I’ve been thinking about PTSD. It seems to be the main thing warriors talk about after we return to civilian life. If we ever forget to mention it, we can always count on somebody else to bring it up. Doctors, lawyers, counselors, mother in-laws, everybody’s an expert on PTSD.
It’s kind of like the Unified Field Theory – it explains everything: Sullen and withdrawn? PTSD. Argumentative and oversensitive? PTSD. Can’t get a good night’s sleep? PTSD. Not eager for sex anymore? PTSD. Except that it doesn’t necessarily explain any of these things.
I remember what it was like to be in an intense combat environment. I mean what it was really like, what it felt like, physically. I could feel the juices cycling and kicking in during dangerous missions- mostly adrenaline, I suppose, but I think there were other hormones coursing through my system too. The human body adapts to its environments in order to survive. Our chemistry changes based on our physical environment, our chemistry also changes based on our mental state of mind.
The 75thRanger Regiment is a continuous game of Russian roulette. I adapted to my environment just like everyone else did, as my body focused on survival. I nicked named this “phenomena” “super soldier serum”. I thrived off this powerful high-octane chemistry mixture of endorphins, adrenaline, and testosterone. Then my time was up, and I left the Ranger life to be with my pregnant wife and daughter of two years old….
Months felt like years!
No more airborne jumps into lakes or grassy fields, no more airfield seizures, no more 60-foot fast ropes onto the door steps of the worlds most wanted terrorists. No more snatching booger eaters out of bed and breaking their fragile bones on accident at 3am in the morning while they scream out of pain and sheer terror.
I was a Special Operation infantryman who was surrounded now by a bossy woman and squishy cute babies. Within a few months I wasn’t feeling those manly juices anymore! My “super soldier Serum was demobilized and mustered out, just like me. I got out of the military to be with my beautiful pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter. But we didn’t live happily ever after.
I felt sluggish, depressed, Soft and weak. I felt like an old man with no energy to play with my kid. I was depressed and crying uncontrollably during replays of Americas got talent golden ticket winners. I put on a good 20 lbs of solid fat! Fast-forward 5 years.
I eventually got referred to an endocrinologist; they sent me to the lab for blood tests, including one for testosterone. On active duty, I was around 275 lbs and was running a freakish 31 minute 5 mile, and with single-digit body fat%.
Before enlistment, I was a world-class athlete! I was an All American swimmer and water polo player and even made the US water polo National Team just before enlisting into the military, But after my return to civilian life from the hardest job ill ever have, I became flabby and started to get fatter by the day. My motivation to crush the gym was gone; my desire to get out of bed and be productive or hang out with my wife and kids were at zero!
The doctor scanned my lab results before he came out to the lobby to call me in for my appointment. Based on my testosterone results, he was expecting a patient 50-60 years older than me. He walked right past me, and scanned the room for the elderly man, then called my name.
When I answered to my name, he was startled, and thought there must have been a mistake. But they were my actual lab results, all right. The doctor said he’d never seen testosterone level as low in a man as young as me in all his 40 years of practice.
He prescribed replacement testosterone therapy immediately and a strong estrogen blocker. My “PTSD” symptoms rapidly receded. Within the first week of getting my therapy I was snapping out of bed feeling energized and ready for my day.
After a month I was lasting all day on my feet never feeling the need to rest or take a nap. I was chasing my wife around the house and putting my foot down again during arguments. I was losing weight and leaning up from all the great workouts that I was getting in everyday. I was playing with my children again. I never touched meds the VA gave me!
I’m not saying that PTSD is a hoax; I have brothers with bullets in their faces still, missing eyeballs, legs, arms and some with 20 deployments and still going. I would be a fool to think they didn’t have PTSD. I Just believe that it’s often misdiagnosed with many combat veterans.
A hormonal lab panel should be standard protocol for male combat veterans before any PTSD diagnosis is finalized. The well-known hostility of family-practice physicians to testosterone replacement should yield to the special knowledge of endocrinologists. The V.A. should consider funding research into the hormonal implications of demobilization and discharge of combat veterans. Please consider this.
Our bodies operated at an arguable super human level for years and when you got out with your greying hair at the age of 28 your body probably stopped producing testosterone. The symptoms of low “T” in men are truly scary! Erectile dysfunction, Fatigue, depression, Muscle mass and strength reduced, body fat increased back pain, osteoporosis development, high blood pressure, rapid increase of cholesterol levels and a large increase of your body’s production of the female hormone estrogen. Get your life back!
Go to your endocrinologist and don’t leave till he orders you the blood work! I promise you, odds are you are bottomed out like I was and you need therapy to bring your levels back up. I really think this will save lives! Please share this to a fellow combat veteran or on your page. Please take the first step and go get your Testosterone checked Men. You owe it to your wife and kids to pull out of your slump. If this helps just one person it was worth the work and time.
Check up on your Ranger brothers this week.