Boy does trauma hang around

So this post is all about me…well I guess the entire blog is really, but what I am saying is that this post has nothing to do with foster care, adoption or the like, other than the vague tie of trauma and me wanting to write about it (and it is my blog after all). Well I guess I should catch you up. Today is my last day at my old job and I am bumming because I love to kids, LOVE the co-workers and just overall love what I do. I can see the impact I have made on the kids I work with and it warms my heart. However, I am still feeling super blessed to begin working with no commute and be more available for what I truly feel is my calling, parenting hurt and abandoned kids.

It may be a little bit before I start my new job. I was SUPPOSED to start the job this upcoming Monday, but since when has anything ever gone according to plan and this is no different. I found out Tuesday late afternoon that I need to have surgery. So instead of starting a new job next week and relaxing this weekend, I will be stressing this weekend and being cut open next week. Ok, that may be a bit over dramatic, but the title of this post does talk about trauma and who is clear-headed with regards to trauma?

I have been having intense (land me in the ER, pumped full of narcotic while they fun tests) “right upper quadrant” abdomen pain on and off since October 2012. Lately it has been more on than off. It gets worse at night, when I eat fatty food (which is the only tasty food there is!), and sitting/standing/laying doesn’t help. Through the doctors’ investigations they said it could be 1 of 3 things: the liver, gallbladder, or bowel. Well, it wasn’t the bowel (it is really hard to be excited after righting that sentence, but I was). The liver looked iffy but nothing that would cause the type of pain I was experiencing they came to find out. They kept coming back to look at the gallbladder. Not to make fun of the doctors but it felt as if they didn’t know what the heck they were doing/looking for; like when I pretend to throw the ball and really just hid it behind me and Sammy looks around and comes back to stare at me with that head cocked to the side expression. The gallbladder was the ball that was SUPPOSED to be in my hand but it wasn’t and then it was SUPPOSED to be where I threw it but it wasn’t. Ok, I am not recommended touching or throwing your own gallbladder! The doctors just kept saying it sounds like gallbladder but your gall bladder is fine. No stones, no “sludge” (whatever that is), no anatomical abnormalities, no reason for it to hurt. FINALLY after this last ER visit, where I was pretty sure I was either dying or birthing an alien (not how I planned to become a mom) they decided to look just one more time.

Still normal looking. But then the doctor spoke the fateful words, words that only people described as “medically complicated” or coming from a family with medical concerns like I do can understand: “In a small fraction of people…..” I wanted to stop the doctor right then and yell “I don’t even care what the rest of the sentence is, if it is rare, unlikely, complicated, and confusing chances are we should have STARTED there!!!” However, I was high on narcotics and was not that quick in my response time let him finish his sentence like the polite person I am.

“In a small fraction of people, there is gallbladder disease with no stones, sludge, or other abnormalities visible yet they experience all the symptoms of gallbladder attacks. The issue is that the gallbladder itself does not function properly, something these tests haven’t been looking for.” Or something like that, as I was in the ER on a IV happy-drip meds so it’s a little fuzzy. I remember being a bit angry and thinking: “Oh, you mean EXACTLY what I have been experiencing for 8 months and spent over $1,000 out of pocket to try and diagnosis and countless hours in pain?” See above on if I said it or not.

Well, long story short that test was ordered and the results came back in record time that I was in fact, within that small fraction of people with non-functioning gallbladders and needed it removed. I meet with the surgeon (my surgeon?) tomorrow morning to get some questioned answered and figure out a time to have the surgery. I am going prepared with my list (quite a long one) of questions. Also, random fact but did you know that red-heads generally require 20% more anesthesia than people of other hair colors? When I woke up during my upper GI I found that out. Not wanting to wake up this time.

So, back to the title of the post. I tell you all that to tell you this: I HATE hospitals. Not in the man, they are annoying I’m so bored kind of way. In the anxiety attack, heart racing, avoid it at all costs kind of way. Doctors offices are ok, hospitals are not. Since this isn’t a blog about my trauma (Thank goodness) suffice it to say that I had at least one VERY traumatizing experience when a loved one needed to be in the hospital. I would love to tell you that we bonded closer as a family, the person pulled through and it was happily ever after, but this is not a fairy tell and life isn’t like that in this story. It was hard, heart-breaking, and soul-crushing in every sense of all of those words. I was a broken little girl/young lady for quite a long time after. Only recently have I truly begun to grieve this lose and recover from the effects it has had on me.

Incidents following this one were not near as traumatic but ended the same and served to reinforce the mindset that hospitals are not safe and are not for getting healthy. Logically, I am fully aware that this is not the case and I know what I believed then was not true. I have confronted this trauma response related to hospitals on many occasions throughout the years but often due to “minor” things like migraines or for other people like my mother undergoing procedures and I have come out stronger and healthier.

I am a smart, intelligent, and emotionally aware 26 year old that has gone to years of therapy and has devoted my life to helping others deal with the traumas (big and small) in their lives. Yet when I was on that phone and the nurse said I needed surgery I can honestly say I thought two things: 1. running away and 2. I would rather be in pain forever than have surgery.

Being the skilled therapist I am I recognize those thoughts for what they are, remnants of the deep scaring that trauma left behind. Through no fault of anyone that loves me, life was hard and I lost some who I loved with my whole heart and was my caretaker. I lost him in a hospital where people that were “supposed to help him” (in my little trauma kid brain) let him die. If I am experiencing such strong reactions to a trauma memory that can make me knowingly and desirably want to stay in pain for the foreseeable future I simply cannot imagine what kids without loving caretakers and the benefit of therapeutic knowledge would do when faced with trauma triggers daily. No freaking wonder they have behaviors, no wonder those behaviors are hard to change. I actually told Joel I didn’t want the surgery and was serious, until he said he wouldn’t drive me to the ER anymore (tough love!). I have every advantage possible: the trauma was 1 time, I had loving family supporting me through it, it was the only trauma for the time being, stable caretakers otherwise, knowledgeable family and therapist to guide me, and love there to catch me when I call my mom and freak out a little as the doctor says I need surgery (love you mom).

What possible chance does a child with none of these advantages have when faced with a trauma or even a trigger years after? If anyone ever asks why I want to adopt/foster…this is why. Every kid deserves these advantages. No one deserves to feel even a fraction of the trauma response that I am feeling about surgery, let along kids without anyone to lean on. That is wrong and unfair and says WAY more about the adults in the society than it does about the kids.

Rest assured I will have the surgery, I will overcome this trauma trigger and come out the other end all the better for it. God has weaved my life that everything has worked to bring him glory. Even that horrible time in my life where this hospital trauma comes from that I still cannot talk about without crying. God is using that time to work through me to help kids in need. If that is not God turning victims into victories I don’t know what is!




2 thoughts on “Boy does trauma hang around

  1. I had mine out my first semester of graduate school! All my tests came back “normal” too but they decided to take it out anyway. The surgeon said it looked “angry!” I feel much better now! Good luck to you! Hope you feel better soon!

  2. I hope your surgery went well, I also had my gallbladder out a few years back, nothing was wrong with it but I had another surgery at the same time and they decided to remove it while they were there – ha! Just found your blog as my husband and I are considering adopting through the MN foster care system as well – going to the first info meeting in mid-August. It’s been interesting to read your situation – I would love to hear an update on how things are going! Also, if you don’t mind – what agency did you use? We’re going to the info meeting with CHSFS in St Paul.

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