Tuesday Night – #PTSD #autism #NICU

Tuesday night was rough.

My son fell down a flight of stairs. Less than ten minutes later he and I were at the ER. I had no coat on and he was glued to my chest all 41 pounds of him. My hands were shaking and I couldn’t focus. The triage nurse guided my hands to the papers to fill out. As many times as we have been in the ER it amazes me how few nurses realize or know that he is profoundly deaf and autistic.

On Ben’s last ER visit he was given a medication that causes serious disorientation and sedation. He did not react well to going back into T1 (Trauma Room 1). It took all of my strength to get him on the bed to be seen by the nurse and doctor.

The poor doctor didn’t know Kiddo’s routine. “You have to look at his ears first, it’s his routine.” Kiddo calmed down a little but not much.  Onto the floor he went as soon as the doctor had shone the light in his eyes. Major meltdown in progress he began head slamming on the concrete.  

Back into my arms and onto a roller chair after a lot of signs and convincing. Then came the x-ray tech. An Autism mom herself she walked in signing.

Thank you to whoever had her scheduled.

With the help of an EMT 2 x-rays got taken. Both appeared to be clear of any major issues.

The nurse came back in with the same medication from Ben’s last visit. He did not react well at all. Sitting on a visitors chair, her got a shot to his thigh, while restrained by three people. He would do anything to stay away from the blue sheeted hospital bed.

“Give him a band-aid!” Ben took it and put it over the injection site. He calmed down a little more, looking at me with anger and betrayal in his eyes.

Then my hell truly began.

Ben’s eyes began to quiver as the sedative began to take hold. Drool dripped from between his lips. The fear in his eyes became unbearable for me.

For a split second, I was back in the big yellow farmhouse. In front of me was a ten-year-old girl with cafe-latte skin and jet black hair. The craniopharyngioma was killing her slowly and painfully. She was coming round from a non-conforming seizure. When she could talk again, she started to talk about heaven, Gramma, Carrie,  Angels and Jesus. I think it was Mom who asked what Jesus looked like, then Aimee fell into another seizure.

I snapped back to the ER and my son who was sitting in a chair was wavering back and forth, side to side. I asked him if he saw the butterflies and angels. His eyes darted around the room like lightning, pausing and focusing intently in multiple places.

“Do you see Great-Gramma?” I signed.

His eyes bored right into me and he nodded. Suddenly his eyes began to look around wildly again.  A vacant stare replaced the fear and his normally precocious curious gaze. All I could think of was the week I left him alone in the

All I could think of was the week I left him alone in the NICU.

Carrying his dead weight to the gurney I sat down as a nurse walked in from radiology. She was excitedly talking about the food in the breakroom celebrating her 40 plus years at the hospital and her last hour at work. We were wheeled to radiology.

My mind was racing. I laid kiddo down on the narrow table. I was drug back into another memory.

The 18 month-old, blond cherubim, was swollen beyond recognition.  My youngest sister lay in a PICU bed, brain-dead and on life support. Her tiny body too far gone to donate any organ, I begged any god in existence to bring her back.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as the image of my sister and the image of my son melded. I watched the CT machine stop. Ben was laying there, his toes wiggling. His eyes wide unable to move and still hallucinating, I lifted him and sat on the gurney.

Back in the room, we waited. Trauma Room 1 has no television and my book was in the parking lot. I was alone in my head.

The nurse asked me if I needed anything.


The doctor asked if I wanted a sedative.

No thank you.

I talked to the nurse about the NICU. She spoke of her first marriage.

She spoke of her first marriage.

I felt like a fool for talking about my emotions and my experiences. I discovered I need more support.

The test results came back and the doctor said, “No signs of bleeds and no broken bones.”

Relief flooded me.

Ben sat up a few minutes later, then collapsed back on top of me. This happened every five to seven minutes for forty-five minutes. Then he puked on me. The vomiting scared me more than anything else. Ben had a Nissen Fundoplication done at nine months and it is still very tight. Meaning he can’t easily throw up.

Twenty minutes later we were discharged. Between the flood of memories and watching my son constantly to assure myself he was breathing I didn’t sleep much at all that night.

I learned some very important things while I was in the ER Tuesday night. Triggers really do come in all shapes and forms. My son’s injury triggered so many memories. My panic and fear opened me up to being able to process old and buried memories. While the grief has lessened over time my PTSD still sucks.  

Now I just need to relax and breathe.



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