Thursday, December 13, 2012

She Stands Alone

  Music is what has gotten me through my darkest nights. Music is what has laced my happy memories.  Almost always, I am singing a song.  In my head, out loud, to coworkers (they politely let me go on), and often as I go to sleep at night.  I am a walking soundtrack. I know the songs that will be played at my funeral, and morbidly enough, the songs that I think should be played at my loved ones funeral. My love for music was given to me by my mother, and it is something that connects me to her. Sometimes I play a game where anything I say has to be song, and it has to be a real song.  It makes life interesting, it makes life tolerable.  More often than not lately, my life has become difficult to tolerate.

               I’m losing myself.  It dawned on me when I met with a lifestyle/diet coach, and she said, “When did you start letting PTSD define you?” She was shocked, and almost disgusted that I had “allowed his PTSD to define me”.  Of course, I bristled and thought, “It does NOT define me! I am me, always have been always will be, it just takes up a lot of my time, and it is a part of life!”  Trauma is a fact of life.  But for the last 6 years, I have been focusing on that, and unable to see the other piece of that fact.

               So is resilience.  Am I resilient?  For months I grappled with this, refused to believe it, and the old quote, “Thou doth protest too much” echoed in my head.  I have NOT been resilient.  I HAVE started letting this define me.  I miss me.  I miss who I was.  Can I be who I was?   Can I change my path and start to live my life in such a way that I am able to be true to my inner self?

               Two coworkers and I went to a nightclub an hour away to see this band.  I wanted to go so bad, but from the time of ticket purchase, to the time of the show, I worried.  I shouldn’t be doing this, its my only night off, I should be home, what if the crowd is too much my coworkers will know that I have Secondary PTSD like a motherfucker, they won’t understand, what if what if what if.

               Determined not to risk any sort of decent reputation I have with them, I was going.  And deep down, it was what I wanted.  The old me wanted it.  Wanted to watch a band perform with crazy intensity, to have a few drinks, to dance, to get a t-shirt, to see how close up front we could get… I really hoped that no one would be stupid and that I’d have to flip shit on some sorry soul who doesn’t know the reason behind the rage.

               Once the music started playing, I relaxed.  I remembered how much this was me.  I tried not to worry about the kids, or the husband, or the inevitable messy house I’d be coming home to.  But throughout the second bands set, a string of lyrics came out and resonated with me.  Tears pricked my eyes, and I was able to choke them back.  But as I looked around, and listened to  the music, watching bodies sway, the musicians losing themselves in their own stories, I realized, I’m different.  Certain lyrics could be taken one way by the average citizen, but when they fell onto me, the magnitude of what hid behind them was startling.  Looking around though, no one seemed to notice.  I thought did you just hear that?!  My coworkers dancing a frenzied circle around me… No? 

               I understand that things have different meanings for different people, but it had never been more apparent to me than that moment.  My experience has changed my perception.  And much of what I have experienced is not even to call my own.  It is often the aftermath, the bits and pieces of war stories I gather when I privileged to ever even be in earshot; When I am honored that the keeper lets it sit on his lips. 

               I did find some humor in the situation.  I laughed to myself when I saw a man kind of circling around the outside of the drunken mob, enjoying his beer, enjoying the music, almost like he was not even there.  I warmly smiled as I thought, “That would be my husband if he were here”.  I reveled in the company of the girls I was with, they were so fun, so carefree, completely unbothered by the mass behind them.  I even found myself being silly with them.  Imitating some silly viral you tube video we had seen, dancing our way back to the parking ramp. 

               I can’t say, “Have you let his PTSD define you?” because really, this is not just “his” war.  This is OUR war.  And if you can remain unaffected, untouched, then bless your yellow ribbon magnet on your gas guzzling SUV heart, and carry on.  PTSD/TBI in our Veterans is everyone’s problem.  I would not go so far as to say it defines me, rather, I am learning to reexamine and redefine myself because of it. 





Monday, November 19, 2012

What hell man has created

What hell man has created.  What HELL!  I tell you with urgency and unedited truth the hell I see.  I want you to know my story and when you hear it and when you know my heart I want you to be as shocked as I often am.  I want you to cry and be miserable and know, really know what hell man has made.

I have in the past 5 years learned so much about how man, or woman, often have absolutely no regard for eachother that they, whether knowingly or not, actually contribute and participate and perpetuate this hell I speak of.

When I say "hell" I want you to know what that means.  Hell to me is a "place" a "mindset" an "existence" that is so repulsive, it breeds hate and infiltrates even the most loving heart and it breaks it and it rapes it and debases it over and over and over again.  You will either continue to exist in a way that perpetuates it, feeds it, and complicates it, or you will demand of yourself to remove yourself from it, you will not be blind to it, you will not chose to be complacent, you will not feel so hopeless about changing it, and you will make a choice to stop it. 

No woman should ever have to sit with her husband and tell him of this hell.  No woman should ever have to become so hateful, so full of spite, so brutally honest, that she forces her husband to face this hell and make a conscience choice to either continue to participate in this hell, or leave.  Remove himself.  Extract himself from not only his own internal hell peppered with images of a past life, shattered by life after combat, destroyed by society and their inability to relate to any other human being other than themselves, or their fucking SUV.

Tonight I am raw and so angry, dangerously angry. Violent and hostile and not fit for society angry.  Let me share with you, dear reader, my hell.  Let me invite you to come and sit next to me while I recant my hell.  Let me poison your sweet mind with my hell.  Let my hell rape you. 
                 I hung up the phone with a feeling of joy and childish excitement I have not felt in a very long time.  Christmas WILL be good!  Oh God I love that feeling, the "christmas" spirit I guess you would say...  I don't remember the last time I truly felt it.  I know for sure it has been gone from my sight since I met and married my husband. 
                 Christmas was always special to me.  Memories are so far gone that I only remember just a few at this moment; the big tree in the Great Hall, the giant beautiful golden birds that decorated it, the snow, the way the world looked protected and blanketed by snow, trees naked, but safe, a foreign concept to me.  A beautiful type of gray.  Corners of the world like the Campus of St. Johns frozen in time, no students making their tracks.  Deer right in front of the pallestra.  Moving right along, the only sound was the crunch of snow under my tires as I drove slowly toward the massive bells and stained glass windows.  Peace.  Inside these quiet buildings was an unseen force that moved you to want to learn.  It did.  I was never a student there, only a health care worker, but it was an environment that bred the deep desire to learn as much as you could. 

Another memory was my parent's christmas tree.  Always a real pine.  The smell, the reprieve from tension in my dysfunctional childhood.... the smell signaled a moment of distraction.  My younger brothers and I would always want to sleep under or around the tree.  Children scattered like a litter of puppies, overlapping, upside down, dreaming of happy things.  Warmed by the multicolour lights strung up the tree.  I love their tree so much, it was not a "theme", it was true to life.  It was an ornament from school, popscicle sticks painted red glued like a sled, hung by a small cut of yarn, a golden angel, a bird, a mailbox... It was the most random collection, but damn, every year, we looked around at each ornament like we had never ever seen it before.... and moved by the spirit of Christmas, we just couldn't bare to sleep anywhere but right up underneath it.  Perhaps my brothers don't have such fond memories of a tree, or sleeping under it. But I did,  and they were there, and I loved when Anna our cat, was right up in the melee of children sleeping tangle of limbs.
           So tonight as I hung up with my girlfriend, I ran up the steps, hurried the children off to bed, and told my husband.  It was going to be our first family vacation.  It was going to be their first plane ride.  It was going to be our first Christmas where we would have these memories, together, as a family!  I told him our plans, which, I had fully committed too.  He knows how much I love I christmas, sure, traveling with him and kids would be difficult, but I had it all worked out, a little benadryl for kids, fly at night, quiet air ports, I will ask his doctor for a better medicine to calm him, Valium, I thought.... There is no way any doctor would not do this, knowing what our lives would do, just one for the way there, one for the way back.... Once we get there, we would be just fine, and we could do what normal families do at a holiday.... 
          His response was alittle anticlimactic, and he was concerned about going their.  It will be hard for him, it will be be difficult for him...... 

             "You know WHAT?!  I was SO excited, I was so hopeful, like a naive little girl, what the FUCK was I thinking."  I looked at him and wanted to go to him and start hitting him and screaming and making him bleed.  He just sat..... *blink*  *blink*  His eyes the only thing that moved.  Which infuriated me even more.  I was so full of hate and repulsion, I wanted him gone.  I wanted him away from him.  I was so mad at HIM.

              "YOU ARE SO CONCERNED ABOUT YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, do you EVER think about us? Creating memories with our children?  You do not know me anymore.  Or, You are so far GONE, this is not how you would have responded years ago...."    He just sat..... *blink* *blink*

               Nothing moved, not even a twitch in his face, no change in breathing, no nothing.  I was raging, I was going for the kill.  Goddamn it, if he can not save himself, and I cannot save him, and the doctors are not saving him, I WILL TELL YOU THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                Out spewed the words that I will forever regret, "Get the fuck over yourself.  For this one time.  You have flown before, you have been to this house, you are the father.  You fucking PUSSY get the fuck up and fight for yourself!  Do this, for your sons."  I know before the bullets had left the gun, that this might be it.  I have fear that I will drive him to kill himself, either by my occasional painful "calls to action" or by the rare moments when he realizes that his pain is *killing me*.   I felt him rising inside of himself, I saw the tell tale signs of the beast awakening.  I braced, but only this time, not out preparation to soothe, to help, to encourage, but this, I braced, for incoming, and for the fight that was rising within me.  I was ready for the fight I wanted the fight I wanted some sort of reaction out of him that if it meant screaming and bloodshed in my living room, I wanted it.  

            He BURST out of the chair, and standing tall over me he screamed " I am tired of this! I will NOT be called names!"  I didn't flinch, but I closed my eyes, I didn't want to see what he looked like hitting me.  I didn't want to know that wild eyed far away look as my husband.... I have seen a man like that before, and I refused to know my husband as such.

          But the first sound I heard and the first rumble I felt was not of his fists against my body, or the whooshing and roaring of blood in your ears after being hit upside the head, it was of his angry body weight stomping away from me, his foot hitting the floor so hard the house shook.  He went to the island, grabbed his cigs, and stormmed off to the door.  I closed my eyes again.  I didn't want the last memory of him to be leaving me, his back to me, angry and hurt.  And I was aware that this very well could have been the last...  He is so close to ending his pain, that I wouldn't be surprised.  Infact, I am waiting for it.  

I am waiting for him to kill himself.  A wife, a houseful of children, she waits for it, knowing she cannot stop it, that she cannot time it, nor can she prepare, but she sits, always, knowing, that this very well could be the last.  That is my hell.  That is my pergatory.  Knowing it will happen, but there is nothing you can do.  There is no amount of love in my heart, money in the world, that can make him love himself.  Right now, at this very moment, I tell you honestly and painfully, that this is not just my hell alone, but I share it with many, many, other women.  Waiting in this timeless hell of anticipation.  I have become good at pretending it "isn't that bad".  "He would never, he just is very sad...."  "I will see him through this,I will love him through this.... I am worth  living for, surely he would live for me... He will live for the kids...."  

            The other day, I was reminded, not so gently, that I am NOT worth living for.  It is NOT ME who must want to live, it is NOT ME who will keep him alive.... He must find within himself, he must find it Beyond himself, it is him, not me, who will be enough to encourage him to carry on.  He has emotionally flat lined.  It is painful to see.  His affect is so flat, and stone cold.  It makes me rage.  I often incite a riot within himself just to see some sort of response, some sign of life.....

After he came back in, he sat down.  He stared forward, I stared at the computer screen.  I was still very mad at him.  We sat in silence, for several minutes...  I wanted him away.  I was like an abused child, just HIT me already, get it over with....  But, true to the nature of my husband, he just sat quietly.  He would never hit me, and this time, I wish he would have.  I deserved it.

           I turned to him and I said we will not sit in silence and end this day like this.  You tell me and you tell me right now, do you want to die?  Did you think of killing yourself tonight?  He admitted he did.  Just outside, he thought of ending it.  I raged, inside and out.

          "If you kill yourself I want you to know I will hate you and I will hate you forever and ever and ever, and I will fucking spit on your grave and WILL SCREAM AT YOU and I WILL HATE YOU.  GOD DAMN YOU I LOVE YOU and I have spent the last 6 years of my life fighting and endlessly working and fixing and mending and creating and lving for you, if you kill yourself, I WILL FOREVER FUCKING HATE YOU."  I was shaking, and I was serious.  But he just sat and sat and sat.  Flat.  Dead.  A few minutes passed us just sitting in the middle of this hell together.  Together....

"Please, I'm sorry, listen to me when I say that I can not fix this for you, I can make you want to live, I clearly am not enough to make you WANT to live, nor are the boys, but, I promise, I will never stop fixing this WITH you, fighting WITH you, but I have for a while now, been fighting for you by myself.... I know you are very very very down and circling the bottom, but please, you are scaring me.  And if you went to the hospital tonight, there would be nothing they could do for you, but if you stayed there, I would feel relief, like we were taking action, like I could breathe and not have to worry just one minute about you...."

It was then, when our 5 year old came out into the living room and demanded comfort.  "I'm scared."  No you aren't, go to bed.  "I'm scared."  Of what? "I don't know I just am I need you to come and lay by me."  There is nothing to be scared of, go lay down, and daddy will come lay by you but we have to finish our talk first.  He would not move.  He refused to go.  I stood up.  You will either go by yourself back to bed, and wait so we can finish our mommy and daddy talk, or you will be carried, and you will wait there until we are ready.  He fell to his knees and kneeled over as if he was in a modified childs pose, or someone praying to Mecca. 

GET.  UP.  But this child, as stubborn as he is sweet, wasn't going anywear.  I picked him up and put him in my bed and told him he will wait. 

I came out in to the living room.  My husband in the SAME position in the chair, a leg thrown over the arm....  Flat.  I asked him to just go lay by our son, that I just had nothing more to say.  That I needed him to sleep and know that I will call his doctor and we will get this taken care of, and it will get better, and once again, I am fighting for him come morning. 

WIthing minutes, I hear him snoring in the bedroom.  I wanted to crawl into him and cry and urge him to be happy, but, knowing this is beyond me, I came here instead.  As he snores, I get to relive a little hell to share with you. 

So at this point, I am again, exhausted just from having to think about it and write it out to you, but, I am not the only woman who waits for his end, planning for the worse, it will hurt less then, I will bounce back faster, for the boys.....

I have met women who have lost sons, who have lost husbands, who left behind children..... Women who have lost their loved one in more ways than just death....  Being victimized by a broken system, being poisoned by medications that do not work so they add and increase and add again, yet when a wife screams that the medications tasked to help, are actually making things gravely worse, she is dismissed, ignored, and actually bashed and painted as an adversary in the medical record..... This is true. I testify.  Not only have I experienced just this, but so has so many others.... to the demise of the Veteran.

Now.  That.  That was our night.  That is, unfortunately more often than not, a typical night in combat household.  Its an unfortunate thing that we have to have these conversations, but, they are incredibly important.

And in the words of a very wise friend and mentor, Sweet Dreams or None at all.  ~ Kateri

** And I realize that the words I spoke to my husband were upsetting to you, but, I realize, that what words that come out of mouth, will anger God, but that because of Grace, I was forgiven before I even spit them out... That what makes Him happy, instead, would have been to use words that lifted my husband up, rather than put him down.  It was only until this minute, that I came across this:

(Eph 4:29-32 NASB) Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My reactions to the movie, The Welcome.

Prepare to be moved.  If you have not seen The Welcome, please, do pick up a copy.  You have nothing to lose, but so many Veterans have much to gain...

If you have PTSD, if you are a combat Veteran, I of course urge you to watch this with a friend.  It is very emotional, there is footage in the beginning that would trigger a young Vet.  I like to agonize and feel and grow by myself, though my intense response to this documentary had the producer checking in on me one day.  I'm okay :)  Here is the link to The Welcome

And here, my soul:

My name is Kateri, I was recently in touch with you over an outdated job posting on your website, you kindly mailed to me The Welcome. I am the mother of 3 small boys, I am the wife of the most patient and kind soul~ torn apart by Iraq. Torn apart by PTSD, TBI, and other crazy "we don't know what to classify *that* as..." wounds of this war. I am an advocate. Endless nights, like tonight, I educate myself, I reach out to other families who are being annihilated by life after combat. I am a nurse, 40 hours a week I go to the VA and work on an Acute Psych Unit. I see the heroine, the booze, the sex, the fight, the pride, the pain, the shame, the despair, the confusion, the tenderness.... every day. In young men. Young women. Old men. Old women. And everyone in between. My soul is drawn to the combat veteran. I work it, I live it, I love it, I hate it. It kills me, yet just before I feel I'm taking my last dying breath, it renews me. It brings me back. I fight for the combat veteran who has lost the will to carry on, I fight for the veteran who is so caught up in fighting he doesn't even know what he's fighting against/for anymore, I fight for the ones who didn't have a leg to stand on, I fight for the ones who fell on their faces. I fight for the veterans who put guns in their mouths, I fight for the wives who gently coax pistols out of shaking tired weary hands, I fight for the veterans for hang from rafters, and I fight for trail of anguish left behind. I fight for me. I fight like hell for my family. Everyday I wake up in the morning, slumbering man next to me, restrained and tangled by sheets and war, I chose. I will get up and continue on, as so many have done for me and my children, or I will bury my head in the pillow and wish for the end. Most often I chose to get up, hungry mouths and clammering babies eager to start the day, oblivious, yet not really, to the monster who has snuck under his bed, under ALL our beds, I resolve to raise my 3 young boys to be just half the man their Father is.

I know you will gently accept that I am only now watching The Welcome. It sat on my island in my kitchen, it made it through meals and messes and mail and that damn cat who will not stay off the counters.... It sat. Every day in my kitchen I noticed it presence. I had *no* idea what The Welcome was, and I noticed my eagerness had given way to fear, to anger, to saddness, to now.

It is 0239 central time. I was up early yesterday morning to ready my little boys for the day. Take the Husband to his umpteenth doctors appointment this week, and then, a brief play date with our new friends (Another Veteran who was in Iraq and his wife), and then, quickly ready for work all by 1500. I had groceries to get after work, and a brief trip in for milk turned into Strawberries for our Solomon, Radishes for my Husband, String Cheese for Simon, and baby food for Severin. I have to work again tomorrow (er- today I guess) at 1500... I wanted to leave the boys with something to brighten their day as they feel their way through this wicked hell with Daddy.

But my groceries Bill, they still sit on the kitchen floor, as I was moved to put that damned movie in and watch it. I have watched 26 minutes and 13 seconds, but I felt compelled to stop to email you.

I need that. I need The Welcome. I need the coming together. I have no idea how this will all pan out, but so far I am amazed by the beauty of the landscape, the calm and gentle redirection, and the fight I see in these people.

I know that fight.

Thank you for sending The Welcome. It has already impacted me in ways that are unseen.

As my husband snores and tosses in the next room, I wish you good night, or good morning..... I'm pressing play.
Chapter II
Just made it through the first 3 poems read... you, as the producer, likely have these people in your address book. I am broken hearted listening to the mother, on my knees crying with the woman who terminated a pregnancy, and in still and silent shock at the Dutch man.... Thank them for me.
Chapter III
And Miserere....loud and clear. Jesus, this is incredibly painful to watch, yet only because I know. I know. Thank you so much for sending this. I'm not sure my husband will be able to watch this. Not now, not yet.... I pray and beg and bargain with the devil that he will one day be at a point that he can watch this....
Chapter IV
The woman who speaks with sadness and pain wrapped tightly around each word. Suicide. The question in our minds bouncing around like a red rubber ball... while we try to keep calm on the outside, Why Baby? Why can't I be enough to live for? Why are our children not enough for you....

I don't know.

Hug that woman for me.
Chapter V
"The better he got, the worse I got"
That right there. Why?! Why do we do that! So many of us, caregivers, wives... Crazy.
After watching The Welcome I cannot be silent.
K, Minnesota
June 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterBill Mc Millan
Thank you for being there K.
I hug that woman all day everyday every chance I get and she knows she is enough.
Bob E.
June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Eaton
Bob, you are an old soul, thank you for sharing your story. Finally rendered speechless.... Thank you for your service, and g*ddamn Bob, Welcome Home.
June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat P.
Leave The Welcome out on that counter. Don't push it on him but be encouraging when it does come up. Your husband will watch it when he is ready. Although it is recommended that combat vets watch this with someone I have had vets tell me they watched this film alone or with other vets because of the personal nature of our stories. Only he knows. It is hard hitting and it does hit home regardless of which war we fought in or as loved ones, have endured.
The contents of this film is comparable to what happens in intense therapy groups with the VA, the difference being that it is not offered to the public as Kim, Bill and crew have so artfully done.
An eye opener is an understatement.
Keep speaking out and never be rendered speechless when it comes to showing how much you care for us.
We may not show it but we do appreciate it. Thank you for enduring our pain, second hand PTSD is a hard road.
Thank your husband for me for his service and tell him welcome home from an ol' Nam combat disabled vet.
Bob E.
June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Eaton
Dear K. Minnesota,
Thank you for your extended hug-thoughts and I send them back to you many, many fold. Participating in The Welcome retreat was a life-changing, soul cleansing experience for both me and my vet husband. He finally felt safe enough among his "bros" (in spite of the cameras rolling) to heave out a lot of the war poison that had infected him, me and our marriage for 30 years. Much of that time I spent working in the darkness of that unknown shadow, trying to figure out the reasons for my man's anguished behavior and how the hell I could fix him. He kept it stuffed all those years and I was mostly clueless back then about PTSD (as were many of us after Viet Nam).....until TW retreat.
Needless to say, I was blown away by his big "flashback" episode during the retreat and it was the catalyst to my finally understanding (and forgiving) all those years of endless trauma/drama. Not since have I asked him why he can't get over something that happened many decades ago. We were on the verge of divorce when we went to the retreat, but the healing that Bob & I, and many of the other participants, experienced was the great turn around in our marriage and lives. We found a new goal and way to heal ourselves, and that was by way of speaking out to civilians in our communities about the need to get involved in the welcoming home of the young veterans of these most recent wars. We also do work mentoring these young vets and their family members to get the help they need to adjust to the new reality of this insidious war that has come home with and to them.
I'm so glad to hear that you have resolved not to be silent. After all, we are the community the soldiers come back to. It is to us that the burden primarily falls to pick them up, be their caretakers in addition to all the other jobs we have as wives, mothers, & often the breadwinners while ( & after) our men have been to war. And what our government, the media, etc. don't seem to take much notice of is.....we are the MAJORITY! Just multiply the number of returning vets by all their spouses, mothers, fathers, siblings, other relatives & friends that are living with or are influenced by the behavior of the after-war soldiers/veterans. The vet is the pebble in the center of the ever widening circle in the pond. So don't ever again apologize for having second-hand PTSD. It's no more your fault than it is the fault of our soldiers for screaming out at night with horrific dreams of war.
My prayers are with you, your vet and family. Be thankful that more is known and "out
there" about the hidden wounds these days. Hopefully you and yours won't have to go 30 years before the healing begins.
Anyway, I'm still looking for a retreat in my community strictly for spouses & family members of our soldiers & veterans. How's that for a ground-breaking retreat and movie? I'm game. How about you?
Warm regards,
Moe Eaton
June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMoe Eaton
.Dear K from Minnesota: I am an Army mom . I thank you for this post. You have a rare gift of being able to make this issue real - and at the same time you inspire and support the many family members and friends who are right there with you in similar situations. There are so many who love and want to help our returning war veterans. Yet, the tools and the way forward is often unclear and confusing. " The Welcome" opens hearts and doors - and shows hope and possibility. I have included my e-mail address and hope that you (and/or others on this thread) might be open to connecting for conversation and support. E-mail: Namaste!
June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Ingraham
Moe I am still processing your comment. I have so much respect for you and your husband. Know that I am sitting in quiet reverence. I just don't know what to say...but the words are building.... thank you for your sacrifice and leading the way and sharing with me. You have touched me ~Kateri of Minnesota
June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKateri

Angry Chair

I like to revert back to the angry stage in grieving.  It is familiar to me, it is welcoming, I operate from there often.  I was blessed to be featured by Charlie Palumbo, and let me tell you ,if you have not read her book, please go out and get it, download it, or however you take your media these days.... I loved her book.

Here was my Angry Chair post:

Its true. I’m angry. I am so completely pissed off at the world that I can
hardly contain it. My husband has to go to treatment for his ptsd and tbi.
Thats not the problem. The problem is, we are a month out from him going, and he
is in this self fulfilling prophecy mode where he has completely checked out.
And that pisses me off. Hes angry, I’m angry. I’ve gone from the supportive,
understanding wife, to the angry verbally assaultive bitch whom all men fear
(and divorce). I am completely incapable of holding it in…its coming, I can
feel it.

The sad thing is, he is leaving and dealing with his own
demons, and all I can think is, Who the FUCK is going to help me shovel all this
snow!? I have 3 kids, I have a full time job…a dog, cat etc….that was his
job. And I am getting angrier at myself because my husband came home from
Iraq. My husband is still alive. My husband doesn’t hit me, or my kids. My
husband really loves us….we could have it way worse, so why am I so goddamn
I didn’t marry my husband until after he came home, I don’t know
how to handle deployments. I don’t know how to handle the children alone. But
then again, he’s been checked out for awhile, so I maybe I do know.
takes his pills to calm down and i resent him for it. I want a pill to fucking
calm down. He goes to the clinic and gets support from his care team, I want a
fucking care team. I hate this place, I hate this angry bitter place.
Today I looked at our sad sorry tree (fake) that only had the lights on
it (that are half burned out) and 2 candy canes and one bulb and I almost
freaked out. That is what ptsd has done to us. Look at that sad motherfucking
tree. Look at what ptsd has stolen from my family. I hate you I hate you
Had he lost a leg, an arm, been burned, it would be NOBLE for him to go to rehab. Had he lost something on
the outside, my family would be considered courageous. He would be a hero, even
here at home. But there is a pressure from society to shut up. We are hurt on
the inside where no one can see, therefore, it doesn’t exist. The stigma for
these wounds (which I will tell you hurt just as much) are hindering his
recovery. And I hate it. NO one wants to talk to me about it, except the
girls who are in this same fucking mess I”m in. They get it. My other friends
don’t want to upset me, or bring it up, so they tiptoe around me, like I might
break if they say the wrong thing. I don’t want to be tiptoed around, I don’t
want to be ignored.
Today is an exceptionally angry day, and I will not
apologize or censor myself, because I can’t. I am completely incapable of
censoring myself today. And it may get worse as the time to go draws near….it
may get better. The only way for you to see, is to keep reading.

She stands alone...

Ooooooo, posted about Secondary PTSD, coworkers, drinks, and hippies:

For the record, it was The Head and The Heart, Bryan John Appleby, and Blitzen Trapper I saw that night.... It was good.

One of my first "blog" posts....Check it!

Its posted over at Family of a Vet, but I thought I'd share here as well :)

His consolation prize from Iraq....

I was just looking for some old posts, and I found this one, oh ew is all I can think....Poor guy, but, the shot did clear it up! But, it came back :(

And then there was one

Here is a post I did for Family of a Vet, Enjoy,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I think God just called....

I just received a very important (to my psyche) call, and I think it was God himself.  He has the tough accent, as tough as the burrough he came from.  Punctuated consonants, dropped R's.  Jesus is a New Yorker! And I almost laughed to myself!

The message was for me to know that he got my email, my cry for help, and though he may not be able to help, he wanted me "to go to bed knowing that" he heard me.  "I feel ya" he said.  I could feel that bump in my throat, threatening to sabotage my composure.

Who does that?  Who responds so damn fast and with compassion?  A simple phone call saying, "I get you" "I understand" "You've been heard".... thats all it took to be driven to my knees.  I don't even care if he can't help.  He did more than enough just by acknowledging my email.  I counted.  I was validated.  I was cared about even by a stranger. 

I was so floored by this phonecall, and his story, (which was his version in his punctuated talk) that I just spat out, "Where are you FROM?" 


I smiled. Silly man.  Thats not what I meant.  I meant, of what freaking planet are you from? Of what flesh are you derived?  I meant, normal humans, even helpers like us, do not call as soon as message received to just say I've got you.  Well, some of us do, I've been known to do so.... But no one has ever done that to me... 

It felt good.  It felt calming.  It was refreshing.  So my little phone call from this incredible example of humanity made my entire day.  It did.  Its hard to describe.  But shit, Jesus from the Bronx should just go around calling people and giving a 5 minute "Hey i get you" speech.  That was the most memorable phone call I will ever have, its the small things.  It is definately the small things that count.  Awesome.  That was crazy awesome.... Meanwhile husband is circling around me wanting to know random things and obsessing about stuff, so I must go... but I go with a smile on my face :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Here's a post that was hiding in my drafts....

I can't begin to accurately express my rage, my frustration, my sadness, my exhaustion when it comes to this, I don't even know what to call it....shit storm????

I swear if it isn't trying to fix what is broken, it is trying to keep what is about to break, from breaking.  How much can a girl take!?

I am a mother, a wife, a caregiver, a nurse, an adovocate.... many roles, but just one person.

I received the disheartening letter that the claim for TBI and *all* of the residuals have been denied.  Would you like to guess why???

Go ahead.  Take a guess.

It isn't because of the lack of illness, it isn't because of lack of evidence....

go, guess again.

Because the examiner didn't put in her progress note that she "reviewed the service record".  She reviewed the C-File, the notes in CPRS, the labs, the statements in support of claim....

Also, our representive tasked with filing our claims, erroneously filed things "Sleep apnea as a result of ptsd..."  and "Irritable Bowel Syndrome as a result of PTSD"  and things like that. 

Without diming out this dimwit, I will say to all of you, do NOT chance your benefits and claims to someone you don't know.  I should have realized this years ago, when I called the rep to ask a question and he said he could not talk to me. So I asked if my husband could sign a release, he told me even if he had a release, he couldn't talk to me, yet he then proceeded to talk to me in depth.  I was also told that there were "widows who weren't even getting any benefits". 

Widows?  Really?  What a low ball dirty thing to say to shut someone up.  And it worked, because, who the hell wants to whine and bitch and moan when there are women who paid the ultimate sacrifice, the highest price, their husbands.  I felt like an ungreatful bitch.

But as time goes on, I realize that there is something fishy going on.  I think our rep filed these claims worded stupidly to delay compensation.  After all, he told someone else, that these young vets are sucking up all the resources. 

So now, not only do I have to play wifemothercaregivernurse, I have to play this stupid game with the claims system.  I have to undo what he has done.  And frankly, I'm pissed. 

On top of being in the claims system since 2006, I have watched the gross mismanagement of my husbands health.  I am not blaming one person for this, I am NOT bashing our providers care (we like him a lot, mainly because he has been with us for so long, unlike other areas where providers come and go).  I am saying there was a *huge* system failure here, that caused a delayed screening, diagnosis, and then treatment regimen.

On top of multiple delayed treatments, for whatever reason, we've dealt with abuse. 

An audiologist screening my husband when he first came home for hearing loss warned my husband, "We can tell if you are lying about this (the ringing in the ears), and if you get caught lying, you can go to jail".  That was our very first experience.  And we should have heeded our little voices in our heads then....

Then came the time when my husband went in to seek counseling for severe symptoms of ptsd. In 2006.  But because there "was a claim pending for PTSD" (which by the way, he hadn't even been diagnosed, our stupid rep just decided to go ahead and put in the claim) he was turned away.  We were told you can't be seen while waiting for the adjudication of the claim. 

That was a lie, and shortly after I rattled some chains, he was scheduled with a counselor.

Then we have the ongoing, never healing, always hurting, rotten feet.  Every provider that saw these nasty feet had their opinions on it. Diagnosis ranging from athelets foot, to yeast, to dermatitis, to shoe allergy, we have YET TO FIND AN EFFECTIVE TREATMENT.  Creams creams creams. 

After years of begging for more aggressive investigation, our provider put in a consult to dermatology.  They were certain it was shoe allergy.  Commence the patch testing.  Two rounds.  Both of which confirmed he was not allergic to his shoes. 

So I begged for a consult to a specialty.  I didn't really care which specialty, just someone else....Rheumatology? Allergy? I don't care.   Those consults were denied on the basis of "This patient has a dermatology issues.  We will not see him".

So then we get kicked out of the Occ therapy clinic because my husband forgot to go to an appointment.  We can't make appts there because there are other veterans who are waiting to get in.  We can't come back because my "husband doesn't want to make this his priority."

I was told, when my husband confessed he was suicidal, that I had made him codependent.  That this was the most "fragmented and disjointed care" she had ever seen because he didn't follow through.  That I need to let him make his own decisions, that she knows what its like to be in our situation because her husband has an "anxiety disorder."  She sat blocking the door, waving her hand, her chubby fingers accusing me of letting him get to this point. 

So all this time, poor husband in incredible pain (treated only with gabapentin, or tramadol) hangs his head. 

Claims examiners are the worst offenders.  I think they are taught to be as offensive as humanly possibly.  One examiner, who was rating my husband for physical issues, commented that his brother had PTSD too, but he was old, so he could handle it better.

One examiner commented, "Well, I've never seen any one with a TBI graduate college and raise a family......"  Eh, well, you've never seen a wife keep this family just barely above water, and help manage his homework and papers. 

Reading through his chart, I was appalled by the innaccurate exams.  Unchecked boxes, inconclusive recommondations, failure to adjudicate in favor of the veteran.

This has been the 6 hardest years of my life, and I can't imagine how many of these professionals go home and sleep at night.

The system failed my husband.  In big ways.  Over and over again.  Only recently has there been a few redeemers come through.  We have a nice telehealth guy.  We have a nice Federal Recovery Coordinator who kindly reads and responds to my middle of the night SOS's with compassion and never judges, only encourages.  We have a nice Caregiver coordinator, who was kind enough not to kick us down a tier.  And who returns my calls and emails timely.

On top of all of THAT, he had to leave his job, because it was triggering him and causing more harm than good.  I continue to have to take time from my job to be with him, all the while receiving comments and insinuations that I might not last long....

What kind of life is this?? 

Certainly not the one either of us  had dreamed for. 

Memories For Sale!!!!

Memories for sale! Memories for sale!!!

This business of trying to work and deal with PTSD and TBI was not working for my dear husband.  He left the VA ( a really good job) as it was triggering his ptsd and he would come home and be such a ball of stress and anger it was directed at our sweet babies.

He took time off for PTSD treatment.  Upon return, he found a job in a quiet office at the county as a Veteran Service Officer (assistant).  A much better fit right? Windows, only 3 people, less traffic, remote area.... God is good!  

Until one day I decided to (and this is NOT recommended for the average ptsd'er) set up surveilance and see for my own eyes (or rather ears) what on earth is going on at home while I'm at work.  Which let me tell you, I used to worked days, but had to switch to overnights to be home with them all to prevent mass chaos.  But had to leave overnights because my husband on all those drugs was unable to wake up to our crying, screaming, hungry infant. 

Enter the PM shift at the VA for me.  This could work. This was working.  But I had that gut feeling, something wasn't right.

So I set up an audio recorder and when I got home reviewed the tape.  I was crushed.  I was shocked.  He was struggling.  It was clear as day.  My kids were not being nurtured and loved, apparently, thats left up to me.

So I woke him up, confronting him, "What is really going on James Peterson"  "You tell me now, and you tell me the truth". 

And the truth shall set you free.

And bankrupt you.

James was having flashbacks at his new job because of the stories his clients would tell him.  He was being triggered severely, but the desire to be the "man" of the house kept him from saying so.

I made him see the doctor the next day.  He was on a ton of meds and this behavior is NOT accceptable.... He should be better.  This should NOT be happening.

And again, he was suicidal.  After hours in the office with a psychiatrist and triage nurse, it was decided to send him home.  We had a plan, we had hope.  We were going to be okay.

James the very next day quit his job.  Reviewing the MN website for unemployment, we thought he'd be approved, and this would help until we came up with plan b.

Well, little did we know that because he cannot work per recommendations of his doctor, he is NOT able to receive unemployment. 

Now I find myself deep in the piles of Disability paperwork through the state.  He can't fill it out, it would drive him to the edge, so I am doing it, and I want to cry, and light things on fire.  We will likey be refused disability because of the doctor's recommendations that he will be able to work, just not right now.

So I call my bank, "Help me please, just this once. I am very low in balance and don't want to go negative."  This is where the lovely credit union officer told me just how low my score was, and that she cannot help me.  So I reviewed with her that I have never been late, she can see what I have coming in montly, she can see where my money goes.  She recants the dings on my report, and adds, "If you can show us that you have  the character to clean this up....."

STOP RIGHT THERE. You want to talk about character?! Character is standing by my husband, wounded by war, picking up the pieces, and not needing help until now.  Character is helping the hundreds of other veterans I help volunteering, despite my own battles, character is making my mortgage payments monthly, my car payment on time every month.   I explained to her that she can try to ask the branch manager, and if it is in deed a no, then I shall take my money elsewhere. If it is a no, then I will gladly go be abused for my bad bad credit with another bank.

It's consumer rape.  It's abusive.  I pay 6.5 percent in interest for house payment, I pay 13 percent on two cars, for a total of 26 percent.... I pay terrible interest fees, have I not been punished enough????

SO, I'm selling my stuff until I can figure out plan b.  Memories for sale!  This sunday I am selling our cornstove for some cash, I still have a baby in diapers for christ sake. I have a hutch, a table, DVD's he got in germany and iraq for entertainment.... I already sold my guitar, I have jewelry.  I don't need a wedding ring to prove my love and commitment for my husband.  I have scars.  Scars from fighting for him.  Those are more permanent than any ring. 

So please, buy my memories, make them your own... pass them off as your own, I'll never tell.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A moment to ponder "before" and "after"

This post is in response to a quote from this blog post, on Family of a Vet. You may read the entire post of hers at

****"Some days I wonder if it would have been better, if I had never known, the man he was before PTSD and TBI."***** This is a quote from Melanie, a fellow wife of a Wounded Warrior.  She is amazing, she is strong, she is wildly productive, and most of all, she is a beautiful spirit, and that is deeply punctuated by her smile, and her piercing eyes. 

Melanie, a woman I recently met online, and then had the great fortune to meet in person, makes the comment above.  She, unlike me, has known her husband for years.  She has seen the "before" and "after" of war.  I do not know the "before" and "after" of my husband.  I see his Mother, and his Sister, recognizing changes, and for a long time, that caused many conflicts for us.  He came home from war.  He was profoundly different, yet, they did not know the extent of damage done to him.  He looks fine on the outside (aside from his rotting feet~ yet to be successfully treated~ or even healed completely), yet there was just enough "difference" in him to cause mass confusion and tension. 

I suspect much of my in-law turmoil was a result of lack of knowledge and understanding.  I did not know what we were dealing with, so how could they?  I was so new to this life, "LIFE AFTER COMBAT" that it was difficult, no, IMPOSSIBLE, for me to explain to them what was going on, why we did what we did.  I myself didn't even know.  I was poorly managing my husband's state of affairs, and for awhile, before FOV, I was very much contributing to the chaos.  I know better now.  I believe there are unhealed spots in my mother in law and sister in laws hearts over their son/brother.  There will always be those tender spots, after sending your most beloved boy to war I would imagine.  I am deeply afraid that because everyone (and by everyone, I mean my husband, and myself as well) was so unfamiliar with PTSD and TBI, it was all too easy to look for a causitive relationship between the changed soldier, and his girlfriend he hooked up with after the war.... I was the VISIBLE thing that changed in his life, it was easy to see.  I was the only thing "different" then.  He was who he was, went away for four years, came home and didn't even move back near his fam, but picked a random spot in central MN, and immediately hooked up with me.  You can see the picture I'm painting here, right? 

Add into that picture a little of my own dysfunction, and you have a family still hurting from a brother/son being in a war zone for a year.  For being overseas a total of four years.  They never got to reconnect with him, they never got to have him home.  And then PTSD decides to really do a number on everyone, and because of this, he is easily startled, doesn't like crowds, prefers to be with other military families, is quickly angered.... He didn't like going "home" to visit very often.  He liked to be alone.  He liked to isolate. 

It was a very complicated ordeal, completely charred from my inability to see the bigger picture, and completely wild from my own secondary ptsd I developed, I made it worse. And no one could fix it because NO ONE really understood what the problem was. 

It was a HUGE lesson for me, and continues to be a huge lesson to me daily.  I am not perfect though, but now, when I don't make that connection with others like I wish (and often so very much need), when I feel tired and don't want to try to connect (even though I really want that), I simply don't beat myself up anymore over it.  Nor do I beat anyone else up for not understand that. 

So with all of that said, Melanie poses an interesting question in my mind.  Is it better to have not known the pre war James Peterson?  Is that easier on the heart???

Many times I find myself regretful and sorry that we were not together sooner.  Many times I feel a little uncomfortable when surrounded by the *real* army wives.  I often have to ask questions about what is even being talked about (when talked about things in the service, living abroad, living on base, military terminology...).  Thank goodness they never mind.  Just ask Brannan about my story when I asked her what a "Coin" was....

Sometimes I feel like I was ill prepared to handle this life.  I wonder, had I been his wife during war time, I would have been expecting this somehow.  That I would have been taught how to handle this.  That I could have braced myself.

In many respects I am lucky to have only come along right after.  There is no "he is completely different" here.  My husband (to me) is who he has always been to me.  The piece picker upper. 

I have voiced my concern to a few extrememly close wives (all of whom were there before, during, and after).  I have never been responded too with so much will to include ever in my life.  We are all here, dealing with the after effects of this war, and we are all in this together, one told me. 

The question of whats better, knowing them all along, or just knowing them post injury, is a difficult one to answer, and my best response is "pick your poison." 

Thank you Melanie for your friendship, your honesty, and for allowing me in your life. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

James and Dr. Lipov
Stellage Ganglion block
Time for a little update on the Stellate Ganglion Block my husband had to help his PTSD symptoms.  He had an injection in January, and then again in February.  Those original blog posts can be read at and look under the SGB heading...

So here is the (not so) skinny on life post injection....

James did end up going into a residential treatment program for his ptsd.  He was incredibly depressed.  Despondent.  Flat.  He was gone.  The combination of the injections, and then his subsequent treatment in a very GOOD program at the Topeka KS VA (they do GROUP trauma processing, rather than INDIVIDUAL trauma) saved his life.  My sweet, sufferinsilence husband had reached bottom a long time ago, however, he didn't have the energy, or want, or psychic ability to tell me, things were bad.  Things were BAD.   There was about a 2 week time span that I actually started to prepare myself for my husbands demise.  I started to mentally prep myself that suicide may very well be fucking me up, and I better get things together now, for the kids' sake.  Statistically he fit the category.  He had a plan. He had no will anymore....

Do you know what it feels like to be that hopeless?

For years, my husband refused to accept treatment for PTSD.  And actually, so did I.  He didn't need it.  He wasn't that bad.  I can help him learn to cope.  I can make it so he won't experience *insert trigger here*.  He said he couldn't leave me with the kids.  How would we pay the mortgage? He really had a fear of leaving us.  Because I did not marry him until after his discharge from the Army, he had to go through his deployments essentially alone.  But, as his PTSD symptoms increased, and then gradually were suffocated by the great weighted messy depression, and no one was listening to me at his providers office, and he was too flat lined to even know how to say help, eventually we turned to Lipov.  and the injection was success both times!  But, they were just very not long acting...but instead of isolating and returning into the corners of his mind... he accepted the fact that his wife and kids were in crisis, and if he didn't try something....ANYTHING.... then we would no longer be a unit (thank you Honey, for fighting for us).

The combination of the injections, then doing inpatient PTSD treatment if you ask me, is a marvelous idea....  Its going to take Medical Professionals who are progressive and innovative to team up with the VA to improve patient quality of life.  However, it all takes time and money...and lots of it.... but in the mean time, Husband of mine STILL does not regret the almost painless procedure.  That right there is a plus, as he usually is not a fan of such things.

*******September 2012**********

Husband is doing great things, finished his degree, more involved with home life.... He did change jobs.  The office he was in was the worst trigger for him.  Cubicles everywhere, radios on different stations, chatter, people coming in off the main hallway, no windows....  He left that job for one more suited to his degree (helping) and his passion (veterans).  His new job office has windows! And lots of them!!! Can't tell you how great windows are for PTSD!!!  He works along side Veterans, FOR Veterans.  Win/Win!  Only a few people in the new office.  Kind people.  Laid back people who still work with a sense of purpose and urgency, but not letting it stress them out.  He still suffers memory and cognition problems, but I have been on him about it.  He takes notes, he reviews them, he is able to make his needs known.  He is such a hard worker, and is the poster child for overcoming adversity.  I continue to be amazed and proud.

I still continue with my duties as household 6.  There is still much supervision that must be given, reminders, driving long distances, managing appointments, coaching him with the kids, vision therapy (which we now must do on our own because Mr. TBI forgot to go to an appointment, and we were kindly "excused" from their services.)  Not much burden has been lifted from me, aside from the fact that I am confident he will exhibit signs of distress, and that I will recognize them. 

Its still a matter of juggling, of weighing things, of being the perpetual optimist, cheerleader, and wife/caregiver/household6.  I don't mind it.  It is what it is.

For a while, we contemplated bring him back to Dr. Lipov.  When he returned from Topeka it was balls to the wall PTSD.  Anxiety was of epic proportions.  All my usual tips and tricks failed.  I could not redirect, I could not divert, I could not fix.  I could do only one thing, DUCK AND COVER.  And of course, call Dr. Lipov.... 

Alas, we put that off.  I wish we wouldn't have, but we are okay.  We just couldn't wrap our already tired and worn out minds around another quick trip to Chicagoland.  Arranging child care, taking yet another few days off work...  We just were forced to dig in, and take it slow, and go from there.

I still am so pleased, as is  the husband, that the stars aligned and we were able to go for the Stellate Ganglion Block anyway.  It was useful.  It primed him.  The most unwilling soul for any type of treatment, decided (on his own volition) that it was time for intense therapy. 

I don't want to think about where we would be (or where I would be without my husband), if it was not for us taking a chance.  Hopefully, our story will provoke new thought.  Combine forces, take the shot, go inpatient.  How could that not work???  Either way, it will be up to researchers and the medical community to look at that, assess, pick apart and put back together again.... 



Whenever I seem to be losing direction, spinning wheels, screaming into the wind, the universe has a way of gently guiding me back into my path.  Begging.  Encouraging. 


When I start to pull back on my true self, when I start to ignore what I know in my heart is true and right, when I start to give up, become complacent, the world gives me a sign.

It's those signs I live for.  It's a compass.  A head-nod from G*d Himself. 

Keep going.

After a very touching, lengthy time with a man, frail, yet so incredibly strong, I found myself wanting to be my usual, off-the-cuff, tell it like it is girl that I am. 

Settled in for the night, I stood back, and smiled.  I was happy and I was blessed.  I was right where I wanted to be.  I was right where I needed to be.

So to this man who has seen more than I will *ever* see, who has hurt and loved and struggled and triumphed, but still had such ferver, so much zest, I figured now was a good time.  A good thought to leave him with before sleep fell upon him. 

"Welcome home, Sir.  And thank you for your service."  There was a moment of silence, and for a moment I questioned if I had been innapropriate.  The child in me was almost ashamed.  Perhaps this was wrong.  Perhaps it was offensive.

Tears swelled in his eyes and he gripped my forearm like only a man dedicated to his country no matter how long ago could, his lips moved and mouthed "Thank you. THANK YOU. THANK YOU." And he shook my arm accentuating the last. No sound came between us, but I solemnly nodded my head.  The world stopped for just a brief moment, but emotions, and things unseen kept moving.  He went to sleep, I went back to what I do.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Night Walking

Tonight, a reprieve from work, an evening with the family.  It is a longstanding tradition in my home that Friday nights are "Family Movie Night".  Popcorn, Hershey's chocolate bar, and pepsi.  A children's movie.  Since tonight I am here instead of work, my 5 year old and I decided we would walk to the store, and rent The Lorax.  A favorite of my 8 year old.  A long time favorite of mine. 

It was dark when we set out, and the boy and I talked about how we never get to go Night Walking.  He bounced along side of me, pointing out things as we went. 

"That house has two dogs, a nice one, and a very loud one."

"Those are nice flowers, we should get flowers"  So I point out the pretty tall ones that are blazing orange even in the dark, "Those are just tall dandelions." 

"There are angels that watch me when I sleep.  I only know one's name."  And then true to five year old imagination, he adds, "They fight the bad guys for us while we sleep."  Thinking my son was "gifted", or at the very least, weird, I asked what bad guys?  "Oh you know, Decepticons, things like that."  I chuckled.

But at one point he looked up, and there was only one star that we really could see, and he said make a wish.  So we both stopped, tilted our heads back, and silently wished.

I wished for real happiness for my family.

"Well what did you wish for?"  Apparently, this boy is not aware of the law that you do not tell wishes, but, I told him anyway. 

"What did you wish for?" I asked back.

He told me he wished for a race track that could that could go underwater.... and for his Daddy's "brain injury to go away".

I hate the feeling of unwanted emotion that pricks your eyes and fills them with the flood that makes it impossible to Night Walk in any sort of straight line.  Damn this war. 

So I realized that though it is common for any patient in any chronic illness to assume a "sick role", I did not realize that little minds who very much need a strong and healthy father placed the ill in that as well.  That is not good.  That is the sort of thing that robs children of the need for feeling safe and protected. 

I explained to him that Daddy's brain was injured when he was working for the Army, and that the brain is pretty awesome and healed itself like magic.  But, the brain healed itself in a different way.  Daddy's brain isn't broken son, its just, well....different.

He was satisfied with that.  He asked about weapons used in the army.  Like do they use swords?  And Light Sabres.  He went on about deflecting things with a sword....

But I wasn't satisfied.  I don't want my boys to think their father is broken.  Have I painted that picture?  Does my husband think he is broken?  Have we placed blame so much on his "hidden injuries of war" that they have clearly become very very visible?

I know that I do feel less protected.  That feeling of a wife being safe when her husband is home?  Yea, that isn't really true here.  Though I feel better, I don't feel like other wives probably do.  I feel like I'm in a better place to take action because HE can rally the kids while I go do what probably most other men would do.  That isn't really normal either.  Its not good in my mind.  Somewhere, our whole life has taken this giant shift, and I think we continue to perpetuate it.  Anyone married to a Veteran with these injuries knows that normal is out the window and never will be seen again, but are we mistaken by not trying even a little bit to sustain the norm?  I guess you have to define what your norm is.  What your wants and needs are, how they fit into this post combat mess, and then how you can go from there.  My normal is not your normal, and your normal is not the next persons.  I get that.  I am just thinking out loud here about what is happening in my little world, versus what really IS. 

It seems whenever I am doubting, or unsure, or feeling adrift, all I need to do is spend some sort of quiet time with one of my boys, and things seem to fall back in place.  The perspective is regained, the knowledge that what is *really* important in my world is realigned. 

So after the movie, the 5 year old, alseep on my legs, was carried off to bed, and what remained was a drugged out on chocolate and popcorn over tired extremely profound 8 year old.  I could tell the movie was a little emotional for him, he and I are of the same tribe, it was for me too.  Not wanting to make him embarressed for being teary eyed, I tried to make him laugh.  Thus set off an incurable case of the giggles.  Which of course, are highly contagious.  My husband returned to the living room to see us laughing uncontrollably.  What made me laugh even more was the thought, Holy Sh*t, the sight of the giggles in any one of my children is so rare, that it is almost alarming.  That thought almost made my laughter turn into crying, so I stopped the madness before it dawned on the boy as well. 

New Mission:  Invoke the Giggles as much as humanly possible.  Engage in more Night Walking.

And if you are reading this blog, chances are you are married to a man who fought in a war and is all sorts of messed up now too.  In that case, if you have children, if you have access to a child of a wounded warrior, please, continue this mission with me. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stop, it's too late, I'm feeling Frustrated.....

Overnight, I wake up, I feel frustrated.

Overnight our garden has overgrown. 

They want more forms filled out.

The pile of shoes left at the door, begging to trip him down the stairs.

The baby crying.

Another envelope from the VA.

Somewhere, someone is crying.

The laundry cannot seem to make it to the closets they belong in.

Work time comes to fast, yet, I never got to play. 

Endless.  Mounting.  Overwhelming.

He is still crying.

The doctors are calling, the boss is angry, the pressure is building.

Somehow, I've lost the release valve.

This is where I assume auto pilot.  All systems go.  Clear sailing.  Happy skies.

Echoing in my head prarie grass is okay, the bills can wait, the VA can wait for their papers, the doctor can leave a message, the dishes will be there tomorrow, the garden will still grow, the children will quiet, I will work when I can, the laundry is temporarily relocated.... my brain.... that too has temporarily relocated.... 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunny with a chance of EXPLOSION!

 Memorial day.  A day that triggers something deep inside him.  Something he doesn't even recognize.... I swim circles around him, around the children, around the cat.... Protecting, I guess.

Its hot, and tense.  Ever since he came home, he cannot tolerate heat.  He becomes agitated, beligerant, downright nasty.  NOT the door opening, yes ma'am, light your cigarrette man he is most other days. 

Today he is the self absorbed (and that is okay, I get it), buzzing, red, land mine husband.  I love him dearly, but, sometimes I need to get away too....

The baby cry is too much, the "Daddy! Dad! Daddy!" swirling up the stairs hitting heavy on his ears, the 564th time he's heard, "I'm bored, I want to go to a friend's house...." from our oldest.  Today, the day of his Fallen, its just too much.

It really is too much for even me to have to carry.  But I try.  I clean and straighten and hustle about the kids, keeping them busy, keeping them from fighting, keeping them from raising their voices, hush the baby....

I can't do it all, everytime.  I'm human.  Remember?  Born of the same flesh as anyone else.  I can't keep the natural energy of boys contained for long.

And then,  an explosion.  In my house, in my yard, across the river.  On this day, the day to remember the Fallen, the GOD-DAMNED FUCKING PAPER MILL EXPLODES.

Sirens.  Police.  Fire.  Ambulance.  We know the different sounds of them.  We know so well how close chaos is by the downshifting of the fire engines.  I know.  I know its close. 

Those clouds peeking through the spaces of our monstrous boxelder tree.... so dark, so ominous, I was mentally preparing while inahling and exhaling.  Inhale: Fuck.  Exhale: Wonder how bad this one will be.  Inhale: I need to get the baby for a nap...before it starts.  Exhale: Maybe this will be quick.  Inhale: Be calm, be quiet. quietcalmquietcalmquietcalm.  That's my mantra when I prepare to deal with "combat petey".  The wild eyed husband that is PTSD.  Quiet, and calm.  Works well.

As I'm destroying my lungs and the air around me, the neighbors start coming from the houses.  I snuff the cig out thinking, "OH yeaaaaaa, oh YES!  Thank you!" and I subconciously flick off the sky. 

But it isn't a storm that draws them like a moth to the flame.  It actually is flame!  FIRE!  The papermill is on fire, and in a glorious step to my right, I can clearly see, those aren't dark, ruin your freaking life clouds, that is SMOKE!  I immediately redact my giant fuck you to the sky and look at my neighbors.  It is a fire.  And here come the sirens.

We walked down to sift through the carnage.  It wasn't quite that dramatic, but if I could have, that is what I would have done.  But, kids in tow, with my neighbor, we walked the 4 blocks down the river to get a clearer view. 

But all the excitement has worn on him, and we are home now, and the baby is crying, that nap isn't happening after all.  I am tired.  To the bones.  Seriously, my arm bones hurt.  Have you ever been that tired?  Its not just a saying. 

Here is a picture....

And, there is a chance of more explosions.....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Not the VH1 type Flashback.....

You just never know.  You never know how.  Where.  Why.  These things you will never know.  So stop trying to figure them out. 

Be prepared.

For what?

Good question.  Everything.  Always.  Everywhere.

Driving home from a pleasant afternoon on a farm, my husband tells me.....

              I can't get that fucking smell out of my head.

  I can fucking taste it.

Stoically, I look ahead, focus on the road.  Breathe.  I look at him, in the passenger seat, seemingly normal, but his hands give him away.

I start running through my head.  Make the smell go away.  Its going to ruin the day, make it go away.

Go away go away go away go away go away.

Perfume! I have travel Ed Hardy in my purse, he starts digging.  He can't find it.

Rounding the long slow curve on country roads, to the left and then to the right.... surely a town is up ahead... a gas station.  Cough Drops!  Coffee!!!! We'll stop and get you that.  That will work.... 

No.  I don't want to stop.  Keep driving.  Get us home.

Again, focusing on the road, cool, and calm, and collected am I, while screaming bloody hellish screams on the inside.  Why won't you JUST FUCKING GO. AWAY.  ?????

I'll call a friend, she'll know. 

No answer. 

Its just he and I.  With a child in the backseat.  Everyone was calm, but on his side of the car, was an invisible rage building within him.  I know it.  I can sense it.

On my side of the car, rage, bloody fucking rage, fighting inside of me, taking over my head.


The syllables from the back seat bounce around to the front off the windshield, land in my heart.

Yes baby....

                              "There were kittens in the barn, when you come to them, they run away.  One kitty, she stayed.  She was nice.  I could pet her....."

Yes baby, I saw that.....

And my heart breaking, realizing that forever I must be the one who holds this family together, to lick his wounds from war, to protect my children from those same wounds.  To be strong, and to lick my own wounds on my own time, because clearly, CLEARLY, there are tender fragile egg shell hearts all around me. 

And tonight?  Tonight?  Why, there is storm coming. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I get by with a little help from friends....

I haven't blogged for awhile, and I also do not have ANY of my blog posts from previous episodes of frantic writing.... but for those who do know me, Here I Am!  I'm okay, and, life somehow managed to continue on...

My husband returned recently from a 7 week inpatient program for PTSD.  He had to go all the way to "TUH"peka (I say TOEpeka...) and we are still adjusting to his homecoming.  His depression has lefted, but, we have a whole not new slew of problems that resurfaced.






Oh yes, hello TBI....

We continue being jerked around a bit by the powers that be, but I think most people who work with us have realized, that I am not going to back down from doing what is right, and doing what is the best for my husband. 

I still am meeting less than supportive forces around me, and that's okay, I'll continue on.  As most of us Wounded Warrior Wives do.

And I'm not alone.  This time, I'm actually NOT alone, physically.  I'm finally hooked up with another Combat vet and his wife, and I love them, *dearly*.  See.... Here they are....
Real, LIVE, breathing, living, fleshy people just like me and my husband! Its like FOV, but in person! In stereo!  And I love it. 

And I already love them.  But they know that.