Post traumatic stress disorder

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The more I look the more I find.  In reliable sources.  More ways that my beloved veterans are getting screwed over that nobody knows about. I know what I am doing and I collect facts–of science and of history — and I find myself too often in crying mode. Not that the controversies are necessarily new ones.  Sigmund Freud said a long time ago that a lot of psychiatry seemed to be the neurology you did not yet know. I have been treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for a long time.  I was incredulous, shocked to my limits, when I first tried to take care of these wonderful, brave, and once fearless men, who would have crying meltdowns and end up in my arms. The best thing I did was to learn Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and to decide I was professional enough to do it “my way,” not according to verbatim directions, but adapting it to folks’ needs. Using EFT has put me on the spot plenty of times; with the VA, even prisons, where I have been told more than once that it robs people of “free will,” which is of course, complete and total rubbish.  Patients are awake, alert, and voluntarily tap on their own acupuncture meridians.  I have heard at least one hypnotherapist tell me it is “kind of like a light trance,” but patients could not, in my estimation, be more awake and alert. Read more on Another way veterans are getting screwed — crying time again….

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Fifteen years after.  That means there are sentient, living teenagers who are (I hope) somewhere in school learning about this devastating event in some kind of secondary school curriculum, or perhaps witnessing public patriotic events. — But they don’t remember it, because they weren’t born yet.

Read more on 9-11 15th Anniversary…

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Anaphylaxis is frightening — it can and does kill people. It is an acute allergic reaction that affects about 0.5  to 2% of the population, at some point in life, and the frequency seems to be rising as we speak. Symptoms include hives and itches and swelling, which about 20% of the time can affect the upper breathing system and close the windpipe.

In theory any substance that is not included as part of the body can cause it.  I have heard about it being caused by bee stings, snake bites, foods and drugs and such. I have actually treated people for post-traumatic stress disorder caused by an allergic attack.  It is a serious stress to find your windpipe closing up and not know why. The lifesaving immediate emergency treatment is injected epinephrine (adrenaline) and getting the victim to a medical center to follow up with antihistamine and steroids as needed. My own allergies have given me some weird things over the years — lots of positive skin tests.  I used to suffer through “desensitization” protocols — allergen injections that made me sick, and prize-winning hay fever attacks. Read more on The EpiPen Mess and How To Work Around It…

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I remember a supervisor from the past whom I never thought had the right personality to be a psychiatrist.  I mean, he was a little angry and domineering for my taste.  But heck — I gave him a “bye” since he worked in a prison context.

I was never attacked by a prison patient through my tours-of-duty through four (all-male) California state penal institutions.  I had a couple who ended up on their knees, crying, stroking my hands, or even asking permission to kiss me (denied, of course).

They said I was “nice” to them.  I guess I treated them like human beings — something pitifully lacking in the prison system where everything seems oppressive and depersonalizing. Read more on Assaults On Psychiatrists…

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We don’t learn from history.  America sounds like it is starving with several stories on food bank cuts that have just started.  A lot of people seem to skimp and save to be able to eat.  Some of my marijuana patients tell me it is the only medical care they can afford.  One asked me where the nearest food bank was, and if I knew any good ones.

Vintage Veterans PostMy Grandmother-Of-Blessed-Memory had a couple of raspberry bushes in the back yard, and some very aggressive strawberries that sent runners under the sidewalk to the garbage can, pushing up the already fragile cracked concrete. This infuriated my Mother-Of-Blessed-Memory who always had to do such repairs, as my father of blessed memory had “such delicate hands.” At least that is what his mother would lament as she stroked them.  He had an honored place in our household for being a composer and choir director and music teacher and supporting the lot of us. Read more on Is This How We Thank Our Veterans?…

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At some time in our lives, we all need to be told we’re good or shown the way.  A simple story about giving kids from Oakland’s toughest neighborhoods a chance to rise above the violence in their communities strangely touched me and compelled me to write.  As I do this, I am not that far from Oakland.  I have heard enough to tell you that the culture of violence described is not exaggerated. Patients who see me for marijuana permission are happy and delighted they do not have to drive there.

So there are children who grow up in a culture of violence.  I see adults.  Not too long ago, I was seeing adults for social security evaluations in Los Angeles. Many of them had been caught in crossfire, perhaps shot on their way to the supermarket or even in front of their own homes.  They told me they did not know why or by whom, and sometimes they still had bullets in them somewhere.  Other times it was just a memory that so overwhelmed them that the quality of their post-traumatic stress disorder was like the sort of thing that you see in Vietnam veterans. Read more on It Takes So Little…

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Thank Veterans WWII Poster AviatorsTurns out, while most veterans appreciate a stranger saying “thank you” for their service, it can also be a bit uncomfortable. I wonder how these same guys feel about the “Have you thanked a veteran today?” bumper stickers.

I’ve been thanking veterans for a long time.  Sometimes, not as consistently as I’d like to because this doctor gig really means that I have to remember a large number of things.  Since I began working in the medical marijuana field, where the veterans I meet are paying for a

Read more on Thanking Veterans…

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Army veteran Galmiche, who served his country for 20 years, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2002. He says he worked with a counselor and took medication for years, but did not find relief from his symptoms until he was matched with a PTSD service dog.

The first time I met a patient with a service dog was when I was doing social security examinations, as a psychiatrist.  The woman was about 60 years old, motherly and white-haired, and she told me that she was nervous about the interview and was being treated for an anxiety disorder.  She did not think she could “make it” unless I saw her with her “service dog.”  Many years before, when my allergy to dog-hair was in flower, I would have declined.  I had since treated it effectively with alternative methods, so I told her we could try it. It was a tiny dog, the kind my husband would call a “barfy” dog.  The dog had the cutest little blue coat with very official looking embroidery — including the wheelchair picture that is usually used to mark places that are reserved for such vehicles.  The little dog wouldn’t stop staring at me. I did a customary and very basic psychiatric interview.  I started with questions that involved little or no stress, like name and diagnosis.  Eventually, I ramped up to questions about the topics that generated anxiety, such as past traumas.  The pooch stood on its hind legs while she rubbed it vigorously, staring at me.  I stared back. Read more on Service Dogs for PTSD Veterans…

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Strange, that the meningitis-tainted steroids in Tennessee  make me think of the chocolate bar case from Oklahoma. Two young, and it seemed to me, perfectly honest if somewhat histrionic  young women who found worms in their Hershey bars — the hard way.  Both were unemployed and mothers of several children each, and one was pregnant.  They were enjoying their chocolate bars in a dark room by the light of the TV set when one noticed something funny. Comparing experiences, the other one agreed that the bars tasted “off.” Turning on the lights (and — pardon me — spitting out the foul tasting candy) they saw a horrible sight.  The almonds were infested with worms. Oh, it was  scary, and one in particular told me she started throwing up, and had lost weight.  She had developed some sort of a phobia for chocolate bars in general, and had poor sleep, and was 3 months pregnant.  They both had the classic signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — they could not stop thinking about and reliving the ordeal, they developed an avoidance of any chocolate or other type of candy bar, and they had a violent “startle” reaction if they encountered a TV commercial or if somebody they saw in public was eating a candy bar. Now the expectant mother did not particularly want to medicate for fear of damaging her unborn child, and that was fine with me.  I recall we tried to use a little relaxation, or NLP  (neurolinguistic programming), or anything, really, non-medical to calm  down this young lady.  We succeeded, at least somewhat, but not entirely. She did tell me that the Hershey bar had  “been around” for a  little, but I was unaware of any expiry date existing for Hershey bars;  checked some at the supermarket, and never saw a date. Read more on Meningitis and Hershey Bars…

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In the National World War II museum, it is easy and even triumphant and pride-generating to look back and see some of the scientific advances made during World War II.  There’s no doubt that science is advancing.  But I wonder if our ethics can keep pace.

I am fairly proud of Teflon.  And synthetic cortisone is widely used and may have saved plenty of lives. It’s a steroid that knocks down the action of the immune system.  When a medical substance becomes cheaper and easier to use and known to the public, then it runs a real danger of getting overused.  Most concern about overuse is focused on illegal steroids taken by athletes.  Nevertheless, everything that can be helpful and fast may make things worse. One example would be the over-prescribing of steroids to kids with allergies.

Penicillin had been invented before WWII, but its use did not become widespread until WWII.  Of course, it took people awhile to find out about the ability of bacteria to develop resistances to antibiotics.  This has led to newer and stronger antibiotics, which would not be the worst thing in the world. Unfortunately, the excessive use of antibiotics has led to untreatable infections, such as methicilline-resistant strep and an untreatable strain of tuberculosis. Read more on Science and War (and Ethics)…