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My Medical Trauma Made Me Feel 'Unwanted'

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I am not entirely certain that I want to keep sharing my story, but something tells me it still deserves to be heard. So, here I am, sitting in my room at 11 p.m. The house is completely quiet, yet my mind is still running. I think it’s time I start writing again because no one gets to take my voice or tell my story. The truth is, though, I don’t really know where to begin, only that it’s hard to enjoy surviving when you feel like neither heaven nor Earth want you.

• What is PTSD?

In February 2018, my stoma got infected, but doctors could not agree on whether it was infected so the next thing I know, a month has gone by and I am being admitted to the hospital with sepsis. Trust me, it gets better. A nurse had to advocate for me and push to have me admitted to the hospital because an ER doctor had already sent me home once before. Then, the first night on IV antibiotics in the hospital, my throat started to close on me. Atypical anaphylaxis. However, due to the atypical nature of my allergic reactions, doctors did not believe me or listen to me. They ended up refusing me any kind of treatment and blamed it on me, stating “patient is resisting treatment” to label me a psych patient. My infectious disease doctor even took Mom aside and tried getting her to admit to the psych ward against my will, so that they could force the very treatment on me that was sending me into anaphylaxis.

I still do not understand why I did not die because there has not been a single day in the last two years that my surviving has felt like a good thing. At first, I tried to think about it as a blessing, but the flashbacks would not let up. Reliving the worst, scariest, most painful moments of my life repeatedly for months at a time hurt. The medical trauma would not let up.

“You shouldn’t have survived childhood.”

“You shouldn’t be alive today.”

“You should just give up.”

“I can’t help you.”

The words echoed from various doctors’ mouths and left me with the resounding thought of: “You’re too far gone and not worth fighting for.”

The comments didn’t stop there; in fact, they continued. Doctors throwing their hands up in surrender:

“You’re wasting my time.”

“You should just stop fighting.”

And, “It’s all in your head.”

More echoed comments from doctors’ mouths, as they played hot potato with my care or shut me down altogether.

The reality is, I know I’m worth fighting for, but I certainly don’t feel like I am. In the same way, I don’t think Earth even wants me here anymore, though I know that’s not true. There may only be a handful of people who would miss me if I were gone but there are still people who would miss me, so this statement cannot be true. The problem is: because I didn’t die when they said I should have, I started to think that heaven doesn’t want me either and that I’m invisible and can’t die, which leads to thoughts of self-harm, among other things. I know these statements are not true, but they are what I think about.

These last two years have been a nightmare. One guy told me I was the one for him. He told me he wanted to spend his life with me, but it seems he couldn’t handle me. One month is all it took for him to find someone else. There was no fighting for me, yet I was supposedly the one he wanted to spend his life with. My mind goes a million miles a minute. Pain, anger, frustration, feelings of worthlessness. I wonder if he even knows how much he hurt me, but the truth is, that is only the tip of the iceberg for me.

The truth is, after he hurt me, I got sepsis, underwent emergency gallbladder surgery, went into anaphylaxis, my blood sugars dropped dangerously low, I experienced surgical complications and underwent a second surgical procedure, my liver and digestive tract put up one heck of a fight, and I developed an enlarged aorta… but of all things, I did not die.

And I think nothing could have prepared me for this anger, frustration, jealousy, guilt, shame, survivor’s guilt, separation anxiety and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but here I am, fighting. No — surviving. And I will continue to fight for every ounce of space I take up on this planet because for some reason I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me and I know that my faith will sustain me. More than this, I know that my life has a purpose and that I am not a waste of space. How do I know this? Because even as I edit this piece three months later, I am filled with hope and starting to feel more like myself every day.

Of all the things I have learned from this trauma, the most important thing to remember is that it is OK to feel whatever way I feel. If I am easily angered or extremely irritable one day, it is OK, and this will pass. This is the reality of trauma and it will take time to fully heal. That is OK. Most of all, I do not need to apologize for surviving. My survival is nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about because I am exactly where I am needed right now. If you are feeling this way at all, if you are recovering from trauma in your life, know that you are not alone. You do not need to have it all together right now and it is perfectly fine to feel whatever you are feeling. Jealousy, guilt or survivor’s guilt (to name a few feelings) do not make you a bad person. We are survivors through and through. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than the soul of a fellow survivor gaining their beautiful wings and learning to fly again. We have got this.

Photo by Duncan Shaffer on Unsplash

Originally published: June 15, 2020
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