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Posts from the ‘anxiety’ Category

Preventable accidents and coincidences: a few hospital stories

If we knew where we fall, we would put down a pillow to save us.

Sometimes, the guardian angel does this for us: I mean these situations when somebody is very unlikely to make it, but they do.

Guardian angel

Painting by Murillo, public domain image

There are moments when we have done everything we could, but the disaster happens regardless of that because we are at a wrong place at a wrong time.

The sad consequences of life threatening accidents

I am a survivor of such an accident. I believe I survived due to my spiritual and mental strength, fighting power and love to life, but for the main part: due to the knowledge and devotion of the treating physician. There was 24/7 monitoring and all 9 surgeries went well.

One is never completely new after being fixed. Whatever our injuries, they leave after-effects, and they can be devastating. Chronic pain and anxiety are just one side of such post-accident experiences.

However, it is not that we cannot prevent the regular daily troubles by putting down such a pillow: preventing accidents, injuries and diseases from happening.

The unforgiving negligence

The reality is such that if there is chance for something bad to happen it most likely will. Placing hot items on the edge of any surface is lack of caution; that refers to hot coffee cups and other dishes with boiling hot liquids. Leaving harmful liquids in inappropriate containers or easy to access places is dangerous. I witnessed while practicing at hospital how a man had gotten major stomach injuries because he had been preparing pickled fish and also was having a glass of drink at the same time. He accidentally drank the highly concentrated vinegar by taking a big mouthful from the glass. Kids use to grab anything and try its taste whenever something is available for them to reach: kids have been hospitalized with laundry soap intake, vinegar and alcohol intake, not to mention after eating a lot of strong medication. In those, cases prevention would have been easy: just do not leave anything out there and within their reach.

Drunk driving and aggressive behavior of addicted spouses and friends

The major and absolutely preventable accidents are caused by driving drunk or high. Human perception changes to abnormal extent under the influence of alcohol and substances that alter brain chemicals. It’s needless to say, nobody should ever do that, but we are witnessing this again and again, and there is no end of people who put their and other peoples’ lives at risk.

I spent almost a year in a hospital. I had quite a few fellow patients, and their stories were sad. A young woman across my bed was thrown out of window from the 5th floor by her husband. It’s hard to describe the feelings she was going through when she woke up after surgical treatments. Some accidents mean: the one who was super healthy, will be partly or completely immobilized for life and having major health consequences.  However, when I had already recovered to some extent, I went to see her, and guess what? She was back with her offensive, aggressive, drinking husband, and I could see they continued the same what had been the cause of her very long hospital stay. I asked her: why didn’t you go somewhere else? Anywhere? She said she couldn’t walk and there was no place for her to go or work and so she couldn’t support herself. Well, this wasn’t any better or easier.

The fact of the matter is that the aggressive behavior when it is caused by addiction to substances rarely changes. The only hope would be in case somebody gives this up completely. However, there is always a risk of relapse with such people.

I have seen and read a lot of stories how people can recover from addiction, but that happens only when that person genuinely wants it, is ready for it and can replace the addiction with something that fills up the emptiness which occurs after they have given up their terrible habit. Art groups, social clubs, interest groups, sports and church groups are very good thing to start with.

She needed a new face: victim of drunk driving

The other woman in my hospital room didn’t have her real face any more. She was driving and got hit by another car; it was nose-to-nose crash at a high-speed, so the upper part of her car got literally taken off. Doctors restored her face as much as it was possible which meant creating a new nose and putting in place cheek bones, jaw bones and implanting new teeth. When she was that far that she could look at herself in a mirror, she was in shock. There was a scary silence for a while. It’s not me, she screamed. What do I do now, nobody will recognize me and my kids will not believe it’s me? Her kids were 4 and 6, two girls. They had kept these kids away from hospital for a while, just to get more time and to put off the unpredictable and potentially upsetting first time meeting in person. That couldn’t go on forever, so kids were taken to the hospital to meet their mom approximately 6 months after the accident. Everybody was crying: this lady, her daughters, every doctor and every patient in the room. At that moment, girls did not recognize their mom, they couldn’t believe and accept that was her because that was virtually a completely different woman in the hospital bed, not the one who was residing in their memories. It took many meetings and long time until everybody found peace of mind and re-established their relationship. This tragedy was caused by a drunk driver.

drunk driving victims

Public domain image

Physical and mental abuse: things that cannot be straightened out

People also usually do not take into account that racial, national and cultural diversities can be a problem exaggerating and issue causing aspect. Although, we are all humans, our background is very distinctive. Things that are very acceptable and very appropriate in some country, community or family, can become a subject of never-ending arguments, and eventually cause the relationship to go toxic.

As we were diagnosing patients in the urgent surgical care department at a hospital, the professor who was taking us around warned before we entered an intensive care unit: “This lady didn’t listen to her parents who told her not to engage with this particular man who is in custody at the moment. Dear girls, do not marry people who have completely distinctive background!”

The sight was extremely shocking: there was practically no face or something one could recognize as a human face, hence, it was some kind of extremely swollen dark blue, black and purple-read smashed raw meat. Eyes were not visible; they were somewhere deep under the swelling. The person could not speak, swallow anything, and not even water because of broken jaw bones. The professor lifted sheets and, as far as it was visible, the body was in exactly the same condition: bruises, hematoma at many spots, swollen limbs and torn wounds, huge five-finger imprints in bright dark purple color around the neck told that she was also been choked. Stabbed with sharp, but luckily not too wide kitchen knife which occurred to be of a flexible metal and that practically had saved her from more serious internal injuries. Her recovery took about 18 months and included fraction cure, sutures, treatment of neuroses, anxiety, abnormal physical pain and series of restorative surgery. They were successful with fixing her, and this was a case which had a happy end. Not all do.

Her husband came from a Russian family with a long history of alcohol abuse, imprisonment, family fights, strange concepts about marriage and trust, and he used to interpret the reality in a way that was severely distorted by prison moral. He was pathologically jealous, and every episode of alcohol use in excess caused him to become extremely aggressive. The closest target was always his new wife who was a young student, just relocated to start studies at the university. How do such people meet? Easy. At a bar, at a concert, and these aggressive manipulators can pretend being the nicest people on the globe when they want or have to.

Cutting off a toxic relationship

We should listen to people who care about us and warn us. We should take into account the harsh reality and advice that comes from people who have gone through hell. Do we? I did not listen to my parents and suffered for 19 years. Why? Who knows, I believed I could fix and straighten out anything. My daughter initially did not listen to me and my parents. These toxic relationships are lost time, it is time we have stolen from ourselves. Thankfully, my daughter and I found great, rewarding relationships after years of struggles. These valuable relationships contribute daily to our well-being and personal growth.

We have to learn cutting off a toxic relationship straight where it starts, not allowing to evolve into something more serious and destroying. I don’t mean only spouses and closest relatives. We have to avoid and, if necessary, immediately walk away from toxic relationship that hurts, abuses and exploits. That is the best prevention from any more serious mental and physical suffering. It is not worth it. There are so many nice people out there, and it makes sense to keep reaching out for them.

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Scars from the past and fears of the future

Some people are definitely more intact than others, and I am referring to people who have experienced severe mental or physical injuries and traumas. Some have inherited or developed stronger defense mechanisms; therefore, they can withstand bad relapsing conditions and depression triggering events easier. I think our mental strength gets also affected with any physical trauma. I am not one of those people who write blogs about their struggles and suffering. I know that sharing a bad condition brings sort of relief and can possibly show the way out to others. It’s just possibly, because there are no two 100% identical cases, there are just similarities, maybes and huge inter-and intra-individual variations. However, as bad as my conditions and pain might be, I do not want to allow these disorders and pain to identify me.  I just refuse to be somebody who always suffers since that’s not what I am here for. I am here to protest, to oppose, to help, to teach and share some facts and my discoveries.

art of surviving disaster 6

Nevertheless, it’s been 3 very tough years. Again. I already had once 3 very tough years after I left the hospital which had become my home for almost a year. It’s very interesting how before the accident I didn’t even know what a simple headache was. After the accident, I learned everything about hospitals, pre-and post-treatments, medicines, their side effects and I discovered billions of new small bits about the human body and the ways it functions or dysfunctions. So far, I have spent 30 years studying everything from depressive and cognitive disorders to anything related to type I diabetes, heart and vascular, kidney, liver, lung and digestive diseases, and I am paying special attention to the brain activity and anything which affects it. While I can fairly well assess my own disorders, I cannot cure them on my own. Apart from being hard to tolerate, pain is also exhausting and drains me out of energy. It is capable of doing this to the point when I am almost always asleep. Pain is a bad and obtrusive companion: I wake up with it, I go to sleep with it, I have my lunch with it and it seems to be always around.

Those of you, who live with chronic pain for lengthy periods of time, probably are aware that pain makes us more vulnerable, more sensitive, more open to depression and desperation. Whatever somebody would say, whenever the pain attacks, we have to experience it on our own. If you are extremely sensitive to any chemicals and medicines as I am, you are aware how they make one sick even at doses which would be considered tiny and mild. So, that’s the issue, I am trying to be stronger than pain without much of medications. I would take them only when it is absolutely, completely intolerable. Even in these cases, I’m using only 200 mg or 400 mg Ibuprofen or Advil. Nothing stronger, nothing which affects the brain function and interaction of brain chemicals. I take pills rarely, as rarely as only possible. Instead, I am crying, tossing around on a couch and feeling how my willpower leaves me. Why? I don’t want to damage more than inevitable my kidneys, my liver and get ulcers, bleeding or holes in the stomach which can happen with prolonged use of potent pain relief medications. Unfortunately, when we have to rely on OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) covered care and treatments, the waiting times are insane. It can take about 6 months to see the specialist. In my case, it took 3 years to try getting something done. I am going to have a surgery very soon. I am absolutely scared because the results are not very predictable. In fact, they are much unknown, but since there aren’t plenty of choices, surgery seems to be the best option.

I do anything which I can, which I can at the moment. I certainly hope to return to normal life. I would love to have normal nice summers and winters again; I would love to go out here and there, to have some vacation, to see and meet people outside this place, to do anything which most people can do without any problem. Well, I hope to be there someday soon.

I also disagree with those who are convinced: once you let the past go you are like brand new and ready for a fresh start. How about the past not letting you go? This accident happened 24 years ago and that’s when I got quite a few new acquaintances: lots of pain, depressive episodes because I wasn’t able to cope with life as before, so on and so on. Whenever we are just fixed up after bad mental or physical traumas which happened in the past, we will never be the same. We will have anxieties and fear of so many things which were unknown before the trauma. We will be patched up and sewn together, but never again without cracks and scars. These scars might be invisible to others, but they are always there. Fears and worries are sneaking up on us whether in a dream or in reality.

Before your hand starts writing you are sorry (in case you decided to read this update since I was so bad, I couldn’t post anything for quite a while and most likely I’ve lost all followers), I would love to say I don’t want somebody to be sorry. It’s ok not to be sorry. I am a fighter, I always have been. I would appreciate much more you went to the gallery and art blog and checked out my Fine Art America link on the right side and the art for sale on the art blog. Ironically, when we are in the least favorable state and condition to make some money, we need the financial support the most.

art of surviving disaster 3

Yams

art of surviving disaster 4

More of my yams experiment

art of surviving disaster 2

Zucchini

art of surviving disaster 5

Cucumber blooms

The other thing which I am doing to get my mind off is my backyard and plants as you can see above. I have put something in the soil, just like always, and yams are absolutely experimental for me this year. Not much happening with painting, but the bits will be published on the gallery blog assuming I get to this before the surgery.

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