For life-saving emergencies, hospitals are the greatest thing going. If I am in a car accident, rush me straight to one. For all other times, I personally have a very healthy fear of hospitals. My track record most likely accounts for it. As my personal experiences have evolved, I am amazed at the resilience a human can have. After a lifetime of events, I call it a horror of hospitals.
I personally have had Lyme Disease since early childhood that created a series of events that still make my head spin. I can only speak from my own experiences and my own knowledge. We all have to make our own choices and live with those choices. This is a long personal story but the conclusion is a glorious outcome.
From the beginning of my memory in early childhood, I have had trauma surrounding hospitals. In early childhood, there was an emergency and I was rushed through a hospital on a gurney. I was too young to remember the details so I will not pretend I fully understand the situation. What I do remember is this is one of my earliest memories and it was traumatic, revolving around a hospital. Again, the details of an early childhood memory are not worth repeating in this context.
When I was 10-years-old neurological Lyme Disease set in, meaning I had Lyme for years for it to have progressed to this stage. Back then mainstream medical had no understanding of Lyme. The seizures and passing out were so bad I was hospitalized for an extended period of time. I was initially given medication for epilepsy. I do not remember all the details of the hospitalization but one of the things I clearly remember is a hallucination I had while on the epilepsy medication. In time I was sent home, told I was crazy (as a 10-year-old) and put into psychiatric therapy and drugged for years.
As a teenager, I experienced another hospital experience that has haunted me since. I became a pregnant teenager and had to experience the natural childbirth of my daughter alone, only hospital staff. When she was taken from me, every the staff left the room with her, for what seemed an eternity. I went into shock and could not help myself. I still feel the metal table I was on. I can still see the door my child went through, it was to the right of my feet. By the time a nurse returned she immediately recognized I was in shock and started treating me.
A child having a child. A wounded child giving birth.
The exact details of the situation seem irrelevant when the force of raw emotion over the situation has haunted my life in so many ways. You ask everyone involved and they will have a completely different version of the same story. That is okay. This is my version of how it has shaped my reaction to hospitals. I am not trying to explain any of the other ramifications of this event in my life, at this moment.
The experience of losing a child was, and still is, one of the hardest I have dealt with. The loss has always been bigger than words. I did not see that child for the following 23 years due to a closed adoption that I did not want. To this day, I cannot connect that experience to this child I now have a relationship with.
I can love her intensely and adore who she is and still cannot attach her to that experience of a frightened alone teenager giving birth to her. The devastation at the time got associated with the hospital. That might be a good thing. She is beyond precious and I want to love her now without the pain of the past getting in the way.
One time, after she became an adult, she needed to go to the hospital. I was visiting her and I realized she could drive even though she was in pain. I did not even offer to take her. I could not begin to face the situation of her and me in a hospital. Then I had to live with that guilt too. Oh stars, life can be so complicated. I am learning to move through all this and find forgiveness and kindness for myself.
Hospitalization #3 – B
A couple months after giving birth, as a teenager, I started hemorrhaging, dangerously. I was taken to a series of hospitals until one chose to do an emergency D&C to remove a very small piece of placenta that had been left inside of me. Again, left alone at the hospital for days, I went through the experience in a dark cold hospital with fear and anxiety that I cannot explain.
The loss of my child was so painful that I did not handle life well. I attempted to kill myself in my early 20’s. I was not looking for attention, I was intent on death so I did it right. A co-worker noticed I was missing from work and I was found too early for death. Completely unconscious, my stomach was pumped, heart stopped functioning properly, went into a comma. Woke up so angry at God that I could have wrung His neck. My heart problems forced me to have to stay in the hospital for days.
Hospitalization #4 – B and C
And two psychiatric hospitals for being suicidal. Sorry because this really is not funny but I always get a chuckle out of this one. After the second psychiatric hospitalization, I walked away, plum walked away. I was so drugged up with Haldol and lithium, by the doctors, that I was having hallucinations. I was in worse shape than I arrived.
When I walked away I explained that I was not crazy. Instead, I was a hurt wounded human-being that was not coping with the loss of a child and a messed up life. There is a huge difference between being crazy and not coping. I was not willing to let the hospital make me crazy so I walked away and detoxed my body from all the meds they gave me. Of course, they did not understand much less agree. Because I was not crazy, I had the legal right to walk away and never look back.
I remember a ton from both of those hospitalizations but they don’t haunt me like a couple of the others. There is something about Lyme Disease that you know you are a bit different, maybe even a bit off kilter, but you know without any question you are not truly crazy. That is why, to this day, I chuckle about those two experiences even though there truly is no humor in them.
Still no medical attention for the Lyme that was plaguing my body, making everything harder in life than it needed to be. If you know anything about Lyme Disease you know that it makes you appear a bit nuts. If more people were tested and treated for Lyme before psychiatric hospitalization or put on meds for such, our whole planet would be a better place.
Fast forward many years to the second child I gave birth to. Again, the hospital experience was traumatic, in large part because of the first childbirth. Still, without much emotional support in life, the hospital was a very scary cold place for me. I went into pre-term labor and had to be hospitalized a couple times over that.
And it happened again with my third child. Again pre-term labor issues and hospitalizations and that birthing experience in a hospital.
All of the prior hospitalizations should have been enough to keep me away from hospitals but my last child was born ill and by the time he was 2-years-old he was dying and needed hospitalization. I never left his side. With a feeding tube in place and all that transpired through that experience, neither of us wanted to see the inside of a hospital again.
This third child had his share of head injuries. Those were the times that I never hesitated to take him to the hospital. As a mother, I could easily walk through a hospital with him in my arms with all the head injuries. And those stories make up a whole other series of traumatic events in our lives.
Every child is worth putting your own trauma aside for. Again, EVERY child is worth caring for, no matter what.
The Great and Mighty Turn
There are many more hospital horror stories but by now you get my point. My prior experiences with hospitals started my journey of doing things naturally. During all those years, all those hospitals, and all those doctors, there was nothing that improved the health of myself or my ill child. Something had to change.
With no concept of natural health care, with no one to turn to, with no support, I decided we had nothing to lose. That has been the biggest best most powerful decision I have made to date.
My son lived. It took 11 years of natural care to get it turned around. He now has a life to make his own health decisions.
After his recovery, my health fell apart due to a series of events, complications, and consequences. Never once did I consider going back to mainstream medicine. The horrors of hospitals, for me, was more than I could bear.
Finally at the fun part of the story.
It took all of these events to create a horror of hospitals that created a mindset that forced me into using my own brain to take responsibility for my own health. Had all of that muck not happened I would have been dead by now. I have experienced a 5 year Lyme health crash that easily could have taken my life. Instead, I used my horror of hospitals for my own good.
Every single person will have a completely different health journey. No two people can be the same. We can have similarities, but no two people walk in the exact same shoes.
Looking backward, I could not be happier with how my health journey has transpired into victory. I take complete responsibility for my health and my life.
Through all of that darkness, I finally am walking in the wisdom of light.
We can feel like a victim of circumstance or we can feel like it took the journey to get to the victory. I choose the latter. Through all the pain and misery, it was teaching me and guiding me exactly where I personally needed to go. I can say with an honest heart, I am grateful for my particular journey. I am grateful to be me.
Where do you feel your health journey has guided you?
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC
Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.