Flashbacks come one when least expected like a tornado creating havoc on your sanity!
I'm finding that flashback can happen wherever-whenever and can consume your emotions in a second. Today I had a dental appointment, stressful already for most people, I know. After going to the same dentist since I was 4 I was now having to go to a new provider (thank you dental insurance...sigh) Sitting in the lobby filling out a ridiculous amount of paper work I reached the patient history section. I dreaded this part, the part where I had to explain my broken jaw and splints I needed to wear in prevention of further damage. Quickly I put the most general explanation I could get the pen to write. "Broken Jaw-TMJ with splints" I thought, if this dentist was anyone good they would know what happenedand I would not have to explain.
The hygienist escorted me to a back room for the cleaning and x-rays. I began to feel increasingly nervous as I took in the room's sterile appearance. My hands started to sweat, my heart began to pound harder and my throat began to quiver. the hygienist babbled on and on as I sat there quiet and trying to loose myself in a "happy place". She began shoving these sharp plastic do-hickys into my mouth for the x-rays and my heart pounded faster as my jaw ached from being stretched repeatedly.
Then it started! As I lay there being poked and prodded bright lights shoved in my face, the sound of buzzing and beeping from the x-ray machine and the hygienist lurking over me breathing heavy through her face mask I lost it! I was back in the Emergency room 4 years ago. While logically I knew I was in the dentist chair my body thought I was back laying on the gurney with the ER room lights all shoved in my face, doctors and nurses hoovering over me but not saying much other than try to focus and don't fall asleep. I was being wheeled into another sterile room with machines larger than life. I was told I needed to under go a CT scan to determine the severity of my head injury.
Even though I was so disorientated I knew what a CT scan was and that it meant I was going to be put into a small tunnel and not allowed to move. Claustrophobia set in. Now I was not only trying to stay awake and focus on the directions that the nurse was telling me over the microphone I was having to remain calm and still in the tube of darkness. The CT machine banged as if it were about to come crashing down on me and beeped a high pitch squeel over and over again while I laid on a cold, hard metal table, much like the dentist chair. When forever had passed I was wheeled in to the cold, sterile exam room again. I begged the nurse to tell me if I was going to be OK and all I was told was "I'm sorry, I'm not able to tell you anything, you'll have to wait for the doctor". I swear those are the most horrifying words to hear! You know darn well they know what the scan showed, they do those tests many times a day! All I was asking for was a moment to breathe and know I was going to be OK.
Back in the exam room I lay on the bed alone, occasionally kept company by a police officer coming in to gather more information and give me a status update as to his apprehension. Minutes felt like hours and then became hours. Finally the doctor came in and did a more thorough exam of my wounds. At this point my face was burning and ached to move. I was told I had a "good" concussion and would feel a bit "loopy" for a few days. "Follow up with your doctor in a few days" was the doctor's final parting words. That's it?...that is all you have to say?...am I going to live? Would I have permanent damage, will I need plastic surgery for the cuts and bruises?...
Going home was a quiet ride. My father stared over the steering wheel and I stared out the window trying to visually focus through the concussion. When I got home I refused to return to the site of the assault (our living room). I slowly climbed the stairs to my room, slid into the blankets and did the one thing I was not to do...I went to sleep in hopes that when I woke in the morning it would all have been a bad dream.
So now here I am-reliving this all in the dentist chair. Sigh....how was I going to explain this one. I wanted with all of my being to get out of that chair and run! I explained to the hygienist that I was feeling a bit nervous and thought I should reschedule. She began to babble some crap about everyone having dental anxiety and it would pass blah blah blah...This was more and I was the only one who knew it!
She called the dentist in to do a quick exam before I was on my way. As he was peering at me through the surgical mask he noted the dreaded Patient History form. "Broken Jaw-TMJ?" he asked. I began the explanation and as I did the tears began to flow. I was trying as hard as I could to choke them back realizing that these were strangers and that I was actually crying for the first time EVER in regards to the assault I excused myself and rescheduled.
In my car I tried to stop the tears, but they just kept coming faster and heavier. My throat was still twitching, my hands still sweating, my heart leaping out of my chest. Deep breaths and distractions were no use in stopping the flood of emotions I was experiencing. Where would I go? Who could I talk to? What was all of this shit I was being consumed by? Walking around for 4 years shoving the memories and emotions down had made this sensation of release foreign to me and frightened me! For 3 hours I ran the gamete of emotions while talking it through with friends, family and my therapist. This was it, this was the breakthrough they had all been anticipating and I had been avoiding for the past 4 years.