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.


  1. That would drive me bananas. I can't stand not having control, so people telling me what/when/how to do things would be rough. It sounds like you guys are doing pretty damn amazing. I know it's got to be frustrating but you're doing it with dignity and grace, so be proud of that. It reminds me of some quote (or song lyric?) I love. "I'm fine but I'm not okay. I'm looking forward to looking back on these days".

  2. I hate hearing the problems with the WTUs... It just irks the hell out of me. If you need anything, yell.

  3. You are a stong southern woman. You have every tool of coping ingrained in you! You step back, take a breath, put "that" smile on your little face and with daggers in your eyes you pounce with "well,bless your little heart!", turn and in a very Scarlet way walk off!!!! I swear it works. I love you!
    The Warrior Wife's Mom

  4. I know the general all purpose, "You are so amazing," isn't helpful at all, but for the record, I've been reading here a few months, and I am amazed at your strength, your grit, your grace, your ability to be objective about those who have been nasty to you, and the strength that it takes to wake up and do this day after day. I am inspired by the love that you and your husband share and I am honored to have stumbled into your space to hear your story.

    A half year is a long time and yet I know just a drop in the bucket of this journey. You ARE amazing, and I will stand in line with many of your supporters to give anybody who says otherwise a punch in the nose.

    Stumbling or otherwise, you continue to go forward, and that in and of itself is admirable.

  5. As a Vietnam alum of Walter Reed, I can understand much of what you are experiencing. We have, as a congregation here in rural Alabama, followed Aaron's (and yours) condition prayerfully. I spent many, many months in WRAMC and looking back there were a great many walls and periods of deep depression. Please know that we are all understanding and supportive. Endure and conquer, we love you both! God bless you and keep you both in the hollow of His hand, make his face to shine upon you and bring you peace...