PT(R)SD or IF-PTSD
October 26, 2011
Post Traumatic Reproductive Stress Disorder
My old RE called me the other day to check on me (she’s so sweet and I will never be able to replace her). We were talking and she said something that I think was meant as half joke/half serious. She said if there were such a thing as Post Traumatic Reproductive Stress Disorder then I had it. Although I’m pretty sure this diagnosis is not officially part of the ICD9/DSM medical codes I think this is a REAL THING. Although my doc was sort of joking… she also sort of wasn’t. She was recognizing that I have been through a TRAUMATIC experience with my girly parts. TWICE.
When I mentioned this on twitter I got quite a response and several people asked me to blog about it. So I am. First, my story. I think most of you have heard my story but here are some old posts.
The Spiraling Insanity part one
During my most recent “pregnancy” (I struggle to even call it that) I spent my entire 5th week reliving last year’s nightmare. I recently moved and was having A LOT of difficulty finding early pregnancy medical care. My first ectopic pregnancy gave me almost NO symptoms so I was worried that if it happened again, I wouldn’t know to go to the Emergency Room. It’s scary to think that you could actually DIE with little or no warning.
[My apologies if I sound overly dramatic, even I think I sound overly dramatic. But those are the medical facts.]
So I was FREAKING OUT. I couldn’t sleep. I was reliving the nightmare in my head. And being a general pain in the ass to the docs. That abject FEAR is probably why I barely even think of myself as having been pregnant or as having lost another baby. I never allowed myself to even consider the possibility that this pregnancy could work out. Or maybe I’m just still in DENIAL. I’ve been camped out in DENIAL-land since 6w0d when they said it was likely in the tube.
It also doesn’t help that I have some other PTSD on top of all this. I watched my father die a few months ago. I literally watched him struggle for and take his last breath. I stayed up all night giving him morphine and hoping that he was in enough of a narcotic haze to not know how much he was suffering. I still don’t know what he felt – hopefully nothing. But for several months (it’s finally starting to dissipate) I couldn’t think of him without thinking of his last few hours.
So. There you go. I’m a little wonky in the head. Understandably so, I think. But do I have an actual medical/psychiatric condition? I don’t know. But sometimes giving a name to something helps us fight it. That’s why I think those with “Unexplained Infertility” suffer a little more. Having a diagnosis is half the battle of curing the illness.
But I know, that regardless of whether this is officially recognized, it is a real thing. And I know I’m not alone.
Apparently Lisa (of Three Cats and a Baby) has IF PTSD. She writes about it here. Lisa is a CANCER survivor and has lost her uterus. Um… I can’t think of anything more reproductively traumatic. Not only can she not bring herself in to the doc’s office for a much needed check up and Rx refill, she freezes if she even picks up the phone to make the appointment. I can still make phone calls and get myself to the doc. Lisa can’t. I can only hope that little Jay, her long awaited adopted son, provides some comfort to her.
Miss Ohkay is a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss survivor. She also has difficulty making and keeping doctor appointments. She has decided to adopt and it sounds like she may have a baby early next year. But still no doctor appointment.
Waity Katie is a new twitter follower who has also experienced pregnancy loss and urged me to blog about IF PTSD.
Jen (of This Is More Personal) also asked me to write this. To my knowledge Jen has not experienced pregnancy loss. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s NEVER been pregnant. Which is it’s own traumatic hell. How do you keep going after so many BFNs? For those of us with multiple losses, at some point, we call it quits. It becomes too dangerous, too emotional or even just impossible to continue trying.
****MY SINCEREST APOLOGIES TO JEN. I WAS WRONG. SHE HAS EXPERIENCED A PREGNANCY LOSS. BUT I STAND BY THE STATEMENT THAT YOU DON’T NEED TO HAVE LOST A PREGNANCY TO FEEL TRAUMATIZED.*****
But where do you draw that line when you’ve never seen that second line? The fear of never seeing that second line must be just as crippling as the fear of seeing it after loss.
Anyway, I guess the bottom line here is something we all already know. That infertility bonds us, binds us and stays with us long past any successes or failures we have. Everyone’s story is different but yet we all experience the same emotions. And that is why Jay (of The 2 Week Wait) has EVERY right to blog about #IF even though she is currently pregnant. IF I choose to try again and IF I’m successful, the pain and the trauma I’ve experienced will most certainly not disappear. It’s a part of me. For better or for worse. And I will always be afraid of that pain. And that’s NORMAL. NOT crazy. NORMAL.
All we can do is help each other. So… who wants to make some phone calls for Lisa and Miss Ohkay?