My 19 year old son was stabbed in the back several times while at college. I received a telephone call at 2 am from an ER doctor telling me he had a collapsed lung, they were going to do a MRI to determine other injuries because there was so much blood. Then they were life flighting him to a trauma hospital. I was able to talk to him briefly and he asked when I would get there. I couldn't tell him it would be 5 hours or more. I just told him I would be there ASAP and how much I loved him. I didn't know if I would ever talk to him again. He was crying, harsh breathing and barely audible. It was the longest 5 hour drive I had ever made not knowing what had happened, not knowing if he would live or die. I didn't know why or how he was stabbed. I couldn't get a hold of his roommate. His other lung collapsed on the flight. He was in serious condition but thankfully no other organs were injured. He was extremely lucky! Then 6 months later we had to endure all the stress that goes with a 3 day criminal trial.
I thought I was doing ok with all of this. I was trying to walk as much as I could with friends. I talked to family and friends. I have a great support system. I was trying to stay as healthy as I could. BUT it was not working.
I was waking up at 2 or 3 am at least 4 times a week. My thoughts just kept running and racing. I would get up and sometimes be able to go back to sleep in 2-3 hours. I was stuck in a never ending 'video loop' in my head of what had happened. I was experiencing increasing anxiety every time I left my house. I would be at work and it was hard to make myself stay there. I just wanted to be home. I was having irrational thoughts about keeping my family and myself safe.
At this time I was also experiencing a great deal of memory and concentration problems. I was having flashbacks to the phone call, to the hospital, to seeing him the 1st time, to the trial. I was very emotional whenever the subject came up. Things triggering these flashbacks could be any TV show with violence, receiving bills for his medical care or people asking about him.
About 7 months after this we had to drive to Denver and drove past the trauma center he was cared for and I had a panic attack. I couldn't breathe, was crying and gulping and shaking. I could not get myself under control.
I have always been aware of EMDR therapy as my husband has been trained in it for over 10 years. I know firsthand how much trauma he has relieved for clients. So I located a therapist in Buffalo who was a good fit for me. I entered EMDR therapy and was amazed at the reduction of my symptoms. I was only waking up maybe 1 time a week and then not at all. The anxiety was becoming lower and I was no longer feeling panicked when not at home.
During one particular session I had mentioned my shoulder and arm hurting to the point my fingers had been falling asleep. I had MRIs done, met with PT and had numerous doctors look at it with no c
ause found. My therapist targeted that and within seconds I was laughing. I reported the source of that shooting pain that I had had for at least the past 3-4 months was the exact spot one of my son's stab wounds was! And almost immediately that pain stopped. It has not returned. I was AMAZED!
Since my EMDR therapy, I can talk about the incidents without the gut wrenching emotions and crying. My concentration and memory have improved to levels before the attack. I have not woken during the night, have felt no anxiety and have had no panic attacks. I have no irrational thoughts about the safety of my children.
I became trained in EMDR and use it frequently in our practice. I am still amazed by the relief it can provide. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has had any type of trauma themselves or even vicariously as mine was.