The Big Blue Binder that Tells my story

Maybe this is exposure therapy? I’ve been actively avoiding many parts of my ICU experience for months now. (almost 18 months to be exact).

Before I even left the hospital’s general ward, I noticed that the nurses were writing things in a huge blue binder. I asked if I could read it. I was told “no”.

I couldn’t walk very well, I was in a hospital gown, swaying in front of the nurses station, trying to get something, anything for my tremendously sore thought, and the nurse wrote something down in that blue binder before giving me a cough candy.

A cough candy? A tube had been shoved down my swollen allergic throat with force because my airway was completely blocked off, with such force, that I was sure they had used an electric drill to make me a new airway, and all they could offer me for my sore throat was a cough candy? And even then the nurse had to write that down, like she was giving me money for a bank loan. It seemed a bit excessive.

I asked what he was writing down, and he said “no”.
“But that’s not fair. It’s about me.” I stated.
He replied “you have to sign a form.”
That seemed simple enough, but when I asked for the form he denied that too.

I took the cough candy and went back to my room. He may have thought that was the end of it, but it wasn’t. I was determined to know what they were writing about me.
I had no memory of going to the hospital. I didn’t remember that morning when I woke up with a swollen tongue and blocked airway, the ambulance ride or arriving at the hospital completely out cold.

I remembered somebody trying to take my shirt off, being unable to undo the knots that tied it in the back and then saying “never mind we’ll cut it off”. And I remember being relieved, but then later on wondering why they were taking my clothes off.

But…. At that moment when I stood at the nurses desk, swaying back and forth because I didn’t have the balance to stand still, I honestly didn’t remember much, and I wanted desperately to know why I was in the ICU and then later in the ward. I had no idea.

At that point, the clock in my room was still turning backwards, had all sevens and occasionally floated right off the wall.

Here everything was written down in a humongous blue binder, and they wouldn’t let me read it. I don’t even think they would have let me touch it, if I had reached over and tried to do so.

It seemed terribly unfair, but I took the cough candy (the only relieve for my desperately sore throat), and left.
I returned to ask for that file every day. Each time the answer was “no”.

When I was out of the hospital, I asked my doctor how to get the hospital file. He told me how, I downloaded the form, and sent my mother back to the hospital with $20.00 to get the file for me. I have it now, in a huge binder of my own, but I have never read it.

I’ve tried several times, but each time I look at it I burst into tears. I’ve held it, looked at it, cried over it, opened it, and flipped through the pages, but that is as far as I got.

My allergist wants to read it, and I’ve committed to photocopying it, and giving it to him, but I can’t do that either. It just brings up so much fear, hurt and pain when ever I try to do anything with it.

Because I went into the ICU because of a severe allergic reaction, he wants to know exactly what happened. It’s been 2 months since I said I would get it to him, but I just can’t bring myself to photo copy it. Who knew that a binder full of pages could bring so many tears out of one person? I didn’t.

The story of what really happened is in those pages. And I know the story of what happened to me. It didn’t happen. It was all delirium, but it happened to me. To me it was as real as the computer I’m typing this post on, and the desk that it sits on.


So I guess in a way, writing this blog is exposure therapy, because I will eventually tell the story that I can’t bring myself to look at in any way.

Why am I doing this? To help others. To help myself.
Why am I not just writing it in book form or in my diary? I’ve tried. It hasn’t been successful.

Will a blog be any more successful? Well it will prompt me to write more often, and hopefully the encouragement I get from other people (in tweets and comments) will off set the negative emotions I’m feeling even right now.

I sit here will a swollen, and itchy eye, due to contact dermatitis, and conjunctivitis. The eye drops and eye lid cream isn’t working. It’s getting worse. I know I have to photocopy that file and give it to my allergist, if I’m to get better because allergist is afraid to continue the allergy shots until he reads the file. Maybe after writing this blog for a while, I’ll be able to photocopy the file without crying all over the papers, and the photocopy machine.

I hope so.

So why am I doing this? For me. For you. For the ICU patients that come after me.

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