I woke up the following morning nervous to start medication. When your an over thinker, like myself, your brain tends to run on overdrive, usually with negative thoughts like; Will I be on this medication forever? What kind of side effects will I have? Will it make me tired? Will it make me a zombie? Will I have to try a bunch before I find one I like? How will I know if I like it? The doctors had wanted to start me on four different pills and up my dosage accordingly. I had asked to be started on the lowest dose and I didn’t want to be on more than two pills at a time. The great thing about U of M is that they actually take what you want into consideration. They agreed to put me on Zoloft daily, mainly because I requested one that was safe during pregnancy (just in case) and Xanax when needed for panic attacks.
We had a dry erase board in our room and we had to write a goal on it everyday. My goal was to not take any Xanax. The nurses insisted that I not make medications MY goal. They felt that I needed to realize medication was here to help and that it wasn’t a bad thing. What they didn’t understand is that my end game in all of this, is another baby. I wasn’t against the medication. I didn’t like it, but I was at a point where I would try anything if it would help; however,being on a medication dictated when and if I could have another child and that’s why I was fighting it. Every time I took a Xanax, I knew I was that much further from being able to get pregnant. Even if I never have another baby, I can’t take that disappointment, not when it’s the one thing I still have hope for.
My next group was “support team”. Almost all of us were in that one. We had to discuss who our support people were and who we would call if needed. What was sad about this group, was that most, could not not think of a support person other than their therapist. Derek was the only one besides me who had a lot of support at home. I listened as each person talked about their home life and in most cases even, it’s what had brought them here. I wanted to take them all home with me. These people had horrible things going on in their life and no one to turn to. In that moment, I was so thankful for my friends and family. Two patients were being relocated to a special housing for teenagers of drug addicted parents. Kennie was trying to get her sister to leave her husband and come with her. Steve’s grandma had just died. I think she helped a lot financially and he was returning to a wife and new born baby with little money and not in a good place mentally. Obviously his wife wanted him home so she could have some help. I remember him on several different occasions saying he wasn’t ready to go home and his wife was upset he wasn’t pushing to leave sooner. Most people did not want to leave and there I was, wishing everyday was that day.
I can not recall the name of our final group that day, but it was all about therapy – what kinds, how often it’s needed, and if we already had a therapist, were we seeing them. if we didn’t have one, they guided us on how to find the one that fit. My friend Lauren is a therapist and I had actually contacted her before I went into U of M. We can’t leave the hospital without having an appointment with a therapist within two weeks of leaving. I had already asked Lauren and so she was getting all the information about my stay and planned on seeing me after I was discharged. She was one of five people on speed dial when I was in the hospital. I went from never seeing a therapist to needing one on the daily. Who am I kidding, hourly. In one of our groups, there was a guy named Phil. Phil scared me from day one. He was maybe five years older than me. He walked with a cane and was pale and sweating 99% of the time . He always, and I mean always, had a scowl. He doesn’t mind staring, and everything out of his mouth is sarcastic and mean. In group, he never spoke. The only reason I only knew his name was Phil because the social worker would call him out of group. He would laugh in groups when people were talking about their issues. Not a full on laugh, more like a sarcastic chuckle, as if their issues were comical even. I made eye contact with him once and it sent chills down my spine. No smile, just that scowl, pale face, and a look of disgust that I had the audacity to sit near him. When the social worker got to me, she asked me about therapy and my experience. At this point in time, I had never discussed Nash once. He, after all, was not my issue, but a lot of my thoughts about therapy I got from losing him. I said, “I don’t really believe in it.”I said, “for me, its hard to believe someone who hasn’t been through what I have can really know how to help because they have no experience with it themselves. The social worker replied, “Yes, you are correct, but they can empathize with you.” Now I found myself chuckling like Phil. She then said, “why don’t you try it out here? What do you think they can’t empathize with?” Not sure why, but it opened the flood gates. I started talking about Nash, the call from Todd telling me the police were doing CPR, seeing him on that gurney watching doctors and nurses doing viscous and brutal chest compressions that shook Nash to the point where I felt I should stop them because they were hurting him. I recalled the day I dropped him off, the last time I saw him and the last time I saw him smile at me as I walked back towards my car to leave for work. I hiccup-cried as I explained that no matter how much they felt they could empathize with me, they could never know the pain I feel each day. They could never understand the pain of re-living the best five months of my life and the gut wrenching feeling of rocking my dead child in a rocking chair in front of my friends and family, singing to him his favorite song and telling him it’s ok to go. I didn’t realize I had been looking at the floor the entire time. As soon as I looked up there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Even the social worker was crying. Jozlyn, Steve, Derek, and Kennie were all looking at me, crying. Some even got up to hug me. This was the first time in a long time I talked about the day he died. Seeing others who have significant issues of their own be in complete disbelief and sadness for me, made me realize just how much I probably needed this help long ago. Then, out of nowhere, that low and scary voice came from my right, as Phil said, “this is the first time someone has explained exactly how I feel.” I immediately thought, “oh my God, Phil lost a child!?” That wasn’t his story though. He explained that he was hit by a drunk driver years ago. He described the amount of surgeries and metal he now has in his spine and legs. That his fiancé left him after the first year, when he was just learning to walk again. He then said, “no one understands what I go through on a daily basis.” How can some therapist give me any advice? He paused and then said, “no one else knows what it’s like living with chronic pain….”