Posted by: Kate | August 11, 2010

No Regrets…

I wonder just how much I’ve changed, fundamentally.  I feel like it’s still too early to really gauge; like I’m still so early in the recovery process that I can’t even judge how far into the recovery process I am.  Fifty percent?  Seventy-five?  Twenty?  It’s overwhelming, because I can’t see the end yet.  I can’t get a handle on how far I’ve come or how much farther I have to go.

So I wait.  I get through a day at a time, and I acknowledge new changes and scars as they appear.  The latest is a fear of being home alone, but also a fear of leaving the house… when I’m home alone, I’m rarely truly alone; it’s with at least Isaac, if not all three kids, and I’m terrified of having some sort of memory slip that results in damage.  Every summer, there’s at least one horrible news story about a baby being left in a hot car because the parent just forgot the kid was there, and that’s parents without known memory problems post-coma.  I forgot how old I was the other day, and then I had a hard time doing the mental arithmetic to figure it out.  I’m reasonably confident that as long as I remain anxious about my ability to keep track of everything that needs keeping track of, I’ll be fine; it’s when you get complacent and trust the routine that slips happen.  I have to believe that, because I’m home alone with the baby now, and in a month Willem will be returning to work full-time.  My time of focusing solely on my recovery, and only secondarily on anything outside of my own body, is rapidly coming to a close.

OK, then, I’m scared to be the only adult at home but I’m learning to handle it.  Fabulous.  And as soon as I start to feel OK about that, I face the flip side of that particular coin: if it’s scary for me to be in the house, it’s outright terrifying for me to be out.  I got so, so sick in March, all because of a simple little germ.  Somebody, sometime, had strep throat; most likely, Emily brought it home from school, since she’s the only other member of the house that tested positive for the strain that landed me on life support.  Just strep throat, such a simple – and terrifyingly common – little thing.  I’ve lost all faith in my body’s ability to respond appropriately to illness and threats, and while I haven’t developed agoraphobia, I’ve started to understand how it is that people can spend years never leaving the confines of their own home.  Life is unpredictable enough within these walls, and is completely out of control outside them.

Sigh.  Do you see?  This isn’t me.  This isn’t the person I wanted to become.  Just read back six months ago, you’ll hear the voice of a confident, competent woman.  I might have been unemployed and physically challenged, but I felt like I had a handle on it all.  I sound happy.  I felt happy.

Now I’m sad every day, but not sure whether I’ve made it to “depressed” yet.  Some days, certainly, but then other days I rally and step away from that dark edge.  And I’m not sure why.  I’m not sure what makes the difference, why some days I can get up and act like I know what I’m doing, and other days I hide in my bed because I don’t want the kids to see me so broken and scared.

Looking at my kids, I have to convince myself that I have no regrets, because if I change any one thing in my past it might lead to not having the same three people in my life, and I love them all beyond expression.  I have such a strong bond with Willem; I knew we had a good marriage and a solid connection, but over the past several months I’ve proven that I can trust him, literally, with my life.  I don’t want to change any of that.  But if someone had told me at 22 just how hard it was going to be in just 10 years, I’m not certain I would have had the strength to make the same decisions.  It’s all just so much harder than I thought it was going to be, you know?



  1. Kate,

    I do not share your health issues form this year, but I can completely understand where you are coming from. Especially the sad part. I have had my own share of health issues (with the terrifying, but brief option, of brain surgery), unresolved health issues and a job where I don’t feel supported. I can only look at you through your writing and tell myself that we both can get through this. You and your family have inspired me to take charge of my life, my health, in a way I hadn’t done before. I cannot thank you enough for that. I have sent along many good thoughts and prayers your way, as have others, and only hope for fortune to smile again on you all.

  2. Yes, Kate, I do know. Hugs and empathy. I sit here on the verge of half a century and wonder how did I get Here?

    Just getting up and managing each day is an accomplishment. The bigger picture is hard to see. Just keep getting up my friend!!

    Love you.

  3. Not to sound like a broken record but seriously, have you talked with your dr about postpartum depression. You sound exactly like I did when I was diagnosed. I was forgetful, scared, overwhelmed, sad, happy, lost my words, and had ANXIETY. You can be diagnosed anywhere from birth up to one year out from baby.

  4. It sounds like anxiety. After my son was born 3 months prematurely, and I was later diagnosed with MS, I became the same way. Scared of being home alone and terrified of leaving the house. I would pace around looking out the windows all day. Finally, I was put on anti-anxiety meds. That’s been almost 12 years ago. I still take something (actually 2 now) to this day: Zoloft and Ativan daily.

  5. For everything you have gone through, and endured I have no doubt that the confident, competent and happy woman will return. You have come so far from such an unexpected and unwelcome journey.

  6. Kate, unfortunately for all of us life is capricious. When my mom came home after her accident, she was in what had not been removed of the full body cast and she was in a wheelchair. For her, the fear wasn’t germs, but the fact that we lived in an area where around every corner could be the 17 yo drunk who very nearly killed her.

    But like you sound, she was very determined to return life to as normal for us as possible. So baby steps at a time, she began to manage. One of my fondest memories (which is making me smile right now) is of the first day she came upstairs. It may even have been the first time she was alone with us after the accident, I know that she still had family helping most of the time at that point. My brother & I were doing things we should not have been (I was dancing from bed to bed and I no longer remember what my brother was doing). I looked over and mom was sitting at the top of the stairs. She had lifted herself out of the wheelchair, sat her bottom on the steps & lifted her way up each step. Until she was sitting at the top. Laughing her head off at both of us. And then she couldn’t get back down. So we all sat there and laughed until my dad got home.

    It’s those little things that begin to give you confidence you can do it again. That you will once again be the confident capable woman you are looking for. My mom did get back into a car and drove again. Because for us to get back to normal, she had to. But it didn’t come all at once. And I was too little to fully understand how hard all that was. But I remember lots of those little moments, those tiny steps that now, 45 years on I know were part of getting back to normal.

    Be kind to yourself. Find your own little steps. Congratulate yourself for making them. And realize that you will be stronger for all this.

  7. Love to you my friend.

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