Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Today was supposed to be the big day. My husband was finally going to be getting out of the military because today was his ETS. Unfortunately he's halfway through his 16th month of therapy and he still has some time left to go. He signed extension orders for another 6 months but his case manager told him that he can expect to be here for another year. Never in my life did I expect to stay in Texas for 4 years. It's a bit overwhelming, especially because I'm pretty homesick.

Since we're still going to be here for awhile yet, I keep encouraging my husband to look into an inpatient PTSD program. We still suspect there is some TBI going on there too. The hardest part lately are the ups and downs and mood swings. Because I'm the one who is around him the most often, I seem to get the worst of his attitude. More often than not I cringe because the kids end up witnessing arguments. It's so frustrating and sometimes I feel ready to throw in the towel.

We actually just celebrated our 6th anniversary over the weekend. To say it's been a bumpy road is putting it lightly. In the first three years of our marriage, we spent more time apart than together. He's missed half of our anniversaries and left 3 weeks after we were married. Had he not been wounded he would've missed another one. I used to laugh when I realized that even though we were married in 2003 we didn't ring in the New Year together until 2006. It's just the way military life goes sometimes.

Ironically I know that I will miss some of this crazy stressful life. Sometimes I feel closer to my military family than my real family. Our previous duty station was Ft Hood and when the shootings occured I was amazed at the amount of support and concern I received that day. While we weren't directly affected, we did have friends who were on lockdown for over 7 hours and some of those killed and wounded were from the brigade that my husband's unit is part of. I think all of us in the military community were at least somewhat shaken about what happened that day. Had my husband not been wounded we would've still been stationed at Ft Hood. There are just so many what if's when it comes to his injuries. He's been recovering for longer than he would've been deployed. When I look back on the past sixteen months and all that we as a family have been through, it just amazes me that we've survived.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Injury List - Updated 11/7/09

Throughout the ordeal Paul has had:

16 months of physical therapy

20 limb salvage/reconstruction surgeries

His left arm sewn to his side for 6 weeks

Severed tendons where the shrapnal sliced through - surgery 4/09 because they came untied.

10cm section missing from his ulnar nerve from shrapnel - the nerve is permanently paralyzed.

Severed ulnar artery that’s still not pumping blood as well as it should causing numbness, lack of movement and sensitivity to hot and cold

Burns throughout his hand and arm from the blast

Tennis ball size chunk of flesh missing from his forearm

Damaged, missing tissue from his hand and arm

Piece of his thumb missing, cuts throughout his fingers

MRSA staph infection

Other infections

Groin flap to repair the missing skin and tissue leaving a 10 inch scar along his side, over an inch wide in some places

Diminished lung capacity, breathing at 60%

Fractured and bruised tailbone

Chronic back spasms


PTSD (tested negative for TBI) - from Iraq 12/03-2/05, Afghanistan 4/08-7/09

Cone Dystrophy eye disease

Chronic Sleep problems and possible apnea - had sleep study done in 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Surgery #15

Paul had surgery #15 on Friday. We dropped the kids off at daycare around 7:30 and he and I headed to the hospital. I had the chance to stay with him in the triage and help him undress and put on his hospital gown. I joked around that wearing that thing is like old times which was of course was met with a glare. I guess his 64 day stay as an inpatient did him in. When it was time for me to leave and for him to be wheeled into surgery, I stepped out into the hallway and walked past the waiting rooms that I had spent so much time at. All at once it hit me and I was reminded of of how it felt so many other times. So much of our lives revolved around that hospital for so long and I didn’t realize at the time just how difficult and traumatic the whole thing was. I felt like I should walk back to my hotel room with the kids but then I realized just how alone I was and that that wasn’t an option. I walked down the hallway, annoyed that I had worn my flip flops that kept slapping so loud against the quiet floor. Too quiet at that. I paused to look out the window of the hospital and saw the same scenery that I had watched before. I stepped into the elevators that I had spent just as much time in, the same ones that my daughter could find her daddy’s floor by heart and had once dropped her Lightning McQueen diecast car down into the shaft. She remembers of course too and reminds me every time we ride on them that he’s down at the bottom in the dark.

I rode the elevator down to the basement and thought about getting some breakfast but knew there was no way that I could stomach it yet. I’d been feeling sick all morning, and wasn’t sure if it was nerves or not but I knew the DFAC food would only make it worse. I stood there reading the menu to see what they offered for lunch later on in case I had gotten my appetite back. An older lady stopped and said “they serve breakfast until 9:30 hun.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already knew that since I pretty much used to live here. I also knew that you could get free meal coupons from the chaplains and that if I stayed in one spot for more than a minute, someone would ask me if I needed any help finding something. For the most part, people are just genuinely friendly and helpful here. Of course it’s normal to see people who are severely burned and missing limbs everywhere here and wounded warriors are treated with respect. There are signs up in the DFAC that wounded warriors can go to the front of the lines, signs in the pharmacy that say the same thing along with a specific pharmacy for wounded warriors. The support for our troops is amazing here and it definitely shows.

Eventually I wandered back down to the waiting rooms and sat down on the comfortable leather sofa. I had every intention of enjoying some quiet time for myself and reading a book. Once I stretched out though, I think I was awake for about 3 minutes before I fell asleep. I really hadn’t gotten any sleep before and it was catching up to me. I slept off and on and before I knew it, someone was telling me his surgery was finished and I could go see him in the recovery room.

He was wide awake when I saw him and his arm was wrapped in a thick bandage. He had a nerve block so everything was completely numb and he wasn’t in any pain. He said his arm felt like it weighed 100 lbs so they gave him a sling to put it in. The doctor had gone in and removed several layers of scar tissue that was preventing him from moving some of his fingers. Also some of the tendons that had been severed and tied together had come apart so those were fixed. They shaved off most of the large tennis ball sized lump of grafted skin to make it look a little better. I never kept track of the number of stitches he’s had but I’m sure there’s been well over a hundred and he got plenty more today. He is supposed to have one more surgery after this to get more scar tissue and some more cosmetic work done on his arm. This time they opted not to open up his fingers and mess with the nerves because they’re hoping the removal of so much scar tissue will help him get some feeling back in the two fingers that are numb to him.

There has been talk all along about amputation and still stuff has been said here and there about removal of the two fingers that don’t have any feeling in them. I’m sure that since he’s come this far with the limb salvage that he will be keeping his arm (provided there are no more infections) and I know he doesn’t want to lose the fingers. When the nerve block started wearing off he was able to move his first few fingers and his thumb a little more than he has been able to up to this point. He has to go right back to getting occupational therapy Monday so I’m sure that will be very painful as it usually is. He’s still going to be on Percocet for awhile so I will be back to going to formation with him every day. His doctor recommended that he take 14 days of convalescent leave but with all of his appointments and therapy, plus full time school, he can’t really go anywhere. He hasn’t had any leave since around Christmas and I know he needs a break but doesn’t want to miss any classes. He has one that’s a hybrid class that he could pretty much do most of the work online so I’m hoping to drag him to Disney World sometime this year. I know it will be awhile before the next surgery so hopefully we can do something to get away from our lives that revolve around the hospital. I still have to have my thyroid scan and uptake so I have to figure out soon what I’m going to do to treat the Graves’ Disease. I’m not looking forward to either option but I’m tired of the way I feel so something needs to be done.

Now that surgery #15 is behind us we can get back to the new normal of our lives. Paul’s unit just passed the one year mark in Afghanistan and it’s hard to believe what the past 9 months have been like for us. Sometimes it feels like we’re worlds away from the way things should’ve been without the IED. I often wonder if I would’ve stayed in Texas or if I would’ve moved back to my hometown for the 15 months. I was seriously considering it right around the time he was injured. Sometimes it’s frustrating to hear people talking about how their husbands are “lifers” in the military and he’s going to stay in until retirement so they have no other plan. I’ve learned that you always need to have a plan b or c, or some kind of backup plan because you just never know how things are going to turn out. I’m finding that there are a lot of military wives, mostly young, that just don’t think this kind of thing could happen to them. Or they just don’t think it will. Our lives can change with every breath we take.

There are plenty of things that I should’ve planned for better. 10 years ago I was in college majoring in travel and tourism. It sounded like an exciting field and I was excited to get hired with a large agency even before I graduated. I hated it. I’m not a salesperson and while there were some perks to booking travel, there were plenty of draw backs. Yet I put time and money into school for it and realized right away that it just wasn’t for me. Rather than growth in the travel industry, travel agents are becoming obsolete since you can book things online. I’ve preferred to book stuff online. I turned down a job with Travelocity a few months ago and they’ve posted it again on Career Builder and I’ve seriously considered reapplying. It sounds like a great company, a fun company to work for but I know I would start to dislike it after awhile. I just don’t think that’s the right direction for me. I thought graphic design or web design but after a couple of classes in both of those, I realized that is more of just a hobby for me. It will always be a creative outlet for me but I think I’m finally on the right track with what I’m pursuing now. Thanks to the military I’ve got some time to finish it now.

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. For the first time since we moved to Texas, I heard my husband say he was glad, despite everything that’s happened, that he made the decision that he did. Even despite being reclassed and being a gunner and missing the IED that hit him. I feel like it kind of takes the blame, er weight off of my shoulders a bit. It might just be the Percocet talking though.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm Avoiding the Kitchen (again)

I'm still pretty paranoid in the kitchen since the fire in January so I'm not cooking as often as before but getting better. It's not true though, a watched pot DOES still boil. ;)

So we ate dinner tonight and afterwards I loaded the dishwasher, not overly full but not empty either. This dishwasher is 5 years old and it tends to flip my plastic cups upside down and fill them with water if it's too empty, but more often than not it's usually pretty full. When the cycle is complete I usually open it up a bit and let the dishes air dry vs. using the heat dry.

Apparently Kaiden had messed with it and flipped it over to heat dry, which is usually no big deal, but tonight one of my Pampered Chef wooden spoons was knocked off the top rack and fell down below. It came to rest on the hot wire in the bottom and since I didn't know it, it started to burn. Paul and I were sitting in the living room off of the kitchen and I asked him what that smell was. It didn't smell any worse than when you first turn the heat back on after it's been off all summer/fall. Since our appliances are still new they have that smell to them when they're in use but tonight I had used my griddle to cook on so that wasn't it. Paul thought the kids were doing something they shouldn't have been but they were fine. He didn't notice it until I said something and I wouldn't have noticed it when I did if I had been sitting in the other living room.

When I oppened the dishwasher I got a face full of smoky smelling steam but other than a black mark on the wire and branded on my spoon, both should be fine. Pampered Chef stuff is too expensive to be using for kindling though! I can just imagine having to call my rental company and tell them that I caught the dishwasher on fire. They'd probably kick me out and think I did it intentionally. Thankfully there were no flames this time, probably because of the water during the cycle keeping the spoon damp, but seriously I'm convinced that I am not meant to be in this kitchen! I'm going to be scarred for life lol!

Monday, March 2, 2009


My new stove was put in last Thursday, 5 weeks to the day since the fire. Apparently there was some sort of insurance descrepancy, something to the tune of $6000. The insurance companies fought it out and in the meantime we ate what we could here but had to go out to eat a whole lot more than we would’ve liked to. One more way for us to do our part to stimulate the economy I guess.

So I was excited to finally get a replacement stove and it’s even nicer than the one before. Plus it’s easier to look at that than the burned and damaged one we had. For the first two weeks after it happened, every time I would walk into the kitchen I would start feeling sick to my stomach and have to get out of there as quickly as I could because it was too hard for me to deal with. It was always the last thing I’d see before going to bed and I spent more time on the second floor instead of the living room and especially the kitchen. Of course it was right there when I would wake up every day as well and it usually took me a few deep breaths just to walk in there. The smell of burnt plastic from the microwave lingered and I can still smell it now, although not nearly as bad since there’s a new microwave up there now. The walls are still charred and will be repainted soon and new cabinets hung to replace the black crispy ones.

It’s nothing short of amazing how fast it spread and how much damage it caused in less than two minutes. After it happened I thought of those surveys that ask if your house was on fire and you could only grab three things, what would they be? Our fire was contained to the kitchen but the smoke went all the way through the first floor. It all happened so fast that our only thoughts were to grab the kids and get out, which is exactly what we did. There would’ve been no time to grab the hard drives with all of our pictures on them, or precious stuffed animals, blankets, etc.

One thing that really bothered me is that we live in a newer subdivision and the houses are close together. We often chat with our neighbors on the one side of us and the guys who lives there is retired military. He came over and cut the grass a few times for us because he knew Paul couldn’t push the lawn mower. They happened to be working during the fire but the neighbors down the street were home apparently because I watched them grab a couple of lawn chairs and sit in their garage to watch the festivites at our house. It just made me angry because I know, wounded or not, if someone needs help, Paul is always right there to do it. It’s not just because he’s got the proper training as a fire fighter and he’s required by law to stop at the scene if paramedics or police haven’t arrived, but simply because he wants to help if someone needs it. I was so tempted to go over to my neighbor’s house and make some offhand comment about how I appreciate him seeing if we needed any help, but I figured there was no point and I didn’t want to be known as the rude, unapproachable neighbor. Although if the people on the other side of us don’t turn their music down to a level that I don’t have to listen to clearly inside my house with the A/C running, I might just become that neighbor.

Regardless of what happened, I am grateful to finally have new appliances, although the microwave has to be replaced with another new model that has a working door and not one that’s all dented in. The guys from Lowes who installed them apologized that it was supposed to be new but they would get a replacement out here ASAP. I mentioned that I had already been without one for 5 weeks so a few more days probably wouldn’t be a big deal.

I’m taking baby steps when it comes to cooking. I used to love baking and coming up with new things and now I’m panicky when I make macaroni and cheese. Since the microwave isn’t hooked up right now I don’t have a fan above the stove to take care of the steam so I’m constantly worried that I’m going to accidentally set the smoke alarm off. I’ve certainly put the watched pot never boils theory to the test because I feel the need to stand no more than three feet from the stove when there’s something on the burner or in the oven. Not that that’s a bad idea, but when I’m making a lasagna or something (frozen, baby steps, remember?) that takes an hour or so to cook it’s kind of hard to be patient. My laundry room and pantry are right off of the kitchen so occasionally I can fold clothes but I’m constantly checking to make sure nothing happens that’s not supposed to.

Every time I walk around the corner towards the kitchen, even if nothing is on I still expect to see huge flames pouring off of the stove. I still see smoke on the ceiling and walls around me and it’s almost hazy to me, like there’s a cloud of smoke I have to get through to get to the kitchen. At first I thought it was just my contacts needing to be cleaned but it happens when I don’t have them in. I’m sure I’m the only one who sees it, and it always takes me right back to that day. I’m sure as time goes on I’ll keep getting more used to it. I know I have somewhat already since I eventually got used to seeing the burned out kitchen.

Fire and it’s aftermath are just one of my fears I guess, so having it right there in front of me has just made me so paranoid. There are things I want to cook again but I feel intimidated just to turn on one of the burners. I have a flat cooktop range now so I can’t even drop anything down into a burner anymore so I should feel more relieved but now I’m worried that I’m going to some how screw up a brand new stove. I did buy another container of vegetable oil but it will probably be used for baking and not to saute with.

Just a little bit paranoid here, don’t mind me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Life Stopped in June

When I first walked into my house, months after I had been there last, my calendar was turned to June. It was now late September and the summer was almost gone. I had last spoken to my husband on June 23, 2008, when the infrequent name was on the caller id. I told him that I was heading up north soon to spend a couple of weeks with our extended families. Our calls were usually 10 minutes at the most so he told me be careful and have a safe trip and I told him to stay safe as well. After telling him I loved him I packed up myself and the kids and hit the road for the almost 1300 mile journey across the midwest.

Somehow I managed to drive straight through the night to Illinois to stay with my in laws for a few days before planning to finish out my trip in Michigan. Sunday evening, on the 29th of June, I was watching an episode of Army Wives with my stepmother in law. Ironically that night’s episode was about one of the main character getting a phone call notifying her that her husband had been wounded. I turned to my stepmother in law and said, “that’s the call that I dread. I don’t ever want to go through that.” She nodded silently in agreement.

The next day I took pictures of the kids playing outside and sent them to my husband in an email that he wouldn’t end up seeing for weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to hear from him later that night. Normally I was lucky to hear anything once a week if that. He was telling me he had gotten a cell phone and that hopefully communication would get a little better and I could even call him once in awhile. He wouldn’t be able to have it on very often but it was supposed to be enough for me to be able to get ahold of him occasionally or at least leave a message. Unlike the last deployment, it was nearly impossible for him to get online, he didn’t have time to write like he did last time and couldn’t send pictures home. This time though, we got to talk for nearly half an hour that night and I went to bed feeling more upbeat and happy than I had been in awhile.

Some time around 4am on the morning of July 2nd, my stepmother in law came into my room, telling me to get up and follow her, saying something about Paul. I was half awake and wondered why she didn’t just hand me the phone. I followed her into the other guest bedroom and my father in law was right behind us. I could tell by the sound of her voice that something was wrong. She said something along the lines of, “okay we’re all here.”

My husband started talking then, telling us that he was okay but the vehicle he was in had hit an IED and he was the only one injured. He didn’t know what was left of his arm but that it might have to be amputated. He explained more of what had happened but the only thing that had actually registered with me was that he was hurt. I couldn’t get any words out for what felt like 10 minutes. I don’t know how long the call actually was but I sat there speachless and stunned. This is going to sound horrible, but as a military wife I had played the scenario a thousand times in my mind, of someone knocking on the door to tell me he had been killed. That was a fear I had lived with every day. Ironically I had never pictured him being wounded so I was simply at a loss for words as I tried to absorb all the information at once.

I don’t remember hanging up the phone or much of what went on that morning. My mother in law stayed home from work and my father in law did go to work that day but called every hour for an update. I do remember having to notify other family members and it was hard to find the right words. I had buried my mom during the first deployment so I’ve had to make the kind of phone calls where there’s bad news, yet this time was different and it felt so much more difficult. I was grateful that my stepmother in law made some of those calls for me because it was hard enough to keep a positive, light mood for the kids.

During some point of the morning I called the battalion’s rear detachment to see if they could advise me of what to do and where he might be sent to. When I called they had no idea what I was talking about and said that my husband had jumped the gun so to speak on calling me and he shouldn’t have done so. They said if something had happened I would be properly notified by the command. They hung up so fast that I felt foolish for even calling them for help. I contacted our FRG leader and left her a message that my husband had been injured and I was kind of lost on what to do and did she know of someone I could call. When she called back later, she hadn’t heard that he had been wounded. I would find out later that he was one of the first, if not the first one in his unit who was wounded by the enemy.

Around noon that day, my husband called back and said he had been awarded his purple heart. I had told him before he left that there was no need for him to get one of those so I reminded him during the call that he didn’t listen to me as usual. Even though he was pretty drugged up I learned that he had been in an MRAP and they had hit an IED. Since he was the saw gunner he was up in the turret and took the impact of the blast. When he was on the ground being tended to by the medic, it looked as though they were going to come under direct fire. Without a second thought he jumped back up into the vehicle to defend his position, which was no surprise for our family to hear about.

What still sticks out in my mind about that day are the mistakes that followed when I realized why I was having a hard time finding out from anyone about what I needed to do to get to my husband. I didn’t know if I would need a passport to fly to Germany or if I should start driving to Walter Reed. Late that afternoon, my in laws received a phone call from the military so they said I should go ahead and answer it. When I did, they asked for my father in law in regards to my husband. I told him that it was my husband who had been wounded and we had all been waiting to hear from them what to do next. He told me that he needed to speak with my father in law and couldn’t give me that information because I wasn’t the primary contact. I was shocked as I handed the phone to my father in law. He also explained that I was Paul’s wife and there was no reason for me to not be given that information. He said they had to go by the information that was provided to them by the rear detachment, who had yet to contact any of us again since the original conversation. To make maters worse, an hour or so later, my in laws received the official notification call from the Army that he had been wounded. After that my mother in law had called me to tell me that they had officially notified her as well.

By this time I was absolutely livid that no one was contacting me. Of course I had the most current information because I was staying with my in laws but I couldn’t understand what was going on. I called rear detachment back and demanded to know why his parents were notified and I was not, and to ask why they hadn’t bothered to give me an update. They said point blank, you’re not the primary contact in his file, his parents are. I said that’s not the case, and told them to look again. I said my husband notified all of us and I am staying with my in laws but that’s beside the point. They told me that my husband must’ve put the information down wrong yet they looked closer at his paperwork and realized then that they had mad a mistake and read the contact info wrong. They gave me a half hearted, annoyed apology, if you want to call it that. I said “what if he had been killed and you made that mistake? Sorry is good, but it’s not good enough.” I was angry, in some ways I will always be angry about them making things more stressful for me simply because they were, in my opinion, too lazy to be bothered to help me and read the file correctly.

It would be six days before I would actually be booked on a flight to finally see my husband. In the meantime his battalion commander had contacted me from overseas to apologize for the mistakes made in notifying me and asked if there was anything he could do to help. He went on to tell me that he was extremely proud of my husband and that he was a damn fine soldier. He said it was an honor to have him be a part of the battalion. He sent me a photograph of Paul receiving his Purple Heart in Afghanistan. He said if I wasn’t updated on his condition frequently to email him and let him know.

Once he arrived at Landstuhl in Germany I was updated almost hourly and able to call him twice a day. I think he had had 5 or 6 surgeries before he was even flown back to the states. Some of them were to clean out shrapnal, something they would still be doing almost a year later. First he went to Walter Reed before being sent to BAMC where he’d recover and we’d eventually relocate.

On July 8, 2008 I finally got my itinerary to fly to San Antonio. I was very grateful to be able to leave the kids with my husband’s family and my best friend for almost two weeks. It was pretty tough for the kids to be away from me since they probably thought their daddy disappeared for a long time and I might too. Of course the flight left late because we were flying to Chicago and O’hare is right up there with DFW when it comes to delayed flights. I flew down with my mother in law and when we got to SAT someone was waiting for us at the USO and he took us to the Powless Guest House which would become my 300 sq ft home away from home for the next 3 months.

Visiting hours at BAMC normally stop at 9pm and it was after midnight when we got into town. We must’ve been politely convincing because we were able to go up and see Paul for about 10 minutes. He was only about three months into the deployment when he got hurt so there was no big fancy homecoming celebration. Sometimes it felt like he was just away training or in the field for a few months and then I’d see the extent of his injuries and it would hit me what really happened. I kissed him good night, instead of good bye and went back to my hotel room to get some much needed sleep. The next morning would be an early start, just like the rest to come, with my life revolving around the hospital.

(to be continued)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wings of Hope

I stumbled across this awhile back and even though my husband isn't deployed anymore these emotions will always be with me from when he was away.

Wings of Hope

By: Kelly Rossi

I’m the one you walk past in Wal-Mart smelling a man’s brand of deodorant and buying the same brand of shower gel. I’m trying to remember his smell.

I’m the one you see in the back of the church, a tear running down my face as the congregation prays for our country and our troops. He’s one of them.

I’m the one you beep at for sitting at a green light. I was looking at the flag blowing in the breeze at the corner gas station and thinking of all it means to me, to him, and to our life together.

I’m the one with a trunk full of flat rate boxes and customs forms, I know my local postal workers by name. The package I send him every pay day makes him seem close to me.

I’m the one with a funny looking decal in the back windshield of my car, you wonder where it came from and if it might mean something. He gave it to me before he left, it’s his MOS and we are proud.

I’m the one you walk past at work everyday; you notice the pin on my shirt but never bother to ask why I wear it. It’s the crest of the unit he serves with; I’ll wear it everyday until he comes back home.

I’m the one you walk past as I completely fall apart and lose it because I left my cell phone at home. You might think “it’s just a phone”, but it’s the life line of my marriage and it was his day to call.

I’m the one you have labeled as quiet or reserved, the one who is never really part of anything, you don’t know I wear the far - a- way look because my heart boarded the plane with his.

I’m the one that hears "tell him I say thanks, that I’m praying for him" at least once a day, and I always tell him for you, but I can’t help but think, who prays for me as I continue to do my best to serve him.

I’m the one that nods right along as you say that you understand or that it’s better now with the internet. I know that it is, but what you don’t know is that nothing will ever replace the joy of receiving a letter or that the webcams and instant messenger just remind me of all the million little things about him that I love and miss.

I’m the one that is so used to saying I’m fine, to being numb, to missing him, that I can’t remember any other way to be. I wonder at times if the ‘fine’ he tells me is the same ‘fine’ that I seem to be these days.

I’m the one that hates Friday and Saturday nights as I sit alone at home. I’m in a new town and don’t know anyone to hang out with. The weekends remind me my best friend isn’t here to show me around and make the best of a new place together.

I’m the one that eats more frozen dinners now because I don’t want to cook for just myself. The one who six months ago couldn’t picture myself eating out alone; but have since taken it to an art-form, no longer even needing a book or headphones to displace the emptiness of a nice restaurant.

I’m the one that is as strong and patriotic as the hero I married, not because I stand on the frontlines but because I stay behind stoking the home-fires for months on end with a quiet resolve not unlike the one that personifies him.

I’m the one that tells an ACU teddy bear or the moon goodnight that I love you, because it makes me feel less lonely and because I hope he somehow hears or feels it.

I’m the one that turns the porch light on at sunset to light his way back home, to me, to our life together, to the love and the good times we once shared.

I’m the wife of an American Solider; I’m the hope that lives within him after storm clouded days. The freedom from war that gives wings to his heart, may they reach across the miles and bind our hearts together against all that we must face in this world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

25 Things About Me

Fine, I'll do this so people stop tagging me.

RULE: Once you've been tagged you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you it's because I want to know more about you.

1. I am a motherless daughter and my relationship with my dad is strained at times.

2. I was in a foster home until I was adopted at 10 weeks and I reunited with my birth mother and two sisters when I was 29. My biological father was killed in a motorcycle accident when I was 7 so I never met him.

3. I grew up being the younger of two siblings but now I have 1 older brother, 2 younger sisters, 1 younger half sister, and 1 older stepsister.

4. I drink sweet tea like my life depends on it. Sometimes I prefer my tea to brew in the sun instead of on the counter.

5. I enjoy cooking and baking but I caught my kitchen on fire the other day so that may change.

6. I have written literally hundreds of poems, mostly about broken hearts and loss. It helped me cope at one time.

7. I was married in 1997 and 2003 respectively. I don't plan on marrying again. I was engaged to my husband for all of 4 days before we were married but I had known him since 2000.

8. I have Graves Disease and I'm starting to inherit rheumatoid arthritis as well.

9. My family used to camp all summer long on a lake and I'm still friends with some of the people I met there. My favorite trip was exploring out west.

10. I've never (so far) had a ticket and I've been driving for 16 years.

11. I once drank 6 beers, 9 mixed drinks, and did 15 jello shots at a bachelorette party one night.

12. I still have the medal I received for a floor routine I did in gymnastics when I was 10.

13. I've had two c sections and I think the second one was much easier.

14. I've worked for some really great companies.

15. I've known my best friend for 26 years. We met in 1st grade when we accidentally wore the same outfit to school - a teal and purple striped turtleneck, purple corduroy pants, white knee socks, and navy blue shoes with a white velcro stripe.

16. I'm still angry and probably always will be angry that the Army messed up the notification process and didn't want to talk to me when Paul was injured. They never apologized after realizing their mistake which might have helped.

17. I procrastinate and I'm disorganized and I hate it. My husband is anal about being neat. Needless to say we clash.

18. I'm just a little sarcastic at times.

19. I used to draw and write stories and wanted to be an author or an illustrator when I grew up. I still want to finish my degree in graphic design but for now I'm working on getting certified as a medical coding specialist because it's faster.

20. I'm not a kid person but I like mine. I love having the opportunity to stay home with my kids and appreciate every minute, even when they drive me nuts. I know they won't always be little and I don't want them to grow up too fast and I missed it.

21. I'm terrified of spiders and fires. I'm having an extremely difficult time seeing the burned out shell of my kitchen appliances and all the ashes.

22. I did a lot of snowmobiling with my family growing up and loved living in the country.

23. I have a hard time feeling safe because my childhood home was broken into 3 times and two of my vehicles were broken into and a third was stolen for a joyride.

24. I had played the scenario in my mind of what would happen if my husband had been KIA but never prepared for him being wounded. I'll always be grateful that he came back alive.

25. I like being myself. I'm not perfect but I'm always me.

19. I moved across the country when I was 34 weeks pregnant.

Monday, January 5, 2009

If Roses Grow In Heaven

If roses grow in Heaven,
Lord please pick a bunch for me.
Place them in my Mother’s arms,
and tell her they’re from me.
Tell her I love and miss her,
and when she turns to smile.
Place a kiss upon her cheek,
and hold her for awhile.
Because remembering her is easy,
I do it every day.
But there’s an ache within my heart,
that will never go away.

(Remembering my mom, August 10, 1944 - January 5, 2004)

Friday, January 2, 2009

6 Months Later

Well it’s been six months since an IED ripped through Paul’s arm and he began his long journey of healing. I can’t say that it’s gone by fast because those weeks, months in the hotel where our lives revolved around the hospital. When he came home it was to a completely different house in a different town so it was one adjustment after another. Even through all of it he has come a long way in his healing process. There is still a long way to go and I’m sure there always will be. It hasn’t been easy, it’s been trying and we’ve had days where our marriage has struggled and we’ve argued a lot.

He still continues daily therapy and has gotten back what seems to be about 25% of the use in his hand. I don’t know if that’s a high estimate but he can pick up and hold onto objects that are lightweight for just a short period of time or open a door that’s not too heavy. He’s still on all the asthma and allergy medications but is getting by when he’s not around animals or other stuff that causes him more lung problems. His arm and his hand still both look the same but he is supposed to have 2 or 3 more surgeries starting in a couple of months to reconstruct it and make the ball appearance less noticable.

His side has healed pretty well although just recently he said it has started hurting again in one area. I don’t know what brought that on but it’s enough concern for him to mention it to the doctor. Because his side wasn’t damaged from the IED and caused by his arm being attached to it for 6 weeks and being infected, he’s had issues with the military not wanting to count it towards his disability. That’s also the case with his tailbone problems which more than likely happened over there. I hope he doesn’t have another battle on his hands trying to deal with that since that was part of the process of rebuilding his arm.

We’re hoping he’ll get at least 30% VA disability but with the luck he has he’ll probably come in just shy of it to not get the benefits he wants. Supposedly the PTSD will be grandfathered in from the first deployment since I guess they stopped giving a rating for that. They did say he doesn’t have TBI which given some of the other symptoms and signs he’s had seems a little inacurate. Nonetheless I’m not a doctor and I would rather he not have to deal with that than have it just to get a higher rating but I worry that he does and it’s being ignored. The Army is notorious for losing medical records so I guess we’ll see what happens when it’s all said and done.

Of course the first week he got to BAMC they started talking about sending him to the promotion board. I figured if I didn’t mention it to anybody then it might actually happen for a change. Once again it gets mentioned and then doesn’t happen. It’s been 8 years now that he’s been at this rank so it’s probably not going to happen. I should’ve bet his squad leader that he wasn’t going to get promoted when we all were talking about it before he left. I remember hearing someone complain about being stuck at the same rank for 3 years and Paul said don’t even get me started and rolled his eyes. In his words the disappointments and lies have made his decision to be done with the Army easy. He knows he’ll never be able to be a fire fighter again so he starts school in three weeks to get some of his certifications done first so at least he can get paid for sitting on his butt at the computer lol. He’s learned to adapt to a standard keyboard, and although he types a whole lot slower, he seems to do alright.

I keep thinking that I need to sit down and blog about the whole phone call and finding out he was wounded. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the events of that morning and the days that followed. I will always be grateful that he came back alive but it certain turned our world upside down.


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