Look in my head

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bad dreams

Last night I had a bad dream. I was back in Baghdad, Iraq and had just been injured. The anesthesiologist was trying very hard to give me some more morphine and was having problems. She got half a dose in my vein half way up my arm but I was shaking so violently from the lost of blood and the drugs they had used in the surgery that she pulled out half way through out of fear that the needle would break. She tried getting the vein in my wrist next. I woke up in my bed shaking, cold, and full of fear. This is the third dream I have had like this since my return from Iraq. I find myself looking down on soldiers that talk about having Post traumatic stress disorders until I have one of these bad dreams. I think that there minds are weak or they are not tough enough to take in and deal with violence, suffering and death of their comrades. At times I feel like I am immune to my emotions until I find myself shaking in my bed and tears are running down my face as I can't fall back asleep at 2:30 in the morning. I thank God that the bad dreams and sleepless nights only happen on occasion and that I can continue to be a soldier and support my family. I know my mind is just trying to process the most violent year I will ever know. I pray to God that I soon don't return to this place we call Iraq.

I found the following article on the Fox News web site today and thought it was rather fitting considering my post today.

combats Toll on a soldiers Psyche
1 in 7 Return From Iraq in Need of Treatment; Many Are Hesitant to Seek Treatment
By sit Kirchheimer, WebMD Medical News
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD Wednesday, June 30, 2004

June 30, 2004 -- About one in seven soldiers returning from combat duty in Iraq have major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, or other serious mental health issues.
Yet those most in need of treatment are least likely to seek it, according to the first study to explore the mental health of returning Army and Marine personnel fighting the war on terrorism in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Most often, it's due to a perception they have that they'll be stigmatized if they do receive care," lead study researcher Col. Charles W. Hoge, MD, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, tells WebMD. "Among soldiers who screen positive (for mental health problems), about 65% have the perception they will be seen as weak if they sought care."
For his study, published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, Hoge and colleagues surveyed 2,530 members of the armed services prior to their deployment in Iraq and 3,670 within four months of returning from combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Most Experience Trauma
Most returned having experienced traumatic events such as being shot at, killing someone, seeing bodies, or witnessing civilian injuries they could do nothing about. Generally, those in Iraq were up to twice as likely to engage in a firefight compared with those fighting in Afghanistan.
Hoge finds that some 17% serving in Iraq met the criteria for mental health disorders requiring treatment -- twice as many as before deployment. That compares with only 11% of those serving in Afghanistan. Iraq veterans were also significantly more likely as those serving in Afghanistan to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"We think the difference results from a greater frequency and intensity of combat in Iraq," says Hoge, chief of psychiatry and behavior sciences at the Bethesda, Md.-based medical research facility.
But what's especially worrisome to Hoge and other experts is that even though the armed forces offers several programs to offer counseling and other assistance to returning veterans, those who need them are reluctant to use them. His study indicates that as few as one in four soldiers who need mental health treatment are seeking it -- largely because of the belief it will hurt their military careers.
'Not Just a Military Issue'
"Eventually, all of these soldiers will be returning to civilian life, so this is not just a military issue," Hoge tells WebMD. "Hopefully, this article will raise public awareness in general about psychiatric manifestations of combat duty. This is something the entire medical system needs to look at."

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