Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monumental Victories and Then Some

Since my last post, it seems things have settled back into a semi-screwed-up-normal-for-us routine. Really, it's been busy since my husband's C&P evaluation back in February. I may have mentioned that the C&P really went well with such a nice doctor, that I would like to send him flowers! For many who know me well....pfft that is just mind blowing there in itself! Moi? Send flowers? Hell hath frozen over right? Yes Dear Readers, you read that last statement from the Mistress herself. In the past five years, I have to admit that the pages in my mind of the VA have been roughly colored with some really bad crayons. However, the last few months have given this gal some appreciation for the "good" guys that are there and who care. After the C&P, its been rough though here at home. More so because I was so relieved and for once, things were going in the right direction for the first time since he landed after coming home from the war. All we could do was wait to see what happened which led him to worry. Things started to happen that I didn't think would ever come to pass. Some things happened that seemed like it would be a million years away...and here was my husband still not happy with anything only slipping further from me in the process.

A while back, I posted a blog about JP Morgan and Chase and Bank of America now providing military services for Wounded Warriors and help with foreclosures, percentage rates, and mortgage payments for ALL those who are military and Veterans. I worked with Chase and applied for the percentage to be lowered on our rates and in November of last year, we were notified that we were 1 of 100 military families that JP Morgan and Chase wrote off the mortgages and debt for. I really didn't believe it at first and I must have given them a "You have got to be screwing with me!" lecture on the phone as Fed Ex promptly showed up the following day with a letter acknowledging such a write off and a "Yes, we are serious". As of this past week, we got our home deed and property title. We never expected such a gift but I have to say that Chase bank treated us kindly and really cared about my family and my husband. They listened to me...and for the first time, I felt like some of these corporate, large businesses really heard what I had to say. Matter of a fact, I spoke to our Military Services manager so much that I indeed will miss talking with him! We were blessed to have such a gift given to us and what a relief as we didn't have to worry about our mortgage anymore which was about the only thing we had left that was truly ours, our home. Everything else we had has been sold off, savings dwindled down to zip, and we weren't even making it month to month.

All this stress was on me and lord knows the gray in my hair shows it! All I could do through the hard times was say "It'll be alright! We've made it this far! Don't give up on me now!" like some cheerleader with a plastered smile that fractured and crumbled when I climbed into the tub alone and sobbed. Then I would go to bed at night praying to God that he knows what he is doing. Hoping he knew what his plans were for me and that I was seeing the signs. Then I would sit awake for hours soothing my husband's nightmares all while making myself believe that everything will be ok. The rest I figured would work itself out, and kept everything I had crossed so I wouldn't let my family down. The scariest part was the fear of letting my family down and all of us falling apart.

Our biggest hurdle was the VA and to be honest with you, you must have seen and read how scared I truly was about this C&P re-evaluation. Why I don't know because all the medical documentation was there but with the luck we have had....nothing scared me more than having someone do it who could have cared less which is exactly what most of us have encountered. I kept planning for the worst, having a back up plan for even far worse news, and a second escape in case all else fails. To be honest with you, I didn't have a back up plan for my sanity or a magic pill to give me more strength if that appointment had gone badly. We assumed the VA would keep my husband at his regular rating, leaving it at temporary once more. We would be put back into limbo until at least, the PEB was done. The letter stated that the VA decided, based on medical documentation and case files, that my husband had been awarded Permanent and Total disability.

I have to tell you that looking back, I don't think I have cried as much in my entire life than I did then. It was monumental...I wanted to cry, laugh, breathe, exhale, scream, shout and run around in circles kicking up my heels. If you are old enough to remember the movie "Rocky", yeah it was pretty much the whole "Eye of the Tiger" moment for me. I couldn't wait to show my husband, thinking YES! FINALLY! Maybe now he can relax. Maybe he will finally see how hard I have fought. How I stood up for him and many by voicing our story. How I may not have taken a bullet for him, but took many blows for him these past years. I thought maybe he would now know how hard I worked the past three years, and know I did it for him without a single "I love you" in return. Maybe just maybe he would know I loved him that much to fight.

When I walked in with tears and sputtered out "You got it. Permanent and Total". He said "Sweet". Sweet? That's it? I cried harder. It was a victory for our family and won that had many many costs that can never be paid back and that's all he could say was "sweet"? He went outside to putz in the yard, pulling at some weeds while I fumed all while crying. How could he not be appreciative of this? How could he not feel blessed? Have I truly missed how selfish and self-absorbed he had become? Why could he not let me just celebrate for all the work and finally exhale all the stress I have carried for all of us?

So as I chewed on his nonchalant attitude and envisioned the full "Hell hath no fury"  I wanted to invoke upon his ass, all while preparing the speech of "Do you know how many other Veterans are suffering in the same situation and worse off than us?". I got up to go chew his ass out but then I saw him staring out across the yard with his hands in his pockets. I stopped myself and although I really was hurt by his attitude, I instead walked back in the house. Selfishly, I wanted to be Balboa knocking it out of the park in the first sucker punch, and wallow in the victory and relief I felt. I made it through the hurdle that has made our life hell on earth and I am still standing. It didn't dawn on me until I saw him looking out over the lawn how lost and sad he looked. Although just feet away from me, he looked so far away. 

I realized then that it's not about money, it's not about the win, it's not about the disability with our Veterans; it's about losing. I watched him through the window and I realized that award letter really meant nothing but  knowing the rest of his life, he will live the war. For the rest of his life, he will engage in the battle of the mind with demons I can't save him from and here I was....wanting to celebrate. My husband always worked, I always worked. It was how we were raised. Everything bought was worked hard for and treasured. So while it was monumental, a blessing and one that was out of left field...I am not sure if he feels happy, sad or really anything. Victories these days for families like us can be sometimes disguised as happy moments until you sit and further dissect them. You want to relish in the happiness but then when you see your Veteran's face and hear the question of "what am I supposed to do now?" it breaks your heart because honestly, I don't know. It hit me then that this blessed award letter was merely a chapter closed in his life and now he isn't sure what to do. I have held his hand, stood in front of him, took the stress away, protected and loved like hell...but that simple question? I could not answer.

With those two victories, we were also able to get an attorney for the Social Security Disability claim we had been previously been denied twice on. From a referral from another Veteran's wife (Thanks Rebecca), I didn't have high hopes as we had already gone through a list of seventeen with no luck. This one turned out to be one who seems to know what he is talking about, knew exactly all the military jargon and the VA which was nice not having to explain much of it. Within half an hour, signed, sealed and delivered was our response for the hearing and an attorney we gained. That was another load off my weary shoulders as trying to rationalize with an irrational person, why SSD wasn't automatically granted in three days was becoming a topic of soreness with between my husband and I.

We ended our week last week filing what is to be our last tax return until (if) I can go back to work. Uncle Sam was generous this time but it dawned on both of us, that not having to file a tax return just seemed....weird. Kind of slammed the door on a lot of things as silly as it sounds and my husband has been withdrawn ever since. I have seen more enthusiasm in the latest "I'm Sexy and I know it" M&M commercial that he finds amusing than I have with any of these things that have come into play. I know its been a rough week with lots of mixed emotions and semi-finalization of things in our life...that I shouldn't expect anything more. The fighter in me wants to celebrate and go another round in the ring, but the wife in me still desperately wants to lay all this at his feet and say "here. **POOF** you are all better now!" I wonder from time to time though, if I am fighting for all the right reasons. Am I fighting for my husband because he like many others, were broken and discarded? Am I fighting for love? Or am I simply trying to pathetically gain wins so I can make him happy..........

We don't talk much anymore and if we do, its mostly about appointments or something in the news. I hate to call friends and spread our good news because I know in the end, I will get off the phone and feel horribly guilty because we got what they have been fighting for so much longer to have. It's not fair it seems so I don't say anything at all. I would never want them to hurt or to feel angry with me. The silence is killing me though and its a shame I talk to our Federal Recovery Coordinator more than I do my sister. I will keep going though. I understand my husband but it doesn't mean I can't secretly strike my best Rocky Balboa pose and scream "YES!".  I will keep digging and hope that finally I struck victory at the bottom. As always...I will leave a light for him to follow if he needs it. Next hurdle is the Physical Evaluation Board, but I am not so afraid now. I can do this. I am ready, US Army. Bring it on.

Wiping My Weary Brow and Raising My Dirty Shovel For All Of Us, 


  1. Mistress, are you his official caregiver? They offer stipends. I only ask because you say if you can return to work. I quit my job to care for Hubs and am in the process now.

    1. Cb, yes I applied last Sept and got approved in November. However, to me, its like only temporary. Does that make sense? I think the VA told it was funded for five years, but who knows these days? I don't know if the stipend will always be there so in the back of my mind...I try to look at going back to work. I have been pretty happy with the Va Caregiver program here. We have a Coordinator that listens, takes advice and comments and puts them to work as well as seems to love her job. Very rare these days indeed!! Thank you for asking though and reminding others about the VACG program!

    2. I don't think it's ending anytime. My coordinator said they just expanded the program. I hear you though, you never know with the VA!!!


  2. I'm new to your blog, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your honesty, your commitment, and your love. I'm glad you found at least one ray of light at the VA! As a VA psychiatrist myself (Indianapolis), I do know--sadly--that not all my colleagues are as sincerely connected as they should be to the veterans we are privileged to serve. I do sincerely hope that your one good experience will not be your last. You are brave. Your husband is brave. Life is just lived one day at a time, isn't it? My best to you, your husband, and your family.

    Rod Deaton

    1. Welcome Rod! I think there are some really good people that do work at the VA, who love their job and want to work with Veterans. BUT then you always run into the bad apples that spoil everyone's opinion of the VA. I hope its not the last either! Hahah! This doctor really cared and wanted to do the best C&P that my husband deserved and was kind to us. Very rare. Last one we had before this, the guy didn't even really talk to my husband. I appreciate all you do and am glad you found me!

  3. I am looking for reading material and general education. I am in a committed relationship with a man who is about to retire. When he left Ft. Lewis last year for Ft. Polk, we were so great. We did well for quite some time... until he started working doing reality training. He was injured and has seen a lot of combat. I know that TBI and PTSD are something that he deals with. It wasn't until after he had moved that I really "got it". Our plan all along has been for him to move back here in June after he retires. I LOVE this man with all that I am. Unfortunately he has become more and more withdrawn. It was over Christmas, he visited and he either slept or played a game on his phone. There were a few great moments in there. Those good times are amazing. Right now I am wondering if I will be able to see those more when he retires... or is this distance he is building into our relationship on purpose. It has been about a month since we spoke on the phone and we don't text or email a few words every few days. I am so very lost. He has said to me that he feels dead inside. It hurts that he pushes me away, because my nurturing self feels like I can love it all better. Yet he won't let me. Words of wisdom? I would be forever grateful.

  4. It's NOT you.... I have learned that the TBI makes it seem like they don't care but they DO! They just can't express it properly.

    Don't feel discouraged! He loves you and you can't forget that.


I Would Love to Hear From Ya'll!