfortable and ugly too, deal with it. I’m not sorry you felt the need to give me a lousy nickname (and it really was lousy pal, you could have at least called me the fainting goat) to feel better about what happened to me, and ignore the fact that me standing in front of you makes you remember my story, and it makes you feel uncomfortable.

In the last five years I’ve been humiliated more than I could ever even begin to explain. My life is a series of random events that someway or another end up with me swallowing the feelings and stuffing them back inside.

Tell me I’m more than “Seizure Girl”. That they were wrong, go ahead. Tell me all you want. Try to make me feel better about someone else’s lousy choice of words.

At the end of the day I still will have been “Seizure Girl”. I mean they weren’t really wrong were they?

I’m also Merideth though.

And I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am.

I’m not sorry that my accident might make you uncomfortable to the point that you feel as if you need to make a joke about it to “lighten things up”.

Until you’ve been “Seizure Girl” don’t let the words, or any others of the like come out of your mouth again in reference to me.

Because the “Seizure Girl” you’re referencing is much more than that.

I hate the color pink. My favorite food is Indian. I’ve never had a pet dog. My mom and sister are my best friends. I have a cat named Tuna.Monday’s are my favorite days of the week. I’m very loud.

And I used to have seizures.

This world wasn’t made for people that are the odd ones out. It isn’t easy to wake up every morning and be reminded that you are different. No matter how many years ago my accident was I will forever have to jump through extra hoops and leap over extra hurdles just to get to where you are. People don’t understand.

But that’s okay.

I’m not the same as everyone else. That changed five years ago and it will never go back. There’s no undoing it. I got the unlucky end of the stick or whatever that saying is. I can’t forget feelings. I can’t pretend they aren’t there. Words hurt. Reactions hurt. Actions hurt.

I hope you’re reading this and I hope you regret letting the words come out of your mouth. I hope you realize that I’ve been through hell to get to where I am now. I hope you understand that people in my same position, the other “Seizure Girls” some of them are dead now. Yes I said dead, not “passed away” on purpose. Because it’s awful. This “thing” that turned me into “Seizure Girl” it’s an awful thing. I don’t need to be reminded by you that I have it. I’m not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. I mean I secretly hope that you do just a little bit (not so secret anymore.) I’m trying to get you to understand that labels don’t mean shit. That there are more to people than their diagnosis. That as strong as that person may look on the outside, there’s a very real possibility they’re falling apart on the insides.

You don’t have to have been sick to understand that someone that is deserves respect. Stop staring. Stop pointing out the differences. Stop making jokes about them. Stop treating them with special attention or extra kindness or doing that weird thing where you act completely different around me as if I’m not a human and that I’m some weird extraterrestrial creature.

I’ll joke about my broken brain when I want.

I’ll call it a broken brain because it’s how I cope.

But that doesn’t give you the authority to unless I’ve made it very clear that you may.

My name is Merideth, in case you’ve forgotten, or you don’t know, or whatever else led you to coining me “Seizure Girl”…..idiot.

I am not God.

I am not God. My job is not to be God.

Shocking, I know right. But while we are on the topic, if the big guy is out there reading and listening to my rant, let me just tell ya buddy, you sure do like to push my buttons.

Medicine is an interesting world. The job is to heal, and when we cannot heal, it is to treat, and when we cannot treat, it is to comfort, and when even comfort is not possible it is to simply be there, and to listen.

Regardless of who the patient might be.

In your everyday life you are confronted with the horrible, and the evil of this world. Most of the time through the media. But in Medicine, and particularly Emergency Medicine, it usually isn’t from the media that you are confronted with it. It is right there in front of you, real life, not behind a screen, but right before your very eyes. It is impossible to shut your eyes and ignore the evil when it is breathing, living, and surviving in the back of your ambulance.

But I am not God. My job is not to be God.

My patient, will always be my patient.

I do not decide whether they live, or they die.

I have 30 minutes with them usually at the most, and I must give them my best, regardless of where they have come from.

This is hard. Some days more so than others.

Thanksgiving morning I ran a 5k that benefitted the homeless in my city, it provided them with meals.

Thanksgiving afternoon I gave my everything in the back of my ambulance to my patients.

Thanksgiving evening I drove home with tears in my eyes upset with our world.

Our Police Officers keep our towns and cities safe from the evil in our world, Our Firefighters run into burning buildings to save our citizens in our communities. Thanksgiving evening I cared for the evil in our world. I provided my best care to someone many people would consider undeserving.

But I am not God. My job is not to be God.

I do not know why evil exists. I cannot tell you why someone would cause harm and evil on another human. I do not know, I don’t have the answers.

I knew going into this career I would be put in situations where there simply was no explanation. Nobody would be able to tell me why, there would be no answers, other than the fact that evil exists in this universe.

I recently fell in love with a tv series called ‘The Good Doctor’. The show is centered around a surgical resident who has autism. There are many reasons I love this show, but one of the main reasons being how well the trials of medicine are depicted. Two weeks ago they aired an episode called ‘Apples’, since the airing of the episode I have watched it 4 times. It is quite possibly the most brilliant episode in medical dramas to ever exist on television. It portrays the dynamic of medicine and emotion so well. It displays the balance between caring too much, and caring not enough when it comes to a patient. It just gets it right.

I’ve watched the episode 4 times not because I enjoy the show, but because I can connect so well with it. I understand the struggle in trying to distance yourself so that you don’t become attached, but wanting to make your patients aware that you do care.

In my fire station there is a framed saying on the wall that goes something like ‘what happens here, stays here, and never leaves’. I’m sure its mostly referring to the drama that is ever present in a fire station, but I know it is also referencing the things we see on a daily basis.

One of the first things I was ever told when I entered this career was to leave work at work, to never take it home with you. But anyone that slightly has a soul, will know that sometimes it is simply impossible to do.

There will always be the calls that you remember, that for some reason you can’t get them out of your head.

We would have to be robots in order to provide the exact same care every single time to every single patient, and to leave every patient feeling absolutely nothing. It simply isn’t possible. We are humans, and no matter how hard you try to swallow them or push them away, feelings will always make themselves present some way or another.

So my eyes did that gosh awful thing Thanksgiving evening as I drove home with someones homemade spice cake splattered all over my uniform. It wasn’t the spice cake that caused my eyes to water, it was the universe they were flooding for.

I am not God. My job is not to be God.

I will never be able to take the evil out of this world, neither will you.

With all of that being said though I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I wouldn’t give up the flooding eyes if it was an option.

I get to go to work everyday and be reminded of how freaking lucky we all are to get a chance at life, and that is pretty cool.

I’m Shaking at My Knees.

So I did a big thing. Well maybe not so big to you but to me equivalent to climbing a mountain…..

I made this new friend in my Physiology class this year and she is like #FriendGoals. This girl let me just tell you, I look at her and think “Um hello yes, why haven’t you been around my entire life? Why are we just now meeting?!?!” Her name is Julia. And when I say she is goals I don’t just mean like on the outside but side note, this does apply to her too because she is gorgeous, has the best style, and eyebrows I envy (I’ve got a thing for eyebrows and Jules has some great eyebrows!) but I mean on the inside too. She is strong in her faith, she knows who she is, and what she deserves, and well she just has her life together. (She might not agree or see herself as all of these things but when I think of Julia this is what I see.) She’s just #FriendGoals, okay?!?

Any-who when my new Physio BFF asked me if I wanted to do the Drumstick Dash with her (a 5-K on the day of Thanksgiving) I couldn’t say no, because well she’s my new friend, and friends do these types of things with each other…..right?

I’ve never explained the long story to Julia about my accident, I mention it in bits and pieces but I’ve never given her the real low down, low down. So yeah, I did a big thing, and now I am having some real big fears….

-One being that I haven’t ran an actual 5-K since my accident

-Two being that the words ‘Running’ and ‘Merideth’ don’t really go well together anymore. They used to, but not anymore.

-Three being that this Drumstick Dash is in 10 days…..10 DAYS PEOPLE!

Now to most this isn’t a big deal what’s 2+ miles anyway? That’s easy-peasy, that’s a stroll through the neighborhood, that’s a walk through the park! But to me….to me that is a MARATHON. That is a MOUNTAIN. That is HORROR, and FEAR, and OH MY LANTA WHAT DID I AGREE TO????

Where was my brain at when I said “sure!” like it was nothing? CLEARLY IT WASN’T LISTENING RIGHT! Instead did I hear “Do you want to go to target?” Because the answer to that is “sure!”, but to RUNNING, and more than to the mailbox? The answer to that should have been, ‘I’d rather eat the Thanksgiving pie for breakfast’.

So here I am 10 days our from what could potentially be my last day on earth. Okay you’re right that was a little dramatic but bear with me.

I grew up running. In fact I probably came running out of my mother’s womb the day I was born. I am a ‘Need-For-Speed’ kind of girl. I ran 5-K’s in elementary school kids, like we are talking 4th grade Mer, she ran 5-k’s, and no that is not an exaggeration that is an actual fact. My mom was the leader of the ‘Running Club’ in elementary school. I was a runner y’all, I was legit. I used to run for fun. And not around the playground, but like miles, FOR FUN.

And then my accident happened.

Running was no longer fun anymore. Running was hard. For a while Running was IMPOSSIBLE. I could barely walk to the mailbox. I could not run.

I am capable of running now. But I have yet to run a distance farther than a mile since my accident. And it’s not a breezy mile either. It’s a ‘oh crap why did I think this was a good idea’ mile. It’s a ‘my lungs are on fire, my legs are jell-o, I can see the light, I am going to the light’ mile. And it is not the 7.5 minute mile I once had, oh no it is a 15 minute mile, ON A GOOD DAY.

So somebody PLEASE for the love of all things good and holy PLEASE tell me why I said ‘sure!’???

There are not many things in life anymore in which I compare myself to my healthy peers. I am at a point where I am able to do just about anything my peers are able to do.

Except…..RUNNING.

One of the very few things I capability wise do not compare to my peers, I agreed to do.

Now I told myself this morning when I woke up and realized the ‘Dash’ was 10 days away that I needed to be in the gym everyday for the next 10 days or else I either won’t make it to the finish line, or I will make it there and then have a heart attack. I know very well I will not go to the gym every day for the next 10 days. I might go 3 out of the next 10 days and if I’m feeling extra motivated maybe 5 of the next 10 days.

See the funny thing is I’ve been speaking to a lot of college and graduate lecture classes recently on POTS. I usually tell my story and then do an information portion on POTS. Depending on the level of the class I grasp the extent of the medical knowledge and terminology I will use. If it’s a freshman lecture I try to stick to the basics, to explain things in the easiest of ways. However if it’s a graduate class I know I can use more medical terminology and describe things more in depth. Last week I was speaking to a class of primarily freshmen and sophomores. When I’m done speaking i always open up the floor to questions. I got a question I have yet to receive before:

“Do you have to maintain a certain lifestyle in terms of activeness with a diagnosis of POTS?” it was somewhere along those lines. – Basically she asked if I need to be more active in order to stay healthy while living with POTS.

I clenched my teeth, and bit my tongue. I thought of ways to avoid answering the question but still managing to provide her with an answer that would seem to satisfy her question, while also continuing to make me look like a model POTS patient.

And then I opened my mouth and said: “I should, but I don’t.” I went on to explain that in order for patients with POTS to experience the maximum improvement in symptoms and overall well-being it is extremely important they maintain an active lifestyle. Exercising is key to improvement. The less a POTS patient exercises the more physically drained they are going to feel. I explained that it is difficult for POTS patients to exercise because they often feel more fatigued as a result of it or have a harder time doing the activities but that in the long run they are more likely to have an increased stamina and improvement in their overall wellbeing. I then looked into the audience and said, ‘this is an area in my recovery/treatment that I don’t do so well at’, I embarrassingly grinned while I told them that maybe every other month or two I run a mile, and that I tell myself I don’t need to exercise because I lift patients and pull heavy things at work, and then I laughed and told them that really isn’t entirely true because I often leave the heavy lifting to the firefighters on both sides of me, and that with the push of a button I can load my patient into the ambulance all by myself without having to lift a thing.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t take care of myself in all aspects of my treatment. I excel in some areas and am a model POTS patient in some, such as getting adequate rest, and drinking lots of water. But I fail miserably in others, like staying physically active.

We can’t all be model patients, and I know that. I work with the way below model patients everyday, and I usually commend myself for taking good care of myself so that I don’t end up like many of my patients, who for a handful of reasons have not taken the proper care they need to for themselves. I don’t need to be a model patient, but I do need to do better, I should want to do better. I should feel a drive to take better care of myself, so that I am in return able to provide my absolute best care to my patients.

I don’t run, or at least I haven’t run in a long time, but maybe now is the time. Maybe my spur of the moment ‘sure!’ was the universe nudging me in the direction of running, so that I can better myself.

Believe me, I want to love running like I used to, to have it as a weapon to release any emotions I choose. I miss being able to run for miles and miles in whatever direction I choose.

Julia doesn’t know all of the hardships that have brought me to this day. But at the same time I don’t know hers. She might not know all the emotion that crossing the finish line will hold, all the work that has gone into making it possible for me to even run, or in my situation slow jog. But that’s okay. Not everybody has to know, this is my journey, this is my bettering of myself.

I’m thankful for my new friend, and her encouragement to help me do something that may have me shaking at my knees, but what ultimately will mean a better me.

It Wasn’t a Christmas (Halloween) Miracle.

There are a lot of inconvenient things in life: flat tires, the Flu, traffic, rain, paying rent, the list goes on, oh AND living your life out of pill bottles.

Whoever created the magical concept of medication is a genius. Without it I would be confined to my bed. However, I still hold a grudge to the fact that in order for the medications to work I must take them every day, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

For 2,125 days (approx.) I have lived out of pill bottles. And we aren’t talking take one pill and move on with my day, no, we are talking a handful of pills everyday.

I’ve found routine in it now, just like getting dressed in the morning, I must also take my medication. However, there is still the rare occasion in which I will forget, kind of like the days you walk out of the house and forget your keys. It’s an inconvenience, like getting a flat tire, or the Flu, or being stuck in traffic.

I did this the other day. Halfway to where I was going I realized I had forgotten to take my medication, and I didn’t bring them with me. I made the decision to not turn around. I knew I was going to be gone all day, but I told myself that I would be okay, that I had skipped taking them in the past before and I was fine, this wouldn’t be any different.

And it was true, I was fine.

For a while.

In fact I was fine for so long I started to think that maybe it was a Christmas (Halloween) Miracle. That somehow my brain had healed itself after 5 years. I tried not to think about the possibility for long because I didn’t want to jinx it, but as the hours went by, and I felt fine, I started to wonder more.

And then 5 o’clock hit.

I had been awake and functioning for 12 hours now without the medication when the brain fog started to creep around. Brain Fog is a very strange symptom for those that have never experienced it before. It’s one of the most common symptoms POTS patients experience, and I myself have had my fair share of it over the years. The best way I can describe it is confusion. When it happens I am aware that I am doing something, for example walking, however its hard for my brain to connect the pieces, where I am walking to, why I am walking there, etc. I complete the task, walk where I need to, and do what I need to, but it’s difficult for my brain to process the fact that I am actually doing it. It’s a feeling of confusion.

The brain fog creeped in and I realized that I was no longer fine, I mean I was FINE, I wasn’t dying, but I also wasn’t normal. I could feel the POTS, the symptoms I had once struggled with for so long, and worked so hard to make non-existent, they were creeping back. And not because my POTS was flaring, or because my treatment plan had stopped working, but because I made a choice. I chose to not turn back around. I chose to attempt to ignore something that has been un-ignorable for the last five years.

As I stood in the grocery store staring at all the different styles of canned tomatoes for ten minutes searching for ‘tomato paste’ only to realize I had been staring at it and reading it the entire time right in front of my eyes, I realized that it was not a Christmas (Halloween) Miracle. I had not been miraculously healed. The POTS had not up and left my body somehow. I read through my grocery list five more times before I actually put the pieces together and realized I had everything I needed. I checked out and thought to myself, ‘Merideth, how stubborn are you???’ ‘Did you honestly think a Christmas (Halloween) Miracle would happen 5 years later, and you would magically wake up one day healed???’

My mom was right, she always is.

She told me to turn around that morning, but I told her I would be fine. I rolled my eyes through my phone screen and called her ‘overbearing’ in my head. But she was right, she always is.

I don’t know how many times it will take me to learn this lesson. I am not sure why I repeatedly fall into this exact situation and make the same decision. I choose my plans over my health every time, as if they are more important, as if I am invincible. I am not invincible.

Maybe it’s that I’ve forgotten the pain, I mean I’m sure it is, because that’s the only logical answer. I must forget that even though I was fine for 12 hours, that for the next 12+ hours I’m going to pay for the choice I made.

I am going to regret not turning around.

I woke up the next morning as if everything was back to the way it had been. As if the day before I didn’t stumble aimlessly around the grocery store, or feel as if my brain was going to somehow just fall out of my ear. But it was too good to be true, I should have known I was ultimately going to pay for the decision I had made.

I was sitting in my lab class and I felt the headache begin to form, the ones I used to experience on a daily basis four years ago. The kind that make you feel as if your brain is non-existent because it just hurts to even think about walking. And then as I sat in lecture the nausea I had forgotten the feeling of, reappeared like an old friend. The one that used to accompany me daily four years ago. And not the upset stomach kind, but the kind where your stomach feels completely empty, yet somehow you feel as if you simultaneously are going to vomit everywhere. And as I walked to my friends car I struggled to keep up, because my legs were too weak.

I crawled in bed and wanted to hide under my pillows forever. I lied and told my mom I had a headache from the change in weather. I couldn’t tell her she was right, that I should have turned around the day before. I laid in my bed instead and felt a sense of guilt, and frustration.

Guilty because I knew the moment I realized I forgot to take my medication that I should have turned around. I knew what the right answer was, but I didn’t choose it because it would have been inconvenient. I would have been late to where I was going. I told myself I would be fine. Frustration because I have to live out of pill bottles. Because the Christmas(Halloween) Miracle didn’t happen. When I was younger I used to pray every night that I would wake up and I would be healed. I eventually realized that after three years of praying for healing, that it wasn’t going to happen and I needed to suck it up and learn to deal with it, but I still was frustrated because I thought maybe just maybe it would happen.

I am not healed. The POTS is still there. I still must live out of pill bottles.

It’s inconvenient. The whole situation is inconvenient. There is nothing convenient about not being able to maintain your health and wellbeing on your own. Heck, while we are on the topic of inconvenient things, let me hit you with a big one, falling 10 ft head first onto a solid ground, thats REALLY inconvenient.

The only convenient situation here is that I am not dead, and while I throw my pity party for myself in my bed, I can’t exactly get myself to realize the convenient things in the moment.

There was no miracle the other day. I knew all along there wouldn’t be, but I told myself otherwise.

The fact of the matter is that I have POTS, I still have POTS 5 years later. I live out of pill bottles, and will continue to live out of pill bottles. It’s inconvenient. I don’t know if this will ever change. For every year I get farther out from my accident, the likelihood of me healing increases a tiny bit sure, but not as much as the chances of me having to live with this for the rest of my life increase.

I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t healing, because I AM healing, but slowly, so slowly that it’s basically impossible to understand. Which brings me back to the day I was diagnosed, and the only words that followed after the diagnosis “this is not a sprint, this is a marathon, this is not going to take months to improve, this is going to take years, many many years”.

So maybe the other day when I didn’t turn around, when I forgot the feelings of the payback that would occur, maybe I was just testing the waters. I mean if you ask me it’s been many years. How many years was he talking about when he said many? I’m ready to get this show on the road! But I must be patient, I must learn to pick my health over my plans, which I usually do a great job at, except for the rare occasion in which I’ve decided I am somehow deserving of a Christmas(Halloween) Miracle.

It’s inconvenient to live out of pill bottles, but it’s more convenient than dying, and I do not want to die.

I have this naive idea that the day it is determined I no longer need to live out of pill bottles that I will just wake up, stop taking them, and move on with my life. But this too is another one of those stubborn thoughts. It won’t work that way. The day that I no longer need the medication to survive will be a day full of difficult withdrawal. It will be an entirely new inconvenience right before my eyes. It will be a day, and many months, and many years of training may body once again how to care for itself on its own, without the extra support. It will be inconvenient, because taking the pills would have been easier, and I’m not ready for that yet.

I didn’t get a Christmas(Halloween) Miracle, I got a slap in the face from reality. I got a ‘told ya so’ from my mom, (or at least I will within the next hour after she reads this). I got the ‘oh hey remember me’ from the POTS that still lies inside me.

And thats okay, for now, until I forget all of these things, and somehow stubbornly manage to put myself through it all again. Because that’s what it’s like 5 years out from something terrible, you hold onto the tiny tiny bit of hope you have left for improvement, and you pull it out and use it as an excuse when you’re too foolish to admit you need to turn around, to own up to the fact that you live an inconvenient life but must take the necessary steps to make it convenient anyways.

Maybe now that this is in writing I won’t forget. Maybe when I think for a second to keep going, I will remember this post, and I will turn around.

Probably to, because I’m stubborn, but it’s worth a try.

And maybe if it doesn’t remind me to turn around, it will remind you.

 

The Medical System Failed Me, and I Work in it Now. 

I am the product of a failed medical system. The process that was designed to treat those that were ill, allowed me to deteriorate for six months after suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury, before it began to heal me. I work in a failed medical system now.

You are probably thinking I am crazy, or that my wording is wrong, maybe I meant to say ‘imperfect’, and while that too is a good word to describe the medical system that I was treated in, the word failed also works, because at the end of the day when you lay it all out on the table and you look at it, truly look in depth at all the little bits and pieces, you will see that I was indeed failed by the medical system. Allow me to explain with the cold hard facts, not the opinions, or the emotions involved, just the facts. Let’s walk through this together and then let’s talk about why it happened, and how we can fix it. Not to point fingers, or blame, but to learn, because that’s really what mistakes and failures are all about, how we learn and grow from them.

October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month and one of the greatest ways to raise awareness is by learning from ways in which things went wrong. Learning the small pieces that we once before might have missed. Opening our eyes wider, and becoming more aware, so that next time we are better prepared. So that next time there is no six months of deterioration.

December 7, 2012-

  • At approximately 8 pm I fell 10 ft. out of a cheerleading stunt, and landed on a hard basketball gym floor, head first. I lost consciousness, and can not tell you exactly what occurred leading up to the fall.
  • EMS was called, I was placed into a C Collar, onto a backboard, and transported to the Adult Trauma Center in the city. (I was 13 at the time of the accident)
  • In the ED scans were done, and report was given to my dad when I was discharged only a few hours after being admitted. My diagnosis was that there were no abnormalities noted as far as a brain bleed, or any other fractures. My C-Spine was cleared. I was okay to go home, and rest. I also “most likely had a concussion”. I was sent home with a Neck Brace for comfort and told to avoid any excessive movement of my neck.

A Week After the Accident

  • I was seen by my primary care physician at my Pediatricians office to follow up after my accident. At the time of my accident it was not yet mandated that all high school athletes obtain a baseline concussion test at the start of the athletic season. Due to this I had no baseline test results to compare my current results after the accident to. 
  • A Concussion Test was performed and the results were compared to average results for a female aged 13. It was determined that my results were abnormal compared to the baseline readings of others. I was formally diagnosed with a concussion at this time.

At this time I started to develop symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and trouble focusing. All of these were dismissed as side effects of the concussion. We were reassured that once my brain had healed from the concussion these symptoms would resolve themselves.

2 Months Post-Accident (February 2013)

  • At this time after having repeated the concussion test bi-weekly, 4 times overall. It was determined that my results were most likely back to my baseline, compared to other baseline results from 13 year old females.

Shortly after being told my Concussion was resolved

  • I was still suffering from symptoms of dizziness that had manifested into actual syncopal episodes. The nausea, and brain fog continued, as did the overall weakness I suffered from.

3 Months Post-Accident (March)

  • My mom scheduled an appointment with Cardiology. I was evaluated and it was noted that I had an elevated heart rate.
  •  I was placed on a Heart Monitor for 30 days, and was instructed to record any syncopal episodes.
  • My results came back “normal” and I was diagnosed with most likely suffering from Neurocardiogenic Syncope. This is a blanket term also referred to as “Vasovagal Syncope” according to the National Institute of Health this is a title given to a person that suffers from “unexplained syncope”. This is considered a syndrome that occurs as a result of “triggering of a neural reflex that results in a usually self-limited episode of systemic hypotension characterized by both bradycardia (slow Heart Rate) and peripheral vasodilation.”

April, May, June, July

  • I continued to suffer from increased Syncopal Episodes. What started as 1-2 increased to becoming sometimes upwards of 15 on a bad day.
  • I developed what appeared to present itself as seizures.
  • I continued to end up in and out of the ER from becoming so weak due to the continued syncopal episodes, and the physical toll they had on my body. 
  • I continued to be seen by different specialties. When Cardiology found “nothing wrong” I was passed on to Neurology. Neurology assumed maybe I was suffering from a Chiari Malformation- An excess of fluid build up in the brain stem causing Vertigo. When this came back negative and nothing could be found I was sent to Endocrinology. We weaved in and out of the different health care systems in the state. There are three main health care providers, and we saw just about all of the specialties in each one. I eventually landed in an Allergists office (because that somehow made sense) and my mother was told that it was time to consider a diagnosis of Conversion Disorder- Meaning that although there was nothing physically wrong with my body, I believed there was, therefore I was causing my body to produce symptoms that had no real origin. Basically he told my mother that I was suffering from a Psychiatric Condition and it was time to accept this, and move forward in the steps of treatment for it. 
  • Sometime in July I landed in the ER again, after a work-up that once again showed I was normal we headed back home once again defeated, and in search of answers. My mom was pulled aside by a nurse on our way out who informed my mom that it wasn’t her place to inform my mom of what she was about to, and legally speaking she could get in a lot of trouble for going against the MD’s discharge diagnosis, however she had seen my chart and read up on me and was convinced that I had something called POTS, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. She was certain that this was the answer, and that my mom needed to go home and research it.

My mom did just that, which along with her research she was convinced too that this was the answer. My mom read that there were two places in the country that specialized in POTS treatment, the Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. My mom called and made an appointment for me to be seen at the Cleveland Clinic, a 5 hour drive from our home.

August 5,6,and 7th, 2013

  • We made the 5 hour journey to the Cleveland Clinic to meet with the Pediatric Neurology team. After the initial meeting a giant list of tests were explained that would need to be performed to confirm the expected diagnosis of POTS, as well as a handful of other tests to rule out associated disorders and syndromes that often go along with a diagnosis of POTS.
  • The initial one night stay turned into three. Labs were done to test just about every level under the sun. A Tilt Table Test was performed (the true diagnostic test for POTS) a QSART test was performed (also known as a Sweat Test), an EMG was performed.
  • After all the labs came back, and test results it was confirmed that I was a classic case of POTS. All my numbers showed the diagnostic criteria  for the diagnosis, and not only did they meet the criteria they were on the elevated end of the criteria, meaning I had a pretty significant case of POTS.
  • A medication outline was created. The hope was that with an increase in certain electrolytes, and a specific beta-blocker that had been known to help POTS patients, I would begin the road to recovery.

Mid August-October 2013

  • I developed what is documented in research studies as what is one of the worst noted reactions to the Beta Blocker I was placed on. My potassium levels dropped to critically low levels, a possible but very rare side effect of the medication. This caused a handful of hospital stays in itself that required IV Potassium Chloride infusions to bring my levels back from such critically low points. We are talking the 1’s and 2’s, to which normal range is 3.6-5.2.

October 2013-Mid 2015

  • Over the course of the next two years continuous medication changes occurred under the supervision of the Cleveland Clinic until the right combination of medications was reached. This was a very specific, time consuming process that took lots of patience, and tweaking but ultimately lead to a combination that allowed me the freedom of the abilities I once had.

Now I type all of this out not to point out mistakes and certain blame on specific medical professionals, if that was my intention I would have named specific providers, etc. But it’s not. Like I said the point of this is education. Now that you have all the cold hard facts in front of you let me walk you through them. Let’s look at what was done, what should have been done, and how we can further improve.

  • I was a thirteen year old. The average age that is deemed acceptable to be seen by an adult trauma center is 15 years of age. I was two years short of this. In the grand scheme of things this is not the biggest error, could thinks possibly have played out different had I been taken to a pediatric trauma center the night of my accident? Maybe. There’s a chance I would have been kept overnight for observation, maybe more would have been done as far as concussion observation, and diagnosis, but that’s really about it. This was a call made by the EMS crew for whatever reason. Maybe the pediatric trauma center was on diversion, who knows but this ultimately was not the biggest problem. Had the on call neuro peds team potentially been more prepared to evaluate an accident like mine? Maybe, but also maybe not. This one is one of the aspects that really could have gone both ways and most likely would have still provided the same outcome.
  • I was discharged within hours after my accident. This is the factor here that is more significant than my being seen at an adult trauma center. I fell ten feet head first onto a solid ground. I lost consciousness. I was still for the most part deemed a “child”. While I was conscious and alert upon my arrival at the trauma center, I was still in severe pain, and had sustained a rather traumatic injury. Being discharged only a few hours later was an amateur mistake. I should have been kept for observation. There is always potential for a brain injury to manifest itself in the hours following the event. I am no medical genius in these instances but I have come to learn quite a lot. The possibility for further swelling, or potential bleeding is still possible. Altered levels of consciousness can also arise, and other potentially dangerous symptoms can appear. I am lucky that none of these things occurred the night I was sent home, but they were all possibilities, and ones that should have more strongly been considered. It is known that the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, I still had 12 years left at that time. Extreme caution should have been taken. It was not. My dad had very little information and instructions given to him at the time of my discharge as far as things to look for and be aware of, and treatment to be used.
  • I had no baseline concussion test. This problem has thankfully been addressed and solved since my accident, however 5 years ago it was not. Had the baseline concussion test been initiated at the time, there most likely would have been more information to be obtained and further aid the understanding of the trauma my brain sustained.
  • The basics were often skipped over upon arrival at ED’s, and appointments. Instead of looking at the cold hard facts, the symptoms were looked at, and how to fix them was investigated. Instead of the thirteen year old female that sustained a traumatic injury to her brain falling 10 ft, I was the teenager that was suffering from unexplained syncope, and dizziness, who happened to have a cheerleading accident in the past (if they even made it that far).
  • Anytime Syncope was heard conclusions were made. There’s a stigma in medicine that unexplained syncope is almost always a product of a psychological problem.

It’s frustrating, and to be honest I’ve opened and worked on this blog post three separate times over the span of three weeks. Every time I get a little bit further in typing out the explanation and then it gets too much and I have to stop and come back to it at a different time.

It’s frustrating because all the explanations were right there in front of the 50+ medical professionals I saw in the span of 6 months and none of them found it. For whatever reason it got looked over. 

I get frustrated typing about it because the truth is it was so simple, it was there in big bold letters, but it got looked over.

I hit my head from a 10 foot fall. When my head landed on the hard surface first it caused my brain to shift inside my skull, causing the concussion. When my brain shifted the trauma affected my autonomic nervous system, located where most of the force centralized in my brain. This caused autonomic distinction, POTS. All of the symptoms: Brain Fog, Syncope, Systematic Overload of Senses, Nausea, etc. the Autonomic Nervous System controls all of this. 

This wasn’t rocket science. This didn’t take a genius to understand. Even myself figured it out and pieced the puzzle together. They could have too, but they opened up my chart and they saw words like conversion disorder, psych case, etc. and I got looked over.

Their diagnosis of ‘psych case’ turned me into a psych case. 

I got so tired of being told that there was nothing wrong with MY OWN BODY. That the feelings I was feeling and the symptoms I was experiencing weren’t true that the though of living became more painful than the thought of dying. 

I used to close my eyes at night and secretly pray to the god I had stopped believing in that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.

It was physically draining, but the emotional toll it took on my body was so much worse. 

I still have problems to this day emotionally. I have a hard time accepting that it’s okay to feel how I feel. Expressing emotions is even more difficult because I became so used to keeping them in.  

All of this happened because of a failed medical system. You might think that all of what I felt was dramatic but the sad truth is that is just the very condensed version of it.

Those six months were hell.

But I don’t blame the medical professionals. It’s not their fault. Could they have spent more time ruling out every tiny thing, yes they could have but they would have gotten reprimanded, they were taught to treat and send off. There’s always going to be another patient. There isn’t enough time to rule everything out on everyone.

The problem isn’t the medical professionals it’s the medical system. It’s designed to take a patient, strip them of everything that makes them an individual with feelings and a story. To replace all of that with a barcode number and a list of symptoms. You’re no longer Merideth who was involved in a difficult traumatic accident, you’re patient 257 who’s experiencing syncopal episodes.

The problem is that we’ve become accustomed to this. We’ve allowed ourselves to adapt this form of practicing medicine. It’s more efficient which brings in more revenue. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve caught myself practicing medicine this way and I will forever be ashamed of it.

I could speak for days on this topic, I have so much to say. I will leave it at this for now, medical professionals be the change for the better. Go into things with a clear head, listen to your patients, follow your gut, and advocate like hell for them. Don’t throw them into a category they are an individual. Don’t give up on them. And patients, nobody knows your body better than you do. Whatever you do, don’t give up. There is a light at the end.