On the Floor
I never thought I had PTSD from my loss because Gavin died so slowly. You know how they say, “at least you had a chance to say goodbye.” And now that I’ve met women who saw their husbands killed in car accidents, or had to order the ventilators turned off, or woke up to find a heart attack in progress, I don’t feel I have much to compare.
He dissolved before my eyes, but it was so gradual, it was easy to think I wasn’t paying attention.
But every time there’s a pencil on the steps, or a piece of paper on the carpet, I get a tinge. I pick them up compulsively, or bark at my child. We can’t have things on the floor, I go straight back to protection mode. Protecting my husband, now gone four years, from a fall that would break his spine.
Without telling the whole gory story – because there’s a lot of detail, and it is truly the tale of the end – I’ll tell you that Gavin spent his last year in some fear of falling and damaging his spine, which despite advanced medical care and a hugely traumatic surgery, was in danger of collapse for nine months, mostly spent at home with a toddler underfoot.
Underfoot is the trick. If you’ve had a toddler, you know how it’s a constant game of blocks and balls, and every piece of junk mail that becomes an object of fascination. There was always something on the rug, on the hardwood, on the busted up kitchen vinyl that we so wished to fix. Always something to pay attention to, a falling hazard, a risque de tomber.
And this, it turns out, is PTSD. Still alert, still snappy about anything on the stairs, even in our new house. Always looking down. This is PTSD, an everyday thing. Not as hard to get as you might think.
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