Hi, this is my first message, as it's taken me a while to decide if this was the place I wanted to ask, and most of the people posting seemed genuine, so here goes. (and yes, there is a point to all the rambling)
I've never been in the military, so all of my experience is second-hand. My husband was a sniper in the Rangers who later retrained as a surgical tech before I met him. He was stationed in Korea in the DMZ for two years, and spent some time in various not-so-friendly locations around the world. Due a parachute accident in training, he is partially disabled through the VA, and we spend some quality time hanging out in various VA waiting rooms on a regular basis. Due to my job, (I'm an equine insurance adjuster, which means I spend most of my time reading health reports and necropsies from vets, and talking to owners with injured horses) I frequently research medical procedures, medications and treatments. BTW, health care for horses is much better than it is for humans, I can tell you that for certain. I actually call all of my insureds about every six weeks to ask how the horse is progressing and make sure they treat any issues aggressively and in a timely manner. When's the last time the VA called you to see if how you were getting along? (sorry, wrong rant)
I've been researching PTSD for a while based on some conversations with my husband (he is very vague about some aspects of his service, most of it I've put together over the years as much as from what he hasn't said as what he has.) Anyway, one of the books I've checked out on PTSD was pretty straightforward and I wondered if any of you have consulted it, and if so, what did you think about it?
It's called "The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook" by Glenn Schiraldi, phd. It was in my local library, and had a good overview of the disorder, treatments and how the brain works in relation to PTSD. I found it pretty good at explaining why and more importantly, physically how, PTSD works. I know shrinks have their uses, but maybe if people understood that the problem is rooted in a physical injury, even if not externally visible, it would make it easier to understand and deal with. I want to continue researching PTSD, and I also wanted to know if you could recommend any particular books or sites for additional info? I know this was long and a bit rambling, but please tell me if you think I'm on the right track. Because my normal "patients" are four legged and mute, I'm pretty good at listening and looking for clues. Anyway, let me know if you think I'm on the right track, or wandering in the back 40 without a clue. As long as it's honest, I'd like to hear it.
Thanks for listening,
I have asked some experts to comment on your post. Please be patient as it is Monday after a holiday, and people will be swamped.
Thanks Dave. I appreciate you taking the time to look at my post.
I have been looking through other posts on this site, and have really appreciated how supportive the members are of each other. I agree that the general public who haven't served (me included) really need to sit down and research this stuff objectively in order to do our part as a supportive, educated, informed citizenry. In other words, verify not assume.
From what I could tell from multiple sources, a lot of the symptoms of PTSD come from the brain's inability to file the traumatic memory away in the usual manner like it does with less traumatic stuff, like loss of job, argument with spouse, etc. The memory gets "stuck" in the right side of the brain, and doesn't get "processed, idenitified and filed away", so the subconcious brain keeps bringing it back to the forefront whenever it can, trying to wave a flag at the conscious mind and get it's attention. One article mentioned that the right brain was the reason the traumatic incident was a "nameless terror" was because the left side of the brain controlled the speech center that vocalizes memories, and it's not operating at that time. As I understand it, the principle beyond the Eye Movement exercises is that it forces the left side of the brain to get involved, and that's why the panic level drops some as the exercise goes on. If PTSD didn't involve some form of one-sided brain problem, moving your eyes while thinking about a trauma event should be useless.
I also don't know why the military doesn't try to teach some of these coping skills BEFORE sending soldiers into combat. I would think that after all the money they've spent in preparing soldiers to be IN COMBAT, it would make sense to teach them IN ADVANCE, how to deal with what is a normal, expected, reaction. What in a normal person's upbringing is supposed to prepare them for that? How on earth can the military be surprised by the outcome? What's so novel about combat overwhelming a normal person's coping skills? Not having PTSD after combat should be abnormal, not the other way around. You can't tell me that making a decent effort to teach people about the disorder and treating it agressively at the beginning will cost the gov't more than the VA paying for decades of therapy and medications. (Sorry, bit of rant there. My economic and insurance sensiblities are offended by abject institutional stupidity and it drives me nuts.)
Anyway, thanks, monica
The doc has been on call for the last 72 hours and will respond after some sleep.
great points Monica. I know that the shrink we saw at the VA in Minnesota here said that it actually changes the chemical composition of your brain. If that's true or not I dont know. It would stand to reason though that so many vets with PTSD are on anti-depressants though. What you say makes sense in that the memories dont go away. I don't know if pre-training on combat will help. I know a lot of friends including my boyfriend didn't bother to pay attention to any reintegration training they went through after they got back. They thought it was a joke and a waste of time. Years later though, it doesn't seen so dumb.
Thanks Ali. I know I've lived a pretty charmed life, so I don't have any trauma of any note to deal with, for which I am thankful. (Sometimes it's not all bad growing up on a hog farm in Ohio, even if it did literally stink!)
A few years ago when I was going through some general life stress (poverty during grad school, trying to find new job, pay bills, make house payment, etc), my husband noticed that I was jittery all the time, inclined to fidgeting, pacing, and slept only a few hours a night. I had the feeling I was forgetting something all the time and sometimes I was, which just reinforced it. My husband finally made me see my doc, who did blood work and found out my thyroid was overly producing T4, which was where all the symptoms were coming from. I wasn't nuts, my endocrine system was. Several months of pill experiments later, and now I'm just fine. I visit the vampires for bloodwork every 2 months, take my pills every night, and all is right with the world. (BTW, women over 30 should really have their thyroids checked every few years. Both high and low thyroid hormone levels can really mess with you, and it's easy to fix.)
Anyway, it just reinforced what seemed fairly obvious to me. Our mental health/personality aren't just mythical concepts independent of our bodies, they are a direct result of all the little chemical reactions that hold us together. Just like in chemistry class, too much or too little of the wrong thing can sure change the outcome. I can def tell if my meds need some adjusting (and so can my hubby!).
Anyway, thanks. Monica
Welcome Monica. I wish to give you a few links to review. Hopefully they will be helpful:
"PTSD Safe Zone" where we interact with one another on a most serious topic http://forums.military.com/eve...1001/m/5230037012001
"PTSD: Still Under Fire" commentary on the assaults levied by the media, government bureaucrats and those who have never stood in harms way http://forums.military.com/eve...1001/m/6710008191001
Also a book I did "The Combat Veteran From World War II to the Present" http://forums.military.com/eve...1001/m/8290078391001
If any of these topics interest you, please post on one of those topics, as I do not monitor this board.
I will cast no stones. Proud member of the RD-DV!
Military.com is the original home of the Derelict Veterans Group,
RD-DV, established December 31, 2008
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