Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 10 of 22: 22 Veteran Suicides a Day Awareness Campaign

I made double digits!!!

Good thing today was a little easier, as tomorrow I go from dresser to chair...

But today... today I still broke it in two, but it was 16 and 6. That is better than the 11, 11, or the 12, 10 splits... Right?

Man, I am worried about the chair ones...
Me, tomorrow

But enough about Push-ups. Lets talk about Veteran Suicide. Source

* The rate of suicide by veterans has been fairly steady since 1999. The lowest it has been is 19 (daily count on average), but 20-22 is more common, so this problem has been around a long time.
* In Washington and Idaho (where I am from originally) more than 25% of ALL suicides are by veterans.
* Among the general population suicide is more common in younger people, where among veterans, rates are lower among younger people and more common in older age groups.
* Women make up a quarter of NON-veteran suicides, but only about 3% of Veteran suicides. Now half of PEOPLE are female, so women are half as likely as expected among civilians. Women are about 15% of Veterans, so they are significantly LESS likely here—instead of half what would be expected, it is only about 20%.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day 9 of 22: Awareness Campaign for 22 Veteran Suicides a Day

Why isn't this getting easier? I used that low dresser again today... and it seemed harder than yesterday for some reason.

I am thinking I am getting fatigued... both physically and of the daily blog... But the cause is worthy, so I will continue to plug away.

Following up on the “where to find help” I shared yesterday, I thought I would also share some potential signs someone might be suicidal. These are from the Mayo Clinic Site.

Suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include:

* Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish * I were dead" or "I wish I hadn't been born"
* Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
* Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
* Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
* Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
* Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
* Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
* Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
* Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
* Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there's no other logical explanation for doing this
* Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again
* Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above

Warning signs aren't always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Day 8 of 22: Push-Up Challenge, Veteran Suicide Awareness Campaign

So I realized yesterday that I was meant to have moved from counter to table, so today that is what I did... well not table, but a dresser that is probably 10 inches lower than our counter.

I delayed on the push-ups, eating first... and maybe that helped. I expected these to be harder than yesterday, but they really weren't. Not easier, but not harder. I still split them 11 and 11.

So today I am sharing some resources. If you think someone might be suicidal, it is really important to get them help—far better to err on the side of caution than to underestimate the chances and have them do it.

The National Institute of Mental Health[] has a page with websites and a hot line. Additionally, if you truly fear for somebody in the present, you can call 9-1-1.

Additionally, hospitals sometimes have triage systems and definitely will take in a person who is suicidal.

If in doubt, find help.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Day 7 of 22: 22 Veteran Suicides a day Awareness Campaign

So today I was back at the counter, because cooking dinner was the time I had to sit around (you guys know I write these the night before posting, right?). And I made a decision.. the counter is lower than the dryer. So I was back to two sets of 11. And in spite of sharper corners, I will stay here until I am ready for a lower angle.

This article connects PTSD and depression showing PTSD symptoms are in fact the strongest predictor of both suicidal ideation and attempts.

For males the suicide rate among veterans is about double that of civilians. For women it is three times the rate.

Trauma focused therapy, the standard of care for people with PTSD may not be appropriate for people with suicidal thoughts. This creates difficulty in care. Those with intermittent but manageable thoughts may benefit, but care is trickier with those who have more persistent thoughts.

Unfortunately... telling us what is not helpful does not tell us what is...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 6 of 22: Push-Up Challenge to Raise Awareness

So 22 Veterans commit suicide each day...

It is 22 too many. We should be taking care of our veterans.

And for anyone new, this challenge is meant to raise awareness by doing 22 push-ups a day for 22 days, each day nominating a new friend to spread the awareness campaign.

Today's push-ups nearly got forgotten.  We had a small dinner party to celebrate my birthday and I failed to do them before. Push-ups are harder after a glass and a half of wine. But I still managed to do 16 then 6 instead of 11 and 11, so tomorrow I should be able to do all of them (I hope) before I move to a lower angle. (I used the dryer again today).

Most days I am additionally providing some info, but as even the push-ups today ended up by the seat of my pantslessness, I think I will make an executive decision about giving Sundays a miss on the extra added...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Day 5 of 22 in the 22 Veteran Suicides a day Awareness Challenge

And for me a first time obstacle... There are people in the house... namely my son and his friend who is a girl who I do not know if she is a girlfriend or not... (it is not clear if he knows or not, either).

This makes the kitchen counter a less user friendly place for this... think think think...

And a decision is made... the dryer is the same height as the counter and had the bonus quality of having slightly rounded edges! Okay! Here goes...

I still had to split it in two, but the lack of hand pain DID help immensely. Also, the washer noise next to me might have drowned out and grunting, gasping or heaving noises.

Part of this challenge has been to nominate a new person to join this every day. So far I've done this on Facebook and nominated:

Jackie: my buddy here in Michigan
Jeff: one of my writing friends in Missouri
Tammy: a friend in Florida
Linda: a friend in Arizona
Todd: a friend in Washington State (where you only say Washington... its stateness being redundnant—the DC Washington gets a DC after it)

Today I am going to add Alex Cavanaugh: Alex, you can use Twitter instead of FB and you can do it however you want. MOST people pose a video of them doing the pushups, but you can see the work-around I've devised, so however you go is all good. (maybe a video of your knees and feet? I know you are camera shy)

My image of Alex's push-ups

So I have a friend (two actually) who are psychologists for VA systems and Patti, who practices in Texas, suggested I include Military Sexual Assault, as people who have experienced it are at significantly increased risk in the Military.

The VA statistics show one woman in four in the military experiences sexual assault, and one man in a hundred. The rates are higher even than college students for women, possibly because of the ratio of men to women. A person's personal history and the context and consequences of the assault make responses vary greatly.

The symptoms listed for MST are as follows:

Strong emotions
Feelings of numbness
Trouble sleeping
Difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory
Problems with alcohol or other drugs
Difficulty with things that remind them of their experiences of sexual trauma
Difficulties with relationships
Physical health problems

Friday, June 24, 2016

22-Day Challenge, Day 4: Chronic Pain

This is part of a 22 day, 22 push-up challenge to raise awareness for the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day. Being feeble in the upper body, I had to create an adapted plan that will get me to real push-ups by the end, but started at a more vertical angle.

Today I moved from the fireplace mantle which had me closer to standing than horizontal, to the kitchen counter, which is exactly reciprocal of that... 3 feet high with my feet 4 feet out.

And I gotta tell you... Ow.

First lesson is on my other counter days I need to find something to soften the corner. It hurt my hands because the angle was sharp and hard (the fireplace is cement, but the edges ad a bit rounded).

Also, that angle difference was really challenging!

I ended up breaking it in half. Typically when I've done push-ups in the past (which I have not done recently) I did 2 sets of 12, so this seemed reasonable, since I really could not have done all 22 together.

Still. Ow.

As for veterans and suicide... an angle I haven't seen mentioned, but that I know about and seems likely related, is chronic pain. I spent a decade studying the quality of life of people living with pain. Pain frequently leads to depression, and events such as injury can lead BOTH to PTSD and chronic pain, so it coexists with psychological stuff much of the time.

In 2011, an Institute of Medicine report on "Relieving Pain in America" stated that as many as one-third of all Americans experience persistent pain. The report also noted that Veterans are an especially vulnerable group, with a particularly high prevalence of pain, and very high rates of other complex, multiple medical and mental health concerns.

Significantly, pain has been associated with higher rates of overdose.

One study found among veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom that more than 80% of people had symptoms consistent with chronic pain. The reason, ironically, is improved on site medical practice. People who used to die now live, but live with the results of injuries. The same study found 42% of people had not one symptom, but multiple (with the others in the study being PTSD and persistent postconcussive syndrome (the head injuries we talked about a couple days ago)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Day 3 of 22: Veteran Suicide Risks

Also, it's my birthday...

I decided on some potential suicide causes today because so many people will not have another birthday and it breaks my heart.

But first for the push-ups—same incline as yesterday (tomorrow, which is to say this evening as of your reading, I move to the counter—need to take some measures to get that accurately.

But back to my push-ups.

Got home. Moved the dishes from the sink to the dishwasher (animals, I live with—I'm telling you), started the dishwasher, took out trash and recycling... And now it is time.

By danydarko96

Oh GADS! I thought that would be okay—the arm circles didn't hurt as badly today as yesterday, but that first push-up let me know my right triceps screamed. By 5 I was feeling it all over and my 12 I was straining. I was shaking by the last two... repeat strain, I suppose... Tired muscles with no down days between? Whatever the case, I am a bit afraid of tomorrow...

This has some great charts, but the data are a decade old, so I will let you peruse if interested.

This really comprehensive study gets into a lot more. Results start on about page 97 [told you it was comprehensive]. That is where I am getting most of the info below:

Most Common Traumatic Events
* Nearly half (49.6%) have had a friends seriously wounded or killed
* 45.2% have seen dead or seriously wounded non-combatants
* 45.0% have witnessed an accident resulting in injury or death

Prevalence (found them!!!)
* PTSD 13.8%
* Major Depression 13.7%
* Traumatic Brain injury 19.5%

All this is more common in National Guard or those who've returned home suggesting difficulty reintegrating, so I also looked up some important info on that:

* Homelessness: 11% of the US Homeless population are veterans
* Unemployment: while the rate isn't worse than the population overall, veterans who have trouble finding work can end up more chronically unemployed because things like PTSD can make a person appear “unstable” and there is a stigma to it.

And as a bonus today, I stumbled across the Warrior Initiative which is an organization to work on this. It has information and a place to donate if that is how you'd like to be involved.

Here is my 22 day plan, for reference.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Day 2 of 22: Veteran Suicide Awareness Push-Up Campaign: TBI

So I'm a little stiff and sore today. Poor me.

I've gotten home from work, put the dishes in the dishwasher and fed the dog. As usual. Changed clothes... And here I am.

Today I am putting my feet back six inches further than yesterday, and I have handy Adobe Illustrator at work to draw myself. Okay, so it sucks for drawing, but it is better for scale than paint, so I went with it. I suppose I could have edited in paint after scaling the wall and floor... am I over thinking this? All this work to get out of a video, but I will persevere... [for the record, here is my PLAN to build to real push-ups]

On to the push-ups.

This was harder from the outset. Something psychological about the mantle coming at my eyeballs instead of my chin. And the arms are at a slightly off angle.

Harder in the middle like yesterday.

And then somehow I was psychologically ready to be done at 20... almost took the step, then remembered... 22... 22 veterans a day. Suicide. This pain and effort is nothing.

I thought for my add on that today I'd give you some info on Traumatic Brain Injury (or TBI). This is a signature wound for the oil wars of recent years.

*  In 2015 22,594 US service members were diagnosed worldwide (meaning both those at home and those still abroad—all US military).
*  The peak diagnosis was in 2011when nearly 33,000 people were diagnosed.
*  The Army is the branch most likely to have these injuries.
*  They are most often explosion related (in the civilian population, these are nearly always accident—vehicle or sporting.
*  The mild version includes headache, memory issues, and irritability.
*  Moderate includes loss of consciousness at the time of injury and can include several weeks of confusion. Mental and physical deficits can be permanent.
*  Severe typically denotes a closed head injury with permanent deficits in brain function.
*  I looked everywhere for a RATE but all that is available is a count. This is frustrating, but I suppose influenced by the fact different people serve different amounts of time and risk would be spread in a strange way for this. Still—I find rates easier to interpret.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day 1 of 22: Veteran Suicide Awareness Push-Up Challenge

Home from work.
Dishes dirtied by my miscreant family into the dishwasher.
Dishwasher started.
Dog fed his dinner.
400% Humidity first day photo taken.
Photo deleted. Ain't nobody needs to see that.
Angles considered as to how far feet should be out for this mantle push-up.
Hair braided.

You know you are procrastinating when you start doing math voluntarily... it's time.

Carpet is 2 ½ feet from the fireplace, my feet are feet 6 inches back onto carpet. Mantle is 4 feet high, so I am more upright than lateral. My chin is at the mantle edge when I am “down”, so at least I know my arm angle is about right, even if this makes me a wimp.

Me doing push ups. Lines are to scale. I am not. I'm taller than this. But it is otherwise accurate.

The first few are pretty easy. Totally can do this thing, but by midway I can tell the last few will be rough and by the end I am straining a bit...

Straining a bit. Think about that. I have never been to war. I have never really feared for my life. All terror has been in a controlled situation. Veterans volunteer to serve and then go to a place where they are often in danger. Where they see their friends die. Where they see civilians in those countries die. Where sometimes they are asked to take life, or even just fail to save life. I don't know strain.

It seems to me that when we send people to war, or to serve, whatever the circumstances, that we are obliged to take care of them when they come home.

For today's share... here are some of the symptoms of PTSD. Whether it is a loved one, acquaintance or stranger with whom you are interacting for the first time, these may be signs of a deeper story—a trauma that they need help with.


1.Reliving the situation (via nightmare or flashback, often triggered by something that reminds them of the original trauma—critical as the 4th of July approaches—be aware of your neighbors and anyone who might be sensitive to explosions)
2.Avoiding situations that remind them of the event (crowds or noise are common, particular vehicles, building layouts, movies)
3.Negative changes in beliefs or feelings (whether regarding the world in general, futility of things, relationships)
4.Feeling keyed up (hyper arousal): difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, hyper-awareness/fear about environment (needing to sit with back to the wall)

For more detail, check out the link.

Monday, June 20, 2016


So I guess I am back... Called to action by my good friend Dave who has a cause. He is part of a group of people doing 22 push-ups a day for 22 days to call attention (and compassion) to the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.

Now my friends are all posting videos of their push-ups and I just can't bring myself to post video footage of my pathetic fat self aching through that. But what I CAN do, is take up the challenge and write about doing it with details of how it's going. MAYBE by the end I can do well enough for a little footage, but in the mean time, this is my plan... I am going to do them at angles getting more and more horizontal as the time goes

Day 1: Mantle push-ups
Day 2:
Day 3:
Day 4: Counter push-ups
Day 5:
Day 6:
Day 7: Table push-ups
Day 8:
Day 9:
Day 10: Chair push-ups
Day 11:
Day 12:
Day 13:
Day 14:
Day 15:
Day 16: Knee push-ups, allowing rests
Day 17:
Day 18:
Day 19:
Day 20:
Day 21:
Day 22: Knee push-ups all in a row

I told you I was in pathetic shape...

In the meantime, I will also try to find some info on veteran suicide for the awareness piece of this...

So there is the plan...

Monday, June 6, 2016

Whereby Life Swallows Me Whole

Sorry I wasn't around last week... And it is looking like this is the only appearance I will make this week. Or next.

The news is mixed. Good (son graduating and gearing up for college, family visiting) and bad (some health stuff, not serious, but clogging my head with incoherence) and a family issue, which I won't go into here.  So I am going to take a hiatus until summer (June 21-ish) when the seas should have calmed.