Traumatic brain injury is sometimes referred to as a “silent” condition, because of its lack of visible symptoms. The hard to pin down nature of the condition makes doctors often overlook the condition in favor of another diagnosis, especially with veterans.
According to Brett Nuckles at ThisWeek Community News, Curtis Armstrong was stationed in Iraq, working his post in an Army watch tower, when his building was hit by mortars. Armstrong lived, but it took weeks for his hearing and disorientation to subside.
The hearing and disorientation only gave way to long term problems such as mood swings, anxiety, and memory lapses. “I noticed it was hard to learn and retain new information, no matter how many notes I would write down,” Armstrong told Nuckles. “And unless it was life or death, I couldn’t tell you what I did three days ago. That’s when I started getting scared.”
Initially, Armstrong was diagnosed with PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but finally last year doctors identified what had really been plaguing him all this time: TBI.
Armstrong left the Army in 2009 and enrolled in college, where he struggled with all of his symptoms, but he persevered. He is still working through school, two credits away from an associate degree in communications, and he is optimistic about his future.
“It’s going to be a struggle, but I do see that we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.