Thursday, April 18, 2019


Most days I felt like I was floating. Floating in my own body and fighting waves of terror, terror of getting *that* call. The one where I'm told my mom didn't make it. Thankfully, it never came.

Terror is an emotion I just learned about. I had never experienced such uncontrollable fear before. The kind of fear that if left unchecked, can lead to post traumatic stress disorder, and for some people, long-term disability. I vowed to get it under control. I made use of the services available through my group benefits plan at work and put myself in counselling. It helped to have my doctor and other professionals convince me that I wasn't crazy.

I witnessed too much for my heart and soul to hold that night. Watching nurses and doctors flutter frantically around my mother... everything soaked in blood. Hearing her cry out for me and then drift into unconsciousness. Someone telling me she might not make it to Hamilton. Chatter about how she'd lost almost a litre of blood. My mom giving me her jewelry, delirious with pain and telling me she could hear her mother, who has been dead for 45 years, calling her name.

My mom was so pale I could see every vein in her skin. Her belly was so huge from massive internal bleeding, she looked pregnant. It wasn't real. When I had arrived at the hospital in St. Catharines, my mom had been in their ER unit for four hours as they worked frantically to keep her stable, and waited for a specialized ambulance to become available to take her to Hamilton General, where they were better equipped to handle her injuries. It was absolutely surreal.

There was a point, 8 days later, where I went on a tear through my home, screaming and crying uncontrollably, that I was convinced I'd throw myself out of a window just to make the terror stop. To not be in control of terror, of anxiety, is just plain awful. I had just received word that my mom had a blood clot in her lung, that she couldn't breathe, and was being rushed to ICU, after only being out of ICU for three days. I panicked. I couldn't get myself to understand that these things happen. All I could do was tremble uncontrollably, then I started to shake, and then I just started to wail. At one point, while I was on the kitchen floor feeling like I was falling, my husband had me in a bear hug to prevent me from hitting myself. It was fucking awful.

It was too much. For two weeks I had struggled to keep it together. I was trying to process the nightmare my father and siblings, along with our own families, had suddenly been thrown into.

Recovery is happening. We are in recovery. It's been 8 weeks since the near fatal car crash. I've thrown myself into work. I've lost 7 pounds. I barely eat actually. I sleep okay, but I remain on edge. My mother and sister are home. My mom may never be the person she was. She is forever changed by this car crash. She's extremely tired and that's completely normal. I worry about her mental health. My mom is from a generation of baby boomers where feelings aren't discussed, and strength is measured by how much emotion one holds in and hides from the world. It depresses me to talk to her because she holds how she really feels back from me. So, I just keep it pleasant, but it's frustrating.

Easter is all about re-birth. My sister and mother nearly died. This is not lost on me. I feel for anyone who has ever experienced trauma. I'm part of a club I'd rather to have never known about.


Sylv said...

Thinking of you and yours ��

Ed said...

I hear you CJ. Exactly what I experienced before brain cancer surgery and now my wife has cancer.

Keep it together, things will get better.

Skin Man said...

Wow - just wow!

From the mental health angle - I have a son with a severe mental health disorder, best described generally as emotional disregulation. I've eventually found a good support group of families whom have loved ones with similar conditions and it has been so helpful.

Continuing to be in my prayers.

Unknown said...

My thoughts are with you and your family CJ, I have a hard time reading about accidents since my own last November. I can imagine the terror you felt going through this and it breaks my heart. I am praying for your mom & sisters recovery.

C.J. Smith said...

Thank you everyone who has wrote in so far. I appreciate all the kind thoughts and words.

Squiggles said...

I am so happy with the good news and that your mom is on the road to recovery. Most importantly, I am happy that you have reached out and have received help. Nothing is worse than struggling on your own.