Question: My son has a chronic skull condition that has required six skull operations. During his last one, he obtained a bacterial infection while in the intensive care unit. It almost killed him. We also learned that, in his second operation, the surgeon cut through the dura—the material that covers the brain— and caused a cystic cavity the size of a nickel. We were never told about this. I have been having nightmares and I wake up in the morning reliving and reliving all his surgeries. I feel so angry and disappointed in the doctors. I feel so depressed. Is this PTSD?
Dr. Amy: Your family has been through a lot with your son's condition. You're clearly still very upset, and no wonder! It's always stressful when a loved one is unwell, but there is something particularly distressing when it's your child.
You need help coming to terms with what has happened so you can stop reliving these painful memories and move forward. I wonder if you feel ready to try therapy? It can be costly but a good therapist can really help. If you feel this might be something you'd like to explore, check your health insurance to to see what is covered. Also check to see if you have an EAP through your work place. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide an initial set of counselling sessions, and they can refer you to resources in your community. If you don't have insurance or employee benefits, there may be low cost or no cost services in your area. Your family doctor can help with referrals. If you end up having to pay out of pocket, many therapists will offer a sliding scale of fees. That way, people who can afford it pay full fees; people on reduced incomes or with many dependants pay less.
You may also benefit from joining a support group. The hospital where your son has been treated can make a referral. Lastly, you may find relief through mindfulness meditation. You can start to learn about this and practice on your own, with the aid of books or video tapes. Our minds are so powerful. With commitment and practice, we can gain more control over where we focus our attention.
I send you peace!
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