ME and Ophelia

Friday, October 10, 2008

 
Deployed peacekeeping veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have significant impairments in health-related quality of life

Nine years ago today, I was struck down with a flu like viral illness from which I never recovered. After the initial six months, my profoundly disabling condition was diagnosed by a Consultant Psychiatrist as a severe form of Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Still, to this day, there is no effective treatment or cure. In my experience, the condition is similar to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

Over the past nine years my energy level has increased from one half hour to two hours per day. I am still virtually housebound. Last March, I was able to attend my mother's funeral. Next month, I am scheduled to attend a long awaited appointment with a CFS Consultant. Several years ago, I was bedbound for two years.

The following definition of ME is from a paper I wrote with a very dear friend (recently departed, God rest his soul) in March 2003:
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis - ME

Evidenced by muscle pain, with inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, ME has been known for half a century as 'a-typical polio'. The symptoms of extreme lassitude, and the swift onset of exhaustion that characterise the disease, also caused it to be known for many years as 'chronic fatigue syndrome' or CFS. It was only classified by the World Health Organisation of the United Nations as a neurological disorder in 1969.

The disorder is triggered by a virus infection that occurs worldwide in epidemic and pandemic form: seasonally and in selected geographical areas. It affects about 1% of the British population and there is no known cure. While three-quarters of those who become infected do not present advanced symptoms, 25% of ME sufferers are chronically affected with severe illness and pain, causing them to become profoundly disabled and very largely housebound. The condition can last throughout life without remission of any kind.

Doctors and sufferers generally agree that the worst effects of the disease can be 'managed by strict adherence to conservation of energy, reduction of stress and simplification of work: augmented by education, with practical and economic support'.
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We're not lazy nor crazy, tiredness is the least of our problems

This post today, 10 October 2008, here at ME AND OPHELIA, is to help raise awareness of the plight of military personnel suffering from ghastly life-wrecking Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Below are some excerpts taken from Science Daily online. More on this topic at a later date.
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Peacekeepers are exposed to traumatic events which they are helpless to prevent under the United National rules of engagement
While the relationship among Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and physical and mental health impairment is well developed in combat veterans, it is less studied among the deployed peacekeeping veteran population.

Peacekeepers are exposed to traumatic events which they are helpless to prevent under the United National rules of engagement, which state soldiers must show restraint and neutrality. The feeling of being unable to control a situation at the time of trauma is an important risk factor for developing PTSD.
More from ScienceDaily.com (Dec. 15, 2007):
Canada’s peacekeepers suffer similar rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) as combat, war-zone soldiers, according to a London, Ont. research team.

Psychiatrist J. Donald Richardson and his co-investigators also found that PTSD rates and severity were associated with younger age, single marital status and deployment frequency.
Vietnam Combat Linked To Many Diseases 20 Years Later
According to Boscarino, of the 1,399 Vietnam veterans studied, 24 percent (332) were diagnosed with PTSD sometime after military service, and nearly all cases of PTSD in the study resulted from exposure to heavy or very heavy combat in Vietnam.

He said his research and others' suggest that those with PTSD often have altered neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous systems. Disturbances in these key body systems are the main reason for increases in a broad spectrum of diseases among combat veterans, he said. His research also uncovered abnormal immune functioning and clear medical evidence of coronary artery disease among the veterans studied. Read more at ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 1997)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder May Result In Heart Disease
Combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to be at higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a recent study of 4,462 male U.S. Army veterans.

"We believe that this research suggests a clear, definitive linkage between exposure to severe stress and the onset of coronary heart disease in humans," said Boscarino. Read more at ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 1999)
PTSD Causes Early Death From Heart Disease, Study Suggests
A new study sheds light on the link between PTSD and heart disease. Vietnam veterans with PTSD suffered higher rates of heart disease death than veterans without PTSD.

The more severe the PTSD diagnosis, the greater the likelihood of death from heart disease, the study showed. Read more at ScienceDaily (July 8, 2008)
Whether combat or peacekeeping, PTSD impacts veterans' well-being
Deployed peacekeeping veterans with PTSD have significant impairments in health-related quality of life according to research by Dr. J. Donald Richardson of The University of Western Ontario and his co-investigators.

The research, published recently in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, found anxiety disorders such as PTSD are associated with impaired emotional well-being, and this applies just as much to peacekeeping veterans as to combat veterans. "This finding is important to clinicians working with the newer generation of veterans, as it stresses the importance of including measures of quality of life when evaluating veterans to better address their rehabilitation needs," says Dr. Richardson. "It is not enough to measure symptom changes with treatment; we need to objectively assess if treatment is improving their quality of life and how they are functioning in their community."

Richardson is a consultant psychiatrist with the Operational Stress Injury Clinic at Parkwood Hospital, part of St. Joseph's Health Care, London and a psychiatry professor with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western. His team studied 125 male, deployed Canadian Forces peacekeeping veterans who were referred for a psychiatric assessment. The average age of these men was 41, and they averaged 16 years of military service. The most common military theatre in which they served were the Balkan states (Bosnia, Croatia, former Yugoslavia, and Kosovo), with 83 per cent having exposure to combat or a war zone. Read more at ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2008)
Post Traumatic Stress Has Tripled Among Combat-exposed Military Personnel
Concerns have been raised about the health impact of military deployment. Studies have estimated as many as 30% of Vietnam War veterans developed post-traumatic stress disorder at some point following the war and, among 1991 Gulf War veterans, as many as 10% were reported to have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms years after returning from deployment. Read more at ScienceDaily (Jan. 17, 2008)
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Postscript

I would be interested to hear from anyone affected by above issues. Feel free to email me anytime and forgive me if I am slow to respond. Note, my current email address will cease on November 28, 2008 because I am switching my ISP to British Telecommunications (BT) Broadband.

With love from Ingrid and cat Ophelia xx

[Afterthought: As my network of blogs receives thousands of regular visits from military, health orgs, unis, govts, etc., I have decided to cross post this whole entry at some of Sudan Watch's sister sites: Congo Watch, Uganda Watch, Ethiopia Watch, Niger Watch, Kenya Watch, Russia Watch.]

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# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 10/10/2008
Comments:
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