P is for PTSD

P is for PTSD

The taxi pulled up in front of my daughter’s home. I was waiting on the porch at the side. Shivering in the cold. My breath making clouds of cold steam. I hurried to the taxi, cane in left hand, small travelling bag in right hand. I opened the right front passenger door. I got in the front seat of the car. Closed the door.

“Please take me to the Greyhound stop,” I said.

“You betcha buddy,” the driver said. He started the car rolling down the gentle incline of the cul de sac that housed my daughter’s home. The pavement was covered by an inch of packed snow. Here there bits of ice peaked through. He reached the end of the street. It seemed like he had no intention of stopping. I glanced to the left. Saw a large pickup rocketing down the busy street which with the cul de sac intersected.

I screamed. Like my life was about to end.

Meanwhile, the taxi driver was already braking. It was never his intention to roll through the intersection. Never his intention at all. But my brain did not know that. It just reacted out of fear and terror.

“Sorry about that man,” I said to the driver. “I was in a terrible car crash. I thought you weren’t going to stop. And, that pickup would smash into us.”

“No big deal buddy.”

The driver never asked about my crash. And, I never told him my secret. We chatted about the weather and what was new and not so new in town. Ten minutes later he dropped me in the middle of town. The Greyhound pulled up fifteen minutes later. I was waiting in an alleyway next to a store built out of a cement blocks. I handed the driver my ticket. Climbed carefully up the stairs hanging on to the railing. I sat in the front seat opposite to the driver. Ten minutes later we began to drive out of town. Making our way slowly across a bridge spanning Mountain creek and eventually reaching Moutain Avenue and the exit to the Trans Canada.

The Greyhound reached cruising speed. I leaned back into my seat and thought about the incident with the taxi. “Fuck! I have PTSD from the crash! That’s got to be the reason I screamed. Shit! Shit! What am I going to do now?”

I pondered. And, pondered.

Then I remembered. Lynn! Lynn can help me.

Lynn was my former therapist. She had helped me immensely in working through my childhood sexual abuse. I had many sessions of EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming, to eradicate the trauma, the PTSD, resulting from the abuse. EMDR might work for this PTSD.

I called her up when I got back to Calgary. I scheduled a session for the next week.

Excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved




I started this memoir when I was a patient on Unit 58, Neuro Rehabilitation, of the Foothills Medical Center in Calgary, Alberta. Sunday, September nineteenth, twenty ten I wrote these lines, Dr. Manfred von Neumann was a prick. A very capable prick but a prick nonetheless. Manny, as he was known to his peers.” I typed them into an email and sent it to myself. I had no paper. And, at that time I didn’t trust myself to be able to actually hand write and then to perserve that piece of paper intact.

The lines were a harkening back to the one doctor in Trauma 71 who pissed me off. I never knew his name. But he reminded me of a Gestapo officer. Hence the Germanic name. It was in Trauma 71 I tentatively decided to write this memoir. It occurred to me one day that people might be curious about the real workings of a hospital’s trauma unit. So I began to pay careful attention to the goings on and what was happening to me. One day I happened to mention the idea to one of the residents, an attractive blond I will call Dr. Liz. She took upon herself to go around announcing to other patients and staff that “This is Lyle. He’s writing a book about his experience here.” After that I was commited to write this missive. This memoir has gone through a number of changes since that first line was typed. And, titles. And, waning and waxing of my commitment and my ability to write.

When I began to truly write this memoir in January of twenty eleven I optimistically thought I would have it written in a year, maybe two. It’s been seven years and change. It will be done this year, God wiling.

People have asked how can you remember all the dates and events. I cheated. I have kept a journal since nineteen eighty five. I record my thoughts and what’s happening, my plans, dreams, in well times and bad times. Especially in bad times. I have always taken a copious amount of photographs which I still have as visual reminders. I even went back to FMC and took specific pictures of the different units I was on. I have retained all the emails I sent since I opened my Gmail account. Over the first five years after my car crash I recorded all my appointments on wall calendars. I still have them. But even more important I paid particular attention to what happened and what people said to me. All this has equipped me to write a true account of what happened.

But, memory fades. I still remember specific events and actual words. For example, I remember that Dr. Bouchard asked me if I remembered him from when I was in the ER. And, I remember that Dr. Coutts told me that when she first saw me in the ER she didn’t think I would make it. I remember the dreams I had when I was in a coma. But, memory fades. I remember meeting people. I remember the purpose of the meeting. I even remember approximately what was said. So, many of the words attributed to doctors and nurses are put in there mouth to facilitate the telling of my story.

I have wrestled with the giving out of actual names of medical professionals. In the end I have decided to do just that. To reveal their names because to a one they were exceedinly competent and caring. Just remember that they may not have said exactly what I am telling you they said. Don’t hold them responsible for my fiction. Instead, salute them for their competence, caring, and capabilities.

And, now the Healing Journey Begins.

An excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Copyright 2017, Lyle T. Lachmuth, All Rights Reserved