A routine C-T with contrast. Three kinds of contrast. No inner alarms have gone off. When the pain hits me, when the technician becomes my perpetrator, I make myself as still as possible. My breathing becomes tachypneic, extremely fast and shallow. I have no control over it. I bite my tongue hard to keep quiet, to remain compliant, to try to overpower the other pain—which I can not. I keep biting down. The technician says, “Take a big breath in and hold it,” and a big breath is impossible. I take a minimal breath and hold it, the best I can do. Later I think of how dogs and cats—and small children—breathe so rapidly when they’re in pain; that’s how we know they’re in such distress. When the technician removes the pressure, I can breathe deeply again, but I can only speak in a whisper and I notice how submissive I have become, timid, and dissociated. Still? Is my trauma not gone? Am I still that person? I’m not actually afraid, my fear is held in another part of me. My terror is still held there. I had thought it was gone. Just this little trigger: pain and helplessness at the hands of a good person doing a diagnostic test, and I am back in the darkness.
I’m thankful I restarted topiramate a few months ago to block my flashbacks, because this would have been much more intense and prolonged without it, and I more deeply at risk.