There are five medical professionals who agree with me; my husband is amidst a severe relapse of his PTSD, and he needs intervention as soon as possible.
In the space of a few days, his regular GP, a secondary GP, his regular psychologist, the ward intake clinician, and the ward’s psychiatrist have all reviewed my husband and have all approved his admission into the specialised PTSD unit at the leading psychological trauma hospital.
My husband knows this place, he trusts this ward, and he knows it’s where he needs to be right now. When he falters, and when he falls, these specialists are there ready to catch him when I cannot. And when I should not.
So as each day passed, all we could do was wait. Bags were packed and arrangements had been made. An admission date was set. And still we waited for the call to tell us that the final box has been ticked by the insurance company, that we could book the plane flight to get him to the best facility for the help he needs.
But he’s still here. And he’s a mess. Why are they saying no, no, NO?
Are the nightmares in sleep not enough? His days are now filled with even more demons.
And my days too.
Up to this point, I have withheld writing about the procedural side of treating PTSD. Everybody has a different journey with PTSD, every workplace has varying policies, and everybody has different organisations to deal with.
Workers compensation, insurance companies, medical discharges, disability pensions, and medical retirements all become an unwelcome part of life when someone finds themself collapsing, without warning, under the unbearable strain of a workplace psychological injury. They bring undue stress, extra complications, and often interfere with a clear chance at recovery.
I sat on the floor of my kitchen, vacantly staring at our dinner baking in the oven, tears pricking at my eyes. But I couldn’t let them out. Not here. Not now. The children were playing in the next room, hungry for their meal and hungry for my attention.
Though my thoughts were only on the letter that arrived at our door the very same week my husband slid back down into the darkest depths of his nightmares. A letter that very nearly finished my husband off.
I never thought it would come to this.
After watching my husband dedicate more than a decade to a career he loved, saving lives and serving his community, I thought the shock of seeing him being dragged under by post traumatic stress disorder, and the fear of what it was doing to our family, would make it the worst time of our lives.
But I was wrong. The worst was still to come.
A man, a husband, a paramedic, a father. We made sure we found him experienced doctors, clinical psychologists, and specialised psychiatrists to offer the best treatments possible. But it was all in vain, because ultimately his life and recovery hinges entirely on the bureaucratic processes and decisions of the insurance company serving his workers compensation.
For six years, he has jumped through every hoop they have put in front of him, ticked every last box they have demanded.
But now, only days before he was due to be admitted for urgent care in the specialised PTSD ward, a letter from the insurance company arrived, boldly telling us in Arial font size 12 that they deem my husband fit and well. A letter, bluntly telling us in arrogant black ink on crisp 80gsm paper that in a matter of weeks his claim would be cancelled and all entitlements terminated.
My husband held it together. Barely. But soon after, a phone call to announce that funding for his admission to the PTSD ward, set for the very next day, had been denied. It was the phone call that finished him off.
Did you hear that? Our world just collapsed.
Is it any wonder then, that he wanted to numb the pain and drown the anger? His all too predictable self-medicating causing him to stumble, intoxicated and enraged, into a window and gash his arm open.
Our family will survive this, but at what cost?
And while I sit, typing this illogical post in the depths of the night as sleep evades me, hoping that my children stay settled and don’t dream about the night they witnessed, and while my husband rages and cries and rages and wails, refusing to close his eyes even for a second, the insurance gods are sitting back in their calm and happy family homes, congratulating themselves on their most lucrative quarter yet.
To say the system is unjust is an appalling understatement. “Don’t worry about what happens to number 120448235. Plenty more where he came from.”
What terrible things have we done in our lives to deserve this? Why do we have to continually fight so hard for help? The blow of PTSD makes my head throb, but the negligence of the insurance companies makes my mind scream.
The worst is now on top of us. But who will protect the protectors?
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