I am writing this down, in the middle of what I believe to be some sort of delayed, post-traumatic-stress induced episode that is, I suppose, finally releasing, after spending the past 11 days in the hospital with Patrick. Currently my heart is pounding very hard. I am in and out of bursts of crying. My palms are sweaty. I have just spent the past 20 minutes pacing around the house, compulsively touching my face, talking out loud to myself. The sound of the air conditioner feels deafeningly loud. I feel compelled to reorganize my entire kitchen and/or eat everything in it and/or get in bed and pull the blankets over my head all at the same time. It’s a sort of high anxiety/low energy conflicted vibe… an erratic, excited, pacing, that is coupled with fear, sadness and this odd sense of freedom. So bizarre to me. Totally brand new.
The cat won’t stop stepping on my computer screen while I try to type and I can’t stand it. I just want her to listen to me. I want control over something. Anything.
I am tracing this episode, if that is what it is, back to the beginning of the day. Patrick has been at an acute inpatient rehab for 3 days. I have spent those 3 days running at my usual warp-speed pace from gig to gig, errand to errand, phone call to phone call, organizing visitors for patrick, not sleeping, eating poorly, and moving in a fog that never seems to lift.
In the back of my mind, or perhaps deep in my cells, I could feel something building or overloading. It was there, but I was not aware of it until now.
I woke up, after not getting adequate sleep, because my cat.. who was being a kitten, had roused me 6x in the night. I took her to the vet. As I sat in the lobby, the sound of an adjacent dog’s rapid-fire, extremely loud pant felt like it was attacking me. I could not handle the sound of it. Someone get that dog some water! I thought. I felt panicked by it. It was like a cheese grater on my nerves, yet everyone else seemed unfazed by it.
Afterwards, I took Prana to visit Patrick in the gym at rehab. We have brought her many times to his outpatient sessions (she is a registered ESA), in the same building. However, shortly after finding him, I was told to exit immediately with the cat. I spoke to Patrick. There was a litany of things upsetting him. He wanted to come home. I managed to de-escalate his building anger before it became out of control. But, I could see how weary he was of all of this, and no matter what I said, it didn’t make it better. It wasn’t that he couldn’t see the good, it was that he was losing the will to look at it. His frustration, sadness, helplessness, exhaustion, and suffering… permeated me and became my own.
As I took Prana away, he welled up with tears. I sat outside the gym holding her for an hour. As he exited, they were finally reunited after almost a two week separation. It was quite beautiful the way she was able to immediately calm him down. Then, a few moments later, a security guard told me I needed a permit to be there and asked that I leave. I kissed Patrick, feeling helpless as I removed Prana from his arms, hugged him and left.
And then what happened… what did I do with my day?.. I drove around for hours… running “errands” that ended up being fruitless. A few times I pulled over and sat with my flashers on for periods of time where I stared into space. Then, as I drove home, I began to think of Patrick’s c-diff infection. It started slow, and then it seemed I couldn’t keep up with my own thoughts. There were questions circling like vultures around and around unceasingly; an internal never-ending dialogue in my head…
Was he going to be ok? Would he be cured of the infection? What if he got reinfected? They say you can get reinfected up to 5 months after clearing it up. Should I worry about my own infection? Maybe I should bleach the house. Do I have any bleach here? Is CVS still open? Wait, what if the Vanco doesn’t cure it? What if the antibiotics make him more susceptible to more diseases? Why hadn’t they put him on probiotics? THEY SHOULD’VE DONE THAT. DAMN. I could strangle them. *researches on the internet*. Wait, people fucking DIE from c-diff? Why didn’t anyone tell me what a big deal this is? Is he ok? I should go over there. I don’t trust those nurses. Are they being super extra careful and clean? What if the diarrhea stops but he gets toxic megacolon and they don’t realize it? What if the plate gets colonized and has to come out again? We are supposed to just “wait and see” for a whole year about this plate? Ugh. Who was I supposed to call today? Did I forget a gig this week? I WAS SUPPOSED TO RETURN THAT WOMAN’S CALL. What am I going to have for dinner? This fruit is moldy.
Something was beginning to happen. And frankly, is still happening. Here I am, on my very first night in 9 months with no caregiving responsibilities nor gigs to play… and I suddenly feel paralyzed with fear. I can’t stop the intermittent crying and pacing. It’s like something that has been blocked for weeks is now being unblocked. It doesn’t feel good at all. I am crawling out of my own skin.
I suddenly have this rushing sense of identity crisis; its as if I don’t know who I am anymore outside of caregiving, or like I don’t exist outside my role in Patrick’s recovery. The house is empty, and Patrick isn’t here, and I feel this terrible pang of loneliness. I miss him, and without him here, nothing makes sense anymore. The world is a game of Tetris and I don’t know where the pieces go. And the silent house feels like it might swallow me whole, instead of being the sanctuary for me that I expected it to be.
I am amazed at couples who are able to keep a disconnect between each other and still function as a unit. Patrick and I are so intertwined. It has always felt like there is a small string connecting his breastplate and mine. When we are apart, it begins to tug, and it’s so painful. When he is hurting, that hurt transfers to me. In short, I can’t be happy when he is suffering. And this so called “break” has so far not been very restful for me, because I feel so God damn helpless. I want to hug him and I can’t. I want to help him and fix all of this and I can’t. I can’t stop the hurting. I can’t force the healing. I am in the passenger seat, trying to get my hands on the wheel, but they just don’t reach.
I’d rather keep the pace. I’d rather be busy. I don’t want to stop moving for long enough to feel my feelings. I tell myself that I don’t have time for this. I don’t have energy for this. I know that I have a job to do, and releasing the dam could cripple me. But for the first time, I can’t stop it. I am a prisoner in bondage to my own freedom. I can’t escape it, and my feelings, so raw, so intense, so tangled and messy, fly at me like pieces of a broken homes in a raging hurricane.