Going Indoors

By Shana

Oh, the challenges we face in this life are grand. The plans we make, and the things that seem to continuously get in the way of those plans. 

It’s been two years now since Marcus and I started up the coast of California, and we’ve yet to make it out of SoCal. We seem to be stuck in this loop of health issues that keep us close to doctors. 

We’ve managed to spread out from one extreme tip of SoCal to the other, and both of us are so grateful for the time we have spent here, but we are also anxious to explore the rest of the state. 

The House

So, potentially as our last stop in SoCal, and, once again for healthcare, we are going indoors. Well, kinda. It’s gonna take a minute to peel back this onion, so please, be patient with me. 

By “going indoors,” I specifically mean that we rented this adorable, furnished house in Old Town, San Diego, for a month.

By “kinda,” I mean that we go inside when we need to throw something in the oven, get something out of the fridge, use the toilet, shower, change clothes or something of that nature—because we are still sleeping outdoors. After the first two nights of not being able to sleep inside, we turned the patio into our bedroom with our blow-up mattress, and now we are both sleeping like champs again! 

What? How did this happen?  Well, for that, I have to go into the reason for the healthcare. 

The Study

Turns out, when the FDA allowed the Sackler Family to illegally promote OxyContin, the butterfly effect on me was beyond anything I could have expected.  Apparently, if you don’t process your traumas correctly, they show up down the line in an abundance of disturbing, unexpected ways. 

We have traveled back to heart of San Diego so I can participate in a study for non-military, trauma-induced PTSD. It is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical study involving specialized magnetic stimulation to under-active parts of the brain, with an attempt to increase activity on the left frontal lobe and the prefrontal cortex, the area of my brain impacted by trauma. 

My brain plays tricks on me. Big tricks. One happens when going indoors. I have a really hard time doing it. Like, super hard time. Walls and humans are the main enemy, so I do my best to avoid both at all cost. 

The Example

While working constantly on overcoming these irrational fears, I recently did a “stretch” (my therapist’s term for pushing myself in a safe, slow and comfortable manner) by deciding to go inside the store with Marcus to buy a few groceries. 

I tell myself the entire time I am in the store that all is well and any perceived danger is most likely just that, because my mind knows perfectly well that I am safe. But, without warning, my brain will identify something as dangerous and start pumping my body full of chemicals to get me to flee the scene in a life-or-death fashion. 

A perfect example of this is all wrapped up in one encounter with a super friendly guy shopping for bread on this particular day. 

Him: “It’s hard to pick one, isn’t it?”

Me to myself: “F*€K” 

Me to him: “Yeah, they’re all too big. It’s just my husband and me at home.” (I mention my husband right off the bat.)

Him: “My 22-year-old son still lives at home with me, and he eats everything.” 

Friendly guy continues to go on and on about how annoyed he is that his son still lives at home. 

Me: “Yeah, I have a 22-year-old daughter, and she eats all of our food when she’s around and I love it. I actually cook food she likes to entice her to come see me.”

Him: “Is she in college? My son graduates soon. Next week or next month. I don’t know. He’ll tell me when I need to be there.”  

By this point, I am so disturbed by the casual complaints that he’s making about his son to me, a complete stranger. If this dude were half as eager to speak to his son as he is to speak to me, he might know the exact day and time his son is going to graduate. He might have a relationship with his son beyond complaining about what his son is taking from him.

One thing I know for sure is that he was completely oblivious to not only what he was taking from me in that moment but also what had already been taken from me three years prior.

So, to his question of if my daughter’s in college, I replied:

“No, she found her brother, my son, dead during Covid, so she decided to take a little time off before she finished. Good luck with your son, sir. Have a great day.” 

As I walked away, he yelled, “Did you see this garlic loaf?” 

So, there you have it. The world is full of humans who don’t know how to act or what to say around other humans anymore. I don’t want any part of it, but, hey, I’m working on that.

This particular incident did not cause a severe reaction in me, but this is the exact scenario that could easily bring one on: the extremely painful, innocent words and actions of strangers. 

(Note: Too many people use the word “trigger.” I use the word “reaction,” because it is literally a neurological change that causes an intensely painful physical reaction, loads of confusion, hearing loss, nausea, loss of breath, chest pain and vertigo, all while I am rendered completely incapable of speaking my needs.)

It’s heartbreaking, because I can recognize that my brain is playing tricks on my mind, and this poor schmuck just caught what my husband would call “a gentle nudge from a cattle prod” so that I could exit before it happened. 

The Plan

The treatment I’m here for is for one hour a day for five weeks, if I don’t get the placebo. If I do, we will remain here for an additional five weeks for the actual treatment.

I have read such great things about this treatment and am beyond hopeful for results that take my irrational fears away. I’m so ready to get up the rest of this coast!  Now for my lack of patience for ignorance ….

P.S. I am unable to discuss any details about my progress during this study, so please just wish me luck. I’m out … side. 

Click here for the B Side by Marcus.

Shana And Marcus

We are a post-pandemic retired duo who decided society was too much of a crazy breed. We bought an RV, then a tent, and took off on the road so we could get back to nature, reflect on the beauty that goes unnoticed and focus on recreation. (For more posts by these authors, click on their names, above.)