Friday, January 28, 2011

How You Can Help: Supporting Our Troops

My My My Oh My! The Mistress must have said something to touch the very core of many! I was overwhelmed at not only the support, but the MANY emails I got! Thanks to all who wrote in...currently my email is sitting at 387 emails from that blog alone. As much as I would love to...I will be unable to answer each one so going to try and figure a way I can break it down for each of you. I wish I had all the time in the world to answer each of you, but it would be weeks at my current rate of computer availability time!

I wanted to say to those who shared your stories with me...thank you. It not only was an honor to share even such hardships but it made me feel that I wasn't alone in dealing with all of this. I know from every single one, and yes...I read them all....that some of you lost your soldiers, some are separated, and some are divorced. I am overwhelmed that you all took the time to share with me and unload your burden. I hope that you know in the same way as you told me....that we are together in this. For those that wrote in on behalf of their soldiers who committed suicide, I am so very very sorry. I know my losses of my husband are not equal to that type of loss, but I hear you....I really really do. Thank you so much for sharing with me their names, who they were and what they did. They are heroes too, just sometimes go unnoticed.

Many of the emails were new readers which surprised me. I was informed today that my blog on this particular subject has most definitely flown the proverbial coop and nested in some interesting places! I appreciate all my readers old and new. What surprised me most of all...were the amount of NON-military readers! Many were either diagnosed with PTSD from cancer, car wrecks, health problems, and/or domestic violence. Many were emailing me on behalf of the general public expressing their gratitude for all that my husband endured and many of our other wounded warriors like him and the ones that physically wounded as well. The phrase of "I am one of those many bumper sticker people" echoed throughout the emails. The question of "What can I do to help you?" came to light over and over again.......

Here is Uncle Sam's Mistress's answer to that very question:

Write to Your Congressman....pass on my blog. Post this blog on their FB pages, twitter accounts...whatever! Pass on other PTSD and TBI related blogs as there are more than you think. Maybe the "higher powers" may not see it themselves, but I guarantee you that if there are a hundred people post the same thing over and over will be seen. Write to your State's representatives. Demand that the VA benefits be given to those Veterans who deserve it....ask for more help to be given to the families who are the care givers of these wounded. Ask them to provide more programs for us, point out families like mine who got left behind. Ask for respite care for those caregivers who never get a break! Ask these people who are in offices because WE put them there...what are they doing to support our troops AFTER they come home? What are they doing when the battle comes home with them? Cutting our Veteran's disability benefits or SSDI/SSI benefits? WHY? Why would someone you voted in office agree to such audacity? Say something.

Pass it on to tv shows....CBS, NBC and ABC anyone and everyone. It was a sad shame to hear that Oprah's show yesterday (which I missed) didn't give the attention to Wounded Veterans like it was needed. It was told to me that Michelle Obama's appearance on stage brought on more applause than the wounded veteran. Hmmmmm......what's wrong with that picture? I would think someone who stood up and fought in a war, injured and comes forward to talk about their issues, would be worthy of a little more applause but that's my opinion. I love Oprah and matter a fact, wrote her myself on this very subject. Would hate to add another name to my list of many disappointments. She asked for people to tell her how to help support the know what? Go to her site and post this link. I will gladly tell Oprah what she can do to help us.

There is no reason for anyone to apologize but I sincerely appreciate all the emails that did. Please remember though, there are many many others out there who's story was echoed in my blog...many who are going through worse, or have lost their lives to a wound they just couldn't deal with anymore. I don't want apologies, heartfelt thank yous or "hey, right on sister keep blogging".....if you support the troops, show it. This blog was started for self-help therapy and to make me feel has grown so much more than that and that's wonderful! But if you can take the time to read this....comment and send emails...send one to your Congressman. Hey, if nothing else...send them my link and let them email me! I would LOVE to talk to them! Can't take the time out to write an email or navigate the endless state pages? Print it out and drop in the mail. I totally think I am worth a stamp. I am a nobody but with a big voice and a lot of time for thinking. I am only one voice though.

Speak for all of us who are suffering and can't find their voices because of fear, shame and humiliation. If you know of spouses who are like me....listen. Sometimes we just want our voices heard. No matter by whom. We just want to vent just like any other person. Our situations are much different, so often times we may need to vent more. Often times, spouses are in desperate need to feel normal again because after combat...normalcy is no longer affiliated with us. Take us out to a lunch and just allow for a few minutes.

If you have a neighbor, swing by and ask them if there is anything that you can do. Many of you wrote that you know of neighbors that have soldiers that just came back and heard they have PTSD. Honey, if you have "heard" then why haven't you gotten to know this family? Go by and introduce yourselves to the spouse! Now, I am not saying go and stalk anyone...but if you can write me, then you can go by and take a cake or something and just say "Hello, my name is so and so and I wanted to come by and introduce myself." For those of you that have acquaintances that are in these situations, there is no excuse of why you can't be a part of their lives. Many times we lose our friends, due to the PTSD within our homes. So stand up and say, "You know what? I am your friend regardless...PTSD doesn't bother me". Stand in with it, be firm and let that spouse/mother/caregiver you care. I have an elderly gentlemen that lives down the road, and often times he will swing by from the doctor's office to see me and the kids. Now it's not often, but I tell's really nice. Because for that few minutes....just for a few seconds. I am me again. I am not a soldier's wife...not a caregiver....not a mom...just me.

If it's a Veteran...often times they just want one thing. To be heard. Someone to listen to them. That's all. If you can't help them in any way...offer that. Sitting with a buddy of mine through Rolling Thunder, that is a shared sentiment many of spouses and veterans shout out. Sometimes the Veterans isolate themselves from their families, for reasons due to misunderstanding, lack of education and not being there with them, they feel they can't talk to their spouses....sometimes they just need to vent like anyone else. They hide it, it builds and before you know explodes. If you have that opportunity, stop and take a little while. As long as they need. I will say this and for many other families like could mean the difference between you being a few minutes late or that person going home and eating a '38.

Hate to put it in those terms...but it's true.

For all those who are at the VA's reading this across the United States and many I did talk to today via email...keep that in mind. Keep in mind why you chose that job. Surely it wasn't because of the benefits or the pay. Remind yourself that when you were in college, there was a particular reason why you chose what education you wanted. What put you in the path of working with Veterans of war? Reach deep inside and remind yourselves that yes, your time may stop at 4 or 5:00 p.m. but our time clocks do not. When you think "ugh...think I will just put this off til next week" that it may mean a life or death situation for another family. If you are an OIF Caseworker, our lives really do depend on you guys at the VA. You are our only lifelines....truly. Often times, the only ones we have in a world of red tape, confusion, guidelines and misdirections. We understand your swamped...and to you, it may seem we are demanding so much from you as you are overloaded....but if you say "I will call you back"...make sure you keep your word. We don't expect a return call or a miracle within 30 minutes....but don't just brush us off. If you are overloaded with cases, explain that. I promise, I would rather have you be honest with me than to never ever call me. I know our VA is overloaded, I don't know how you guys do it...but don't lose track of the ones you do have.

The BEST thing I ever had told to me was by my husband's primary care physician last week. She is married to a Combat Vet with PTSD. Heck, I think that should be a requirement! I looked at her while in conference with another person in the OIF office and said "Does it ever get any better?" She looked at me with this serious look and said "Nope. My husband drives me crazy!" and she laughed. Although she laughed and I laughed, it was the truth. I appreciated her honesty with me. She didn't take the time to sugar coat ripping that band aid off, she just went right ahead and snapped the sucker right off. I am doing the same for you now.

For all those soldiers who wrote to me yesterday, I swear you boys had me in tears. I would have never ever thought in a million years my blog would be spreading around Afghanistan and Iraq. I can't tell you how much of an honor it was to get those emails and as promised, will not reveal your names or information on my blog. I do want to say I HEAR YOU. I think on top of serving our country, and then dealing with the issues you all's amazing. It really is. Some of you mentioned that you were passing my blog on to your wives, and that's great! Do know though, a blog isn't going to fix everything for some of you. It will take the very words that you wrote to me, being spoken to your spouses...."I have PTSD and I want YOUR help". Then once those words are uttered, let your spouse know how much you need her support right now. Often times, you put us on your enemy list when indeed we will fight to the death to save you.

Thank you all for your service....thank you for the emails, and the encouragement. To the one who wrote me about my "name" and the thought I was it was interesting enough to look more finding it was where you needed to be...glad you found me buddy. You said you benefited the most and want me to keep going to the top. I am trying to Sir. I really really am. For those higher ups who didn't want their ranks revealed...never fear. However, you have the opportunity to be there for your men. Talk to them and make them feel unashamed to come to you in times of need. You have the opportunity to be the first to say "my men can come and talk to me about PTSD and I am not going to tell them to shove it under the rug or take some motrin". I can't change everything on my own Sir....I need help. I need your help, all the other me change the way we think about those who fought for our freedom. Don't let another soldier think suicide is the only way out. Don't let another soldier lose his respect he earned for in theater that is out shined because of that suicide. Don't let another bullet have your name on it. I will do my part...but what will you do to help me?
Never Quitting,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When the Bottom Falls Out: Part Two

Picking up from my previous blog, I will now begin my tale of these past few days with not so much sadness but most definitely with fierceness. As mentioned before, they took my husband to be "voluntarily committed for pyschiatric consult" and shipped him off to Nashville. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't keep him here as we have the same type of lockdown facilities as Nashville does. Woodridge, a non-VA mental health hospital is in the same city as the VA so there was that option. With two of my three children, it was almost impossible to find care and keep them in school. Around here, school children only have so many sick days that a parent can write a note for. After that, it must be by doctor's excuse. Didn't think that a note from their mother saying "please excuse so and so from school, his father had a long term severe flashback and had to be committed" would go over very well with their schools without trying to get some type of doctor to write them a note.

After they transported my husband to Murphreesboro....I never got one phone call from anyone. They left me no numbers to call, no way to find out how my husband was...nothing. He was able to use the phone the next day as they gave him a phone card for long distance. He was to say the least, not very happy with me. I asked how he was doing, and he was a piss pot about everything. "They took my clothes, my shoes, won't even let me have my medications except my stomach pill for acid reflux". I was surprised, so I explained there must be a reason for all that. I then asked if he saw anyone, he said no. I have been sitting here since 6:30 this morning with all these people who are alcoholics detoxing or severe drug addicts and working on a jig saw puzzle. Because there is only one phone in the commons area as they called it, he had to keep it limited to ten minutes. I know he told me he wanted to come home, was kind of pissy about it with that whole undertone of "I can't believe you did this to me" interlaced with his sarcasm.

On Monday, I called around and finally found which floor my husband was on. The nurse on duty could only tell me that he was stable and that was it. She did give me the number I could call him between 10-6 as long as no one was on the phone. I called him Monday and wow...what a HUGE difference in him. He sounded clear, focused on the conversation, and more alert than he has been in the past four years. Because it was a holiday, they would not have a pysch eval until Tuesday for him. He did tell me on the phone that I saved his life....and he wasn't angry with me as that was the best thing I could have done for him. He said that he felt so much better because he wasn't on all those meds, and for the first time....his stomach wasn't acting up like it normally has been for the past two years.

So while my husband is sitting in lock down awaiting the review, I am calling around our VA. The first thing I did was call his caseworker for TBI which was just recently assigned to us. What a joke. She passed on our information to someone else named *&^&^%%%$$ and this caseworker gave me a call. She was very nice, very sweet, very understanding and lived in my area. She started asking me about my husband's job which I told her that he has now lost and will not be allowed to return to work. I explained that his job will require a full 100% mental health evaluation, and between you and I....he ain't gonna get it. She then said "Oh I see he is drawing 50%, but he should be drawing 100". Yeah...ya think? So I tell her we have all this on appeal, haven't heard anything in seven months and that they have already stopped payment on portions of his check. So currently, my income for a family of five is sitting at 978.00 a month. My mortgage on my home is just about that.

She tells me not to worry...the VA is going to help my family. She then says she has ALLLLL these contacts that she can tap in to around my area to place me in a job to help support my family. I sat there and listened and said you have to remember I have a special needs child that can't go to a regular day care. He is a severe asthmatic which requires daily albuteral treatments three times a day, he has a special diet as he is deadly allergic to peanuts or anything that is processed in a plant that has peanuts. He is also allergic to wheat, milk and eggs. Our state requires such children to have a liability form signed by parents stating that they won't hold such daycares responsible if they do not provide treatment fast enough and he dies. I have worked in such daycares for hours earned towards my school. There is no way in hell I am allowing my son to go to some program where he may not get emergency treatment if they don't spot the signs off the bat. His epi pen will only give us 10 minutes sustainment until we can get him to the hospital or emergency help arrives on scene. He has been this way since birth.

Her answer to that was "well there are plenty of babysitters who are registered nurses that only charge 15-27 dollars an hour". Now, I also have another child in school who gets out at 1:45 p.m. each day. So I would have to work between 9 after I drop them off and leave at 1:00 p.m. So her solution to that was "well why can't your husband take care of them and you work full-time?" Ummmmmmmm.....whose file was she reading? She asked me if I had filed for his increase on his PTSD. I said no, because I wasn't sure how to go about doing that. She then explained the process of going about submitting new evidence. She told me I needed to get that in ASAP because they might be able to expedite while he is still in the psych ward. She then gives me resources through different organizations, all of whom I have worked closely with in the last seven years....none of which will help Reservists or National Guard unless they are on active orders. . THAT was what the VA had to offer me. That women never called me back again although she swore up and down she would be in "constant contact".

Our current TBI caseworker also suggested that I apply for an increase while he was hospitalized. The ER nurses and even the doctor told me "you need to do this asap". So I think to myself, ok...this makes sense...lets do what needs to be done. I have documentation that he flipped out, documentation that he lost his job, and documentation of being hospitalized. So I call the Veterans Benefit Advisor who tells me no, he will not file an increase on my husband's 50% PTSD claim. I need to leave it alone and instead...ask for an exepedited decision to be made on his TBI. Uhhhh it wasn't his TBI that put him there, it was his PTSD. He then tells me IF I file for an increase, the VA will stop payment on any and all funds he is recieving and therefore will not get it back until a decision has been made. That could take months to years he says. I couldn't understand this.....and before you say "oh they can't do this Mistress...they can't stop payment on a disability award"....Ohhhh yes they can. We are living examples of this.

If you remember from my other posts, the US Army lost all military records for about 165 soldiers from the unit my husband was pulled with. They were never awarded their CABS due to paperwork being filled out...but never sent in. 17 incidents and not one darn award. We have a soldier currently who was shot in the face, still fighting for his disability. Now what is holding up my husband's claims for lower back injuries, bilateral knees, TBI, severe PTSD, depressive disorder, hearing loss and records from basic training from 1998. Yes. I guess they want to make sure that during the basic training process, he didn't become injured. This leaves me scratching my head why his claim is being held up for three months of that year. We have provided what we had, but the military won't send the records because they don't have them.....hence the reason our case is on hold. Because we asked for an increase, they stopped payment on portions of what he was getting due to "deferment". I have been fighting for those military records for four years..the Army admits they lost them somewhere in a connex between Iraq and Ft. Benning, GA. However, they will not give me a statement saying so. Of course not! So here we are....with no help, a VBA rep who won't file our increase, and asked for an expedited review on TBI and to process the decision without the medical records.....for something that didn't cause him to lose his job, be hospitalized or what may cause our family to lose everything we own.

I spent most of my Monday and Tuesday on the phone....constant circle jerk with people passing the buck to another and no one really caring what happened to my family. That's fine. I know there are some really really good people who work at the VA and then there are some really bad ones. What hurts the good ones are the ones who are bad, and then the good ones who want to help are tied down with red tape and bureaucratic bullshit on top of gaining the crappy reputation from the bad people. I get a call on Tuesday from the VA where my husband was supposed to be kept for at least a week before moving to another facility, and find out they are releasing him that evening. After trying to pick my jaw up off the floor, I asked if he was better and it was safe for him to come home. Quite honestly, I didn't think three days was enough. The nurse told me the doctor felt he was fine to come. I wasn't so sure, so she got crappy with me and said well, you can always opt to place him at the domiciliary where the homeless veterans go. I had the most scary experience with my husband, and only asked if it was safe for him to be released...I didn't know I was going to get the "bad wife" award on top of it. I love my husband...and I know that it couldn't be helped what happened to him. I didn't want him placed in a homeless facility, but at the same time....I have to think of my children's safety and my own.

They did tell me that in all my husband's seventeen different medications to treat the symptoms of his PTSD and TBI, Ativan or Lorazepam should have never ever been given to him because of the TBI. It is a drug that it used temporarily, but my husband has been on high doses several times a day and has been on it daily since 2007. Another "ooops!". The nurse told me then, "we can't keep him because he isn't an alchoholic nor is he in need of detoxing from drugs, so we are sending him home.....Oh...and you need to come pick him up as we will not be transporting him back". Now this was at 3 in the afternoon, and that was almost a six hour drive for us. Thanks for the heads up.

So he has been knocked down to just vitamins for TBI, one anti-depressant and his stomach med to sleep and he has been more normal than ever. I still feel the need to be jumpy, watchful, and somewhat leery of him and I hate that. However, he seems happy. He speaks clearer, he is sleeping well and waking up without all that grogginess and grumpiness. He has been doing projects that he has been putting off, playing with the kids and helping me around the house. He seems like my old husband again. So why do I feel the need to be leery of him?

Now we had an appointment with his psychiatrist the same week. She talked with me a long time, I think probably two and a half hours with the both of us. My husband really wanted me to stay in the room and let me listen in. For the first time, she really listened to me and my concerns. After looking up his records, and reading through...she then cautioned me about asking about his disability benefits. I didn't understand what she was talking about. So in my husband's case file...she reads me portions from low and behold...the lady who "has the job and ALLL the contacts she needs to help my family" and leaves out everything that was said on her part. Pretty much in a nutshell....she stated in his file that my only concern is how much disability he can get and how fast. WHAT! I explained to the Dr that wasn't true at all and these people called ME...not the other way around. She said spouses have to be careful and make sure that they aren't being put down as "benefit seekers" because caseworkers have the tendency to only write the spouse side of it and not list the questions or what they asked or told the spouses. WHAT A CROCK OF CRAP!

So here I am trying to defend my actions of only trying to figure out how to do what everyone kept pushing me to do! My concerns were not just the benefits, but what happens next? Is that all there is? Is there PTSD programs we can put him in? He has such a bad break and they just cut his meds, send him packing and leave me to figure it all out by myself?

I am going to try and file SSI or SSDI whichever one that is. The paperwork reads like stereo instructions to be honest with you. Our Congressman has accepted our case for disability and his lost records, but I am not sure if I am completely trusting in that. I guess we have heard from so many "Big Named" people and people who hold a ton of power...only to never hear from them again. They agree, they tell me they will help and blow all this smoke up our asses...and nothing. Won't even return a phone call. I will be forced for the first time in our lives, to have to turn to the state for food stamps. How embarrassing that is as we have always been able to hold our own. I know that's what its there for....I know we have paid into the system. It's just such a long process and God, what if they are rude to us? I don't think I can take much more. I am hanging by a small thread of sanity as it is....and my husband, bless his heart....feels he needs to apologize for everything now. I know that he can't help it....God only knows how much he has suffered already in his head, he owes me no apologies.....we just can't get a break and I need help. I have never asked for much in 35 years and given everything to everyone...but this time, I need the help in return. Something has got to turn for the better...just once in our lives.

Another word of caution spoken to me for spouses of PTSD and TBI is strip searching the house. I thought this was important enough to share because I never really thought about it in the way that it was shown to me. Often times, the Veterans will momentarily black out or have small flashbacks. In this time, they can hide things. Anywhere, everywhere, and anything that they can use to protect themselves such as steak knives....silverwear, pocket knives....I was told to check under drawers, beds, cabinets, inside shoes in the the house apart. It's not that they do it on purpose, it's just a natural reaction to the flashbacks that occur. You know, I have to admit....I would have never thought of any of those things. I was told to pull out drawers and check for taped items inside, any and all crevices....vehicles etc. Thought I would pass that information on.

I wanted to say thanks for all the emails of support, phone numbers, and encouragement. My email got bombarded yesterday with tons of support and thanks for writing my story. It's not my's OUR story. So many of you told me that you had been through the same thing or going through it now...some fear that this will happen in the future because you are seeing symptoms escalate. For those that are seeing signs and symptoms, be ready to fight, and don't be alone. Hopefully, my blog will help you somehow in my stories and what I have been through....sometimes it helps to know you aren't alone. I don't have all the answers...I may not have a clue....but I can say that I am here....this is real....and its the truth.

Still Hanging on By A Thread, 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When the Bottom Drops Out

When living with PTSD and TBI, every day seems like forever....some days better than others. Often times, we spend our hours covering up for our Veterans, apologizing, lying to ourselves....ignoring our worst fears and only hoping for the best. We clean them up when they are a mess...when they are drunk, we put them to bed and let them sleep it off......when they screw up, we try to correct or make up for their mistakes. We apologize when they are nasty to others or lie to ourselves when they are so mean to us. When you think you have almost everything figured out...then the bottom falls out.

I will more than likely get some nasty grams from some readers telling me I shouldn't be writing this. I will get some some slack from those who read my blog and know those who screwed up, will make excuses to me.....I will tell my story though because for every person who will shun me for writing my tale....there will be 500 others who will sit there and agree or take caution for themselves. There is so much that has happened, I will be breaking this down into several blogs so I don't bore you to death. I will pass on my story so it helps others who may end up in my position and the lessons learned.

Last week rocked along like any other week. Same meds, same night time tosses and turns...nothing really out of the norm, IF that even applies to us anymore. My husband woke up somewhat irritable that morning, but nothing that I could not shrug off and go on about my business. He had his coffee, read the paper and decided the trash needed to go out to the can for pickup. Now with the crap loads of snow we had, it was easier to place one bag of trash outside on the porch for later, than to track through the ice and snow. Hindsight 20/20, I should have made the trek in the snow.

I was on the phone with a friend and outside watching him. He turned around and if looks could have killed...they would have had to bury me twice. I told my friend that I needed to go, hubby was in a "mood" and let me see what's going on. I looked at my husband and said "What's wrong?" and all hell broke loose. He started to yell at me over this one single bag of trash.....then that led to the trash can wasn't in the place where he wanted it. I quietly and calmly told him that I wasn't going to fight or argue with him....he needed to take a step back and breathe....then we will talk about whatever was bothering him. I turned and walked back into the house.

After that it was a blur.

He came rushing through that back door like the hounds of hell were on his heels and started screaming "I can't take it anymore!"....our older and solid wood kitchen table and chairs suddenly became splinters. Whole chairs being picked up and slammed against counter tops, floor and the table...solid oak reduced suddenly to fifty tiny million zillion pieces. I don't remember much as I think I have pretty much blocked most of what happened out...but I know I looked to my little ones and said "RUUUUUUN".

In between the screaming, the yelling about small things like the trash can, and the husband suddenly stopped. He looked at me as if I was someone he had never seen before and started to laugh. Now, as weird as that was the way he was laughing. It was laughter mixed with sobs, hysteria and tears...I started backing away and trying to calm him down to no avail. My oldest son was behind him and I said slowly, call 911. My husband immediately grabbed for the phones...he smashed my blackberry, broke the home phone leaving me no way to call anyone. He came at me and started screaming as if I had suddenly set him off somehow. Pushed me up against the wall, threw me to the floor and just started choking. My oldest son started yelling "Leave my mama alone!" and my husband reached for him and slammed him up against the counter.

I don't remember every little detail. I had all this blog planned out in my head but its as if suddenly that part of the tape in my memory got erased a little. I know that whatever that was facing me, wasn't my husband. It was was enough to make the hair on my arms and neck stand up. He started barking orders....telling me I needed to move out of his way and fire back. "They have us surrounded...Sarge is down, repeat Sarge is down". He was running around the house, and yelling, screaming and just literally panicking. I had my oldest run downstairs and get the old phone that we had unplugged for me to use. My husband walked into our bedroom and just closed the door. I was so afraid that I didn't want to go in there, but I knew that I had to do something. I walked in, and saw my husband with a gun in his mouth.

Now for those of you who will chide me, fuss at me, and call me wrong....please remember that when in this situation, your thinking goes out the door. I was literally scared half to death, on top of trying to locate my children. I knew not to run, because he was holding a gun. He just kept crying and saying "make it go away mommy...make it go away" (mommy is his term of endearment for me). I talked softly and slowly, and told him that I would get him help....I would make it better and I wasn't going anywhere. I took that gun and after unloading it, gave to my son to take outside and hide it.

All while mumbling and stumbling, he started looking for alcohol. He began to tear through the fridge and discovered five beers we had leftover when a friend was here months ago. He hadn't drunk anything in a very very long time but it gave me a chance to make some calls. Before I knew it, he had down two pints of Jack we had been given as a gift by his deadbeat dad and refused to open......then yes, we had a little moonshine that someone had given us that hadn't been open. Drinking that much in short amount of time, allowed him to be a little more pliable about getting in the truck and going to the ER at the VA. I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't call 911 because he works for them and was so humiliated. Hindsight 20/20 I should have done that.

It took forever for us to get him in the took even longer to make it part way before we had to stop since he started throwing up. On the way down, he was ranting about IED's and how we were going the wrong hadn't been cleared, we were going to die. Then he switched and started screaming about the tractor trailer in front of us and it was a bomb and we were going to get blown was horrifying. My oldest son who went with me, really saved me and got us to the ER. He started barking orders at my husband. "SGT, you need to get in the truck and drive. Stand down soldier....stand down. We will be getting ourselves back to the FOB and get some rest." My husband kept saying "I have blood all over me, its all over me" and my son " Soldier, we will get you cleaned up...we have to move. That's an order".

My husband literally was driving in the passenger seat. He asked for directions and my son barked them out all while assuring him that it was friendly fire and the convoy was safe. When we arrived at the ER, I couldn't get him out of the truck. Because we are an emergency medical family, we called a 911 operator we knew who was able to get VA security out there and EMS. They were smart enough to get an EMS tech who just got back home from Iraq. Whatever he said to my husband, within two minutes had him calmed down. I heard him say "I know, brother...I was there with you in the blood and the muck...its ease soldier".

My children were taken by a friend of ours and they rushed my husband into the ER. They had to restrain him for a while, but the EMS tech stayed with him the whole time. They took me by the arms and led me out....making we wait outside the ER doors to the back. I was hysterical to say the least....I can't remember if I fell to my knees...but I was on the floor just sobbing. Sobbing for the last four years of hell...sobbing for the fact that my love didn't save my husband or help him in anyway. I couldn't calm him down this time, I couldn't take away the pain.

I remember them sitting me down in a chair in a separated area on the other side of the ER waiting room. A resident doctor came out with two VA security officers, a nurse and our friend the EMS tech. They circled around me and told me my husband had a psychotic break with dissociative disorder. I was kind of in a daze and said ok...what does that mean? No one would tell me but the EMS tech said, "honey, he thinks he is in Iraq". The resident doctor said my husband was suicidal and homicidal which I couldn't understand. I mean, yes on the suicide but how homicidal? I was then informed that my husband threatened this Middle Eastern resident physician.

Now flame me if you want...go ahead. I would be the LAST person who would ever be called or even accused of being racist. I myself, having grown up around all of these different accents and heavy English that can be barely understood..had no freaking clue on what this young man was saying. He wasn't very nice to me....matter a fact, he asked me questions point blank like "has your husband ever hurt someone that was of the middle eastern descent". I didn't understand that...I looked wild eyed at these cops and our EMS buddy and said "Beats the shit outta me buddy. He went to war....from what I have learned, it wasn't a trip to Disney land". So then this young man proceeds to tell me that because he is in this psychopathic state of mind, I have two choices. One: I can have him moved to a lock down facility in Nashville which is about five hours for me or Two: I can have a crisis team be called in to investigate and they will take him away from me along with my rights as a spouse. He asked me if I was my husband's caregiver in which I replied yes. He then stated " Well obviously you didn't do a good enough job now did you?"

I went off....I can't even remember all that I said, but I did tell him " For FOUR %^$#&**() years, the VA just pumped him full of medicines...four years, I dealt with all this alone...with no one. No help, no respite, no understanding. I kept telling you all this was coming...I kept telling the psychiatrist over and over again.....he told his psychiatrist. That just led to another damn medicine and right back home he goes!" I said other things....some very unlady like. Some my mother, God rest her soul, would have rolled over in her grave to hear such words come out of her daughter's southern belle upbringing. I also told him that if he felt insulted, threatened because he looked like he could be an Iraqi to a Veteran who isn't in his right mind...he was in the wrong damn place.

He marched away and the cops and EMS were trying to calm me down. I never felt such failure in my life. Did I really fail my husband as a caregiver? Didn't I do a good enough job?

I don't remember much after that as it was a blur but the EMS guy went back to sit with my husband who was agitated...they wouldn't allow me to see him. The VA security guy looked at me and said " Look at me in the eyes Ma'am. There isn't enough training in the world or enough love to prevent that. You did the right thing. You look at me and know that just last year....that was me in that room with the restraints and my wife was standing where you are...I served the Army as a combat, Vietnam two tours..Now we are going to go grab a smoke together, if you do...then I am going to take you down and buy you the world's worst coffee and we are going to take deep breaths together."

When we came through the ER waiting room, I got an applause from the Veterans who were waiting there. I don't know what I said to deserve it...but one man looked at me so sadly as I walked past him and said "this is the side of the war they don't show you honey".

I don't know who the VA security man was....can't recall his name tag or even if he told me his name. If it hadn't been for him though, not sure if I could have made it through all that. They couldn't sedate my husband because he was four times the legal limit of alcohol and they were trying to frantically wash all of it out of his system because they were afraid mixed with his would kill him. They did give him something small to to relax him and due to the alcohol, he eventually cried himself to sleep in a fetal position.

During all this, I don't remember much as I have said.....but I remember calling all my friends. Anyone and everyone who I thought could come help me. No one answered. No one was home. No one returned my calls. I made the last call, praying to God that the battery would stay charged long enough to make these calls and my fellow Wounded Warrior Wife answered. I can't explain the relief, the hysteria of trying to tell her what was happening, trying to tell her her I was hurt....She got on another phone while keeping me on one, and made the necessary calls I needed so desperately to make. This friend lives 8.5 hours away......

Wife of a Wounded Soldier was one call she placed to who immediately called me back and calmed me down. She was my voice of sanity and reasoning....she made me breathe. She explained to me about the ER at the VA and that was my best option although she really wanted me to call 911 and have him transported. For his sake, I just couldn't humiliate him in front of his co-workers when they think so highly of him. Looking back, that would have been the better choice. Although in two different states at the time, although there wasn't much in person they could do for me.....their friendship was what saved me ladies and gentlemen. I hope they know how much it meant to me to have them to call on and the love they showed me in times of my hysteria.

They eventually transported my husband to a lock down facility which is known for it's detox center for alcohol and drugs. My husband wasn't either one, but that is where they sent him. After IVs and a little food, and six hours later...I had to walk out of that ER to get my children and go home....I walked out with my husband in restraints screaming my name over and over again with "please don't leave me" as I left.

That was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Before they transported him, the doctor who was on call came in and explained to me that my husband suffered  from a long term severe flashback. He told me that I did everything that I could do, so go home and get some rest...."you have to be strong for him and be well mentally and physically". I was very sick as I was coming down with flu and pneumonia that day. They took my husband away and all I could do was watch. No information, no information on where he was numbers to call. Only "they will contact you sometime this coming week" but that's going to be in another blog.........

So what have I learned from my PTSD and TBI Veteran when the bottom falls out? I know that now, I need to keep a phone hidden away from his temper and blow ups. I now know that any cell phone even out of service will dial 911. I know that when a Veteran is in a flashback like mine was, to never ever ever touch them. I know to let professionals come in and transport rather than me trying to shelter him from the world. I know now to have a back up plan when things get bad like this. Make sure you have a friend, anyone, someone who you know you can call right then and get your children if you have them. I know to have cash in my purse for emergencies now.....I know the true meaning of friendship is when a friend is planning on packing her bags and driving 8.5 hours to you, or a friend who is out of town and can say "You have to breathe...breathe with have to calm down".

Looking back at last weekend, it still makes my stomach sink to the bottom of my core. I am having nightmares about it....I can't sleep too well and I feel still, somewhat alone. I have all these people literally living inside my computer who know what I have been through and understand...but never before in my entire life......have I ever felt so damned alone.

Four years and I was strong...I did everything I could do for him and it just wasn't enough to hold him together. Does that make me a failure or a bad caregiver/spouse? I hope not but it sure feels like it. I know this week my self esteem and confidence somewhat deflated because of all this. I am very fragile feeling and not sure why. My oldest son is doing fine, but my four year old ,who took me an hour to get him out of the closet when all this happened, is also suffering from terrible outbursts and nightmares. I think on Sunday I looked at my oldest son for the first time in a different light. I am so proud of him that I literally just well up in tears thinking of how he held it together. I asked him that evening, how did you know to do all that? He said "what mom?" I said "bark orders, pretend you were his command". He said "Call of Duty Mom. Dad and I would play together and have so much fun. I just listened to him and though of the game and immediately thought he thinks he is in Iraq. I just started telling him what he needed to do and I learned from the game or what daddy taught me they do in the military". I never really liked those stupid games, and even felt left out because that was their "bonding" time...but that damn game helped my family.

I worried about my husband Saturday....I worried for all of us who will or have been in this situation. It shouldn't be this hard. It shouldn't be sobs to a doctor and a psychiatrist yelling "Do you believe me now?" No one should ever have to go through this alone.....I did. When I get this group up and going, I will make it my sole purpose to show the world this side of it. I will make Congress look at us and the families who are silently falling apart at the seams with the caregiver trying to gather the pieces as they fall. Maybe if they are staring at a soldier with a gun in his mouth as I did, maybe they would see how they failed us. I don't think I failed...I think it was the VA who failed me. It was the Army who never once called or checked in with us. It was the Government who is making it impossible to get his benefits that he EARNED. It was the world who proudly slaps a "support our troops" sticker on their bumper and just was the ones who just don't give a f%$# about us, as our soldiers who served are now expendable and easily replaced with fresh meat. I kept thinking all week long, what if I had lost him. I sat here and literally watched him fade away a little at a time. Would the VA even do anything if he had killed himself? All I can think of is "whooops...our mistake".

I recently read where President Obama is adding all these "new programs" to help military families. Pfft. Yeah. You want to help me? ASK ME WHAT I NEED NOT WHAT YOU THINK WE NEED. Listen to us....hear my cries for help..feel my loneliness right now..take our word on the fact your programs aren't working. I am not failing...YOU ARE.


Friday, January 14, 2011

The Art of Deception

I recently had spoken to another spouse on the phone after she was given my number by referral from a mutual friend. Her husband had just come back from Iraq mid last year and was encountering some issues. For a while, she said she just ignored much of it and hoped it would eventually just pass. As things progressed and so did the months, she said she just began lying to herself that everything was ok. This led me to thinking about all the times I had lied to myself, and even to others about what goes on behind closed doors.

I am one of those people who has a high tolerance for many things save but a few. Those "few" include stupidity (there is a HUGE difference between that and ignorance), rudeness, racism, and liars. Now I am no saint...I will admit that. I have from time to time, been known to whip out the little white lies. Called in sick to work when I wasn't, faked a headache when I wasn't in the mood, and included Santa, Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy in my little white lies with my children. Overall though, I see no point in lying and am an honest person. I am one of those firm believers that lying will come back to bite you in the end and because I am honest, I expect the same in return. To lying, I always had that mentality of "Give yourself enough rope, you will eventually hang yourself."

When it comes to PTSD though, a reoccurring statement amongst most spouses is the Veteran lying. It can be about anything; money, drugs, alcohol, having affairs, among many others. No one stops to think about how much lying is done on behalf of ourselves, the spouse/caregiver. We lie about everything. We lie to our families or as one spouse stated "lied by omission". We lie to the outside world, and some even lie to their counselors about what goes on in their marriages as if that lie is going to make counseling work better for them. We choose to talk about what we want and leave out the rest. We lie to our friends and co-workers...we lie to our children. We lie to each other, meaning Spouse to Veteran. THEN when the lies couldn't get any more in numbers, we start lying to ourselves.

I could seriously relate to the young lady who told me she lied to herself....I have done that myself. Me! The person who hates liars...Me who holds contempt for those that lie to me when its unnecessary.  Yes, I lied all the time. Looking back over the past years, did it really help me any at all? To this day....after all the education, the firm belief that there isn't anything to be ashamed of or be judged for...still doesn't tell my sister everything. I still lie to myself, with the whole statement of "maybe it will just go away". I look back now, and can't even remember when I had to start lying!

I think with the families of PTSD and TBI, you really do put on this false mask of truth and wear it in front of others. I can remember most time smiling, and not knowing how the hell that smile plastered itself all over my face when I really wanted to show my "pissed off- don't screw with me I have been through enough today already-all I want to do is scream and cry" face. For those that have active military careers, the lies become larger and more complicated....for those in physically abusive relationships due to PTSD, the lies increase in size and frequency. It's often said that Veterans can be very deceptive, but who is really more deceptive? The Veteran or the Spouse? Are we to blame for being isolated because of the world, or did we somehow put ourselves there?

I knew when I thought about starting this support group that I would have to stand up and say "This is what my PTSD and TBI family looks like". "Yes, we look normal on the outside". I would have to lay all my cards down and show my full hand....and quite honestly, this scares me somewhat. I really want to help others in our situations and say "you know, you can make it through it; it does get easier" but at the same time...I still want to put on that stupid smile and say "yep, everything's fine!". A huge part of me still doesn't want to talk about certain things. I don't know if its more of the "none of anyone's business" aspect that disturbs me the most or the " I really don't want to rehash that crap in my head" part. That forces me to look at most of the lies I have told, and really focus on the truth of the situation at hand.

If we all told the truth...I mean really laid it all out there...I wonder if it would make any difference? When we as spouses meet one another by chance, I wonder if they look at me and think the same thing, "come on just spit it out"? I really want to tell them "hey, you don't have to hide from me...I have totally been there and lied about it".  I have to say, I don't think there isn't anything that another PTSD Veteran's Spouse could tell me that shocks me anymore. I used to sit and think that if we all came out from behind the curtain and REALLY showed it all...if this would change the way the world looks at PTSD/TBI and the way that the military covers it all up?

So I know I said I wouldn't make any New Year's resolutions and just somewhat winging it this year but I think I will definitely make this one a resolution. I plan on taking the mask off and be a little more forthcoming about our experiences with PTSD. I have been candid and honest in all my posts here on my blog, but there are some things I still don't say. There are things I bypass and try not to write about, and why is that? What am I afraid of? Being flamed or being judged by readers? Nah....I get that all the time now as it is! Who cares what they think and I guarantee you....that person who hollers the loudest is wearing that same mask as most of us and the biggest liar. I guess the fear stems from the unknown stigma that placed us here to begin with...the stigma that forced us to be in the place of shame and fear for admitting our Veterans have PTSD.

What a shame that our soldiers go off to war and serve proudly only to come home to this. What a bigger shame that we as couples and families, have become the most skilled at the art of deception when it comes to PTSD. Forced into lying, banished to the isolated places of society where no one wants to hear us, and forced to help ourselves if possible......all to serve our country and secure our freedom. PTSD and other mental health issues are slowly becoming an epidemic for our era's war and we are still dealing with the aftermath of Vietnam and all the poor souls who came home with problems.... I wonder how long the government will keep lying until the day those lies come back to bite them in the asses? We lie to protect ourselves, our Veterans and our what's the government's excuse?

No Longer Lying To Myself,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Between the Sheets: The PTSD Position of Sex

 Last year, I wrote a post about Sex and that seemed to be a popular subject among the spouses who are living with PTSD on my blog. I received an email day before yesterday from a reader who shared her story about PTSD and intimacy.  She brought up a valid point when she shared with me that she wasn't sure if half the time if it was her PTSD Veteran....or herself that lacked the interest in sex. I kept thinking about her email yesterday and last night in bed, and realized that I could relate to parts of what she was saying.

The last four years of my husband being home was rough often leading him to be sexually aggressive, or taking a long vacation in the land of no "salutes" mostly due to the all the medicines he was taking. There wasn't a safe in between. The first year, it really took a toll on me because I felt it a slap to my female ego or living with the thought my husband didn't want to be near me. When he was interested, it often took work on my part to get him stimulated which I didn't mind...but every once in a while, you really just want to be ravished and appreciated in bed without feeling like you are doing all the work. After a year and a half, we talked to his psychiatrist and medicines were changed which completely did a 360 in the sex department.This helped, but then it turned into fights because one of his medicines just made him sexually aroused all the time. Now I appreciate sex and have a healthy appetite, but you can only have so much and his needs were never completely fulfilled. I don't believe it ever would have been. His psychiatrist was laughing at me because I was like "its either resting on the tracks or coming at you with full steam....there isn't an easy train ride." I don't think it was the sex I missed because I could have gotten that, but the intimate moments before, during and after sex.

Being intimate doesn't necessarily mean having sex and most misinterpret that. You can have sex all day long, and still not be fulfilling that need of being wanted, loved, or gaining that moment of individual attention. Often times, the sex would be there but it wasn't in the least the romantic, knock your boots off, go to work with that cheesy grin plastered all over your face kind of sex. Often times, our sex life would fulfill him but left me somewhat empty. I always wondered if for a man, they feel the same when PTSD forces itself into bed. It seemed like for a long time, it was me who blamed me. Obviously I wasn't attractive enough, or turned him on like I used to do before he went to war. Then I went through that phase of resentment towards my husband because I felt like he was holding out on me. Now that I am more educated about PTSD, I realize that its hard to be intimate with your spouse if you are emotionally numb. I get that and felt better in the ego department of my head because then I realized it had nothing to do with me.

This past year has been better, but now I don't think it's him but me. I feel as if there is a shift in the relationship so to speak and wondered if other spouses are going through this? I feel myself pulling away a little bit, or feeling as if he just wants a quick, "let's get it over with romp in the hay" and I have no interest in it. It's not that I don't want to have sex, just a small part of me wants it to be better. I think much of it after thinking long and hard on this, is me being the caregiver for him. It has changed my opinion of him drastically and rather think of him in a sexual way...I am thinking "ok you have to call in his medicine, didn't I just remind him to take a shower? Oh God, please don't let him have a bad day-the kids are bitchy and I just can't handle another one on my hands today". Is it possible that being a caregiver to my Veteran has changed our relationship from husband and wife to just Caregiver/Veteran? I care for him like I do my children, always johnny on the spot with the Mother Hen routine. Is this hampering my sexual appetite? 

It's hard to really think about sex when you are looking at someone you really don't know anymore. Granted, things have come a very long way since he has been home, but still much of him is guarded and I will never see that. I try to think of him as a lover and my husband, but often it's hard to do that when all you see is the PTSD and TBI. I try not to be so hard on myself because I know I am under a ton of stress on a daily basis, and I am quite tired mentally and physically. I know I want sex, I want sex with him, so why the hell is it so hard to just hold him and love on him like before? I have noticed that are relationship is closer now, especially since we have been tossing ideas around for the support group. It gives us something in common to work together on and I really love that. The rest though, I feel as if I should just pat him on the back and say Good job for something he has done, or give him a peck on the cheek. The romance has somewhat dwindled on both of our parts, and I am not really sure how to get that part back. 

If I take initiative and want sex, often by the time the kids are in bed and I have showered/bathed...he is passed out in the recliner. So then I go to bed angry and wondering why I even bothered to shave my legs! I end up frustrated with him, frustrated with myself, and more importantly our marriage. So how does one switch between the role of Mother Hen, Wife, Mother, Caregiver and Wonder Woman with ease? Our relationship is closer, our friendship somewhat rekindled after four years of hell...but I just can't seem to put interest back into our sex life. I hate to already be worrying about sleeping in twin beds or separate rooms! Any other spouses finding themselves in this predicament or is it just me? Will it eventually pass and I will find that spark that once turned me on to my husband? How does one get back to the position of having a happy and healthy sexual relationship when living with PTSD? Or has PTSD permanently found a place in between us in the bedroom~

And you thought my title was leading to something dirty,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolutions, Reservations and Revolving Doors

It's been a while and I feel so horrible that I have been so long getting back to my blogging. Blame it on the holidays as they were somewhat stressful and busy! I sincerely appreciate all the comments left on several posts I have made, and the "where the heck are you Mistress?" emails! With my family, my husband, the VA, the holidays and then several rounds of viral crud going through the household....I just honestly didn't feel like getting on here and writing! I must admit for the first time, I really didn't know what to write about! *Gasp* I know! The Mistress with nothing to say at all? It is a scary thought! Trust me, I spared you at least three posts about stomach bugs, sinus infections and two rounds of severe colds!

So how did everyone fare this holiday season? We made it through Thanksgiving without any problems worthy of mentioning and the month of December with only minor problems. In latter part of October, my husband's doctor (you remember the one who told my husband a healthy bowel movement would cure his PTSD?) was fired and a new one took her place. I can't tell you all how relieved we were and overjoyed that low and behold.....THE NEW ONE ACTUALLY CARES!!! After about an hour of listening, she quickly changed all medicines around and added another anti-depressant to my husband's already brimming medicinal cocktail. I was quite skeptical at first, but man oh man at the difference in him! For the past few weeks, he hasn't been bad at all to get along with and just maybe five really bad days in a month. Better than what I was dealing with before! I really like this new doc as she is married to a Veteran with PTSD and knows what we are dealing with from both the family side and the Veteran's side. I think it should be a requirement that every doctor, nurse and all in between, have some type of experience working with Veterans with PTSD. I felt like my husband was actually being cared for, by a person who was treating him like a family member and she really wants to be there. I am sincerely hoping she won't go anywhere as the VA here is notorious for having revolving doors with their personnel.

I had quite a few emails from readers dealing with the Holiday blues in their Veterans and with themselves. All completely normal I assure you! I always wonder why it is the holidays seem to bring out the worst in our PTSD Veterans. Often I used to think that my husband intentionally set out to sabotage such holidays so everyone else would be as miserable as he was but then sometimes, I wonder if its other reasons and really out of their control? For those of you who wrote to me and stated such similar sentiments, I hear you! There isn't any reason to feel guilty about such feelings, and sometimes you just got to get it out. Why should you feel guilty about feelings you have? Once we start regulating those and keeping them hidden from even ourselves, I kind of think all is lost.

As for New Year's Resolutions are concerned, I usually try to make some...then I change my mind, and then... I completely forget about them. You know those standard resolutions of "try to be more organized" "lose the weight" and the "clear the house of all the junk you have been hanging on to" rings across the US and possibly the world this time of year....I never get any of these accomplished, no matter how diligent I am about them. Living with a Veteran who changes daily and leaving you in suspense, its somewhat silly for me to even try to stick with the same old same old. So this year, I decided not to make any resolutions that are going to be easy for me to forget and just let the cards lie where they are thrown....I will try to watch what I eat, try to throw out or donate as I come across something, and do my best not to lose things or lose track of what I am doing...but I can't promise anything! 

So rather than resolutions, I will be setting some goals to get accomplished this year....the Mistress is on a mission. Tired and fed up with most of the general lack of help, lack of support and naturally the huge epidemic that is facing our nation of our Veteran's returning home...I will be partnering up with Quantum Leap Farm and the At E.A.S.E. program to create the first non profit, peer-to-peer support group for families of PTSD and TBI.  As you may have remembered from other posts, I was quite thrilled to attend the At E.A.S.E. program for spouses. I am really excited to work with the whole group there at QLF! My personal goal is to bring in all the non-profit organizations, groups and communities to fight back against the devastation of war coming home to us. Our launch date is to be this Spring and I am ready. Our VA and our Vet Center here is interested in doing referrals and by utilizing our community professionals (medical and mental health), business owners and leaders, and all points in between...I firmly believe we might be able to give families such as mine, the support that is so desperately needed. My goal is to be able to have chapters spread across the US so its available to all. I know personally, just being around other women like me...made me feel like I belonged somewhere for the first time since my husband got off that plane.

I am a little nervous, but I have some great volunteers who are ready to get it going and each of them having some type of involvement with Veterans. Each offering so much individually, that I am really ecstatic just seeing them once in action. So many of our community members want to help the military but just without the ability or knowledge...I plan on tapping into that. I am a little nervous, I have to be quite honest with you. However, it's time for a's time we stand up and say "Yep, this is my family and we are a family of PTSD". It's been really good for my husband as well as I have noticed a huge change in him. He is more apt to talk to people about it, without hanging his head in shame, and just as vocal as I am about the importance of education among our families. My biggest fear is letting myself down by screwing it up somehow. I am not overly religious but a firm believer....things have just happened these past few months I couldn't ignore and for whatever reason...I am supposed to be here; or at least it sure feels that way. 

Right now, I just see so many of you writing in and sharing your stories. I can't count how many of you are Master Degree students working on a thesis and wanting to cite something you read about PTSD on my blog which is quite an honor. Maybe by incorporating all of this, into one organization that can stand together and fight....we will ensure that no family is left behind. Our Veterans are hanging on by a small thread; literally on life support when they come home because they aren't who they are anymore...their families sitting by and watching as our Vets shrivel away and not knowing what they can do for them and feeling helpless. It shouldn't be this shouldn't be so damn hard. 

My only reservation in all this, is finding the help to pull it off. I am not afraid to stand up and say "We Are a PTSD/TBI Family", but many families are......some due to shame, some due to the military, and some just in plain old denial. Out of all of it though, if this is my only reservation or fear? I can overcome it...I have to. I know in my heart I am going down the right path, but my mind sometimes wants to argue with the old ticker and give me all the reasons I am setting myself up for failure. That is the OCD side of me who always has a plan A and a back up plan B when all else fails. What do I have to go on? My Family....My Veteran, the soldier who just came home and at 25 took his own life because he had no where to go. I think if I can at least stop just one from thinking the business end of a pistol is the only option left available to them, or one family who is torn apart and going through divorce all because of the issues stemming from PTSD....then I accomplished what I wanted to. This I think will allow my husband and I to find something in common with each other as we have lost so much since he has been home.

I will promise I will get back to my blogging as many of you ask me weekly when the next post is going up! I truly have missed it for the past few weeks as blogging makes me feel whole and not so alone. As always, I will be just as honest and candid as I have been in hopes that one of you out there will realize you aren't alone going through all this. And as always, I really don't force the ones who want to read and then send me nasty comments. It is in my feelings and perspective remember? If you wanted lies or candy coated semi-truths....go somewhere else because you won't find it here.

Now....Raise your glass and drink a toast with the Mistress......ahem.

Here is to a New Year...with Friends old and new....may this new year come in with hope, love and adventure in all of our endeavors. Most of all, let us go into 2011 with a new sense of peace, understanding and patience so we can keep fighting for our Vets. Pat yourself on the back and know that you survived another year....let's keep going! 

Still Twirling My Hula Hoop,