Sidney Morris started his life as a troubled, homeless teenager in Los Angeles in an underserved neighborhood. As a troubled, homeless teenager, Sidney Morris would either sleep in a friend’s car or on a nearby building’s staircase. He recalled, “I stood here at one point and I was like, ‘This is it, man. I’m done. I’m just gonna die out here on the streets’”. Even as a very young child, Sidney would always get anxiety due to witnessing a lot of street violence that occurred in front of his childhood home.
Sydney receiving treatment
When he was giving the PenFed team a tour of the apartment complexes where he used to sleep near as a teenager, he started to fully realize the impact of the stellate ganglion block or “SGB”. He said, “It was actually as the same as it was. I triumphed! I beat it!”. His words echoed the success that the stellate ganglion block has provided for him as he managed to overcome traumatic thoughts that once took over him in the past when he was at a location where he used to struggle in his youth.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a stellate ganglion is part of the sympathetic nervous system that is located in the neck, on either side of the voice box. A stellate ganglion block is an injection of medication into these nerves that can help relieve pain in the head, neck, upper arm and upper chest. It also can help increase circulation and blood supply to the arm.
Purpose of the SGB injection
Additionally, the University of Maryland said that an SGB injection may reduce symptoms such as pain, swelling, color, sweating changes in the upper extremity. In fact, the injection may also improve mobility for the patients as well.
For individuals who have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) such as Sidney, the SGB reduces the nerve impulses and messages sent to the brain center thereby providing relief in the symptoms of PTSD. In fact, the Cornell Pain Clinic stated that the “stellate ganglion block has shown promising results for treatment of PTSD symptoms by reducing dysfunctional sympathetic tone and reducing hyper-arousal and inability to relax”.
Sydney’s childhood memories
Three months after Sidney had his SGB procedure, he gave a tour of his old neighborhood in Los Angeles. As Sidney was giving his tour, he recalled some memories from the 1992 riots that affected the whole city. Some notable moments that Sidney recalled include a time where he saw a man assaulting a kid and multiple burning buildings.
As he led the PenFed team to his childhood home, he told another story where one time, he saw a puddle of blood in the driveway. Afterwards, he later noticed drips of it heading towards one direction. He said memories like that can affect children’s minds and normalize it where a child can see it like a game. In the game for example, the child can say stuff like, “Hey, where is the blood going?”.
Memories influencing the present day
In this same case, his friends and him would play another guessing game where they would guess whether if that person was “stabbed or was shot”. As he experienced moments and memories like that, his experiences would later mold him into an angry, combative teenager who chose chaos over calm.
He later took the PenFed team to a parking lot where he said that “ghosts” were present there. These happened due to the stabbings and shootings that occurred at that lot. As for Sidney, he was in the midst of those events. Afterwards, he joined the Marine Corps and he said that it was “the best decision he ever made”.
Life-changing decision for Sydney
Sidney stated that the ethos of the Marine Corps was similar to the street code that he and his childhood friends used in the neighborhood. He said that both structures had rankings, rules, procedures, do’s/don’ts, disciplinary actions, and so on. As the years progressed, Sidney had lost friends on the battlefield and off of it as well.
By the time he was flying to Chicago for his SGB operation, he was barely living. On the day before the operation, he made a decision where he had to make his point in being sure that the operation will make a positive change in his life and not continually relive traumatic experiences repeatedly.
A second chance for a joyful life
Although he admitted there are still times where he may get angry, has stressors, and get sad, he noticed that those aforementioned emotions do not have him go from “zero to absolute fury anymore”. Sidney is currently 43-years-old and is looking at a future that looks very bright for him. As he stands with his dog, looking at the old apartment building where he used to sleep on the staircase as a teenager, he remarked, “This is actually very cool, you know. Here I am, here I am”.
For approximately 8 million Americans who are diagnosed with PTSD, having the stellate ganglion block injected can help them be on the road to a life where they can no longer feel sadness and hurt every hour anymore. For individuals like Sidney, the SGB is helpful tool to guide them to a joyful life, every single day.