07/18/2016 by syrbal-labrys
I live with veterans. I am a veteran. We are a house with a spectrum of PtSD issues. So obviously, I read things about PTSD.
This morning I read a very interesting piece asking whether PTSD was more physical than mental. It scared me a lot. The article is about the devoted study of a doctor invested in proving that PTSD can be physically seen in the brain and that it happens because of traumatic brain injury/blast injury that is invisible. He makes a very good case. And yet it gives me alarmed pause.
If a cancer researcher suddenly announced that all lung cancer was caused by respiratory assaults, what would the response be? Incredulity? Laughter? Derision? Assaults on the human respiratory system are one cause of cancer, certainly; everyone can agree. But what about the occasional patient who never smoked or lived/worked with smokers? Does the doctor then say “Well, then this can’t be lung cancer!” in spite of evidence to the contrary? And then? Does the patient go off to choke up bits of lung till death untreated?
And that is what I fear because of this man’s heartfelt study. The VA and Army doctors are not famed for being really thorough and in depth, alas. They are rushed, overworked, underpaid and have to check boxes on forms. So, if this study is accepted — as it likely should be — what I fear when a troop goes to the doctor suspecting PTSD, is a simple question: “Have you been blown up/blasted?” If the answer is “Uh, no, I don’t think so…” (from a troop whose memory may in fact be impaired by experiences leading to his symptoms) then the doc checks the block and says, “Then you don’t have PTSD. Good-day.”
Rape victims have PTSD. They were not in a blast zone.
Beaten spouses have PTSD. They were not in a blast zone.
Childhood abuse victims have PTSD. They were not in a blast zone,
Sexually molested individuals have PTSD. They were not in a blast zone.
Accident survivors have PTSD. They were not usually in a blast zone.
So, what I fear is that a good many PTSD sufferers will be marginalized and denied diagnosis and treatment based on whether or not something went BOOM in close enough proximity. This is not to say this study is not progress, I feel it is vital and very important. But why, oh why the usual American fetish for “one cause”? Why not say this is one facet of the multi-faced thing that is PTSD, instead of trying to attribute it to being the whole and only cause?
My husband was in a blast radius, in Viet Nam. I don’t know whether my son was or not; I am hesitant to even ask because I don’t want to explain to him that some doctor has let a cat out of the bag that would enable the penny pinchers and bean counters to deny more veterans than ever what little help could be offered. For those who WERE in a blast radius and can now point to a physical cause?
Well, that is a huge improvement. It isn’t “just in your mind” then, is it? It is in your very brain! It is the visible flaw in the diamond inside the skull. But asking a question, “Have you been in a blast?” is not the answer to every shattered diamond of a man or woman. Please don’t let medicine be practiced through a new divide and conquer (the budget) method based on the strenuous research of a healer who obviously would not wish to ignore non-blasted PTSD victims!