22 March 2018
By Meriwether Ball for GPTSI Foundation
When did you know the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) had worked, what did you first notice?
The night two days later was the best night sleep I ever had in years. But it was a 12-year-old a day later that really made me realize how much I used to blow up.
My daughter specifically. I dropped her off at the mall and gave her some cash. Well, she lost it in the dressing room. She was so scared to call me because of how I would blow up. She did, bless her dear heart, and told me how she lost the money. I calmly responded with, “well you are just going to have to do some more chores. Dishes or something.”
The line got dead quiet. Silent. She responded with, “this shot changed you. For the better”. She was 12.
What symptoms made you think it would help you?
I did not know the block would help me. I was at the end of my rope though with the medications and therapies. And I read an article by Matt Farwell in Playboy called the “The God Shot”. So, I spent the whole week tracking down who Matt was and contacting him. All he could say was, “go get it.”
The thing that intrigued me though was how he described it, and Dr. Lipov explained it as physical reactions. Whatever meds that were prescribed to me and whatever therapies I did were to manage my physical reactions which were brought on by my PTSI. They did not address them. How the shot helped me was by severely limiting my overreaction. No adrenaline with my exaggerated startle response. No anger (I can still get angry, but I go from 1 to 10. Not zero to a million in nanoseconds). And it really helped with my sleep pattern; it really helped it become more regular. It’s not like I am 100 percent fixed yet I am light-years better.
Can you talk a little bit about how you came by your trauma illness?
I am an Infantry Marine Corps Combat veteran who deployed in the opening stages or invasion of OIF 1. I had a lot of firefights, ambushes, lost friends, explosions, etc. It was funny because the VA asked me to count how many near-death experiences or hostile actions I had; I was like, “hell I forgot half of them.” For one battle in Sadr city we had one Navy Cross and two Bronze Stars handed to my rifle company and attachments, specifically. So, that was just one day.
What changed about your symptoms that medication had not changed?
I can focus better but I still struggle with TBI. It has helped. Specifically, because I rest better. I can handle complex problem solving better as I am calmer and more reasonable. By no means am I fast, but I can handle it. Also, I am more flexible and can actually hold a conversation (lol) without getting pissed. And before I threw anything that did not relate to combat out the window. Now I am actually excited to try to learn new things. Definitely better.
Beautiful. So how long ago did you have the block? How were the costs covered?
I believe I had the block over two years ago. I was able to get the flight up as I had sky miles saved, and the foundation covered the cost of the procedure and the hotel room.
It most likely saved my life. I was at the end of my rope. I had tried everything the Marines and the VA had told me to do. I had taken all the medications and done all the therapies, and nothing was working. I was pretty sure if it did not work in some way I would have ended my life.
How did you feel Dr. Lipov and his staff treated you?
And Dr. Lipov and all his staff treated me with the utmost dignity and respect. I owe them. More than anything that can be quantified financially.
Would you get another one if you thought you needed it?
In a heartbeat. If I had to do it every month I would.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I owe Matt Farwell; as he said, “just call me after you get it. Then you will understand.” I owe Dr. Lipov for championing this procedure against all the naysayers. I owe his foundation for people like Doug Van Poppel, who quietly behind the scenes keep helping people like me. I owe them more than my life - but a worthy life.