Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I’m certain most of you have heard that phrase sometime in your lives. Often you can’t quite put your finger on what the wall actually is but other times it’s pretty easy to define. You’re burned out at your job. You’re not getting enough sleep. You’ve battled hard for a relationship only to see it crumble and begin to affect every aspect of your life. It could be struggling to move on in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one.
About a week and a half ago, I hit my own wall. I wish I could say it was only one thing but in reality there was a collection of things that created a “perfect storm” scenario. They’d all been building in their own way over time, some of them over the past few years. One of them in particular blew me completely out of the water.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD.
Originally associated with returning military combatants, PTSD can affect anyone who’s lived through a traumatic event or circumstance – such as a child’s liver transplant.
This bout of PTSD blindsided me, although I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by the timing. I’ve continually sought to bury my own pain and deal with life as best I can. But it’s fruitless to believe you can have a “normal” existence when you haven’t dealt with the issues burning your soul. So this is where I live today. It’s not fun, it’s not enjoyable but working through the pain is necessary to regaining a hold on my life. Until I can rid myself of the residual crud, PTSD will rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times.
The good news: I’m alive and I will survive this. My little Sarah battled and fought through biliary atresia, a major bleed and a liver transplant. And everything that goes with it. I can overcome because of her example. So can you, if you’re living through the pain of a child’s illness or anything else but you have to WANT to work for it. There is no overnight fix.
My advice to other liver families and anyone else struggling with PTSD: don’t go it alone. We weren’t made to live alone and we kid ourselves when we think this is “our” problem and we need to fix it. People exist for each other. Let others walk alongside you and aid in your recovery.
Someday the sun will rise and this difficult road will lay behind you. Maybe we’ll meet each other in that place. Hang on.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Today is one of the most revered days in our country’s year, Veterans Day. We honor those who have served and defended our nation from enemy forces; who’ve fought in far off lands, on the beaches of Normandy, the dense brush of Vietnam and in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
I stand with many others today who salute those warriors, those still with us from as far back as WWII, hoping they realize how much their sacrifice means to those of us who’ve been fortunate never to experience war of any kind firsthand. Yes, I’m a Navy veteran but I never served in harm’s way and to me that makes a great difference compared to those who’ve seen friends die before their eyes, lost their sight, arms, legs or use of their body at all.
The trauma of such loss finally found a diagnosis in the form of PTSD. Who knows how many veterans from WWI and WWII lived through their remaining days never realizing what caused their anger, withdrawal or suicidal thoughts. It’s imperative, in light of their service and of PTSD, that we take time as often as possible to let them know we value them, not only as veterans but as people.
Today is one opportunity for us to thank those men and women. But, please, make it more than an annual event. If you see someone with a ball cap signifying them as a veteran or you attend an American Legion or other military function, take time to shake their hand and express your gratitude. You’ll never know the impact of your brief message to them.