Grief: Triggers

Cervical trauma is triggering and the Cubs are triggering.

Cervical trauma, of course, comes up often on this radiology rotation. More than one lecture, lots of films that look like my dad’s did, classmates saying things like “cervical trauma is so fun!” – etc. When it happens my brainstem reacts first. Somewhere behind my xiphoid process a knotting, gnawing discomfort starts. Then the chills: every 20-30 seconds, my hair stands on end, all up and down my arms and legs the sensations prickle. Of course I know I will be triggered whenever the subject comes up, but it’s not until a minute or two later that the cerebral sensations kick in: something recognizable as sad, as vulnerable. I look around hoping nobody can tell I’m upset, and also looking for someone to fight.

Ultimately, I feel breached. Grief is an egg cracked over my head and running down my spine.

The Cubs are predicted to have a shot at winning this year. My family is a Cubs family, and my dad was especially a fan. Last year they did really well and we thought maybe the curse was broken, but I really can’t muster any interest in sports, and I kept up my jokes about how I couldn’t care less. This year for the first time I’d like to have a Cubs hat or shirt to wear. They’re predicted to have a shot at winning, and that’s the saddest thing in the world to me, but I also hope they do. If they do, though, I’ll fall apart. My mom sees it as evidence of the afterlife – “There’s no way your father would miss this.”

Ultimately, I feel betrayed. Grief is a water balloon popping in my chest and widening my mediastinum.