I’m not normal.
Kiran rarely sleeps in. He is, in general, the best alarm clock I have ever owned. If anyone wants to wake up to a cute little man making noise or banging his foot brace on the side of his bed promptly at 6 am, I have a kid you can borrow.
That’s not the abnormal part. The abnormal part comes into play on mornings, like this one, when he does sleep in. That’s when I recognize how my brain works differently than most people’s.
I am making an assumption, but I would assume most people, upon waking up later than their child’s normal wake-up time, realizing they are sleeping in, don’t immediately worry about walking in to a dead child.
This is not a fear based on a current reality. Kiran is stable and doing so well medically; there are no immediate, abrupt concerns that would cause such a worry to pop into my brain. There was a time this concern would have been more valid – any morning the first ten and a half months of his life, for instance, though we had the pulse ox monitoring any changes at that time – but not now.
More than two years post-op, and I still can’t shake that thought when he sleeps in. If that is not post-traumatic stress, I don’t know what is.
But I realized this morning, it’s not just related to him. The day my brother was in a car accident, I spent the entire ride to the hospital (an hour away) convincing myself and everyone in the car that he was going to be okay. Only, we got there, and he wasn’t. He wasn’t okay at all; he “didn’t make it”.
Despite attempts to the contrary, we take moments like that, and we build protections around ourselves. If my brain can at least be somewhat prepared to walk into a room and find my son in a “didn’t make it” scenario …
I am not normal. I am a pessimist, by most people’s labeling techniques. I am a realist, by my life experience. I am just someone who wants to be aware of the worst case scenario, because it takes some of the power away when it actually happens. At least I assume it does.
I don’t want to be caught off guard again.
Post-traumatic stress. People don’t always think about it as affecting people like me. But the sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one and living with a medically complex/special needs child – believe me, it’s a part of my world.
One thought on “Post-Traumatic Stress”
Interesting and valuable insight. I never saw my own “worst case scenario” mind set as a protective device, but that makes a lot of sense, given that expectations are the seed of disappointment. Thanks for this post.