Sunday, May 25, 2014

PTSD and Cancer

Yes it has been a while, a long while... who would have thought I would get to busy to write??? Maybe I am not too busy, but I have been lacking in motivation. So here is what is new:

My husband's PTSD is getting better, meaning he is learning to manage it better. It is by no means gone, and regardless of what his doctor says it is not in remission (my personal belief is that it can never go into remission, it just becomes a little more manageable with practice and therapy). We have been doing more together as a family like going out for dinner and going to the theater to watch a movie, and while that is an ordeal in itself we have been doing it.

Going out to eat or going to the theater is an ordeal because it always puts my husband in a preemptive trigger. He knows he is going where there will be a lot of people, and he gets very uncomfortable about the thought of it, so he will either become the asshole and go in a bad mood or try to pick a fight so that he can say "Fuck it, go without me."

Last weekend we went to go see Gabriel Iglesias at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. Before we left he was being crabby, we went to dinner first and he claimed he was not hungry and did not order anything, after we left the restaurant he was hungry so we hit up the McDonald's drive through. Going into the arena he stalled by having to have a cigarette, then when we sat down he was focusing on everyone around us commenting on the way they were dressed, the way they looked, etc. To be fair there was one girl there who was wearing a bra and shirt WAY too small for her which gave her 4 boobs... even Fluffy couldn't believe her fashion faux pas judging by the look on his face, lol:

It looked ridiculous. The husband remarked that he was surprised no one said how stupid she looked before she left the house.

Once the show started he was fine. He was laughing and enjoying himself, it was a nice break from his PTSD until the show was over and he started noticing everyone around him again. He can be super judgmental and I had to repeatedly remind him to lower his voice and relax. We got to meet Gabriel as well, and then we went home. He said he had a good time and was glad he went. Success!

A few weeks ago my oldest son told me that he had found a lump on his testicle. He had tried to get an appointment, but there were never any spots available, so one day when he had a bad cyst on his back that he wanted looked at and fixed he went to the E.R. and had the lump checked then too. An ultrasound was scheduled and he was referred to a urologist for follow up. Long story short, they were pretty certain that his lump was cancer since it was a solid mass and had its own blood supply. The doctor wanted to remove the testicle and test the lump, my son agreed. So in a time span of two and a half weeks he found a lump and had his testicle removed because of it.

Fun fact:  The testicular cancer ribbon is purple, more specifically orchid purple. The color is orchid purple because orchid literally means testicle in Greek.

Moral of the story? Check yourself! Feel your balls! You may lose a ball, but you will also save your life!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PTSD and the "Cure"

I know it is has been a while since I blogged, and I know I posted on Facebook that I would be posting "soon". The issue with me is #1 busy schedule #2 motivation #3 I love to sleep. I am working 34 hours a week, and I just started working on my 2nd masters degree as well. Add to that an emotional 14 year old girl that is struggling with school and  a husband with PTSD that is ALSO struggling with school and you come up with a woman who is so stretched thin that she just wants to get in her footie pajama's and crawl in bed before 9pm. Wine would help too, but I had to request a special order for it... so I wait for my Riesling escape.

Well, the point to this blog is mainly to discuss something that has been bugging me as of late. My husbands counselor has said that she thinks his PTSD is in remission. Great news, right? Well it is wrong, because she is wrong. How can PTSD go into remission? It is not a fucking disease! People may learn to control their symptoms/triggers, whatever you want to call them, they may not react as severely as they once did, but those triggers that they have never really go away. PTSD is not curable. I was stupid and naive to believe people when they told me at the beginning of this ordeal that "The good news is PTSD is not forever", the fuck it isn't. There will ALWAYS be triggers, there will ALWAYS be pain, there will ALWAYS be struggles... the difference is how it is handled pre treatment vs. post treatment.

I have done a LOT of research on this, and I have not seen one article ANYWHERE that states PTSD is curable. I did see one article that said that statement was up for debate, but generally it has been shown to not be curable. The DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) changed the classification of PTSD to a stress/trauma disorder rather than an anxiety disorder. And as I write this a thought just occurred to me. The DSM states that PTSD can be caused by learning about a traumatic event that happened to a close friend or family member (pg.271)... I would say that in instances like that maybe PTSD is curable, but to people who directly experienced a traumatic event that have those images from their experiences seared into their memory, it will be a lifelong struggle that most people can never understand.

The lifelong struggle is what drives so many veterans with PTSD to commit suicide, ignorant statements such as "It is curable" gives these people false hope, and when that long awaited remission or cure does not happen they feel death is the only escape. I live in fear every day that one of these days my husband might become one of those statistics of veterans that lost their fight with PTSD. When he makes remarks like "I am sorry I am such a burden" my heart sinks. I tell him he is not a burden, but he just does not believe it because HE feels like he is a burden. It is not anything we say to him, it is his own internal struggle.

I am working on my 2nd masters so that I can become a counselor; I want to become licensed and help people and their spouses deal with this horrible disorder. I cannot directly help my husband. I can be supportive of him, love him, and be there for him the best that I can, but I cannot be his therapist (Lord knows I don't want to be either). I can, however, help people in similar situations as ours and try to help guide them towards hope rather than despair. Teach them that while it is not curable it is treatable and can one day become manageable with hard work and effort. I don't want any veteran thinking that a permanent solution to any problem is ever the answer.

If you are ever thinking about suicide and feel unsafe:
Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day.
Veterans, press "1" after being connected, to be routed to the Veterans Crisis Line.
Veterans can also chat live online with a crisis counselor to get help at any time of day or night. Go to Veterans Crisis Line*.
The Veterans Crisis Line also responds to text messages. Send a text to 838255.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and 
     statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: 
     American Psychiatric Publishing.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Mission

My husband being diagnosed with PTSD has not been as easy as I had hoped it would be. Years ago I KNEW he had PTSD, he didn't. I thought once he was finally diagnosed that everything would miraculously get better, he would be put on some magical medication that would make it all go away.

How ignorant was I?? (As a side note, as I uploaded this picture to the blog my husband walked by and said "A magic pill, huh? I need that" I told him, I know... that is what this is about!" He then called me an ass...)

The reality of it all is that he has been in inpatient treatment programs twice and goes to therapy at least once a week. We have started couples counseling and he is on medications that he may or may not take. His reasons for not taking his medication are #1 It upsets his stomach and #2 It makes him feel weak. I told him I do not care, he has been prescribed it, he has to take it, and if it really makes him feel that bad he needs to make an appointment with the doctor to talk about an adjustment.

Things have not been peachy, but there has been improvement. He will still fly off the handle at little shit, but he is quicker to come back to reality and reason than he was before. He is starting to understand how toxic his mother is to him, and that she cannot be the support that he wants her to be no matter how hard he tries to reach out.

He is starting to understand how hard this is on me and the family and that his PTSD affects more than just him, his moods affect more than just him, and his triggers affect more than just him. I am just starting to learn about secondary PTSD. I have learned that being a spouse of a soldier with PTSD can make me feel just as alone as he feels with what he is going through.

There is no one here on this post that I have met that is married to a soldier with PTSD. No support system on this post to meet with others, share stories, and vent about the things we deal with on a day to day basis. Don't get me wrong, I have WONDERFUL family and friends, but sometimes the ear and voice of someone who is going through the same things as you are mean more than the sympathy of those that have not or are not living it. I mean, who else but a spouse of a soldier with PTSD will understand when we need to vent about the anger, the name calling, the impulsive behavior, the withdrawal, the inappropriate behavior, the nightmares, or the flashbacks (just to name a few)? We don't talk to anyone about it because it embarrasses us, or we are trying to protect them... and doing that secludes us and makes us feel alone.

So here is where my mission comes in. I know I cannot be the only one on this post that is married to a soldier with PTSD. I cannot be the only one that is living with what I am on a day to day basis. I want o start a support group for women like me who can vent, seek support, get advice, GIVE advice, and be a part of something that can help us make sense of it all and know that we are not alone in what we live with. I cannot tell you how much it helps just to talk to someone who understands, or laugh with someone who has the same stories as I do about our husbands (because to be honest, sometimes the shit they do is just ridiculous!). Tomorrow I am going to start talking to people and researching what I need to do to get this thing started... as of right now I feel alone, because for all I know I AM the only one on post that is going through this.

Another side note, if anyone wants to contact me about this or PTSD, or whatever... contact me through my blog's FB page @ Through My Insanity and What Else Is There?