Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lazy river of hope.

We maybe, just maybe might have finally hit some kind of stride. Granted, this is just two weeks before major surgery, but I really feel that emotionally we really have arrived. Even though our schedule for the next two months is a bit wack, and we have no idea what we're doing for convalescent leave after surgery, I feel pretty good.

A lot of this has to do with a platoon change. Where we were was not working. I liked our nurse case manager, but I felt like I had to double-check everything. There were functions and meetings that our squad leader never seemed to know about. I am not sure what he was supposed to be doing, but harassing us seemed to be the only thing he could do. I finally came to an understanding with the first sergeant about all of this, including the room inspections. I just felt like we couldn't win in our current situation- we could do it all right, go to our appointments, but someone, somewhere wasn't going to be doing his job. I absolutely lost it at the ortho office because it seems they can never get the wait under control. Anyway, that's all better. First sergeant transferred us to his "A team", which I imagine is reserved for people who need a lot of assistance. I don't need that, just for people to do what is simply their jobs.

And yes, homecoming is soon! We are really excited to go back and welcome everyone home. All the wounded will go out to the flight line. I am permitted to go, but won't. My place, even if it's just for moment, is back with the wives who have waited for their husbands to return home. Even for just an hour, I can be back where I belong. Also, I know that there are things Aaron is going to feel and say that aren't for me. That's for him and the men he served with, especially his team. Two men are responsible for saving his life and that's his moment. I'll have my own moment with them. Also, I don't want to see my friends' husbands before they do! Awkward.

I'm okay with homecoming. Really. Most of the families in the unit have been nothing but supportive, friendly, thoughtful, and kind to Aaron and me. The company has kept in great contact, and battalion got us lodging and permissive TDY to attend. If Aaron was going to get hurt, I am glad he was with these guys. There are some legitimate horror stories out there that would make your skin crawl- battalions that don't call wives, companies which don't call the husbands, non-notifications, and overall neglect. I did not experience any of this with the people Aaron worked with, and got quite the opposite. I know, despite what I have experienced, I am a spoiled, lucky, proud, and blessed warrior wife.

In other news, the dealership we bought our Volvo from and traded in the Focus for, sold the Focus without paying off our loan first. The manager seems to think he has every right to not pay off a car he already sold because the VA grant hasn't come in. Aaron wants to wait this one out, but I am livid. As soon as our loan is paid off, I'm finding this man's boss. What he did was nothing short of theft and a complete breech of contract. I would buy from our salesman again, but never deal with the manager in the future. He's a swindler. Isn't that just so awesome! I don't even know how some of this stuff happens.

Well, I hope everyone is enjoying their week okay!

Monday, March 19, 2012


No matter how hard I try not to live in anger, some days are so full of bullshit that I completely lose it by 2 o'clock. We did do a platoon change, so hopefully that will help alleviate some of the excess crap. It's not that anyone was particularly terrible; it's just that so many people weren't doing enough "little" things that it ruined the whole lot. And sobbing in the first sergeant's office probably helped the decision along, as well.

Then there was the new car issue. At the end of January, we bought a Volvo XC60 (love it). We decided to trade in my Focus to bring the cost down some. We were also using our one-time VA grant. All in all, we wrote a very large check for the difference in what they offered for the Focus, what was left on the loan, and everything left after the grant. The check cleared within two days. Well, last week we got word that our Focus was never paid off! And to add to it, the dealer tags are due to expire in about a week. They also had not received the VA grant. The dealer manager nor our salesman knew what was going on. It seems there some combination of a finance manager quitting and accounting sucking that lead to such a huge grievance. Apparently, though, the sales manager seems to think he doesn't/didn't have to pay off the Focus until the VA grant came in. We're letting this slide for the time being, only because we know we can get them a grant check in a few days but we will be asking why he decided to not pay on the Focus and not tell us. He knew how long the VA grant took to come in and should have called when it didn't show.

What a mess. Our day did get better, though. I test drove a new Challenger and I'm pretty convinced that if I want a car for my 30th birthday, that is the one for me. It'll all depend where we are in this journey, what I'm doing, and whatnot. But we will eventually require two cars to function seamlessly. And why not a red sports car to feed my rebellious side?!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nearing the end.

OMG, it's been a hot minute. We got back from Vail, CO this past weekend. If you're facebook buddies with me, I posted the pictures and video. Aaron rocked the monoski, of course. We went to the spa for massages a few times, and ate some delicious food. I met Ryan and Trista Stutter (only Bachlorette success story). He's still a firefighter there. I sort of learned to ski, and decided that winter sports just aren't my style. Way too many assholes involved! I'm not one to get excited about trusting other human beings not to hit me when they ski within 5 feet of my very-beginner self. I got to know some other warrior wives a little better and overall, had the time of my life. I haven't been able to really articulate the trip, but pictures speak words I can not.

The deployment for the Aaron's unit is nearing its long awaited end. Facebook is blowing up with countdown posts and exclamation points. We're going up for it, of course. The unit will be whole once more and that's probably the most exciting thing. Oh, and Aaron will see the guys who saved his life for the first time since he was injured. That is going to be a big moment for him. I am excited to see the wives. My battle buddies have visited, but a lot of other wives in the unit have shown Aaron and I great support and I can't wait to thank and see them.

And then my tenure as an Army wife will be done! Although Aaron is still "active duty" as long as he's in recovery, and I'm sure EOD will always be a part of our lives, the end of this deployment marks the end of being a "regular" military spouse. No more FRG emails (yes, I still get them- it helps to keep up with the unit even if I do feel really disconnected) or updates. A lot of those I know are PCSing later this year and riding off into their Army futures. Everything I know about being in the Army life will simply fade instead of morph into a new phase.

I thought I was upset about all of this, but it's okay. I got gypped out of well, a lot of things, least of all a successful deployment and homecoming. I'm just glad everyone is coming home, or has come home, alive and themselves, if not in one piece. Even though my Army wife time was short, I had some pretty rare and profound experiences. I think I'll just tell myself I had all the "fun" of a decade-long tour in just under two years! It is what it is.

Hope everyone is doing well and such. It's been beautiful weather here in Bethesda, and I have stocked up on warm weather clothes. I had absolutely nothing prior to my trip this evening. Thank you, H&M. (I also bought the most adorable dress from a kids' department and I will be mortified if I show up somewhere and am wearing the same thing as a 10-year-old. But it looked really good on me.).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stumbling forward.

In four days, it will have been half a year since Aaron was blown up. And in nine days, we'll have spent half a year here. I don't usually catch the anniversary date of injury and arrival here; usually it's an afterthought a day or two later. I guess we're too concerned with each day to really focus on that.

What's frustrating me the most is that Aaron isn't going as fast as he'd like to be. The fact that he's still having pain management problems is a huge issue. It affects his rehab and how often he can get on his legs. It seems that so many other double above-knee guys are going so much faster than he is. Aaron would like to be farther along, but there's just too much shit going on with his body. His legs are shrinking around the HO. He doesn't sleep. And now one of his meds wasn't called in, so we'll see how it goes the next week without a nerve medication. We're going to Vale, Colorado for a wounded warrior ski/snowboard trip. I really had to push him last week not to cancel, since this is the only fun he'll have before his HO surgery. After that, it's four-six weeks back in the chair while his incisions heal. I remember one of the doctors telling us that once the HO is cut out, things go really fast. I am hoping it wasn't another amplification of the truth.

It's just so difficult to have faith when everyone totally believes in whatever method they're promoting- tunnel vision. The pain doc was all over Suboxone to manage pain and sleep. It was going to change Aaron's life and we'd wonder how we ever lived without it. Well, that didn't work out so well. You can't take any real pain meds while on it (it's usually used to treat opiate addiction and withdrawal), so as Aaron's legs hurt more with the shrinking and HO, he had to change course after about three weeks of waiting for Suboxone to work. He might have been able to be on his legs more if he could have managed his pain, but c'est la vie. What can you do? Next time (if there is a next time), we'll know to voice our thoughts louder instead of being distracted by what someone else hopes will happen. Either it works, or it doesn't. Next.

And then it feels like people think he isn't doing enough. Between being checked on like we're children and me getting really stressed about room inspections, I feel like this place is working against us. Everything should be a positive, supportive experience. Instead, there are a bunch of jackasses in here who think the best thing these guys need is to be treated like nothing is wrong. Some of the squad leaders have formation several mornings a week, while others think their soldiers should be at every VIP handshake opportunity on half an hour's notice. A lot of these squad leaders are E5s who seem bitter about their jobs. The first sergeant seems more concerned with haircuts and room inspections than anything else. I know he wasn't watching out for us when our squad leader was assigned to us- it was the same guy who yelled across the front desk that he didn't carry medical equipment, that it wasn't his job. This was said to our old squad leader the day we came over to have the occupational therapist set up Aaron's shower bench and toilet seat. I actually went to the first sergeant that day and told him I never wanted whoever that was in our room since his job had limitations and helping wounded warriors with their medical equipment wasn't part of his job. Now tell me, after that experience how in the hell did that guy end up being our squad leader? At least he's some lazy E5 who knows better than to give us a hard time. Aaron's never one to throw rank around, but out-ranking the guy by two pay grades seems to help.

I don't want to be pissed off at this place. I don't want to be angry about anything, really. I just want to focus on Aaron's recovery and whatever that entails. Caring about a few loads of clean laundry on the bed shouldn't be my main concern. I am really struggling with my online classes, but I'm sticking to them. I might not have awesome grades at the end of it but at least I'm trying to better myself while managing this whole situation. If that means there's a stack of books and papers on the floor, so be it. I've also written enough on how badly my notification went and I think I've finally gotten sick of it. If I never forgive those guys for what they did, then it's my business and I live with that. I honestly don't think about them. Hopefully, I don't have to see any of them when we go up for the unit's homecoming. I'm also over being upset with what people say about me. I mean, what can I do, really? People are always going to think they'd do a better job at what you're doing. They'd be pros at forgiveness, moving on, always focusing on only the positive, turning it over to religion- you name it, I don't do it but they would. All I can wonder is it must be nice to only speculate what you'd do if your spouse lost limbs and struggled with recovery for the first six-plus months. Must. Be. Nice.

I spent a good chuck of my time until recently kind of wrapped up in all of that mess. When the normal avenues of closure aren't in the cards, it takes me a lot longer to learn to deal with things than usual. All I can do is learn from my mistakes and try to move on a little quicker as life rolls on. I am sure we'll encounter tons of adversary along the way, and it's my job to learn to take it in a stride. I'll get there.

We usually have a pretty good time up here. I bought a beach cruiser today (youth model with retro stickers, including a green peace sign, all over it). Nothing beats a good dose of amputee humor, which happens about every five minutes. Just the other day we were joking about knees- since Aaron's will be mechanical, we don't have to worry about his expiring before the rest of him. There's nothing about his legs we won't be able to fix with a 12-volt charger and a screwdriver. Watching him adapt to his hand injuries has been a complete surprise- he does so well, it's as if he was always "limited". He got a new wheelchair, and while it's very different from our loaner, he's adapting and it's a lot lighter, too. We're actually a little peeved that no one has taught us how to navigate stairs in his chair. (But after seeing a video of how it's done, I have sinking feeling it's only because I'm so tiny. I really can't do a lot if all of his weight and the chair need my saving.). I have the opportunity to attempt four online courses, even if it's taken me half the semester to find some sort of stride. I might not have all As like I wanted, but I will know I really sucked it up and got through it.

Sometimes it feels like we don't have any control over this situation, no matter what we do. But all the time, we have each other. And eventually Aaron will be able to run and climb, and we can go hike the Grand Canyon together. We'll get there. It's just taking a minute longer than we thought it would.

 Until then, please enjoy this Jason Mraz video, "I Won't Give Up". The wounded warrior featured is Marine EOD tech Sgt. Brian Meyer and his wife Jennifer.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I guess we could always do more (sarcasm).

There are a lot of changes going on around here and none of them are particularly awesome. Aaron's legs are shrinking, which is completely normal, but he has a ton of unwanted spontaneous bone growth (heterotopic ossification, HO) and it's starting to get ugly. When he wakes up his legs, especially his right, look downright freaky. Everything is shrinking around the HO. Surgery isn't scheduled until about a month from now, and it really can't be done any sooner. We finally got another med change done, so he can have more options for when he's in pain. A person really can't take anything when Suboxone is in the mix. February was rough. March isn't looking much better.

So, in this lovely place we have room inspections. They just pop in, look around, and leave. Now, I'm no Susie Homemaker but my apartment is not nasty. I might have some laundry in a pile, or the sink will have some dishes in it, but nothing is growing in the trash or anything like that. The 1SGT thinks it's funny to make comments about our apartment, e.g. wondering exactly what I'm doing here since the place isn't spotless.


This is not easy. I'm with Aaron a lot for his appointments. I took on some online courses (four, actually), with Aaron's support and blessing. I get sick and feel pain, too, leading to long days where a lot can't get done. I do not get any help keeping this place neat. I don't think any of this is an excuse, it's just life. I got emotional talking to Aaron about it this morning. It's not funny. I feel like we don't do anything right and we're not working hard enough, and nothing we do is ever good enough. I'm trying to make this place a home, but it's not easy. I wish the people in charge cared about that.

Hopefully, this weekend is easy and productive. I have a crazy long paper to write, and I really want to see my dogs. At least the weather's been nice. Take care out there, and hug your loved ones. My step-father's mother is cremating her husband of nearly 60 years this weekend. I can't even imagine.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Now that his legs end above where his knees would be, they fit right where my legs bend. So when we cuddle, I bend my knees until his thighs fit like a glove. We don't have to fight to get comfortable, because our legs don't get tangled down at the end of the bed. My feet hang out alone down there.

It's just the way it is. No more tangled legs. But we fit better, I guess. Glad I'm really small, too.