Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Long Time, No Post

It has been almost a year since my last post to the blog. Guess I am falling down on the job but this really is difficult being a creative writer. Obviously, I’m not a creative writer and have to force myself to get at the machine.

I was having a lot of pain last year which I related to my broken hip but a CAT Scan at the VA showed that I had some discs in my back that were slipping. That is what caused the severe pain when I stopped at the stop sign and could not hold the motorcycle up. I thought it was the hip but I guess it was something worse. No surgery, I just have to take it more careful on what I lift and how I bend.

We had a great time on our trip to Colorado last year and saw some beautiful scenery. The Air Force Academy is a beautiful campus set on the side of a little mountain. We stayed in Mountain View (which is near Colorado Springs) for about a week. From there we could easily cover most of eastern Colorado. Heading north we went to Rocky Mountain National Park and south we went to the Garden of the Gods. Both are beautiful rock formations. We also took the train ride through the Royal Gorge. Very nice train ride. It truly was a great trip and Joanne even got to visit a Wizard of Oz museum and winery in Kansas. The names of the wines were named after characters from the Wizard of Oz. They probably will never get used.

Still attending group therapy on a regular basis but I also miss the great EMDR sessions at Henry Ford Behavioral Services. The VA is not into EMDR that much. I think it really works and would like to see it used more.

We have a new 5th wheel this year. As I get older, Joanne and I figured it was time to downsize a little. We went from 40 footer with three axles to 37 footer with just two axles. It is also a lot lighter but weight is not a problem for my truck. The new unit will be easier in the small campgrounds. Unless the weather takes a major turn, we will not be camping anytime soon. Rain and cold is all we are getting right now. You don’t realize how much junk accumulates in an RV after seven years. We unloaded the old unit and put the stuff in the garage. Then when we got the new RV in the driveway, we began moving things in from the garage but not before doing a major sort. Why would two people need fifty coffee cups and plastic glasses? As I said before, we downsized.

Remember how I was complaining about the VA never being able to keep shrinks on staff. Well the Benton Harbor VA has finally gotten one that is excellent and seems to want to stay at this center. His name is Dr. Zamor and he is from Haiti. He really cares and all in our group really respect how he deals with us. Mark that down. Something positive to say about the VA.

Guess that is kind of a compacted version of what has happened in the last year but this blogging is difficult. Don’t forget that Memorial Day is next month.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Decoration Day (Memorial Day) is the most beautiful of our national holidays…. The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms. — Thomas Bailey Aldrich

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. — General George S. Patton

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them. — Francis A. Walker

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

It is yet another Memorial Day. Time to remember the ones we lost in combat. I lost a lot of friends in Nam and I think about them everyday of my life. Guess that is part of survivor guilt but I never want those men to be forgotten. I hope everyone can get out to a parade this weekend and truly remember the real reason for this holiday. I really like the words in Lee Greenwood's song.

Guess I should update everyone on my motorcycle adventures. My adventure is over as fast as it began. The technical aspects of riding were not really my problem. The mental was the big road block. It was taking me out of my “safe zone” and it raised the anxiety level just as it did when my PTSD first started. With the help of my therapist I probably could have gotten past that point. My pinned hip was giving me problems with support at stops and mentally it was creating problems on right hand turns. I did not want to fall on the hip again. But I did.

Nothing was hurt except my pride and when I got back from that ride I decided right then and there that at 65 it was not a good idea to try and ride again. The bike is going up for sale this week and I did enjoy it for a short period of time. If I could just ride without stopping and turning corners then it would be great. Or if I just rode counter clockwise all the time and only made left hand turns it would be okay.

I know a lot of guys with PTSD ride motorcycles but they have been riding for years and it probably has little effect on them. Guess I have passed the thrill stage in my life cycle. I raced cars after Nam and loved the thrill of high speed. I had a 57 Porsche Speedster and raced E Production in SCCA. I loved that and it was mentally relaxing after a busy workweek. Guess at 65 the same thrills are no longer there. Or we know what real pain is like and don't want to go through it again.

Be sure and shake the hand of a Veteran this weekend and thank him for his service to our country. Or visit a Veterans grave and leave flowers, or take the kids to a Memorial Day parade and let them know the real reason for Memorial Day. It is not just a holiday for hot dogs and beer. Remember our Veterans from all wars and again thank them for keeping us free. God Bless You All.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Damn, I Got Old Quick

“Damn, I got old quick”. Time is sure flying by lately. They say that time goes quicker as you get older and it sure seems to be moving at a fast rate lately. I has been awhile since my last post but seems like just yesterday.

I have found something that does tend to take up a lot of my time on the internet. It is a series of mindless games on Facebook. I play Farkle, Bejeweled Blitz, Jungle Jewels and a few different farming programs. Those being Farm Town, Farmville and Lil Farm Life. I also do those on my sisters Facebook for a total of five farms I'm maintaining. They are mindless games but they do keep your mind off of bad memories. I've seen it mentioned on a couple of different PTSD websites as to how it is therapeutic. Farm Town is my favorite because it is the most realistic. And it is a lot easier than real farming.

I got through the holidays fairly stress free and the New Year got here so quickly. Now we are into February and are starting to plan vacations. “Plan vacations...there is still snow on the ground”. We are going to Colorado this year for our long vacation and that will probably be in June or July depending on scheduling. We may also do a four day trip to Cambridge Ohio and some shot trips to Shipshewana, Frankenmouth, and Manistee.

April is going to be a busy month. That month has the Hall China Convention in Columbus OH, Great Lakes Depression Glass Show in Madison Heights, MI, and I start my motorcycle safety classes. Yes, I said motorcycle class. I bought a 2007 Honda Shadow Spirit 1100 motorcycle off of eBay in November. The seller was a retired Police Chief up in the Muskegan area and had two Honda's and sold the smaller of the two. He delivered it via trailer and it is in great condition with very little miles. It has been over 40 years since I have been on a motorcycle so it will take some getting used to riding again.

I was a fearless young man then and now I know what pain is like so I'm sure I will be a fearful old coot rider. There will be two days of classroom work and two days of parking lot riding to complete the class. Upon successful completion of the class, you are certified to get a motorcycle license. I probably will only tide for a couple of years but I just have the feeling that I want to get back in the saddle. I was so much fun as a youth and hopefully it will still be just as much fun.

I'm still attending the weekly group therapy sessions and that is going well. The local VA still does not have a permanent shrink but they may be getting one next month. Talking to a shrink over a TV connection just does not get it. Usually they are so interested in looking at their computer and what they are typing that they never spend much time observing how you are reacting to the questions. Observation is part of how you understand the patient. Almost all of the VA shrinks seem to be foreign doctors. It is probably just a stopping off point until they can get a regular practice started on the outside.

This is the kind of Health Care the government wants to shove down our throats. Poorly paid and poorly run. The VA is getting better in some areas but is still inferior to most regular hospitals and physicians. The Ann Arbor VA is excellent because they are connected to the University of Michigan Medical Center.

Let's hope I can post again soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm Back For Now.

My friend and relatives have been complaining that I haven’t posted all summer and fall. Yes…it has been a long time but we have been busy and I wasn’t motivated enough to write anything. The mind has to be in the correct state to put how I feel on paper. I probably should do a little catching up for everyone.

We took a two weeks vacation in June and went out to the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was a long drive but we had a great time. I think Joanne really loved it. We went to the Mt Rushmore park two times and got some great pictures. Mt Rushmore is very impressive as are the Badlands and Devil’s Tower. We also spent some time in Deadwood, SD where there are quite a few casinos. Deadwood is quite a unique town.

We stayed one night in Mitchell, SD and that is the home of the famous Corn Palace. The Corn Palace is quite a site if you like tacky stuff. If you are really into tacky, stop by Wall Drug in Wall, SD sometime. That place will keep you busy for half a day.

The rest of the summer was spent going to baseball games and soccer games that our Grandkids play in all the time. They play soccer rain or shine so we are selective on which games we go to. We also don’t go the away games unless it is in a local town close by.

Otherwise, it was a typical summer with yard work, going for walks and just enjoy our selves and doing activities with my sister. She is getting used to it up here now but kept complaining about the cool weather here. It wasn’t hot and humid like it gets in Atlanta. To me it was a perfect summer but much too short.

PTSD wise, I do pretty well when we camp. I guess I feel fairly safe in the RV. We were around some big crowds at Mt Rushmore and I did okay then. The only problem I had was traveling through Iowa. That was too long of a driving day and is very tiring and my butt can’t handle it even with the air ride seats. I don’t know how truckers can do long trips. They must have concrete butts.

Still attending group therapy weekly and that does help even though some days are just BS sessions. Just being in a group of guys that understand what combat is like is helpful in itself. The therapist does interject thought provoking ideas occasionally that keep us on track about our problems.

Our two oldest Veterans finally got 100% disability. That is our WWII and Korean Vet. The one really needed the money and I’m so happy that it finally came through for him. He has struggled for so many years and did not really understand what his problem was from.

Veterans Day is soon approaching and I will again attend the dinner and program at the Eau Claire High School for Veterans. Last year I took my sister because my wife was at a meeting. This year my wife gets to see the great program they put on for the Vets. It is a difficult thing to attend for me but I got through it fairly well last year so maybe it will be easier this year. Ooh Rah.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Dear Proud American,

Thank you to all those who have worn this country's uniform and have served in our Armed Forces. We especially pay tribute to those whose lives were lost in defense of this country.

Memorial Day,which is today, is a special time for all of us to remember that America enjoys freedom today because of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines who have sacrificed their lives for the defense of our nation.

LtCol Oliver North, USMC (Ret.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Easter

I know, I know it has been awhile since my last post but I have been busy. Doing what I have no idea but I am sure I have been busy. PTSD tends to confuse the mind and causes a lack of concentration. I jump around a lot. Not literally but mentally my mind goes in many directions and jumps from one subject to another.

I have discovered a unique website for various mental and physical conditions called Daily Strength. They have discussion groups on many different subjects and the one I have been visiting is the PTSD support group. It is located at I have found it to be very helpful in that I can help others with their problems. Many are new to PTSD and are concerned about therapy, EMDR and a multitude of different questions. Having gone through this for many years, I can give some in site in what they can expect when they go for treatment. Maybe I can help someone else and help myself at the same time.

It does feel good but I can only do it for a few days at a time. Many of the folks on the site are women and have gone through rape, sexual and physical abuse. Some of their stores can really get you down if you let it. That is why I take breaks from the website periodically.

Last year about this time, I broke my hip just before going to a convention. I hope that this year I can get to the convention without something happening to me. I will miss one group therapy session but I can get through that okay. Things are improving but I admit I probably do spend too much time in my cave. With summer coming I will probably get out more and try to do things in the yard. Exercise is always good for PTSD.

I hope everyone has a good Easter with the family and do not eat too much candy from the kids Easter baskets. That is one of my problems. I am back on a diet and getting the weight back down again. The weight went up after I broke my hip due to lack of exercise so I am trying hard to get back to my fighting weight. Ya right, that will not happen but at least I need to take off quite a few pounds.

Happy Easter Everyone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Guest Blog - Part II

This is the second installment for Michele Rosenthal’s wonderful site about PTSD. She is an excellent writer and is a joy to read. Hers is much better than my ramblings and ranting of a mad man. Her website is Please check out her site because it has tons of helpful information about PTSD.

Guest Blog – Part II

Dealing with the VA is my subject this time around. The problem with informing you on how to deal with the VA is the VA varies so much from state to state. The VA within each state is a separate entity from the Veterans Administration in Washington D.C... What you say? I know this sounds stupid but appears to be how the system operates. To get care, you have to be registered in that state where you live. Therefore, that means if you live in Michigan and spend the winter in Florida then you need to register in both states. In addition, the medical records cannot be accessed from state to state. Each system seems to be independent from each other.

This may sound really messed up but trust me the system is greatly improved from what it was years ago. President Bush put a lot more funding into the system from the previous president. The former head of the VA, James Peake, really made some great changes to the system. He also increased our mileage reimbursement up to the present 41.5 cents a mile. The previous amount had not changed for 30 years. The old reimbursement would not even cover gas for half my trip. Now it covers my gas and leaves a little extra.

I hope that the new VA Secretary Shinseki will keep up the improvements and make life a little easier for us Vets. As I stated in the first blog, veterans who recently returned from a combat zone are eligible for no-cost VA care. They are entitled to five years of free VA care. The five-year “clock” begins with their discharge from the military, not their departure from the combat zone.

Each VA medical center has an enrollment coordinator to provide veterans information about these programs. Veterans may also contact VA’s Health Benefits Service Center at 1-877-222-8387 or visit the VA health eligibility Web site at

If you feel you deserve a VA compensation for injuries or PTSD, it is best to get a representative to submit your paperwork and represent you to the VA. The VFW, American Legion, DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and others have representatives. I personally believe the DAV can represent you the best because they are paid employees and not just volunteers that may or may not know the system well. The DAV represented me for my PTSD. I had already had a 30% disability for injuries in Nam since my discharge. Once the paperwork is submitted, HURRY UP AND WAIT. It can take as long as two years for older veterans but I believe the current veterans are getting through much quicker. At some point in this process, they will send you to a Compensation and Pension examination. You are getting close at this point.

Usually you will be rejected the first time so keep pushing for another review. If you are suffering with PTSD, try to get into one of the Post Traumatic Stress Recovery Tracks they run at the VA hospitals. These tracks run from 28 days to two months. It is intensive therapy along with medication adjustments and group therapy. Going through a track will help you get VA compensation. You will also be paid when you go through a track.

You can get up to 75% disability and if you cannot function enough to work, an additional 25% will be added for unemployables. I have an 88 years old WWII veteran in my group therapy that has tried to get unemployables (the word we use is unemployability but I do not think that is a real word). At 88 years of age, he should have unemployability. Sometimes we feel the VA figures, “kill a vet, save a check”.

One thing I forgot to mention in my first blog was about brain injury. They have discovered that big explosions close to you might cause a jarring of the brain. You will not have any external injuries but your brain is injured. These injuries will appear similar to PTSD but can only be detected via an MRI exam. Both PTSD and explosive brain injury can be present in combat veterans. Just something else to consider.

It is a quick overview but I hope some of it helps. Just do not suffer with the problems. Get the help you need and deserve from the VA.

Semper Fi