Saturday, November 1, 2014

Therapy/medical care update


I bet you thought I fell of the face of the earth.  I've been doing some very in depth therapy for my PTSD in which I have lots of homework that is very difficult and emotionally taxing.  I am usually completely wiped out after a session.

The therapy I'm currently taking part in is called CPT or Cognitive Processing Therapy.  This is a 12 week program in which we try to target, identify and begin to unravel "stuck points".  A stuck point is something that happens when a trauma occurs that violates your personal belief/norm or whatever you want to call it.  Say for example you have a belief that the sky is blue, and one day you go outside, and instead of blue the sky is red.  When something like this happens, and it's in concurrence with a given trauma, the result is sometimes a stuck point that doesn't allow for you to move beyond the stuck point.  The result is avoidance, distancing and growing difficulties such as I've had.

I just had my 7th session of CPT therapy this week, and I think we're getting some results, obviously, I'm not cured, but it is reassuring to see the weekly questionnaire asking about my avoidance, dreams, etc that are a result of the PTSD, charted showing rise and falls with different types of homework.  This does make sense since some homework deals directly with restating your experience with the trauma, or trying to target specific times you noticed things happening, such as a trip to the grocery store, asking for help and the thoughts that come along with anxiety that might arise, or just a daily event etc.  Naturally, when things are targeting certain aspects of a traumatic event you will see a rise in instances of intrusive thoughts etc.

Together, my therapist and I have targeted and identified 4 pages of stuck points which is phenomenal.  Some of these that come out with different homeworks are very difficult to admit to, since you feel very little or vulnerable when you identify them because now, you own them.  But, what we're doing now is working on the stuck points to question them, I guess to really understand, it might be helpful to give an example.  Since the trauma dealt with my ex, one of mine that came out is anyone can hurt me.  My brain said, hey, husbands and wives are not supposed to do these things to one another, so if this person that I chose to be with, and love, and who is supposed to love me can do this, then anyone can.  So my personal belief that spouses should act and treat one another lovingly was violated causing that stuck point to occur.  Now this is what is called a problematic stuck point/thought etc.  So in homework we question this thought that anyone can hurt me, is it true, is it reliable etc.  if there are points for and none against a stuck point, then it holds true, however, when you're going through the process and there are points for AND points against, then this stuck point is a habit not a fact.  So for example we might say anyone can hurt me, BUT the points against this are that not everyone will or wants to.  In this way you begin to question the things your mind has been stuck on because your mind was stuck on the sky is blue.....why is it red......and simply could not get past that.

Now, I don't know how much the results will change things by week 12, but I can say this, this gives me tools to use even beyond the 12 week period to continue to utilize them to break down these stuck points and the damage that they've caused.  With tools, you can now begin to take control over the situation, instead of letting the situation control you.

Now for the news on the medical front!!!

I have been seeing a doctor that has been trying to be very thorough in helping me to try and address some of my problematic medical issues such as my insomnia, back, migraines etc.  We are trying to be proactive.  She has sent me to a chiropractor for adjustments, and when he felt the curves all the way down he was very honest about this being a temporary help.  He is a very frank and very honest man, and even though I've only been to him a few times so far, I really respect him for these qualities.  He said I've needed this for a VERY long time, which I think is obvious to me at this point since in the past I was basically told that there was nothing that could be done for me about my back since it had developed so many curves.  Anyone that has ever been to San Fransisco, think of Lombardi street, put a head on top, arms on the sides and legs on the bottom and that's my back in a nutshell.  My doctor was thinking that my back might also benefit from swim therapy, which we're looking into to see if there is anything like this in my area.  I also asked her about yoga, since I have heard of some people benefiting from that when they have problems with their backs.  She said well, that would primarily be for problems with muscles, and yours is in the bones, and then I followed up with a question well, if I can strengthen up the muscles can it stop the scoliosis from continuing to advance, or at least slow it down?  She said well, she's not sure if that might help slow or stop it since it's bones, but if I do I definitely have to go slow with it, and NOT do anything advanced.  The chiropractor said the same thing too (in fact I thought of it when I went to see him, so asked him first), so I would need to find a yoga program that had "baby yoga" where I can do the basics and nothing that might put my spine in jeopardy.  My doctor after doing a series of x-rays is now wanting to send me to do MRI/Cat scans and then on to a neurosurgeon to see if there is any procedure that might be a benefit.  I have a feeling they're going to look at my spinal x-rays and fall over before telling me that with so many curves, there's not much they could do.  Unless they develop "braces" for backs in a very short time span I'm pretty sure that there isn't.  And I mean the type for teeth, by the way.  The only issue this might pose would be that since when I was a young adult I only had a 5 degree curve in the lumbar, and I now have developed multiple  curvatures from the neck to my tailbone, they also need to identify why.  The doctor told me that wasn't her area of expertise, so she couldn't say why it was advancing, but I have a suspicion it's one of two things.  I began to develop arthritis fairly young, at 24 or so, so it's either that, or the fact that working in the medical field all the patient lifting in the hospital, on the ambulances etc, put a lot of strain on my back and it just couldn't take it, or a combination of both.

I actually had one doctor I worked with tell me scoliosis could not advance in adulthood, and I pointed at my x-ray and asked, then what is that?

My doctor has been fairly proactive on the insomnia/migraine front too.  She heard me when I told her that I was nervous about medications that are habit forming and she prescribed one that is meant to target both my migraines, my insomnia AND also may have a positive affect on my anxiety.  I like that, heck of you're going to have to take a medication, it may as well do lots of things, instead of taking lots of medicine for one thing each.

Now, where are these totally awesome therapists and doctors?  I have been very fortunate to be in the area I am in, with a VA staff like the one I have here.  My chiropractor isn't at the VA but the therapist and doctor are.  I'm not sure if the neurosurgeon will be there or elsewhere but I guess I'll find that out when we cross that bridge.  I like that she asked me if I was claustrophobic too, because I am, actually.  But I told her I've had MRI and Cat scans before, and I was fine, I focused on things further out and not the fact that I was surrounded by big machines, so even though I was nervous I got through it and I was fine and the results were able to be read as well.  I'd prefer to not have to be sedated to do a medical exam LOL.

So, now that you know I'm still on planet earth and not spinning out of control somewhere in space, you can rest easy in the knowledge that I seem to be in good, caring and capable hands at the present time, and this means a lot to me and I'm sure my family is also breathing easier knowing that I'm being taken care of.