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Safety of Mental Health Records by Lori Barnes

dsc_0092I believe I mentioned in a previous blog that one of the reasons I never sought treatment for my PTSD was my fear of my daughters ever seeing my mental health records. I did not want them to know what I had been through. I wanted to protect them from the ugliness, but, if I’m honest, I mainly wanted to protect their image of me. As I’ve told you before, I am the rock upon which they all lean.

I’ve come to realize that a strong, steady rock is great for them to lean upon as they learn to stand on their own and handle their own crises. On the other hand, a damaged, cracked rock is a dangerous foundation upon which to lean. Everyone knows that the first thing you look at when buying a house is the foundation. You want to know how long that house will stand. The solid one will stand for years and yet the cracked one could crumble tomorrow. Providing my children with a cracked rock upon which to lean is not safe for them.

What are they really learning from me? That no one can be trusted? That hideous things wait around every corner? That pain and humiliation are part of a healthy life? It is these questions that spurred me into therapy. I’ve since talked with my girls and told them what I experienced — told them as much as each needed to hear. One didn’t want to hear anything. It was enough for her to know that I had experienced something hideous which partly created the person I am today. My other daughter? She wanted to dig into all the details and examine each one. This is who they are and how they are different.

I’ve quit worrying about my mental health records. I know that one daughter will never request to see them and the other no longer needs to. I can simply concentrate on my therapy. I accept that the crack will always be there but I can steadfastly work on fixing it with the mortar that comes from my therapy.

You want to know the best thing? Both my girls thought even more of me for having the courage to tell them and for having the courage to seek help.

Recently I read an article about some researchers who are trying to study PTSD. They have requested to use the medical records of soldiers from the Civil War. Their request was denied. I’m not sure if I should be upset that the lack of access to these records might have prevented important research into PTSD or to be happy that the Civil War veterans’ records are so strongly protected. It gives me hope that mine would be sacrosanct.

Legislation is now being considered to allow access to these types of records 50 years after the person’s death. Personally, I’d like to see it be 75 years.

To read the entire article click here.

Sick at the VA by Lori Barnes

dsc_0164Over the past month, I have spent a total of nine days as a patient in the VA Hospital in Seattle. In the 17 years since I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I have spent time in military hospitals (both in the field and out), civilian hospitals, and now the VA. I have to say that the care I received in Seattle was extraordinary. It’s not just the providers, though they were all wonderful, but the whole atmosphere of concern, respect, and camaraderie. There’s nothing like it.

For those of you who are not familiar with Crohn’s Disease, it is an incurable inflammatory bowel disease that has chronic recurring periods of flare-ups and remission. Every day I strive to keep it in check, but every few years it comes back hard and I have to seek help to beat it back into remission. Like any good soldier, I fight the battle first on my own and seek reinforcements only once all appears lost. Sometimes, my “I can fix this myself” attitude gets me into serious trouble. This was one of those times. By waiting so long to get medical care, I had allowed a seven-inch bleeding laceration into my colon. The docs said it looked like a bear claw had swiped through allowing all kinds of nasty germs to grow.

Let’s be honest here. When a civilian sees their blood leaving their body, Continue reading and add your comment

Million Veteran Program by Lori Barnes

dsc_0087Last week I signed up with the Million Veteran Program at the VA. All it took was twenty minutes of my time and a tube of blood to participate in a program whose results could be invaluable; results that could change healthcare and improve it for generations to come.

Why do some people who smoke never get lung cancer? Why were some affected by Agent Orange in Vietnam while some with the same exposure were not? Why are some Veterans at a greater risk for developing an illness? How can we prevent certain illnesses in the first place? What factors in a person’s DNA protects them when exposed to hazardous, even deadly toxins? Answering these types of questions is the goal of the Million Veteran Program (MVP). Continue reading and add your comment