When we are scared we have three reactions, fight, flight, or freeze. I’ve always been a fighter. I’ve always been stubborn and a know-it-all. I felt I had deserved the right to have control over my body, to make decisions over my body. I had spent my life asking questions and learning about my myself and my disease. Many times I have thought I knew more than the doctors taking care of me. I have always depended on myself to know what’s best for me, and I don’t often listen if I think I’m right. I want to say that this is me. I have spent my life studying my body and being very in tune with what’s going on. I listen to new doctors, then spend days — even weeks — reading, looking up answers, asking people who have done it before, and getting second then third opinions. I feel I am not unsafe by listening to my instincts, but often it is advisable to listen to your doctors. Or better yet, find doctors you trust implicitly like I have.
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Machines are beeping, people are bustling about. What is on my face? I’m choking! My eyes burst open. Everyone is panicked.
“Stop! Please stop!”I cried out. I ripped a mask off my face while someone else tried to put it back on and hold it in place. Causing air to be forced into my lungs where there was no space for it. I fought her to take it off so I could breathe again. Someone else came over to help hold me down. I started flailing around, trying to take the mask off again. I couldn’t breathe!
“You need to keep the CPAP on your face, you’re d-sating,” someone said. I could hear the machines still alarming. There were probably ten people around me, one at my head, one at my iv, one at my oxygen, someone was holding me down as I struggled to sit up. I struggled harder against the hands that held me.
My gram gently touched my shoulder, startling me awake. I opened my eyes. My heart rate was elevated, I was remembering something but it didn’t quite make sense. Had that just happened or was I remembering something old? Had those people been the ones that tried to kill me? Think, Whitney! I was missing a few pieces of memory somewhere.
“Get some Ativan! STAT!” someone yelled.
I reached up and grabbed my grams hand, quickly trying to get words out. “This place isn’t safe! I remember now, they had me held down trying to give me meds I shouldn’t have,” I panted. I was breathing heavily still from the dream or the memory. Or whatever it was.
Grams eyes went sad, then she sighed as she said,“Whitney they are doing the best they can, they are not trying to hurt you.” She patted my hand and smiled, always the comforter and protector.
I smiled back at my gram, I couldn’t help it… even though I knew they had tried to kill me. I just couldn’t remember why I knew it. “Gram, I need to talk to my doctor from home. I need to get out of here to where I am safe.” I felt paranoid of everyone so I wasn’t allowing anyone in my room. Gram got the doctors phone and handed it to me so I could call my regular doctor. He left and I dialed the number in the phone. I heard a familiar comforting voice answer. “Dr. Uluer, it’s Whitney! I wish I were home! These people are trying to kill me!” I was convinced that what they were doing was sinister, that it was so obvious they were trying to hurt me.
I didn’t know what time it was. I didn’t know what day it was. It was dark outside and the hallways were quiet, so I knew it must be late. I wasn’t exactly sure how long I had been in the hospital or even why I was there. I didn’t know why my phone call went to the lead pulmonologist, I expected to reach a resident. Part of me felt like I was losing my mind, like I was being paranoid, but deep down I felt something wasn’t right.
“Whitney, they’ve been talking to me the whole time. I’ve been giving them suggestions and all of your background. They aren’t trying to kill you, they just aren’t used to patients that are very ill. We are going to get you transferred to a bigger hospital as soon as you are stable.” He didn’t sound annoyed or act like I was crazy at all.
I felt the flood of tears and I felt panicked. Dr. Uluer would never tell them to try and kill me, never suggest anything that would. He was one of the best doctors I had ever had. He knew more about Cystic Fibrosis than anyone I knew. That wasn’t good enough, his answer didn’t make sense. If he was advising them, what was my problem? Why was I so scared? It seemed like no one knew what was going on, not even me. I needed to figure it out.
“What happened to me? I don’t understand.” I pleaded in a near whisper. I quickly wiped the tears from my eyes, took the phone away from my face so he didn’t hear me sniff. I needed to hear from someone I trusted. Someone who had taken care of me and I had gone to for medical advice for years. He was always straight forward and honest with me.
I could hear him take a deep breath. There was a long pause before he answered, “You’re really sick, Whitney. Your oxygen is low, you’re coughing up blood, you’re having tons of pain. You aren’t doing well. Hang in there, we’re going to try to get you home. We just need to get you through the night.”
Tears were pouring down my face, I didn’t know when they started again. They were hot and wet and silent. I took a few slow, deep breaths.
“Through the night? I can do that.” I focused my energy on calming myself. I forced myself to smile, to think positively.
“I know you can, we will see you soon. Call me for anything.” my doctor replied.
I hung up the phone and hung my head, trying to recall the last thing that made sense. Trying to recall the last thing I really remembered.