I never thought I would describe myself as being a victim of PTSD, but when thinking about what I went through during the end-of-life three-months with my wife, the description seems to fit. That is what this post is all about. I am glad to see that PTSD is no longer confined to what a soldier faces on the battlefield. It rightly applies to so many other areas of life as well now.
My 78 day PTSD period started out on at least a little hope. One of the doctors said, yes, my wife had a serious heart attack, but there was hope that some quality of life could still come. As the days went by that proclamation proved to be very Pollyannaish, because soon after that was the gall bladder infection that would also threaten her life, and that would not be the last such event.
I got very little sleep during her first two-week stay in the hospital, and I lost any desire to eat. What I did eat was from the hospital cafeteria. Several of those meals were interrupted by a text message that the doctor was in the ward and wanted to see me. It was a crap-shoot trying to figure out when they would make their rounds. Once I got to the hospital I had to stay there, if I left I could not return until the next day. I never weighed myself until the end, but when I did, I found that I had lost ten pounds.
I can’t tell you how many meltdowns I had during this three-month period. There were just too many times when I was assaulted with what I saw at the time as sheer stupidity. One of those most serious times was when the Hospice, where she went after the second hospital visit, basically said she was not dying fast enough and would have to leave. I will have more to say about that in a near future post, but for now I just want to tell you I just totally lost it. I thought hospice was supposed to be complete only after the last breath. I simply didn’t know there was a time period attached.
In closing out this post, I think some serious changes are due to the end-of-life process for both the patient and the surviving spouse. The current process is just too cruel to have to endure as it presently stands. Yes, there were a number of very caring people that helped us through this period, but they seemed pretty much stifled by the process instead of helped by it. There has to be some other alternative when there is no hope for recovery.
It has been about a month now since this anguish ended, and I am now starting to come back to something that might be considered “normal”. I am now pretty much sleeping through the night with only one bathroom break, that’s certainly normal for me. My appetite is coming back, and at least now I am only thinking about that period half the time instead of all.
Yeah, I think I am finally on the road to recovery from my PTSD events.