By: Yael Moldovan
‘I am not sure sharing this experience will help others but I am positive of how it helped me.
I was more sick than I have been in years. I could not move. I had no desire to eat or to talk or to watch a movie. I just remained frozen in the same position staring at a wall or at an unchanged channel on TV. For more than a week. I only got up to shower and I barely did that. Breathing hurt to the point that I knew pneumonia, my old friend, was either around the corner or currently residing within me. My cough sounded like I was drowning in a stadium applause.
After about five days, I had to pee (it’s not too much information. We all do it.) A lot. I must have gotten up at least three times that day. And then it hit me!!! I was not even using the bathroom!! But I was drinking at least six cups of tea a day, one or two bowls of broth, and water.
Wait a minute!!!??? What was happening?? Was my body shutting down?? Simple science tells us all that liquid must have gone somewhere or wanted to, I thought. Then I realized that I also never moved my position in bed. I never moved.
My head felt like it was about to explode into a million pieces, projecting outward in every direction. I began to tell people something was very wrong. But I could not explain what it was. I just kept showing a picture of my eyes. My brown eyes turned green. It made no sense.
I joked around about having the plague and that I was losing my senses.
The problem though was that I really was. I was chewing on raw ginger root and crying inside because I could not taste it at all. Have you ever chewed on ginger root to stop yourself from vomiting and then realized you may vomit if you have anymore?? But I could not taste it at all!!!!!
I got up. Now this was it for me, I was scared. Green eyes, most likely pneumonia starting, and no sense of taste at all!!???
I immediately went over to my tea tree oil bottle and opened it, put it directly under my nose, and…. Nothing!!! I could not smell the tea tree oil!!!
Okay now I am scared.
But why am I scared. What do I think may happen if I cannot smell or taste? Do I not understand that it could be temporary? No, I do not think this for even a second.
A few days pass with still no sense of taste or smell. And I feel more sick and more weak than in previous days.
It is late at night and I notice myself squeezing my hands. My left hand especially. Mind you, I am not sure why I am doing this. But I cannot stop doing it. And I am squeezing harder and harder. I start to lightly hit my left hand and keeping hitting up and down my left arm. My mind jumps to an understanding, for a fleeting moment, that if I don’t stop this, things are about to get worse. That thought shot out of my mind so quickly and I physically needed to keep doing what I was doing.
I have been in a room, sick for over a week. Cabin fever?? Delusions?? No. I could not feel my left hand and part of my arm. They were not numb. At all. In fact, I had a screaming pain going on. A fire was set in me. And I needed it to stop.
I sat on my hand and arm, pushing my body weight down as hard as I could. I started to bite my hand to get the right amount of pressure. I bent my fingers back as far as they could go. I started to punch my hand and arm. Nothing was helping. The screaming pain was only getting worse. I got up and began pacing back and forth in my room in a very determined, energetic, feverish manner. My anxiety was through the roof. Nothing was comfortable. Nothing was right. And again, it felt like this could go on forever and I could never explain this to a single person.
And then, I realized. I realized just how many souls I could explain this to and how much they would more than understand. Except, they are not dealing with this one night during a week of having ‘the plague.’ These kids feel this screaming pain and uneasiness somehow as part of who they are? How is that acceptable? Clients I have seen over the past decade came flashing into my mind. My feverish pacing slowed, as I still pressed my hand as hard as I could. I remembered sessions from eight years ago like they were currently happening. My breathing began to relax, still hurting to breathe in, but a calm had now started to take over me. I remembered them biting themselves. The teeth marks in their wrists and arms, imprinted in them from the weeks and months and years of what? Trying to get the same relief but not knowing it was relief they needed?? You see, that screaming pain happened in my head. Not in my hand and arm. If you were to ask me what my pain level in my arm was, I would have no answer for you. No answer at all. It is the wrong question.
I began to cry. My clients from all these years…. my clients calmed me in a moment when I truly started to worry I had cracked and had no idea how I could ever tell anyone what just happened. In fact, I knew that if this ended and I felt better, there was zero chance I would ever tell another living person. In retrospect, however, even if nobody read this or cared about this wordy description, I could not let this go quietly away. The empathy I had, the emotions I felt, in thinking of what they all went through in their own ways… Knowing that if I even felt a tiny percentage of what they have felt………. even as I write this now, I have tears streaming down my face, because it was only in my empathy and emotional connection to understanding a piece of what these beautiful children have felt, that I was able to stabilize my mind and become an active participant in making myself feel better.
I did not realize just how anxious I was. That screaming in my head clouded me from any form of executive functioning skills to come to a solution of what I was supposed to do to stop my current situation from happening. My hand and arm only got worse and worse and worse. I could not feel them. Like they were floating in space and my skin and muscles were not holding them in place. In fact, a visual streamed in and out of my mind of the bones of my hand and arm being encased by inches of air, with my muscles and tissue and skin above it, touching no part of me, as though I was only connected to the inside that needed to be felt and held and pressed deeply. The amount of anxiety that produced in my mind was extreme and entirely reactive without conscious thoughts. I was dysregulated. My entire sensory processing system, from my taste and smell, to not feeling my full bladder, to my hand and arm all fell scrambled behind my excruciating headache and oncoming pneumonia.
All until, I thought of my clients. Emotionally connecting to them, even from a distance, and knowing they would understand this all, allowed me to regulate and begin to think of real solutions out of this. I went to the cabinet and grabbed my son’s theraputty that he uses to strengthen his fingers and hands for fine motor skills, and I opened it up and began to squeeze it.
The next morning I woke up with my left hand encased in blue theraputty. Literally encased and with every finger individually held within this putty. Blue theraputty all over my blanket, melted into my shirt, all in my hair…. And I had no idea how I, the woman who never in her life haphazardly fell asleep, somehow fell asleep like this. And then another tear and a smile… The second I emotionally connected to these amazing children I spent so much of my time with, is the moment I began to regulate… And the moment I began to reach a calm state, I knew exactly what to do, and the second I did that, I was asleep.