I was working a with a patient the other day. I can’t give you any specifics, but needless to say what he went through was horrific. He was having nightmares. The medical staff was just pushing it off as if there was nothing to be done. PTSD had been thrown around, but in my medical realm its all about the treatable. Its about the tangible things that we can fix not some murky aftermath of stuff you lived through. So not much attention was paid to this aspect. As my day progressed I observed him.
He was a tough guy. As I drew blood and took vitals I noticed a set of hands that didn’t remember a time before tools were its main focus. Calloused and worn ready to work. I saw a guy genuinely concerned for his friends, who were in the event, more so than himself. I saw a guy taking the pain and moving before it was expected of him. So I took a chance.
I walked into the room and said, I have PTSD, I served two tours and saw some messed up shit and I have fought to deal with it every day since. How can I help you?
He was taken aback, but then tears instantly shrink wrapped his eyes. He knew he had found an ally.
What he said afterwards was all too familiar, nightmares and night sweats. Sleeping pills locking him into dreams. If he thought about it too long racing heart beats and shortness of breath.
I listened. I nodded and said been there done that, got the t-shirt, and the veteran liver to prove it.
Then I downloaded. I talked about sleeping rituals to ensure cleanly sleep, talked about avoiding pharmaceuticals for sleep, talked about getting help, talked about desensitization, and how talking to others who were there could relieve the stigma. An hour passed by quickly.
I could tell something else was bothering him. So I asked. He simply stated you are too young. The gentleman I spoke with was more than twice my age but he knew my words came from heavy hard earned wisdom. That’s when it hit me when did I become the expert.
I have grown through this process. I have grown more thoughtful. More quiet. Grown Stronger and more vulnerable all at the same time. Thank you for reading. Goodnight and charlie mike.