I Had A Nightmare, But It Was Real

I woke up at 3 a.m., dripping with sweat and fear.

My heart was pounding.

“It was just a nightmare,” I told myself.

And it was.

But, it was also real.

I’ve had more than a few nights like this recently …

Nights when the car accident happens all over again.

The difference between the nightmares and the real accident …?

When the accident happened, I had no idea how bad it was or what the aftermath would be.

When I have car accident nightmares,

I relive the accident but while the nightmare is happening,

I also know what is to come …

The surgeries, the pain, the disability, the loss of lifestyle.

Over time, the nightmares have lessened.

Now they’re back – frequently.

I can guess why.

The six year anniversary of the accident is coming up in less than a week.

Try as I might to “forget” the date … every single year it gets to me.

I tell myself it’s “just a date,” but there’s Big Heavy Significance that hangs around me this time of year.

I try to shrug it off, but it won’t leave.

I feel ridiculous for admitting to this fragility –

I should be mentally and emotionally strong enough to dismiss a date on the calendar but, apparently, I’m not.

I find myself mentally comparing where I was a year ago, two years ago, five years ago with the entire Car Accident Aftermath.

Memories flood back whether I want them to or not.

In addition, my pain level has been high lately.

With the help of so many people (surgeons, physical therapists, friends, family, the photography community, YOU, etc.) I am doing more now than anytime since the accident.

Still, the more I do, or try to do, the more pain I experience.

I’m doing a lot lately, considering the state of my damaged body.

It isn’t easy –

And it comes at a price.

A price I tell myself I’m willing to pay because we only live once, and I’ve already lost enough of my life to the accident.

“The accident” is an entity in itself.

I refuse to let it win.

I fight against it every.single.day.

I always will.

Lastly, I’ve got a new fear clenching at my heart lately.

My “good” arm has been hurting, and not just a little bit.

I’ve known for years my left arm is also “damaged,” but it WORKS.

It is the only working arm I’ve got –


These are the things gnawing at my subconscious, no doubt responsible for the return of car accident nightmares.

I will get through it, as I do every year.

I saw Dr. Painless this week and he’s concerned enough about my increasing pain to insist I try timed-release pain meds for the next six weeks.

This is something I’ve fought against doing for a long time.

He tells me the bottle of Advil I’m consuming every day for pain is more likely to kill me/have adverse effects than the meds he’s prescribing.

We’ve agreed to a six week “trial.”

Why is he the best doctor EVER?

Because, he completely understands I need to follow my passion and he supports me in doing so.

He knows how many people give up their lives when faced with ongoing pain.

He knows, somehow he really knows, how determined I am to live my life.

In the meantime, The Neanderthal has already given me one treatment on my “good” arm.

He assures me he can help.

He reassures me too.

Pain doesn’t mean surgery.

Pain doesn’t mean loss of use.

I need to hear these things, but the fear – oh the fear!

I tell myself to take a deep breath.

It is going to be okay, I know it will.

And yet, I find myself working late into the night.

I don’t want to go to bed.

I don’t want to fall asleep and relive the car accident again.

18 Responses to “I Had A Nightmare, But It Was Real”

  1. Gaelyn

    This is sad and you’ve fought hard to overcome so much. Maybe creating a new, awesome memory to replace the accident.

    • Suzanne

      Yes, that’s a good thought. I’m really okay most of the time. The anniversary date always brings back a lot.

  2. Julie Pierce

    I’m sorry to hear about your latest struggles coping with THE ACCIDENT. I totally understand how it’s an entity unto its own, which is why I give the word the capital letters it deserves. Having a recent surgery to correct my deteriorating left shoulder from an ACCIDENT 5 years ago has brought up many feelings of pain, fear and resentment for me as well. I’m still waiting for the day when it is “just another day on the calendar” and can justify typing it in lower case letters.

    I love reading your blog. It reminds me I’m not alone in my struggles. Hang in there. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!

    JP 🙂

    • Suzanne

      Thank you Julie.
      I hope you recover from your recent surgery with as little pain as possible!

  3. Tiziana

    So sorry you’re going to such a rough time. You are a strong woman, you have fought hard not to let the accident win over your life, and you have the upper hand.

    Keeping you in my thoughts.

    Hugs and wishes for brighter days,

    • Suzanne

      Thank you. I’m sure I’ll be fine once I get through the next week or so.

  4. Jan's Sushi Bar

    I’ve often wondered how your left arm was holding up, especially since you use it so much to compensate for the loss of mobility in your right. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all of this; I hope the medication and PT helps both arms.


    • Suzanne

      Yes, I’ve been told it also was damaged. Of course, the wear and tear of using it as my only arm just makes things worse. I’m taking deep breaths and I’m sure things will be fine. The Neanderthal was very matter of fact about it … which is a great counter to my hysterical emotionalism. : )

  5. Missy

    I hope the new regime of pain meds brings relief. It’s worth a try. Good luck.

  6. Kathy

    Have you ever entertained the thought that you might have PTSD? The flashbacks…maybe? There are lots of new tools out there to help alleviate it. Might be worth looking into? And now you’re coping with the additional pain. Wow. I hope this cycle breaks soon. You are a very amazing woman! I’m in awe of your drive to overcome and live your life fully. Keep hanging tough!

    • Suzanne

      Yes, I realize I might. I seem to be able to handle life fine except for the few weeks around the anniversary. I think this year is even worse than last year … probably because I’ve had a lot of pain in the last few weeks. If it doesn’t improve once I get through July, I know a very good therapist who specializes in people living with chronic pain. : )

  7. Editdebs

    Sending prayers and good vibes your way. I admire your determination to lead the life you want. You have grabbed joy and purpose despite hardship. I trust you will have even more. And, I hope the new meds work well for you.

  8. stacy

    I have also been having problems with my good arm. I think it is overuse since I try not to use my bad arm. Rather sucks.

    • Suzanne

      Overuse is definitely a factor. At least, I know it is for me.


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