When Past Trauma Unexpectedly Spills Into the Present Day

Coping with trauma is an ongoing challenge for this columnist and mother

Cazandra Campos-MacDonald avatar

by Cazandra Campos-MacDonald |

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I like my cabinets neatly arranged. But the kitchen cabinets are often hit-or-miss in the organization department.

For example, the cabinets that house plastic lids and containers can be treacherous. When organized, the cabinet allows us to see what’s available. Every cover matches its proper container, and items sit neatly on top of one another.

Unfortunately, this cabinet only stays organized for short periods of time. Eventually, lids get tossed into the cabinet without their partners, and bowls get crammed into any space available. Then bowls and lids pour out when the cabinet opens, surprising the person searching for a container.

Memories and trauma are a lot like kitchen cabinets. Sometimes we can remember moments with gratitude and happiness. Even terrible memories live in a place that allows for healthy observation. But when the memories and traumatic events pour out of the cabinet, we tend to do our best to stuff everything back inside. Closing the door and keeping everything from tumbling out can be challenging. These are the traumatic experiences we’ve yet to process.

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How to Recognize and Respond to Medical Trauma

At a recent orthopedic appointment for my youngest son, Caeleb, I felt the kitchen cabinet open, and years of trauma fell into my lap. My son is only 16 and lives with severe hemophilia A with an inhibitor. For years, he bled into his right knee and ankle, causing him great pain and limited mobility. I knew then that the damage incurred would eventually be a problem, and I thought I knew what to expect.

At the appointment, the doctor pulled up Caeleb’s recent scans and said, “If I hadn’t looked at the patient’s age, I would have thought these scans were from a person at a veterans’ hospital.” And the items from the cabinet toppled onto my head.

The doctor revealed additional information that helped me understand Caeleb’s increased pain. A bone spur on the top of his ankle and a torn meniscus are issues to be addressed with surgical interventions. While these interventions will hopefully lessen Caeleb’s pain, they are not cures.

The years of pain and bleeds, inhibitors and allergies to factor, numerous ports, needle phobia, and loss of mobility seem to be distant memories. Yet I learned that the trauma from Caeleb’s years of struggling still resonates in my soul. I can only imagine what it must be like for my son.

An organized cabinet is lovely. However, the truth is that all cabinets become a mess now and then. We must pick up each lid one by one and find its container. Putting things in their place is essential, but even more so is the work we must do to find a permanent home for everything.

It just takes time.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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