I have looked back on these past two weeks since my husband's break and tried to think of how to describe it. I have had quite a few emails asking for updates and how things are going.....can one really say "Oh it's so much better?". If I had to describe it....to me, it would be like going through a terrible storm. You ride it out....then when it's all over, you take that breathe and hold it because you know there is damage that has been done. Similar to that of walking outside and surveying the land, I have been standing in the middle of my home and family literally trying to survey what damage has been done here. What can be fixed, what can be saved and what can be tossed in the trash. Of course, figuratively speaking...but all the same.
Since my post of "When the Bottom Falls Out", things have been absolutely a whirl wind. People passed this post on as if I had suddenly wrote that little green people landed in my front yard and had photos attached. Some friends passed it on to their contacts and I was able to get some help in some unusual places. We were finally assigned an OIF case manager through our VA, A Federal Recovery Coordinator, and my husband's disability was upped to 100% for his PTSD. The strangest of it all, the help came from those who really didn't have to help me at all because our family didn't qualify under their programs. To me, that says a ton. It says they heard my voice, they read my plea and they went above and beyond to help me when they could have shut the door. Not sure if the ones who helped are reading this particular post or not, but thank you again. I didn't think my blog would be read or passed on the way it did...but I am glad you all did.
The most I have heard is that "wow, I actually read what it's like to live with PTSD and not be sitting behind the desk without a clue". Others have told me to keep blogging, because people are reading it and that's how they can fix problems in the system if they know what's really going on...and then there were a few I am sure would wish I would just shut up! I probably made a lot of people mad with not only my blog, but while talking with them. Sure, I have talked to a LOT of people...but that's how things get done. I have already waited on some to fix it and its been four years. I have sat back and depended on one person and they never called back or helped. So if talking to five million people is what it takes to get things done, and our voice heard...then five million phone calls is what I will make.
My husband has been taken off most of his medication as I had posted before. This has helped tremendously! I had to laugh because in the past year and a half, the poor thing has been so sick with stomach problems. He was absolutely sure it was his gall bladder. It continued to increasingly get worse to the point he was vomiting and pooping bile! Anything with milk, eggs, acidic type foods with tomatoes would literally send him to the ER. We should be given some corporate stock for the most purchases of cup of noodle soups and Sierra Mist/Sprite. Since he has been off his meds, no problems at all. It's like his old self. I must have fixed everything under the sun these past weeks for supper he has missed out on as he just couldn't get enough! He is so happy with his stomach under control now. I have noticed he isn't as sluggish and sleepy as he was in the past four years...it has been nice to be able to wake him up and not take me hours to rouse him from bed.
Since my last post, we applied for a PTSD program in Lexington, KY for an inpatient program there. Don't know much about it, but from others I have talked to it has gotten rave reviews. Our VA got him set up with a referral and we had the interview on Thursday. The Doctor called us back yesterday and my husband was approved for the program. It is six weeks long and not really sure what they do there, but from the conversation looks like a ton of therapy and education on coping skills. I was very proud of my husband because during the interview he told them everything. He said he didn't want to keep scaring his family and he has had enough. He leaves on the 22nd of this month for the program and we are hopeful this will help in many ways. I know it's not a cure all and the Doctor was quite adamant about the both of us understanding that his PTSD will still be there and be bad, but it will help him understand and try to control some of the physical and emotional outbursts etc. We do know this, but anything is better than nothing. I know from other Veteran's that in order for them to really want the help, they got to have that one pivotal moment of falling to their knees. My husband says the best thing I ever did for him was having him committed to the hospital. I have to agree.
We also this week received his letter for Medical Evaluation Board which was expected. I think with everything, this somehow scares me the most as our sole insurance is through the military. With our littlest one having so many health issues, we must rely on good insurance. We have excellent documentation, we have all these medical records...but I have heard so many horror stories in this area with the MEB process that it terrifies me the most. What a coward I am right? I have lived through so much that would run off Saints and yet a simple process of being medically evaluated for discharge from the military scares me. A part of me is sad too because since we have been together..it's always been ACUs and Hooah! What do you do when you are no longer a part of that anymore? I wonder if its still "Once an Army Wife, always an Army Wife"?
So our hopes right now rest in a six week program. My husband is feeling more at ease now that his disability was raised and we won't fear of losing our home or our children do without. I know it has been weighing on the both of us, more so me. I had a "freaking out" moment the other night after being on the phone all day with all these different people. I know its been stress, feeling the amount of pressure on me trying to figure things out, and the negativity of some people. I don't know what happened but I stood in the shower and just sobbed. I feel like such a pansy to even write that, but even the Mistress has her moments just like all of us do. The panic, the relief, the ups and downs have definitely taken a toll on me for sure. I know that our OIF caseworker asked me how I was doing mentally and physically. I told her I was ok. Which wasn't a total lie because I was emotionally better off than say two weeks ago. I don't think though sending me to a counselor or therapist is going to wipe out the emotional and physical exhaustion I feel for almost five years. Having some of this stress off me has made me more aware of how exhausted I truly am, but that will take time to heal.
After they sent my husband home with all these instructions of "take out the guns, check the drawers, don't leave him alone for periods of time" has made me walk around more on eggshells than his PTSD did. I feel as if I may be smothering him and I don't mean to. He has been a little more agitated this week than the first week he has been home which has me concerned. I have been trying to find little projects for him to complete but he is restless and not used to being around the little ones this much. There is still that fear from two weeks ago that builds in my stomach that another blow up will occur, so I am constantly on guard. I don't relax until I go to sleep at night and even then, feel as if I really can't unwind. There have been moments this week where I thought he was going to lose control again, but he managed to keep it in check.
With all that has gone on, it just seems unreal. It's like we are here...we are walking around and going through all the motions...but nothing seems right. Maybe its because suddenly things are going in the right direction for once and that's not normal for us. I don't know how to explain it. It's like if you have ever been in a hurricane and during the middle of it all...it suddenly stops and seems calm. Then it starts back up again. It's like after a bad thunderstorm when you walk outside and you don't hear anything...no birds chirping, no bugs making any noise...just nothing. It's that moment that seems like is our life these last two weeks. My husband and I have talked a little about what happened that day...but I haven't told him how I have struggled with it. I am not supposed to add any stress on him, which has been hard since all we have had is stress in the past two weeks...so I am trying to literally shove out my emotions and feelings....hoping that they will just go away.
I wonder if that's how PTSD Veterans/individuals do it. All this time, I have struggled to find that common ground with my pod person who came home from Iraq, never understanding the true meaning of all that he went through or understanding why he doesn't feel anything. Is it possible I am getting a taste of what he is living with on a daily basis? I thought at first the reason I haven't really wanted to talk to friends and such is because I am so wore out from talking to others on behalf of my husband, that I just can't talk anymore. I should be happy...jumping for joy and for whatever reason....I keep sitting here waiting for the big one to drop. Living with PTSD and TBI has literally sucked the life out of me I do believe. I felt a little renewed in my old self thinking of "there is good in everyone" because that was shown to me this week. There is still much more bitterness and negativity and often times which I am battling....I don't want to burden someone else with it. I don't want to become one of those friends that people avoid my calls!
So that is our current update. Working on getting things ready for our Congressman to search and locate my husband's lost military records. I am not going to get my hopes up but hoping that this will work. Would be ever so lovely if we could get his records, get his CAB from incident reports, and his Expert Field Medic Badge. Not sure what that is, but obviously among combat medics its the holy grail of combat badges. We have gone other routes to no avail so hoping our Congressman can help us in this matter. I still am working on his Social Security Disability paperwork which by the way, reads like stereo instructions. I am having some issues with organization and concentration this past week. Hoping a weekend of rest will cure some of this and I can pick up on Monday with a little more spunk in my trunk.
Still Hanging On To Hope,