Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We do not have problems today.

How children grow angel wings I will never understand. But Lily's work was done, and she will be there to greet her mother, uncles, aunt, and grandparents when the time has come for them to join her. 3 months on Earth... just enough time to eternally change everyone who held her. One of her uncles is a very good friend of mine, and I hope to find the words to console him.

We do not have problems today.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Letting Go. (Again).

This is the last post I will write about how certain things went down when I first found out about Aaron's injury, and the subsequent weeks. It has been four months and 18 days since life went squirrel-y. He was deployed a total of 5 months and 14 days before he was hit, and as I near that mile marker for recovery, I have to let go. It's hard- so much of my life has been surviving various terrible and negative experiences that I never learned to move on. I learned to accept and survive, which is different and not as healthy. Nearly 30 years old and still struggling, but I'm not ashamed. We never stop learning, do we?

Dear Notifier,
  I know you know you botched my notification. Botched would be an understatement, actually. You possibly could not have done worse if you tried. And when you had the chance to apologize for what you did to me and Aaron's family, you instead talked about how you'd been helping us all along, how you did me a favor by knocking on my door instead of letting the Big Army call me. At least the Big Army would have told me about his injuries up front, instead of making a personal decision not to. When you made that decision, you obviously didn't wonder who was going to tell me. Thankfully, it was someone who is kind, who knew me, and felt a whole lot of pain while doing it. So frankly, you suck. You're sort of a terrible person to me and it's a sad affair that you're a leader in the military. I will never forget you, and I mean that in the most negative sense. You are a black mark on my life; in my darkest hour, you made it worse. I know you don't know this, and I know it doesn't matter- but writing this has helped me feel better, and now I feel like I can forget as much about you as possible. I am glad there will never be another occasion in which we will need to speak.

Dear Absent Officer,
  I actually don't have much of a personal problem with you. Facts are facts, though. You sent someone to notify me and assumed that happened. For whatever reason, you chose not to call me that day. Maybe it's because you had no idea who I was. Maybe you didn't feel any obligation whatsoever to call the spouse, which is fine. Again, not personal. But fact is, you didn't double check and you are solely responsible for notifying our unit's entire FRG email list of my husband's injuries before me, therefore delaying notifying others who loved Aaron. I think you know this, and that's why you did try very hard to help me with other tough business in your final days in your position. I will always appreciate that, even if I won't ever forget that you were completely negligent with my notification. I know you thought the job had been done when you wrote that email. Not your fault there. The email was inappropriate, and you should have called me first. You made a decision that I didn't deserve to have any say in what you wrote about my husband's injuries. I only and simply thank God I didn't read it, or that his parents weren't on that list. You might have been responsible for a medical emergency had that happened. Thanks for what you tried to do, and I hope you learned from it. We're good.

Dear Big Army Lady On The Phone,
  I would tell your children that you're a terrible person. Because of your bad information, I thought I'd only go to Germany if Aaron wasn't coming home. That was not true and is not Army policy, but it took about a dozen phone calls to convince me that actually going to Germany didn't mean my husband was dying. I flipped out completely because you were lazy at your job. Please go do something else. Anything else. Just nothing to do with people. You suck, too. A lot.

Dear FIRST Nurse Case Manager,
  We both know telling me to "just deal with it" was possibly the worst choice of words possible on my third or fourth day with my husband in ICU. I am sure it was as bad a day for you as it was for me, and that you're equally happy that we don't have to deal with each other further. I heard you're good with soldiers but not with us, the "others", the families- so consider that the next time you need to change positions. No worries.

Dear Wound Vacuum Machines,
  Your beeping could induce an anxiety attack in this woman (and my husband). I would love to skeet shoot the lot of you off the hospital roof. A few nurses would join me. Even though it's been months since I heard your little noise, I can still hear it in my head. (This one is a dual-edged sword because I know the wound vacs do great things, but when those things don't work, it's hell. I promise.)

Dear Building People,
  I love our apartment. I really do. I don't love things slowly falling apart (new building, first year, it happens), or that the trash dumpster is as far away as it could possibly be, and not handicap accessible in any way whatsoever. A lump of asphalt off the curb is NOT a wheelchair ramp, as well. Please do this wonderful building justice and get stuff right. Did any one of you at any point sit in a wheelchair and attempt to do everything in this building those wounded must do? Anyone?


I guess that's about it. It all comes down to negativity. I was reading this psychology article on the science of letting go. It's not something I ever learned in childhood or after, so I'm working hard on it now. Do I just want to say my peace? Be heard by someone who actually helps? Does it even really matter? I do feel better after writing this. I just want the optional negativity out. There's enough on this journey as it is. There's even some in the future we know will come, so I'm trying to clean house now. I don't want to hear it, see it, smell it, or taste it. I don't want phone calls from people to talk about anything negative. I'm just not in that place right now, for whatever reason. And to sign off, I'm going to dedicate some space to the good things I've experienced:

  • Friends who were there for me immediately. 
  • A unit full of soldiers who have reached out to Aaron and me.
  • The Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation and the family it has brought us. 
  • Good relationships with my family and Aaron's.
  • Strangers- complete strangers- who have supported us in a dozen different and wonderful ways.
  • The medical care Aaron has received. 
  • The apartments on hospital grounds provided for us.
  • Our current nurse case manager and the next one to come. 
  • Our love.
And after THAT list, I do feel better! Love Conquers All!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Be. Nice!

I've been feeling all after-school special-y lately. Well, in my own special way. Think: BE EFFING NICE, PEOPLE. I just don't understand why some people intentionally reach out to be rude, mean, and cruel. I can't imagine judging someone for something they can't help- like illness or sexuality. I don't believe in hating on certain group of people because one of those kinds of people hurt me or someone I love. When I encounter someone like that, my first thought is to be understanding: Obviously the hatin' person experienced something wholly negative with X, and since I don't know what it's like I won't judge his or her entire character.

Don't get me wrong, I have spent a good portion of my life being angry. The last near-five months (FIVE MONTHS, HOLY CRAP) have been chock full of really angry moments. I can't remember what it was, but I was having to deal with some entity that wasn't being nice. I deliberately waited until I was pissed off about something else to make a phone call. I guess my knee-jerk reaction to a difficult and rude situation is to fight back. "Oh yeah? Wanna be rude? FINE. I WIN." Everyone has their rough days. I try to keep it to myself, take my meds, and drink a glass of wine. Or just sit in silence. More than once I've told my husband that we're going to be quiet for awhile so I can sit and stew. It happens.

So, I bought the first thing that has to do with a baby: a basal thermometer. Nope, we're not trying. I mean, we're practicing (BIG GRIN) but as long as he's on testosterone we aren't trying. We won't be trying until he's been off the T for about 3-6 months and his swimmers have been tested to see if we should even "try". But, I figure I might as well find out everything I can about my stuff. Aaron wants to spend a few months trying naturally if the numbers are in our favor. I'm a little more realistic/pessimistic about it, mainly because hope kills so I try not to engage in banking on a good turn of events in our favor. The ability to have children is never guaranteed to any of us, but it definitely sucks when you have to walk the path of alternative methods to become parents. I have accepted that IVF is most likely going to be a part of our process and I'm okay with that. But yay for me figuring my junk out so when and if it's time to rumble, I'll be ready!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their lives at the moment. A smile can go a long way- give one away today!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I can hear Aaron snoring in the bedroom. I stayed up late to get a few things done without hearing my name called 15 times an hour. Today was a little rough, with anxiety high for both of us. I think I'm also transitioning emotional- again- to a new place and that has me feeling a little rocky. I can all too easily recall the early days of this new life. People remind me how far I've come. I just feel so lucky, so blessed, every single day.

I don't ever want another day without that face in front of mine. He's the best person I know and the only life I want is the one with him in it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I don't know what it was about last night's sleep- because it wasn't that good- but I woke up feeling like I've been a real whiny loser lately! I'm not being too hard on myself- I know it's true. It's so easy to let the frustrations, pain, and annoyances of this place get to me. It kind of builds up, then something really unnecessary happens and I blow a gasket. Yesterday, I did all the things I needed to do to register for school only to find out there was something stupid holding my account. I just lost it. I was still upset about some nastiness hurled my way, too- a week ago.

But then dinner happened. The Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation had everyone out to a local Mexican place- their treat. There were families, babies, girlfriends, and friends. Aaron's battalion commander and sergeant major had come down and joined us, as well. It was just such a good evening to shoot the shit with these people. Then Aaron and I went out with Kiel, another wounded from the company. I learned a lot listening to those guys talk.

I let depression into my life for a little while and I'm glad to send it on its way. I let someone else's negativity affect me, and I'm stupid for doing that. I guess I am just more sensitive to things now. It's not that one particular person matters enough to upset me, it's the whole ugly act that ruined a few days for me. It's also a lack of understanding on my part, as well. I don't know what it's like to take a deployment so negatively, so difficultly, that the only way I can feel better is to harass a wounded unit soldier and his wife even after being asked repeatedly to stop. I don't know what it's like to read a sentence on a blog written by the wife of an amputee, who has greeted two more unit comrades at the hospital, and take it so personally I can't function without telling her exactly what I think of her, or provoking her husband to agree with me. That has got to be a rough and depressing deployment existence and I absolutely don't know what that's like. So even though I will never excuse the behavior because we're all adults here, I can at least say that I don't know what it's like to be her; therefore, I don't know where her vitriol comes from, so I won't judge her personality or character. I would definitely never call her a dishonor to the unit and her husband.

I realize I talk a lot about what it's like for me to be here, as if it's unique and special. It comes off as indignant, maybe. Like I expect a medal. I don't think I'm doing anything that any loving wife wouldn't do. There is nothing extraordinary going on here. I guess I keep talking about it because I don't know if people understand or not. At four months of writing this, living it, taking it in and letting it all out, people either get that they don't understand or they don't. I can't keep going on about how life is different here. It is what it is, and I am going to approach it as just life. It's a beautiful one, too.

Aaron just rolled in from driving class and let me know that he blew the instructor away. I am so proud of him. Looks like we'll be car shopping soon enough!!!! And i'm off to be VERY NICE to the college people so they can fix my account, and I can finally register. I WILL BE NICE, I WILL BE NICE... ;)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting. And then some more stuff.

Well, it looks like my Military Spouse of the Year nomination was a fluke. I was nominated, and my name was on the web site, but I didn't make the final five. I wasn't sure that I was the right spouse for the job, anyway. I live in a gritty, honest world and we all know only the pretty and triumphant tend to grace those pages. Aaron and I are triumphant every day, but we haven't quite "arrived" yet. So I'm all good!

Yesterday just took it out of me. I went with Aaron to a few of his appointments, and it was just wait, wait, wait. And of course no one tells you it takes 1.5 hours to process paperwork, or an hour to fill two prescriptions on that pharmacy (Aaron has a "warrior card" that puts him ahead of the thick at the pharmacy to prevent that, but whatever). Sometimes, it's just all stupid. We came home and had about half an hour before dinner, and I just sat down and didn't say a word. Aaron missed his most important appointments- PT/OT- because of BS and it was just so frustrating. But we all know how it is- that's the way it's always been, so that's the way it'll always be! Why fix what's broken but everybody still engages?!

You know,  I try not to let mean and crazy people live rent-free in my head but sometimes it's hard to shake being angry and frustrated that you've been judged by people who honestly have no clue what your life is like. It's not that it hurts; it's just infuriating. I feel like it's almost as if someone is ungrateful for what is going on here. Not just me, but all the families here. We count pills, attend appointments, give injections, carry limbs, treat wounds, pick up dropped things that can't be reached by a man in a wheelchair, do all the housekeeping, forget to feed ourselves some days- the list goes on. Some of us might not ever conceive a child because of the injuries. And we do all this for your soldier's wounded comrade. It's not just my husband, it's the soldier yours served with. I'm taking damn good care of him. I just honestly don't understand how someone could call me a dishonor to my husband and his unit. Perhaps it's indignant of me, but I don't think anyone has any business judging a damn thing I say until the bottom of their shoes look like mine. No one else's opinion really matters so much to me that I'm going to think of every single person as I write and say the things I do, anyway. I'm sharing my journey, and everyone can take it or leave it. Don't get your feelings hurt- it's not personal.

Three months ago I was burning up the ground between the Navy Lodge and the hospital, and it felt like hell. Two months ago we were discharged from the hospital and put into our little apartment on hospital grounds, and it was overwhelming and beautiful and beyond difficult. A month ago we were getting ready to go home for Christmas, something we didn't even think was going to be possible. This is one hell of journey we're on, with its emotional ups and downs. Deployment was rough, no doubt. But I'd give anything to be back in those shoes instead of these. But this is the path we were put on, and we're going to own it. We are going to be the best we'll ever be, and blaze away from here in about year. It's changing me and him all the time, and at the end of the day I will always say this: I am lucky to be here with him. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I recently reviewed everything I posted online about Aaron's incident, since the day I received my knock. Man, I've been a lot of places emotionally! I've recently come to a point where I don't want to talk about my notification anymore, or our first few days and weeks here at the hospital. There's a lot inside of me still waiting to get out about those harrowing moments, but progress and adjustment have finally come along our way.

I live at a hospital. My street address is the same as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's (mostly referred to simply as "Bethesda"). I am not yet comfortable having to be anywhere away from Aaron, so I'm not going attend college classes this term, but take them online. I live in generous government housing on hospital grounds. I'm learning about DC area driving and what places to avoid (I'm looking at you, Georgetown and 495 around Falls Church).

Aaron goes to physical therapy and occupational therapy every day. I usually join him, unless I feel that I need to get caught up on housework or various other errands. I feel grateful everyday that I wake up next to him, and know that we're not getting out of bed until we've adequately cuddled.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that simply, this has become life. It's home now. This doesn't feel weird. Seeing a group of triple amputees drag each other on the floor by electric wheelchairs was just funny and not "wow, that's odd" funny. Just funny. Just being part of it.

I will never know who I was going to be had this not happened to Aaron. I can't remember too much about ourselves from "before"- he's so honestly positive and has the best sense of humor about it all that I suppose I think he's always been this way. Or at least, this is the man I love. After a bit of deployment drama, he sat in the tub and talked about what was good about deployment: "Having babies is good. People getting married is good. Coming home is good. We should focus on these things." It was just so simple and true, I could have cried.

I'm in a good place with my husband and family and those who are truly my friends. I was a regular Army EOD wife for 18 months, and now I'm a warrior wife for my hero husband. I'm good, folks. Doing just fine.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Roll Tide!!!!

We made it!!!! Aaron was a trooper with all the airport business. I did pretty well managing all the bags! While I will never agree with or support TSA policies and practices, everyone was as respectful as they could be. Delta was excellent with us, too.

The hotel isn't in the best part of town and all the fast food joints sketch me out, so I hit up a Family Dollar across the street. Sure, it's all processed, but I know what's not in it!!!

Roll Tide!!! We're so lucky to be here!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Not A Real Problem...

It's wonderful that we were gifted the BCS Bama/LSU tickets. We were always going to say yes. I just wish I knew how to plan better! I should have just bought the "expensive" airfare in and out of New Orleans. Even though the price seemed crazy, it would have prevented a lot of headache and extra dollars spent. I had to cancel our original arrival flight because it went into Houston. See, the first plan was to fly into Houston and stay with friends, rent a car, then drive over for the game the day of (kickoff isn't until 730pm). We would somehow get to the game. Then drive out Tuesday back to Houston, stay with friends again, and fly out. The Houston airfare was about $400 total versus the direct NOLA airfare of $800. Since the car was going to be dropped off in the same place it was picked up, we were getting a great deal of $20 per day. Well, we got handicap accessible seating but it came with a change in plans- we had to be at the Superdome by noon. So, I canceled the flight into Houston, eating $150. At least we got the other $90 back. One-way into NOLA is $400. Add a night at the hotel at about $200. Pay for a one way car rental, $89. Schedule a car to take us from the Superdome back to the hotel- $160 because traffic is going to be that bad. We could have just gambled on a taxi, but this place is going to be nuttier than any Mardi Gras I've ever been to. At least I get to see some long lost friends in Houston, and attend a once-in-a-lifetime game (two SEC teams- including my Bama- in the BCS bowl!). I'm so, so grateful. It's just always something, though. A lot of this has developed so last minute. At least one friend is willing to dedicate her game day morning to taking us to the stadium. Since we were gifted the tickets so late in the game, everything has been astronomical. The only reason we have the transportation after the game is because one company was willing to put out their wheelchair van (and my cousin called 8 other places). At least we can stay for the whole game. When it was looking like a cab was our only choice, we were going to dip out early. Safety reasons- I think this is going to be the most unsafe football game of the last century.

So, there's a lot of "at least" in there, which makes it all worth it. The price of the trip is still less than what 1 ticket is going for on Stub Hub. Right now- and I mean in this current moment- I'm just a little taxed. I've done a lot of calling and asking around, and had some help. Argh. I am glad we will take a break from traveling when we return on Wednesday.

I really am grateful. I am spoiled rotten to be about to drop $1500 on this trip (before gas, tips, and food). Spoiled. Rotten. But it doesn't mean I don't get stressed... and I still have to pack! Roll Tide!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Welcome back to me!

Annnnnd.... we're back! The two weeks back in Alabama was wonderful. We had a good dose of family and best friends. Of course, it went by entirely too quickly and now we're back to the grind. Well, not for long...

We're going to the BCS Championship game! We're both born and bred Alabama fans (I attended the university, as well) and are so excited to be given this opportunity. Seats 4 Soldiers donated the tickets to us. They saw the CNN clip in which Aaron was wearing a "Roll Tide" t-shirt and decided to help us start our year off right. It's been a process on working accommodations in NOLA out so close to the game, but everything finally worked out today. We're just glad the hotel had room for an extra night.

Aaron also grew 5 inches his first day back. His legs now have knees that bend so he can wear them in his wheelchair, and wear them longer. Even being back for less than 24 hours has progress.

This year, I'm letting go. I'm letting go of all the hurt from last year. I'm letting go of not-friends, a horrible injury notification, and the anger that came with our current situation. Aaron is the most positive person I have ever known, we have the best marriage I've ever seen (although I might be partial), and we both have incredible support systems. I don't have a good reason to be negative or angry anymore. At least, not to the extent that it upsets my everyday.

So until next time, Roll Tide from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center!