Our Lives With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury

Archive for April, 2012

Tickled Pink

So, for some odd reason, I got the gumption yesterday to share my blog post ‘Confidently Conflicted’ with the author of ‘Until Tuesday’, former Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalván through Facebook. Well guess what…just a few short hours later, he wrote me back. How awesome is it for the author of such a wonderful book to take the time to correspond with me?!

He, of course, thanked me for writing and encouraged me to never compare my personal perception of he’ll with anyone else’s. Here is his response to me:

Dear Melissa ~

Thank you for your thoughtful note.

As you know by now, Until Tuesday was written with the intention of helping service members and veterans, their families, and people with disabilities. Additionally, we hope it will inform the general public of a number of key issues facing these groups. It’s heartening to know that the book touched you so.

Would you post a short review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Your note is essentially just that and I believe your feelings would really be helpful to other readers.

Incidentally, please do not compare your own life situation to anyone else. This is frequently done, and it is not fair to compare your life/goals/conditions with anyone else’s. You have every right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. No one is more or less deserving. Period.

By the way, we keep a schedule of events at the website below. We hope to make it to your beautiful land this year or early next year. Needless to say, it would be wonderful to meet you.

With blessings and golden hugs,
Luis & Tuesday

p.s. — We hope the messages of the book and forthcoming major motion picture continue to offer healing and hope to others.

Today, I am just tickled pink!


Confidently Conflicted

So, I’ve been reading ‘Until Tuesday’ by Luis Carlos Montalván. Political convictions aside, it’s been a delightfully eye opening read, but it has also caused me to feel rather conflicted about my own PTSD.

You see, I know without a doubt that when it comes to PTSD, I’m lucky. That may sound like a huge contradiction, but let me explain. I have learned that hell, like time, is a perception. Each persons perception is personal, no two people experience the same event alike. What may knock me to my knees may only cause another to flinch, what seems like an eternity to you may fly by for me. I KNOW there are far too many other veterans who suffer extremely more debilitating symptoms of PTSD. I also know that fact does not diminish my perception of hell when it comes to my own symptoms. In fact, my personal theme song for several years has been Rodney Atkins ‘If You’re Going Through Hell’.

“If you’re going thru hell, keep on going. Don’t slow down. If you’re scared, don’t show it. You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.

So, while I am enduring my own personal version of ‘hell’, I know I am lucky, because there are others who have it so much worse than I do. I have flashbacks, grey-outs, hyper-vigilance, over-stimulization (which exacerbates the hyper-vigilance), anxiety and panic attacks, over sensitive startle response, and insomnia. Thankfully most of my symptoms are fairly stabilized by my current regime of medications.

So, why do I need a service dog? Because I know from my own experience that these meds will only work for so long. Once my body decides to become immune to their effects (as has happened with three other meds thus far), I will begin to spiral once more. Also, my therapy has had some horrible side effects in the past. I have so many layers of trauma in my life that trying to resolve a single trauma is like trying to unravel a sweater…you can’t just pull out one row of yarn without effecting the next row. We tried ONE “mild” (in my therapists words) session of EMDR and I was a train wreck for the next two weeks. It was like ripping off a bandage and taking the scab and sutures with it. EVERYTHING was trying to pour out and I spent the next two weeks having anxiety attacks, horrible nightmares (that my meds wouldn’t let me wake from, and if I was able to wake, it was like someone simply pressed pause on a movie…as soon as I fell back to sleep, the dream simply picked up where it left off), I was depressed and horribly moody. My therapist believes having my service dog with me will help me get through not only the therapy itself but the aftermath.

And yet I feel conflicted about receiving a service dog…almost guilty really. I often feel like I’m being selfish because I know so many others need this more than I do right now; like I’m taking something away from them. Perhaps it’s the medic in me, always looking out for the welfare of others before, or in spite of, my own well being. What ever the reason is, I again know I am lucky to even be offered this valuable tool. This opportunity to have such a huge asset in my journey through recovery is immeasurable. Monetarily, these dogs can cost tens of thousands of dollars to train, without the guarantee that they will actually graduate to full fledged service dogs. Personally, this dog has the potential to give me back aspects of my life that I have nearly given up on ever experiencing again. Things as simple as walking through a busy grocery store without having a panic attack before we even get through the produce section, let alone if I have to go by myself. I look forward to being able to have an outing with my daughters and being able to stay until they are ready to leave, rather than needing to leave once it starts getting crowded. It will help me to return to college and sit through the class, able to pay attention rather focus on the other people surrounding me. Finally, being able to get through a therapy session without having to worry about falling apart.

I suppose being conflicted isn’t such a terrible thing. It certainly helps me appreciate this gracious gift even more than others might. It helps me to realize, during my darkest times that it could be so much worse than what I might be experiencing at that moment, and it helps me to empathize with those who do have it so much worse than me.

Where things stand now

Today is a pretty good day, except for my back. I have a pinched nerve that has me using a cane. I have sciatica all the way down to my toes and it feel like I got a huge GG shot in my butt!

Yesterday was a bad day. I had forgotten to take my meds the night before so I was extremely irritable and jumpy all day. I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a horrid day until I wrnt to take my meds and saw the dose that I missed.

On a more positive note….I am currently waiting to receive a service dog. I’m getting him through a program called K9s for Warriors. They are a non-profit group from Ponta Verda Beach, Florida that places service dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. They do this at no charge to the veteran. In June I will be traveling via Veterans Airlift Command to Florida for 3 weeks of training, then this wonderful dog will be my forever friend and service dog.

The Veterans Airlift Command is another non-profit group that provides free air transportation to veterans and their families. The pilots volunteer their time and money to fly warriors anywhere in the US for training, medical treatment, etc. They are an amazing group!!!

If you ever have any desire to donate to a charity that benefits veterans, please check out these two! They are doing amazing things in the lives of veterans!