I feel like a broken record this year saying each season I get so sick. Fall is truly the worst. I not only have a lot of physical pain in the fall but I also have grief to deal with. For those that don’t know my Dad died unexpectedly November 8, 2013. The autopsy revealed he died of a rare cardiomyopathy called (ARVC). 80% of people with this are diagnosed on an autopsy table. I am the one that found him so there is a lot of PTSD there.
I also think it’s ironic October is Dysautonomia (POTS) Awareness month. My POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) is the worst in the fall. My heart rate goes crazy all day and so it leaves me truly exhausted. It’s like I’m “working out” all day but I’m sitting down. Here is a look at how this week has been. When it reached 156 bpm all I did was make my bed. POTS is a big reason why I need the walker and wheelchair because my heart rate goes up so high and the blood pools in my legs causing me to pass out.
The changing temperatures and weather patterns also contribute to not feeling well. I call it “my fall slide”. My joints are swelling more and becoming more painful. It gets harder to move also.
This fall has an added component to it. My food allergies. I’m allergic to latex, and a small portion of people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to certain foods. It’s been a huge adjustment. I’m feeling a bit better but not great. I’m still dealing with stomach pain and lots of bloating. My hives have also come back with a vengeance. (Read this post if you want to read more on my food allergies)
Last week my nightmares/ night terrors came back. As Dad’s anniversary date draws close, so do the night terrors.
They are horrifying and I never wish it on anyone. In the past I usually only found Dad. I just kept finding him dead in different places. Each terror was the same I wasn’t there fast enough to save him.
Since counseling I’ve worked through truly understanding and believing that there was nothing I could’ve done to save him. Doctors couldn’t have saved him either.
This year I started having the night terrors again. I don’t get good sleep. Normally I don’t get good and restful sleep anyways but this makes it worse. I’ve had to rely on drinking Coke this week to get through the days. I know that’s not a good habit and I’m not supposed to have pop anymore but I had to function. I will just say having to take a lot of Benadryl and not getting good sleep just isn’t a good mix. I got about 2-3 hours of sleep everyday this week. I’m thankful in the evenings and afternoons I do get some naps in.
I wake up terrified and am only able to recall the last little bit of the dream. I wake up out of breath and sweating and shaky. It’s so intense and graphic that it feels so real. This year the dreams aren’t just about Dad. The people in my dreams who are dying are my friends and family. I think it shifted this year because I worked through that it wasn’t my fault. Dreams are often your unconscious thoughts. Ever since Dad died I’ve always been scared of the fact to lose anyone really close to me. So that’s what these dreams are stemming from.
I think that’s a part of grief that no one really talks about is the awful dreams and night terrors you may get. If I wake up in the middle of the night from a night terror it’s often hard to fall back asleep.
You can try and push away or forget grief like I did last year but the reality is it’s there, and won’t ever go away. Not only do you remember the details, but especially if you suffer from PTSD after finding a dead body – your body remembers. Your muscles remember. Your brain remembers.
It remembers the pain from the day and the days that followed. It remembers how tense you were and what your fears were. It remembers more than we can.
On November 7, 2013 I went to bed just like a normal day expecting to wake up the next morning to another normal day. Instead I woke up November 8 to finding my Dad’s lifeless body.
I have this fear engraved in me now that when I wake up something terrible will happen. My brain thinks “hey just don’t go to sleep”. This way I won’t have to “wake up” to bad news. Night times have forever been changed for me and contributes to my insomnia.
I wish I could say these dreams will go away but I doubt they will. I will continue learning to cope with them.
Be kind to yourself and treat others with grace.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14 NIV