Sunday, July 29, 2012
I don't really love the VA....I mean, come on.....They haven't exactly been super helpful in our fight against PTSD. We've met some good doctors, one or two outstanding therapists...and that's about it. One exception is the PTSD program that is at the Lovell Federal health Care Center in North Chicago. This program is rated, I think, like number 1 or number 2 in the country. Hubs has spent 3 six week long stints in their inpatient PTSD unit. Each time he's gotten more out of it, with this last time showing the best results.
The staff is great there. They actually care about the patients and they are there to work for you, not against you. Seriously, if your vet needs a place to go, I highly recommend it. Hubs was so enthralled by the level of care he received there, that he drove there weekly instead of going to our local VA facility. In fact, he's in the middle of switching ALL his care from our local VA to the N. Chicago location.
One of his problems is that he's been on the same psychiatric medications since 2008. Hello, hasn't anyone heard of tolerance? Well, he's built it up against some of the drugs he's on. His awesome social worker at N. Chicago recommended he switch to the psychiatrist down there and have a whole new makeup. Last Thursday was the day of his appointment with his new psychiatrist down there.
As we walked into the hospital, I suddenly became nervous and full of anticipation. Would this doc really be all that he was supposedly cracked up to be? We'd been to so many doctors over the years. Would this guy really help us? Since he came so recommended, I had high hopes and I was just afraid that the bar had been set too high.
I was pleasantly surprised. Hubs had been told by some of the other fellas in his group that we wouldn't actually spend that much time with the doctor. Instead, we'd be with his nurse most of the time. I was surprised when his name was called and there was no nurse, it was the actual doctor. He led us down this long maze of yellow institutional-like hallways. I remember thinking that they should really put some art on the walls or something to liven it up. Anyway, we went back to his office and got down to business.
The psychiatrist was thorough......he actually took the time to go through the meds he'd been on and ask what was going on in his life, what symptoms he was going through. I chimed in when Hubs wouldn't fully give out how bad it was for him. I don't know about your veteran, but mine always tries to make it sound less bad than it really is. The doc listened, interrupting when appropriate to ask a question or two, and he listened. That was nice.....there was no psycho-babble going on.
Turns out the psychiatrist at our VA locally had him on not one, but TWO Benzodiazepines. The doc whipped out some handbook that listed them as HARMFUL in the treatment of PTSD. What the hell? That really got to me and Hubs. Harmful??? and he was on two???? Unbelievable. Hubs is now off those stupid benzos and only on one new drug. The guy said it might make him sleepy at night, which would have been a good thing since he's up all night. However, so far the darn things don't seem to make him sleepy. However, yesterday was his first full day on them and he reported that he felt "happy".
Tonight he is sacked out on the couch so maybe the drugs are starting to work. I have to believe that not having as many drugs in him is a good thing. He goes back in 4 weeks so that's promising too.....that we're going to receive follow up care. Hubs only saw his psychiatrist at our local VA once every three months, which I always thought was dumb.
So, for now, I hold my breathe and wait and see. THat's the nature of this, I guess. You hurry up and wait for a new prescription, a new therapy group, a new EMDR session and you wait and see if it helps. The psychiatrist made a good point Thursday: medicine is not a cure. You're going to get more out of your therapy groups and individual sessions to process the traumas. The medicine is a bandaid to help you along the way. Well, our bandaid had been holding on by a thread, a dirty, torn barely-there thread. Hopfully this new bandaid will help hold him together a bit better.