After nine months down at Fort Gordon, Rick was taken off active duty and sent home. They had him on Remeron,which was suppose to help,but it didn't,really. He was still having all those issues. He did not like crowds,and really didn't like going anywhere at all. He was extremely hyper vigilant. He had a lot of flashbacks. His temper kept flaring up. I finally had had it. Apparently,they didn't really help down in Georgia at all. One day,after he snapped at me and dismissed what I had to say, I thought,"That's it. I can't live like this. It's not good for any of us, especially Zach." This was not the man I married. This was the opposite of the man I married. I looked at him and said," I can not live like this any more. You get mad all the time,you snap at us for no reason. I am not going to let Zach grow up like this. If you don't get some help,you are going to live alone!" I saw the color drain out of his face,and he said,quietly, "Then I will get some help. I didn't realize I was that bad."
Within a month, we were at the VA and Rick did finally the help he needed. It took awhile to get him on the right medication,because they don't want to put someone on something strong if something milder will work. Finally, the Dr put him on Seroquil,a fairly good dose,and that seems to work. Until then, though,it was a struggle,and we took one day at a time. His walls had been put up,emotionally. The Dr told us that was a normal thing,since if you let your emotions go over there and didn't stay focused,you could get killed or someone else could get killed. Those walls stayed up a long time,and there was a quite a big gulf between us. I would mourn what was. I would look at our wedding picture and cry. The good thing was we were open and honest with each other,and that has certainly been a blessing. I would say that he started to be more like his normal self about 2 years after he got back. He is more outgoing,and though he still doesn't like crowds because of his hypervigilance, he does go to stores,our son's concerts. He does not drive any longer,partly because of the PTSD,partly because of the medications he takes,and partly because he suffered a stroke in August 2008 which left him with no peripheral vision in his right eye,and a blind spot in the inner corner of his left.He still has flashbacks and has a hard time sleeping, but he doesn't get mad like he used to.
Those of you who have gone through this know that your lives change. You can get back some of what was,but not completely. It's a new way of life, and you can either accept it as your new normal,or keep banging your head against the wall ,bemoaning your previous life and not living your current one. We decided to accept it. Did it take a long time? You bet. There are moments when I still wish things were different,and I feel bad, or get angry,but I allow myself to feel that way and then move on. Because in the final analysis, he is alive and he is here,and I would rather have that than anything else.
We also discovered through testing that he has a mild traumatic brain injury,which has affected his cognitive skills. His reading, spelling,and memory have been affected. He also gets really confused. He can ask me the same question several times in a day. Some days he is right on the ball. The military calls it the "double whammy." TBI can be hard to diagnose because some of the symptoms are the same as those of PTSD. He is going to be undergoing further testing to see if some of the physical problems he is experiencing is linked to his TBI ( such as his thyroid going kaput and nerve pain).
I am just thankful we were able to get the help. He sees a therapist each month ( I go with him) through the VA,and he goes to a PTSD support group through the DAV ( Disabled American Veterans) which he finds very helpful. It's mostly made up of Vietnam Vets,but the problems are the same.
I am very glad that I have my more of my husband back.