I’ve been away from this site for quite awhile, as everything I’ve wanted to write about seems pointless and Debbie Downer. But, I have 5 posts that I’ve been editing over all these months, and a blog by DrugOpinions on trauma got me to thinking about why I’m stuck in writer’s block hell.
Backstory: It’s been a challenging Summer, with a bunch of myCOPDteam friends passing away, and with my budget being incredibly tight due to a car accident that totaled my new (4 months old) car, and dealing with the pain involved in the (relatively minor) injuries I received.
I’m broke due to being out of pocket to replace my car (found an IDENTICAL model, yes!), and the ongoing physical therapy co-payments as I work to rehab my body without relying on pain killers or other aids that might make my existing ailments worse, (for those who might have lost teack – Asthma / Emphysema / COPD; diabetes; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; blah, blah, blah). With all this being said, writer’s block is an additional bonus to my frustrations for dealing with my life right now. Usually, I write until whatever’s bugging me is purged, and that outlet has been closed for quite a bit of time.
So, to try and clear my head, I’m going to try and figure out my ACE score to see if it adds any clarity to the crap floating around behind my eyes and between my ears these last few months.
Prior to your 18th birthday:
- Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
No___ If Yes, enter 1 __ [ 1 ]
- Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ sort of? Touch was used for control and silencing me, after all spankings stopped at age 5, when my Mom was afraid my father would beat me to death at my refusal to be apologetic when being defiant ]
- Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ No ] but, I had lots of surgeries, including one on my bladder, and I often wonder if that impacted my early interest in how the body parts worked…
- Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ No ]
- Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ No ] My father was a functional alcoholic, but my Mom was the bulwark of the family and we were well cared for.
- Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ 1 ] yes, thank heavens !
- Was your mother or stepmother:
Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ No, never in front of me. That trauma was reserved for my Aunt and Uncle, who I was sent to live with for 3 Summers after my parents separated, and who seemed to get aroused by the violence after we were all in bed but unable to hide from the sounds of their fights, violence and sex, late at night].
- Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ 1 ] Yes. My father and my Aunt were both functional alcoholics.
- Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ No. While I believe depression runs rampant on both sides of my family tree, my father was on lithium when I was 9, which contributed to the quietest 6 months in our household before he couldn’t stand the peace and quiet and refused to continue on the medication].
- Did a household member go to prison?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __ [ No ]
Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score
It turns out that as the ACE score increases, so does the risk of chronic diseases, social and emotional problems later in life.
To continue the topic for scoring, one summarizes the scoring as follows:
What’s Your ACE Score? (and, at the end, What’s Your Resilience Score?)
There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.
There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — racism, bullying, watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, involvement with the foster care system, involvement with the juvenile justice system, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.
The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.
The focus on the ACE scoring that I find most interesting is how “toxic stress” is defined to highlight impacts on your health.
While I don’t consider my ACE score particularly high based on the questions asked, it’s the focus on resiliency which really captures my attention.
I consider myself extremely resilient.
But, considering the fact that my first chest surgery occurred at about six months old, and involved breathing issues due to a physical deformity involving my chest and ribs, as my bones curved inward, endangering my lungs and heart and preventing proper growth as I aged, it comes back to a whole chicken vs. egg question for me.
Looking at this score image in particular, focusing on COPD, throws the entire dynamic into the trash bin for me.
If I started life with a birth defect, and the inevitable evolution into COPD is a foregone conclusion if I lived long enough to wear out my body, then the ACE score has no relationship on my likelihood of contracting COPD.
This is one of those kitchen sink analogies where everything impacts one’s quality of life and rate of illnesses, negating the value of the cause and effect study for me.
So many people with horrible childhoods are hale and healthy into old age, so I’m going to lump this into the, “if you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail” theory.
So, let’s look at the resiliency scoring from another study:
Please circle the most accurate answer under each statement:
1. I believe that my mother loved me when I was little.
Definitely true Probably true Not sure Probably Not True Definitely Not True