Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day: Oh, stopped counting. STILL getting there.

The husband is in Aspen, monoskiing up a storm and attending the X Games as a Super VIP. I love the programs that take care of our warriors with sports and recreation. I went out today and picked up a t-shirt for him that has a photograph of Muhammad Ali on it, standing over a defeated Sonny Liston. I am going to give it to him when he returns and tell him to only wear on his hardest days. Things haven't been going as they should be around here and I want him to feel empowered to catch up, go past, and defeat. He has less than a year to get right.

I've been feeling pretty defeated myself, lately. I'm in more pain on a daily basis than I ever have been before in my life. I am fairly certain that my caregiver duties are akin to getting in a minor car wreck on a daily basis. Apparently, it's nothing that $3700 and 13 weeks of intensive chiropractic care can't fix, though. Isn't that wonderful? I am also going to get a new primary care doctor and a referral for physical therapy for appropriate exercise and home equipment, but I am 100% positive that chiropractic is what I need. And before I leave the hospital environment, I will find a way for caregivers to obtain affordable chiropractic care while they are here. It's a shame it isn't a possibility already.

I thought it would be easier a year and a half in. What do I know? I am 30 and still getting my shit together. I don't even feel 30. I don't even know what it means to feel my age. Emotionally, maybe. But I balance a scarred soul with an outright refusal to be "old" pretty well. My upfront personality is a fun-loving, probably immature young woman. But I've lived a few lives and been a statistical improbability enough times to carry a bit of a chip on my tiny shoulder called "experience in life sucking." And most people talk to me as if I am much younger, so I've always had to back track and prove my knowledge in some way later on. I was chatting with a friend last night and told him that I feel small people have two choices in life: live up their size or past it. I never wanted to be confused for some sweet doormat, so I went past it. I feel like a giant sometimes. And other days, I feel like a giant failure. 

The more I know the more I realize I actually don't know anything at all. I'm an infant. I just roll through life, learning as I go. The question of, "What do you want in life?" has always been answered with, "As long as I'm good to go when it's time to go, I will know I will have succeeded." So of course a philosophy like that doesn't call for planning a fantastic career or having a family with children or really, any idea at all of how to fill in the time between now and then. I aim to be happy with the current moment. Which is wonderful, really. But I promise you it encourages not planning and that isn't really going to contribute to success. I need to get better at that.

Which is why I'm going to sign off right now and finish one of two very late papers for my last class. Life really blew for a few weeks (hello, 2013, you old friend) and I could not handle much outside of small household chores and counting down the hours until my next dose of pain medicine. I don't want to live like that, so here's to getting better. I'm planning on it. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Version 5.1. I think.

I have a much more exciting post that will hopefully go up later today, but for now... at nearly 430am... I can't bring myself to finish it. And it's good. Commander-in-Chief Ball good. But until then... you have this.

I'm so tired of being tired. I went to the doctor last week and he seemed concerned about my fatigue and constant pain issues. So he ordered some blood work to be done, all of which (thankfully) came back negative. The most plausible diagnosis would have been an inflammatory disorder, but no such explanation. I also finally visited a sound chiropractic office, which took X-Rays and a full assessment, of which no underlying issues were discovered.

The truth? I'm tired because I don't sleep. I don't sleep either because my husband snores like a damn train or I just can't stay asleep. It's usually a combo of both. Some days I feel as if I never fully wake up. I quit taking a sleeping pill because it required more time than I was willing to risk. I also woke up painfully dehydrated. I am in pain because I am horribly out of shape and have been wrecking my body with the requirements of our "new" lifestyle. I don't know how this can still be "new" though, because as of March it will have been a year and a half since Aaron was blown up. What's new about it? This isn't temporary.

I feel like we must be doing something wrong. Actually, there have been shortcomings that I only recently learned about, so after his return from a ski trip he is taking this week we will reevaluate what we are doing and what actually needs to be done. I am actually a little excited that I have the apartment to myself for nearly a week. I feel like I can finally get it in order without more work piling up before I can even finish the task at hand.

I'm no longer uncomfortable with what my role in the this has to be. I don't fight it anymore; in fact, I make attempts to attack it. I feel as if I rushed into "me" things when what we really need is someone who focuses on "us" things. Aaron  really needs to focus hard for his remaining time at the hospital, because it is running out. So if he's working on him and I'm working on me, who's working on us? Who is doing things for the bigger picture? I know that for a marriage to function well everyone must have their own "things," so I'm not saying that I am laying myself and my needs on an altar for sacrifice. I'm just readjusting. I don't need to attend school on campus this spring term. I really want to and I thought I could, but then it was brought to my attention that I still need to focus on Aaron and supporting his recovery with a hands-on approach. There's no getting around that. I suppose I thought that if I were one of those people that just wished hard enough for something and behaved as if what I wanted was what was happening right then, it would happen. That's not how reality works, though. It's not very fluid, you know?

As long as I'm getting some educational requirements under my belt I am not short-changing myself. I can still be happy. But what will most certainly hurt both of us and our marriage is Aaron not recovering on schedule. And yes, there should be a schedule. We should feel pressure to get out of the hospital and on with our lives. I hear a lot about what we want to be doing, what we hope will happen in the future, but nothing ever seems to happen. I have tried so hard to force some normal normalcy into our lives that perhaps I haven't been focused enough on what isn't normal. I am sure there are some people out there who can do everything they want to do and get 6 hours of sleep a night. School work is done, spouse is happy, house is clean, outside commitments met. But right now, I'm not exactly a paradigm of health. I am tired, I hurt, and I can't ignore that anymore. And until I can get my act together so that I don't feel all of that every day, I can't pretend that I can do all the things that need to be done. So here's to readjusting. Again. At least I am becoming very apt at constant reinvention and adaptation, right?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mil-Spouse of... Aaron.

Some sweet soul named Kristen nominated me for Military Spouse of the Year and said the nicest things about me in the nomination. I got the email and activated, but as my inbox filled up with more emails and instructions from Mil-Spouse magazine and MSOY, I felt overwhelmed. Last year I didn't even know I was nominated until it was too late to activate, and I wanted to do better this year. But... I just don't think I'm in the right place or really, the right woman for the job. So I'd like to thank anyone who thinks of me as a model military spouse. I wouldn't suggest my methods of coping, surviving, and thriving to anyone but I don't regret anything I've done to get through the past 16 months or even the year and a half of normal mil-spousedom before that.

It's astounding to me that in just a few months I will have spent as much time as a wounded warrior wife as I did as a "regular" Army wife. And then I will have spent more time on this side of the fence than back there. I often wonder what I should do with it. I've been playing with the idea of becoming active in the hospital environment again. I'm pretty vocal but can be tactful as well (I promise!), and maybe I can help someone new not get screwed over or confused. For instance, apparently we could be living rent-free elsewhere through an organization. The goal was to get off-post AND away from the domestic intrusion of the Army, not every bit of the wounded warrior lifestyle. I was under the assumption that this particular need was for financial distressed warriors and their families only, and while Aaron's paycheck is not ah-mazing we do well with just ourselves. Hell, a certain organization won't even look at us because we don't have kids (it's either that or  because Aaron "only" lost both legs above the knees [and a slew of other injures], but what the hell do I know). What I meant to say before I side-tracked is that maybe I can prevent someone else from missing out on something like that. Or helping them navigate the caregiver healthcare. I want to leave the hospital better than I found it, but I have to think about it.

Part of me just wants to move on. Another reason why I don't think I'm MSOY material is because I'm happy to leave the Army behind me. I don't hate the lifestyle- never did. I met some incredible people during my time. But that road is ending soon and I'm not sad. Some people get really upset about their spouses leaving the service or being forced to medically retire, but this is okay. Aaron did one job in two branches of service and loved nearly every second of it. It was the only job he wanted to do, he did it well, and now he's ready to move on, too. He could stay in and teach or work as a liaison, but he's pretty excited to go federal or private yet continue to use his expertise in... hell, dangerous material is the only way I know how to describe it. He wants a career in nuclear stuff, and I'm lucky that he has aspirations like that. You wonder sometimes what happens to some of these guys- if they ever join the regular world again. Or if they live in the past, never overcoming who they became after injury. Aaron isn't perfect but he does have achievable plans for the future that don't have to be pushed by me or anyone else. That makes me a very lucky woman.

Even though I'm passing on the MSOY campaign, I do have something else huge coming up: receiving a USO-Metro Patriot Award. It's kind of a big deal, and I still don't believe that it's happening to me. I've missed volunteering very much and have spoken about my USO story several times, but it's not the same as serving up coffee to frozen soldiers in a Fort Drum winter. The new wounded warrior USO center should open at the hospital later this year, and I look forward to volunteering there. But, someone (or many someones) somewhere in the USO thought that what I've done by Aaron's side, and the things I've said about my story, were worthy of mention and honoring. The awards night is in March, and we've already filmed an interview and I am on orders to contact them if we do anything "fun" and "big." Aaron has a few sports things coming up, but I am just hoping to survive the semester and transfer to a good school this fall or next spring term. And speaking of, it's late here. Just thought I'd check in, and say thanks for all the support. I'm really not a role model but it means a lot some people think that what I've done is good for someone, somewhere. But for now I'll remain Aaron's warrior wife, sharing here and maybe elsewhere on the 'net (that's a hint). Night, folks. I hope everyone you love is safe in the morning.