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I Can't 'Get Over' the PTSD From My Child's CHD Surgery

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I wanted to write. I thought I could really do it. But, I’m still at a loss. I haven’t written in months. Lots and lots of months. Maybe it’s because I’ve been all cried out. Wrung out. Tired out. Burnt out.

• What is PTSD?

In the past, I’ve written. I’ve written a lot. It was my salvation. It was cathartic. I’ve voiced my concerns, thoughts and fears. But this time, I just don’t have it. I still don’t know what to say.

It’s taken me months — close to 11 — since my son’s surgery to find the words. And even now, it’s hard. I don’t know where to start. There’s so much I want to say, but I can’t get there. I’m still wrestling with my feelings. I still don’t have clarity. And that’s hard.

People think because his surgery is over that we’re all just fine now. Almost like it never happened. And that’s OK. I don’t want my son to be considered fragile or broken; he’s not. Far from it.

But, just for the record, I’m not always fine. I have triggers. And they are everywhere. The immediate anger is gone, but it’s always there just below the surface. It sits dormant with the mental and emotional scars that I will have for all of my days.

People have told me I’m strong. I’m not. I’m a con artist. I’m good at faking the strength. I’m just a regular mom who happens to be in complete awe of her son. How could I not be? If there is any strength, it’s a byproduct of watching him.

I get in my own head quite a bit. Sometimes I think people don’t realize how serious and severe my son’s surgery was. They see the young man in front of them now. The one whose restrictions are gone. The kid who’s back to being with his teammates and cracking dirty jokes with his friends.

It’s easy for others to forget what happened last November: “We are now on bypass.” Translation: my child was living on a machine. I mean, what?! — a machine was literally the only thing keeping my child alive.

They don’t remember the setbacks. The internal bleeding. His physical pain. His depression. They don’t know how scared we were that his body was giving out. And then one day, things changed.

These are some of the things that crawl into my head. It’s no wonder I’m still struggling. Maybe that’s the point of this post. That I’m not fine. I’m never fine.

This is supposed to be about congenital heart defects (CHD), and it is. This is just another aspect of it that most people don’t know about or talk about: the PTSD parents experience.

For us, this is life. This path winds and weaves with plenty of ups and downs. The road never ends.

In time, I will get my writing mojo back. And I will advocate. I will haunt. I will strive to be the strong mom I’ve convinced everyone I am. I will be unrelenting.

And I know this because my motivation is the amazing young man I see every day. Time will never heal Josh’s heart, but it will — at least temporarily — repair my wounds.

Just wait.

Thinkstock image by Medioimages/Photodisc

Originally published: October 9, 2017
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