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16 Sep Veterans Day

Just by coincidence, my trip most recent trip with Uber included a conversation that got a little political. Per usual, the driver struck up a conversation asking standard questions:

Q: Did you grow up here?

A: No. I’m from San Diego. I moved here to go to school.

Q: Did you go to CU?

A: Yes. It is a beautiful campus. I met my husband there and we decided to stick around here in Colorado. He is from here, I can’t imagine him moving.

Q: What did you study?

A: English and communication. (He laughed.)

Q: What do you do for a living?

A: I was an admin assistant for an oil and gas company but was laid off not too long ago when the industry took a hit.

I answered all these questions and more. When I told him the general area we were heading, his interest peaked. “You’re over by the high school, huh? My son used to have wrestling matches there.”

Now, whenever a driver opens up about their family, it is a perfect way to steer the conversation away from me. A lot of times I don’t have much to say. I rather be the one asking questions and have them talk. I asked, “You have a son that wrestles that is cool.”

“I have three boys. Triplets!” he replied proudly.

“Wow, you must have your hands full then,” I said.

“Well, they are no longer at home. They enlisted in the army right after they graduated high school.”

He talked a little further about his boys. They were all spread out over the country and were involved in different aspects of the armed forces. He laughed, “It’s funny. One of my sons’ can’t even talk about what his work is about. I’ve learned it is not worth asking anymore.” He continued on and then revealed that another one of his sons’ served in Iraq.

When he had finished talking, I said, “That’s great. I appreciate their service for our country.”

He got a little more political as the drive went on, which was okay by me. It wasn’t like we debated about anything, more like him expressing how proud he was to have family serving our country. One thing he did mention though, was some of the things his son experienced over in Iraq. Seeing others get hurt and unfortunately seeing others die.

“These service men and women. The things they see. They certainly don’t come back the same way as when they had left to serve over there.”

I was curious about some of the common neurological effects war has on our veterans. My thought being that brain injuries do occur, so some must have seizures or develop epilepsy because of that. Research conducted by the office of Veterans Affairs found many Veterans’ seizures are tied to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The thought being that the increased anxiety and stress PTSD and TBI cause can trigger a seizure. To be clear, the study points out that this doesn’t necessarily mean that these veterans will develop epilepsy.

“VA treated more than 87,000 Veterans with seizures diagnoses during fiscal year 2011. While a relatively small number of those, only 3,792, served in operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, or New Dawn, Veterans diagnosed with seizures from those conflicts were proportionately much more likely to also have TBI than their peers who have not had seizures. Previous research has pegged TBI and PTSD rates as high as 22 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. The new study suggests that nearly 70 percent of Veterans with seizures also have TBI and PTSD.” Research: Many Veterans’ seizures tied to TBI and PTSD, not epilepsy, VA Office of Research and Development, January 15, 2014

I can sympathize with these veterans as stress and anxiety seem to be a trigger for my seizures. I know how frustrating and scary it is to have a seizure out of the blue. Once again, I can only hope and pray that one day there will be a cure for these complex neurological disorders. Thank you to all of those who have served our country. Your good deeds do not go unnoticed.

Danielle Watkins

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