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!


  1. To the nurse case manager: You are a nurse. A good nurse understands that a family is a part of the patient so you treat them with kindness too. I wish I could punch her for you.

    Those wound vacs can be beyond irritating.

    1. Army nurse- so no wonder HE never learned to have good bedside manner! It was a shitty, shitty day for EVERYONE. And I never.saw.him.again!

  2. Wow. The fact that they botched the notification so poorly is unacceptable. My husband is a casualty notification officer and I am very familiar with the procedure that goes into making those notifications. They are in place so that stuff like that doesn't happen. And while whoever was coordinating the notification wasn't responsible for calling your personally he or she was responsible for making sure that the notification had been performed properly. Total lack of professionalism in my opinion. I am so sorry you had to go through that.

    1. Thank you. I can say that the entire battalion has learned from my experience and notifications since then have gone pretty well- phone and in person. It took me about two months to address it all because I was so livid. And I'm sorry your husband has to do that- I know it's a huge toll on you both. You see and hear something most don't. Thank you for supporting him.

  3. God bless.

  4. Wow, Kat. Just reading this makes me so incredibly angry for you. I hope writing this all out helps you with the letting go. I can't believe your notification was so completely screwed up. I really hope these people realize what they've done.

  5. I am surprised their isn't "dear Hilary, you can never drive me to an airport again. Your driving blows." ;) loveyou, meanit. Can't wait to visit!

  6. :-( I'm so sorry. That all just stinks.

    I'm so proud of you, though, for reaching the "angry and moving on" point. One day I'll get there. One day.... :-)

    You're quite an encouragement!

  7. hmm..I thought I commented on this one but maybe I botched it Im not great with technology but I wanted to say that as a wounded warrior wife myself, we have to remember that all the people involved in our husbands care are human and sometimes mistakes are made. The military as a whole as well as bethesda/walter reed, really do try very hard to make sure all needs are met. They aren't out to get anyone.