After many months of silence, I find myself writing again about the effects of childhood adversity on health and well-being at 3:00 am.
As I glance upon my brother’s face in a dim ICU room on life support, because his heart stop for twelve minutes the other day. Out of nowhere, he keeled over at work. When the paramedics arrived, they began working diligently to revive him. As calls came in to alert us that his condition was not favorable his family flooded to his side.
And it’s this incident that has compelled me once again to talk about those dark things in our lives that landed him flat on his back in a hospital room thirty or forty years later. What happen to him, his outer shell reveled a physically fit man. He rode his bike for miles, the center of family events and definitely would not tell his true age to anyone. And yet, in the midst of a steaming south Florida weekday his life changed and our life was altered once again to accept hard truths about our family.
Going back in time, I remember a conversation that took place between us. My brother said, “If I don’t have a relationship with you, we can’t dialogue.” What does that mean exactly I replied. Again, it appeared he was talking over my head. So, I question him what are you talking about? He went on to explained, “I only deal with people I communicate with. I’m not going to beg people to call me to check on me. I am a warrior. After all I been through, I’m not going to beg anyone to have a relationship with them.” Then it hit me like a slow bullet. He was talking about his life as a child.
Here we go again, not today, I said under my breath. He proceeded, you remember all those beatings I took as a child they made me stronger. Ok I said and quickly to reminded him -that the other day, ” I thought you told me that doctors said your heart was at fifteen percent. How do you figure that you are stronger. When your body is clearly telling you that you are not okay.” Then a few minutes of silence pass before he continued.
I was beginning to think at sixty, his memory was challenging him. Because this seems to be a conversation that I entertain whenever I called him or when he calls to check on me. He goes back in time to recall his childhood trauma. My brother was normalizing being physically beaten as a youth made him a better and improved person.
I could heard beneath the surface that inside of him was a great deal of pain and unresolved issues that plagued him. I quickly reminded him of my assessment of his childhood. You do know that your father was born during an era when blacks were being beaten with whips and If I’m not mistaken, you was once tied to a bed and beaten naked. I can still envision walking in and seeing him strapped down like an animal and Deac whipping him.
My brother was gifted in sports, yet my dad wanted him home before dark which was an impossible task for him because he walked home after practice. I could anticipate what was going to happen when and if he didn’t arrive home before the deadline. My brother was a rebel and didn’t mind absorbing those painful licks as if it was nothing. He would say “I got to do what I have too.” I could actually feel his pain even when he refused to cry and not crying made things worst for all of us.
Now-today, he’s in an induced coma, hook up to a respirator, his body temperature is at 32 degrees C, on a cooling device for his body temperature, a feeding tube and his brain is being monitored for damage. The impact of Childhood adversity has a correlation to chronic illness experienced later in life according to the ACE research.
What we know today as an ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) in the sixties and seventies was normal and an accepted practice of parenting disciplines that prevented a child from a life of incarceration. Now our family is face with our faith over a medical diagnosis. So, we sit around the clock to ensure that nothing occur to hinder his recovery.
In the midst of all this, today, I experienced my family falling apart emotionally as victims of vicarious secondary trauma. Four days into my brother’s crisis, blame, guilt and anger sneaked in unannounced, seeking to snare us within its dark walls lined with misery. The mere site of him lying helpless -hurts us all. Besides none of us was prepared for this major life event.
It’s takes faith to recall and believe God’s word, that His desire is to prosper us and not do harm. To give us hope and a future. As I look around his room, one of my sisters have lined his walls with healing scriptures and a sign in sheet for the family sitters to ensure someone is with him at all times.
I wish he would just open his eyes and get up so we can get the H…. out of here. Wishful thinking I suppose, nevertheless, I believe in miracles.
Beneath the surface is a broken vessel that needs to talk about his life, so he can heal, then maybe his heart can repair itself along with some major lifestyle changes. Taking his mediation for one and being honest about the effects of his childhood on his health and well-being. The day he accepts the truth about his early childhood experiences will start his journey to healing and recovery.
I walked out his room to the nurses station and shared with his nurse that the opioid epidemic is occurring because people are in emotional pain and the medical staff need to know about a person childhood and how it’s affecting their current health. My brother had a difficult childhood that’s for sure. But, I’m sure most adults find it difficult to share or discuss with their physicians about childhood abuse, neglect or family dysfunction, so physicians treat symptoms instead of root causes of many medical and treatable diagnosis that we see today.
Stay with me as I attempt to continue this conversation …..