Saturday, December 11, 2010

I don't owe you an explanation...but sometimes you just don't get it.

I "write" several blogs in my mind as the days go by and they never actually get written down or posted. It's not because I don't feel that I need to release some anger or express myself, I just don't think it's safe to bring my laptop into the shower with me or carry it while I'm vacuuming. By the time I'm done I've usually moved past what's been bothering me or I don't have time write then to post. Sometimes by not saying anything, things will keep eating away at me and then I find that I snap at someone or post a quick status on Facebook and that usually garners me unsolicited advice. So as the wife of a wounded warrior, there's a few things that I feel the need to get off my chest.

1. I have a different set of circumstances than most people. I don't want your advice or have you try and relate to me or tell me you understand. That means if you don't get to experience being the brunt of someone's PTSD on a daily basis, or have to deal with the aftermath of injuries both physical and mental, then there's a pretty good chance that you don't understand. It also means that I definitely do not want you making excuses for his behavior or laughing it off as that's just the way he is. No, this entire experience changed him and there are days I don't even recognize the person he has become.

2. Please do not question me as to why I put up with it, stay with him, and whatever other things you feel the need to point out. I am not stupid and yes I do have a backbone. I do not feel that I am being walked all over or make excuses for him. Yes there are times when he is being an ass and I will usually point that out to him. However much in the same way that I waited for him throughout his deployments, I feel that it's important that I do everything that I can to continue to support him, good and bad. I have a handful of wounded warrior wife friends who have made the difficult choice to leave their husbands and I completely support them in those decisions as well.

There are times when I have felt like I had one foot out the door and I was horrified at the thought of spending the rest of my life with someone who behaved this way. In the past nearly three years, my husband has been put on hundreds of different medications, all with different side effects. Trying to keep him from becoming an addict has not been easy because that means he has to live with constant pain. Constant pain that means he is not always much fun to live with.

3. Do not tell me this is what we signed up for or that it could always be worse. Yes being killed or wounded was always a risk with his job. At no time did we ever sign up for or ask for him to be blown up. Nor did we ask for him to go through that many surgeries or have that many infections, or still be here waiting. I'm well aware that it could've been worse. I'm reminded of that every day and just because he is still alive does not make things easy. Despite what you think, an amputation would not have been worse for him, and would've actually have been better in some ways. Because they did a limb salvage, he will always be disfigured and full of shrapnal and scar tissue, therefore will always be in pain. That is far from being the only pain he has. I can't even explain it all.

4. Just because the amount of time that has passed does not mean he's recovered or I'm dragging out the caregiver thing. He will never make a full recovery. I think he has adapted incredibly well and I am amazed at the process that he's made. I'm not thinking glass half empty when I say it's probably not going to get any better. It is what it is and he will be dealing with the effects of it long after he's out of the military and for the rest of his life. It's not just fire fighting that was taken away from him, there are several civilian jobs that he won't be able to do now. He has no muscle or strength in that arm and fingers that don't even work. He's extremely sensitive to cold yet something could be burning his hand and he wouldn't even realize it.

5. I don't always feel like being positive. In fact sometimes I feel like being downright negative and having myself a nice little pity party. Sometimes I just want to start screaming at someone and wonder why I am left with some other person than the one who I married. Sometimes things get to me and I don't need advice about how I need to have a positive outlook and not be such a downer all the time and only I can change my situation. You know what, some days my situation tends to suck big time. Sometimes I get pissed off at why things we can't be a normal family and do fun things together without having to worry about how my husband is going to act around a crowd of people or why he just shuts down and tries to avoid the whole thing. It angers me and makes me sad that my kids have to miss out on so much and they've dealt with much more than most kids because they never asked for any of this. Yes I could do some of this stuff on my own but you know, I did that enough while he was deployed and I don't want to have to feel the same way now that he's home.

6. Just simply be supportive or act like you care. I'm sorry if at times I seem self absorbed or that I seem to thrive on stress and crisis. I don't know how to deal when things are calm and quiet because they haven't been for so long around here. We just simply roll with the punches and do the best we can. Has some of this made me bitter? Absolutely. We've dealt with more in our 7 years of marriage than a lot of people deal with in 50 years. I don't always know how to be anything but bitter and resentful that we just don't have a normal life anymore. Sometimes what might be a big deal to you wouldn't be more than a blip on my radar. This whole ordeal has taken away a lot of my empathy and I've learned to have to be strong on my own without anyone to offer me a safety net or help me pick up the pieces. I don't like feeling that way but I don't know how to do things differently.

7. I'm starting to lose my connection with other military spouses. Say what you will, but military families deal with a lot different circumstances than civilian families do. I have friends who would like nothing more than to skip every holiday instead of having to plaster a smile on their faces and feel like celebrating because their husbands are on the other side of the world. I have never forgotten what that feels like for even a moment. Some days even though my husband was wounded, it feels like it's been easier than when he was deployed. I guess I should be happy that he's now nondeployable and unfit for duty, but that just means that someone else will have to take his place on the next deployment.

That said, I now have different circumstances than most military spouses. I can't relate to someone who insists their husband is a lifer because I know how fast that can all change. I know how important it is to have a backup plan. Some of the things that affect other spouses just don't affect me anymore. I don't care about the measly pay raises because my husband has been stuck at the same rank for 9 years and has been maxed out on the pay grade above his for several years. It doesn't matter anymore if he gets promoted because based on the 36 month plan that's what he'll be paid his retirement on. Does it suck? Sure it does and regardless of things being out of his control, it doesn't matter anymore. I hate that it makes him look bad or like he did something wrong and that he has more time in service than most of his superiors but I'm just ready for him to get out and move on.

8. Stop asking if he can stay in. I asked him once to switch to active duty from the Guard. He was then deployed and blown up. I'm not about to ask him to stay in for another 9 years until retirement. It is his choice and I support him. I also understand exactly why he feels the way he does about the military. He hates putting on his uniform and can't take it off fast enough when he gets home. It is sad to see someone who loved what he did start feeling this way. I have some anger and bitterness toward his previous units for contributing to that. I have flat out hostility towards the rear detachment for screwing up the notification and feel just a little bit better about getting you in trouble for that. When someone is wounded, all bets are off. How dare you make that situation harder on me when I had enough to deal with. I think you get it now and will hopefully think twice next time.

9. Realize just how difficult it is for us to visit. I always extend invitations to family and friends to come visit, knowing full well that people have their own lives and jobs and things going on. I would just like to spend time with people when one of us is not hospitalized. I do understand why people can't visit but try to keep that welcome mat out there at all times - provided you call first. Don't ever show up unannounced, I will hold it against you for life.

Aside from that, I don't think people realize just how hard it is for us to pick up and take the time to see everyone. For us to fly to the nearest large city close to our hometown (still hours away), would be $1800 round trip. So instead we opt to drive the 20+ hours one way to visit. We have never once asked for gas money although to give you an idea it's roughly $500, depending on the price of gas. That doesn't take into consideration the necessary oil changes before and after the trip or the food along the way. We try to drive straight through to avoid the cost of lodging both ways. Between the military and the VA who feel that my husband needs at least 10 doctors appointments each week, getting the time off is usually a battle on it's own. Sometimes we only get a week to spend with family. This usually happens once or twice a year if we can swing it and usually ends up with us feeling rushed and stressed out by the time we leave. There is very little relaxing on our vacation and it never fails, someone always bitches about not being able to spend enough time with us. Granted most of the family is grateful for what time they do get with us and we appreciate that. But please do not pout and try and insist that we spend an extra day with you than what someone else gets when you never spent any time with us when we lived 20 minutes away. And for the love of God, do not expect us to change our plans to accommodate you. We have made this trip 10 times and every single time we've had to adjust our plans for someone else who lives hours and hours closer. That is the quickest way to piss me off. We understand people have different schedules and we do what we can to work with everybody to spend time with all of you but it doesn't always work out that way. Don't ever tell me again that family is not that important to me when I'm busting my ass and breaking the bank to see you at all. I realize that the world does not revolve around us and that it sucks that we live so far and can only see you once or twice a year and miss out on pretty much everything, but we do the best that we can. I can't stand driving as far as we do with what little time we have and having to change all of our plans for people who have more opportunities to visit than we do. That just makes me more bitter and resentful and to the point where we just stop visiting and do what we want to do.

10. Try to understand how frustrating it is to have your life turned upside down and be full of uncertainty. I can't make plans more than a few weeks out. I'm afraid to make any solid commitments. We have no idea when we will hear back about his rating and if it's acceptable to us. I'm terrified of being stuck here because I can't find a job where we want to move. That alone adds so much stress that sometimes I'm not sure how to deal with it. I'm very unhappy here and can't wait to move on one hand but on the other there are so many changes on the horizon that it's overwhelming. Please don't remind me that God only gives us more than we can handle. As well intended as you are, that just makes me want to punch you in the face. Sometimes it feels like more than I can handle. Sometimes I just need to vent and then I can usually move on. Don't take it too personally. Throughout this whole experience I've found out who my friends are. I've realized that some friendships are meant for the long term and some definitely are not. I'm grateful to those who have stuck by me through all of this, dealt with the good and bad and ups and downs and who are unconditionally supportive.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The 2 minute Ugly Cry

Today I allowed myself to do the 2 minute ugly cry. A brief moment of weakness in my quest to be this rock of strength in dealing with everything going on. Okay I lied. It came out of no where and before I knew it I couldn't even carry on a simple conversation and the words just came blubbering out of my mouth with a mixture of sobs and frustration. I will be the first to say that I can cry pretty easily. I can just usually choose not to. If you put a homecoming video in front of my where a soldier surprises his or her child, I can be a sobfest before it stops playing. My own husband's homecomings were different. I was far too excited to shed any tears after Iraq and Afghanistan was a completely different story. I was probably the only military spouse who never cried upon hearing the news of my husband's injuries and the chaos that followed. I wouldn't actually have a long drawn out, good ugly cry until months later. I did have another 2 minute cry out of frustration (go figure) but that's because I have trouble articulating myself when emotionally charged. That resulted in my husband in his drug induced state (he was on Oxy, Percocet, Morphine, Seroquel, and Trazadone, among other things at the time) calling down to the hospital flower shop to have flowers delivered to his room for me. Now that I think about it, it does worry me a bit that he was coherent enough to give them his credit card number. That was a few weeks after he had been wounded and I haven't seen any flowers since, however he does still appear to know how to give out his credit card number still. I'm happy to report that none of those drugs are a part of our daily lives anymore so if you read this and are thinking about breaking into my medicine cabinet you'll be SOL. We do have some full, unopened bottles of Colace that you are welcome to take.

I was definitely not happy though when the 2 minute ugly cry presented itself today. I guess I needed it though. I was in a good mood and it changed in a matter of seconds. I have yet to figure that one out. I need a few more ups and downs in my life. Sometimes I don't think people truly understand what our family goes through and how it affects us. People will occasionally ask about one of my husband's obvious injuries and not realize that there are several more things going on and those are the ones usually causing the most issues. If they can't see it then it must not exist I guess. My husband does the best he can to lead a normal life and if you don't know him all that well, they just seem like scars. Because they were able to do a limb salvage people assume that it's not nearly as bad as an amputation. Therefore some people believe that alone considers him as not being severely wounded. I guess if looking like you have body parts that have been through a meat grinder is normal then he must be okay. He must not be in too much pain because he's learned to adjust to life post injury. Wrong again. It's not just the physical injuries either, it's so much more complex than that. I don't even think most of his family understands. No one really sees us on a day to day basis, maybe once or twice a year and it's hard for me to explain what it's truly like unless you've been through it. Some people mean well and try to relate, even though they really can't, and others just disappear. Some wonder why I'm still here and tell me they couldn't do it. Trust me, when you have to, you can and you do because if you don't no one else will. Going through something like this really shows you who your true friends are. It's not contagious. Just because my husband's deployment ended this way doesn't mean your loved one's will too. And just because my husband might seem to be fine now, 28 months later, doesn't mean that's the case. We still need support, maybe more than we can give. We've never asked for monetary donations, or for things to make his life more comfortable. We've never contacted our hometown newspaper or news station to share his story, we've pretty much just kept to ourselves and kept a low profile. That doesn't mean that any of this has ever been easy or that we don't need any support. It can be a very lonely road to travel on. We often feel out of touch with family and friends and sometimes it's even hard to relate to other military families because our situation is so different now. I find that I have a really strong support system online but sometimes it's hard for me to get to know people and try to explain what our life is like. Sometimes I just don't even want to because it's easier to not put myself out there and be criticized. I don't want to make people think that I want them to feel sorry for me or that I'm looking for sympathy. Or God forbid, that I'm whining again. Every day I'm reminded that it could have been worse, yet some people feel the need to constantly point that out to me. Trust me, I'm well aware of that fact and thankful every day that it's not. But sometimes it is still pretty tough and it's hard to just keep a smile on my face and pretend like everything is okay.

While I'd love for people to have a better understanding through first hand knowlege, I don't wish this set of circumstances on anyone. Yes it's definitely made me stronger and made me realize that I can handle a whole lot more than I realized, but a lot of the time I don't feel like a strong person. Often times I feel weak and vulnerable. Sometimes I just want to quit. It's not just a matter of dealing with a wounded warrior, it's the affects that it's had on me and our kids. There's plenty of stress from how my kids behave and act and from my own health issues and insecurities. I've been struggling with depression lately and I have a tendency to let my husband's PTSD moods affect me. I worry about going back to work and how I'm supposed to make commitments to people when I feel like I'm still falling apart at times. I'm terrified of my husband's transition from the military and what's going to happen with our family. There's so much weighing on my mind and it can feel pretty overwhelming. So forgive me, in my moment of weakness, if I need a good 2 minute ugly cry to feel sorry for myself so I can recharge and continue taking on the world.

I'm firing my endocrinologist.

I keep hearing people talk about caregiver burnout and how as a caregiver that you have to remember to take care of yourself too. I've been making an effort to try to lead a healthier lifestyle and take better care of myself but there's still a lot of stuff standing in my way. Or maybe more like shoving me back and holding me down from feeling better.

I finally got to see my endocrinologist after months of not being able to get ahold of him or anyone in his office. I basically forced an appointment to be scheduled via my PCM and the appointment line. My endocrinologist had basically dropped me after my thyroidectomy and I had no follow up care. Turns out the majority of his patients have no been able to get ahold of anyone in the office and calls are not returned because he acknowledged this but offered no explanation.

I also had more bloodwork drawn and my endo commented that he agreed with my PCM about the vitamin D deficiency and would've done the same thing. Bullshit. He wouldn't have bothered to check it in the first place because he's convinced that the TSH is the gold standard of testing and nothing else matters. I told him that I was completely miserable all summer because of either the Synthroid or lack of vitamin D and that I was still having some issues. He tells me that because my TSH is in the 1.2 range (up from 0.005) that it's perfect and if I came to see him with that range he wouldn't treat me. So basically he completely ignored everything that I said about not feeling well simply because of the TSH range. I then asked him about the benefits of adding T3/Cytomel to my Synthroid and he tells me that I don't have a thyroid anymore so there's absolutely no need for T3. He went on to casually blow me off and say "you don't need it, there's no need to test for it, it doesn't matter for you anymore." I knew that he was feeding me a load of crap with his ignorance. He also doesn't see any reason to test for antibodies again even though I have been tested previously by another endocrinologist and not only were they present but they were extremely high.

There came a point during this visit when I realized that I would probably never see him again. I can't say that I was too disappointed by that. Even though he was thrilled with my TSH results, he still for some reason opted to increase my Synthyroid dose. He tells me that my vitamin D level is still at 13 and blames all of my symptoms on that. I tell him that I am struggling with depression and feel the need to get on something to help balance me out. He tells me to wait 2 months and then talk to my PCM about it. It basically comes down to him wanting me to have RAI done but I chose to surgery and now that it's done I'm not his problem anymore. I've been hesitant to add another endo into the mix just because we're coming up on moving soon anyway but this was the last straw. I liked him as a doctor, or I thought I did until this last appointment.

Since he increased my dose of Synthroid from 100mcg to 112mcg, my hair has started falling out again and I've been having both hyper and hypo thyroid symptoms. Unfortunately I'm not even surprised. I'm so exhausted and if I could find away to sleep 24 hours a day lately I would do it. It's almost like the vitamin D therapy isn't working because of the Synthroid.

So in addition to being a wounded warrior's wife and our lives being turned upside down, this is what I get to deal with:

Hair falling out again, with the exception of the gray, including eyebrows and eyelashes.
Racing heart/tightness in my chest
Severe muscle spasms/cramps
Extreme fatigue, yet having problems staying asleep
Memory Loss/Forgetfulness (forgot it was my day to pick up my daughter from school after checking the calendar and talking about it earlier in the day).
Increased IBS symtoms
No periods for the past year and a half
Weight gain
Teeth cracking and breaking from loss of bone density
lowered immune system
nose bleeds
Lack of concentration
Stomach pain
Low tolerance to cold, even in warm weather

I know there's more to that list but I'm too tired to think of it right now. I told my endocrinologist that I'd be picking up my medical records and probably wouldn't see him again.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

TBI Troubles

We are just about to reach the 27th month of my husband's care since he was wounded. It's been a long road and certainly stressful at times, but more recently it's the lack of being able to plan for anything that I'm finding the most difficult - for me anyway. I like to have some control of my situation and be able to have a plan and obviously that is something that doesn't mesh well with military life. I've also learned to let a lot of things go that are out of my control and in turn that seems to ease some of my stress and frustration a little.

It doesn't always work that way though.

One thing that really bothers me is when you do everything that you can and someone else drops the ball. I have an example as recent as yesterday when my husband went for his quarterly visit to the pain clinic. He has degenerative disc disease and a disorder of his tailbone so naturally sitting and standing for long periods of time are really painful for him. He was saying that it's getting hard to stand in formation even for a few minutes but that he's refusing to complain because there are amputees who stand there with him and if they can do it, then he's determined to do the same.

At the appointment, they gave him a shot of cortisone in his back again to help temporarily ease the pain. Mind you, they don't always work. Normally they call in a prescription for pain medication but this time the doctor forgot. He realized before the appointment was up and tried calling it in to the pharmacy but couldn't get ahold of anyone and now my husband is left being the one to jump through hoops to try and get the medication that he needs. That left him not being able to sleep for much of last night and just being in a lot more pain than usual. I felt bad for him because he's not one to want to take any kind of medication unless he absolutely needs it and now that he needed it, he didn't have any to take. I hope it gets straightened out soon for him.

Something that has really been a thorn in my side throughout the two and a half year process of recovery, has been getting a diagnosis of TBI. From day one, I have felt that my husband suffered a mild TBI from the IED blast. I have a picture of the giant crater that the IED left under their vehicle which was not light by any means. I think at least 10 of the surgeries he had were to dig shrapnal out of his wounds and he has several scars all over from where it pierced him. His paperwork even says he suffered a concussion but by the time he got from Bagram, Landstuhl, WRAMC, to BAMC, not much was said or done about TBI. In fact I've felt for a long time that they just glazed over it and didn't take his symptoms seriously. I've mentioned that on several occasions but some of his doctors have just said that it's just part of his PTSD or related to something else going on.

My husband has since admitted that early on he withheld information about what was going on with him because he didn't want to be labeled as being crazy or raise enough red flags that he should be admitted for psych evaluation. One thing that I've stressed to him that I was reminded of again over the weekend, was that everything he does is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Most people don't go to war at all or sustain traumatic injuries. I think he thought that by confessing that he was having some of the TBI symptoms that he felt like something was wrong with him, like he was inadequate. I have to admit, I was happy that he was forthcoming early on about dealing with his PTSD that I didn't even push the issue with TBI until a few months later.

I don't remember if it was a doctor or a nurse who did a simple exam on him and within 5 minutes determined that he didn't have a TBI. What some people don't realize is that some of the symptoms don't show up right away and sometimes they can take months to come to light. If the military does an MRI or CT scan and nothing shows up, in their eyes, that means it doesn't exist.

I started doing more research and realized that there definitely could be a link to the symptoms he has going on and TBI so I encouraged him to talk to his doctor about it more in depth. I went to a few of those appointments with him and explained what I had noticed and apparently it was enough to get him a referral to the TBI clinic at the VA. Normally at this point out, my husband goes to his appointments on his own, but if I tell him that I'd like to go with him or be his second set of eyes and ears, he's perfectly fine with it. There's a lot of stuff he doesn't remember or forgets to write down and he says it's nice to have me there to help him remember what to ask.

I happened to not go with him to the first TBI visit. The first thing they asked him was why are you here and why didn't BAMC take care of this for you? He said that BAMC kind of glossed over any desire to test him for TBI and that he doesn't schedule any of his appointments, his case manager schedules everything for him. They informed him that because BAMC didn't handle it that he might end up being billed for this appointment. Fortunately that didn't end up happening, but the lack of communication just really got under my skin. When it pertains to his injuries that were caused by enemy fire during his service to our country, he shouldn't be billed for anything. Unfortunately it happens more often than not.

While he was at his appointment he filled out a big long questionnaire about his symptoms, etc. Turns out he answered yes to about 80% of what they asked which did finally raise a red flag, or at least enough concern for them to warrant further in depth testing. Hard to believe a 5 minute once over didn't suffice isn't it? I am just glad that things are being taken seriously. I don't want him to have a TBI but if he does I definitely want it to be addressed and to be addressed prior to his medical discharged. If there's anything that can be done while he is still active duty, versus fighting with the VA later on, you'd better believe we're doing just that.

He has another appointment at the TBI clinic tomorrow so hopefully it goes well. I would like to be present for this one but it was scheduled right around the time that our daughter gets out of school and is way across town so I'm not going to be able to be there. In the meantime I've made a list of his symptoms for him again and armed him with some info from my retreat this past weekend to show him what he needs to remember to mention.

I went with him last week to talk to his PCM as well as a legal representative from the SFAC (Soldier & Family Assistance Center) and mentioned to both about how I feel about getting a TBI diagnosis. In the meantime, his PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liason Officer) has been pushing for him to sign his VA claim so they can get it submitted ASAP. Believe me, I would like nothing better than to push this process along, but I am determined that it will be done correctly the first time. I don't want him to have to appeal and start the process over, I want to get this show on the road as much as the next person. Like I said, it's been almost 27 months. I personally would like to get off of this roller coaster. That being said, don't push him to sign something when he feels he needs to wait for the results of this TBI appointment and we have a chance to go over everything with a fine tooth comb with JAG next week. The legal rep from the SFAC told us that the attorney may request a hold to be put on the paperwork/PEB process pending the outcome of the TBI stuff. If that's what it takes, then I'm all for it. I just want things to be done right and to have him evaluated fairly. After all of the sacrifices that he's made, I don't think that's asking too much.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Letting It All Out

I'm hoping that by blogging again that I can just let out the things that are frustrating me and then let go of them since I don't have any control. I attended a retreat this past weekend for wives of wounded warriors (more about that in another blog) and learned how to cope with everything and not let it weigh me down so much. Well right now I need to just dump out that bucket of crap because it's threatening to spill over and this is the best way that I can find to do it.

This started out as a blog for my shop and then a blog about my husband's injuries but today's post is about me. I seem to have no shortage of ways to talk about myself. I never blogged about my surgery this past Spring because life picked right back up and moved on too quickly for me to slow down and write about everything. In a nutshell, I had a complete thyroidectomy for my Graves Disease and subsequently developed a hematoma and MRSA in my incision. During surgery I had a parathyroid gland that was stuck to my thyroid and damaged, leaving me with hypocalcemia and in and out of ICU. I figured why let my husband have all of the fun in the hospital, you know?

After surgery I was followed by my endocrinologist one time and given a 100 mcg dose of Synthroid. I spent the next 6 months trying to contact my doctor to be seen again because I started having a lot of problems from the dose that I was on but had no luck. I finally went to see my PCM out of frustration and he put in a new referral to force them to schedule an appointment with the endocrinology clinic. The earliest I could be seen was three months out and I still have another month to wait.

In the meantime, I have lost at least half of my hair, gained 25 pounds, developed intense muscle spasms, and my skin began to feel like an oil slick. Could I please feel any less attractive? I try to have a good body image but that sure makes it difficult. I finally got so tired of seeing clumps of hair at my feet in the shower and literally clogging the drain, that I went and had most of it cut off.

My PCM had labs drawn to check my thyroid hormone levels and he called me while I was sitting in the airport waiting to catch a flight home this weekend. Well it turns out that my Vitamin D levels are pretty low and it's most likely because my endocrinologist was too quick to pull me off of my Calcitriol that I was taking for the hypocalcemia. Of course he hasn't been following me post surgery progress so I would never have known if I hadn't scheduled a visit with my PCM. So now I'm on a dose of 50,000 units of Vitamin D for the next 12 weeks to bring it back up to a healthy level.

I have to say, I'm kind of angry about the whole thing. My husband gets excellent care and can barely breathe without someone scheduling an appointment for something. It is just so wrong for an endocrinologist to not follow up with their patient after surgery. I realize that he wanted me to have RAI instead of surgery, but let's remember that this is my body and therefore my choice for treatment. If we weren't looking at moving again soon, I would gather up my medical records and request a new endocrinologist from Tricare.

So frustration with that aside, I really hope that I can tolerate the weekly dose of Vitamin D and that I feel a lot better soon. I must be the only person in south Texas who has a problem from lack of sun. I need to start drinking milk on a regular basis again too and I am definitely not a big fan to say the least. Drinking a glass every day will probably pack on more weight but if the extra Vitamin D helps combat the muscle spasms, then maybe I will finally be able to work out again.

My biggest gripe lately is my skin. Because it got so oily feeling and with me having bad acne issues in my teens, I figured the best way to dry it up would be to use a facial scrub with a small amount of salicylic acid in it. Let me say right away, that that was a really bad idea. This was not acne. The salicylic acid actually burned my skin. It's red and extremely dry and feels like a wind or a sunburn. Even using my moisturizer is painful. Other than standing in the shower and letting the warm water run over my face, I leave it alone these days. Putting on makeup, even mineral makeup is so uncomfortable. I feel like my skin is just cracking and it's just raw. Hopefully I can bring things under control soon. It's certainly livable but just really annoying.

As frustrating as this health stuff has been, at least it all makes sense now. I thought all along that I needed my Synthroid dose adjusted and that might not even be the case now. There is still no excuse for my endocrinologist not doing anything, but at least I have a better understanding of what caused this and an option to treat it and feel better. I just hope it works!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I'm extremely lucky. Many times I've mentioned how I've lost alot of people in my life. In fact my family and I have light heartedly joked about the fact that we should consider buying stock in the local funeral home back in my home town. I think it's safe to say that I've been to a few funerals, be it friends or relatives. All of my grandparents are gone now, the last one during my husband's first deployment. I also lost my mom during that first deployment. She was close to her mom and I was close to her. Come to think of it, everyone loved both my mom and my grandma.

In working through my grief, I found a few online support groups for Motherless Daughters, Moms without Moms, etc. I found other women and moms like myself who were dealing with the tremendous loss of life without our mothers. It was wonderful to find other women who could understand the desire to smack the crap out of anyone who would brag about spending time with their moms and doing this and that and shopping for baby gear and doing lunch, and all of that other vomitous stuff that we didn't care to hear about.

My mom had died while I was pregnant with the first born grandchild who she never got to meet and I recall her being in the hospital at the time and telling every nurse or doctor who came in to check on her that she was going to be a grandma. She was buried shortly before I found out the sex of the baby but right of the bat she had insisted that I was having a girl, and sure enough she was right.

After I posted my story in some of the support groups, I realized that I wasn't being entirely forthcoming about my situation. The truth is, I really can't consider myself a mom without a mom. Of course I have a stepmom, a mother in law, and a wonderful stepmother in law (not to take away from the other two), but the blessings don't just end there.

I have another mom, my first mom, the one who gave birth to me and then made the heartwrenching decision to give me up for adoption. I've always known that I was adopted for as long as I can remember. My parents were 100% supportive in me searching for my birthmom when I turned 18 and even offered to help me. Both of them felt that if they were in my shoes, they would feel like a part of them would be missing and they would just want to know everything they could. It was a comfort to have their blessing and support.

In 2006, it was actually my birthmom who found me. We had both been looking for each other and had registered on I was so glad to get to know her but that's also the year we moved to TX so it's been hard to get the chance to spend a lot of time together. I'd be happy to move next door if I could and bug her for the next 30 years since I missed the first 30.

While the majority of people are happy for me, there have also been people who have been surprised and seemed like they felt that I was trying to replace my mom. It's hard for me to explain, but that's really not the case at all. It's just different in a way I can't really describe. It's a good different though and I count my blessings. I just wish that I lived closer because I feel like I'm missing out on so much and missing the chance to get to know that part of my family better. Hopefully that will change someday and there will be less miles in between us.

Friday, April 2, 2010

21 months

21 months ago today all of this started. It's really just another day around here but then I get to thinking, wow, we've been doing this for awhile now. Other times it seems like it was yesterday. I hate being in limbo. Part of me doesn't want to leave the safety (ha ha whatever) and security of the military and part of me is just ready to get on with our lives. Of course the military and the war will always be with us. The war will never end in our house and the scars will never go away.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Double Standard

My husband is delusional.

It drives me nuts.

The stomach flu hit our house this week, mainly him and I, and hopefully it will skip right over the kids. That's probably me being delusional, but I really don't want them to have to go through that.

So anyway, it hit me first, early Monday morning. Somehow I managed to get our daughter dressed and ready for school and then feed our son breakfast before becoming one with the couch. Every time I got up I instantly felt sick so I spent about 85% of the day on the couch. Unfortunately, my 3 year old didn't think that was the greatest idea and saw fit to basically destroy the house when I couldn't convince him to sit down and watch the Disney channel. Oh yes, I wanted the TV to babysit my kid so that I didn't have to move.

Normally my husband is also home for part of the day, but on this particular day he happened to have 4 appointments. I think I picked the worst day to get sick because he was gone all day and couldn't pick up our daughter from school and I had to drag myself out of the house to get her. When my husband was home, he did nothing but complain about me laying around. It seemed like he was constantly yelling at me, even over the phone before he got home. At one point he even told me that I didn't have the flu and was just being lazy like I am every other day. Honestly, I could not have cared less but it did irritate me.

Well you know what they say about karma. Later that evening my husband developed a fever and just listening you'd swear that the world was coming to an end. He even yelled at me that he had a headache and a fever and I said "forgive me if I don't give a ----" and "sorry if I don't feel bad for you." Sure enough, he was up all night and did nothing but sleep for 18 hours on Tuesday. I sure do love the double standards.

So now that we are both feeling better for the most part, I asked him how he felt when he was in the middle of it and said that maybe next time he ought to cut me some slack. And he said....

"Well that was no different for you, you do that every day."

Yeah and I suppose there's a dish fairy who gets the dishes done and a laundry fairy that gets that done, oh and maybe someone else gets the kids bathed and ready and does homework with them.

Bite me dude.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

20 Months

It's hard for me to believe that we are closing in on my husband's 2nd Alive Day. I never thought we would be here for 2 years. It feels like we're so close to the next chapter, the end is in sight but we're still not quite there. We've been talking about my moving with one or both of the kids over the summer, so we won't have to have our daughter switch schools in the middle of the year. I said something to my counselor about it and she thought I was talking about a marital separation. I'm not looking forward to living in separate states, but being a military family, I guess we're just accustomed to being apart. That aside, we just have to get on with our lives and I need to get back to working full time again and find a house, etc. It feels like our lives have been on hold for 20 months. 20 months and 20 surgeries, and surprise, there's another one coming up. Soon it will be 21 months and 21 surgeries.

Not to be outdone, I'll be having surgery myself later this month. I've decided that I hate been and having the metabolism of a teenager and would prefer to have no metabolism at all. All kidding aside, I'm having a thyroidectomy to treat my Graves' Disease. I could've had it treated with RAI, and not be cut open but without going into detail, I think surgery is the right option for me. It's certainly not an overnight decision, in fact, I've been thinking about it for about 4 years now.

Today I finally did something that I've also been talking about since my husband was released from the hospital. I went to the spa on post and had a deep tissue massage and a deluxe pedicure. Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It used to bother me a lot more but now it's more infrequent, but when I have a flare up, it's still pretty uncomfortable. The best way I that I can describe it is that it's like a nauseating pain and achy feeling. I have these trigger points that are very painful when pressure is applied to them and that's exactly what I had done today. I've read that a deep tissue massage is a good choice for fibromyalgia patients but painful and it was indeed painful and I'm definitely tender but surviving just fine. What put it into perspective for me and made me realize that it was pretty trivial, was when my massage therapist was telling me about one of his regular clients who is a wounded warrior who lost both of his arms and both legs overseas. It really makes you feel grateful for what you have.


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