Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beeps

There is a lot of beeping going on in the waiting area I'm occupying.  No one seems to be concerned about it.  Half the people don't even seem to be aware of it.  It stops for a moment and then there it is again, loud and annoying and piercing my heart.


The time lapse between the screeching is variable.  Sometimes I get more than a minute of peace.  Sometimes I don't.  The tone is just painful enough that I have to cover my ears.  Typing to you is impeded.  Another reason to be annoyed.


It's the same sound that the monitors in my room in the ICU made.  Insistent.  Demanding attention.  Sounding the alert.  I'm wondering where the TSA or the LAPD or the Southwest maintenance people are hiding.  They are certainly not racing to the source of the noise.


I am no longer able to separate the sound from the emotions I feel.  Sirens bring me right back to the Safeway parking lot.  I'm cold and I'm lying on the ground and Christina's bright eyes are staring back into mine.  The sound may stop; my visions linger.


Big Cuter used to love to hear the ambulance sirens going by; I'd drive home the long way, past the row of hospitals and nursing homes, hoping to increase his chance to point and smile and laugh.  I'm not sure I'm going to be doing the same thing for my still-to-be-conceived grandchildren.  


Dropping cutlery sends sweat shooting out of my pores.  Flop-Sweat we used to call it.  I don't know why.  Big beads of perspiration trickling down my back and my forehead and my armpits for no real reason.  My self is anxious even as my conscious mind is at peace.  


Surviving a mass shooting is a noisy, chaotic business.  I'm able to watch tv and not flinch at the gunshots by now, and that is progress.  But the suffering victims put me over the edge.  I'm back to watching with my hands in front of my face.  


Crying babies, incensed parents, fuming customers, angry delayed travelers - their fury feeds the piece of me which is madder than I have ever been.  They stoke the fire and tend the flames and I am gritting my teeth and scrunching my cheeks and clenching my jaw and just try to ask me a question..... or perhaps you had just better wait for another time.


The real world is full of sounds which I can no longer ignore.  I don't know why I am surprised by the strength of my reactions, but I am.  It seems that the bullet holes were not the only manifestations of the injury which has been done to me.  


Damn.

10 comments:

  1. Oh, dear. PTSD has made you--temporarily, I fervently hope--an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person; it's a "real" designation and can be googled). Basically, it means you're hypervigilant, and that is totally un-fun. I think of it as walking around with my coping meter at the full peg point at all times, which means that any additional stressors flood me with adrenalin that can't be easily dissipated.

    Damn, indeed. I don't believe it's a permanent state. I've never known it to be. About as enjoyable as chewing gravel in the parking lot. I'm sorry, honey. May it go away soon.

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  2. I agree with Nance, hopefully it won't bother you soon. But in the meantime, is there any sort of mental exercise you can do to stop the anxiety? I get very anxious when I smell ginger. I had a lot of it when I was pregnant with my first child and just the thought or smell of it makes me nauseous.

    I'm not going to say to try and block out the sounds 'cause I know that's impossible. There are going to be sounds, smells and interactions with other people that are going to remind you of that horrible day. It's inevitable. but maybe there is something you can do to not make it so hard on you? I've never suffered a tragic event like you have; so I'm not really certain what to say. :(

    My heart aches for you though...


    Megan xxx

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  3. I fervently hope it is temporary also. But it is all understandable.

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  4. Never having had an experience like you have gone through, I can understand how it would be and yet not at the same time. It seems like our culture is so attuned to violence right now that even if a person hasn't had something like that,it's a tough time. I read the papers online, see some of the stories and it just goes through me with the horror as I imagine it being my family or someone I love. I don't know if it was always this way and I just didn't know or see it so much, or if we are entering a very very different era..

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  5. I walked around in states of hyper-vigilance for far too many years. I understand some of what you are feeling. I'm sorry you are experiencing this.

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  6. It's annoying but not debilitating. It interferes with my attempts to ignore the fact that this happened to me and that irritates me the most.
    a/b

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  7. Ashleigh,
    It has been a while, but I saw this and wanted to respond. Oh boy, the PTSD thing really stinks and I truly hope these responses temporary. I, obviously, have never been where you are now - but the physiological response to sound I have some familiarity with. For quite a while following my cardiac arrest I struggled with certain pitches of sound. They made me jump, they grated my nerves and it was frustrating that it didn't appear to impact anyone else. A friend mentioned that her father who had also had a similar event also struggled. 13 years later it has subsided. Of course, this isn't the same so probably absolutely useless to regale you with. Thinking of you and making no beeping sounds.

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  8. We humans are so much more complex than we think we are. There is so much more going on in our bodies than we are even aware of.
    Thinking of you, it must be very frustrating and overwhelming at times.

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