I had really bad nightmares last night. I kept on getting stuck at the part of the memory where my hand was inside the wounded Iraqi detainee's chest and I could feel his heart beating against my hand. I felt the asphalt under my knees, the DCUs sticking to my shins from kneeling in his blood. I watched chips of bone and small chunks muscle swim slowly away from his mangled leg toward the dust at the edge of the road. I looked up from the blood at the sound of moaning and saw the local translator laying a little ways down the road. He was fingering a bullet wound right below his sternum. The smell of blood was everywhere. I woke up and was completely disoriented. I still smelled blood. What was really messing with my head was that metallic smell. I couldn't shake it. God, I need a fucking cig.
That's when I heard the rain. I walked over to the screen door and inhaled deeply. The amazing smell of damp earth and the rhythmic sound of the rain pattering off the roof reassured me that I was in the present. But I could still smell blood. That was new. Previously, whenever I became aware of 'when' I was, the smell of blood went away. This was freaking me out quite a bit. What was happening to me? How could I be aware and still smelling blood at the same time?
And then it hit me: I went and got tissues. I blew my nose. My nose had bled while I was sleeping - was still bleeding. The incredibly dry weather we had over the past month up in Pennsylvania had dried out my nose and sinuses. I can't get rid of the smell and it's driving me nuts. The only time I can't smell it very much is when I go smell the rain. It's surreal knowing that I am actually smelling blood. And it's my own. I have this horrible knot in my stomach and I have no appetite. I think I am going to go take a shower and try to get this blood out of my nose...If I can't today will be a wonderful day of nightmares and rain.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.