One of the most important lessons I have learned in life is when dealing with a medical "condition", you neither take the word of the doctor as absolute, nor do you entirely self-diagnosis/medicate.
When it comes to matters of health it should be a combined effort, a joining of mind and hands if you will, to provide the clearest diagnosis, and the best care possible, for yourself or your loved ones.
If you read the paper on the wall of your doctor, it will say "Practicing Physician". That means your doctor, or mine, is NOT God. Their word is NOT definitive. I have experienced this "practicing" time after time. And honestly? Any doctor worth their salt will absolutely agree.
Now, before I go any farther, don't misunderstand me. I thank God for our doctors & nurses, as well as the researchers. I simply don't leave everything to them. God also gave me a mind to think with, and the abilities to research articles and papers written. After all ... this is MY body, not the doctors. Right?
Also, when you have received a diagnosis, after much research, testings, talking with your doctor and listening ... do NOT take the word of someone in your family or friend's circle, or someone on a social media site, who says, "I don't believe you have that! I won't ever believe it! You don't need to follow those instructions." Best one I've heard yet? "I know you didn't really have cancer, cause God didn't tell ME that you did! You just wanted the attention."
Hmmmm...what do they REALLY know about your body? Where were they during all the tests, the questions and answers, the meetings with doctors? Everyone has an opinion and most of the time? Those don't need to be shown or expressed, unless asked!
Now, having said all that, lol, I will explain why I said it all. I have not talked much about this. But it's time to, as Rick has said often enough, "get out of your comfort zone, honey. Someone else might need to hear this."
7 years ago after having major cancer surgery, I was diagnosed with PTSD. At the time, I was under the impression that only our military could get PTSD. Or maybe someone who had been a victim of a vicious crime? Or perhaps a severe natural disaster. I had no idea that a "common" girl from East Texas could have it because of cancer and the surgery. My impression was wrong.
My oncologist told me that because of the severity of the cancer, and how close I came to dying because of the cancer itself, as well as the fact that I bled out during surgery (had to receive 11 units of blood) - he wanted me to be aware of PTSD and what to expect. Saying that it would make it easier when it started manifesting itself to me, and he believed it would because he had seen it too many times in other patients as well. It didn't take long. I am so thankful that he did prepare me, because it was scary as hell! And if I had not known anything about it? OMW! So, yes! I will forever be grateful to Dr. Michael Frumovitz at MD Anderson hospital in Houston TX for being blunt, honest and real with me.
4 1/2 years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD again. Different situation. Different doctor. A doctor who knew not one thing about the original diagnosis. A doctor who diagnosed me only after talking with me, and running the tests. "Margaret, you have PTSD & Complicated Grief. You will be ok. We will find a way to get you thru this. You are a strong woman. You got this!" As I sat in Dr. Pierce's office with tears running down my cheeks, and shaking like a leaf.
Thru my own reading and research, as well as the info given to me by the doctors, I want to share with you what I have learned.
1. PTSD seldom disappears completely. It often lies dormant until something* causes it to rise up within.
2. PTSD demands that we learn a more effective way of coping with it, and with those triggers that cause it flare up time and time again.
3. You may have PTSD - but PTSD does NOT have to have YOU!
So, how do we cope more effectively?
1. Educate yourself. Knowledge is powerful. But you must do more than simply "know". You must use wisdom and "do" what you "know".
2. Do not skip exercise. No matter how bad you feel. No matter the weather. No matter what! Get up! Move! If all you can do is lay in bed, then move your arms, move your legs. If all you can do is sit in a chair - move your arms, move your legs, do some neck rolls. Something! Move!
3. Find a distraction. This could be a funny TV show, like "I Love Lucy" or "Friends" or whatever you find funny. You need to laugh! It could be an interesting old movie, think John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart, or Humphrey Bogart. Read a book, even if it is a comic book like "Calvin & Hobbes". Play a mind game on your computer or phone, think Tetris type games. Listen to calming music - the blues/jazz, Celtic, Big Band era, Southern Gospel, Old Country, Old time Rock-n-Roll.
4. Consult an expert regularly. Don't miss a doctor's appointment. Talk with a chaplain, or a pastor. Visit a counselor. Gary Roe is a great online counselor, who will chat and email. There are others, too.
5. Find a confidante. Preferably someone who has walked your path before you. Someone you trust with your darkest thoughts. This one can be difficult if you don't already have someone. Be careful opening your mind and heart to someone you don't really know. Test these waters with much care.
6. Spend time with family and with friends. These people knew you before PTSD knew you. This is a time in your life that you need to USE their knowledge of you, USE the love they have for you. Do not isolate yourself!
7. Increase your body awareness. Know your triggers. Know what the beginning of a PTSD flare up feels like. For me? My heart begins to race. My thoughts are swirling like a tornado in my head. My hands become sweaty, or severely cold all of a sudden and for no good reason. I get a sudden urge to either cry, or just start running like the wind.
When you realize what the beginning of a PTSD flare up feels like, what can you do to alleviate it? To make it calm the hell down?
1. Remind yourself that YOU GOT THIS! You can do it! You can take control.
2. Take a deep breath thru your nose, hold it to the count of 3, let it out slowly thru your mouth. This forces oxygen thru your body, and it calms your breathing as well as your heart rate. Often I have found doing this several times will stop the flare up completely. I choose to focus on my breathing and the trigger loses its power over me.
3. Stop any negative thoughts & replace them with positive and rational ones. I keep a folder in my photo album on both my phone and my computer of positive encouraging memes. When the negative thoughts begin to scream at me, I open my photo gallery and I go to the folder marked "Fight like a girl" or "Life Wisdom". And I read them over and over and over again. Then I think about them, and let them take hold of my mind and heart.
4. Use positive reinforcing statements. "You got this!" "You can do this!" "I have PTSD but it does NOT have me!" "I am strong enough to handle it!" I also use Bible verses about trusting in God. Psalm 31 is one of my favorites.
5. Divert your attention. Again - read, watch TV, play a game, go for a walk, talk to someone. Find something to draw your attention away from PTSD and this particular flare up BEFORE a flare up! Have it ready. Install the game on your phone or computer. Keep the book handy. Have someone on speed-dial. Or keep their name at the top of your Messenger list.
In my next blog post I will discuss HOW we came to have PTSD. As well as what the symptoms are.
Until then ... YOU GOT THIS!
So why "Scattered Feathers" ? ? ?
You can read it here