SGB Series Part 2: Post Op and an Immediate Impact
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Stories of Inspiration

SGB Series Part 2: Post Op

September 29, 2020 | 2:44
Making an Immediate Impact

Watch what happens to our three PTSD patients, moments after a renowned Chicago doctor delivers the stellate ganglion block, or SGB. Hear the immediate impact of the procedure, in their own words. But the real test is when they return home to their trigger-filled environments. Stay tuned for our next episode where we check in with these frontline heroes three months after their injections.

Joe Merritt, U.S. Marine Corp veteran explains in his own words how he felt before and after the shot:

“This morning I woke up in a Chicago hotel, exhausted, nervous, skeptical and yet hopeful.

Why would I leave my safe bubble of rural Maryland, go to Baltimore and fly to another huge urban landscape during a pandemic?

Well… it’s no secret that I have struggled with PTSD and depression.

The beginning of this year I broke down and asked for help. I stopped drinking, and rededicated myself to the path of finding happiness and bringing others with me. I found new allies and modalities, went back to the things I know help but aren’t comfortable.

There was one thing that was new, a procedure called the “stellate ganglion block” (SGB) I’ll post a link at the bottom with more information:

It was particularly new for me because it’s a medical procedure and not a therapy based on my processing of events or rational ability.

The modalities that have kept me alive up until now, made me a better person, and helped me view the world with an optimistic lens.

All those things never lifted the haze off or took away this tint of the world as I perceive it. I was missing a biological hurdle.

That biological piece happened today, I got the SGB shot this morning.

Now the cylinder has turned again and we are back to now… I woke up this morning feeling tired, anxious and hopeful. I made it through the black tape of my own self destruction and I don’t have words to explain enough how I feel.

I forgot how beautiful life can be, when my brain isn’t reminding me how many living things want to kill me.”

 

I could, like, see things more clearly. Like more focused. Now I feel like I’m taking in more.

For Sidney Morris, the impact of the stellate ganglion block

Wow!

was profound and immediate.

The colors are brighter!

Shannon Fitzpatrick

I feel good.

and Joe Merritt

I mean, I feel pretty good.

had positive, but more subdued reactions.

It’s like the information that normally is being flooded in is more focused. I don’t feel like I’m all over the place trying to take in all the information at once.

Hours earlier, each had entered the operating room at The Stella Center in Chicago hoping to emerge free of pain. Not physical, but the psychological torment that’s made them question whether they wanted to live or die.

Constant depression and symptoms from PTSD are still something I struggle with continuously. It’s this death grip on the steering wheel. You know what I mean? And I don’t know how to unclench. I don’t know how to relax. I don’t know how to sleep in on my days off. I don’t know how to sit still. I have to be doing something. If I’m not doing something, I feel like I’m being lazy.

All three struggle with post-traumatic stress. Veterans Sidney and Joe from combat. Shannon from a lifetime of trauma.

By the time I was 15, I was a full blown alcoholic.

My father was a New York City fireman. And on June 27 1980, when I was 11 years old, my father walked out the door to go to work. And he didn’t come home. He was killed in the line of duty trying to save another fireman’s life. They both died.

Hope is all they have left.

An injection will numb up the nerves in the neck, which will reverse the changes that are induced by trauma in the brain. And that reversal can last for months or years. The procedure lasts just 15 minutes, and all three seemed to benefit.

I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel so worried. Crazy. I don’t feel so crazy.

I just feel I don’t know like light, I don’t know how to explain that, lighter.

But the real test will be what happens when they return home. 

Now that triggers.

Up next: we check in with Sidney, Shannon and Joe three months after the procedure.

It’s empowering.

I’m tougher than any of this [bleep].


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