Jeff & TAZIE Visit the Atlanta VA Hospital
As so often happens, it turns out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to us. Jeff was blessed to have a brilliant and compassionate psychiatrist – Dr. Marie DeWitt – who really cared and really listened and worked very hard to wean Jeff off over 10 different anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications that had rendered him a virtual zombie.
It wasn’t easy, he didn’t sleep for days, he couldn’t eat, he fainted because his blood pressure was very difficult to regulate, he had extreme anxiety. It was awful and dangerous and could only be done in a hospital under carefully monitored 24 hour supervision .
Jeff can relate to the veterans he and TAZIE visited with because he was one of them – he knows how hopeless and alone they feel. He reassured them that they are not alone and they are not without hope.
They were curious about how TAZIE helps him and he explained that just her constant presence helps him stay in the moment when his anxiety threatens to take over. He said that his love and bond for TAZIE has shown him that he is capable of caring. One of the many terrible consequences of PTSD is becoming insulated and shut off – CAROLINE pushed on that door and TAZIE blew it open. TAZIE loves Jeff unconditionally and the feeling is mutual – something Jeff wasn’t sure he was capable of until TAZIE came into his life.
I was extremely surprised that Jeff went into such intimate detail about his experience – beginning with his two deployments to Iraq, his struggle with alcohol, his battle with rage, his inability to sustain relationships, his loss of identity and purpose when he could no longer be a soldier. I heard things I’d never heard before and almost felt like I was intruding on something very private and personal that should only be shared with fellow soldiers. I was humbled and honored to be there.
I believe that Jeff’s message did give some of these veterans reason to believe that there can be better days ahead and I know that TAZIE made them smile and feel better at least for the moment. Jeff hopes to make this a regular part of their routine and visit once a month.
I hope that the VA will consider having “resident” therapy dogs so that these patients can feel the calming peace provided by these furry balls of love.