Recently my husband and I were walking our dog in the forest. My husband looked at me and said to me “You made the hard choice. You decided to stay and fight. You decided you knew that PTSD was not me. You lead us through this and I am thankful for that. You saved me”. I said “No I helped but you saved yourself because you fought in therapy, even when some of it didn’t work, it took a long time and your brain wanted you to stop, you fought to get back to us.”
I don’t remember when but sometime in the early days/weeks of our PTSD journey on a very dark overwhelming day, I looked at my husband and said “This is either going to make us or break us, I choose for it to make us”. Every time I wanted to roll over and give up, I would pull myself together and would say this to myself. So if “I chose for this to make us”, there has to be another way. So this means I will need to keep trying and I will need to ask more questions of the doctors and therapists or anyone with any experience of PTSD. I will need to research about other treatments available and I will not give up. This was my mantra that I believe got my family through this PSTD journey stronger, more loving and compassionate then before.
While my husband was developing PTSD spring/summer 2010 we were faced with almost losing our oldest daughter. She became very ill from an antibiotic resistant staph infection. She had cut her big toe while swimming in a local community pool. My husband had cleaned and bandaged it. She was a beautiful ballet dancer and we thought, along with doctors, she had strained her hip when she began to complain of pain in it. She ended up having emergency surgery to save her life. She recovered from this to only find out the infection unfortunately caused Avascular Necrosis and destroyed her hip joint leaving her in great pain. She was unable to bend her hip joint, causing very little mobility. Her doctors made a decision she required a full hip replacement. Her Hip replacement surgery went well although it was risky because of her size and the chances of causing permanent nerve damage. My husband and I both cared for her at home 1 on 1 for 8 weeks, as she went through physio to be able to walk again. Her leg muscles as well as the muscles supporting her hip joint had been affected a great deal. We had to stretch out her joint and manually manipulate her leg 3 times a day, while she screamed out in pain. My husband asked to take some vacation time to support his family as he had lots banked but was given one block off. Dealing with a close loved one so seriously ill deteriorated his and compounded my husbands undiagnosed PTSD.
Months later my husband was diagnosed with PTSD. I was completely blindsided by the diagnoses. I had never heard of PTSD and was unaware of its risk to police officers. We feel we were completely unsupported by his police force as we struggled to heal from PTSD. No referrals to the VA, OSSIS, specialists who treat OSI’s like the OSI clinic, we unnecessarily stumbling through. I have been my husband’s health services and advocate for treatment, with no training or support just the belief I wanted this wonderful man back. All of his treating doctors said he was honest and committed to his treatment. He carried a lot of guilt and shame not only because of the perceived weakness as a police officer and getting PTSD but he felt a deep sense he had let his family down. I also suffered from immense guilt for not seeing his PTSD for what it was and instead being angry at him for the change in his behavior and pushing him away in his time of greatest need.
I faced my own personal tragedy in 2012, while at I was hit by a heavy falling mirror in the back of the head while I was looking down and to the side. I suffered a concussion and during the investigation of my concussion a CT scan was ordered. This CT scan plus 3 more and a MRI showed I had a large, golf ball size, bleeding brain tumour in my right front temporal lobe, which had several bleeds on it. I had brain surgery in Jan, 2013 as it was determined I was a great risk of stroke or starting to have grand mal seizures. This was a very difficult time for me because all though my husband was in treatment for his PTSD I was very afraid of the effects of him dealing with me facing very dangerous surgery and my recovery. I recovered well from my brain surgery but still faced physiotherapy for my post-concussion, disequilibrium, vertigo and vestibular symptoms from my original injury. I did not have the physical abilities to return to my job even on restricted duties. There have been some bright sides to this time. I was faced with being basically housebound so I used my time to start to speak out and advocate for RCMP families dealing with PTSD. I have grown in ways I never expected and I am feel blessed I was given this opportunity in life. I have met so many amazing people and I have an unbelievable group of spouses and members both retired and current standing by and supporting me now.
My husband was able to find a way around health services and get treatment at the OSI clinic finally! He responded exceptionally well, was able to be taken off his medication. We have overcome all our wounds and challenges together through therapy, kindness and patience.
My husband has told all his doctors, family and friends I am the only reason he made it through PTSD, is still alive and healthy again.
I am so over joyed to hear his big deep laugh, which fills a room and life in his eyes again. Our daughter has her goal of a career in health care so she can help others the way she was helped. I now feel a true propose in life for the first time.
What I am most proud of is today I am deeper in love with my husband and he with me because we held together and both did the hard work, during the hard times of our lives, to make this happen.
Founder of Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness