Early morning musings about Altras and PTSD

The Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe, Men’s Size 8 (D).  Most comfortable shoes I have ever had on my feet.  Why?  A few things are going on with these shoes.  First of all, the forefoot.  It is wide — extremely wide.  This is to allow for natural toe splay and that helps the second aspect of these shoes to work more effectively, which is the no-drop soles with the Trail Claws.  These prevent the dreaded plantar fasciitis from attacking the runner, as well as providing wicked traction on any terrain.  Third, the insoles provide a moderate cushion, not too rigid and not too flimsy.  I cannot feel the ground through them, yet they are sensitive enough that I can self-correct with my ankles and not roll or injure my ankles instead.  The fourth design piece to this puzzle is the locked-in midsole once the laces are cinched up and tied.  Your foot is not going anywhere!  No sloshing around in your shoes!  Breathable mesh tops complete this quintuple combination, allowing your feet to breathe and keeping foot odor down as a result.  A nice sixth feature are the gaiter loops that hold your gaiters in place and keep debris out of your shoes and, thus, out of your way when you are running, walking, or whatever else you might be doing in these shoes.  The materials that these shoes are made out of are lightweight, yet durable, and make for an excellent form-fitting experience with these beasts!  The down side is that these shoes would normally be quite expensive ($150 +), however that is why you wait and buy last season’s leftovers (~$90).  You would be surprised at the fact that you may not end up with the “ugliest” shoe in your size, because Altra does a pretty good job of choosing their color combinations wisely.  You are not very likely to get criticized for having “ugly shoes”, and even if you do, they are Altras!  Get over it!

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Photo courtesy of http://www.wildfiresports.com.au, Copyright 2019.

Speaking of getting over things, I had a really bad night with the nightmares last night.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder sucks.  That is all I can say.  Your memories are filed wrong due to the traumatic nature of an incident or incidents in your life, and then you spend the rest of your waking hours of life tormented by the aftereffects, and the rest of what should be your resting hours trying to subconsciously “file” things in the correct places.  The problem is that the last time that your “files” were in order may have been when you were in grade school, or high school, or whenever the last stage of your life was prior to the trauma.  Your brain begins trying to “file” everything from that point.  So, you end up with nightmares that are truly disturbing because you have a mishmash of “properly filed” memories being bombarded by what your brain is trying to sort out with these disorganized and “misfiled files”.  What are really horrific are the times when “misplaced files” surface — things that were forgotten during the trauma to protect your brain from a total and complete psychotic meltdown (or maybe you had one anyway and your brain walled it off from your consciousness to salvage what it could) that resurface and are remembered in full-color, surround-sound detail.  Throw in a person’s usual fears, experiences, worries, stresses, poor sleep hygiene, and the like, and you have full-blown chaos while waking and attempting to sleep.  It is rather impressive how little sleep a person can function on, but how well they function is a different story entirely.  For example, me?  I do not function so well sometimes.  I do not function well enough to work any kind of traditional job (and have been fired even from non-traditional employment).  Do I look like a mutant?  Are people afraid to get near me?  NO!  I look like your average person.  I do not even wear military clothing, so you might not guess that I am a military Veteran…that is, until I freak out in public and embarrass anyone who may be with me, nearby, or managing the store and trying to comfort the small children in the area.  I have been asked to leave many places many times, and only occasionally asked if I was okay before they asked me to leave.  Of course, I cannot blame people for not knowing what to think of a flashback.  I no longer know exactly where I am, although I am convinced, at least initially, that I am back in the combat zone and am in danger.  My first priority is my weapon, which I cannot find, of course.  That causes problems.  Then the training takes over.  I just react.  Thinking does not resume for a little while, and the reactions cause quite the scare because they are military actions, defensive actions, evasive actions, and life-saving efforts that occur because I am, at least in my mind, 100% back in the war zone and these sheeple are just standing around in the sand letting themselves get shot at or trying to get (inadvertently?) blown up.  It’s frustrating at the time, and I am scared to death for these people, while in reality, they are all scared to death of ME.  If I am really lucky, another Veteran with PTSD or someone I am with who knows how to calm me down is around to help me back to reality and yes, leave the area as quickly as possible.  Veterans are sometimes feared because they might “freak out”.  We do not mean to.  As a matter of fact, we would rather not.  It is an unfortunate condition that can last a lifetime.  Mine is one such case of PTSD.  Chronic, severe PTSD is truly debilitating.  People do not realize how incredibly disabling it can be.  That is not to say that we cannot do anything with our lives or that we do not have dreams and aspirations, because we most certainly do.  It just takes us a lot more grit, prescription medication, psychotherapy, support, and attempts to accomplish what we are still able to do.  Next time you see a Veteran and thank them for their service, I hope you mean it.  We appreciate hearing those words, even when we do not feel that we did any good in the Service of our Great Nation.

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