Thursday, September 28, 2006

Crash Landing

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but I don't travel on airplanes. Ever.

Some people think I'm crazy, or missing out on some part of life that I'm supposed to desire, but it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I have zero interest in travel, and never have the vacation time to waste anyway.

Basically, I'm terrified of flying. I suppose "phobic" is the proper word. I have nightmares occasionally that I'm being forced to get on a plane against my will. I would give up all of my darkest family secrets under such torture.

The immediate assumption is that I'm afraid of flying because I'm afraid of crashing. And yes, that's a big part of it, naturally. (Did I mention I'm also terrified of heights? And falling from heights?) But there's more to it than that.

I flew once, the summer before my senior year of high school. I found myself nauseous through the entire flight. And worse, in severe pain. My ears, the bane of my existence with repeat infections through childhood and beyond, were killing me.

Everyone gave me tips. Hold your nose and blow, hard. (Do you know how much that HURTS by the way?) Chew gum. Take a decongestant. Swallow. A lot. None of them worked.

I found the worst parts of the flight were the take-off and the landing. Not only were they the most terrifying parts crash-wise, they were the most physically painful. My ears reacted almost immediately to the pressure and started to hurt. They stayed blocked that way until several hours after we landed, when they painfully popped back open.

I decided somewhere along the way that things wouldn't be so bad if the pilot would just ascend and descend more gradually. You can't just climb from zero to 20,000 feet (or vice versa) in a short amount of time and expect a body not to react. The sudden change was too much for my insides to take. Pain was a natural recourse.

Ever since that trip, thoughts of take-offs and landings fill me with dread. I've chosen to stay earthbound.


This past Tuesday marked exactly five weeks since The Ultrasound, and four weeks since the D&E. Tomorrow marks one month since I became officially Not Pregnant.

It amazes me how much a life can change in one short month.

My hormones are responsible for much of that change. Since I was twelve years old they've been running the show around here, keeping things going in a steady rhythm. They made this pregnancy possible in the first place. But by slamming on the brakes from Pregnant to Not Pregnant in a ten minute procedure, I experienced a rapid descent in levels. Suddenly, I felt like I was crashing.

As the weeks went on, this wreaked havoc with my body and my mind. The grief was a big part of it, but the hormones were in charge. I found myself experiencing typical PMS symptoms, but in overdrive. I was having panic attacks regularly for the first time in three years. My body felt exhausted, completely wiped out. And of course, there was plenty of crying.

Last week, I went to my doctor for a follow-up visit. The nurse brought out my chart and asked me how I was feeling. Four weeks of pent up emotions hit me, and I burst into tears.

She let me use the bathroom and I tried to clean myself up. When I came back out she brought me into the exam room. I couldn't help but remember being in the same room only a few weeks earlier, under different circumstances. I felt the tears come again. I scolded myself. Not now. This is not the time.

I thought about my reaction. This is not the time. It seemed ridiculous. When is the time? There's never a good time to stop and cry. Can't cry in front of the kids. Can't cry at work. Can't cry at the grocery store. If I can't cry in my doctor's office, what's left?

I got through the past few weeks, day by day. Sometimes I gave myself permission to cry - in the car; in bed after everyone else was asleep. I tried to get some rest. I tried to concentrate on the details. Slowly, things started to improve.

This past Monday was okay. That night, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning and my mind was racing. Ethan's second surgery has been scheduled for November... I have to call the surgeon back to find out how long he'll be in the hospital. I wonder if we need a hotel room? I'll have to find a sitter for CG. We still have to schedule the pre-op visit. I'd better complete the family medical leave forms again; I think they expired.

I would have rather been sleeping, but at the same time, I took this as a good sign. Preparing for appointments, thinking through the details in the middle of the night - this is my life's version of "normal".

Tuesday afternoon, I realized that I had felt almost human for the entire day. None of the roller coaster emotions, none of the vague physical complaints. For the first time in a month I felt ... good.

I've found solid ground again.


Julie said...

Aw, Mete.

...Good is...good.

lisa said...

I'm glad you're feeling a little better. It's hard when there's never a "good" time to process what you've been through. And damn those exam rooms at doctor's offices...I vividly remember every one I've been in when I've received bad news.

I really like the new site design, BTW.

Kelly said...

Normal is a great feeling.....even when it's not everybody else's definition.

Anonymous said...

M -
I can't even pretend to understand what the past few weeks have been like for you, but reading this entry makes me hopeful for you. And I know that it is easier said than done, but you really do need to make time for taking care of yourself. Schedule it!! Make yourself do one nice thing for you everyweek - even something as simple as going to the bookstore by yourself for an hour or catching up on your scrap booking. Remember, my offer still stands, if you ever need to runaway for a little bit, I'm right down the street.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of you and I am sorry for your loss.

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