Monday, April 15, 2013

The daily rollercoaster that is PTSD is exhausting. Our personal rollercoaster in on a week long cycle. mondays are fine, throughout the week the tension and stress builds, then Friday is the blow up. It has become so routine that I expect it.
I am not sure why things go this way, it just seems to be the norm at my house now. The kids expect it, heck, even the dogs know it is coming.
This week the eruption was a result of our oldest not wearing his slippers. Such a little thing. I know there are people out there that are obsessed with slippers. I am not one of those people. I feel that slippers are only beneficial if they are NEVER WORN OUTSIDE. Now this particular incident consisted of my son NOT going outside because he had no slippers on and had to retrive his shoes.
I know, I know, the blow up wasn't really about the damn slippers. I know it was an accumulation of things that had built up all week and the slippers were simply the catalyst that set off the explosion.
How to get past these explosions? Communication of course. But we have TBI and PTSD standing in the way of that communication. I am still working on the best way to hurdle those obsticles on a daily basis and eventually avoid the weekly explosion.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

black spots

So my husband finally went to the doctor. After 6 months of me badgering him, he relented.
Of course this was not until he was coughing up blood.
The doctor did an x-ray and found a black spot on his lungs. The spot is round, which is promising from what I understand (i am by no means a medical professional). From what I gather a round spot is likely to indicate an infection that the body is trying to contain, while a spot that has branches showes spreading.
A fast pack of antibiotics with an additional antibiotic is what he was given. Plus another x-ray after two weeks.
Afghanistan has no EPA (Enviromental Protection Agency). They have no standards and there is a lot of concern for our sailors, soldiers, and airmen over there as indicated by this exerpt from the Veterans Benefits Administration:
(VBA) Training Letter 10-03, the VBA noted that such "burn
pits" are located at "every location wherein the military has
positioned a forward operating base (FOB)." The Training Letter
goes on to discusses the type and concentration of particulate
matter generated by these "burn pits" and recommends that
"because of the widespread nature of the burn pits, and the
inability of military personnel records to identify all duty
locations, the Veteran's lay statement of burn pit exposure
generally will be sufficient to establish the occurrence of such
exposure if the Veteran served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or
Djibouti." In consideration of the recommendations made in VBA
Training Letter 10-03, the Board finds that the Veteran was
exposed to fumes generated by a "burn pit" as a result of the
time, place, and circumstances of his Afghanistan service.
38 U.S.C.A. § 1154(a).

And a leaked Army Memo said exposure could lead to long term respritory problems.

So now we wait.............................

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I have been away so long

It has been a while. Well, over a year. But A LOT has been going on.
I'll have to recount things as I go, that is a lot of catching up.
My husband came home. All in one piece. Thank God! Now we are in the midst of dealing with the effects of the deployment. We all survived, and will continue to.
PTSD, Head Trauma, Tinnitus, those are a few of the things that he is dealing with right now. I am trying to help where and when I can, but this is really something that is only on him. I cannot do much to help, despite my desire to. So I am left to show how much I appreciate and support him while he makes the journey alone.
The VA has done an incredible job thus far helping us out. They are offering treatment for everything they can. They are even offering us marriage counseling.
We had went through marriage counseling when he first got back, a referral from Military One Source. (an excellent source of help and resources.) But we both agree that that counseling may not have been as effective as it could have been. When he came back there was a flurry of activity and a lot of adjusting. Now that things have settled into a rhythm we can see where we need help, where our relationship needs assistance.
Flash backs happen, hypersensitivity happens; and I am lucky to have one of the guys that recognizes it and is willing to put in the work to fix it. As much as it can be fixed.
They need our support, prayers, and above all, our love.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From both sides of the fence.....

When I was active duty I never felt any sympathy for the wives that were left behind while their husbands deployed. As a wife now I still do not feel sorry for them. However, now I do have some empathy. I see just what it is like to be the one left at home to take care of everything while keeping my sanity and putting on the happy face every day.
I was a single parent while active duty so I already knew what it would be like to take care of home and family alone. What I didn't expect was all the additional duties that would be before me simply due to being married.
As a single parent I didn't have to worry about any other adult, everything was on my terms. I was able to do everything from setting bedtimes to ordering the cable package in accordance to what I wanted and how it fit into my schedule. These are the types of things that I no longer decide alone, I am on a team now and we make team decisions.
I now have to deal with a daughter that cries for daddy when she is upset and a son who is not getting the male influence he needs. Before these were not issues, as I was the one and only parent.
When I deployed and had to leave my oldest son I had a hard time dealing with the separation. So I know what it is like for my husband, I may not understand the stresses of the particular job he is doing, but I do understand just how hard it is to be away. Over time he is coming to understand how hard this job is for me. How not having him here affects our lives. For me it is a lot of little things, not nearly the big huge absence he feels right now.
So what do I do to help him? I send packages, notes, cards, and emails. I make sure that he feels loved from miles and miles away. After all, isn't that what we all really want anyhow??

Monday, July 4, 2011

Improving our marriage by revealing everything

This deployment has been a lifesaver to my marriage. We had gotten to the 'make or break' point. I had a feeling that during this deployment one or both of us could easily decide that this marriage was not what we wanted. But one little thing helped turn everything around; and I admit it was not my doing.
My wonderful husband came to the conclusion that for us to truly understand where the other was coming from that we had to reveal all those demons that haunted us. I am not sure if he read that in a book or came up with it on his own. Either way, this has helped us understand each other so much better.
I think it is easier to do while he is deployed for a few reasons. As he revealed this demons to me I had the opportunity to absorb and accept the things he told me without his seeing the sadness or anger on my face. It is always hard to open up so completely to someone and doing it without seeing the other persons face makes it much easier. I know it was easier to reveal my demons to him without seeing his face.
Now, here I must mention that I am by no means a professional. I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. I just know what has worked within my marriage.
I revealed secrets to him that I had never told another soul, as he did me. These were the big things. The type of things that haunt your mind and can send you down a spiral of self destruction. The kinds of things that effect every decision you make and can cause you to lose sleep. This new knowledge is wonderful because now we have a much deeper understanding of each other. Why each of us makes certain decisions about the kids. What drives us to make some decisions for ourselves. Now I know in what aspects of his life he needs the most support, as he does me.
I had always thought that there was no reason to share these things with him because they couldn't possible improve our relationship. I didn't want him to view me any different and I am sure he had the same reservations, but that was not the case. I know I do not see him any different in my eyes, if anything I see him in a better light because now I see just how strong and resilient he is. I am a very lucky woman.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Missing Daddy

My kids missing Daddy is the biggest concern we had when preparing for this deployment. This deployment is different than the previous ones because my husband is on the ground in Afghanistan, all the previous deployments found one of us on board an aircraft carrier. Since we didn't know exactly what the communication situation would be while he was away we had to be sure that there would be ways for our youngest (ages 4 and 1) to keep Daddy close.
Before my husband deployed he took time to read some of their favorite books on DVD. We set up the camcorder and he read the book and talked about it on camera. This is great because anytime our kids want to see Daddy I can pop in the DVD and he can 'read' them a book. When I was deployed on the USS Roosevelt this was available through the public relations department. When my husband last deployed on the USS Eisenhower they did not offer this program so we took it as a lesson learned and planned ahead this time around.
There are also little things I have done to help the kids cope with Daddy being gone. To ensure that they do not think he has left forever I have kept a towel on his towel rack, his coat still hangs by the front door, his shoes are still out, and his coffee cup still sits by the coffee maker. His toothbrush is even there waiting for his return. My son (age 1) will point to these things and ask 'Daddy?" It is nice to know he knows these things are Daddy's.
They have done very well with this deployment so far. We are currently about halfway done with this deployment and they seem to be adjusting well. We are very thankful to have Skype this time around. My husband took my laptop with him and has Internet in his bunk room so we can talk often. It is expensive to have his Internet service, but it has proven to be well worth the cost.  We have even 'had dinner' with Daddy.
Young kids have such short term memories that it is important to provide constant reminders that Daddy (or Mommy) will be back. It is also important for them to see their parent often, in pictures, video, or online. My daughter sleeps with a picture of her and her Daddy every night. There are also other ways to keep them remembering Daddy other than in a visual sense. Every once in a while I will spray his cologne around the house while they are sleeping. I have no idea if this has any effect on them, but I know it helps me feel better and I like to think that it will keep that scent alive for them.
It's the little things that they notice. As the spouse left home I need to do everything I can to keep their memories alive; to help ensure a smooth transition when Daddy returns. Keeping their memories alive is one way to do that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So much free time and so little to fill it with.

One of the hardest things about having my husband deployed is filling all the free time that would have been spent with him. This is especially hard on the kids. My husband would often take them out hiking and take them to the park.
To help fill their time I enroll them in classes. Tae Kwon Do and swim for the oldest boy this summer, Pom Poms and swim for the daughter. And this is where I have to say a big 'Thanks' to the YMCA. They have a fantastic program for the families of deployed military members. The family of a deployed soldier/sailor/coastie/airman can get a free membership at the Y for the deployment period. There are catches. The membership must be used at least 8 times a month (not a problem for our clan) and it is not avaliable at all YMCA locations.Contact Military OneSource at or 800-342-9647 to confirm eligibility and work through the process. Some YMCA's will even give the family free kid care or towel service. That all depends on the location, so don't be afraid to shop around.
This membership at the Y has been a God send to us. There are low priced classes for the kids to take; swimming, karate, pom poms, ballet, etc. Plus, while they are at class I can go workout. Zumba, Body Combat, Kickboxing, and Step aerobics are some examples of what is offered. Now I can work on getting off the weight I have been trying to ignore since having my last baby.
We have been enjoying our membership at the Y so much, in fact, that we intend to keep it even after my husband returns from Afghanistan.