"My husband is part of the United States Military and has been for over 27 years would probably be for another 27 years if it were not for his injuries that have kept him from being able to perform his duties within the military. He loved serving other and chose to go into the military to help protect the rights we hold dear as Americans and to serve other soldiers.
When did he become injured? I believe that with injuries in the brain it is not always easy to pinpoint an exact date and time of an injury and would have to say this is true with my husband. He in 1997-1998 served in what was Bosnia where not only did he witness great atrocities that would continue to play in his mind even until today, but he was exposed to frequent and semi-regular mortar attacks that would shake the ground and all who stood on it. He later served in Iraq where in 2007 he was one of many who were in the blast zone of a rocket missile that was targeted into the military camp. During this episode he was knocked unconscious for a time. When he came too, he did not seek medical attention as he probably should because of his “old school soldier” attitude, he was moving and above ground so he needed to help others around him that were injured with visible injuries, that were trying to get debris of them, that needed consoling, etc.
When he returned from Bosnia, he had a hard time sleeping, was angry at little things and little things would become big issues, he would relive nightly different missions and things he had seen, even acting out those nightmares that cumulated with me waking to being strangled by my sleeping husband. I have to make clear here, he was sound asleep and was terrified when I could get him awake that he might hurt me or our children. We did try to seek help, at the time we were advised that I had better stop talking and my husband should drop it or it would destroy his career. We stupidly listened and tried to cope with the new normal.
He within a year of returning from Bosnia was sent on an unaccompanied tour and he began to have more symptoms of something being wrong. It was hard being on the other side of the world to see your spouse falling apart. The changes became more and more pronounced, he was behaving and acting in ways that just were not him, almost the complete opposite. I on more than one occasion contacted people from the chaplain to people in his command that something was wrong. At this point I was again warned I would destroy his career and my husband was lead to believe that was what I was doing and that perhaps I was not military spouse material.
We separated for a time and the changes were still active in his life but at this point I was looked at as the overly zealous soon to be divorced woman and was ignored. We after about 3 years brought our family back together, and by this time we were used to the “new normal” and the angry outburst and nightmares were nothing like they had been when he first came home from Bosnia.
When he arrived back home the middle of 2008 from Iraq there were changes, but the military now teaches families, almost drills it in to our heads, that soldiers will come back from deployments changed. They offer and provide reunification classes that are again to remind us that we have changed and they have changed during the deployments and that we can and should expect changes in behavior, in emotions, in us wanting to maintain what we have set up for the our homes, etc. Also history had shown the girls and I that Daddy when he comes back was different for a while but this time there were many differences. Our two grandchildren were living with us, the girls themselves were now older could now see what I had tried to shield them from. He on the outside bore no wounds, didn’t walk with a limp, no scars, but he had many unseen wounds and scars. We gave him space initially hoping he would soon bounce back. He would have nightmares, was hypervigilant, he would hold up in our master bedroom to the point of bringing the TV and computer in there something he had always refused to allow. If the grandchildren squealed something that used to bring smiles made him run for cover and left them wondering what the matter with Grampie was. He also was having memory issues that we brushed aside as he just wasn’t hearing us. He would at times laugh at things that just were not laughable but he would catch our looks and walk away.
As we moved on he did not “bounce back”. His hearing was worse, they did hearing exams and mri’s , discovering his hearing was significantly changed from before Iraq to after, but they gave him stronger hearing aids and blamed the ringing in his ears on the hearing loss. They also began to blame the hearing loss for his memory changes, “I didn’t hear you.” Became a frequent response, though he might have at the time been able to repeat what had been said but a few minutes later couldn’t recall the conversation. We also started hearing “I’m thinking” to questions that required no thought. He was having frequent headaches that would knock him out for hours at a time. They would blame on his blood pressure being elevated, but we noted that the headaches still where happening when his blood pressure was “normal”. He was super sensitive to loud noise, seemed to always be tired regardless of how much sleep he got, nothing seemed to make him happy even things that before had brought joy to him, he would repeat things over and over and began to have to have a regular routine or the world was coming to an end.
His symptoms could take hours to list but he had no rhythm or reason to his moods, one day he would sleep all day the next bouncing of the walls, would speak without thought of who or what he was saying or how it would be perceived, he would be extremely aggressive and short fused, uncharacteristically lewd, seemed to lose all sense of social grace and at times military bearing and this is but a partial listing. I think what kept us from realizing how bad he was and the amount of trouble he was having was his military bearing.
We sought help for the symptoms individually, not knowing what the matter was but even with treatment for those individual symptoms he still was having problems. He recognized at times he was having trouble and that he was behaving in ways that were not his normal and this upset him more. He even began to question his faith and all that he once held dear. Being that we are a military family we move frequently and one of the disadvantages of that is that at each new location the medical starts over each time, the system is designed so that should not happen but after so long in the system it does repetitively. He began trying to hide his symptoms because of fear he’d be told he was going crazy and tried to do what they had previously told us to do to help. While at the new duty station overseas, his nightmares became worse and he again began to act them out, on many occasions I would wake to him over me strangling me. For that matter many of the symptoms became worse, trying to hide them only seemed to bring them out. Yes hiding was one way of dealing with it because in today’s day and age to say you are being strangled in your sleep and your spouse is having angry outburst, makes people think of domestic violence, so in fear we kept silent for a time. Though silent I began researching online what was happening and eventually began to talk with his medical provider. I was not completely honest with his medical provider either but tried to get his provider to ask questions that would help him discover what was going on.
In January of 2011 my husband had a heart attack at that point and I also discovered in picking up his meds at the pharmacy while he was Tdy that he had not been taking them correctly , we had more of some and less of some than what we should have. This was enough that I began talking with his provider. They did testing there in Japan that eventually led us here to Hawaii in March of 2011. While he was being tested it was discovered he needed immediate bypass surgery. We both had a big wakeup call, the blockage was enough that the heart attack could have taken his life and that all the symptoms that we had been dealing with needed to be taken care of. Together when we returned to Japan we went to behavioral health where they diagnosed PTSD but still they felt that something was not right.
Eventually because of his heart condition and the PTSD the military moved us to Hawaii to be closer to Tripler and into a unit where my husband’s job was and is to heal. Here in Hawaii he for over a year saw psychiatrist, psychologist, neuropsychologist, audiologist, primary care doctors, physical therapist and it seemed any other –ologist that might have an opinion. The doctors gave him medicine to help with symptoms, they did MRI’s, CAT’s and PET scans, went to local hospitals for EEG’s and sleep studies, but one symptom would come under control and another would seemingly get worse. Or the treatment would leave him more tired or sleeping at odd times, he no longer is able to drive because he fell asleep at the drop of a hat.
In April/May I was researching online on veteran sites and reading post on Facebook and came across a site that lead me to homecoming4veterans.org that talked about neurofeedback and how it was helping soldiers with PTSD. I had a ray of hope that this might help him, as they were saying PTSD was causing all of what was happening, though all the medical providers he was seeing could not even agree on this diagnosis. The site listed providers here in Hawaii and after reading the site through and through I went back to Facebook and was saddened to read that active duty where not being able to get coverage to allow for this, even though many of the veterans who had participated were according to their families doing better. About this time he was referred to a neurologist as he was now stumbling around, blanking out and just having quite a few neurological symptoms. The neurologist at Tripler listened and ordered many test but felt that something was going on with his sleep that was causing a lot of his symptoms so she voiced she was going to refer us out into the civilian sector as she was not specialized in sleep disorders. Initially she had voiced sending him to one of 3 providers but the more he rambled using military terms she felt that he would do better to go to this one particular neurologist, Dr. Russo. She voiced he would understand the military as he recently retired from the military himself. In the back of my brain I thought that name seemed familiar from the homecoming4veterans.org. We got authorization from our insurance to see Dr. Russo and scheduled his first appointment in June. From the first appointment, your practice was different. Coming in the first day, it was comfortable, almost like coming into a friend’s house, your office staff and you made us feel at home. You reviewed a mountain of information and made few recommendations, but it was the second appointment that made a believer in you and your treatment methods. You began treatment for what you believed to be a brain injury and the PTSD using different medications and the neurofeedback. You were confident enough in your diagnosis but the military’s medical system couldn’t agree because they couldn’t see the damage on the tests that they had done and continued to run. You received your DEEG and we got authorization from Triwest to complete one. The DEEG was able to prove visually the brain deficits and injury that could not be seen otherwise!
Since beginning treatment that was able to be geared more to him because of the DEEG findings. His outbursts have decreased and when they happen now he is able to be redirected. He is able to do more than sit and fixate on an online game. He is being able to sleep better, it is still not a full night but he is at least getting 6 hours of sleep most nights. He has not strangled me in his sleep and is not acting out his dreams like he was. He is being able to tolerate the noise of toddlers and little children again. He has begun to actively have a relationship with his children and grandchildren again. He still has challenging days but the challenging days are decreasing and there is improvement that providers who questioned the treatment can’t deny and give account for!
To other families I would say, don’t give up! If it doesn’t sound right or seem right it may not be right. Medical providers are human too and they can only tell you what the test they are doing say. They all agreed that something was not right but with what they had available to them they just could not see it. You are not alone, no matter how alone you feel, there is someone out there that is going through something very similar. If it isn’t in your circle of friends reach out, the internet allows you to talk with people around the world. Be honest, honest with yourself, honest with family or your support people, and honest with your medical providers. Keep your faith and don’t stop, you know your loved one best."
The DEEG is able to monitor the healing process after a traumatic brain injury.
Call today to find out what we can do to help you or your loved one.
I am a Tactical Commander for a U.S. Embassy's security Response Team. I was responsible for ensuring the safety and security of top-level U.S. diplomats in a high risk environment. On January 4th, 2016 our base was attacked and a 5,000 pound vehicle born improvised explosive device was detonated outside the perimeter wall. The ensuing blast destroyed over 60% of the compound to include the building I was in. I was unconscious for quite some time and do not recall what happened prior to or shortly after the traumatic event. I was immediately identified as having suffered major head trauma and was flown out of the country to seek proper medical care in the United States.
During the past year, I have had the privilege of being a patient of Dr. Michael Russo. Dr. Russo epitomizes what I have come to see as his amazing character and utter devotion to the patients in his care. His commitment to my welfare and the welfare of my family has had a major impact on my recovery. His exams have been extremely thorough and I have learned a great deal about the injury I sustained, the impact it has on me currently and will have in the future. He has access to technology in his practice, to include the Dense Array EEG, that was almost impossible to find anywhere else in the state. Dr. Russo has given great comfort to my loved ones through his ability to transform technical industry diagnoses into real life, digestible information that helps them understand what I am going through, and how best to help me. He takes his time with my appointments and addresses every concern with sincerity and the utmost professionalism. I am certain that without being under his care, I would not be doing as well as I am today.
I have never experienced treatment under a caregiver who displays such a level of commitment and caring to others around them. Dr. Russo is a trusted and loyal individual to look to for comfort and I am glad he is in charge of my care.
Jim N. in Hilo, HI | Jan 19, 2017
Dr Russo has been very knowledgeable, informative and compassionate with my care since my initial consultation. These qualities have continued throughout my care and has changed my life in a positive manner. I look forward to our journey thru the remainder of my recovery from traumatic head and brain trauma.
Kevin Y. in Hilo, HI | Jan 18, 2017
Very good doctor who takes time to listen to all your symptoms and explains what testing and medication he thinks will help you to get better. Found I had very high mercury levels after 2 other doctors told me nothing was wrong. Would recommend him to family and friends!
Krystal L. in Honolulu, HI | Jan 18, 2017
I had seen one previous neurologist and felt that he was not helping me find out what was causing my ailment. From the first day I saw Dr. Russo, he made me comforted, supported, that he was really listening to me. He was proactive about my concerns. He didn't brush off my symptoms even though he couldn't see them. He listens and strategizes a game plan to help the patient find the answers they seek. Sometimes patients just need to know their doctors really care.
Edward T. in Hilo, HI | Jan 08, 2017
My son see Dr Russo because of his sezuires and he has been helping us to find the right medicanes for him to take. He is a awesome dr. If i need to reach him I can text him and always get a reply. He is there to help and he does help.Im glad to have a dr for my son like him.
Benjamin in Kailua Kona, HI | Jan 01, 2017
There are no longer any neurologist on the Big island. Dr. Russo comes to Kona once a month and to Hilo once a month. What a nice, sensitive caring Doctor. Blessed to find him. Took extra care with my special needs son ans spent time explaining and researching his thoughts. Highly recommend Doctor Russo.
Alfredo P. in Honolulu, HI | Dec 12, 2016
To Whom It May Concern: My name is Alfredo Pasatiempo, Jr. and I am patient who suffers from chronic pain from various surgeries to the back, ear, right knee, and herniated surgery, etc. I am writing this review to acknowledge that Dr. Russo, is an outstanding practitioner who, cares for his patients. He helped me change my life and today I am on very limited pain medications. I am an undergraduate with a degree in Psychology and now in graduate school to earn a masters, SAC.
Shareen D. in Kapolei, HI | Dec 12, 2016
My father was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2006. Our first visit with Dr. Russo, took one look at my dad and after a few tests for eye movement & 10 minute exam, diagnosed him with something I never heard of, PSP (Progressive supranuclear palsy). Just Like That! after a decade of not understanding. 3-6 in every 100,000 people worldwide or approx. 20,000 Americans have PSP. 1 doctor could diagnose it Miraculous! Innovative, Caring, Compassionate, Giving is how FAITH is defined! TY your gifted!
Le' Andre' D. in Kapolei, HI | Dec 12, 2016
The Wizard of Oz! He is the wizard, knowledgeable in his trade. He is beyond a neurologist. Nurturing, caring, and a great listener! What I received from him, was not treatment as a patient but as a family member that he needed to help. I will sum it up with 2 words......"GOD SENT"!!!
Anthony K. in Honolulu, HI | Dec 10, 2016
With each visit with Dr. Russo He made sure that all my questions were answered DEEG Hawaii was able to reveal seizures that conventional EEG's weren't able to show while giving my diagnosis Dr. Russo asked me the question of why did I suffer with high blood pressure, which in turn I found out that i suffered from a mild sleep disorder Now my health is becoming better and better I have literally seen over 100 different doctors on the mainland Docto Russo is a great doctor!