Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | September 14, 2012

a sudden momentary attack of PTSD

[Survivors may want no part of this post. Sorry, people. Just typing to make myself feel better .]

Arrived home after a long day to hear in the house a highly annoying intermittent beeping. After much tribulation we tracked it down to the smoke alarm in Anna’s bedroom. Naturally.


Simple, right? Change the battery.
Well, not so much. Life is often so complicated. Emotions and memories are not always my friends. See, the thing is, about batteries…
During the year that Jeff was “in treatment” for stage IV colon cancer, after getting pumped full of this, that, and the other poison (…details available on request.
I didn’t think so.
But I digress.)
he would get hooked up to a portable chemotherapy pump in a sort of fanny pack that would become his constant companion. We’d go home, and for 48 hours the pump would intravenously feed his chemo through the surgically-implanted PICC line in his chest. The pump had its own personality, wheezing and whooshing all night while we tried to sleep. It was horrible. I hated it, and everything it represented.
Then we would drive back to the treatment center, and a nurse would remove the pump, until the next cycle. Each week, she would unhook the pump and remove the battery. They give you a fresh new battery every time, because you don’t want the battery to fail and the pump to stop. But the battery would be fine, really, after only 48 hours, so we would take it home. Jeff was on that treatment for months. So we ended up with a drawer full of 9 volt batteries.
But I guess that was a while ago. Because now they are all gone. But I still get to think about it, while I hold the metal oblong in my hand and try not to cry.


  1. So many of these these triggers waiting to detonate. I was just telling my mom this last night. They range from seeing jewelweed blooms along the riverbank, reminding me of all the canoe trips I will never take again with Don, to those same batteries in Don’s pump which was used for a different purpose. I still cannot bear any suction sound (dentist office) that reminds me of the sounds made by a ventilator, or certain warning beeps that sound like those on the vital signs monitor in ICU. Can’t look at bottles of Boost, but take out a bag of them to recycling for an elderly neighbour. It’s a pretty long list with each trigger attached to an invisible thread leading right back to a block of months I would rather forget.


    • beautifully said, B. So many triggers. So many invisible threads.


      • And I still drive miles out of my way to avoid driving past the chemo center. Or avert my eyes from the full parking lot if I somehow find myself there.
        Once I drove past and the parking lot was empty. And for one second I imagined no one had cancer. But then I realized it was only Sunday.


  2. I had to take Don to the same cancer clinic I took my dad to when he was being treated for teminal kidney cancer. It was a horrible thing havijng to put on my bravest smile and drive there with him week after week for radiation, chemo, bloodowrk, CTs and MRIs. Also during last night’s conversation with my mom, I said I would never be able to do it again, and would definitely never go there for treatment if I became ill. I would not ever allow myself to be pulled into cogs of the another medical nightmare. Twice was enough for one lifetime.


  3. just the other night we were watching tv and CT scans appeared in the program. I can’t look. I have to close my eyes. Seen FAR too much on full color CT scan images. None of it good.


  4. – but I don’t want them to be all gone.
    That is my very emotional response.


  5. Agreed, megan. However, I wish there was a way to be selective. I would love to remember Don by the jewelweed, the dragonflies, and all the other triggers, but the Boost and the suction noises,… no, those I could definitely do without.


  6. I have to drive by the hospital EVERY day .. twice.. going to work and coming home. Across the street is a Taco Bell, so I look at that and say Taco Bell, Taco Bell over and over again until I’m past the hospital. Only way I can drive to work and not be a total mess by the time I get there. Love reading your words Carolyn 🙂


  7. You all should try EMDR therapy. It helps to disassociate the triggers and process the traumatic emotions.


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