Saturday, March 15, 2014

The price of truth is a vial of Sodium Pentothal.....Part 1

You know, life is funny. Just when you think you have it all together and have a carefully constructed plan mapped out in your head.

BAM! 

Out comes a kick to the gut that brings you to your knees and shows you that you really aren't in charge of shit in this world.

I know.
I had a carefully constructed plan mapped out in my head once. I bet you do too. My life was carefully thought out and I had it all together. 

Before I became a writer, I used to be a nurse. An Oncology and a Palliative Care nurse, to be exact. I loved my career and I loved my patients. And you know what? I was a damn good nurse too. I used to be one of those people who thought that I could save the world, if I only tried hard enough. 

Every thing was right where it should be in my carefully constructed universe.
But, dammit all, I was a "helper" and being a helper proved to be my downfall. You see, I always wanted to fix things and make people happy. And it was this desire to "help" that ultimately led to my "Bam!"

On November 6th, 2010, I volunteered to be part of a Search and Rescue. There was a young woman who had been missing from our community for days. It bothered me. Actually, it bothered me a lot. Sure there had been missing women in our city before but there was something about this one girl and her story that spoke to me. She was young and had two young children. She was beautiful but had sad eyes. I don't know what it was, but there was something about her that compelled me to pick up the phone and say "I'm in".

The consensus amongst her family and law enforcement was that her ex boyfriend was holding her in a hunting camp somewhere in the woods. When the ex bf was apprehended by the police on day 5, the girl did not show up and the Search and Rescue went in to look for her.

I was perfect for this Search and Rescue because not only did I have medical training, I also had knowledge of the woods, as I was an avid hiker and spent a lot of time outdoors. 

God, I desperately wanted to help this poor girl and her family. That's all I wanted to do.

On day 7, the Search and Rescue group were deep in the woods, in the pouring rain. Not a gentle rain but a freaking downpour. We were on a dirt road logging trail, when I spotted a black garbage bag about 6ft off to the side of the dirt road. Although we were stopping and checking anything and everything that seemed out of place, I kept going because I thought it was a bag of leaves that someone had stopped and dumped off in the woods. The bad just seemed too small to be anything important.

To this day, I am still angry at myself for not trusting my initial gut instinct to check that damn bag.

But the searcher behind me did stop and he opened the bag. 
I was about 30 feet away when I stopped, turned around and waited for him to catch up. But things in my carefully constructed world were about to quickly unravel when he pulled the bag open and started screaming.

I ran back towards him with my heart in my throat and panic filling me. What was in the bag? Why was he screaming? 
I knew that it had to be bad but all my training and years as a nurse did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the sight that greeted me as I stood at his side and stared down at the garbage bag on the ground.

"Omg, omg. It can't be. No, it's not. No. There's no way," I repeated over and over.

You know, your mind plays tricks on you when you're confronted by something so horrific that you just can't wrap your head around it. I must have paced back and forth a hundred times, looking down at the missing girl hanging out of the bag, and then walking away again. My brain just couldn't process the fact that I was looking at a human being in a garbage bag.

I felt helpless. I had all this training and medical know-how and there wasn't a fucking thing that I could do to save this girl. Something inside me fractured and broke into a thousand pieces as I paced and sobbed hysterically back and forth on the dirt road in front of her body. It was an absolute nightmare.

Here we were stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception. The Search party was unarmed and we were terrified that whomever had dumped the girl's body was still in the woods watching us.
I was afraid for my life in those moments, worried that the murderer would come for us too.

All seven members of our Search and Rescue gathered by the body and after an initial Group Freak Out. We decided to split up, with part of the search party going for help.

But I was still a nurse and a caregiver and even though I was overcome with grief, I stayed with the body while the others tried to reach someone on the CB radio. I guess I felt like this poor girl had been left in such an inhuman and undignified manner, there was no way I could leave her alone in the woods for one more minute while we tried to get help. So, overcome with the inhumanity and violence of the situation, I just stood there with her and wept.

It was truly awful. Never in my professional or personal life have I ever felt so powerless or so traumatized as I did in those moments. 

Help eventually came and the police descended upon our remote location in the woods like the cavalry coming to the rescue. I have never been so happy to see so many police officers in my entire life. It was complete chaos when they arrived. Loud, scary, guns, bulletproof vests, walky talkies, barking orders, closing off the scene. None of it felt real. It was almost like I was watching it all from outside my body.

Things went from bad to worse in the following days. Our entire Search party was taken to the police station by police escort, boot printed, fingerprinted and individually questioned. I had never received so much as a parking ticket before this, so it was a very traumatic experience for me. The way they question you and gang up on you, it's almost like they're implying that we were somehow responsible or connected to the horror that occurred in the woods.

For days afterwards, I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep and when I could, I would have nightmares of dying people crying out to me for help that I couldn't provide. When I was awake, the scene of running up to the garbage bag and seeing the girl hanging out of it played over and over again in my head until I thought that I was going insane.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and things started to get worse instead of better. I suddenly became hypervigilant and afraid. Every minute of every waking hour hour, I was constantly on alert and waiting. I fully expected "something" awful to happen to me or someone I loved. I cried constantly and the nightmares continued almost nightly. I started withdrawing from life and, except for work, I stopped leaving the house altogether.

Eventually, I couldn't cope with the demands of my job anymore either. My short term memory was shot and I couldn't even remember simple tasks. I found myself having to write everything down or the information was gone. I even had to set alarms on my phone to remind me to do important things, otherwise I would forget.

I was put off on "stress leave" by my doctor but when I returned to work, four months later, I had a particularly bad shift where I lost two patients within an hour of one another and I went off the deep end. We're talking completely lost it. Like sent to one of the hospital psychiatrists, put off work again and put on medication, lost it. Let me tell you, there's nothing more humiliating than being sent to a psychiatrist at the very hospital where you work.

Fantastic.

Anyway, I basically went bat-shit crazy and was formally diagnosed with PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I'm sure most of you have heard of it. Soldiers, police officers, EMT's, Search and Rescue and abused women frequently get it.

So, yeah.

I have PTSD.

I was ashamed of it for a really long time but I have come to realise over the years, that it is not my fault. I didn't ask for PTSD, just like the patients I once cared for didn't ask for cancer. It's just something that happened to me and I refuse to be quiet about it anymore.

So this is officially part 1 of my Stu Reardon post. I realise that it's quite long but you need to understand the framework and the background before I get to the part that I am grateful for.

Thanks for following along! Seduction Book 2 is being sent to the formatters. Yahoo! Not long now :)

I hope you are all having a great weekend and I just wanted you to know that I appreciate all of your support. Whether it is by commenting here, leaving me a book review, sending me an email or simply by reading my book. It means the world to me. Truly. Writing has been a long held dream of mine and I thank you for coming along for the ride!

Love to you all,

T.
xo