From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Repeat of Omega 3 Information

I am repeating this blog because of a request on Quora for information on significant vitamin supplements.

When my husband came home from service with the Army in the Middle East among the prophylactic drugs he had been given was "fish oil."  The Army being what it is, he wasn't told why he was being given the "fish oil," it was just, "here, take this once a day."  He thought he was being given this supplement for “heart health.”  Another medication he received was to prevent Malaria.  Seems there might have been an alternate reason for that fish oil.  Fish oil is one of the sources of Omega 3; it is also found in flax seed, and walnuts, along with a few vegetables, but the vegetables do not offer significant amounts.  There are studies that suggest that Omega 3 is preventative for the condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  While certainly more studies are needed, this information should be known by not only those serving in the military, but by everyone.

I vaguely remembered from nursing school that Omega 3 had to do with heart health, but when I began doing a research paper on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and its association with TBI,(Traumatic Brain Injury) I came across the true significance of this essential nutrient that the human body does not have the ability to produce on its own. I will cite the article I found most informative and user friendly at the conclusion of this blog.  The first fact that kept me glued to the entire work was the information that 40% of the brain is made of the fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid, (DHA,) Eicosapentaenoic acid, (EPA) and Linolenic acid.  These acids make up what is known as Omega 3.  Linolenic acid is also a part of the bilipid membrane in every cell of the human body.

 I have had Ankylosing Spondylitis since I was fourteen years old, and I had noted that Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory and began taking it myself about four months ago.  I am nearly sixty years old, and I have never felt this well.  Long ago I had become accustomed to the chronic fatigue, and what the clinical description of Ankylosing Spondylitis notes as "chronic moderate to severe pain."  NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or Motrin,) a group of drugs including Sulfasalazine, Methotrexate and Corticosteroids, and as a last resort, TNF Blockers, such as Enbrel, Remicade and Humira, are the drug interventions available for treatment of this disease. I won't go into the side effects, but one does not submit to any of these courses of treatment lightly.  I can tell how reduced the inflammation is in my body since I began taking Omega 3 by the reduction in pain, plus my CRP levels, (blood test indicating inflammation in the body,) are lowered.

This function of reducing inflammation is one of the attributes that makes Omega 3 vital in the treatment of brain injury. From the articles I have read, there are major benefits involving function and the healing of injuries to the brain produced by Omega 3.  Not only are they a part of the brain itself, these elements act in the neurotransmitter system.  That is significant in TBI and PTSD both, which our Soldiers are suffering from in staggering numbers. Their exposure to repetitive explosions, which produce TBI, by deduction makes education concerning Omega 3, something that should be a part of every Soldier’s training.  

With brain injury, one of the reasons for cell death is inflammation and edema, (swelling.)   Omega 3 has been found not only to be a part of the cells that make up the brain, but they are converted into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.  This function is what makes them vital in treatment and recovery after brain injury. They are also significant in recovery from injury anywhere in the body.

For all the years that I worked in nursing the kind of brain injuries I became familiar with are the kind most people understand somewhat.  These kinds of injuries can cause loss of consciousness, either short term or long term, with long term producing what is known as "a coma."  The symptoms are obvious and dramatic.  Auto accidents, falls, and other such trauma produce irrefutable evidence of severe injury, and are sometimes fatal within a short period of time.  Usually there are other accompanying injuries as well.  There is another brain injury that is often encountered in childhood, which is known as your everyday vanilla "concussion."  I can remember having a concussion when I fell off a slide and my head landed on a large rock when I was about six.  I remember throwing up, feeling dizzy, and having a headache, but I have had no after affects.  Visual disturbances such as diplopia, (seeing double,) are another symptom of your garden variety type "concussion." 

When someone sustains repetitive garden variety mild concussions, a condition can develop called Postconcussive Syndrome.  Ordinary concussion symptoms disappear in two to seven days.  In PCS, longer lasting symptoms, such as mood alterations and behavioral changes, fatigue, sleep pattern changes, and poor concentration distinguish this type of brain injury from both major traumatic brain injury and plain concussion injuries.  The syndrome PCS can not only be long lasting, creating life altering symptoms, but it can also become permanent.  Of course our military sustain “concussions” routinely from the explosions they are exposed to.  A Soldier can sustain a mild TBI, (traumatic brain injury,) and not display any signs of injury at all, and be sent right back to combat duty. 

Those in the military are not the only persons affected by Postconcussive Syndrome (PCS), athletes, both amateur and professional can develop PCS.  High school football players are particularly at risk, as are boxers.  When I chat in the social medias where military folks hang out, there are always a few either active duty military, or veterans, who do not believe in PTSD.  They express, in so many words, that they feel it is really just whining Soldiers that can't cut the mustard. That really is such a display of ignorance.  What distresses me most is that some of them appear to be officers in charge of combat units. I had a technician from my satellite internet provider, who was a veteran, tell me that most of the Soldiers applying for disability because of PTSD brag about scamming the government for a hand out.  I am sure that people being people, perhaps there are some who do, but not for the most part.  I have found too much information on PTSD which proves that this condition is in part a biological injury to include  all of it in this blog entry, but I will be posting several entries sharing what I have found.  Tonight I am going to cite the articles I have read so far, beginning as I said, with the one that is most user friendly.  

 Self-education is vital when it comes to health, and that is especially true concerning any involvement in health issues with the military or the VA.  So tonight, while I am no expert on any subject I have discussed here, to me it just makes sense that if you are suffering from PTSD, the supplement Omega 3 might be a consideration for you.  I get mine in the form of Omega 3, 6, 9 from Walmart, and the cost is less than five dollars.  I am careful to choose from the brands the one that is pharmaceutical grade, which has had the mercury removed. Mercury is a problem with fish oil.  It seems our oceans are so polluted that mercury is present in fish, and can accumulate in the body of anyone eating large amounts of fish.   Since the vital requirements of the body include Omega 3, it would be a wise choice for anyone to add this supplement to their diet.  I think you will note a difference in just a matter of days.

Blast-Related Traumatic Brain Injury: What Is Known?
Katherine H. Taber; Deborah L. Warden; Robin A. Hurley
The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2006;18:141-145.

Psychiatric News   |   October 07, 2011
Volume 46 Number 19 page 22-23
American Psychiatric Association
Clinical and Research News

Hormone May Be Long-Sought Treatment for Brain Injuries
Leslie Sinclair

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

What Is theTrue Problem

My husband sent me an article by a "military expert" named James Dunnigan this morning.  Mr. Dunnigan  recently published a very candid piece about corruption among America's present military leadership, and he put forth a theory on why this corruption has developed.  The article is a very interesting read.

Mr. Dunnigan is described in his bio as an author, military-political analyst, Defense and State Department consultant, and  designer of war games, as in computer games.  He is a prolific author of books, articles, and online materials on the military and its' operations.  He served three years in the military from 1961 until 1964 as a repair technician for the Sergeant ballistic missile.  After his service he continued his education, and is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in history.  Apparently his love of history has fueled his passion for military analysis.  He is quoted by many as an expert, and has established his reputation as such in the field.

 The real root of the crisis is the lack of character on the part of some who serve, and how those with lack of character are able to rise in leadership.  The actions of corrupt leaders in our Military profoundly affect ALL who serve.  This article explains how a situation can develop during war time which fosters corruption, but I tend to disagree with the underlying message of the author, which seems to be that exposure of the methods used in military operations is a problem, and micromanagement a complication of that problem.  The author seems to indicate if we just let the Military accomplish the mission by whatever means they choose, things will be better.  All one has to do is examine how the Military has handled sexual assault among the ranks through the chain of command to understand this course of action will not work.  It is changing now, but it isn't changing because the Military addressed the problem on it's own.  It has only been accomplished by the American public in general becoming aware of the problem and demanding that it be addressed.

While I feel that certainly the circumstances he describes in this article have contributed to the corruption which has become prevalent in our Military, I disagree that these developments, or catalysts, are  the root cause of the problems.  All the circumstances, catalysts, opportunities and pressures in the world can come to bear upon a leader, and usually do, but in the end, it always comes down to personal character.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sometimes We All Struggle

Bad things happen to good people too, and sometimes problem solving is required.  When you find yourself locked in that loop thinking about negative things... don't waste your brain space on anything but fixing the problem.  Do not wallow in the negativity of the situation, it can consume you if you do.  Think it through, grieve if you must, and move on.  To do this may require conscious action on your part.  It may require disciplined action on your part, the Bible puts it this way...

The Healing of a Soul

Jesus answered them, "Those who are healthy have no need
 for a physician, but those who are sick do.  Luke 5:31

The healing of a soul can only be performed by the Great Physician.  There comes to some of us life experiences which are too grievous for the human heart to bear.  These experiences are suffered the world over every day, by people in every country, of every race, every station in life, and in all kinds of situations.  These events are not any more frequent than they have ever been for humanity, for since that incident which first brought sin into God's perfect world causing ripples of chaos, unimaginable pain has been the result.  If the reader has a problem with the word sin, I urge them to define in any other one word the tumult which abounds everywhere.

One such wound of the soul can occur in service in the military during war time. That first day when Jared Campbell and his family arrived from Ft. Polk, Louisiana, on the front porch of Soldier's Heart Ranch and I opened the door, I saw the terror and suffering in his eyes.  Jared's PTSD which developed from his service in Iraq with the United States Army was severe and debilitating.  He had spent four months as an inpatient in the psychiatric unit of the Temple Texas VA Hospital, because he had been so desperate for help.  That first visit was in December of 2010, and on New Year's Eve my husband, who was retiring after his own 30 year career in the Army, myself, and his wife, put their two children to bed, and then sat down together.  We had planned for this time where the duties of parenting two small children could be set aside, so that Jared could tell the story of his military service.

Even the way that we met was miraculous in nature.  While I was in Hemstead, Texas, looking for horses for the ranch, I went to a ranch, and explained to the trainer what we were trying to do at Soldier's Heart.  The horse breeder/trainer listened so intently as I explained our ministry.  The quiet man then began telling me of a couple at his church who always requested prayer for their son who was suffering from severe PTSD.  He asked if we had fishing opportunities at our ranch, and remarked that the man often tried to take his son fishing, because that seemed to help relieve his stress briefly.  I told him that we did, and I gave the man a card, and told him to pass it on to the couple.

Evidently the man did just that, for in about a month, the phone rang, and an anxious voice asked if they had reached Soldier's Heart Ranch.  After much questioning, and my assurance that yes, there were no charges what-so-ever for his family visiting the ranch, and that we would love to have them as our guests, he seemed to decide that he and his family would like to come.  Then I remarked, "Well there is one charge... I want you to tell me a war story, that is the fee for your stay."  He hung up on me.  Then in a couple of days, he called back and explained that he had never told anyone all that happened to him in war, and he did not think that he could ever tell anyone, but for some reason even he did not understand, he had decided to tell us.

My husband Randy was on leave from his own duties in Iraq when the family arrived, and we had such a wonderful time visiting, and Randy and I spent time watching the two children while the young couple explored the ranch.  Jared fished, and Heather spent time with the horses.  Heather is a horse woman, and finds great solace in time spent with the gentle animals which are a part of Soldier's Heart.  So when we sat down that evening our roles had been defined by our interactions.  My husband represented for Jared the leadership to which he was never afforded the opportunity to express the sacrifices and personal tragedies that following their orders had brought to his life.  The single greatest failure of the United States Military leadership, is that of not truly availing themselves of that type of information.  Surely were that the first priority and consideration after the defense of the country, decision making would be much more accurately conducted.

We sat down about 10 P.M., and for the next six hours, my husband and myself heard part of the most remarkable story of courage and perseverance I imagine that I ever will.  That was not enough time for the whole story, not only was I spellbound, but a chill swept over me as I realized, there really was no explanation for Jared being alive to tell his story.  Jared, the best I can recall, was involved in at least eight "roll overs" after his up-armored vehicle hit IEDs.  I have never heard of anyone else surviving more.  There wasn't time or energy for the whole story, we literally heard all we could bear that night, and the Soldier told all he could endure telling.  Forever the details of that long tale will be etched on my heart, and define my utmost respect for those who serve, and for the families who support them.

Jared did not make a complete unexplainable recovery that night.  The extent of "therapy" offered at the ranch is prayer with and for the Service Member and their family, and my husband presented Jared with a copy of The Patriot's Bible.  Over the  months and years of visits that followed, we both watched Jared not only heal, but embrace his experiences and come to peace with them.  Even more miraculously, we watched him rise from the ashes of a broken life, to become another kind of Warrior, a Survivor Warrior, whose life is dedicated to helping those who have shared the like burdens of war.

Jared, and his wife Heather, now own property of their own in the area, and they raise and train service dogs for those who suffer from PTSD, but that is another wonderful story.  Jared has asked me about helping him write the story of his life and what God has done for him.  I look forward to completing that project before summer is out.

The web site below will give you the opportunity to contribute to the work that Jared and his wife are engaged in.  Heather also served in the United States Army, what a dynamic relationship they have, which has survived PTSD, and many other challenges.  When God is in charge, great love is born of great adversity.   As Americans, we are all indebted to the men and women who face the threats that exist against our country, and give what is necessary to defend us all.  They aren't given the opportunity to question the politics or expenses involved, nor do they have a voice in policy making, or even get to decide where they and their families will live.  Their families know sacrifice as well, deployments have taken from our military the experiencing of life events which are of the "one of a kind" variety, and lost forever, and many other things the rest of us take for granted.  Not everyone who serves is honorable, possessed with service that comes from a patriot's heart, but by far the service of most of those who stand in the gap is the greatest sacrifice made for our country.  Truly America's military are, for the most part, the best among us.  I can tell you that from all that I have encountered just in my own limited experiences and interactions with Service Members, our country does not meet the needs of those who have come home from war, never to be the same.  Our government is incapable of meeting the needs of all who have served.  Just as Jared and his wife have done, we must all find our own part in the support of our heroes.  Up until this point, the work Jared and Heather have done has been from their hearts, and their own resources.  Perhaps your part lies in becoming a contributor to the work that Jared and Heather have committed their lives and fortunes to.  We are signing up for a monthly commitment, knowing the true cost of healing for Veterans.  All the "government provided" help combined cannot match the love, compassion, and assistance offered Warrior to Warrior on a personal level.  Since Johnathan loved David, iron has sharpened iron, and it seems once a hero, always a hero...

 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17