Cancer · Chemo mom · Childhood Cancer · Family · Histiocytosis · liver disease · Motherhood · Parenting · pediatric cancer · PTSD · Uncategorized

Breakdown of a PTSD Attack for this Chemo Mom

Let me preface this post with this:  Vivi is fine.  My gut says that she’s just teething and in a growth spurt cause she’s eating so much and losing tummy weight and walking now. She has no real symptoms of anything more than normal baby growth stuff.

I had a bad PTSD day yesterday that still lingers.  A BAD one.  It had a pretty bad trigger, so yeah, it makes sense that it was hard.

The trigger was my littlest.  I have three kids.  My oldest is my Histio Hero, my Cancer Warrior, and she’s 8 and doing well despite liver damage and weak bones.  We have a 2 year old son, who seems to bounce back from anything and rarely is sick or even bothered by anything.  But my littlest, Vivi, turns a year this month. And she’s been the source of my recent triggers. Not for anything that’s her fault at all.  She’s a delightful baby.  Such a lovey.  I’m the broken one.

It’s just that she looks soooo much like her big sister used to when she was a baby.  Vivi’s a normal baby, healthy baby. But yesterday she started something new.

She played REALLY hard and got really tired quickly.   Couple that with the fact that we probably let her go too long between meals while she was playing.  She was hungry AND tired.  Lethal combo.  OH, and she has the mother of all molars coming in in the back of her mouth, so her mouth hurts.  Add it all up and once she started getting fussy, we tried to feed her solid food.  But she was too tired to try that, and was having none of it.  Then we tried a warm bottle and she fought it.  She was too tired and wanted to sleep but was too hungry to sleep, but her mouth hurt so the bottle hurt…  She.Wouldn’t.Stop.Crying.

BAM!  I flashed back 8 years, rocking Sophie, not knowing what’s going on, not knowing how to make her comfortable and how to make it stop and Panic.Hit.Like.A.Brick.  Thinking “something is wrong and I don’t know what to do for her and no one is listening and I can’t stop it.”  My eyes wandered her looking for an eczema rash. I was tempted to take her diaper off to look for blood.  I had to stop myself from doing a head to toe on her, which would have just made her more angry and would have made Dan question my sanity.

Lucky for me, I had Dan with me. He kept telling me that she was just too tired and too hungry and that she was okay.  He kept saying “She’s not vomiting all the time and her poo is normal and she doesn’t have a rash” trying to calm me.  I kept saying “Something’s wrong!  I can’t calm her!  Something’s WRONG!”  I think he saw the wild look in my eye as I was trying to hold it together while rocking her.  I think he realized I wasn’t holding it together.

Eventually we got her calm.  It took a low dose of Ibuprofen (for the teething pain) and I was able to coat the binky in the little bit of medicine that dribbled out of her mouth (she likes the flavor), so she was trying to suck the flavor off of the binky.  Then, all stealth-like, I pulled out the binky and stuck in the warm bottle and SHE ATE IT.  Once her tummy was full she went down and life was good, but GOD HELP ME, I was not good.

Once Dan took her to put her in her crib, I stood up and walked to the hallway.  My legs felt like wet noodles.  I was shaking.  My eyes were burning with the feeling of tears I wanted to shed but I was fighting.  I still kept hearing her crying even though she was asleep.  I still had that panicky, tight-chest feeling like something was wrong and I couldn’t stop it and I couldn’t help her and I couldn’t… I just couldn’t.  My arms felt tight, like I couldn’t unclench my biceps or shoulders or jaw.

Dan came out of the bedroom and hugged me and I lost it.  Clinging to him and crying.  I only cried for a few minutes.  Dan is my calm in the storm, always has been.  But this one was hard.

Last night, I woke up in physical pain after a long night of nightmares.  Bombs going off.  Trains running into walls (I don’t know… random horrible stuff).  A thunder strike around 1:15 a.m. woke me with a start in the middle of a bombing raid dream.  I was holding Vivi (yes, we cosleep… we try not to, but I gotta sleep sometime and a screaming baby in a crib 12 inches from my face is not conducive to sleep). I just tightened my grip around her and fell back to sleep. My back and shoulders physically ache today to the point of using a heating pad most of the morning.  I have had such stomach acid that the antacid meds aren’t taking the edge off.  Not even with lots of milk.  I’ve been short, and tired, and not the nicest person today.

And Vivi’s had an interesting, slightly panic-inducing day.  She spent a huge chunk of today sleeping again.  Had another one of those “I’m too hungry to sleep, too sleepy to eat” scream fests that led me to the edge this afternoon. I didn’t fall of the edge, but I’m still wound so tight I could spit corkscrews right now.  But as I type this she’s running around the room playing with her plastic kitchen spatula and Archer’s R2D2 backpack that beeps when you touch it.  She’s playful and sweet and laughing when Sophie makes her laugh.  She’s normal Vivi.  Sophie, when she was little and sick, NEVER had this happy baby behavior.  So I know she’s okay.

But I’m still broken.  This is what my PTSD looks like today, people.  It might be different tomorrow.  It sucks.  So if you deal with me when one of my little ones is sick or even a little off, please tolerate my crazy.  It’s not something I can help.  Sorry.

2 thoughts on “Breakdown of a PTSD Attack for this Chemo Mom

  1. Thank you so much for sharing so quickly after your episode, I have a blog and I have had quite a few experiences that I should have put in there but I havent sat down to write, so thank you so much for sharing! I am also a post cancer ptsd cancer mommy. so thank you 🙂


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