Yesterday my blog reached a milestone. A milestone that I never would have dreamed of ever happening, let alone only after two and a half months. Yesterday my blog reached 10,000 page views. I never would have thought that my words about Bryon would go so far in such a short time.
So why do I do this? Anyone who knows me in “real life” would tell you that I tend to be a pretty private person who takes a long time to open up to people. I usually prefer to keep in interactions with people at the superficial level. Want to talk about the weather? Sure! Talk about emotions and feelings? No way! Before Bryon got sick, I kept all but a few people at an arm’s length.
So what has compelled me to share some of my most private feelings on the internet? If someone would have told me that I would be sharing some of my most personal thoughts for the whole world to see, I would have probably looked at them like they were nuts. But here I am. Sharing my personal thoughts in a place where anyone can see. I am not lying when I tell you that it is one of the scariest things I have ever done. I am most likely ruining my chances of ever getting a boyfriend (in the very distant future) because any potential suitors would likely find this blog during a google search and go running far away after reading this. And I can’t blame them. Run, Forrest, Run!
There are many reasons I pour my heart out on the internet.
I have barely begun to share most of Bryon’s story because it is still too painful for me to share. But I feel compelled to tell Bryon’s story in an effort to help other patients. I want to help people know how to advocate for themselves and I want to empower people to find the right knowledge so they can make educated medical decisions. I want to help people know what kind of questions to ask their doctors and what to do if something just doesn’t seem right with themselves or with the health care that they might be receiving. I want people to know why it is important to know their own health history and, if possible, that of their family members.
I feel compelled to share my story as a caregiver and an advocate because I want to help the family members and friends of the critically and terminally ill. I was thrown into a situation where one day my husband was recovering from a minimally invasive surgical procedure to fighting for his life in the ICU a few days later. I don’t think there is a word in the English language that could accurately describe how overwhelmed I felt during those weeks that my life came crashing down. I have a background in oncology data and oncology was one of the few medical specialties that did not play a role in Bryon’s care. While I had more medical knowledge than the average person, I am not a doctor or nurse and I had to quickly adapt to all the new medical terminology and procedures. Bryon also could not speak for himself while he was in the ICU and he depended on me to advocate for him. And unfortunately advocating for patients is not easy. As a caregiver, you need to be prepared to fight for your family member or friend.
I feel compelled to share my story because I want to help other widows and widowers. Widowhood is a very lonely place. It helps to read that we are not alone and that other people can relate. I appreciate reading blogs and memoirs of widows and widowers, especially those who are further in the healing process because I want some sort of idea of what to expect down the road. Since I benefited from the stories of others, I want to share my stories with the hope that it might help another widow and widower.
I want to share my story to help those who have gone through a trauma and/or have experienced the loss of someone important in their life. Grief is grief regardless of whether it was a spouse, a family member or a friend and we can all relate and support each other.
I write because it helps me process my own emotions. I was in the “widow fog” for several months after Bryon died and the fog didn’t start to subside until I started writing about my feelings and my experience. Before I started writing, I could bottle up my emotions and ignore them for a later time. This isn’t healthy. Writing forces me to acknowledge what I am feeling at any given time and it forces me to deal with my grief instead of ignoring it.
I write because I must preserve as much of our story for my daughter. She won’t have any first hand memories of Bryon and she will have to rely on the stories that are told to her. I can already start to feel that my memories are not as sharp. I feel a huge void that Bryon left but it’s getting harder to remember the little things. I am fearful that if I don’t write things down then those memories will die with Bryon.
I hope to become a patient advocate someday. I want to raise awareness for the issues that plagued Bryon and ultimately took his life. I want to empower the caregivers of critically and terminally ill patients. I share our story to meet others who have been in similar situations and have similar goals. I write with the hope that I can expand my network so that someday I am able to accomplish my goals of helping people.