11 August 2012

It might be invisible ...

... but PTSD still lives here.

Oh, things are vastly improved over the early days of this adventure, to be sure. Most days, I do what even I think of as a good day's work. I get up at 9, milk the cow, wash up the buckets, filter the milk, pasteurize a batch every few days, make cheese once a week, make the bread and the meals, do the laundry, tidy the house, do a bit outside - mow the grass, or cut down some weeds, or dig in the garden. I might can up a batch of salsa or pickles. I run errands. I spin, I knit, I do paperwork for the store, I do some writing.

And every few days, there is that hint of chest pain, reminding me to pace myself. So I slow down a little, and it eases up.

Yesterday though, it started up around midday and didn't let go. Wide awake at 2:30 in the morning, even after listening to sleep inducing audio tracks for hours, the grip of pain in my chest was still there. Valerian and sleep tincture weren't enough to counteract the noise of the thunderstorm that started up around three, either ... especially when my stepdaughter decided to be terrified of storms and had to be coached through breathing and self-calming exercises for half an hour before she could stop shaking.

"The scared is all in here," I told her, tapping her forehead. "The only one who can make it go away is you. Breathe, slowly in for four, out for four. Now make the palms of your hands feel warm, then do the same on the soles of your feet. Then your hands again."

"How does that work?" she wanted to know. "Well," I said, "when you concentrate on your body you relax. This is the kind if stuff I have to do all the time to cope with being scared for no reason. Nobody else can fix it for me, I gotta do it myself. You can do this, you're doing great."

By then her eyes were heavy and she told me to shut the door on my way out because she was very tired. I think she was asleep before I got back into my own bed.

Of course, I then tried to take my own advice, but it was another hour before sleep finally found me. I considered stronger sedation, but I knew I needed to be functional come daylight, so I just breathed until I could finally drift off.

This morning, my responsibilities called and I had to get up, though my eyes were foggy with exhaustion and I felt so tired I was queasy. Milk the cow, quickly, let her and George out to the pasture, then deal with Mackenzie, who looked like he'd been through a war and was lying in the barn refusing to move. He got in some sort of battle a couple of nights ago, with a banged up eye, scrapes to his legs and a puncture on his nose. He had, in the night, worked out of his bandages and his collar, so I got him restrained again, redid the bandages on his leg and salved all his wounds. A few drops of Polysporin in the eye helped with the swelling there, but he is still refusing to eat and keeps crying about being tied up. The vet called and said we need to go pick up antibiotics for him, so that's this afternoon's job.

I'm still exhausted, but there is no hope of sleep. The best I can do right now is to just keep things on an even keel with minimal efforts - feed the animals, feed myself, do the bare minimum and otherwise keep my butt in a chair and my knitting in my lap. Eventually the adrenalin will wear off, and until then I just have to hang on and keep knitting.


  1. Anonymous5:18 pm

    The longer we live, the more we know that life's challenges are our constant companions - making good use of our skills and abilities along with self-discipline becomes the mode of operation for each day. I believe most of us have invisible challenges we adapt our lives to in order to manage and yes, enjoy, the joys of each day that we might otherwise miss. Like Joni Erickson, sometimes the "healing" comes as an ability to cope with our situation. Developing management techniques will help to make a part of every day, be a good day!

  2. I wanna meet your mom. :-)

  3. Yeah, Skipper, my Mom's pretty cool. Seems she got a lot smarter after I got quite a bit older. Funny how that works, eh?


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