Last week I wrote about my survivor’s guilt, but I realize now it’s part of a large phenomenon; what is referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. According to WebMD, there are three primary symptoms of PTSD:
Looking at this list, I can see I have quite a few of the symptoms. I constantly relive the last days and months of Max’s life in my mind much to my misery. I have yet to move my office back into the bedroom where Max suffered and died because I can’t face being in that room for long, or in the adjacent bathroom, where he spent inordinate amounts of time dealing with colostomy and nephrostomy bags. The memories are still too fresh. In these rooms I can see his suffering. Feel his helplessness and pain. Smell his deterioration. I have yet to have a full nights’ sleep since Max died and wake up often and early. And I have begun to have emotional dreams that leave me in tears when I awaken.
On top of all that, I have periods of anxiety that strike at the oddest times. Although I want to be out and about, I’m finding it more and more difficult to organize myself to do anything in a timely manner and I dally around the house, trying to pull myself together . At the same time, I can’t seem to do much at home. Dishes remain in the sink, laundry in the basket.
While all this is frustrating, I realize PTSD is probably a normal side effect of dealing with a traumatic and lengthy illness. And both of these adjectives apply to Max’s situation.