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PTSD In a grand way

Old 05-19-2005, 09:05 PM
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Thirty
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PTSD In a grand way

I call myself 30. I use this name because it was my badge number. This is the badge I was wearing the night I was shot and I shot and killed my attacker.

I was a Police Officer in a suburb of Detroit. A 20 year old young man had decided to end his life with the assistance of the Police. He had been in pain for sometime and had had a troubled youth.

At 2:36 am on 12-1-1991 we met. He saw me in my police car and imediately accellerated his car to draw my attention to it. A chase ensued, allthough not your typical "High Speed Chase". This was more like a "Medium Speed Chase" not getting over 50 mph.

When other officers and I got this young man stoppped he got out of his car with a hand gun and started shooting. His first target was my "Back Up" officer. This officer recieved 2 wounds that were not fatal, allthough they would nearly claim his life 2 weeks later from blood clots.

The young man then turned his attention to me. The reason is that when he shot my back up, I fired at him. The rounds I fired struck him and he turned towards me and began firing. He fired at me 3 times then fell to the ground. I would learn later that the rounds I had fired at him had fataly wounded him.

This was sort of the coup de gra of my PTSD. This got me started down a path that was formed at an early age. I had no idea that the first stage of PTSD was started when I was about 5. Its something that I have burned in my memory as if it were yesterday. I am now 51 yeas old, so it, been ther for a long time.

Vacation 1959. driving across Minnesota towards Montana. Near a small town on the Highway. A car crash that was maybe minutes old. At least 3 bodies on the ground and 1 had been decapitated. Great starting place for a 5 year old kid to acquire PTSD.

Fast forward to 1974. In the Air Force. Coming in the front gate at the base I was stationed at. Approximately 11:00 pm. I hear the sound of a B-52 Bomber straining to take flight. I look to watch. I turn my head just in time to see the big plane plunge back to earth and explode. Then later that night I was involved with the recovery of the crashed plane. It was just another piece in the Puzzle call PTSD.

In November of 1976 I became a Policeman. Now this was never really my lifes ambition. It, to me, was a job and I had a wife and young daughter to support. As my career progressed I saw some of the most awful things that humanity can do to itself. I was witness to a man Kill himself rather than testify in court angainst his son. I have seen murder, and accidental death. I have seen peoples lives changed in an absolute instant.

I must also say that I have seen some of the most touching things that mankind can do. Delivering a Baby is something that was amazing. Saving the life of an Infant who is choking on his own mucus, and seeing him 2 years later playing with his brother and sister. Seeing a total stranger comfort a young girl who had been hit by a car.

I need to also mention that I am a recovered alcholic. Last drink 11-11-1981.

I have recently lost my brother. He was also a policeman. We were our support system. He was one of the reasons I survived PTSD. We could talk cop to one another. Now since he has gone I have to vent somewhere. I picked here. I have my reasons. He was the third sibling I have lost. I lost my infant sister in the late 60s and a stepbrother in the early 90s. So I am here to vent, I think I deserve it.

30
 
Old 05-19-2005, 11:59 PM
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Morning Glory
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Welcome 30,

I'm glad you joined us. I can relate to some of what you've said. It must be really hard to have PTSD and to continue to go through so much that adds to it.

I'm sorry that you lost your brother. My brother is a real support to me and I always worry about how I would be able to handle it if something happened to him. He is the person that I share with that understands what only he and I can understand. I know that you must feel like you lost a big part of yourself.

I also witnessed a plane crash. It was a big prop plane with 180 people on board. It collided with a small plane that put a hole in the bottom of the prop plane. I don't really know what a prop plane is. I just know that's what they called it and it was really big. I think it was the kind of plane where the people just sit on the bottom and not in seats. A military plane maybe. I'm thankful that I wasn't close enough to actually see it hit the ground. They did put the 180 body bags in the park next to my apartment through. I've never been able to get on a plane since then. Even the loud noise of the engines throws me into a panic.

The hardest part of my PTSD was the things I experienced as a child. Those things get buried pretty deep. The memories and the emotions. I went through 5 long years of hell remembering everything and a good ten years before that with panic attacks. I'm doing pretty good now. The startle response is my biggest problem now. I'm not really startled, but I feel like cringing sometimes when the phone rings or someone calls my name. I'm also obsessed with keeping people that I love safe. I have this illusion that I have some kind of control over their life and death.

I am sorry that the young man used you to take his life. I'm sure you've probably replayed that a million times in your mind. I struggled with huge guilt after my husbands suicide. I finally just had to force myself to let the guilt go because I just couldn't fix it or reason it away. Those situations are very hard. They come at you from no where and it happens so fast and suddenly your life has been changed forever. There is no going back.

Congratulations on your sobriety. That's hard to do when you have PTSD.

Please feel free to vent. You're very brave to witness what you've seen in your life. I try to hide from anything that will upset me now.

Hugs,
MG
 
Old 05-20-2005, 01:28 AM
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(((30)))
Welcome to SR!
I'm sorry for your many losses. Feel free to vent.
Know that I, and many others, are grateful for your contributions to society.
Shalom!
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Old 05-20-2005, 04:22 AM
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The PTSD was hard to control at first. I would wake up in sweats, jaw in pain from clenching it so tight, flash backs by the thousands. It took about 5 years of counseling with my "Little Jewish Grandmother" (Her words). She had a heart as big as the sky and the demeanor of a rattle snake that had been kicked. Unfortunately she has passed on so dealing with my brothers loss has been a little rough.

Through the loss of my brother came a huge surprise and support. I had lost touch with the girl who I had always considered the "Love of My Life". She has contacted me and has turned into a wonderful source of support. She is also responsible for my sitting here typing this story. It is so nice to have a person who you can just tell everything to and not fear judgement. Thanks to her. She knows who she is.

The biggest trick was keeping from going back to the bottle after the shooting and the loss of my brother. They say one day at a time, well I truly believe the it got down to 1 milisecond at a time.

I don't know what will come of this posting but if I can be of any help to anyone by telling my story, it was worth it.

There is a post script: The reason for the reference to the Badge number is it probably saved my life. The young man who shot me hit the Badge and just about tore it in half, deflecting the bullet away from vital stuff and into my shoulder.

30
 
Old 05-20-2005, 04:50 AM
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(((30)))

Welcome to SR. We are so glad you are here...after reading your story my heart aches for you. The best thing is to talk about the PTSD, the loss of your siblings, and to know you have the best support you can find here at SR. The people here are phenomenal, loving and wise.
Thank you for telling your story. That took a lot, I know.

Peace,
Wolfstarr
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Old 05-20-2005, 07:29 PM
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MG, HT, and WS thank you for the support. Since posting I have had a chance to look over my situation a bit more. I think that as a result of my chance meeting with that young man I have learned allot about my self. As with you MG I had spent a ton of time effort and money in counseling.

MG your observation about keeping the ones you love safe is very interesting. This has been, and probably will be for the rest of my life, a paramount cocern of mine. I think that shows by the career I chose. I even went as far as keeping tabs on people who I had lost contact with. I would send out little feelers via my police work and get responses back on how they were doing. I just wanted to make sure the ones I loved were OK and still in this world. MG I know you have been through allot and you have every right to want to keep yours safe. You seem like you are very in tune to your present state. I have admiration for that.

When we see, or are involved in these traumatic episodes our brain does some pretty strange stuff. The point I'm trying to make is how we react. When I was involved with the shooting. There were between 30 and 40 rounds fired. I heard 2, the first 2. I know the young man shot at me 3 times, only because I saw the muzzel flash 3 times. (The fire at the end of the barrel). I did not regain my hearing until it had been over for 30-45 seconds. Was this a defense mechinism for focus reasons or was it my mind trying to keep me from expierencing the entire tramua ?

HT THANKS and YOU ARE WELCOME. As I said in my first post When I hried on the PD it was a job and nothing more. It did not stay that way. It became a way of life. A way of life I was proud to live.

WS Thank you, your thoughts are heart warming. I can tell you have a huge heart. You are so right when it comes to loss of siblings and PTSD, you have to talk about it. I can't believe how much seems to have been lifted from me by just putting it down in this forum

Thanks to you all

30
 
Old 05-22-2005, 12:11 PM
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Our brains are very interesting the way we handle information when we are in our fight or flight mode.
You must have run into witnesses that all saw something different after an event or accident.

I've had training that taught us that we get tunnel vision in an emergency and all our strength is tuned into the crisis we are facing. They keep training on the same information over and over again so we can react from training instead of our flight or fight response. I know your training must have been similar and more intense than mine. I almost got myself into a pickle once due to my reaction with a real crime. I work with client's who have retardation and other mental illnesses. We are taught never to hurt them or be hurt if at all possible. I ran into a guy trying to break into my office and that training kicked in when it shouldn't have. Luckily he was drunk and didn't have a weapon. I started retraining my mind that there were times when it's ok to hurt someone. As a police officer I'm sure you went through both kinds of training. I'm sure that training kicked in when you had to shoot that young man.

The things that we see in life change our reality. We can both be standing in the same place and one person will feel safe and another person will feel threatened. I really try to avoid the news or other things with so much negative information. I don't want to add to my little "what can happen" box. It's already too big.

Hugs,
MG
 
Old 05-22-2005, 01:28 PM
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Your story is inspiring.

Are you saying though that you do nothing to treat the ptsd? I take xanax on ocassion and found that I was actually able to get over my fear of flying by taking one before boarding a plane recently. I used to parachute, I had not fear of planes but then I was landed in a tornado warning with my tow older kids, the plane circled for 45 minutes with people screaming and puking and praying to God. That put me in bad shape and MORE shortly afterwards a passenger plane took a nose dive within a mile from my home in ColoradoSprings in a park. I lived under the flight paths of the airforce training flights and now after reading these posts I can remember how the hair on the back of my neck would stand up everytime they got too close. Also, Colorado Springs was having frequent tornado warnings and the constant high winds would just keep that horrible flight with my kids in the front of my thinking. I spent 10 years there, moving back East was the best thing I could have done.
Now, I am finally feeling like I want to say **** the fear and LIVE again. I truly want to quit drinking though...I wish I could have stopped that 20+ years ago when i gave up pot and cigs!
Writing about it does help. HOW did you quit drinking?
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Old 05-22-2005, 03:19 PM
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MG your analogy with regard to our training is rigth on. I had a hunch someone would pick up on that. You do rely on what and how you been taught. I was trained by one of the best to defend myself and others. He trained allot of cops. He was as bad as me when it came to making sure his people were safe. He had over 300 that he looked over from many departments around. He was also my

Jaxees I quit drinking along time ago. I used an out patient program at a local hospital. I was in it for 2 years. I had a great time there because of the people who ran it. My last drink was in 1981. I used prozac and ativan for a while. I still hit the ativan every now and then. When the stress of life gets in the way. I liked it because it did not seem to make me feel out of it. It just calmed me down. You also have to understand I was in counseling for the PTSD for over 5 years. My issue was blame. I blamed myself for the whole shooting situation. I felt I had caused the young man to shoot not only me but my partner. It took a long time for me to understand I was not the cause. I also had other PTSD problems that were very deep rooted and as a result of my counseling for the shooting, I was able to deal with those as well.

You are so right about writing about it. I would have never thought of this type of forum 10 years ago. It does so help to release.
I guess if you need to work on a drinking problem, don't let anything get in your way and keep trying different programs until you find the one that is right for you

30
 
Old 05-22-2005, 03:33 PM
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I wrote about my other ptsd symptoms or causes for them under introducing myself on this forum. It certainly isn't just about airplanes. I jsut recently became aware of ptsd. I have heard of it but never thought the events I had lived through were BIG or BAD enough to cause that in me. I was stronger than that and my problems were not as bad as others. My suffering can not be compared to others. I even felt inadequate of being allowed to have my own suffering.

Just from the few days of reading here, I guess I had better start researching where to seek help in my area. I applaud you for the 5 years you spent in understanding what you needed to do.

I was given ativan once, I thought it was strong! At the time though I had hyperthyroidism. I was down to 105. So, low dose xanax is the treatment of choice for me. I would prefer to learn to live without alcohol or drugs, but there is definately a need for the xanax from time to time.

I am going to work on that drinking problem. I can't picture continuing on this way.
There has to be a point in my life where I am free of the self loathing...
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Old 05-22-2005, 05:52 PM
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Jaxees

Great. You have to start some where. More power to you in your quest. The important thing is to keep going if one does not work seek another.

30
 
Old 10-03-2005, 07:14 AM
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Thirty,

Just been wondering about you. Are you doing ok?

Hope all is well. Your story still inspires and amazes me...

Wolfstarr
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Old 10-04-2005, 06:37 PM
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Hi 30, Welcome to SR. I'm also a recovering alcoholic with about 3 years. I had put up to 5 years together in the past. My PTSD untreated always brought me back to not drinking but, self medication. I'm glad you are seeking help. My PTSD was from Vietnam and childhood physical and sexual abuse. I have been getting counseling at the V A Hospital here in Bedford Mass. Isuggest you check the V A out. I found talking to fellow Veterans a big help. As I'm sure you know, there is a bond among Veterans.
My heart goes out to you. Seperating duty in our minds is very difficult. Not sure this will help but, I can try. In my case my mind had trouble accepting killing for whatever reason. Morning Glory explained it to me awhile back. There is a Don W that wouldn't harm anyone. Killing isn't part of my make up. The other part is Don W the serviceman.
Because of duty I had to take part in killing. MG helped me understand that my mind was confused by this. The part of my mind that believes killing is wrong, was much stonger than the duty part. When I saw the results of my actions, a little girl running with clothes and skinn burned off from Napom, for years her face was emblazoned in my mind. The fact that I work in a Children's Hospital made it worse. For years I felt like I was responsible. Also, returning from Vietnam, we were called baby killers by war protesters. Many of us felt we were and they validated. The use of woman and children by Viet Cong required us to kill them. Like I have worked at, you need to find a way to change the perspective. You see, with PTSD, the way we remember things aren't always the way it happened. Our minds will protect itself. It will change and remove information in order to make sense of our actions. Example, my mind knew I loaded the napom bombs, it new I was there and it saw the picture on the Newsweek or Time. My perspective was I burned her. My perspective now is that all the facts are the same, I don't really know I filled the bomb that hurt her. Most of all, I was a 19 or 20 year old kid. I was following orders and the fact that woman and children were used to kill Americans caused the need to do this. Our minds don't know the difference at times. This is why they've discovered that you can get PTSD from a knife wound or a doctors scapal. Your mind only knows it was attacked. This is painful because you must revisit these events and collect facts. For years we tried to avoid or go aroun and move on. I made progress by going through the event in my mind, and learning about it again. This changed my perspective. Hope this helps. Either way, keep talking about it. Don W
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Old 10-05-2005, 09:47 PM
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Thirty has been spending time in inside a semi lately. He says he is ok. He sends regards to all and thanks for your support.
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Old 10-07-2005, 06:00 PM
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30, you should be very proud of what you did. Many times we take on something and it changes our lives. You did a great job. Don W
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Old 10-12-2005, 06:25 PM
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((((((((((30))))))))))

hang in there & hope ya come back to vent
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:07 AM
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Glad to hear 30 is doing well. Thanks for letting us know.
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Old 10-13-2005, 03:14 PM
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30, stay connected if you can. If you haven't noticed, once here you become famliy. We worry and get concerned not hearing from family. We need people like you to help open us up. This is what happens when we open up, it allow others the courage to follow. Don W
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Old 10-13-2005, 06:26 PM
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Don, Thanks ever so much for your caring and concern. 30 has taken a hiatus (sp) from SR. He is now an over the road truck driver and does not have the access to the net alot anymore. I talk to him on a regular basis. He does really miss being here. He says he may be back in the future when equipment for his travels become available.

Thanks

BT
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