Chemo mom · children · Daughters · Motherhood · pediatric cancer · PTSD · Uncategorized

Flashbacks are a THING.

For those who don’t know, something like 20-30% of parents with children that suffer from chronic illnesses or severe diseases suffer with PTSD.
PTSD can surface in many different ways, including unexplained frustration, anger, sadness, anxiety, deep depression, issues with going into public, problems with noise, weight gain or loss, and flashbacks.
And honey, let me tell you, flashbacks ARE A THING.
Tonight I was in the kitchen and Vivi and Archer were in the living room. I needed a second because they were just being so loud and my head already hurt and I just needed a breath. So I wasn’t out there with them when I heard them fighting over some toy or something and then a crash and Vivi WAILED.
I ran out to find her sprawled in the toys on her tummy, shocked still and screaming, then she rolled to her side and grabbed her left leg.

When Sophie was 15 months old she’d been on chemo for 7 months. Her bones were thin and weak and she slipped… on a crayon…. and down she went. Crash onto the floor, rolled to her side and grabbed her leg.
In Sophie’s case, her leg was BROKEN from twisting her ankle one direction when her little body went the other. Broken… for a less than 12 inch fall from standing to lying on the ground as an undersized 15 month old… 

The diagnosis and recovery for that was one horrible fiasco after another with malpractice and weeks of recovery and my 15 month old going back to crawling for months. She’s okay now.  It’s just something that sticks with you, that kind of pain and not being able to stop it.
So tonight, I think I screamed and lunged for Vivi. All I could think was her little leg was broken.  It got a little puffy on the outside of her thigh, and two weird circles and some bright red streaks showed up where she landed, HARD, on one of the 8,125,619,345,659 toys strewn across the floor.  We seriously need to rethink the toys these kids have.

I rocked her and thought “This isn’t Sophie.  She’s not on chemo. She’s not got a broken leg.  She’ll be okay.”  It was a mantra I kept repeating as I stared at her as she got up and wobbled and limped and I cringed and pondered calling 911.   Seriously, people.  For a baby falling, I was thinking ER and ambulance ride.  My handy-dandy nurse-husband was at Girl Scouts with the bad-ass Empress herself.

So this is what PTSD does to a mother’s brain.   I have spent the last three hours talking myself down and checking her over and over and over.  She’s going to have some weird toy shaped bruise tomorrow.  But she’s walking fine and laughing normal and I’m still so messed up that I stood in the bedroom a minute ago and just sobbed while Dan held me as he kept saying “her leg’s okay.  I finally said “You can say that until you’re blue in the face.  My anxiety attack isn’t going away because she’s okay.  It’s here because she might not have been and I wasn’t there and it could have happened again and there’s nothing rational about it.”   And that’s the thing.  I GET that she’s fine.  I GOT IT when she fell and I Was holding her.  The anxiety is not there because I was scared for her health… mostly…  It’s there because my brain keeps replaying all the horrible things that HAVE happened in the past and wondering if I missed something or if it could be happening again and I am just too stupid/slow/negligent/bad of a mother to pick up on it.  And so i have to go check her leg again.  For the 2857 time in the last three hours.  Wake her up to look at her perfect little bruised but okay skin.

I can’t imagine how bad it must be for a soldier or marine that’s gone to war, if this is what it does to me and I’ve never left my cushy existence except to fight cancer.

I’m so exhausted.   That’s what these attacks do.  I’m wiped and need to sleep for a week.  PTSD sucks rocks.

Oh, and Vivi’s okay.  Mommy’s a little touched in the head, but my baby girl is alright.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s