This is where I am…PTSD

Once in a while, you have to put the craziness into words just to stay sane. It’s been a long and difficult few months for me, since a fateful day in mid-October when my car crashed hard into another vehicle when it crossed in front of me with no warning, after failing to yield at an intersection. It was barely more than a year after losing my darling mom, and ironically I was on my way home from the hospital where she died, after visiting with her best friend who had been admitted the day before. I’d spent eight hours the previous day with mom’s friend, taking her first to her doctor, then directly to the ER, where I waited with her until she was admitted for cardiac care. On my way home, a woman who turned 92 years old a couple of weeks ago, came sailing through a four-way stop and crossed in front of me. She was going at such speed I never had time to even hit my brakes, I simply crashed head-on into the side of her car.

The nightmare began, and is still going on. I thought maybe it was time to let everyone know some of the effects it’s had on my life these past months because I’ve gotten very behind on obligations, and not only that, I’m not the same person I was six months ago. As a result of this collision, I have failing short-term memory, often not being able to recall things that happened only yesterday. I’m seeing a psychologist for the first time in my life and have been told this is trauma related and hopefully will right itself in time. I signed a couple of contracts for books today, and I couldn’t even remember the names of the stories that were to go into the sets–they are less than two years old, and I have no recollection of the stories, the characters, or the titles. Without files to tell me what I’ve done, those books are a mystery to me. Deadlines come and go, often without me being aware of it now. I miss blogging days, can’t remember names, and can’t recall phone numbers. A lot of times, I don’t even get my medical appointments correct and arrive early or late, and that after checking them multiple times.

One of the things that has been most difficult for me is the attitude of the other driver. At the time of the accident, she blamed me on the spot, and to this day has not ever asked if I am/was all right. Paramedics were on the scene a half hour after the accident, to tend to me because I could barely stand up. She went on to lie to her insurance company, denied any culpability, and all she had to say to me that day was “Do you have insurance?” She walked away from this crash with no injury. She was charged at the scene, but told her insurance company she wasn’t at fault, which delayed things until I was so angry I contacted the police and they confirmed what the police officer at the scene had told me. I spent the evening in the ER, and the doctor who treated me told me to get a lawyer and file a lawsuit, he was fully prepared to stand by the assessment he made of my condition.

It took an entire month to get my car back on the road, and the cost was over $10,000. I drove two rental vehicles, and I’m still nervous behind the wheel of my own restored and repaired vehicle. The car was pulled slightly, but being a fairly new car with less than 5000 miles on it, the insurance company wanted to repair rather than replace. I carried insurance that made repair costly because everything had to be put back to showroom perfect, no after-market or certified parts, only manufacturer parts directly from Honda. With all that was done, I still freeze for a few seconds every single time I use the intersection where this took place, I can feel the tension and my heart pounds with fear for a few moments. I have to use this intersection every time I go anywhere, it’s close to my home. I was a relaxed and confident driver, this will take some time to reclaim, too, it seems. Invisible injuries can cripple as much as those readily apparent at a glance.

So my car is fixed, but my body is far from repaired. My injuries continue to be treated, and may end up causing permanent issues. My back suffered severe whiplash from the neck to the lower spine, with trauma at the lowest part of the back resulting in compressed vertebrae. I had pre-existing arthritis that was exacerbated dramatically by the collision, and instead of one knee being out of whack, now both cause constant pain. Add to this the emotional trauma, and you begin to understand why I’m a mess at the moment. I’ve been in physiotherapy three times a week since the end of October, and that may be on-going for months more. Massage therapy has been added to try to undo the mess that is my back muscles, and the therapist has used the word “mess” to describe the shape my back is in. I’m on painkillers daily, and have no sane sleeping schedule anymore because I never know when I’ll be able to rest and when I’ll be up most of the night, making work impossible.

My life is presently a series of appointments with therapists, doctors, and a clinical psychologist. When I can squeeze in a free day, I have to do the normal things that go with day to day life, stuff like shopping, laundry, and other exciting things like that! In terms of writing, with my back and knees in continuous pain, I seldom spend more than a half hour at a time in front of the computer, it simply hurts too much to sit here. (This post is being done at intervals throughout the day.) So, it’s safe to say that any new writing is taking much longer than it should, when I can focus enough to do it at all.

I know I am no longer reliable, despite my best efforts to get things done when I promise them. I am truly afraid that I will never again be able to do things the way I consider right and professional. I’m scared, and that angers me because I was never afraid of anything before this happened. It goes beyond cars and pain, and it’s settled into the core of who I am these days. I’m tired, and I disappoint myself on a regular basis because I know I’m not doing the things I normally do with ease.

Why have I written this? Well, as someone who keeps most of her life private, this has been exceedingly difficult, to admit to the struggles and the on-going confusion. Mostly I want people to know I am not being deliberately indifferent, or obtuse, I simply can’t do more than I’m doing. I forget, and I’m slow, and I hate it. But this is where I am these days. I take nothing for granted, but I do hope you’ll understand and if you experience something like this or know someone who has, try to be patient, because even if you can’t see it–there is so much fear and anger and real suffering behind the face that is public. No one wants to be in pain, emotional or physical, but it’s often very hard to admit we are unable to be what we want to be, and do what we want to do, because of that pain.

Thank you, friends far and wide, for understanding, for caring, and most of all for listening. I hope none of you experience this, ever, but if you do, know you are never alone. Be well, and be blessed, always.

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10 thoughts on “This is where I am…PTSD

  1. I was in an accident about five years ago and still each time I go through that intersection, I get scared. I know it’s normal but I can’t help but worry that I’ll be hit again. Thank you for being brave enough to share and I will keep you in my prayers.

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  2. Sorry you are going through this honey. I sure hope you hired an attorney to go after that woman. I don’t care how old she is. The accident is her fault and she should be made to pay for that. Maybe lose the drivers license. I wish there was something I could do to help you. You know I think the world of you and your stories. I am sure all would understand if you can’t keep up right now. I am also sure that many are praying that things get better soon for you. I know I am. Take care of yourself and know that I am a good listener should you need to scream.

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  3. Thanks, Melissa. I wonder how long it takes to stop that surge of panic and fear? Much longer than we want, I’m sure. You take care of yourself, and thank you so much for all your kindness, always. Big hugs, D

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  4. I’m not sure where my comment went but Denyse, I love you. I was t-boned in 2010-2011 and it was no picnic. I wasn’t seriously hurt but my lower back was hurt and still hurts to this day. Even now, I hold my breath through intersections. This post made my heart break for you my dear friend, mentor, and sister of my heart.

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  5. I guess the only cure is time, for the fears and the traumas to fade a little, and for bodies to heal as best they can. Thanks, Nikki. I love you, girlfriend, always. Hugs, D

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  6. It’s been three days since I read your blog, and I’m finally thinking clearly enough to try a response. The piece was written so well, it left footprints on my heart. This ordeal has been such a nightmare for you, and I can only pray that the road ahead will get brighter. Just remember, my beautiful friend, you have already come so far, I have to believe you are strong enough and gifted enough to make the rest of your journey. Many of us out here are praying for you (you are still on the prayer list at my church, as well), and trying to give you our emotional and psychic support; I can only hope it is reaching you.

    But, Denyse, over the years, I have come to respect and admire your strength, and I believe that with the knowledge that we are holding you closely in our thoughts and prayers, you will work through this. The pace may be frustratingly slow, but things are still moving forward. You have such gifts, and I refuse to believe they are lost. Hold on to your hopes, plans, and dreams, and continue to look ahead.

    My own experiences have been much less dark, but are similar enough that I can understand the incredible weight you are carrying. I pray that I can psychically transfer some of that weight to me long enough to help you move further forward. I will be thinking of you, and praying for you, for as long as it takes. Close your eyes, imagine my hand reading out to yours. and hold on as long as you feel the need. I believe that things WILL get better for you, and I beg you to believe it as well.

    May the stars carry my love to you,
    Hugs,
    Roberta

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  7. Roberta…. thank you so very much, for the love, and many years of friendship, the support and kindness you’ve always shown me. I hope you know it’s all been returned to you, as well. Life hasn’t always been kind to you, yet you remain supportive and caring through it all, and there are no words to tell you how grateful I am for the years we’ve known each other, the hours we’ve talked, and the continued bond of love and sisterhood. You’re in my thoughts and prayers, too, as you always are… one step at a time, and as my therapists keep telling me, small victories… all positive things and reasons to hope for better days ahead. I’m doing my best, even in the darkest hours, to look forward, and not give up even when it’s easier.

    Thank you SO much – for everything, and most of all for you!!

    Hugs, love and blessings,
    Denyse

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