Sunday, November 2, 2014
No I am not talking about the city dump or even my teenager’s bedroom. Those words were spoken to my husband Friday at his VA Telemed appointment. A medical professional had the audacity to sit in front of his computer, two hours away on a fancy version of Skype, and had the nerve to say that Chris was toxic, our marriage was a waste and that it would be best if I took the kids and just left him.
I had gone to this appointment with Chris in hopes to help him get the help he needed but instead got just the opposite. The last few weeks had been extremely trying for Chris, and I like any good spouse in this situation would, was trying my damndest to him the help he needed. I was already anxious over this appointment. I spent the 15 minute car ride to the VA writing out topics to be addressed. The 10 minutes in the waiting room seemed like eternity to me; however the couple behind me had been waiting far longer from what I could gage listening to their conversation. Finally we were called back and I began to relax some knowing that I was going to be able to express the concerns. Chris’ vitals were taken, questions asked that were based on his PTSD diagnosis and then it was a small wait to be escorted to the room where we would be speaking to his doctor.
Once settled I realized to this doctor we were just a number to him. I had been to a previous appointment a few months back, but the doctor had no recollection of me and asked if I was his spouse. I sat quietly as the routine mundane questions were asked to Chris. A few things started to rub me the wrong way but I sat patiently waiting my turn to speak. I mean I assumed since I was with my husband he would realize I would want to speak up. However Chris was unsure of an answer to a question, what his BP was 20 minutes prior to this conversation, and I knew it and answered. I was told that Chris needed to answer it. Seriously! He was unable to recall the numbers and I knew them I see no big deal but then again I was not meshing well with this doctors lack of logic. He moved on to lecture Chris about meds he should have been taking but that he requested be on hold because he either A) wasn’t using them or B) just felt the need not to take them. Chris has been asking for a while now but was told by another doctor that his BP was to low and couldn't take them. Basically he made Chris feel like a liar and that he would fix it and he better take it.
We moved on to questions about home life. Finally a situation I was more able to speak on, or so I thought. He asked a few questions. I had started to tune out a bit as I was mentally preparing myself to interject my thoughts and concerns. At this point I wasn't really caring if he wanted my thoughts or not but I figured I took this time off of work I will be saying what I need to say. He asked Chris how things were going at home. Chris gave an answer that was barely audible and the doctor looked over at me. Finally my turn to speak, my turn to voice what was on my mind and say what needed to be said. Or so I thought….
Once his eyes turned to me I decided to just put down the note pad and speak from the heart. I told him of the situation that happened ten days ago. Chris hadn't slept in four days, he had grown distant and agitated but I neglected to see this as a pending trigger for a big blow up. I had been on such a high of months of no issues that I forced myself not to see that there was trouble looming in the distance. I failed to see it and it ended up ending poorly. It was a rough few days of words barely spoken, sides of beds left empty to reside to couches, and schedules rearranged to help meet the needs of a stressed out family. I was letting all of this just pour out of my mouth only to be told that our living situation was toxic, my husband was toxic. Our marriage was a waste. There we no real options but that it would be best to get me and the children away from such a toxic environment. My jaw dropped. I was told that he had half a mind to get CPS involved because this sounded so horrible. I was also blamed. I am sorry, how is my not being able to attend every appointment and express my concerns when they should be expressed to a lady runs on appointments only my fault?! I work full time, my job puts food on the table, insurance for all the kids and Chris, it pays the bills. I am sorry that I can’t just take a day off at the drop of a hat to do things. Explaining I worked as a preschool teacher and that there is a big process to get time off didn't seem to matter. He was so hell bent on making Chris and I feel worthless he was going to keep going with it.
I explained it would probably be best for Chris to go back into a PTSD treatment facility. He had stated himself that he things it would be best. I also brought up the point that Chris had said his other doctor or maybe it was this doctor said that it might be best to start tapering off meds etc. I said if this was the case he would not be detoxing at the home. He would need to be in an environment that was trained to help with withdrawal and patients that were not able to take their meds. A wife and four children was not that environment. He asked if he should go back to Waco. I told the doctor sure but he would prefer to try out a program he had researched in Denver. That was another mistake. While he said it would be great and he would support it he wouldn’t do anything to help the matter. He even lied about his knowledge on it to humor Chris and I. That pissed us off even more. Who the heck does that?? I gave up. I knew I shouldn't have but I had retreated to the back of the chair, exhausted and exasperated with the treatment my husband was receiving. Here he is a Veteran who served our country for 14 years and put his life on the line and this is the treatment he gets? And we wonder why those with PTSD often opt to take their own lives. Well if they encountered doctors like this what hope or help do they have? Even if they did have family to turn to, why would they when they are told they are horrible people who are not worthy of having a family.
Friday it became my mission to put a stop to this unfair, unjust treatment. No one, no patient of any disability, disorder or disease should ever encounter such horrific treatment. This must stop and it will stop now! I have written a letter and plan to address this with the patient advocacy, send it to our congressmen, and share it with whoever can help. We tend to have to be our spouse’s voices when they suffer from PTSD. This is a very taboo disorder. There is so much stigmatism still attached to PTSD, there is so much society doesn’t know and only grasps from what they have been exposed to. When our spouses encounter such poor treatment and then are forced to go be mainstream with society its not wonder they struggle to blend in and mesh. Society sees them as a mental case that would lose their cool at the drop of the hat. That they are unable to function in today’s society because they are so caught up in living in their flashbacks and war stories. Doctors like this do not help debunk society’s already tainted thoughts.
Today was a turning point. Today instead of letting this just go and hoping things go better next time we decided to take action. Tomorrow morning we will begin the journey of fighting for better treatment, better options. We will stand up for what is right and what he deserves. No one at all deserves to be treated like they are toxic…….. or waste………