THE ELDERLY AND PTSD

Mental Health/PTSD
by: Sheri de Grom

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a difficult mental health condition to treat and terrorizing to live with daily.

PTSD OFFICIAL RIBBON

PTSD OFFICIAL RIBBON

I’ve written hundreds of pages in my journals, over the years, detailing my own difficulties with PTSD and how the disease could and did stop me in ways nothing ever had before. 
The elderly who have had serious falls are now identified as high risk for PTSD. According to a study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, PTSD results increase as the elderly recognizes their independence is in jeopardy.

The most at risk for PTSD are elderly women who live alone and people who are unemployed or less educated. All participants in the study were assessed using the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder scale, which measures 17 symptoms of PTSD.

Stress symptoms related to falling are supposed to lessen, over time, after the fall. At least, that’s what my doctors tell me.

I know from experience that the stress of possibly falling again doesn’t lessen with time. PTSD & TBI are often coupled together and that brings together a host of additional problems.Many of you are aware I’ve sustained multiple Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), and each time I fall, I worry about what shape I’ll be in when I land. It terrifies me. My neurologist tells me, “Any blow to your head could be your last.” I’ve done enough research to know he’s not just trying to scare me into being more careful; he’s telling me the truth and I’m afraid.

I took a serious fall last month at a garden center. Any garden center is one of my favorite places in the world. Spring is here and I’m recreating my gardens.

I’m happier in the garden than anywhere else on earth. This is where I feel the closest to God and my ancestors that have gone before me. I have conversations with you, my fellow bloggers, and might I add, we are brilliant when we are in the garden.

About that fall last month; Tom was with me and witnessed the fall from beginning to end and that provided valuable information to me.

I was on concrete, noting the space around me was free of debris and other hazards. Joy surrounded me as I filled my cart with brilliant blue Delphiniums, fragrant Cloud Honeysuckle Vines, an exquisite Cheyenne Spirit Coneflower Mix, Red Satin Coreopsis, and Russian Sage along with Lavender. I have well over 50 bulbs to plant and about 30 wildflower packets ready to go and much more transplanting before beginning to plant my new bounty.

Foxglove for the early stages of my cottage style garden.

Foxglove for the early stages of my cottage style garden.

Tom told me later, “It was worth the trip to see you nonchalant, moving among the flowers, carefree for that moment in time.” Tom continued, “I thought you were happy and living the life you were supposed to be living; gone from your face was worry and that look of impending doom.”

It was indeed a gift to be at the garden center with him. A young man working there found Tom a pleasant place to sit and even ran for a soda for him. They sat chatting while I decided what appealed to me and of course, to Tom as well.

The young man, ever so polite and a wounded warrior, hit it off with Tom and they were

Make my gardens cottage gardens and I'm happy.

Make my gardens cottage gardens and I’m happy.

content talking about the rigors of returning to civilian life after being in the midst of ‘Being All You Can Be for Your Country.’ Their conversation was a blessing for the three of us. I didn’t have to worry because Tom was entertained by the young warrior and what fun for me to have freedom to discover endless possibilities for my garden.

Back to the dreaded fall; I can only avoid talking about it for a short time. Tom told me I didn’t seem to lose my center of gravity which is one of my biggest problems and common for TBI survivors. He told me it was as though my right foot collapsed and my body crumbled into itself. The result of my falling on concrete is 2 more cracked ribs and an extremely sore left side.

I’ve never associated my many falls with PTSD due to their direct causal effect from my TBIs. However, fear and falling always walk hand in hand.

My own PTSD doesn’t center on falling, however it causes me to be more cautious than ever before. Falling hurts more each time but I refuse to allow my thoughts to control my activities. I know how devious yet paralyzing PTSD often is.

Someday I’ll share with you some of my journal entries about Tom’s and my PTSD. But,

My trusty journal travels the world with me.

My trusty journal travels the world with me.

today, I wanted to say, I now understand how PTSD symptoms develop in the elderly after they’ve sustained a fall. Often you feel yourself going down but don’t understand why or how. The fear of falling again and no one finding you can circle in your head for an eternity.

Coupled with Tom’s PTSD and other mental illness plus his declining health, he falls often. It is my responsibility to make our environment as safe as possible for him. I’m helping myself                                                   at the same time.

I’m a firm believer in the safety alert devices now available for individuals. Tom’s is connected to our home alarm system. When I’m successful at getting him to wear it, all he needs to do is push the center button (he can wear around his neck on a cord) and he has two-way communication immediately with emergency personnel. The device is also wired to 911 if something occurs and he needs help wherein law-enforcement is needed immediately. The wearable two-way communication affords me peace of mind when I need to run an errand or even be away from the house for a few hours. This same protection may be activated from any panel within the house.

I’m concerned: the elderly do not have easy access to quality mental health care. Most have never had any type of mental health care and are opposed to receiving any after a fall. Mental health care often means medications are dispensed and the elderly ends up in a nursing home.

Thank you for reading with me. I always appreciate your presence and am interested in knowing what you think about the classification of PTSD and the elderly after they sustain a fall.

Until next time, my special friends, your love, support, prayers and check-ins mean the world to me. God works in mysterious way and He never mentioned a word to me about what wonderful friends I would make on my blogging journey.

Next week I will bring you an excerpt from my journal wherein I struggled with my own PTSD. I didn’t know it was PTSD at the time as the symptoms first reared its ugly head as panic attacks.

Your continuing support, love, inspiration and prayers help me move through the day.

Happy spring everyone.

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
Aside | This entry was posted in Medical Care 2015, Mental Health and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

110 Responses to THE ELDERLY AND PTSD

  1. cherished79 says:

    Such and well written article and thanks for sharing. I didn’t know this connection with PTSD and falling, so I learned something new today. Thanks:)

    • I already had PTSD when I sustained my first severe closed head injury and thought the fear of falling again was part of the serious trauma. Then to have the 1st trauma followed by 2 additional serious closed head traumas, I was more than anxious. I was 52 at the time.
      Once an individual has a serious TBI they are more susceptible to falling again and I’m living proof of that. Having a TBI throws your balance and perception off and down you go. Thanks for reading with me and leaving a comment.

  2. bjsscribbles says:

    Brilliant post, at the moment I can not touch my garden much, thankfully it is winter here and there is only pruning to do. Glad you are well and back in the garden.. I am terrified of falling especially when I get my new hip.

    • BJ – Take it slow and the best advise I’ve received from my neurologist is to receive core training from the physical therapy people plus always be aware of where my feet are. I know it sounds simple but I’m also having to learn how I must slow down and that’s a hard one for me. I think many of us are going to have to learn this behavior together.

  3. bjsscribbles says:

    Reblogged this on bjsscribbles and photography and commented:
    The government here in Australia should take notice of this post. Written by a brilliant lady

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and for reblogging my post. Falling is a real fear as we grow older and me with my frequent falling disturbs me even further. I don’t want the fear to keep me from doing the activities I love doing and falling is becoming more and more serious among every population group. I particularly love gardening and this is one place where I find true relaxation but it’s also the place where I fall the most often. I do my best to keep my feet planted directly underneath me. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Take good care of yourself and be very careful.

  4. All I can say is “Yes! Someone listen to what you are saying!” There is a definite link! So sad to hear you are hurt. Please take care and be well soon. You still have so many eyes to open. You are a true blessing.

    • Thank you for your kind words and for stopping in to read and comment. I told Tom I had no reason to try to prove this theory but since writing this post, I’ve had another 3 falls and it makes me so angry. I am not giving up on independence and do not go gently into the area of where places are protected and there are no sharp edges. The weekend of the 13th I fell backwards and hit my head on the corner of my gardening table where I pot plants. I’d bent down to pick up a container of dried soil and it was far heavier than I thought and it caused me to lose my balance.
      Unfortunately when my head hit the corner of the potting table it hit with such force I gained 2 nasty lacerations. I was so mad at myself and disappointed at the same time. I try to be so careful and then bang. This fall has put a damper on my entire week.
      Tom wanted me to go to the ER but they would have wanted to do a CAT scan and all that would have done is send more radiation into my brain. I’ve had far too many CAT scans and they won’t show up what needs to be seen so I took it easy the remainder of the day and made sure I forced myself to stay awake.
      Then this Sat I lost my footing over an electric cord Tom had left where it wasn’t supposed to be and then last night I simply bent over in the kitchen to pick up my 12 lb shih tzu and lost my balance.
      I hope I don’t have additional research to report. I never dreamed I’d become my own research candidate. This is not my idea of research!

  5. Hello beautiful friend! Thankful for that garden of peace! I’m thankful for flowers! I love that foxglove! I recently returned from Chicago I visited some bloggers and stayed with one in Chicago! By myself! Yes it was such a needed get away! I highly recommend it!
    However while I was gone Alex text me photos of her in the ER! Her dad took her and she said mom please dad doesn’t know what he’s doing! Lol sure makes you feel good when someone sees just how much peace our presence brings! I wanted to share this with you!
    Morning latte’ happiness smiles sunshine and love to you! 💟🌸

  6. I know little about older people developing PTSD, although a dear friend struggles with that devious malady in the wake of sexual abuse. Sorry to read about your fall and hope your ribs are healing. What a spectacular garden view! May you be out creating garden magic soon.

  7. inesephoto says:

    Sheri, I am so sorry you experienced another fall, and it happened on concrete floor. Cracks in the ribs are extremely painful. I am sure it won’t stop you from gardening though. What a wonderful, relaxing and soothing hobby! I absolutely agree with you about the PTSD symptoms in the elderly. My auntie never recovered after a broken hip – she just lost her interest in living altogether. However, her older sister broke her hip too, but completely recovered and lived another two decades.
    I wish you and Tom a peaceful and positively busy summer!
    Inese

  8. Ileana says:

    ♥ ڿ✿♥*✿ڿڰۣڿ✿♥ ڿ✿♥*✿ڿڰۣڿ✿♥ ڿ✿♥*✿ڿڰۣڿ✿♥ ڿ✿♥*✿ڿڰۣڿ✿♥ ڿ✿♥*✿ڿڰۣڿ✿
    Buna dimineata prieteni dragi ! Va doresc sa aveti o zi asa cum o doriti fiecare,frumoasa,fara stres,cu multa pofta de viata !Pupici !
    Good morning, dear friends! I want to have one day as we want every beautiful, stress-free, with plenty of zest for life! Kisses!


  9. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    SOMETHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT.

  10. Patty B says:

    Gardening is an excellent Spiritual practice! You should post pictures of your garden, I would enjoy seeing it. And I have to tell you a group of us ladies are getting together next month for an afternoon of coloring! How is that for fun – another excellant form of spiritual practice. Thanking God you dd not do more damage when you fell, although it is bad enough. {hugs}

    • Hello, Patty – It’s so nice to see you here. One day I will post pictures of the garden. I’m not a picture sort of person – I’ve kept pictures of my various gardens from around the world in my head. Tom used to take pictures of my gardens but that’s a thing of the past – for now anyway.
      Do I dare admit I’ve lost my iPhone in my office somewhere and haven’t been able to locate it for well over 2 months. [Or I would take garden pictures with it]. Of course the battery has run down and so I can’t call it. I’ve never been one to have the phone as an extension of my hand so heaven only knows where it might be. In the meantime I picked up a track phone that I’ve come to rely on and boy is the price right. After being on call 24 hours a day for 20 years, I haven’t a need for people to be able to reach me at a moment’s notice. I will stay available for Tom’s doctors when I need to but other than that – I’m not the gal with the phone. The phone never goes to the garden with me.
      Please, please let me know how your coloring afternoon goes. I so miss coloring and give it a whirl every 2 months or so but so far I haven’t been able to hold the pencil(s) or inks where I want. Are you aware that with all the media attention on adult coloring, Amazon had 3 adult coloring books make it in their top 10 for 2 weeks in a row. Now that’s impressive.
      I’m not giving up on coloring. It was a wonderful tool I used every day. I haven’t been able to color since that surgery in 2012 but as I said, I will color again one day. In the meantime, God’s will be done.
      My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  11. Sheri, I trust that the peace of nature and planting your garden will give you a well earned respite from your woes and worries. I know it sounds lame, but I am so terrified (not PTSD) because I have a bad right foot that throws off my bad left knee that gives me rotten balance. So … I never shop without those scooters or a walker with a seat.

    I even worry about putting on my pants since I can no longer do it from a standing position. Such are the restrictions of being an old fart 🙂

    It’s no joke to worry all the time about falling and between rotten extremities and an inner ear issue, I worry every time I put my feet on the ground and never venture any parking lot without a cane or walker.

    Old age ain’t for sissies 🙂

    • Florence – You are so right, old age isn’t for sissies. I try to be ever mindful of where my feet are at all times since I can’t feel them due to neuropathy. Add the neuropathy to my balance issues caused by the multiple TBI’s and I can be a mess. I have been doing much better about not falling however. I was happy Tom was with me and had seen the fall as his description gives me extra information to give my neurologist.
      Tom is extremely unstable on his feet and I spend time picking him up off the floor here in the house. He has graduated from the wheelchair to a walker and his walker also has a seat on it.
      Tell me, how did we ever put on pantyhose standing up? I’m so glad those days are over for me.

  12. rabbiadar says:

    The PTSD and the elderly link makes so much sense. I worked as a chaplain in a facility for the elderly and in retrospect, I am sure that I was seeing it regularly without realizing it. There were many people there with complicated histories, and as a chaplain I was not privy to medical or psychiatric info unless a patient shared it with me. I am still unsure whether that made me more present to the person before me or just ignorant.

    I am so happy that you have a garden! I love mine, even though I have reached the point that I need help to keep it halfway tidy. I love planting things that the local fauna like for food and shelter, which has led me into the weird and wonderful world of California native plants. Many look rather weedy or scrubby, but they are all miracles, and they feed my soul, especially since they draw the hummingbirds and bees and butterflies.

    So sorry to hear about your fall, as well as the TBI. Very scary, and I wish you a gentle healing that is as complete as it can be.

    • Ruth – I’d never thought of PTSD and the elderly but once I read several studies on the subject, it made absolute perfect sense to me. With proper physical therapy and much of it can take place in the home, I believe we can lessen the fears that come with the PTSD. If Medicare would bend some of their hopeless rules and allow a more user friendly process, we would have fewer individuals in nursing homes and the elderly would be much more content.
      Because you are a Rabbi, you may relate to one of my frustrations. When I was a child and adolescent, pastors paid routine visits on the elderly church members and would stay and visit a while, maybe have a little devotion time, always allow the elderly to talk about anything on their mind and of course their was always time for prayer. Our country seems to be getting away from that and I believe it’s part of what’s leaning into the PTSD outcome. I know from experience there’s a serious decline in this department and it breaks my heart.

      • rabbiadar says:

        I loved working as a chaplain for the elderly; might have gotten certified but the idea of adding yet another year to my program was just too much (I was ordained at 53.) Simply being with people and making space for them to be was good work. Also not a frill, although too many institutions see chaplaincy as one. I’d generally start my day by checking with the nursing station. The nurses would clue me in as to who was inexplicably unhappy or restless or cranky and I’d take it from there. Eventually I got around to everyone. The congregational rabbis I know still do a lot of this but their time is limited. I am a member of a synagogue and one of the ways I volunteer is by serving on a “caring committee” that visits. It is deeply rewarding work, even when the content might seem trivial to some. We don’t put enough value on simply paying attention to folks.

    • Isn’t gardening wonderful for the soul. I miss the ease of gardening when we lived along the central coast of California [Monterey/Carmel]. The moderate temperatures year round and the rich soil made things much simpler. Today I put up with 95 degree heat and 87% humidity. I however have several things I’m pushing myself to accomplish as I redesigned all of my gardens this year.
      Like you, I love the pay off from having the added birds making their homes in our yard plus bees, hummingbirds, etc. We had so much rain this spring I’m late getting in much of what I wanted to plant in some of the gardens. I don’t have my wildflower gardens in yet and that worries me a little. The roses however are positively magnificent. I thank God for allowing me to still be active in the garden as I’ll be 70 on my next birthday. (Shh – don’t tell anyone).
      I cannot imagine you being anything other than kind and loving in your ministry or other life adventures. The time you spent with the elderly was time they would have cherished having you in their lives. Often times putting a label on behavior we see isn’t nearly as important as lending the right support when we are with an individual.

  13. I vicariously shared your delight at being in a garden center, but am so sorry to hear about your latest fall. I’m sure you are being super vigilant, so asking you to be careful isn’t the answer. I will pray for your balance!

    • Hello John, Couldn’t we have fun at a garden center. I plan to stop at one later today to order up a couple loads of super soil for my island gardens I’ve been diligently developing. I learned something new from one of Tom’s doctors yesterday about balance that I wasn’t aware of. Tom falls frequently and because Tom has neuropathy in his extremities the same as I do, the doc explained just because he has feeling in his feet, he still has balance issues from his neuropathy. That may be one of the reasons he is falling so often. For me, I learned the combination of no feeling in my feet going up my legs from neuropathy plus the TBIs and then add balance issues from neuropathy – – – is it any wonder I fall down. I do my best to stay on level ground. I gratefully accept your prayers.
      The good news from 2 of Tom’s doctors yesterdays is that his lungs sound much, much better and his feet are certainly improving. We see the pulmonary doc this coming Friday.
      For me – the best news if that a young man found me that loves to garden and for a nominal fee, he’s doing much of the heavy lifting for me and as a bonus he’s a self-starter. I don’t always have to be right at his side showing him how I want something done. Yesterday he dug up 12 roses [Simplicity Pinks] that had seen better days, we planted honeysuckle, and on and on. He is a lifesaver.

      • It IS no wonder you fall down. You’ve learned so much about Tom’s and your conditions in your jog around the learning curve. So glad that Tom’s lungs and feet are better! Your garden will be a showstopper (thanks in part to your Garden Genie. What a blessing he is!)

        • John – Yes indeed. He’s helping me and I’m helping him find more jobs in the neighborhood. Tom was sitting near where I was planting one Sunday afternoon and he walked up to us and wanted to know if we were looking for someone to help. We talked awhile and I explained I really couldn’t afford to pay much.
          I’d been asking for God’s will to be done as I knew I couldn’t keep going at the pace I had been going and here came ‘D’. He was on the verge of being homeless but I would have never known it from that initial meeting.
          It’s a long story but he works for me around 8 hours a week and I allow him to use most of our large gardening tools and he takes on custom jobs from other people and charges them more than what I pay him. All of his customers are here in our neighborhood but last night he told me he’d picked up a total of 21 regular customers since we’d met.
          I’ve discovered I need to teach him most of what he needs to do but I only have to show him the one time and then he’s off and running. My mothering takes over and I always have a plate of sandwiches and fresh fruit ready before he starts work and then something for drink and fruit while he works as it’s so hot we send him home with dinner already prepared.
          It’s not for us to feel saintly but Tom and I both are so thrilled to have someone do such hard work that we feel the least we can do is make sure he’s not hungry when he’s working here. Who else wants to work when it’s in the high 90’s with humidity also in the 90’s?

          • If I understand right that you are allowing him to use your tools on other jobs, then you have been as much a blessing for him as he has been for you. Not only are you giving him the physical “tools” to do this work, but your mentoring is teaching him the fine points of gardening that will make him indispensable to his other clients.

            You might not feel “saintly,” but your employer/employee relationship is a match made in heaven. I think the fact that you feed him so well DOES polish your halo.

  14. NotDownOrOut says:

    I never thought of PTSD being related to falls. This posting will have me thinking about that link for sometime. Having recently worked with my mom, my aunt and one of my mom’s friends as they changed monitoring/call systems, I agree they can be a lifesaver. I just wish I could convince my mom to wear the device day and night!
    I am sad to hear about your recent fall. I hope the recovery is continuing.

    • Cheryl – So nice to see you here. I had problems getting my father to wear the monitoring device. He was so independent and I give him credit for taking care of himself until age 92. He was made of good solid grit of being a Kansas cowboy and had weathered some really tough times. However, with that being said, we aren’t all made of that same rough and tough will and I’m insistent Tom do certain things for his own safety and we have a contract in place between the two of us. i.e. He’s not to go outside if I’ve gone to the grocer or something like that. He’s not up on his own a lot but feel I needed to put in as many protective measures as I could. I wanted him to have independence and I needed a certain level of peace of mind.
      I don’t think I would have thought of PTSD being related to the elderly and falls but have read several case studies since I posted this blog and the research is solid.

  15. You’re such a wonder, even a fall doesn’t keep you down long. I hope you’re well on the way to full recovery. Oh I so love the idea of the cottage style gardens, because it sounds dreamy and a place to just lose yourself in its abundance of color and serene nature.

  16. It is a difficult wire you walk, but boy do I admire you. I don’t think I knew about your TBI. And I have to say you blow me away with your ability to weave so much information in to your ‘story’. I’m reading about ‘you’ and immediately recognizing and “hmm mmmm ing” with the information because I’ve seen what you tell us about.

    But above all of the information sharing….I was happily sharing your trip to the garden center with Tom and the connection with the helpful young man. And as I’m sitting in my car before going in to work this morning I’m enjoying the talk in your garden with you. The garden blog talk was just what I needed.

    • Colleen – Isn’t it interesting how we connect with individuals we’ve come to know in our blogging community. I’m so pleased you merged into our lovely trip to the garden center and then back home again to join in my garden conversation here. I often go about my garden tasks thinking about different bloggers and sometimes there’ll be a group of us and can easily imagine sharing a lovely as well as lively conversation among the wonders of nature. Who knows, one day I may look up, and you and your bicycle will be at my front walkway. Wouldn’t that be terrific. In the meantime, I’ll keep having the garden conversations, for they truly are brilliant.

      • That IS a terrific and lovely thought Sheri. Who knows, it could happen! 🙂 Until then I’m happy to be part of the garden conversations.

        Thank you for being a phenomenal voice.

  17. Gallivanta says:

    Sheri, first of all, I am so pleased you and Tom had such a special time at the Garden Centre, before your fall. It’s these moments of pleasure that get us through the dark places, and falling is a very dark place. In NZ there is strong support for Falls Prevention Programmes, especially for the elderly. The physical and mental trauma (and subsequent costs) is huge. I am glad you are highlighting the PTSD aspect as well as some of the serious challenges faced by the elderly.

    • Hello and thanks so much for joining me here. I do my best not to take the falling lightly but I also do my best not to let it dictate my life and how I participate in life. And, oh yes, the time with Tom was pure magic. It was one of those rare days when he felt strong enough to get out of bed and go for a ride and he also loves garden centers. He’s unable to participate like he used to, but that has to be okay.
      I’m especially late getting everything in the ground this year but, I changed my garden plans and that’s taken so much longer than I thought and then I’ve been with Tom and medical issues. I planted the honeysuckle last night and have 7 more major plants to go. Of course, any planting is major to me. I can’t stand the thought of buying something and then not having it live and thrive in my garden.
      I’ll admit, the Borage in the garden leading up to the front door multiplied many times over from last year and I think of you each time I see them. I love the blue flowers, they are ever so dainty. If it cools down to 90 degrees, I’ll get out and work in the garden tonight. Of course everything will want water again and am in the process of setting up some drip irrigation.
      Thanks for stopping in to read with me and always for commenting. I plan to do more blogs having to do with elder care in the future. I hope you’ll find them useful and also share with me the programs going on in your country that seem to be working well.

  18. Sheri, I’d like to read your post on legalizing marijuana

    • Wow, Patti. I’m trying to remember if I wrote one. I know when the legalization of marijuana made the Arkansas ballot during the last major election, I wrote several op-ed pieces but I’m racking my brain about rather I did a blog or not. I’m positive you have read every blog I’ve ever posted and you always comment so is this a request for what’s my opinion on legalizing marijuana?
      I have many emotional thoughts about it and then some thought-out ideas. I believe in medical marijuana without reservation. I also believe insurance should cover the cost. Let me give this some thought – okay?
      I was shocked when the legalization of marijuana failed in Arkansas by such a narrow margin: 51% – 49% [we are known as a Bible Belt State and very conservative].

      • Patti – How quickly I forget what I’ve written in the past when I’m passionate about something else. I did a Marijuana blog back before I had my hand and arm surgery and you’ll find that blog here: https://sheridegrom.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/is-medical-marijuana-the-answer/
        If the link doesn’t pull the blog up, go to the search box and look under Author opinion. Scroll through several titles and you’ll find the title Medical Marijuana.
        Let me know if I can provide further assistance. I’ve done additional research but haven’t written anything for publication at this time.

      • Hi Sheri! Of course I’m very interested in your opinion. It all came to light when one of the comments before mine made mention of a post your wrote about it and I didn’t recall ever reading one. So I thought I’d ask. Maybe the person who commented misremembered?
        Anyway, yes, medical marijuana is a subject with really divergent opinions, for sure. I’ve met several ladies of my age who use it for cancer/chemo/radiation, etc. and I’d be the last person on earth to say I thought that was unnecessary. I would hate to have to go through the horror people suffer when they have that disease. Then there’s the view of the “recreational” side of it.

  19. I’ve been away for awhile, but I always enjoy returning to your writing, Sheri. I’m so sorry to hear about your fall and hope you recover soon. I definitely believe that a severe fall like yours could trigger PTSD, particularly with your past history.

    When I was all of 20 years old, I crashed my brand new car into a deer on a dark highway and rolled my Plymouth Colt three times. The sheriff’s officer told me that the “third roll is usually the death roll.” Not only did I survive, I wasn’t injured. I walked away with a hole in my new tights. Still for months, even years, I’d panic, just a little, when driving down a long dark highway. I felt compelled to swerve off the road – which is what I did to try to avoid hitting the deer. Still, I clipped him, but he ran off. I hope he survived. A Christian at the time, I would pray until the fear passed, but it was strange experiencing a desire to do something that could harm me, particularly since I wasn’t suicidal. Having pondered it for many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my subconscious desire to swerve was fueled by my gut reaction to be more proactive this time around – as irrational as that is. But PTSD isn’t always rational.

    If I may ask, are you using a cane? There’s no shame in it, you know. My husband isn’t even 40 yet, but he sometimes relies on a cane when his bad leg is irritated. I hate to see PTSD damper your enthusiasm for life, gardening and your beloved bloggers. I’ll keep you in my thoughts. By the way, I think your post on legalizing marijuana awhile back started a fire in me. I just published a post called “8 Things Way More Deadly Than Marijuana” that you might enjoy. Feel better and keep writing. 🙂

    xo

    MSP

    • Thrilled to see you here and have your comments. My PTSD isn’t from falling, I’ve dealt with it for years. I’m going to dive into the PTSD in some future blogs. When I started reading research and doing my own fact checking about the elderly and PTSD, it clicked for me the information might indeed be helpful for many.
      I have a beautiful hand-carved walnut cane made from a tree that was in the yard of my childhood home. However, I have a tendency to keep it on display rather than use it. Much of my falling also has to do with neuropathy – I cannot feel my feet and of course that throws off all sense of balance. Let’s just call it a pain in the rear.
      I’ll stop by your blog and catch up on a few reads, especially the one regarding marijuana. I’ll also refer my friend Patti as she’s looking for more information [as well as others].
      My first go round with PTSD was 13 years of child sexual abuse [2 lesbian women – 1 my aunt and the other a family friend]. I’ll be talking about that experience in the future. There, I said it! I went through years and years of therapy to work that one! I was rolling along pretty steady and was meeting the beast head-on until I was shot in DC while on the job and then attacked by top administration. I’m going to write about that one also. And, it still haunts me today. There, I said that one too.
      When Tom became so terribly ill a year ago, my world basically stopped and I’ve been fighting the medical establishment to get him the best medical care possible. I think we’re in relatively good shape with the medical team now but he’s still a very sick man and requires almost 24/7 care.

      • Oh, Sheri. I don’t mean this in the passive-aggressive Southern way, but, “Bless your heart!” You’ve got double helpings on your plate. Makes me want to cry, just reading about what you’ve been through. While I look forward to you sharing your story, I wonder if you should put all of that effort and those words into a memoir. You’re such a accomplished writer and talented storyteller, I think the lit-reading public would be interested in learning about your heroic, albeit painful, life – and paying for the privilege to read about it. Might help with the medical bills, too!

        You and your husband are in my thoughts. I hope you enjoy the marijuana piece. It’s humorous, of course, but it’s also informative and, hopefully, opens people eyes to the REAL dangers out there, one of which isn’t cannabis.

        xo

        MSP

        • I know your piece will be, well, shall we say Snarky. That’s the reason I want to wait and read it when my eyes aren’t glassed over from insomnia. I never think of my life as painful. I think of my life as one of many journeys and that it’s up to me to survive or be a victim. I’ve never been good at the victim thing. I think the reason I was good at my work is no one ever accused me of being too nice.
          I often thought I was going to write a book but I take real enjoyment from the blog. I’m able to exchange thoughts with everyone and read the works of others.
          Each time I think of a memoir I have to laugh at myself. Tom and I were visiting the home of a once famous movie star and she mentioned she was working on her memoir. I didn’t know, at the time, that she was once a movie star. I thought to myself, who the heck are you that someone would want to read your memoir. I simply knew her as my friend and we went roaming around in my bug as two might when they are out just bumming around.
          It wasn’t until years later that Tom told me my friend was Kim Novak and well . . . that explained the memoir. Heck, I knew her as Marilyn and we liked to hang out together back in the early 80’s.

          • That’s hilarious! I had something similar happen with Judy Blume’s son. When he told me who his mother was, I didn’t believe him and told he was lying and to cut it out. Turned out he wasn’t…lying, that is. Oops.

  20. Good to see you here again, but my ribs say ouch to yours. 😦 ❤ ❤ Dear Sheri. I hope no more falls. I don't know about PTSD, and little about TBI's. ❤ ❤ ❤
    My father had some falling incidents but was told it was an inner ear problem. The first time, he fell in the garden –his favorite place — he said the sensation was heavenly and if he were to die right then, he'd want to ride the sensation out..
    Tom is walking again and not in a wheelchair? Wonderful news. ❤ ❤

    • Tess – You are an angel to be here. You are always here and I’ve really been hit and miss on blogs. However, I am doing better, I think. I so agree with your father. If I’m going to fall, let it be in the garden (no concrete or hard borders please). I’m doing better on the falling part.
      Yes, yes – Tom is out of the wheelchair. He’s using a walker or if we are in a store [he rarely goes into a store] he does the electric cart thing. We had 2 doctor appointments yesterday for him and both went well. The rheumatologist told us he’d been so concerned Tom’s feet were so bad when he’d first seen them he was afraid he’d not be able to use conventional medication. We both love this doctor. Actually we love both of the doctors we saw yesterday. Tom’s to continue the medication he’s on and we return in 2 months. This is the doc Tom saw when he was in the wheelchair and had been in awful pain for 7 months!
      We see the pulmonary doc on Friday. We’re anxious to learn about Tom’s breathing problems, etc.

      • So little, so late, but it IS gratifying to hear Tom can w.a.l.k. I remember this all is due to this last rheumatologist. Wish you more good news Friday. ❤ ❤ ❤

        • Tess – You are so very right. Tom is having a good day today. I think part of it is coming from the fact that the vet didn’t have time to put Scooter down so now we have him until Tuesday afternoon. I’ll keep Scooter sedated on dogie strength Valium and the vet prescribed pain medication to keep him comfortable, until it’s time to make that final journey. I wish Tom could have made the decision earlier but he just couldn’t and I understand all too well just how hard it is to let Scooter go.
          To think we almost lost both of Tom’s feet and lower legs to a total of 8 doctors ignorance and arrogance. I’m anxious to hear what the pulmonary doctor has to say. We both finally like his entire team of doctors [except I’d like to fire the heart surgeon and wouldn’t you know, Tom loves him].

  21. Elyse says:

    Oh dear. Sheri, I’m so sorry to hear about this — with the special double whammy of having it happen when you were so relaxed and happy. I don’t know about PTSD, but I share your fear of falling. I am not terribly fleet-of-foot. But the silver lining may be that Tom got to help you for a change.

    Wish I had some advice to offer …

  22. As usual, a brilliant post. I am so very sorry that you fell, and especially in a garden center, also one of my favorite places. I am glad you are well, but as a survivor of PTSD myself, and struggling with it every day, well, I completely understand how difficult it is. Especially as I have no family. When I had to go to the hospital last month because I could no longer control my pain, I had to call a cab to take me (I was NOT going to call an ambulance and wake up the whole neighborhood – besides the cost!) It is sort of lonely, honestly… I am so very glad you and Tom have one another. And that he made a new friend! I hope they can stay in touch and provide support for one another.

    As for your fall – that sounds almost like you may have had a small TIA? Or maybe dizziness that you don’t remember? I have very low blood pressure (I know, I just have to be different, don’t I?) and if my pressure or blood sugar goes too low I will, to use an old fashioned word, “swoon”… become suddenly weak and lose consciousness for a moment. Sometimes I remember (if I go all the way down and lie there for a while before I come back around) but sometimes, I am told, I will blank out for a bit and don’t even realize it. I just toddle right along – but usually I get nauseous after and suddenly think, “Oh! I need to eat something!” I am really bad about that – I get involved in whatever I am doing – editing, working on my art or just running around, and eating is the furthest thing from my mind. . . until I realize I am falling over – literally! 😉 Are you eating correctly? I have a pressure cuff that goes around my wrist that I can check my pressure with, and a diabetes test kit. While I was undergoing chemo I had to use them every couple hours and keep notes of date, time and results on both blood and pressure. Maybe, just a thought, you could do the same for a couple weeks and take the results to your doc? It might not help, but maybe it will show something that doesn’t show up normally? My pressure instability didn’t show up until I tracked. Good luck, sweetheart!!

    • I too have low blood pressure and am a diabetic. Because I control my blood sugar so tightly, it often takes a nose dive and before I know what’s happening, I’m at 50 and grabbing for a push of glucose gel. I never go anywhere without a couple of them tucked away somewhere. My BS can be right at 100 and within a matter of less than 2 hours I’ll be crashing downwards. When I’m busy plus having a good time, I too don’t eat and before I know it 8 hours have passed and I haven’t thought about food.
      I know there’s a combination of many things that contribute to my falling. There’s the numerous TBIs, I have narcolepsy, neuropathy in both feet and lower legs, terrible sense of balance and the list goes on.
      The good news is that I don’t fall as often as I used to and I make every effort to be aware of where both feet are at all times. I know that sounds really crazy but it seems to be helping. I also am working on not getting over tired.
      I feel so bad that you had to have a cab take you to the hospital. Yes, I see where that could be so lonely and scary. Tom and I have each other but neither one of us have other family.
      It’s hard not to feel lonely when there are a lot of people waiting around for one patient and there’s no one there for you. I’m not good at calling a friend. A dear friend of mine always tells me to call her so I won’t have to sit at the hospital with Tom and be alone. She has loads of family and we’ve never talked about it but am sure she understands how lonely it really is for those of us without family.
      I’d like to address your comment about Tom and the young man he talked with at the garden center. I always encourage Tom to make friends but he always tells me that his friends are the friends I make. I’ve always wanted Tom to have guy friends but it simply hasn’t happened. I think perhaps before we married he was a single parent to 2 very young girls and he was active duty military and the time didn’t exist. He was very busy. Then being diagnosed with a mental illness about 18 months after we married, he withdrew into himself. Most of my friends love him and thankfully one of the husbands likes to do things with him so when Tom is up to doing something they’ll go to the movies, etc. Other times we simply have dinner as a foursome, etc.
      I’ve gone on and on but you always leave such a well thought-out comment and I’ve simply been chattering away. God Bless, Sheri

      • I like when you chatter away! And you don’t sound silly about focusing on your feet. When I was going through my chemo I had a lot of trouble walking. I had to watch my feet all the time to make sure they were doing what I meant for them to do! You do what you have to do. I used two canes for a long time so that I could keep stable and that really helped. You might try at least one, that way you have something to lean on if you feel yourself start to go down. Just a thought. I was married before too, though I don’t talk about it much. He was Comanchero Apache and Irish, I am Quapaw and Welsh. He also suffered from severe mental illness. He got physical only once, and then he checked himself into a mental hospital and spent the next several years there. He didn’t trust himself not to go off and attack again. He finally was case one for a new form of brain surgery where they cut out a misfiring section of his brain. It healed the bipolar disorder – but left him, well, pretty much without a personality. So which was worse? I don’t know, but even through he no longer likes himself, he doesn’t fear hurting anyone, and he can work again, so he gets buy – but I don’t think he really ‘lives’. There are tradeoffs and heartbreaks with mental illness. You simply have to do what you can and hope for balance and a measure of happiness. Best to you and yours, Leiah

      • Pft. I said “Apache” I meant “Comanche”

  23. ksbeth says:

    i’m so sorry about your fall and the stress and worry that comes after it, not to mention the physical pain and recovery needed. i am happy for your love of gardening, i have a great love for it myself. hugs to both of you brave souls who never give up.

  24. How awful, made worse because it was in such a favorite place of yours. I’ve fallen compliments of my RA–knee or foot goes out on me–but never anything more serious than bruises and sprains. Please take care of your ribs. They are tough to heal.

    • Hello, Jacqui. Yep, falling is not fun. However, I’m not falling as often as I used too and I’m ever so thankful for that. At least the ribs are on the left side this time. Tom has been reading your book reviews. He doesn’t blog but he said you had the best book reviews he’d read. I notice from my Amazon order that’s seriously adding up for the month, he’s added 5 novels.

  25. M-R says:

    Fascinating, Sheri … Six months after my husband died I fell in the outer foyer to our building here – in fact I blacked out, because I was aware of having fallen only when my head hit the ground, and by then my right shoulder had already done so and was dislocated. I spent an awfully long time in terror of falling again; but in Australia no-one talks of PTSD in the terms you have done …

  26. Oh Sheri – falling at the garden center! Your favorite place apart from your own garden. So sorry to read about this but glad to see Tom seems to be much better. Your blogs are always so heartfelt. I think of you too when I`m out in my garden battling the ever-encroaching grass and other items spread by the cats and dog. Your garden sounds so idyllic.

    • Hi Mary – Nice to see you here. Tom had one of his rare good days where we were able to go out and about and have a day we both enjoyed. We haven’t had such a day since but hey, I’ll take them when they appear. Normally when he does have a good day [or what we call a good day for us considering where he’s starting from] it requires about a week to recover.
      We did get a pretty good report from 2 doctors Tue and hope to receive one on Friday.
      The garden is coming along but at 95 degrees and climbing – it’s hot out there. I much prefer those 70 degree days that people complain about but they are perfect for me. We won’t be seeing more of them for a very long time.
      If you find a solution for that ever-encroaching grass, please send me the answer and fast.

  27. Marie Abanga says:

    Hi Sheri, l am currently visiting the US and wish I could talk with some of my blogger friends/e family who live here. You are one of them. I saw a walk in clinic and thought of you. I so empathise and although I may be young and whatever, I know PTSD doesn’t just go with age like that. Unfortunately, they seem to capitalize treatment with meds and more meds. I have seen billboards about meds and stuff which are so new to me. Some big business there like the tobacco industry I may say. And since many end up probably thanks to this med, on disability, you rely on the state and their best version of treatment which is more meds. What an unfortunate and vicious cycle! The body gets so fragilized and the articulations give way at random. Reminds me of my own falls 4 years ago. Yes I fell at random too and sometimes couldn’t even walk. I went to hospital and after several tests ,I was put on meds. I stayed sickly and by some grace, I am no longer on meds, no more falls, and have lost weight thanks to sports and all. Alas with age and all the damage from meds and more meds, is such recovery possible? The trauma probably carries the day. Sorry if my comment was this long, it’s hard not to be this mad at least in writing.

    • Hello, Marie. Nice to see you here. What part of the country are you visiting? I do hope you are having a great time.
      My falls are primarily previous serious accident [not my fault] and the result of neuropathy. I don’t take medication to address the issue of the falling. I have done a lot of physical therapy to strengthen my core muscles and that has helped a great deal.
      I’m a firm believer that cognitive therapy is the answer for most individuals with PTSD. I am 100% against immersion therapy and many of the treatment modules in practice today. I’m also a believer in the need to always be working on ourselves both mentally and physically. Otherwise, the body soon gets the message that it’s okay to stop working all together.

  28. Charlene Rubush says:

    I could relate to your story on many levels. I recently took a fall myself and that event made me realize “I’m not as young as I used to be.” That in itself was rather sobering and I’m trying to be more vigilant of where I step. I admire the way you are handling your many challenges. Thanks for sharing your life and your wisdom with us. I too find solace and joy in growing flowers. They are so healing to the soul. I hope you and Tom stay safe and well.

    • Charlene – Thank you for stopping in and reading with me. I also appreciate the comment. When I first started falling, I thought it was because I was always moving at top speed everywhere I went. I never allowed myself a moment to slow down and simply enjoy what was around me. I thought everything had to be perfect and I demanded the same perfection from myself. As the years passed and I accumulated some nasty TBIs as well as the neuropathy in my feet and legs the writing was more than on the wall. It was clear to me that falling was no longer an option for good health.
      You are so right in that it’s a sobering taste of reality to recognize we aren’t as young as we once were and in the cold light of day, it’s time to slow down and smell those flowers we love to grow.

  29. Hi Sheri (and Tom!). I am so sorry to hear about your fall. I did not know anything about the part PTSD can play in the elderly, though it makes perfect sense with your explanation. And, of course, having had TBI’s one would blame it on those instead. That made sense as well. It reminds me of when I got in a car accident several years back. I saw a car coming from the right and knew it was going to plow into the right side of my car and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. Now, when I’m driving, I see that happening every single time I reach an intersection. Thank you for your post. It’s definitely made me think more on the subject.

    • Patricia – It’s amazing what our minds retain and specifically the most traumatic moments of a specific moment. Like your car accident, I have a specific memory of going to sleep at the wheel [however I don’t know for sure that’s what happened, it’s the only logical explanation]. When I came too I was at the bottom of a very deep ravine in the North Carolina mountains and the car had rolled head over end multiple times and then side over side. Several different auto insurance individuals told me I would have died with the exception I was in a Volvo sedan. At the time, Volvo had an excellent rating for the safest car on the road and that was one of the reasons I purchased the car. Of course there was no hope for the car. They had to total it. I have narcolepsy [you fall asleep without advance warning and it’s rather you are tired or not]. I didn’t have narcolepsy until after our first auto accident when we lived in DC and that was my first and worst TBI. Narcolepsy is a common problem for individuals who have suffered a TBI and it’s a significant problem.

  30. Terry says:

    Very informative post. Keep talking because someone always needs to know the things you say. Hugs

  31. Sheri, I’m SO glad you got those moments of pure joy at the garden center — it’s like God was stocking you up for the drought that followed.

    • Laurie – What a nice surprise. I haven’t seen you in a bit so this is indeed a rare pleasure. You are so right about how just a few moments of joy helps one move through some of the toughest days. I always believe another great day will be just around the corner and until then, I must be patient. Being a 24/7 caregiver teaches me something about being patient every day.
      P.S. I’m reading light these days but if you haven’t read them, I highly recommend: Little Mercies, The Weight of Small Things, A Man of His Own, The Girls of Mischief Bay and am currently reading All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner. I do hit and miss with Weiner’s books as I’ve had several disappointments but this one is right on target and she’s getting the emotions so right. [Maybe she took your classes].

  32. cindy knoke says:

    Oh Sheri, I am so sorry. I had no idea. So many very hard obstacles in your path and yet you find time to care about so many other people and the issues that affect them. I am in awe of you my friend. Sending my prayers, hopes and thoughts your and Tom’s way~

  33. GP Cox says:

    I never thought of it as PTSD, Sheri, but now that you mention it… My 90 year old mother-in-law got up from the commode about 3 years ago and her foot went one way and leg the other – of course snapping it at the ankle. It took quite a while for it to heal [of course] and she has never stopped talking about it. I suppose it must have been traumatic enough for her to create a form of PTSD?
    Give my very best to Tom – I often think of you two and the Little Rock veteran/volunteer crew!!

    • G.P. – You aren’t alone in not thinking about PTSD being a diagnosis for the elderly. I hadn’t thought about it either until I kept stumbling onto research represented by reputable sites. The fall seems to be interpreted as the passage into end of life. We were familiar with that growing up but now there’s so many replacement parts, it doesn’t have to be that way.

  34. I am so gladdened to hear that you are gardening. Please share a photo from your garden. I absolutely adore flowers. So sorry to hear again of your TBIs and the risk of another fall. This touches me: “fear and falling always walk hand in hand.” You and Tom are in my thoughts and prayers.

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