Major Richards Mind

For years, I’ve been fascinated with how the brain works and have read various articles and stories on the topic. I’m especially curious about how and where the mind/brain connection works, but to date, researchers have yet to define that and debate flourishes.

Two of my more recent reads on the mind/brain were important enough for me to buy and hold after borrowing them from the library: Muses, Madmen, and Prophets by Daniel Smith looked at the question from more of a psychological/spiritual direction while My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor looked at science of strokes. Interestingly, the science of strokes also had spiritual insights.

One of my other fascinations, if you will, comes from the Sunday NY Times section, “Sunday Review.” Sunday August 12th carried the front page story, War Wounds. The way these pieces come together is the opening line of the article: “It would be so much easier, Major Richards says, if he had just lost a leg in Iraq.” Instead, the Major, whose IQ at West Point was about 148 (i.e. at the edge of the genius level) and now, he’s losing his mind from concussions he received in Iraq explosions. And basically, untreated concussions because he had no outward wounds. Two major concussions within a three-week period.

I recently had a minor concussion. I tripped, fell, and hit my forehead on a 2×4, which in itself was fortunate because I didn’t hit the cement. I ended up kneeling on one leg, propped on elbows and forearms, forehead on a 2×4. What was interesting was that while my mind functioned and I knew what had happened, my brain’s ability to control my muscles had disconnected. Even though I knew I wanted to, I could not lift my head; I could not push myself up with my arms. I wasn’t really scared, just astonished that I couldn’t, for the few moments/minutes it lasted, move.

Over the following days, I rested a lot, saw my doctor a lot, and slowly came back into balance. My “doctor” is a DOC, in other words, a doctor of chiropractic. She is a non-force healer who focuses on the sacral/occipital connection which not only straightens the spine but also gets spinal fluid going again. That’s a very brief outline, of course, but the spinal fluid is vital. I remained some wobbly in the pegs, but in a week’s time, I’d begun healing and writing and was back, more or less, in balance.

But I also learned a lot. I remembered how, when hockey players are hit hard, they often kneel on the ice, forehead down, and can’t move for a few moments; the same is true of other athletes when they have a head hit, only football players usually end up backwards. But they can’t move for a few moments either. And the athlete with a concussion doesn’t play for a while.

If professional sports can finally treat and understand the dangers of concussions, why can’t the military? One could say, I suppose, that in war, soldiers are an expendable commodity just as civilians are “collateral damage,” while in sports, players are high-dollar merchandise. Sports teams have body workers on staff just as they have medical staff. They pay to have their merchandise in top shape.

But in reality, this doesn’t hold up. The cost of educating someone like Major Richards is huge, as is the cost of the equipment that someone in war uses and carries. And has to have replaced or repaired on a regular basis.

Why are concussions treated with psychiatric doctors and not by a bodyworker who understands the mind/body/spirit connection?

What a waste: in dollars, in human values, to spouses, to children, in lives from suicide, and to a country that professes to honor these men and women.  What a terrible, terrible waste. While the Army is so far ahead on so many social issues (the first openly gay woman is being elevated to general), why are they so backwards in the mental challenges that come with war, whether head injuries or PTSD?

I don’t get it. Do you? Is it only the lack of money directed to the VA or is there some other lack of understanding that goes on? There are no simple answers, I know that, but I’m missing something..

What do you think? Fill in the blanks for me. If any of you have had military service, I’d appreciate hearing what you have to say.