What is going on with my brain after suffering traumatic brain injury - any connection to PTSD?

Posted by johnledford @johnledford, May 6, 2016

Well I just joined so I do not know enough to ask a question. I would like to learn more about how the brain functions. In particular I want to learn more about what is going on with my brain after suffering traumatic brain injury and what if any connection there is to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had to be med-evacuated from Vietnam to the USS Medical Ship the USS Hope due to excessive exposure to Agent Orange Herbicide and I wonder how it affects functions of the brain. So you might say I have 10 disabilities from the Vietnam war but three that might affect my brain. Last year I spent most of the year in bed. I could not think clearly, could not see well, I had lost almost all my memory, numerologists at the VA Hospital and Emery Medical Center say my severe chest pains are coming from my Traumatic Brain Injury as well as Migraine Headaches. I was in the VA Hospital in July 2015 for a week and they gave me some new medicine for my brain that seems to help. I am starting to recover some of my memory and function better. It most problem for me was as an Algebra and Science teacher I would try to work a problem on the board and could not remember how to it. I graduated from Georgia State University and made a 100 in the entire Algebra course and a 99 average on the subjects I was certified to teach. I taught Science, Algebra,
Social Studies and Language Arts. I also obtained a Reading Endorsement added to my teaching certificate. I graduated 5/14/2000 and the president of the College of Education asked me to be interviewed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and an article was written about me on the front page of the Sunday Edition of the paper. I had to overcome a complete nervous breakdown, becoming homeless and spending about 100 days in Pysho hospitals in Metro Atlanta including the VA Hospital. It is odd to be that I was basically emotionally destroyed from combat in the Vietnam war. I guess I was about as insane as you can get but when my wife took me to SSC to apply for disability one to the men said I tested the highest of anyone he had tested in 25 years. How can that be? About 10 years later I crashed again mentally and physically and was tested by the VA and they said I was functioning on a sixth grade level! These are the things I do not understand because they are totally inconsistent. About six years later Ii crashed again and this time I was almost in a coma not able to hardly think clearly at all. So I had lost my job as a District Manager in 1990 make about $90,000 a year to being crazy and going in the hospital constantly over the next 18 months. Once they put me in restraints where they but straps with buckles on your arms and legs after about 4-5 I got sick of being strapped down so I lay their thinking if Ii was Houdini I could figure out how to get out of the restraints. Well I thought about it for an hour and was able to get out. I had yelled saying I was cold until they put a blanket over me even thought it was about 70 degrees so they could not see how I go loose. Then the nurses came in speaking very disrespectfully to me and mean spirited saying if are a good boy for four hours we will let one arm or one leg loose every time you act good. So I said to the “to hell with that” and jumped out of the bed throwing the blanket off me. It sacred them so bad they almost killed each other trying to get out of the steel vault they had put me in. I just sit on my bed an laughed and they ran out the door and slammed the big steel door and locked it. Well needless to say they never had anyone that could figure out how to get out of the restraints so I guess I have a world record but I doubt if they put it in the World Book of Guinness. So after I had been in and out of the Summit Ridge Hospital (Part of the Gwinnett County Hospital System) about 18 months on Christmas morning they said you are out of medical benefits so you cannot stay here any more. I was rather shocked I did not realize they did that sort of thing and I was very emotionally disturbed from all the killing and mayhem going on all around me in Vietnam. They said we killed 30,000 enemy during the TET counteroffensive in I Corp. I heard they always lied and exaggerated everything but I can tell you
they were a hell of a lot of dead people laying everywhere. If that don’t drive you crazy I do not think you are human.
Well I am still feeling very ill and frankly they said I would be dead in less than five years from getting auto immune hepatitis in Vietnam drinking nasty water and taking baths in filthy water in rivers. We did not know they had sprayed agent orange we saw them spray with a variety of aircraft but we thought if was to kill the mosquitos because they were so insistent on us taking a Malaria every day which was sickening a had really bad side effects especially the big booster pill we had to take on Monday. My Sargent would make us line up and he personally put the pill on your tongue and then thoroughly inspect your mouth to be sure you swallowed it and we had not water to drink and he had no mercy. So we all came home without getting Malaria in my platoon but we sure as hell came home with a multitude of other problem which I continue to very sick from and will probably die from so since I probably will no be needing my brain my longer so if you want it you can have it. Maybe you can learn something that help save another veterans life someday.
Like I said in my first paragraph I do not know what to talk about so I just started typing and I hope I did ok to be accepted in the brain, emotional problems and of course I also have coronary heart disease from exposure to agent orange. I don’t remember have many disabilities I have I think it is about ten. I recently had to go to federal court and thankfully my congressman represented me pro bono because he was an Iraq veterans and did two tours. So after 45 years they approved my appeal on my right knee that was badly injured and all my front teeth that got knocked out. Now I will just have to wait another 2-3 years if I am lucky to see what my disability rating on them are going to be and I have several more they turned down like being injured from the explosion so I cannot have children but they don’t care about that I guess because there are plenty of illegal immigrants to make up for the children I should of had. It is hard to say since I have been married five times all good women except one and I must have been really bad crazy to marry her. I was very sick and she was hitting me but the police came out and arrested her and put her in jail. I sure hope I can maintain my thinking ability long enough learn something about what is going on with my brain and maybe a few other parts too. There just seem to be too many inconsistencies for an old country boy life me to figure out so I would be grateful if I could learn and understand how all the things have managed to go through the processes they have after my doctor saying my brain has badly shrunken and the frontal lobe is badly damaged and have a lot of dead brain cells. Maybe the old saying that we only use the brain capacity on a very limited basis. Now my life is winding down and I must be running on the last 25% or so of my brain cells still living. Heck I do not know that is why I am trying to join the group and learn something before the last 25% bite the dust on me. I am in terrible pain my liver is killing me so I am going to go lay down a while.
John Ledford

Hi @johnledford. Welcome to Connect. I’m glad you found us. I first want to say thank you for your service, both as a member of the military and as a teacher… two of the hardest and most important callings there are. There really is no correct way to post on Connect, so you did a great job. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you found writing it to be cathartic in a way. Certainly PTSD is a very natural effect of what you went through in the war, but it can also be connected to your traumatic brain injury. I found two article from the VA that might be of interest to you- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/problems/traumatic_brain_injury_and_ptsd.asp and http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/co-occurring/traumatic-brain-injury-ptsd.asp. And here is some additional information from Mayo Clinic about TBIs- http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/basics/definition/con-20029302. You said they gave you medicine for your brain that seemed to help… are you still taking that? Do you take anything for the PTSD like an antidepressant?

I’m tagging a few other Connect member who have posted about Vietnam, PTSD or TBIs in the past and may be able to provide some support or insights: @missyb57, @jmbjar, @johnlk, @dlc06, @oceanfun1, @coleleeo, @retairforceman, @19lin and @harryw.

It sounds like you have been through quite a lot, but the fact that you are continuing to ask questions and seek support shows your resilience. I truly hope you find the support you need here!

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