Category Archives: medical

Just My Thoughts on PTSD- Always Look Forward

PTSD

There are a higher percentage of deaths from suicide among Combat Veterans as compared to the general population in America. According to research, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be a fundamental cause of this increased suicide rate. My experience with PTSD stems from a tour in Iraq more than a decade ago. PTSD is real and has tangible and damaging side effects. It manifests its self among us in different ways and levels of severity. PTSD may be an outcome of any traumatic event from a car accident, to witnessing a crime, to being attacked by a dog, to being a victim of sexual abuse. Anyone can suffer from PTSD; the ailment has no social, economic, religious, gender or racial biases. Anyone is open to its dark shadows.
My thoughts below have no scientific merit nor are based upon research or psychoanalysis. They are just my ramblings that I felt necessary to put into words. When reflecting upon the escalated suicide rates of those whom have served in combat roles, I can’t help but dwell upon the environment that our troops lived in for such long periods of time. In my Unit the average Combat Tour was a year, for other troops it was less and some more. For many troops multiple combat tours were the norm. Could the amount of time which people are submerged in a traumatic environment have a direct relationship on how severe their PTSD symptoms could be? This could help explain the increased suicide rate among combat veterans.
In 2003, I can tell you that Iraq was nothing like the world that I live in today. The best description of the place was a maelstrom of violent deliberate organized chaos. For me it was a place where nightmares vacationed. For a year, the smells, sights and sounds of the place became an integral part of my conscious; the place became a part of me. We did all we could to keep the environment out but there was no stopping it, the place became you. When you are besieged into that chaos, there is an opportunity for one to become an uglier version of oneself and potentially be more vulnerable to making decisions which would be looked down upon back home. It’s these life choices as well the incredible amount of violence witnessed which tend to linger in our souls long after we leave the war. It’s these experiences and memories which often bind us to guilt and loss. For soldiers, the guilt and sorrow for those we lost and possibly harmed, aggravates the symptoms of PTSD and makes it harder to recover from it. For me, once I found peace to my inner demons within, I was able to better navigate the pitfalls’ associated with my PTSD. Peace comes from many different approaches. Religion, meditation, nature, support groups, therapy, animals, education, karate and family are all great constructive tools for individuals to use on their journey to come to terms with their experiences. The important thing to understand is there is no road map or set of directions; it just takes time, patience and a loving support network to lean upon while taking that journey to find oneself. Unfortunately it takes a while for soldiers to get in touch with their feelings and often turn to self-medication in an effort to chase away their mental affliction which often only worsens their anguish and increases their burdens. It’s not just heavy drug use, abuse of alcohol but violence and other such type of behavior which chases away those we love and support us. A lack of such a support network only makes the symptoms of PTSD harder to endure.
After a few years of making things right in my own mind regarding the war, I was able to begin seeing improvements surrounding my PTSD. It took me more than 9 years to be able to see a fireworks show with my family but now I can go without negative side effects. My nightmares are very rare almost negligible and my temperament is back to prewar conditions. I am able to socialize in public and find myself to be more socially active. These were all issues that I have been dealing with since my return. I’m still working with my issues of crowds and noises such as horns and crying children but all is manageable. Believe it or not, my biggest issue is visiting others in their home. For some reason I feel very uncomfortable going to someone’s house for a visit. It’s a work in progress.
Trust me, my story was filled with ugliness throughout the healing process including trouble with the law, violent behavior, abuse of alcohol, marriage problems and a ton of other nasty items but I kept one constant. When I woke up despite my many setbacks, I kept on moving forward one step at a time. There were terrible moments and steady moments and even joyful moments but every day I kept trying to look ahead to a brighter day.
There are so many more folks out there that have witnessed more ugliness then I will ever dream of and others who may not have witnesses as much but at the end of the day, that does not matter. What matters is we never judge and that we only strive to support. I know in my heart of hearts that I will never understand how others suffer with their memories, afflictions and symptoms of PTSD. This issue affects all of us differently so it’s crucial that we walk our own journey to find a way to heal and not compare our situations with others suffering from PTSD.
What I can do is be a friend, lend a helping hand, and feel empathy for their turbulent struggles. I think this is something we all can do and not just for those who suffer from PTSD but for any person who is struggling with any type of issue. It’s about being a good human being and neighbor to those we interact with.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~Edward Everett Hale

PTSD 2

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How To Get Around Your Fear of the Dentist

Dental

No One likes the dentist.  Even when you have perfect pearly whites, the trip to the dentist is still uncomfortable.  It’s bad when the dentist whips out the drill to do some enamel fabricating.  The worst in my experience is the tooth extraction, at this point just knock me out.

I feel bad for the dentist and the dental hygienist.  They have a tough job and should get more credit for what they do.  How many people brush their teeth and use mouth wash before their dental exam? It’s a fair question.  How would you like to go to work with someone less than ½ inch from your nose breathing into your face with bad breath?  I can’t deal with my own breath when I wake up in the morning let alone someone else’s halitosis all day long.  It does not stop there.  They have to live in constant phobia of getting one of their fingers bit off by some yahoo with an Oral Reflex Response Disorder or ORRD for short (I just made up this medical condition but I am sure it exists).  It’s all fun and games until some whack job with bad breath bites your index finger off because you touched their tongue.  Life changes when you lose a digit and it’s not for the best.

I have a theory to improve your Dental Experience, at least it works for me.  Have you ever noticed that in life, it’s never about you?  When is the last time you have had all the focus completely on you in a beneficial way?  Think about it, when you are at a restaurant, is your server totally concentrating on you or are they multitasking?  Do your kids pay attention to you during dinner after you cooked the meal and worked 60 hours a week to put food on the table.  Does your cat really care that you’re alive?  If you’re like me, you will find that most of the time, you are not the primary focal point of life.  Here is the good news.  When you go to the dentist, everyone is totally dedicated to the betterment of your mouth.  A dentist or dental hygienists is not worried about random thoughts and ideas when working on your teeth because they are too concerned about your Oral Reflex Response Disorder and don’t want to lose a finger in the mouth betterment process.  They are 100 Percent FOCUSED on your Oral Health.  I say celebrate that truly unique focus, you won’t get it anywhere else.  Yes, the whole situation is uncomfortable and can often be horrifically painful but at least you can say that the whole situation revolved around the betterment of you.  That is a rare situation indeed.

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