Saturday, November 25, 2017

PTSD and TBI, Not Broken, Just Dented

I didn't break my head, it was just dented
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 25, 2017

Reminder: Combat PTSD is about fighting to take your life back!

Yesterday I was at the Oviedo Hospital Emergency room. I have to tell you, great people work there!!! 

Orlando Business Journal
(They had no clue who I was, so no special treatment. In other words, I was just like everyone else they help every single day.) I have a history of head injuries.(Yes, I know, heard it all before. Now you know what's wrong with me.)

Tuesday I had the shots into my spine and didn't sleep well. Went to work, stopped at the supermarket and when I went to take the bags out of the car, I dropped the apple pie as I was shutting the hatch and hit myself in the head. Came close to passing out, but I was more upset about breaking the pie instead of my head.

By the time I got into the house, I already had a bump. Anyway, I felt ok Thursday, just a bad headache. Yesterday morning I was having an "aura stage" migraine. Not worrying, I popped a couple of Tylenol, chugged down some coffee and waited for it to stop. It faded, like it always does but then hit came back a lot stronger than ever.

I got frightened about something really being damaged in my head this time, so I called my doctor and was told to go to get it checked out. At the Ovideo ER, they kept asking me what was going on and I kept saying, "I broke my head." Considering I actually did break my head when I was 5 and had TBI before they were calling it that, head injuries are something I worry about.

A CT scan was taken and the nurse came in to tell me that I didn't break my head, it was just dented. (Yes, we were kidding around! She also told my husband no housework for me until Christmas because I needed the rest. He didn't get the joke.)

When I hear someone say that "veterans are either considered heroes or broken" I get angry. To me, they are all heroic simply because when someone actually puts their life at risk for someone else, that is the definition of hero. As for broken, I never met one of them who was broken. The third of Vietnam veterans with PTSD are dented and there is nothing "broken" about them.

With a diagnosis of PTSD, they can start to recover with the right kind of help. The trouble is, getting them to figure out when they need to worry about not simply getting over "IT" and then go an get it.

For all the "awareness" BS, why aren't they getting the message that PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of? Why don't they know that it is a wound and the term TRAUMA IS GREEK FOR WOUND? I am a klutz. I always have been. I never felt ashamed of getting wounded. I know what it is like to face death, far too many times, just from regular living and I know what it is like to suffer from what the wound did physically, as well as mentally.

PTSD didn't hit me for one simple reason. The way my family dealt with everything traumatic was to talk it to death as soon as it happened. Bingo! That is what Crisis Intervention does. It gets the survivor to bring the trauma into the "safety time" and they begin to take control back over what just happened.

I was not in control over what happened to me but I was in total control the second I went from "victim" to "survivor" and there was no way in hell I was going to let "IT" rob one more second of my life. Several times Doctors said I was lucky to be alive, but twice they said I should have been dead according to their understanding of humans. There was no logical way to explain why I was still here. The thing is, I didn't need one. I just ended up coming to the conclusion that for whatever extra time I had, it was going to be spent doing stuff for other people and it changed the way I look at a lot of things.

Like the aura migraine, all the bad stuff faded away and "I" was still left as "me" as klutzy as before. If you have TBI, know this. It isn't something WRONG with you. It is what happened after you survived something. Get help to heal what can be healed and what can't, you can manage it. I had spelling and memory problems. (I still do. If you read Combat PTSD Wounded Times, that is something you are well aware of.) I just don't let it stop me from doing anything, including speech problems, which stopped me from talking when I was young. Now, I embrace it, especially living in Florida with a think Bostonian accent. It is all part of me and I am happy to have some fun with it. Joy is surviving but bliss is thriving.

If you have PTSD, again, I get it because I know what trauma can do to a person. I know how it can eat away at you and make you question everything, including your faith in everything. Do not think of yourself as a "victim" but know yourself as a survivor. You defeated the sucker when you stood up after it happened. Don't let it win now. 

Just because you didn't get help to start recovering right after it happened, doesn't mean you can't get it now. It is never too late to take back control of your next moment.

I have the memories of all the stuff I survived in this dented head of mine. It is all a part of me, but so is everything else about me. 

The same for you! Your ability to care about others to the point where you were willing to die for them is beyond what "normal" people are willing to do. Embrace that!

Your history as a survivor is something few others know, stand tall with it!

Your endurance level is beyond human understanding considering all you had to do, to do your job! Flex your muscles!

If you are still ashamed of having PTSD, then one last thing to consider. If you have PTSD because of your job, there is nothing weak within you. It was the strength of your emotional core that made you care enough to risk your life in the first place. It is that same strength that makes you grieve now.

So take some advice from an older lady with a dented head. Stop living with a dented head and open your eyes to what you are having trouble seeing!