This blog post continues on from When ‘A’ met Grief (Part 1)
In the previous post I wrote about my experience of grief from losing my grampy, that it took a whooping 8 years to finally accept it.
The extract at the end of the blog was:
I had two years after that of some normality and at the end of 2015 I had convinced myself that the asshole hitch hiker was a result of not accepting or acknowledging the loss of my grampy and against the doctors wishes I came off my bipolar medication.
Against the doctors wishes meant that if I came off my medication I gave up the help, the support of the mental health team and I was on my own. My mentality at the time was screw them and screw the asshole hitch hiker. I felt it was safe to be able feel again.
Queue the return of ‘A’….drumroll please…
‘A’ came back, pissed I’d disrupted its vacation time but I could manage it. I started Yoga and meditation to become more mindful and it helped. The meditation side was a lot harder to master because my mind was always racing but I did 10 minutes everyday and persevered. Eventually I was finding I could sit for 20 minutes with a peaceful mind allowing my thoughts to come and go.
After 9 months of Yoga and meditation I felt a lot stronger in my mind and body, I was starting to feel in control. I even travelled to California by myself which was the biggest achievement to date. I was smashing ‘A’s ass hard!!
Jan 2017 saw me starting a new job, one I was excited about, one that would kick-start my long-awaited career.
I was finally in a good place.
March 30th 2017 was when it all came down with an almighty bang.
Every day before and after work I would visit my mum; I’d do anything she required, make her breakfast, sort her medication out, make her dinner, monitor her drinking and make sure she washed.
My mum was in her 10th year of battling alcohol addiction, it was at the stage now where she didn’t even enjoy drinking but had to because without the alcohol her body hurt, her mind tormented her and the withdrawals were too intense. She had been to rehab 5 times; 3 times forced by me and 2 times at her own will but the demons in her mind would always win because withdrawals were tough on her. She was awaiting her 6th rehab visit but there was a waiting list; I felt like this would be the last time, that she was ready to conquer it, she seemed different and more determined.
On March 30th I went round as usual in the morning but my mum didn’t look very well, extremely pale, very confused, and was in pain so I rang an ambulance and we were taken into hospital with sirens on. (I remember feeling excitement at this moment, what an adventure we could laugh about at a later date)
She was diagnosed with a water infection and started treatment alongside a detox due to her withdrawals.
‘A’ brought out the attacks with force, it felt like if i let go and succumbed to the pressure that an almighty attack was there waiting. I was always tinkering on the edge of an ‘A’ attack, it was waiting in the wings for an opening to present itself.
Of course the many years of masking this hitch hiker I was an expert in hiding it. I was the only one that could ever make my mum laugh; we seemed to get each other and were very similar. I stayed by her side every single day and hid the pain my hitch hiker was causing from my mum. We even had a few giggles and I saw my mum smile.
In reality though I was struggling.
I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t relax
Every new day the only goal I had been to get through it, win that daily battle and not worry about the next until I was faced with it.
Over the course of 5 days she started to get better, back to herself again. I went home on the fifth night for a shower (my mum forced me, said I needed it!), it was the first time I had left my mum’s side in 5 whole days. (I remember walking back to my car with a smile on my face: everything was going to be fine)
On day 6 I woke to see my mum had started having breathing difficulties, this escalated extremely quickly and by day 7 my mum was diagnosed with pneumonia.
My mum was allergic to Penicillin and because she wasn’t well enough to answer for herself so I had to decide between:
- Trying an alternative medicine to fight the pneumonia which my mum wasn’t allergic to but may not act fast enough
- Give my mum Penicillin which would fight the pneumonia but could potential cause my mum further harm and ill-health
My mum was severly allergic to Penicillin which meant she could potentially go into anaphylactic shock so it was a no brainer for me to try the other medicine.
The alternative medicine wasn’t acting fast enough and the doctors were talking about intensive care; putting my mum to sleep for a while so her lungs could repair but my mum begged me not to let the doctors take her there because she wouldn’t wake up from it.
At this point my other sisters were in the hospital visiting which was helpful because every 5 minutes I had to leave the room to control ‘A’, at one point I even had to have oxygen because the attack had started to aggravate my asthma. I remember feeling annoyed because i would leave to get ‘A’ under control and my mum would ask one of my sisters where I was.
I hate myself for feeling agitated that she needed me.
This also started a feud between myself and my oldest sister, she barely saw my mum, infact, at that point in time the last time she had seen my mum was Boxing day 2016. (26th December)
I stayed by her side that night, the nurses wouldn’t dare to kick me out to the relative room. This made ‘A’ taunt me; did they already know she was going to die?
‘A’ was constantly pumping adrenaline into my system with the mini relentless attacks so I was wired anyway and unlikely to sleep. My heart was constantly racing and the amount I perspired wasn’t human. (Even my butt cheeks sweat, whose butt cheeks sweat?) It was crazy.
My mum fought so hard to breathe, I prayed so hard that night. My mum was trying with all her might to keep breathing. I was so proud of her.
She would fight this.
The next morning my mum went into respiratory failure and was taken to the intensive care unit. This time it wasn’t a choice, it was life or death.
The next 5 days I sat by her bed all day and night while a machine breathed for her. I talked to her, told her about Oscar (her beloved dog), I told her jokes, sang to her, played her music and held her hand. Sometimes her eyes would twitch and I knew she could hear me.
The doctors would continuously ask me about my mum’s health prior to this infection, they couldn’t understand why she wasn’t getting better. (I didn’t tell them about the 10 year battle with alcohol or the constant ill-health she suffered because I wanted them to keep trying, afraid if they knew that they would give up)
April 14th, 2017 (Does the date ring a bell to you? Apart from it being Good Friday, it was the same date 10 years ago that my grampy died. SAME DATE!)
The doctor sat me and my younger sister down and told us that there was no more they could do for my mum, her kidneys and liver had now failed. We had to turn the machines off.
I didn’t get to say goodbye, I didn’t get to say I love you I more time.
Now if I had been alone at this news I would have dealt with it better but my younger sister was hysterical crying, which allowed ‘A’ to creep through and I had one of the worst attacks id ever had. So bad infact that I thought I was going to die myself and I ran, before I realised it I was running down the stairs, through the hospital and into the fresh air before collapsing onto a patch of grass and violently throwing up my insides.
At around 5pm on 14th April I watched my mum take her final breaths surrounded by her daughters and brother and then I lay my head on her chest for the next 5 hours until they took her to the mortuary. I went over and over what had happened, feeling like I had failed her, feeling like I could have done more.
Why didn’t’ I just take her to the doctors for the water infection? She wouldn’t have caught pneumonia from the hospital then.
Its my fault she had died like this.
I don’t remember to this day when everyone left, I don’t really remember the 5 hours by her bedside just when the nurse interrupted me to say they had to take my mum away. I then walked home at 1030pm from the hospital; even though I had driven.
My mum died 14th April 2017 around 5pm – the exact same time and date as my grampy.
To this day that blows my mind.
So here I am in the cycle of grief again. This time its different.
The next couple of weeks I was possessed with something, I had this strength from somewhere. I organised the funeral, I organised all my mum’s affairs and I made sure everyone was ok. On the day of the funeral I stood up and read a poem I had written about my mum, I never cried.
After the funeral my dad (who I wasn’t particularly close with) came up to me and hugged me, for what seemed like a lifetime. He told me how proud he was of me, that to him I was the weakest daughter mentally and physically but somehow I had become the strongest and was holding everyone together. He thanked me for writing such a beautiful poem about mum and keeping everyone strong.
Everyone was thanking me, I didn’t understand it. I wasn’t doing it for them, I was doing it for my mum. I didn’t want any thanks.
Two days after the funeral I was sacked from my job, I hadn’t been back yet and they felt I wouldn’t be back for some time and felt it best to let me go. (Thanks a bunch!)
I had lost my mum, my routine and now my job.
So since then I have literally been surviving, day by day, with ‘A’. The doctors constantly trying to put me back on medication but I refuse. ‘A’ is crippling me but I want to beat it.
What better way that in a place of complete defeat? I couldn’t break any further.
Eventually the strength disappeared and I pleaded for the numbness like with my grampy but I didn’t get it. What I did get though instead was crippling flashbacks when I least expected them, moments replayed in my dreams over and over again, night sweats, night ‘A’ attacks and completely uncontrollable emotional outbursts.
By day I felt physically sick, exhausted, random outbursts of extreme emotion and constantly fearing I was going to die from something. The tiniest thing could make me either want to kill someone or cry uncontrollably.
By night my heart would race, I would sweat everywhere, id had flashbacks and horrible dreams and I would sob my heart out until I was sick.
Everyday through the sickness, the headaches and the extreme exhaustion I would force myself out of bed and do some Yoga and then walk to my youngest sisters house to see her.
The days I’d think I had a handle on it finally then like a wave in the sea it would all coming crashing into me again, harder than before. It would suck the life and strength out of me.
I’d pretty much given up, ‘A’ had convinced me I was going to die soon anyway so there was no point in trying. I was ready.
Then just like before with ‘A’ when I was younger, something clicked in me and I found some inner strength. I got a new job.
The job has been hard, everyday is an uphill battle to even get to work, then I have to tolerate people who irritate me, have to pretend I am normal (and without my hitch hiker) and try to act as if I care. I don’t care, I am constantly tinkering on the edge with ‘A’.
Christmas hit me hard, my younger sister went away for it and I was left here alone. I put a brave face on through video chats but I felt dead inside. I rang in sick for the first week back in work and I cant bare to go back, almost at the mindset of quitting. ‘A’ is winning the battle, day by day and this job has worn me further down than when I was unemployed.
I don’t want to go through another 8 years of my life not committing to anything again, feeling detached and isolated but I don’t feel strong at the moment, I feel like I’ve gone backwards. The flash backs are back, the lack of sleep and the emotional outbursts.
I guess it would appear I missed out on skipping the different stages with my grampy that this time I’m being taken through every stage several times a day. (Except numbness and denial which seem like the jackpot right now!)
Loss, hurt, emotional outbursts, anger, fear, fear, fear, fear, emotional outbursts, hurt, disorganisation, guilt, guilt, fear, guilt, guilt, fear, emotional outbursts, hurt, loneliness, isolation, isolation, isolation, loneliness, guilt, fear, fear, fear, anger, guilt, loss, emotional outbursts, depression.
My grampy use to always say “When nothing goes right…go left”
Quit everything from 2017 and start a new life in 2018.
Me and ‘A’
Change is good right? (or should that be left?) ‘A’ doesn’t think so….