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How a Parent Copes?

Article posted on Wednesday, June, 16th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

It started immeadiately…but then didn’t go away easily. While we were in the hospital, I really didn’t get much sleep. A couple of hours a night at best, and maybe a little dozing in the chair now and then. It just becomes part of the routine, so when you get home and still don’t sleep, it doesn’t feel abnormal.

The problem was that every time I closed my eyes, I saw a slide show from that infamous night in the hospital when Neely’s life was hanging by a thread. I heard the voice of the nurse that checked on us that night, over and over in my head. I couldn’t stop reliving the tragedy, and I couldn’t stop thinking. Thinking about new questions to ask, things that we should try, tests that we should ask for…the list went on and on.

You might think that worry about the future was part of the equation. But we were so focused on surviving the moment that we didn’t even have time to consider the future. We were literally living in the moment and it felt like time stood still.

I’m sure these are things that every parent (or person for that matter) feels after a traumatic event. There are names for it…..Acute Stress Reaction, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or Anxiety Disorder just to name a few. I guess the diagnosis depends on how long the symptoms linger. I’ve felt angry, anxious, panicked, emotion-less, helpless, and I’ve also relief. The list goes on and on and the symptoms come and go without warning.

Our second day in the pediatric-ICU, my sister brought me a journal. I’ve always been a writer (privately) and writing down what had happened to us each day became my sanity. I wrote down every mediaction, IV changes, quotes from doctors and nurses, questions that I asked or wanted to, concerns that I had, and progress that Neely made. Every detail of our experience is documented in my journals. (Some of the entries are posted here)

So telling our story accurately became a very easy thing to do. What I didn’t expect was the relief that I would feel every time that story gets told. With each new blog post, flyer, news article, and conversation I am slowly regaining the ability to close my eyes without seeing that slide show. That’s my progress. It’s how I cope. And I hope you will help me share this story.

Make sure you know your doctor and know what to look for when you are choosing a pediatrician.

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