|Surviving Post-Dissection Life|
This is hard for me to accept because I am a 'fixer'. I always have been a fixer. My family depends on me being a 'fixer'.
Even if I've never fixed something before I have always had the mindset that I could figure out how to fix it.
I can't fix my dissection. Even if I could fix my dissection there is no going back to life the way I lived before the great rip.
Once dissected always dissected. We've passed through a new door. Our life's path has changed permanently and forever. We have been irreversibly ripped asunder out of life's assumed normalcy. Post-dissection, we now walk in the unknown.
There is no turning back.
We have survived scares and hours of surgery, often unexpected emergency room intervention.
We've re-lived a thousand times over the fear of 'what is happening again" with each new pain or pulse of hurt ringing in our body.
We've laid quiet in the night, our loudly beating mechanical heart parts not beating loud enough to hide noises the grim reaper makes just outside our window.
We've struggled with loss of memory and with loss of happiness all the while our family wonders what has really happened to us.
And for some we've lost our abilities as providers and as 'fixers'.
But though some of us have passed on, many are still here. As each tomorrow becomes another today we begin to see that the end may not be so near as we once perceived.
Steve Gee recommended the book 'Surviving Survival' by Laurence Gonzales to me the other day over coffee. Steve too is a dissection survivor.
Gonzales in his book says of survival, " the true transformation in the journey comes when you see the amazing beauty of the place in which you are trapped. This is the vision of the vision quest. You embrace the pain, discard your concerns about death, and then the world opens up to you."
I would add, "there is no going back".
Another dissection survivor, Timo Söderlund often says, "today is a good day."
Most every day is a good day now for me. But it wasn't always this way post-dissection.
Along my healing path there were many times where hopelessness just seemed to heavy a burden to bear. And it still does even today sometimes.
Yet Timo Söderlund is right. Today is a good day.
Somewhere along my healing path the immediate trauma of emergency dissection repair began to subside. An instinct to 'survive survival' arose from deep within.
Laurence Gonzales further states in his book that survivors of deep trauma often will later say something to the effect of, "I'm really lucky. I don't regret that this happened to me. What surprises me is something so horrific has been such a positive experience in my life."
This is surviving survival.
And I am now to that point along my healing path where I want to turn the trauma into transformation.
Today is a good day. Even despite the very difficult challenges.
Gonzales offers twelve strategies to move us through survival, including;
1. Want It, Need It, Have It. (Do something daily you are passionate about);
2. Be Here Now;
3. Be Patient;
4. Be Tough. (Learn to suffer well (This is hard!));
5. Get the Small Picture;
6. Put Things In Their Place;
7. Work, Work, Work;
8. See One, Do One, Teach One.
9. Touch Someone;
10. Be Grateful;
11. Walk the Walk;
12. Life is Deep, Shallow Up. (Learn to laugh at ourselves once in a while).
Dissection life has many maturation levels. They are all hard. They all are immediate and all consuming. Each person has their own time table for the different stages of their post-dissection life journey.
I am mostly over the shock. Now I am seeking out what the adventure has to offer - the opportunities and the possibilities.
Don't get me wrong. I don't expect to do something 'great' or 'earth-saving' with my life. I just want to survive. As Judy says, "there is honor in being like the flowers. They bloom and they die. That is life."
Yet there can be adventure and opportunity in survival too.
I see the opportunity. The 'See One, Do One, Teach One' calls out to me.
If you want to join some of us who have moved past the initial shock of dissection and are exploring what life can offer dissection survivors then search Facebook for the group "Adventures In Life After Aortic Dissection". This is a closed, private group.
There are many other good dissection support groups, including one of my favorite, "Aortic Dissection Support Group". Be sure to also follow Aortic Dissection Awareness Day and the John Ritter Foundation of Aortic Health. Finally, The Marfan Foundation is another great resource to be plugged in to.
Life does offer many adventures and opportunities, even post-dissection.
They are about surviving survival.