Tag Archives: PTSD

Process of Elimination

Process of Elimination

I’ve spent most of my adult life troubleshooting.  It’s a process of elimination.  You hold all variables constant, and you change one to see if it has an impact.  If it doesn’t, you restore it to its original state, and change another.  You keep doing that until you find the problem.

Since Then

Elizabethe commented that I really haven’t been my same self since the accident.  That’s understandable.  PTSD is, as the T stands for, a traumatic disease.    I say disease because it is a mental illness brought on by a life threatening event.

Since then I had a nasty flu that took weeks to recover from.  Let me correct that… I’m still recovering.  A couple of months after getting the flu I got a septic infection.  The antibiotics cleared up a lot of symptoms, but a few of them came back.

I’ve never experienced fatigue as I have lately.  It used to be I could trim the grass, hedge the bushes and mow the lawn only to feel some muscle stiffness the next day.  Saturday’s experience doing those three tasks nearly killed me.

Convinced Me

Elizabethe convinced me to see the doctor.  The doctor asked lots of questions, listened to my breathing and my heart, and told me the course of action.  It’s a process of troubleshooting, not unlike troubleshooting a computer or network system.

First, they are going to test my blood and urine for a bunch of stuff.  She said it could be an infection (again), electrolyte imbalance, hormonal, blood sugar, etc.  Her first line of troubleshooting is to see if anything appears in the blood or urine.

If nothing appears in the lab tests, the second tier will be to adjust my medications one at a time to see what happens.  She listed off a couple of my medications that could cause fatigue.   One she said could be eliminated.  The others, substituted or an adjustment in dosage could help.

After that, there are other tests.  She suggested sleep apnea.  Something tells me it’s not sleep apnea.  I think it is more “chemical” or “biological”.  She also wants me to see an E.N.T. specialist.  I haven’t been to one for years.  In 1974-1975 I practically lived at my E.N.T.’s office, but that’s another story.

Worse Case Scenarios

Some worse case scenarios were rattled off…  Kidney failure (I’m doubting that since urination seems normal), liver failure (another one I doubt), thyroid problems, Parkinson’s being the ones she mentioned.  Ones I found searching symptoms on the Internet were leukemia, Lupus and Sjogren’s (this latter matching all the symptoms).  It’s all a process of elimination until something conclusive rears its head.

In the Meantime

In the meantime, I have to manage my energy and time carefully.  My voice is a good indicator.  I need to remember to back off when my voice starts going out.  And, I need to accept that my effectiveness can end anywhere during the day.  (Today, it cut out around noon.  That’s when I started to lose my voice.  Losing my voice is coupled with the extreme fatigue I’ve been feeling.)

One thing I won’t be eliminating is prayer.

Dealing with Depression

Dealing with Depression

It has been an uphill battle ever since my accident on October 19th, 2014.  PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is as real as it gets.  Just when you think things are getting better, something happens to trigger it and you’re back down.

Yesterday I read they are trialing a drug named ropivacaine (Naropin) to help treat PTSD.  They inject it in to the  stellate ganglion.  It helps intercept the signals that are part of the sympathetic nervous system.

While depression isn’t PTSD, it is a major symptom, or should I say by product of PTSD.

CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the usual treatment for PTSD.  It sounds like this drug doesn’t replace that, but might be beneficial.  I’m keeping my eye on what happens with this Naropin trial.

Misunderstandings

I think there are a lot of misunderstandings about triggers.  You can’t simply avoid triggers.  Yeah, I guess of being around certain people gets you down, avoiding them might help, but this isn’t like that.  I will give you an example.

During my accident my auditory system shut down.  All I could hear was the sound of my own voice yelling, “Stop!  Stop!”

Since then I have come to realize while my conscious mind didn’t hear anything, obviously my subconscious mind did.  My realization of this came when I discovered my startle reflex is more acute than it was before the accident.  It’s not all sudden noises, just certain types — usually noises of clanging metal.

Given the size of the dent my friend left in the hood of the car, there had to be a loud crumpling metal sound.  While my conscious mind didn’t hear it,  my subconscious mind must have.  And, the same is true about the car striking me.  It’s these sounds that are registered deep inside my memory that when I hear sounds that remind me of them, PTSD takes over.

I cannot shield myself from these sounds as they are all over, wherever you go.  As a result, I need to learn to live with it and work on re-training my brain.   Thus, it is a gross misunderstanding that people with PTSD or triggers to depression can simply avoid those triggers.

Self-Pity Party

The day started with a self-pity party.  (I didn’t invite anyone.  This was a party for one.)  What triggered this, I can’t say because I don’t know.  The inclination was to simply withdraw and hide (the flight side of fight or flight).

Forcing myself, I went through my morning routine – shave, brush my teeth, shower, read scriptures, prayer.  I wanted to stop there, but it took more effort to eat breakfast.

Grabbing my camera bag, I went to the Sacred Grove.  There’s no way to predict what might happen, I just need to force myself to do something.

Arriving at the parking lot, I grabbed one camera and headed into the grove.  While walking down the trail, I asked, “Why?”   My asking included some people who and situations that add to my frustrations.

copyright 2017 db walton

The Sacred Grove

The answer surprised me.  In my mind I heard a kind answer, “Do you remember when you asked your mission president, ‘Why did you put me with so many difficult missionaries?’  And, do you remember when he answered, ‘I guess the Lord figured you could handle it.'”

I can handle this.  If my Maker thinks I can handle it, I need to trust that I can.

Someone with Depression

If you know someone with depression or PTSD, the best thing you can do is let them know they are important to you and you’re praying for them.  It’s not something external change can fix.  For example, asking if you can cook their favorite meal might be a kind gesture, but it can’t resolve that is happening inside the sufferer’s brain.

Things they don’t want to hear are (with my comments in parenthesis)…

  • Get over it  (if it were that easy, we already would have gotten over it)
  • This too shall pass (it might not in this lifetime, so don’t give us false hope)
  • Have you tried _____________ (fill-in-the-blank with some remedy like herbal oils, some drug, mineral salt baths, etc.)
  • Maybe you need to ____________ (fill-in-the-blank with some activity like losing weight, taking a walk, watching a funny movie, etc.)

Most of the time, we may not know what we need at the time, so it may not help to ask if there’s anything you can do.  Yeah, it’s tough, and the best thing you can probably do is simply be there when we reach out for support.

Anxiety

Anxiety

Speaking about anxiety, in the latest issue of the Ensign there is a great article.  Since my accident a couple of years ago I’ve struggled with anxieties and PTSD.  Whether you have anxieties or know someone who does, this article is worth reading.  (click here)

If you don’t know someone who suffers from this, I would still read it.  I would read it so you have a better understanding of the seriousness of mental illnesses like this.  They are real.

Unlike depression, anxiety is typically a result of life events and experiences.  Chronic depression is often a chemical imbalance in the brain.  Depression can cause anxiety, but so can a serious accident, divorce, abandonment, and other things we experience.

I encourage you to read the article.

Flaxen Cord

The other day I was thinking about secret combinations that may be closer than we think.  After reading a couple of online articles about homosexuality and church members, I was struck by the thought that Satan is working hard to infiltrate the church membership.

Love the Sinner – Hate the Sin

We’ve heard the saying, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.”

Nowhere have I ever read in the scriptures that we should, “Love the sinner, and embrace their sin.”

That’s where I felt uneasy while reading this article.  While I agreed 100% about loving those who suffer with same-sex attraction, the underlying message was this… This man felt attracted to other men, so why should he feel guilty when he’s with the man he loves.

I guess that would depend on what they do when they are together.  The article made no mention of living the law of chastity.  It implied the man came to the conclusion he could be active in the church if he shoved aside his guilt and had physical intimacy with another man.  No, it didn’t come out and say that, but it didn’t deny it either.  I guess we’ve entered the relhm of don’t ask, don’t tell.

Secret Combinations

Nephi talks about secret combinations in 2 Nephi 26:22.  He writes, “And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness;”

He continues in that same verse, “yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.”

Isn’t it interesting he uses secret combinations and flaxen cord in the same verse?

Smell of Smoke

I think it was President Kimball who commented about the smell of cigarette smoke being a welcome smell at church.  He was talking about the penitent sinner making an honest attempt to come back to church.  The message being we should help them on the road to repentance and welcome them when they come to church.

I think of Brother Hook in my old ward.  When I met him he was a heavy smoker and not a member of the church; his wife was.  He joined the church and struggled with quitting smoking, but he did.  The ward embraced him, but they didn’t embrace his smoking.

Concern

There is a valid concern about the embracing of homosexuality.  Sex between anyone except a man and a woman who are married is a sin.  Period.  There’s no debate inside the church about that.  But, to say we should treat it differently than any other sin is a flaxen cord.

It Doesn’t Stop Here

It doesn’t stop here.  I’ve also seen articles online that speculate about church doctrines and policies.  While on the surface they appear academic, underneath they have the appearance of destroying trust, belief and faith.

The Cure

The cure in my opinion is reading the Book of Mormon.  I find it amazing how often I read one of these articles and immediately a scripture from the Book of Mormon comes to mind.  (Just like 2 Nephi 26:22 did.)  It’s hard to be deceived when you’re reading the Book of Mormon daily.  I’m not implying you’re not going to sin by so doing, but I am claiming you’ll notice suspicious doctrines.

White Paint

White Paint

Once someone has something stuck in their head it is hard for them to let go of the notion.  Such is the case of a small paint transfer of white paint on a lady’s car.  We were walking to the Eastman House from the parking lot when some young lady came up yelling, “Excuse me… excuse me…   you hit my car… excuse me.”

I went back and looked and she claimed my door hit the side of her SUV and scraped the paint off.  I went back to look at her car.  When I opened the door and where my door makes contact with her car was about 1″ away from where the paint transfer was.  My thought was …. no way.  Not wanting to argue with her I gave her our home phone number and told her I would pay to have her car washed and waxed at Sonic because the waxing would remove the little paint transfer.

Here’s the wierd thing… it triggered a PTSD episode.  This is the first time since my accident that something non-life-threatening has triggered it.

When we came out of the Eastman House I asked Elizabethe and Marilyn to both take a look.  Both asked, “Where did the white paint come from?  Your car is dark blue.”

It was then I realized the paint transfer is white paint.  I then decided it is time to take a picture of the “damage”.

copyright 2016 db walton

Paint Transfer

I can understand her being upset, and I can understand her missing the fact the paint transfer is WHITE because I missed the white paint due to my PTSD episode.  I spent the rest of the day playing over and over in my head how to break it to here that my car is dark blue.

Earlier in the Day

Earlier in the day Elizabethe and I helped at the Bishops’ Storehouse.  I worked with Tom Chapman and D.D. Harris.  It was a fun time.  D.D. and I kept relating various comments to songs.  The time passed quickly.

Longhorn

We hit Longhorn to celebrate Marilyn’s and my birthdays.  They honored the coupon for both of us.  This meant leftover dessert.  (Their desserts are pretty generous.)

Occipital Headache

Occipital Headache

I’ve been having Occipital Headaches the last few days and this morning I was able to pinpoint the cause:  Bad dreams.

That’s right, bad dreams.  Every night that I’ve had one it came on in the middle of the night and when I woke I woke out of a bad dream and with an excruciating headache.  I didn’t make the connection until last night’s bad dream followed by a headache event.

To the young man who years ago told a deacon’s quorum we were teaching that stress cannot cause physical pain, I wish I could grab you by both ears, turn your face towards mine and say, “You’re wrong.”  I am learning first hand what PTSD is all about.  It is emotionally, physically and mentally challenging and painful.

I told the doctor there isn’t enough said about non-veteran PTSD sufferers.  His comment was chilling.  He said that over 80% of the patients he sees suffer from PTSD brought on by rape, physical abuse, accidents and other forms of trauma besides those who suffer battlefield trauma.

About the only time we hear about it in the media is when someone commits suicide.  This sends the impression that PTSD sufferers are suicidal.  This is not the case and suicide is quite rare (less than 1%).

The good news is there is Cognitive Therapy treatment for PTSD.  PTSD is one of those things that doesn’t respond well to drug therapy (like anti-depressants), and so cognitive training helps us learn to re-train our thoughts which in the long run helps us respond differently when we have the problem-causing thoughts.  It’s not a quick fix, but I’m keeping a positive attitude that it will be a way to work through this.

In the mean time, I deal with painful (literally) symptoms like these headaches.    I’m hoping now that I know the headaches seem to follow a bad dream that somehow this cognitive therapy will help the bad dreams eventually go away.  Staring at the undercarriage of a car and thinking, “I’m going to die”, is what started it.  Now I just need to convince those subconscious that all is okay; it was a one-time event and all is going to be okay.  (Easier said than done, but I’ve got to think positive.)

—–

Tonight at Stake Conference I joked with President Clark that I was prepared to perform the entire Beatles White Album for prelude tomorrow.  He laughed and said, “If anyone can pull it off, you can.”

I love my stake president.  He’s a good leader, example and friend.  The fact that we can openly joke about stuff like that says he’s got a great sense of humor too.

I told him I was having difficulty trying to figure out how to play Revolution on the organ.  He smiled and asked about Helter Skelter.  We both laughed and I added that Little Piggies wasn’t going to be a problem, albeit a little sacrilegious.

Yes, we have fun joking around, but when it comes down to it, I take my calling as organist seriously.  My prelude and postlude music is from the hymnal and I play each him with feeling.