by Tony Seahorn
Reading and reflecting on Jan’s recent blog made me realize – one more time — that life is truly fragile.
The Vietnam War was a life changing event for the countless veterans and families who were directly impacted, including me.
For those of us who were fortunate to return from the field of battle, the everyday living of life will continue to be defined by what we experienced then.
Fast forward to the present day – 2014.
In May, following recovery from knee surgery at the Cheyenne, WY VA Hospital, I had my annual physical – including EGK and Treadmill Test. Other than the fact that the cardiologist reminded me I’m no longer 21, the physical and other tests all looked good.
Periodically I have chest pain as a result of remaining shrapnel and scar tissue from combat wounds; cardiovascular tests have always been negative for heart problems.
During our annual Wounded Warrior Event in late June, I was guiding a wounded veteran during high-water run-off on the Upper North Platte River. Unfortunately a raft from a separate river party encountered a dangerous log strainer in the main river current and capsized their raft. Three of the rafters made it to shore while a fourth person was submerged and pinned beneath the raft under the huge log jam.
I was able to secure my drift boat and veteran in a small backwater and spent the next hour in vain trying to rescue the rafting victim. The water was freezing and after an exhausting attempt, I was unable to save the trapped person. The time spent in the water subjected me to hyperthermia, but I eventually recovered sufficiently to continue the river float as the day warmed.
In late July, I spent a week with our two sons in Montana on a fly fishing adventure. Toward the end of the week, we were climbing out of the Yellowstone River Canyon when I began to experience mild chest pain. By walking slowly and resting I was able to resume our hike and had no problem for the remainder of the trip.
In September, my VA doctor wanted to perform a follow-up exam on intermittent pain I was having in my right shoulder and chest from what we thought was caused by shrapnel. During the tests, an abnormality was found on the EKG and Treadmill that did not exist during my physical in May.
An electrocardiogram located a blockage in my main exterior frontal lobe artery. A heart procedure was performed via my femoral artery and a stint placed in mid-October. The team of Cardiologists concluded that I must have experienced a minor heart attack during the river rescue recovery in June. The cold water and lower body temperature prevented any pain or other potential damage.
As fate would have it, a week following the heart procedure, I was rushed to the local ER for severe stomach bleeding. Prescribed Plavix blood thinner combined with high doses of pain medication is not a good combination. Three emergency surgeries later and 8 units of whole blood finally stopped the bleeding. My hospital stay: 4 days ICU and 3 days recovery and monitoring.
Now 15 pounds lighter, I’m still weak and lack energy, but hopefully on the high road to recovery.
Life is full of challenges as well as an abundance of blessings! Today my black lab, Hunter Bailey and I are going pheasant hunting.
Life is good.
Guest Post by R. Scott Armbruster
Sound Pillow Sleep System
My name is R. Scott Armbruster. I have a constant annoyance in my head. It never stops, day or night and goes by the name of Tinnitus. I know the exact moment the blast of sound hit me a/k/a the “acoustic insult”. It was the fall of 1994. I worked in the concert production industry and headed stage left, to reposition a laser effect when the talent (a classic rock-n-roller) screamed into his microphone and began his signature anthem. With my ear about 6 inches from 100,000 watts of sound, my knees buckled and I hit the floor. Being young and dumb…I had no ear protection.
I could handle my condition, during the day. However, it was the quiet of the night that was challenging. Some nights, I just couldn’t sleep; which made life, in general, more difficult. So I started working with the concept of speakers in a pillow by way of a product call the Sound Pillow. I liked its potential so much, I bought the company, then overhauled the pillow, from the inside out, until I developed a Sound Pillow that was very comfortable and sounded great. The next step? Finding the right sounds.
I attended Tinnitus seminars and symposiums, held by the industry’s leading doctors and researchers and just listened. The vast majority of the time, I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. When they said “some patients responded well to white noise sounds like the rain, oceans, streams, fountains…” And “stress can make the perception of tinnitus worse while relaxation and meditation can lessen the perception of Tinnitus…” I understood exactly what the said! And thus, the concept for the Sound Pillow Sleep System was born. The next step was to find the right sounds.
Ten years later, I found them…Real sounds from nature and super relaxing music that helped me to cover-up the sounds in my head, “turn off” my racing mind and relax me to the point of sleep. The Sound Pillow Sleep was born – a ready to use straight-from-the box sound conditioner. It worked so well, it is now used by our service men and women in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. As it turns out, tinnitus is the number one injury, in all of the military.
There is no known cure for Tinnitus. There are, however, talented researchers looking for it. You can learn more about the current research efforts and connect with thousands of other Tinnitus suffers by visiting the American Tinnitus Association’s web site at www.ATA.org and by following them on Facebook or Twitter.
Testimonial: I was introduced to the Sound Pillow Sleep System in early 2014. As a result of combat related hearing loss, I also have severe tinnitus. Getting to sleep has long been a problem, but with the soothing music and relaxing ocean waves of my preferred listening program, I find falling to sleep much easier. Thanks for a sound system that can truly help make a difference.
-Tony Seahorn, Vietnam Veteran
Filed Under Post-Traumatic Stress "Injury", PTSD, PTSD treatment, Tears, Tears of a Warrior, Today's War, War Injury | Comments Off on NEW TERM FOR PTSD: POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS “DISORDER” becomes “INJURY”
by Tony & Janet Seahorn
Wow, double Wow, and Wow again! Finally a more accurate term for Post-Traumatic Stress which leaves off the BIG “D”.
It has been a long time coming and we certainly hope that those in charge of giving terms to the various wounds of war will carefully consider renaming PTSD to PTSI– Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. We have constantly said that Post-Traumatic Stress refers to a reordering of the brain neuro networks. But calling it an injury versus a disorder is a huge step in the right direction.
Think about it, we don’t refer to cancer as a disorder, or a broken bone as a disorder. Trauma caused by outside forces essentially is an injury, however, the injury goes far beyond the mere physical damage of an organism; these wounds also impact the soul, spirit, and emotional stability of the individual and are far more challenging to heal.
For the longest time in the early 19th and 20th centuries, cancer was not openly discussed and considered by some as an illness brought on by an impoverished life style both of the mind and body. Afflicted folks often felt responsible for their illness and were shunned by some in their communities. By gaining a more accurate understanding of any problem we are able to provide better treatment and services for both healing and coping.
And so it may be tentatively happening for those struggling with post-traumatic stress. We have heard from several readers about this change of wording. For those who have not yet read about the change in terminology, we are including this short clip from Sunday, May 6th Denver Post:
PTSD MAY GET NAME CHANGE TO HELP VETERANS
It has been called shell shock, battle fatigue, soldier’s heart, and, most recently, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Now, military officers and psychiatrist are embroiled in a debate over whether to change the name of a condition as old as combat. The potential new moniker, post-traumatic stress injury.
Military officers and some psychiatrists say dropping the word “disorder” in favor of “injury” will reduce the stigma that stops troops from seeking treatment.
Let’s hope those with the power to make such a change will give the new term their best consideration. Word/terms do make a profound difference between how we view and treat those who have given so much to our country – along with other sufferers. Calling combat trauma an injury is far more correct than calling it a disorder.
With any luck we can get it right this time.