Chronic Pain Patient – PTSD & the 4th of July

Chronic Pain Patient - PTSD & the 4th of July

When chronic pain stems from a traumatic event, as it often can for our active military, a person may experience both chronic pain and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Darisse Smith is a retired U.S. Army captain (and chronic pain patient) who occasionally writes for the National Pain Report. We saw a post on her Facebook page over the holiday weekend that we asked her if we could share it as a short blog with our National Pain Report readers. She agreed.

I read hot debates this week about veterans especially suffering from PTSD posting signs in their yard asking their neighbors to be courteous with fireworks. The vet wasn’t asking his neighbors not to set off fireworks but instead to give him a heads-up before shooting them off.

My PTSD is well-controlled and minor but still unexpected fireworks bother me. Maybe I can give those interested a glimpse of what it can feel like (everyone is different and I am only sharing my experience).

All day I have wanted to celebrate like everyone else but this requires going out into unruly crowds where fireworks might be present, so I hesitate.

We had a nice quiet day watching movies and grilling out but I have been irritable all day and I can’t explain why. I did enjoy a small community fireworks display and was ok despite wanting to rip the head off someone behind us with an air horn. Usually I wouldn’t react much to the jackass but I yelled at him to “stop blowing that f****** air horn” and scouted to find the loser.

On the way home I scoped my neighborhood to see where parties are being held so I could prepare for those unexpected (usually drunken) booms and pops that make my heart race and put me in a general state of hyperawareness. As a pop or a boom intermittently goes off every couple minutes or so, my heart races, my stomach gets tight and I can’t really sit still. I keep remembering inconsequential things I need to do but really sitting in bed waiting for another sound is worse than walking around. I would like to sleep but my mind is racing with irrational anger and worries. My heart is beating hard enough that it feels like I ran around the block, but I’m not winded. I bounce between anger and frankly crying which comes out as pure irritability.

Please celebrate and have fun, for goodness sake. Just be courteous and consider how your celebrations impact others. Now I am going to blast some “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to improve my mood and will wait out the celebrations in my hood.


Here is some information from the Veterans Administration on chronic pain and PTSD

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Authored by: Darisse Smith

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