It's Been A Year

Sunday, August 29, 2021

 365 days ago I came close to losing my life + I haven't been the same since.

I remember nearly every detail of this day so vividly because I've replayed it in my head almost every day since it happened. Some would say this isn't the healthiest way to work through trauma but it's something that has been a part of the journey for me... and here's the thing, no one really ever prepares you for the trauma you endure when you have a near-death experience. And why would they? This doesn't happen to everyone (hopefully no one reading this ever has to experience this) but, as a result, I've felt so lost without any correct or healthy direction to navigate towards for most of the year.  Therapy has been an extremely helpful aid, but processing last year's events still have to be at my own pace. The "fresh" days after this happened, I remember just feeling lucky. I felt so lucky to be alive. I felt lucky to still have my baby growing. I felt lucky to be in a position that allowed me access to proper healthcare. And once that lucky feeling started to fade, I felt fear, sadness, and worry. I was always afraid that the blood thinners wouldn't break down my blood clots properly and that'd I'd die. I was in fear that something in the surgery or post-care had actually hindered my growing baby and that I would lose her. I couldn't walk into a hospital without shaking or crying... in fact, my first post-op appointment after I left the hospital.. it took me nearly 10 minutes just to open the door to my maternal-fetal medicine specialist. My heart would race, I'd have to take several deep breaths, and all the while I would sit in the waiting room feeling as though my entire body was on fire. I wanted out of there. The sterile environment reminded me of the ICU. The blood pressure cuffs reminded me of the ambulance ride and the bumps all along the way to the hospital that day. Waiting for my MFM was a reminder of how I waited for the E.R. doctor to finally notice that something was wrong with me. I was in total fear all the time and I still had to wake up every day and be a mother and wife while trying to recover from this. And this is when I started to feel like a failure -  more so a burden. For much of the first 5 weeks of recovery, Justin and the kids didn't have me to help out or manage our house the way I had always done. My kids had to see their mom not only in pain but also incapable of being their super mama. It was such a blow to my heart and in Leilani fashion, I criticized the snot out of myself because surely I should have been able to jump right back to where I was and push through.

But I couldn't. Not even when I tried. The physical pain I went through after emergency surgery lasted so much longer than I ever thought it would. I wouldn't take pain medications at first because I had already created so much trauma in my pregnancy... I couldn't bear selfishly managing my own pain at the expense of my unborn child. And then the pain would consume me and my providers all decided that pain management needed to happen in order for me to stabilize my body and provide my baby with less stress on my body. And then there was so much guilt. The impossible situations women find themselves in were eye-opening for me. I was tearing myself apart for not being able to take care of my family but also not allowing myself to truly take care of myself... isn't that something? When guilt and fear were addressed and being processed... I felt so much anger. How did this happen to me? Why did no one catch this during each and every ultrasound I had? Why is maternal mortality in the United States so high? Why is the United States the only industrialized nation with a maternal mortality rate that continues to rise rather than decrease? The death rate is shocking and it should leave every person feeling angry because it doesn't have to be this way.

I have felt every single emotion available to my emotional maturity and then some this last year. I have had nightmares, breakdowns, cardiologist visits, therapy visits, mental checkouts, and more. I have been obsessed with my health, what I'm eating, EKGs, blood oxygen levels, and even how much service my phone has in case I need to call for help. Living with all of this has been depleting and draining both mentally and physically. But even through the darkest of days, I have been given something much bigger than the trauma, fear, and never-ending worry cycles... a chance to continue to live my life and experience my family. That's where I try to keep my mental space each day. So many things could have gone wrong in St. Peter's E.R. last year. They might have not found the internal bleed in time... perhaps the surgery could have been too late? or the ambulance ride? I don't know. I don't want to know, either. I just know that the series of events that aligned allowed me to be here today with all four of my children and their daddy. And that is enough for me. It's enough for me to get up every single day and give them my all, even though it's all still scary.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll be up against this specific trauma for the rest of my life or if there really is a day where I'll be able to breathe a little easier knowing this is all might forever be behind me. I don't have the answer to that. But I do know that I'm not the same person I was last year and I'm mostly thankful for that as odd as that sounds. Life isn't infinite. Even when you know it, it's an easier concept to take for granted when you've never been face to face with the idea that you could be gone.

Make the most of all the time you have. That's all any of us can really do.

Post a Comment