Forget Me Not

I close my eyes and see the past.
Breath heavy, body convulsing, hot skin, cold body begging for mercy
Is this a nightmare?
Eyes open, nothing has changed
This is not a nightmare; this is reality.

I close my eyes and see the past.
Voices talking but my face is covered. I cannot associate the faces with the voices.  I am in the operating room with a two inch open incision in my chest and fingers digging inside me trying to reach the purple metal stuck inside, my port.  It was an emergency as infection was rapidly spreading throughout my bloodstream.  Upon removal it was time to be stitched up.  Attempt after attempt but the anesthetic would not work.  I can feel the pain of the needle ripping through the layers of skin with every single stitch.   I yell in pain with each needle piercing but all the doctors can say is that it will be over soon.  I prayed it would stop.  I prayed for the pain to go away.  I prayed for mercy.  I prayed that it would end.

I close my eyes and see the past.
They cannot hear my cries.  Maybe they think I am in the twilight sleep that most patients are in?
Only, I am wide awake.  This seems all too familiar.
Laying on the OR table with another incision in my chest.
Sweat dripping, tears flowing, inexperienced doctors making mistakes on my fragile body, pain radiating, surgical tools being carelessly thrown and my face used for stitching leverage.
I prayed it would stop.  I prayed for the pain to go away.  I prayed for mercy.  I prayed that it would end.

I close my eyes and see the past.
Months later, these vivid memories stay
Always saying, forget me not.

I realized that I may have mild PTSD symptoms stemming from various hospitalizations and procedures in the last year.  I have nightmares and flashbacks of helplessly shaking the night I had a 104 degree fever and the two surgeries.  The memories haunt me but I am not afraid to admit that these memories plague me.  People typically associate PTSD with soldiers and veterans that have fought in war.  Although I have not served this country, I am fighting my own war with my body.  People are afraid to admit when they have a problem, especially when it comes to mental health.  Stigma associated with mental health problems makes people feel damaged, broken and lesser than they really are.  The stigma deters people from seeking help and even admitting to themselves that they have a problem.

We are all works in progress and I am not afraid to admit my flaws.  Each day is a new opportunity to work on yourself, realize your mistakes from the day before and ensure a change for the future.  These memories are exactly what they are, memories.  They are the past and I am in the present.  The easiest thing in the world to do is give up but to true strength is holding it together when everyone would understand if you fell apart.  My only option is to continue to be a strong person and make sure that these memories don’t affect the future.  If you need help, seek it.  Whatever situation you are in, don’t let fear or stigma deter you from being the best YOU that you can be.

~Natasha

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