Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Other Side of Catatonic

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the ER.  Anxiety had put me in a catatonic state, and when I realized I had been sitting motionless in my car outside Starbucks for 45 minutes, I thought perhaps I was in over my head.

Panic and anxiety win sometimes. They're tough competitors.

I don't really remember very much of the day, which my therapist says is terribly unfortunate, since she was having a really good hair day.  (I adore her.)

I do remember some things, like the isolating feeling of hearing conversations happening around me, and my inability to engage.  People asked me questions. I couldn't answer.  They talked about me, around me, over me. 

I could only communicate with my eyes. 

My mom understood that language.  She said to me, as I lay gowned on the gurney behind the curtain, "I know you're thankful, Sweet Pea.  I can do this as long as you don't look at me that way.  Tricia, please.  I know.  You don't need to tell me." 

I looked away because I was making her cry.

My parents communicated well on my behalf, as this is their story too.  And most of the nurses, administrators, and physicians assistants talked exclusively to them.

Except for one doctor.  The Chief Resident.  He talked straight to me.

He pulled a stool next to the bed, he took my hand in his, and he looked at me.

"Hey," he said so gently, "I hear you're having a bad day, Tricia.  I hear you had an episode outside Starbucks.  I hear you have a broken heart.  We're taking care of you.  We're going to help you."

He didn't feel my pulse, listen to my heart, or check my vitals.  He just talked to me.  And I could only look at him.

If ever I have reason to visit someone who is in a coma, I will talk directly to that person.  I will hold her hand.  Because it's really, truly possible that she will be able to hear me. 

16 comments:

Jaimie said...

I hate anxiety. I'm sorry.

my3boys said...

It breaks my heart that yours is broken. I'm crying today for the days when you just can't. Much love, and always, always, many prayers.

Sally said...

That doctor learned something in medical school (or somewhere) that others have not learned. So thankful that he was there to minister to you! I'm passing along this link to a friend who is in medical school...

Anne Bosworth said...

I believe precisely the same thing, Tricia. You cannot imagine. But actually you can, and I am beyond grateful for this precious bread crumb of grace that has been handed to me through you this morning. If I didn't believe that God helps the important words break through the coma and into the heart and mind, I seriously would not be able to wake up (or be interested in waking up) even one more day. ~ Anne

Big Red said...

The chief resident was truly a gift from God...grasping your hand and looking in your eyes reached your heart. Love it that our God is a heart guy.

thewonderfulhappens said...

what a kind, kind man.

Emily Kaye said...

It brings tears to my eyes. I'm so glad that doctor was so compassionate and set aside all the checklists just to care for you. Prayers surround you!

Melinda's Stories said...

Hi Tricia,

We have never meet, I live on the other side of the world. I follow your blog religiously. Thank you have taught me so much. I work in an ED. I forget that the bodies on all those beds are people who have stories. You in this post have made me a more compassionate woman.

Take care
Melinda

GINA said...

Oh Tricia. I wish I could make it better for you! My heart hurts for you! You are in my prayers. Oh..I know 509 people tell you that every day and you are still suffering! But I will pray for you anyway! And I will ask Jesus to carry you! With much love from a sister!

Honeycutt Family said...

I'm so sorry that panic and anxiety won out that day. Hope you're doing "better"??? Ugh--that feels so lame to say, right?!
I hope I run into you one day. I live in Littleton and whenever I'm around HR, I wonder if I might see you. I promise to try to look you straight in the eyes. :)

Amber said...

May I reccomend something to you that really helped me with my stress and grief when I was going through a bad divorce? It's a guided meditation/relaxation cd that I listened to at bedtime. It was very calming. I don't know how it worked, but it did. It really helped me - in fact I still use it if I have a stressful day. It's called "A Guided Meditation for Healing Trauma" - here's the link if you use amazon - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1881405230 . Hope you feel better soon.

~H~ said...

I found that out firsthand when a as a teen a friend of mine was put into a coma...she'd become agitated but a person holding her hand and talking to her could calm her heart rate and help her relax. So glad this Dr. found YOU in the midst of everything.

April said...

Once again, your entry has made me emotional. I have felt that panic and that anxiety...not the same situation, but I have felt it. Thank you for sharing your experience. I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone, but it also helps to know we're not alone out there. I admire your courage and honesty more than you'll know.

Maryellen said...

Tricia, My husband died of brain cancer exactly 6 months ago. I so get what you are saying. Actually, catatonic would be nice sometimes. I too have panic attacks and they are perhaps the most terrifying and debilitating condition I know. The waves of fear over what tomorrow brings. Over whether anyone really is in control here. Yesterday was one of those days that knocked me to my knees and on those days keeping the panic at bay is a full time job. Thank God for Xanax! Anyway, your blog really blesses me because I read my life so often here. Sadly, my youngest is now 19 which leaves me with the daunting question, "What is my purpose?" All I ever wanted was to be a wife and a mother and now both of those are nearly gone. What next? Big questions that tumble around in there and scream at me at the most inopportune moments. Please know that you are not alone in this grief. We here you. Like in Horton Hears a Who, we are yelling "We are here!". God is not done writing our story. You can read me at gracetickets@blogspot.com

Much love, Maryellen

Renia Flaishans said...

Your post just made me cry so hard! This is exactly what I did when my grandma was passing away. I just sat and talked to her as if noone else was around. I rubbed her hand as she laid there so peacefully. I told her how beautiful she was and how much I loved her. I just talked to her. I cherish that time SO much! I think about it often. Thanks for sharing Tricia. I am gonna head to take her flowers to the cemetary and tell her once again how much I love her.

Kristi said...

I've been so close to this state in my life. Have never walked your road. I do fear it sometimes. I know anxiety well...and I hate it for you. This post just broke me for you. Praying I might carry at least some of your burden today. How many times I've prayed for just a smidgen of relief. I read recently....when we are at the end of our rope, we can feel the hem of His garment. My prayer for you right this second...is that you get a handfull of His garment to see you thru!!!