Officer Espinoza is a medically retired police officer who is a TBI and PTSD survivor.
In fact, as a seven-year veteran of the Wichita police department, he has been through numerous traumatic events. He joined the force in 1999 and was medically retired in 2006. By reading his story, it’s easy to see that he has plenty reason to stay in the “victim” role. However, he lives his life as a TBI and PTSD fighter and survivor! As an inspiration, he shares his lengthy list of medications. More importantly though, he suffered the same haunting TBI and PTSD symptoms as the rest of those sharing his diagnosis. The symptoms we all know too well. For example, manifestations of nightmares, headaches, memory loss, seizures, are a few.
Officer Espinoza’s Story: TBI and PTSD
On October, 8th 2003, he had responded to a call at a bar in North Wichita. While there, Espinoza was viciously assaulted by a group of men. After the assault, he and another officer were hospitalized, facing life threatening wounds. Consequently, from that night forward he faced life changing illnesses. Specifically, TBI and PTSD. Other severe health issues developed from excessive prescription drugs ushered by Medical Doctors and specialists. You will see how Espinoza’s intuition regarding his growing list of problems was spot on.
Immediately after the Doctors discharged him on October 18th, debilitating headaches developed. In the same fashion, extreme nausea shortly followed. If that wasn’t bad enough, he began noticing gaps of his day were missing. In essence, problems with memory set in. After going through such violent trauma, 15 or 20 minutes would go by, and he couldn’t recall what happened during these stints of time.
Contacting Wichita City’s Doctor, Espinoza described the migraines, loss of memory, and often feeling lethargic. In short, not knowing back then, he was experiencing residual symptoms of TBI and PTSD. Which include severe fatigue and blackouts. The city Doctor then prescribed OxyContin for pain relief. Surprising to Espinoza, his symptoms were still present, although he took the pain killers for over nine months. At that time he sought a second opinion. And, that opinion was to taper off the heavy pain killers. Needless to say, this retired police officer was referred to a Neurologist.
Now, the Neurologist requested several sleep studies. Then seizure studies and multiple nerve conduction tests. This Doc gave new diagnosis. Over all, included TBI and PTSD, Epilepsy, Post Concussion Migraines, Sleep Apnea, Neuropathy, and Insomnia. As you can see, one’s social anxiety would intensify under these circumstances.
Anyway, the new and improved medication list entailed Depakote, Cymbalta, Gabapentin, Topamax, Provigil, Xylem, Rozerum, Lunesta, Tizanadine, Cyclobenzaprine, and Xanax. See if you can say that ten times faster! Not to mention the breathing machine to aide sleep apnea. While on these meds, he underwent surgery for Compartment Syndrome. So, add some more narcotic pain killers to the list. Does this seem like an excessive medication list? Keep reading, what you learn will shock you.
Shortly after taking all medications, there was an emergency trip to the hospital, again. Ultimately, the E.R. Doctors explained that Espinoza’s liver, kidneys, and pancreas were shutting down. Now, I’m not a Medical Doctor by any means. But, last time I checked, this could be fatal. With this in mind, they also detected a heart infection. Speaking of the heart, x-rays revealed fluid on his heart’s surface.
Due to Espinoza’s dance with death, a heart surgeon sternly recommended a second opinion on the Neurologist. Then the surgeon urged him to get off of as many medications as possible, quick and safely. Against the orders of his Neurologist, he stopped taking a majority of his epilepsy drugs.
In asking Espinoza, he said he did not stop them fast enough. Given that he gained 75 lbs. He went from a healthy, muscular 222 lbs to an unhealthy 297 lbs. A side effects from the excess epilepsy medication. Unfortunately, there aren’t alternative prescription options. When the Neurologist was asked for the reason, the logic was to treat 17 and 25 seizures in a 24 hr period. Yes, this is how many seizures ensued daily for Officer Espinoza.
More Diagnosis and Medications
The injuries didn’t stop there. In January 2015, he underwent back surgery. Then again, narcotic pain killers were prescribed. For 11 months, Espinoza consumed 8 mg of dilaudid, and 100 mg of Percocet daily. How do you think his liver held up? Well, not so good. In fact, his liver began showing signs of wear again. Not to mention, pain killers are highly addictive. Most patients become addicts by default. Where our bodies develop a dependency of these drugs. For one thing, the pain pill abuse epidemic isn’t “new” news. However, it is very real.
We all realize that this man has gone through enough. But important to point out, summer of 2015 Fibromyalgia, and a blood clotting disorder were added to his diagnosis. It wasn’t until seeing a Rheumatoid Specialist that a cardiolipin antibody was found. On a side note, after researching I found this antibody is a type of fat found in the blood, that shouldn’t be there. In turn, Espinoza never understood why he’d been on blood thinners for the previous three years. Don’t you just love when Doctors prescribe you things but you have no clue what it’s supposed to do?!
Taking Matters of TBI And PTSD Into His Own Hands
On the positive side, our respected police retiree who went through the trauma of an extremely violent assault, decided to take matters into his own hands. Although his Fibromyalgia was treated with heavy duty pain pills, there was no way his liver could handle it any longer.
“The reason for giving my story and all the medications I have been on through the years is simple. I wanted to show how medical marijuana, if used as an alternative drug might have stopped all the damage my body has taken from prescription drugs… some people’s bodies do not tolerate them very well at all. Those of us who have researched it know that THC, Medical Marijuana, has been shown to help with epilepsy, pain management, anxiety, nightmares, and migraines.“ – Derek Espinoza
Through his research about Medicinal Marijuana being an alternative, THC gummies seemed to help the most. Essentially, he studied dosage affects to start out with. Initially, he tried the edible gummies, which have 10 mg of THC per gummy. Mostly, he was under the impression that to maintain the medicinal benefits, he’d have to eat one each night. Surprisingly, this was not the case at all. After playing with dosages he found that just one simple gummy controlled his pain for up to five days! In other words, he typically takes just two candies per week.
In closing I want to emphasize, this was the most conflicting decision he had ever been faced with. Ultimately, he carries his badge and police issued gun everywhere. As he considers himself a member of the law enforcement family. Espinoza still trains, and remains alert whenever out in public. Inevitably, should someone need help, he wants to make sure he can respond quickly to their aide. He takes responsibility using this alternative “drug” as serious as taking a sleep medication, or alcohol. To clarify, he ALWAYS eats the gummie before bed and is not in public, under the influence of any kind.
As funny as the photo above is, in all seriousness, Mr. Espinoza is clearly expressing that he has had supreme results. After being on so many FDA approved drugs, and developing countless ailments, one small gummie with THC is all it takes. After following up with him recently (September 2017), he is still not taking any prescription meds. Here’s what he had to say.
“I would never carry a firearm while under alcohol or pain-killers’ influence, therefore, I wouldn’t for this drug either. I ask that you look at me today, not as someone who uses Medical Marijuana illegally here in Kansas, but as a medical retired police officer who gave everything for his community. All I ask is for the opportunity to treat my body with a drug that has proven to have the least amount of side effects on me. Additionally, promoting the healthiest version of myself than I’ve ever seen.” – Officer Derek Espinoza
TBI and PTSD Notes From PTSDWifey
Mr. Espinoza sent his story in a letter to congress in Kansas, U.S. He wrote them. in hopes to persuade legislators in approving medical marijuana (MMJ). MMJ has helped so many people treat their physical ailments, mental illnesses, and even cancer. In fact, you can read just about anywhere, current topics surrounding CBD oils, and MMJ products along with their health benefits. CBD oil is trending on a large-scale for the relief it gives to patients with life threatening and terminal cancers. What’s your opinion on this polarized topic? Leave a comment by sharing your point of view.
In addition to this, unfortunately, those suffering horrible symptoms from TBI and PTSD often self medicate. Or, they are prescribed a long list of medications similar to what Officer Espinoza listed as his regime.
TBI and PTSD Substance Abuse
If you are struggling with substance or alcohol abuse, there is help available to you. The act of self-medicating to relieve your TBI and PTSD symptoms is counter-productive. On the contrary, narcotic drug use and alcohol will exacerbate one’s symptoms. When you combing TBI and PTSD with drug abuse, you are asking for symptoms more severe than you have ever imagined. If you want real relief, and real symptom remission, you need to make some changes.
First, acknowledging that you have a significant issue is the best place to begin. Second, you need to find a Therapist that specializes in trauma. And third, you need to utilize the different grounding and coping skills that you learn in therapy. By doing these three things, you will be moving in a positive direction where you WILL start to feel better and more in control. Especially, more control of your life.
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