Obviously I haven’t just returned home from Iraq, but I feel, on some level, as if I have. Now I realize this comparison may seem extreme to some (especially my brother who has actually served over in Iraq), and I don’t mean to imply that the hardship we have faced is even CLOSE to the degree to which our nation’s heroes suffer during deployment, but what I am experiencing is like the psychological text book acclimation back into “the real world”. ‘What the hell is she talking about?’ you might be asking yourself. Well let me explain, for this blog is not only about my need to write and vent and do whatever cathartic expression I can to feel better, it is also a little bit of a window into my soul – a soul that is taking a journey of a lifetime.
The past few months have been intense for me. As most of you know Chloe’s health has had a nice gradual improvement for months now. While she has thrived, I have not had things so easy. I have racked my brain with how I could possibly be having a hard time NOW when we’re finally out of crisis. I started to realize I felt sort of “post traumatic”. But that didn’t completely describe how I was feeling. It got me thinking, though, more about war time and the transition from war back to home.
At times, watching your sick baby suffer or struggle wondering what will come next is in its own way, a constant war ground. Just trying to go through each day as if everything is fine just waiting to hear that not so distant enemy fire. But it hasn’t been the kind of war that leaves you in a constant state of physical threat. Rather it has been the kind of war that terrorizes your psyche on a daily basis. I think all humans have an ethical dilemma with attacking even the enemy’s children. Yet here I was on a daily basis, watching my child struggle to breath. Struggle to LIVE. I was living in my own war zone.
But now things are quiet. We’re back “home” to normal, or our new normal, that doesn’t involve weekly doctor visits and frequent trips to the ER. The suction machine is even beginning to accumulate dust. For us, the war is all but over. Chloe has been stable for almost 2 months now. A record amount of time without a single breathing episode. So what could possibly be my problem???? It’s like I said. I feel like I just returned home from war, back to normal, but things don’t FEEL normal. I’m not the same person. Things don’t feel the same anymore. And I’m left with that constant sense of guilt and confusion. There are people we have grown to love that remain in the trenches. . . over enemy lines. Even though I can’t help them when I’m there myself, there is some sense of togetherness that I can provide. Ridiculous, I know. But the truth. And I’ve learned to function in crisis. I’m having to relearn how to NOT be in crisis. And then when you finally start getting used to feeling good with your new normal you can’t help fight that feeling that you might have to go back after all. WHAT IF. . . What if you get called back to war. Back to that horrible place that although it has a sense of familiarity and you have glimpses of wanting to return, you REALLY REALLY can’t even imagine going back to that horrible place. In fact, really thinking about it can take your breath right out of your lungs. You watch the news waiting to hear of the latest battle. . . “swine flu”. . . “pandemic”. . . “children are particularly susceptible”. . . “children with underlying health conditions”. . .”death”. . . This is real world shit that I can’t escape, yet I have to. I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that we are home and we are safe and that no matter what the news says we’re not going back to that horrible place. But if we do. . . if we HAVE TO, ready or not, we will do our best and find the strength in our hearts and souls and the love that surrounds us, and forge on.
And to my little warriors out there that are still fighting the battle every single day my heart aches for you. I join your fight in my positive thoughts and prayers that I send your way. Hang tough my little heroes. You have AMAZING AMAZING strength.