Saturday, February 26, 2011

No Padded Rooms Or Rubber Hoses! (The PTSD Inpatient Program)

I am going to back up a little here and answer some emails I have gotten! Thanks to all my readers who wished us luck on our new adventure of the Inpatient PTSD program in Lexington, KY. Many asked me who, what, when and where...and some just wanted some updates! Makes me feel like we are part of a family now, even if it's a dysfunctional one! To my Veterans who inquired about such programs...good for you guys! Hoping you all found out something through your VA or caseworkers for your local VA/states.

So as many of you husband was accepted into an inpatient, six to eight week program for PTSD which is in Lexington, KY. My husband was readily willing to try this, which at first I found a bit odd. Of course, the negative little devil sitting on my right side which was given birth to by PTSD stated "He is only looking for a way out of dealing with his family for so long", while the other little nice side is yelling " Wow! How awesome is that? He is willing to leave and go into this!". I always hate when the negativity seems to be swatting around my ears like a pesky bug! I used to not be so negative and "Miss Doubts a Lot". So we applied, went through the whole process of question and answer time with a very nice doctor on the phone. Few days later, we got the date to be in KY and for admission.

My husband was somewhat looking forward to it, although I think he was dreading leaving me and the kids. It was all going good up until this past week when things started coming apart at the seams slightly. He began to find other things to do than spend time with us. We had a "date night" which he was totally late coming home for by hours and his attitude was "oh sorry" with that whole look of "quit your bitching woman" on his face! He was intentionally giving me attitude; anger and the PTSD beast rearing it's ugly head around here like some psychotic rodeo was in town! I have to admit that I was ever so glad for him to be leaving. It seemed all we did was fight before he left. We argued about the being late, not getting stuff done and I hated that. I really did. I hate that we fought the night before he left. It literally made me sick and I ended up crying myself to sleep.

We made the long trek there which was only about a 4.5 drive, but God....did it feel like forever! He complained of stomach pain, cold chills, nausea, name it, he had it. There were a few times in the Cumberland Gap that he wanted me to turn the car around. I suspected too much of the ol' nerves was at play and kept on trucking down the road. We got there and was a little concerned myself because this place is quite old and for the life of us...we could NOT find the entrance into the building that we needed to be! Surely thinking this is a sign that things are going to be bad, I tried to make jokes to my husband to keep his spirits up.  Architecturally from our VA, it did look quite daunting to the both of us when we pulled into the parking lot.

Finally figuring it out, my husband became a little agitated. We went in to where we were supposed to be and I told him as he was fussing all the way, "Hey, the walls aren't bleeding....doesn't look like you will be leaving with Asbestos, and it's free from glass windows and bars" which made him snicker. The glass windows and bars being the reference to when he was committed for psychiatric reasons when he had his "fall out" and the patients were constantly monitored by the glass windows separating them. (Hey, gotta laugh about it!) We came in and the receptionist seemed OK although busy. It was all new to us, my husband "sick" and I was a big ball of nerves and on the verge of a crying jag. There were men coming and going, but what surprised me...was how nice they all seemed. Each one of them passing us, asked how are you...or hey buddy. Now my poor husband, has always had this "look" which can often be very very intimidating. I reminded him to play nice with others and try. He straightened up a little and it seemed to me that it wasn't going to be that bad. I liked the fact the lady at the front desk could stand in with the others and with playful banter. I didn't think he would have a hard time at all once in there. I did remind him thus far, I didn't see any signs of electroshock therapy or padded rooms with rubber hoses!

We had to wait a spell for admission and my husband had to go through some check in procedures such as breathalyzer, blood pressure, the old pee in the cup routine. The nurse was friendly and then my husband tried to tell her he was so sick, probably with the stomach flu. She looked at me, I looked at him and she said...."If you are sick, we can run you over to the ER for treatment honey and then when you get done...they will bring you right back here". I had to inwardly laugh, because I thought to myself  "Yeah slick...whatcha think about that! Ain't no going back outta here buddy but nice try"! I bet that lady has heard it all. Once she left us again....he broke down and cried. He looked at me and put his head in his hands and said "You are taking me out of my bubble".

I have to tell you Dear Readers....I thought walking away with him screaming at me from the ER that weekend of his breakdown was the hardest...that absolutely broke me. I panicked. I felt as if suddenly...I was letting him down! Maybe we made the wrong decision...maybe this is not going to be the right place for him. Then it was out of the blue, and how I managed to get the words out of my mouth was amazing; I said " Honey, this bubble has been broken for many years now and no matter how hard I try...I can't keep taping it back together. I am all out of ways to repair it". I was stunned! How could I say that!! "You have to try and do some of this by yourself and for yourself".

HOLY MOLY! Where did all this come from! I cried of course....I cried with him, I cried for him and I cried for myself. I felt like such a horrible person and spouse but there just comes a time in living with PTSD and TBI that you as a spouse can NOT keep taping and holding it all together anymore. I know I have said it on many occasions but I have come to learn that in every PTSD Vet there has to be that pivotal moment of realization that there is something wrong with them. There has to be that one thing that makes them say enough is enough. In our experiences, and mind you I am no professional...I think the same rule applies to us as Caregivers. I think the past month for us as a family, was the pivotal moment for me. I finally said "enough is enough". I explained to him how much I loved him, but I just can't keep going..he is absolutely sucking the life out of me.

The goodbye part was of course, the hardest. He acted as if he suddenly needed to rush....get me out of the way, into the car and Adios Amiga! I knew though it was all for show and he just didn't want to cry anymore.  It was really hard to pull out of the parking place and look back in my rear view, to see him walking in with his shoulders slumped. I can almost compare this to that first day you take your child to Pre-K/Kindergarten for the first time. He can use his cell phone nightly so it's not like he is completely locked away from us here at home. I have spoken to him nightly since he has been there on Tuesday and other than a few minor complaints of "not being home"...he is doing just fine. I was quite impressed with the fact in his goals to achieve that he went over with the doctors there, that trying to work on himself and interacting with his family was one of those. I just feel sometimes that we aren't in his priorities. At all...not even in third place and hoping for second. I feel as if we could all just disappear and the only thing he would say is "what about dinner?".

I am trying to be optimistic about this program and somehow a little hope has been raised within me. I know the time away from us will help. I know I definitely needed a break and use this time for just me. I know he definitely needed this time to work on himself and find some good outlets for his anger, frustration and other things he never wants to talk about. There are a couple of others from our area in which they live which is awesome! I think having a lifeline or perhaps a "post-war" battle buddy when they come home will be good for all of them. I have encouraged him to make friends so when they come home, they can hang out and have someone within each other that not only has "been there" in war...but also, really really been there in the aftermath of PTSD and all the baggage that comes with it.

I miss him terribly...I still feel the slight guilt pangs that I am not there protecting him...sheltering him from life and that I have uprooted him and put him into not only another state...but yanked his whole life from him. On the other hand, I feel that I just can't keep going. Something has got to give here. I know that this is not a cure all...we will always have issues and PTSD/TBI will always be sitting smack in between us. However, I hope that this will teach him some coping skills with his anger. Perhaps he can find a way to get out whatever is slowly eating him from the inside out. I am hoping that just maybe....he will remember that I love him this much and that possibly it will remind him how much he loves me. Sappy I know...I have been so deprived for the last four years and just literally long for that deployment time where he told me that he never realized how much he loved me until we were separated. I don't know if I am setting myself up for failure or not in thinking that, but hey....hope is about all we have to hang on anymore these days and if it allows me to sleep at night...then I will keep hoping. I will post more as it goes on....maybe through our experiences, it will help some of you navigate through this crazy haze.....

Still Hanging in Here, 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sadist Masochist Relationship of PTSD

As promised to myself, while my husband was away, I needed to take this time to "heal" myself. After talking with a resource for mental health help for myself in the forms of counseling, it was mentioned that "Yet you still stay and keep taking the punishments for nothing". Although pissed at the time and well, rather defensive.....It got me to thinking; Is living with PTSD and TBI somewhat of a Sadist Masochistic relationship? Are we as caregivers, destined to take out the punishment for the rest of our marriages with our Invisible Wounded? I know it's very easy for outsiders looking in, to miss the big picture as a whole. Especially if they aren't military or have knowledge of what it's like. They don't have the opportunity to have those precious times where normal reigned in your relationship and there were no problems besides just the standard ones. It's very easy to miss that and not know or understand why we as Caregivers keep going.

So I wonder....are we victims of post war issues or volunteers for staying on and dealing with all that we go through? We take whatever abuse is handed out, not willingly most times...but yet we still stand in. Is our love blinded when it comes to our wounded warriors, accepting the Masochistic role of taking any attention at all we can receive from our Vets? Often, I have suddenly stopped and wondered why I don't leave and take my children...but that love in my heart makes me stop and reminds my brain to remember that I didn't want my husband to become another statistic written on paper. What keeps us holding on to nothing at times?

Most of the time, I truly feel like I am tied to the proverbial whipping post. The counselor "specialist" I spoke to yesterday, made the comment of "Well you are an inspiration for many and you are so strong". I don't feel that way at all. Looking back over the past four years, how the hell have I stayed so strong through it all? It's one of life's curious voids where our brains just automatically start numbing to the pain that has occurred. Some days I feel like my husband who shows no emotions but only that of anger, hatred and pure the Sadist of our relationship. Causing and inflicting pain on our family seems to be a common occurring theme with him whether it be intentional or not. Any special plans or certain appointments, often he will sabotage by either pulling a disappearing act or act out so it upsets everyone around him. It's like he can't help it. When you confront him about the sabotage, his face goes blank. He shuts down and there is just nothing there. We keep giving and giving to the point of not being able to give anymore...and yet here we are. Still somehow finding more and more to give.

When you think about Sadist and Masochistic can really somewhat relate that type of interaction living with PTSD and TBI. Now before you think the Mistress has gone all whips and chains on you, dear readers....this idea popped into my head while watching one of those documentaries on tv about the "History of Sex". As I semi-watched and was thinking about my husband being gone....I realized how much I was truly the recipient of the sadistic side of PTSD. This show documented the history of sex and the "darker side" of it. There were active sadists and masochists talking about what makes them tick, what makes them enjoy such temptations in the bedroom, how they weren't any different than the rest of society (or so they say).

I started thinking about what they were saying and it wasn't too much different than our lives as spouses of the PTSD Vet. My love for him and the hope that one day my "real" husband will come back has literally tied my hands behind my back. Often my shame or embarrassment of talking about all that goes on, has silenced me just the same as the black leather bindings across the face. You become so desperate for attention, love and just that simple sign of will take whatever you can get and hope that it only gets better. After a while, you simply get used to the idea of "this is it". You quit arguing, you stop fighting back because it makes your Veteran simply give in and take what you can get. What little joy you can derive from the "good" days, keeps you driving on looking for a way to fulfill that insatiable thirst for more. PTSD becomes the lashes on your back, the verbal outbursts become so embedded in your mind that you can't help but to expect it. Some times it feels like the only attention I get from my husband is often negative, so does this make us similar to those Masochists who derive pleasure from the pain received? How long does it take to finally break free from the whips and chains of PTSD and actually lead a normal life. Is it even possible anymore?

My husband will be in an inpatient program for acute PTSD for many many weeks. Even with the knowledge of him being gone, I still awoke and awaited the back lashes of PTSD this morning. How twisted and damaged have we become as the caregivers of our PTSD Veterans? Will we eventually break the pattern ourselves, or will it become habitual for us to expect nothing more than what we are getting now?

Whips and Chains Do Not Excite Me, 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Sad Farewell to Normalcy

This past Saturday was the day my "old" and "pre-war" life suddenly ended with the death of my German Shepard Sam. He passed away in his sleep peacefully, without pain and at home which was important to me. I grieved and bawled for 24 hours straight and still today think I will never stop grieving. I have since cried more than five times a day each time I see his "spot" in the living room or come across something. Even the thought of him just absolutely makes my stomach drop with grief and the tears begin. Now, before you stop reading and say "what does a dog have to do with PTSD and TBI"....I will get to that.

My husband and I purchased Sam the first year we were together...just shy of 12 years ago....It was during  those glory days of the "glimmer" in the eyes.....the love swelling every time you looked at one another. It was during that time my husband and I were the best of friends, lovers, and well as sappy as it sounds...soul mates. There wasn't a threat of threats or mentions of PTSD or TBI. No anger or resentment between us. We picked him up from the breeder and he looked just like a huge solid black baby bear. My husband wanted to name him "Bear" but somehow I was talking about "Sam I am" from Dr. Seuss. Each time I would say it, the dog would come to me so it stuck. Sam as a puppy seemed to want to do so much to help people, but most of all...he was a "mama's" dog. From pup on up, the dog followed me everywhere. Didn't matter what I was doing, he wasn't more than two steps behind me.

When I was sick with my yearly pneumonia...he never left my side and often my husband would have to literally drag him out to take him outside to go to the bathroom with the promise that he could come right back. When I hurt from Rheumatoid Arthritis, he would lay his head on my knees and just nuzzle with me and whine like "I can feel your pain". When I was pregnant with our first son together, Sam laid his head on my belly every evening. When I found out my husband was getting deployed, Sam licked away the tears.....pulled me from depression and made me get up.....he gave me a reason not to sit around and give up because my husband was gone. He made me feel secure when he was near, scared away many many annoying sales people who showed up at the door (snicker snicker)...and most importantly, he loved me with that unconditional love. When my middle son was born, I was concerned about the dog and the baby together but Sam took to him right off. While the baby was napping in his crib, Sam would lay there on the floor and alert me at even the slightest of whimpers. To call him amazing, would still not seem justifying enough. When my third son was born, Sam would lay the same way beside both...almost like he was saying "hey, I got your worries". Poor dog would be hit with so many toys, ears pulled...tail stepped on but never once let a growl out.

Sam loved to "hold hands" so to speak. He was a large breed with paws the size of a lion it seemed. He would come sit beside me, butt on the floor and place one paw on top of my hands. He loved me reaching over and placing my other hand on top of his and there we sat. Sometimes Sam was the best friend I didn't have, or my love muffin when I needed someone the most. As our children grew up around him, Sam became so over protective of them it was hard to even let the kids go outside without him. He watched them like hawks and being the large giant he was....never barked his fullest around them and was gentle. I don't know how he knew, but he just seemed to always know when something was wrong or the kids were in trouble.

When my husband deployed, my beloved dog grieved the absence of my husband so badly he actually had to go on an anti-depressant. It is common with German Sheps to have separation anxiety with their owners. We managed to make it through our deployment and all the roller coasters of living the Active duty life. When my husband came home, I think Sam knew then that something was wrong with "dad". He seemed to stick with me like glue, especially during those times that things were so bad and rocky. When my husband would get up in my face or start his yelling and ranting...Sam would literally intervene, sitting on the tops of my feet and get up on his back haunches and let out a slow growl. Often this would back my husband off and calm him down some. When I was heartbroken over some of the stunts that my "pod person" pulled during that first two years home....Sam just knew when I needed him the most.

We bought our first home together finally after many years of renting. I knew Sam would love it out here in the country and could run and run. It seemed though, Sam changed just like my husband did and just wouldn't get up and go anymore. After many many tests, diagnosis and such...he was diagnosed with cancer and kidney failure. Selfishly, I guess I should have put him down then but when I went to do it....he just looked at me like "please just a little while longer....not here". So after many medications and tons of pain pills...he died here at home with his family. I feel so horribly guilty although I think it was the right decision. He wasn't in pain and unless you knew him eleven years ago, you probably wouldn't even know he was ill. He seemed happier when I took him home for the last time. I never knew but a few things he hated besides pickles, taking his picture and of course...the Vet's office. I knew he hated being there and wanted to just go home.

I know it's hard losing such a close family pet and for the life of me...I have thought long and hard about Sam since Saturday and didn't understand why I am taking it this hard. I thought to myself  "Hey, you knew this was have been preparing yourself for a while now" but it didn't make me feel any better. I sat in the tub the other night bawling and then it dawned on me. He wasn't just a "pet". He wasn't just a friend or protector......he was the last piece of normalcy that my husband and I had before the war and him coming home. Sounds strange I know and who the hell knows these days, what normalcy actually means? It was the glory days between my husband and myself finally buried with Sam on Saturday.

Sam was the first way my husband and I "unceremoniously" bonded together, the first purchase together as a couple...the love shared no one could separate. Once I lost my "real" husband in the sands of Iraq, I children changed...all in a crazy, hectic, sad  roller coaster ride of four years. Sam however, was my constant. I could be mad as hell with my husband and Sam would never judge. He was the one person on my side, and who listened without condemning me for wondering why it was that I hated this "pod" person the Army sent home. It was OK to scream and cry, Sam never flinched....He just stood in with me and showed me more love than I deserved. With his death on Saturday, I felt absolutely devastated. The same as I felt when burying my brother and my mother. I am now filled with this emptiness, restlessness and overwhelming sadness I don't believe could ever be filled again. I have recently this year adopted a Chihuahua named "Taco" which has been an absolute doll baby, but even with as much love as I have for's not a replacement. Two totally different personalities, two totally different lives spent with me.

I think it hit me...I mean really really hit me this week with how much I have lost as a spouse of a wounded warrior with PTSD and much my family has sacrificed, lost and changed. Sam was the one single living peice of everything that we had prior to my husband coming back and now that's gone. I could stop and talk to Sam and remember while smiling about something funny my husband said or did.....I know I don't need a dog to do that, but the memory just seems so blurred at the moment. I think what hurt too, was my husband never once shed a tear. We buried him on our property with a stone to follow...we said a prayer to the big man upstairs to keep his soul and love him as much as we loved him....and never once did my husband's emotions show. My pre-war husband would have absolutely gone insane over his death. I know I shouldn't be resentful or angry, but not even one tear? Nothing? Is my husband just so far gone that no emotions touch him anymore? I cry over my "Poopy Dog" as I so fondly called him, but am grieving for the loss of my husband and my relationship with him for the first time in four years at the same time. I am literally mourning my pet's loss and my husband's losses he has endured.

I spoiled Sam with treats, the occasional Jello Pudding frozen pops he dearly loved and a grilled cheese sandwich on his birthday which is tomorrow. I loved him, and I know he knew that I did....but I just don't think that I ever said thank you or loved him the way he loved me. I want to tell him how sorry I am that things went so sour in his life the last four years. I just want to tell him I want him back here at home with me and that I need him. Things have gotten better than what they were four years ago, so maybe he knew I would be ok...I told him just last week when he wouldn't get up too much and just wanted to sleep...that I would be ok and that if it was his time to leave was ok to do just that. Selfishly even now, I am ashamed to say I want to take that back. I want him back with me. I have had such a horrible week since Saturday that all I want is his love right now. I came home today and thought all day long...."can't wait to get home to some cuddling with Sam" only to swallow that heartache once the door opened.

Tomorrow I will be fixing Sam that grilled cheese sandwich as I have done every year he was here. I know in time, the healing comes and the hurt will eventually numb itself to the point of being tolerable. I don't know much about the PTSD service dogs or all the benefits that come from it...but I can tell you after losing Sam I believe more in those types of programs because if they are as unconditional and loving as Sam was...then that has to help a Veteran with PTSD and all the issues. I miss you Sam...more than you will ever possibly know. I hope you are running around and healthy once again...say hi to mama for me. I love you Buddy.

Wishing I was holding your hand......

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I was unable to sleep last night due to sinus pressure and just feeling lousy. It had started to snow pretty hard here so I got up and sat at the back door to watch as it came down. As I watched and my eyes became more adjusted to the dark...I saw my reflection looking back at me through the glass on the door. I looked horrible! Yes, Yes, Yes, I know it's because I am still sick....but it was more than that. My reflection simply didn't feel like me at all! I felt alien if I was looking back at myself and thinking "who in the hell is that!" all in the process. The cold air felt good and one of my favorite sounds is the sound of falling snow in the still quiet. It usually soothes me, but last night all it did was make me feel more isolated.

I realized then exactly how tired I am emotionally and physically. How does one keep pushing on with such strength when all you feel is exhaustion?

The past week or so has been tiresome. Working on Social Security paperwork has been a bit daunting to me. Amongst all of that, I have had to write out my husband's "story" about his lost military records so our Congressman can have the full gist of the situation on paper now that they are going to help us. It's been a bit of a struggle to keep my husband's attention span which is now equivalent to that of my four year old, so he can sign what needs to be signed and filled out. It's been a paper shuffle all week; marking this...highlighting that....preparing for that "unknown" MEB date that has instilled fear inside of me like the Grim Reaper. I have become restless and antsy, irritable and hateful....just not me at all. I am almost ashamed at how grumpy I am on the inside, all while plastering that stupid smile on my face! I hide it from my husband, I hide it from my children...I hide it from the world as if it's truly a freakish thing.

It's been about three weeks since the bottom fell out, and I find my husband very aggravating. I don't know why either. May be because I am not used to having him home this much, could be a little resentment I have harbored for a while now coming forth, or the fact that he is driving me crazy already. Getting his 100% was a victory for us, but at what cost?  Was it truly a victory for him...or for me? I am still kind of going through the motions of coming down off that "let's go get 'em" rush and now that it's "temporarily" done; I am thinking, what do I do now? I still have so much to do like his social security but just have lost interest in most of it. I am so confused on much of this whole process, and that bothers me the most. Me, the one who always has plan A's and plan B's is simply "winging" it....there is not net to catch anyone of us and that bothers me the most. My husband says I can't control all of it, but is it really about control? I don't think's more like being cautious and being prepared. I have heard advice from so many, but so much of it contradicts the others so I am more confused now than I was before!

My husband while home, hasn't done much. I have tried to keep him sheltered from any stress and keep him happy. It's exhausting. It really is. He has been taking my middle son to school in the mornings and picking him up which has been nice. My four year old is still under the impression that daddy will have to go back to work, so he pretty much demands that my husband take and pick him up since he is home. We have done a few little things around the house, but most of the time he just sits. When he sits, he starts getting irritable and annoying. It's "Well, I don't know what to's too cold outside to work in the garden....I haven't not ever worked...I haven't ever just sat and done nothing". I understand...I really do. It's been quite an adjustment for all of us, trust me. However, I feel like he is complaining and unhappy. So if that's the case, why fight so hard for disability if he doesn't really act like he wants it or is appreciative of it? There is no happy medium with him. He constantly complained and whined about not getting the deserved benefits he I busted my hump and fought tooth and claw to get them....we get it and he still isn't happy! Maybe my mood is feeding itself on his negativity and I am afraid that its going to start a small fire only to end in an explosion.

To top my mood off, I have been sick for what seems like forever. Can't seem to shake the flu like symptoms and sinus issues. I know much of it is my stupid low immune system from RA, but would have thought I would have gotten rid of it. It just keeps coming back and I am wore out. Now I really am going to whine, but I know many other wives out there will be reading this and saying "uh huh..I hear you girl". After almost five years of coddling, taking care of it all and leading the fight...I just wish when I was sick..he would give me a break. Maybe coddle me a little. I know it's selfish, but  I think I deserve it. The last two weeks, I have been pretty sick. He left to take my son to school and disappeared for a couple of hours. Found out he was down at a friend's house who was outside working and stopped to chit chat. No big deal.....he finally came home long enough to eat, go get my son and drop him off and gone again. Now in the meantime, I have vomiting, severe headache, cold chills and fever....and trying to deal with a cranky two year old who is in need of a nap...and a four year old who is wound up from school. All I wanted, was to take some medicine and lie down. Just for a little while and rest. Didn't get it. Instead, I got two screaming children under the age of five....a pre-teen who had a bad day at school and came home with a horrible attitude, and a pounding ass headache.

The only concern he seems to have with me is "I got to get you feeling better so we can have sex again". WHAT! The LAST thing I want right now is sex. I hate being that way...I really do but jeez man. If you see I am sick, you know I am sick...then why could you have not stayed home instead of leaving? He just walks away like he doesn't care. I know they are cold, have no sympathy or empathy for anyone anymore...but damn, I think this is the part of PTSD that pisses me off the most. My doctor says, oh you need plenty of rest with the flu and pneumonia....never got that. I was out in the 20 degree and below weather walking the VA grounds trying to get things done. "You need plenty of rest" comments from my doctor is compared to that of "Hey, here is a million dollars and how about a free month long trip to Europe". Hmmmmm....never happened. So here I am...three weeks later, still sick.

You know, after reading what I have just written...maybe its a little resentment towards him for not being appreciative for all the crap I went through to get to this point. Perhaps its the fact that he could care less of what happens to me or how I feel that is bothering me so badly. You would think after almost five years of this, I would just get used to it and get over it. I don't think it's that easy to get over. It's the past three weeks of emotions and hell, its the last four years....finally we get something going our way and just expected him to take care of me now that I am down for the count. I went to bed last night so freaking angry at the world, well mostly him.  I wonder if he completely comprehends how much life the man has absolutely sucked out of me. I wonder if he understands how much hurt he causes, even when he is not a raving lunatic. I wonder if he knows how much disappointment I hold in our marriage currently? I will be sad to see him go to that six week program, but I have to be honest and say....I will be glad for the break. I think the time apart will do us some good especially me.

Perhaps during that time, I can fix that fractured image I saw in the reflection early this morning. Perhaps, I can take time for myself and repair my feelings when he is not here tromping all over them. Then again...perhaps I am merely being hopeful and that reflection of what I saw...will be who I will be for the rest of my life. A new friend I have met through contacts, sent me an article yesterday asking for me to call in and please report back my findings for article purposes and research. I read through this site, DCOE Blog , and wonder if they would have anything for me? Or is it going to be another damn disappointment as some of the others like Military One Source? I think sometimes maybe I am burned out....wiped out, and in need of talking to someone professionally who can sort through all this crazy crap in my head. I told her I would call but what do you say? "I am all the what can you do for me?". I have been dropped so many times, that I am just not sure I can handle another one. I have become so numb in some areas of my life, but at the same freaking fragile and sensitive in others. I think when these organizations or "programs" tell you, "I am sorry, but we just don't have anything in your state or you are not eligible for any of it because you are Reserves", that they should have to see our faces when they say it. I know so many are doing a wonderful thing, they really are...but there are some who just act like its now a chore to talk to people and forgot the real reason they started such programs. They never stop to think how their hatefulness coupled with dashed hopes can really wear on a person. If I decide to call, will let you others know what I find out...or if you have experience with said program, could you pass on a little information my way? I think I am little ashamed to say I need help coping and need some guidance. 

Damned Reflections,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Calm After the Storm

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 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 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'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 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 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 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,