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I have a lot of new readers so I'll recap on something that most friends and family already know. I have 5 kids in my family; my closest sibling is 4 years older than I am. For privacy I'll leave her name out. A few years ago, she suddenly and unexpectedly went into Cardiac Arrest and her heart stopped for about 5 minutes before they revived her. After being placed into a medically-induced coma for a month, she woke up but things haven't been the same for her since. She's mentally still there, but now in a wheelchair and suffers from sporadic seizures. I hesitate to write even this, and wont go further into because I don't know who's reading this and how much information is too personal.
She went into the hospital this morning for some tests that they will be running on her for the next week or so. According to what I've heard about it- they're taking her off of all her medication and monitoring her 24 hours a day to see how her body reacts. Worst case scenario, this will lead to brain surgery, but I'm not sure how far down the line that would be.
For someone who writes for a living, and has a history of over-indulging information in that medium, I find myself almost at a loss for words with this. I wrote a college paper about it about a year after it happened, only showing it to a select few outside of my professor, mainly because if I told someone who didn't know me I felt somehow safer expressing how it made me feel. I think that, in circumstances like these, people find it difficult to talk about how they feel. Even for me.
I'm not ready to share the essay I wrote about it. I will explain my thought process to some extent because I feel like I have an opportunity to identify and therefore help people out there who have been through a trauma with a loved one.
For one thing, it's surreal. In regards to that part of my life, I often feel like I'm reading about it in a book about someone else. When I went to the hospital after it happened I kept feeling like I wasn't really there. It was fake, to me. Like I was walking through one of those haunted houses at Halloween where you see someone and think it's a doll but then they jump up and grab you... I kept waiting for her to jump up and say "Gotcha!"
For another thing, it's scary. I think that's obvious. But after enough people ask you about it, you become so emotionally exhausted that you can't respond anymore. Explaining it again and again becomes you reciting some script, and you begin to lose feeling in it because you're not even thinking about how your feelings have evolved past shock and confusion. And each day becomes something different, but you sort of never graduate to the next level of emotion because thinking about it makes your head hurt, so you have to go off your natural instincts- which for me at least were fight or flight. How I felt about it became irrelevant because everyone else was so upset that all I could do was what I could for them, seeing as how I couldn't do anything more for my sister at the moment. It's like being on auto-pilot.
And to be honest... I don't know if I ever graduated past that point. Even in helping with my sister- I don't know how much I've graduated there past "well, I'll just try to be emotionally there for whoever wants to talk about it." I help if and when I can, but I think that sometimes I'm still just afraid. I can't really explain why.
My family has always been "talkers." We talk through feelings and we sort through stuff verbally together, whether we all want to or not. But no one in my family really talks about it this. It's the first time I think we've ever done that, and it somehow scares me even more. Feelings are off-limits for the first time since I can remember. I guess it seems unanimously selfish to worry about our own feelings when my sister is the one we should be thinking of. And I know I kind of suck at helping as much as I ought to. And I don't know why that is either. Can I blame it on being the youngest child and therefore somewhat selfish?
My sister is the most influential person in my life. Always has been. I can trace most of my positive (and negative) characteristics to our relationship growing up. I guess the reason I'm even divulging all of this on here is to let people know that I'm scared. Not so you care about MY take on it, but so that if you're out there and you feel scared sometimes, too, you know that it's okay. Because we don't talk about it, and maybe sometimes- we should. Sometimes we SHOULD talk about how we're scared, and how we sometimes suck at making things better when we know we've got it in us. Maybe we should talk more about how we post these mundane little Facebook and Blogger posts about how photoshopped our lives are, when they're so imperfect offline. And it's okay- because we're all the same.
Maybe that's why we should talk about it... because despite varying circumstances, we're all the same.