Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Fears and Bells

I wake up soaking wet with perspiration, my heart beating so hard and fast my chest hurts, my arms flailing, and adrenalin surging through my fear drenched body.

It’s a recurring nightmare:

They’re preparing me for surgery. They’re trying to inject me with something to put me to sleep. There are variations, but I am always wrapped in white sheets, I am always surrounded by people in white coats, I am always aware of the pain waiting for me. No matter how hard I try I can’t make my scream come out of my throat. I can never actually see my legs.

I don’t get much sleep at any given time. The muscles and nerves in my legs and back don’t take to staying in one position for very long. The nerves decide to run flashes of hot molten lava down my legs and the muscles get to feeling left out of the fun and decided to jump and chase the nerves. It all becomes way too busy for sound sleep. If the nightmare decides to visit too my rest is so interrupted that I have no choice but to get out of bed.

I’ve had 30+ surgeries in my lifetime. Way too many of them were done when I was a girl. I think the nightmare stems from the young girl that wasn't allowed to scream with her pain.

A nurse once slapped me because she found me crying with the pain. I learned to stifle the cries, stifle the panic, stifle the resentment, and stifle the fear. But I can’t stifle the nightmare.

I think if I could scream just once the nightmare would disappear. But the scream doesn’t come until I am fully awake.

I wrote in an earlier entry what the tolling of church bells does to me. Yesterday I was driving my grandson to school. A bell started ringing behind us somewhere. We were at a red light and I couldn’t move the car away from the sound. I gasped and grabbed my grandson’s hand. The ringing came closer and closer as if the sound itself was a living, breathing entity that was going to consume me. The red light forced me to sit there and wait to be consumed. The ringing bell rode over me and I stopped breathing. I sat there soaking wet with perspiration, my heart beating hard and fast, and the adrenalin surging through my fear drenched body.

The bell was attached to a rapid transit light rail vehicle. It had been ringing its bell to announce its approach to the intersection. I hadn’t known that it was there so it’s impact on me was instantaneous. I once again became a child trying to stifle the fear.

Last night I had the nightmare.

But the fear is so old. It was so long ago. I rarely consciously think about the fear. Why does it plague me so? When the hell do we ever recover from what we had to go through as a child?

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