The following was written by a dear friend and has been reposted with their permission. I have added paragraph breaks and made a couple of spelling corrections, otherwise it is as they wrote it. I thank them for their candor, friendship, bravery, and letting me share their unique perspective.
I have been thinking of posting this for awhile. If we could all just stop, be kind, and know that others maybe going through things you have no idea about-we just might become better people ❤️
Many of you don’t know this but, when I was seven years old I had the chicken pox and developed Reye’s Syndrome. That time spent in the hospital I had very few visitors and everyone had to wear protective equipment. They didn’t know what I had at first. The few days I was there it was filled with terror and pain. Everyone that came into the room I could not see [their] faces. They were covered in plastic and paper to protect themselves and me. As a seven year old I did not understand this and figured if they were dressed that way I must be dying. I had no touch except painful testing and procedures.
Brains are wonderful things and I had most of this blocked from my memory until recently. I knew I had it, and could tell people I had it but most of it was hidden in my mind. That is until I had to see the doctor at the beginning of March due to virus symptoms. When I pulled in the drive and she came out in full gear- the first time I had been in contact with it since the age of seven, I had a panic attack. I couldn’t get out of my car and had tears running down my face. I did not speak of this to anyone because I felt silly that something that happened 40 years ago had such an effect on me. I got home cried in the bathroom and threw up.
That night the vivid, real dreams started. Like I said your mind is amazing. Things I had forgotten, smells, tastes the feeling of everything being done to me came back. I can remember my room, the machines- with amazing clarity. I woke up and have been afraid to sleep since. Seeing and wearing masks set off anxiety and usually at night, a vivid dream.
… I told everyone I was afraid I might get [it] and give it to my children. Which is true to some degree- I wouldn’t want anyone who I know to have to go through anything like I did. I know this disease is much worse. My biggest fear is I will have to relive that experience my brain had so nicely closed off in a nice neat box. It did it because I wouldn’t have to relive the torment. I can remember being scared I would die and then after a painful procedure wishing I could.
A seven year old wishing she could die because all she knew was pain and terror. So this is why I make masks, I have to do something because I will go insane. I remember that helpless child so vividly that it tears me up inside knowing that thousands of people are going through that.
I wish I could just play back one of my experiences I have to mothers with small children at protests. To all the people who don’t wear masks in public, then go home to children they love. I have to stop watching things like that.
I haven’t said anything of this to anyone because it all seems so pathetic to me. After all this time, my brain doing this to me. I have been lying to everyone saying I am ok and I’m not. I just can’t believe people would want to risk the lives of loved ones. Would want them to be alone and scared.
I sit here writing this with tears rolling down my cheeks in hopes someone might listen.
I know I am lucky. I have been told that many children died during the time I had it [Reye’s syndrome]. I have some issues from it -my hearing loss and some slight damage to connections between my brain and ears. I also have a number or neurological issues. I also apparently some trauma that I had buried deep. But I am still here!
This new disease is much more brutal. I am lucky though that I have a wonderful husband who does things for me I can no longer do. I don’t know how long this will last but I hope and pray that people don’t have to experience the fear myself and the fear my family had during that time so long ago. I keep busy trying to help in some small way. I work hard and stay up late in hopes I’ll be so tired I won’t dream. Maybe sharing this will help too, I don’t know.
Please be kind-Even if you think this is stupid just wear a mask. Please be compassionate- if some asks you to back up a little just do it. Please think of your loved ones-stay home and follow the guidelines in place to keep them safe. We are all in this together.
Some of us are really struggling and your kindness is key. Be the light in this dark scary time. Be the someone you want others to be. Again not sharing this for pity- not intended but to shed light on a similar experience. To show that we need to keep our most vulnerable safe so they never have to endure anything like this. No negative comments please. I wish you all love, light and good health.