There is nothing in your nursing education that can ever prepare you for watching the human body rid itself of the poisons it has come to crave. My mom used to say, Oh Marybeth, you think you know everything and can do it all”. I used to hate when she would be unsupportive of my goals, thinking back, I heard those word as clear as if she were standing there speaking directly to me. I had no idea how to get you through this horrible period of releasing the demons that you lived with on a daily basis to leave your precious body. Yes, I had years of ICU experience of seeing the human body at it’s worst, but you were my son and I was taking this on with no back up. There were no others in the house except our precious dogs hiding in the corner as they watched this horror unfold. I remember praying as the first waves of tremors hit. Making sure my phone was in reach and fully charged. A piece of your mail where I could grab as I worried that in my panic I would forget where we lived.
Blankets were on and off as the chills then sweats took turns wreaking havoc on your body. I remember trying to get my arms around you to support your trembling body, but my sweet Matt, you outweighed me by about 100 pounds. My arms could barely reach, so I sat on your lap as you shook and shook. Thinking that if this was the worst of it, piece of cake, no problem, I got this.
Stupid, stupid me! I remember being stunned as you threw me off your lap and started screaming. Your skin was on fire, being burned off your body. Dear God, I picked myself up seeing the blood on my arm that had been gashed by the force of my fall. Kahlua rose to her feet coming to me and growling at you. Her protective instinct now in full force, letting me know she had my back, there would be no more hurting Mom. I looked into her eyes and kissed her head. Thank you girl, he’s not our Matt. Forgive him. Sit and be still I will call out if he becomes angry and I need your body to protect mine. I remembered the quote that Dog is God spelled backwards, funny how silly stuff would pop into my head under times of extreme stress. I prayed again, strength for me and peace for you.
Day became night bringing vomiting, more violent behavior. Screaming as I tried to calm you with cool cloths and warm blankets. I remember guiding your broken body to the bathroom. Placing your clothed body into the cool water. I sat on the side and tried to rub your neck, head and arms. You vomited on my clothes, nothing but bile. Everything else gone from your system. I prayed this was the end of the nightmare
Night became day bringing new ugliness. You were out of control. The dogs were by my side as you screamed, kicked and punched. Your skin now crawling with bugs. You scratched until you bled, me trying to control your arms while we struggled. I was getting scared, you were out of control.
The dogs now barking, someone at the door. I told you to stop screaming thinking our dirty little secret was about to come to an end. I pushed you into the bedroom trying to quiet you and plan what my explanation would be to whoever was disturbing my plan. Wiping the tears from my face and forgetting about the vomit on my shirt, I opened the door. I looked into the face of an angel. You see Matt, in all my planning I forgot that I confided in another nurse about what was happening while I was supposed to be home sick from work.
She was another me, a nurse with the ICU mentality that knew everything and could do anything. She bolted past me to find you in wet clothes, looking like a shock victim. She looked at me then and said, ” I don’t know who looks worse, the nurse or the patient. She did know everything about detox as her brother worked as a Doctor in recovery. She came armed with knowledge and supplies.
She told me to take a break and mentioned ever so nicely that I stank. She said there was food in the kitchen, something I hadn’t even thought about until I heard my stomach growl and felt dizzy as I stood up. I decided to shower after seeing the disaster I had become in the 2 days we fought our battle. I remember looking in the mirror, the saddest eyes I had ever seen staring back at me. God how did we get here and where were we headed.
I remember coming out of the bathroom feeling somewhat human again. You were lying in bed clothes dry with fluids running asleep. We looked at each other, what happens in Lewes, stays in Lewes. She held me while I cried, snot running down my nose. We were used to snot, you know there isn’t much we nurses haven’t shared. I managed to eat the soup she brought remembering how wonderful and soothing it tasted. Chicken soup really was for the soul. She spent the night and kept watch while I slept. The house became calm again. The dogs curled up on the bed beside you. Raising their heads when we checked on you as if to say, we got this you rest.
The most beautiful words came in the morning. I fell asleep on the floor in your bedroom still afraid of what might be coming. Mom, hey Mom are you here. You sat up and looked into my eyes. I think you saw me for the first time as the glaze was gone from your eyes. Oh Mom, I’m so sorry. Are you ok, did I hurt you. I quickly covered up the gash on my arm and held you. No Matt, you didn’t hurt me, you just broke my heart.
To this day I will never understand why you chose to poison your body again. The torture I witnessed should never have happened again. I love you Matt.