Tag Archives: many hats

PTSD, TBI, Sex and Relationships

After 26 years of marriage, we’ve only just now started opening up more, having conversations about these very topics. I have not been able to put them into words yet. I am still processing. But this….this post explains it all. I will return here and re-read and re-read until I can understand it better. I don’t think I can fully understand what goes on in his mind. I don’t think he ever wants me to, either. But this blog post helps me tremendously. I do hope it helps you too.

Life After War

You came back different. Changed. You can’t really describe  it, but you’re not yourself. Not who you used to be. You’re angry. Blow up at stupid shit. Lack other emotions. Feel numb. Tired. Disinterested in stuff that used to be interesting. Tense. Sleepless. Have nightmares that scare the hell out of you. Forget shit. Can’t focus. You miss your buddies. Miss the war. Miss the ones you lost. Miss feeling like you used to feel. Before.

He came home. Different. Instead of you being able to step back and let him take over sharing the household, childcare and financial responsibilities, you have to take care of him now, too. He’s angry. Silent, except when he’s mad. He can’t remember shit. Seems unmotivated. And distant. He’s up all night; keeps you up all night. Spends more time on the sofa than in bed. Keeps loaded guns around the house. Is edgy…

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Been A While – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 23 Oct 2015

I love finding all the beauty and positives despite the tempest that is our lives. ‪#‎bepositive‬

It’s been a while…too long, since I’ve been here to update my blog.
I miss it. Terribly.

You see, sometimes, life gets in the way of the things you want to do. For caregivers, though, that seems to happen a lot more often than not.

These last three months for me have been extremely stressful. My position at work was taken away because it was no longer needed. So they found me a new position. I had to learn the job and then, because I am a fixer, I am now finding processes that will make everything work smoother. However, the push-back I am getting, or rather, the lack of any movement has been causing me undue stress. I’ve brought all my concerns up to my team lead, but I feel as though I am receiving lip service. Nothing has changed.

Not only that, but I have been introduced to “man drama.” I did not know men could be worse than the women I’ve seen in my lifetime. Oh boy. So add that to the stress.

And then, there’s TheHubs’ pain levels. He went back in for his Botox treatment for his neck muscles that are in constant lock up. However, we’ve been noticing that there are different muscle groups that lock up each time he has the procedure done. He asked for more this last time. His neurologist told him that he’s at the maximum allowable dosage for the Botox injections. If he were to receive more, or more frequently, then he could build up anti-bodies which will then make him more tolerant to its effects. But, they did work out that rather than giving him the injections in the same locations every time, the doctor will only put the injections in the muscles that are locked up from now on. So we shall see how that will go.

TheBoy started school mid-August. A week later he began complaining that his feet hurt. A week later, he couldn’t walk without pain. We took him in, had x-rays and found that he had extremely flat feet and very loose ligaments. He had been in braces on both feet since. Last Friday, he had surgery on one foot. It is an amazing procedure, I never knew existed!

flatfoot_optionBasically, there is a small piece of metal, much in the shape of a bullet with grooves along the side, that is inserted in between the hollow space in the ankle where it nestles in and prevents the overpronation problem, giving him a sturdy ankle and an actual arch.

This is basically what the before and after will look like for TheBoy

MBAsurg5 podchildren

So, what little things am I celebrating?

  • I’m happy the surgery went well, that he’s in very little pain, and that this first surgery is over.
  • Well, let’s see. There’s the fact that I had a hard time letting go of something. It had me in tears nearly every day because I just couldn’t understand the reason why it happened. I am celebrating the fact that I am no longer in the grieving stage of this loss. I have moved on to the acceptance stage. Am I still sad, yes. But it no longer holds a grip on me.
  • I am also celebrating that I stepped out of my comfort zone. I am horrible at confrontation. I avoid it at all cost. Well, work was costing me my health. I had to do something. So, I actually took it to my lead, and let him know how I felt in this new position and how the “team” was not a team. Now that I got it out in the open, I’ve been watching. And, honestly, I didn’t think anything would change. But I spoke my mind. It’s been a month now, and my next step is going to my manager. I have been documenting everything. I really hate doing this, but it’s affecting not just me, but the entire team, plus a one more team that we interact with very much.
  • I’m celebrating my work from home week. A week I get to spend at home to help take care of TheBoy after his surgery, as well as work. Another reason my stress seems to have lessened.
  • And, last but not least, I am celebrating that I have managed to lower my resting heartbeat from an average of 90 bpm to 69 bpm, just by lowering my stress levels.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:

Sharing Memories – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 19 June 2015
The Secret to Marriage
You Are Not Alone!

Pain – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 31 July 2015

 

Pain.

It affects everyone differently.

For me, it always wears me down, makes me just want to curl up in my bed under the covers, cuddle with my pillows and kitties, and sleep until I don’t hurt anymore. I’ve only had a few bouts of pain that would wake me up in the middle of the night or keep me from sleeping altogether. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones.

Add to the normal stress of being a woman, working full-time, being a Mom and wife, being a caregiver has its own issues. One of my fellow veteran caregivers called it caregiver-itis. That’s when all the stress of doing everything manifests into physical symptoms. I’ve got it. Sure enough. But my doctor has labeled it – Fibromyalgia. And it is rearing its ugly head right about now. Every part of my being is hypersensitive at the moment. I’ve got stress and tension headaches and my neck is killing me. And I’m struggling to even have the energy to type all this. But that’s only the major things. There’s too many other things I could list.

Right now, I believe it has everything to do with my new position at work. I have a deep seeded fear of failing. But with therapy and learning more about myself, I’ve learned how to (hopefully) cope with this. I’ve been working this new position now for a week. I’ve actually started feeling a bit more comfortable in my new position and understanding what it is I am supposed to be doing, that isn’t getting done, and getting people to accept me and the process (which is like trying to get out of quicksand while you’re running) but it will get there. It IS getting there. It’s the first time I’ve felt good about a new job, where I am NOT afraid of failing (as much as I used to anyway). I did have a small slip back into my old ways on Monday, but I’m better now. Much better because I feel like I really am understanding. But because of all the stress, it’s caused all the pain to flare up and I am struggling to even have energy to type all this. I’ve handled this a whole lot better than I ever have. Even WITH the fibro flaring up, it’s something to celebrate.

As for TheHubs, though, he suffers insomnia on top of the pain. I’m sure not sleeping exacerbates the pain. It sure doesn’t help his depression and PTSD. Dealing with all this has left him in a rut. His insomnia has full on raged and I miss my husband. For the last two months he’s been unable to sleep, and when he does it’s more like he passes out from sheer exhaustion.

Most couples don’t think twice about sharing a bed. Heck, they probably take it for granted and maybe even complain about who hogs the covers. In our life, sharing a bed at the same time is something to be treasured. It always goes in cycles and we never know how long it’s going to last. There’s never any way to fix it, either. We just have to ride it out. But, oh, how I miss him.

This round, I think it’s been a couple of months already. He started out with the pain again. And then he had surgery on his nose. He’s a stomach sleeper so staying in the recliner would prevent him from hurting his nose. It’s been about 3 weeks since his surgery and now he’s back to the chronic pain and migraines, again. But last night, when he started falling asleep in his recliner, I got him upstairs and in the bed with me. I love it. When he’s not cycling insomnia, we cuddle for a bit and then roll over to go to sleep. I’m always too hot anymore to snuggle for long. When he is cycling the insomnia, though, he’s asleep in a matter of seconds. But before he takes that plunge, his feet touch mine in our own special snuggling way.

Even if he only slept for 4 hours, he still shared the bed with me. And that’s something to celebrate.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:

Sharing Memories – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 19 June 2015
The Secret to Marriage
You Are Not Alone!

Financials & A New Car – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 10 July 2015

I don’t know if you are familiar with my Many Hats Series of posts. There is one in particular that I would like to reference, today, because it is the back story of what I am celebrating. If you have the opportunity, please read the Accountant story, so you can get a better understanding of just how elated I am today. How proud I am of both TheHubs and I. Especially TheHubs.

We spent a good 5 years paying down our debt. When we bought our house 4 years ago, our credit score was horrendous. Not sure how we managed a 5% interest rate, but I was thankful for it. Two years ago, we bought a brand new car and our credit score had increased dramatically. Our credit card debt was nearly paid off by then. Of course I was proud of everything we’ve accomplished, the fact that I was able to say no to my husband when it was an absolute must, the fact he didn’t buy stuff anyway. There have been a few slips along the way, but we managed and I made sure I reiterate every time it happens. Sometimes I still have to put it all down on paper to show him exactly how much he’s spent because of his memory issues. But he has made the most progress over these last 5 years and I am so very proud of him. I make sure I tell him.

We’ve been considering getting a new car for a while now. TheHubs didn’t get everything he wanted in the car we got, plus there have been some pretty major issues already with the 2013 model. When we took our car in to the dealer to get some warranty work done two days ago, we wanted to see what was available to us and see how much of a difference it would be to upgrade. When they ran our credit and came back with the report, my knees literally buckled and I had to sit down. I never thought I’d see those numbers associated with our names. Beyond ecstatic. That’s all I could come up with what I was feeling.

The salesman ran the finance numbers and payment options and we decided. Four hours after we dropped off our car at the service department we had a new 2016 model. Near identical to our existing car.

Say goodbye to Double-Oh TARDIS (right) and say hello to Double-Oh TARDIS 2.0 (left)!!!!

Double-Oh TARDIS

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Accountant — The Many Hats Series
Sharing Memories – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 12 June 2015
The Secret to Marriage

Accountant — The Many Hats Series

When I was in high school, I found my accounting class very fun, really. Yes. I’m odd; but I liked playing with numbers back then. When I went to college, I declared my major in Accounting. After the first semester, though, I found it rather boring and decided to switch my major.

Half way through my college career, I got married. I’ve been the family accountant since.

TheHubs deployed a few weeks after our marriage and it was just natural I took on that responsibility. My father raised me to be self-sufficient and I knew how to manage the finances before I was 18. When TheHubs returned, he told me that it was just simpler for me to manage the checking instead of having to deal with the whole back and forth of it when he would go to the field or deploy or whatever. I also didn’t want to add that burden on him when he came home at 9 or 10 at night and still have to pay the bills.  So, my job has always been to keep track of our money. It was just easier this way. Plus, it’s hard to share that responsibility as well. No two people take care of the money exactly the same.

It’s morphed into something more over the years, though.

Here we are now, smack dab in the middle of the holiday prep season. I’m here to tell you that this is one of the worst parts of the year. Not only do we have Thanksgiving and Christmas, we also have TheBoy’s birthday. And on top of all that, we have TheHubs’ want to spend, and all of it is expensive stuff. In fact, just this past week he’s told me he wants a new tuner, a new iPad, a new phone, amongst other things I can’t remember now.

I’ve been traumatized by all the spending, all the debt.

When we first got married, I was unsure of myself, never wanting to step on toes and always feeling guilty when I’m the “bad guy” by saying no. It got us into so much trouble. We were DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) and we didn’t think much about the future at 20. Being newly married, we had nothing. I was used to the things my parents had. So my idea of marriage and a home was skewed to begin with. Then, add my technogeek husband, and we ended up with several credit cards and mountains of debt by 25. We lived pay check to pay check and we kept getting new credit cards because I couldn’t say no and I wanted to please him. I did not want to be the cause of his anger, the blame of anything.

By the time we were 35, we were $75,000 in debt and we didn’t have a car payment nor a mortgage. We started understanding a little bit better why he went through these spending sprees and buyers remorse cycles. It didn’t help that I saw the same type of behavior in his mother. She was definitely not a good financial role-model and at first I thought it was just because of that. Then, with the bi-polar diagnosis, the depression and the PTSD diagnoses, and the multiple TBIs he suffered over the years, it all started making so much more sense.

But it didn’t stop it. With every new purchase, my insides burned with worry. I felt sick. I couldn’t eat for fear it would all come up. I started having little mini panic attacks, though I didn’t know what they were at the time. No matter how much I tried to save to pay off the credit cards, something always happened to make us have to use the credit cards again – be it more wants, or a car breaking down. Cars always broke down with us, and it was never cheap to fix. So we stayed in debt. And I stayed sick inside. fearing that I would always be the one to cause him to get mad.

When we started learning how to better communicate our feelings, me especially, this is when I started showing him exactly how much money we were in debt with nothing really to show for it. It took a lot of talking, a lot of showing, and a lot of persistence on my part to get through my fear of saying no. But once he realized how bad off we were, things started getting better. I put us on a consolidation program, which has since been paid off. We now have our own house and a new, reliable car (with payments). We have two more credit cards we still need to get rid of, and one is about to get paid off next month. And then I can start focusing on more important things–like savings, retirement plans, college funds, investments. You know, the stuff we SHOULD HAVE been saving for the whole time we’ve been married.

Mind you, we still go through these wanting sprees. But he’s been learning. He’s been talking it through and asking, instead of just impulsively doing. I’ve been good and helping him talk it through. “Do we really NEED this?” “Can we wait?” or just a simple “No.” Yes, I’ve said no. A lot. And yes, I still feel guilty, but he does help me by telling me that I’m usually right when it comes to “Do we actually need this item?” It’s been a hard road, and one that remains bumpy along the way. But we are managing it and getting through. It’s extremely hard to retrain your brain.

Now though, with all the stress of being a full-time employee, a full-time mom and housekeeper, a full-time caregiver, I am the family accountant. I’ve pretty much let the accounting duties slack, taking care of the bills twice a month only. However, with the popularity of smartphone apps, I am now able to keep track of my money on the run. I can log into my bank and check to make sure no unusual spending is happening, I get a text when the credit card is uses, I can even deposit checks with my phone’s camera. Yay for high-tech gadgetry! While a lot of the accounting duties are slipping, at any given time I still have an idea where the money is, how much is outstanding, how much is left in the bank after figuring out how much is still in limbo, and how much we have to play with (which usually isn’t much at the end of the pay period).

I will forever remain the only one in charge of the finances because of his memory issues now, though when he remembers, he worries that he’d be lost if something were to happen to me. He would probably forget to pay the bills on time, if at all. He’d forget the passwords to everything I have set up to pay the bills. He’d lose track of how much we had in the bank.  There’s just no way he would be able to keep track of it all. He can barely drive from point A to point B without me or the GPS! 😛

Does your spouse have impulse control issues with his PTSD or TBI? Have they gotten you into major debt? How did you manage to get out of it, if it did?

LadyJai

Working and the Home — The Many Hats Series

I’ve been working since I was thirteen. It was my way of getting out from under my mother’s finger. I was an only child. And I was never allowed to do much. I had to beg to go on sleep-overs and parties and other things my friends invited me to do. It was a way I could meet new people and hang out with friends AWAY from my parents. The money was a benefit.

I continued this throughout high school and college. Even when I got married half way through college, I still continued; but now it was a necessity. At first it was minimum wage jobs, but I refused to work at fast food joints, and I would have been a horrible waitress. I’m a klutz. I did enjoy my time learning everything I could about plants from the nursery I worked at through college.

After college, I couldn’t get hired for a “career.” I didn’t want to be a reporter, as my degree was in English with a Writing Concentration. I was misled! I wanted it to be Fiction Writing, but instead, I got business and journalism writing. I didn’t want to be a teacher. I knew I did not have the gift, nor the patience. And I knew absolutely nothing about kids. So I continued my menial jobs because something was better than nothing.

It took me about 4 years after graduation to secure something other than a retail position, something that actually could LEAD to a career. I wrote about that journey in another post, here, if you’re interested how I went from majoring in English to a career in Information Technology. Basically, I was sick and tired of the computer being “the other woman” that I took it upon myself to put one together and learn how to use it, for the sake of our marriage. When someone came into the software store I was working at in the mall who owned his own Internet Service Provider, I asked if it would be ok to come see what one looked like. He invited me. I brought my resume. And they hired me as a tech support representative. Even though I knew nothing about fixing computers, they worked with me to learn them and within a year, I became the Tech Support Manager.

When we moved to Germany, I got a job in civil service working in computers there as well. It was more than I had ever made before, even though it was an entry-level position. But still, I had the opportunity to grow and expand my career.

Then, the deployment happened.

We didn’t know it would change our lives the way it did. We didn’t know that all his previous accidents at work and in the field had any affect on him either. It just steadily got worse. At first I blamed it on Germany,  his command, and how they had no regard for anyone. Overworking him. Overlooking his abilities. And making his life hell.

Upon returning stateside, I continued my IT career, but this time securing a contract position with the government instead of civil service. It was more money, and secure enough for the time being. He still had a couple of years left on his enlistment. Things were going well. Until they weren’t. His headaches were coming more often and worse. He passed out several times because of them. And finally, he met a doctor that PROPERLY diagnosed them as migraines. He got the proper medication; however, he also informed him that if they continued to debilitate him the way they’ve been, if he re-enlisted he would recommend a medical discharge.

This came around the same time as when I got pregnant. We had decided a while back that whomever made the most money would stay home with the children. It was a rough time trying to conceive. But we finally made it. And unfortunately, communication and improper focus led us to him getting out. You can read about our parenting journey here. Most of it was the Army leading him to believe that if he were to get out on a medical, that he’d lose his Honorable status and his pride really took hold. In hind-sight, though, he wouldn’t have lost it, and it may have been easier to deal with the VA for his benefits and we wouldn’t still be fighting them. It’s hard to tell.

Everything happens for a reason. And we will focus on what we do now, instead of the “what ifs.”

So, he got out. After 13 and a half years, he just got out. He had his Honorable Discharge and a broken body. His migraines gradually got worse. Depression from the chronic pain set in. I thought the civilian doctors could give him better treatment. We went from doctor to doctor, from nutritional supplement to holistic therapies. We tried everything. Nothing worked.

He filed his first claim with the VA. Nearly completed the process when we had to move for my job. That ended in disaster. Again, hindsight. He should have stayed for a few more months to get the rating out of Texas than have it transferred to Florida where everyone is denied and denied and denied. We keep appealing and re-applying with each new diagnosis.

It just got worse from there. The years went by. Doctor to doctor. Medication to medication. I nearly lost him once twice because of that. Heartache to heartache. Depression and anger grew out of control. When he finally received some VA benefits, he was allowed to go to the clinic. He had his regular doctor visits once a year, and they assigned him a psychiatrist to help with everything else.

He’s been going to the VA since 2004. It’s taken a long time for him to work through some things, admit others, but he still has lots to confront. We work together as a team to re-learn how to communicate. We struggle. But we get through.

The biggest issues come mainly from the physical pain. That pain, plus his medications, keep him locked down, unable to function like a normal human being. He hasn’t been able to work in seven years. He can barely get out of bed sometimes. We’ve put up blackout curtains in the livingroom so the light is bearable for him. He can’t go outside because of the photophobia. He can’t do physical exertion without triggering major pain. So the chores around the house don’t get done. He also suffers insomnia and nightmares on top of everything else. Being a hermit, a recluse, has lost us our friends, and robbed us of a “normal” life.

I still work full-time outside the house, bringing in the majority of our money for bills. Without it, we wouldn’t survive. I worry about my job every day because I’m still in a military contractor position. I’ve come down to my 11th hour several times over the years, but God graced us by allowing me to keep my job. I am grateful but overwhelmed. The older I get, the more drained I become.

I wake up at 5am and go to work. When I come home, I have to cook dinner. I really, REALLY, hate cooking, and grocery shopping. I’m not a planner. Nor am I a cook. Plus, I forget to leave meat out to thaw most mornings. I’d so much love to have a service that would pre-cook my meals so I could just pull them out of the freezer and heat them up. But we can’t afford that. I’ve checked. It’s expensive. Someone, get on that for our vets! Please?!

I help TheBoy with his homework. I TRY to do some chores around the house. Mostly I just keep the kitchen clean. The vacuuming and laundry usually get pushed as far back as I possibly can. The lawn…that just doesn’t ever happen. It makes me sad because I have always had visions of a beautiful garden. I even have hedge roses that I envision as gorgeous. But the weeds. I am utterly exhausted and trying to keep up with the weeds never EVER works. We get a lot of letters from the homeowners association about our lawn.

I try to do it all. I just can’t. And then I feel like a horrible wife. Overwhelmed, exhausted, and sinking into my own depression.

Do I get angry that he doesn’t help? Of course. It’s a natural emotion. But when I look at him, sitting on the couch or laying in the bed,  clasping his head, weeping, mind numb, eyes glazed, and barely moving even watching TV or playing on the xBox, well, that look says it all. He’s in pain. And I can’t ask him to help. I feel horrible for being angry at him, and then remember I’m not angry at him. I am angry at all the situations that broke him.

It’s when he breaks down that I can’t handle very well. YET.

When he breaks. When the pain gets so bad, he breaks and goes to his dark place again. When he wants to give up. When he feels like a failure. When he feels like a burden and that we’d be better off without him. When he hates that he’s made me a single parent. I spend a lot of my time in a pool of my own silent tears, not knowing what to do. I do my best to find the light, for both of us. 

I do what I always do. I’m here for him. Because I love him. With all my heart and soul, I love him.

LadyJai

Scary Parenting — The Many Hats Series

Many HatsMy first of many hats was that of being a daughter. I became a wife at 20. These are the normal steps girls go through in their life. At least, that’s how I was taught. Nowadays, I see so many girls waiting longer and longer to get married, if even at all. So maybe I’m abnormal? I mean, those girls I did know who got married at 18-20 were already starting a family soon after the wedding. Me, I wasn’t ready.

I was 20. While society said I was an adult, and I may have thought it from time to time, deep down I really didn’t feel like one.I was still in college. I hadn’t really gotten to know my husband. We only married a month after we met. We weren’t financially stable. And to tell the truth, I did not think I had it in me. I was an only child with no experience with children, especially babies.

The military made it uncertain. He would work incredibly long hours and weekends, he would go to the field and deploy all at a moment’s notice. It was hard just being a spouse. The Army was so much different from the Air Force. I can remember my father going away to school (TDY) maybe three or four times my entire childhood. Yes, he had alerts where he would work 14-16 hour days and the occasional weekend. But, nothing like the Army. It was like night and day. So that took a lot of getting used to.

Being a military Brat, knowing what I was getting into when I married him, you would think that I wouldn’t take issue with having a child while he was still in the military. I traveled the world with my father. I had a great education (until his last assignment I had to go to a public school). But the more I watched our  friend’s babies growing up and their fathers missing their birth, their first word, their first step, their first day of school, I felt a pang of  sadness for the children begin to bloom. I saw children run up to anyone in uniform and call them “Daddy.” I saw children hugging pictures of their daddies, wondering when they were coming home. And I saw still others whose fathers were never coming home. My heart broke for them and I decided I didn’t want to have children while he was still in the military. He didn’t argue.

Years went by and we were very content with our DINK lives. DINK = Dual Income No Kids. We were spontaneous and our money was spent on us. We did as we pleased, when we please…unless the Army had other plans. Occasionally we would discuss family. We even came up with a boy’s name a few years into our marriage. It was always talk, and nothing more.

Change has always scared me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now – all the moving around I did as a child, living one of the mottoes of the military: “Change is the only constant.”  Having children meant change. And I was quite content in my life at the moment. I never had that intense desire to have children. At least…not then.

The first combat related deployment for us was in 1999 when he deployed first to Albania and then to Kosovo. Albania wasn’t so bad. They were just staging and waiting. It was the uncertainty of when he was to come home that got to me. But when the rest of his unit came home while a select few were Voluntold to stay behind and provide support to another unit going into Kosovo, that’s when I got scared. When he drove into Camp Bonsteel, there was nothing in the “wheat” field but a single line of vehicle tracks. My mind went nuts. He’s a vehicle mechanic. There’s tons of land mines in that area. And they drove into Kosovo where the KLA were STILL hanging around even though NATO told them they needed to leave. What if he didn’t come home?

Everything that I had that was a part of him were things. Things would be packed away and eventually faded from my mind. I did not have something that would last forever, a part of him and me, a child,  if the ultimate sacrifice were to happen. That is the moment my heart and mind changed. That is the moment the ticking started. You know the one…that biological clock that tells you it’s time. I never really thought that scene in My Cousin Vinny was a real thing, at least not for me, until now.

When he came home the end of July that year, I told him. Not like Marisa Tomei. But I had that serious talk with him that it was time. While I still worried that he might miss all the milestones and was terrified that he might miss it all, I changed the way I looked at it. A child. A part of his soul and a part of my soul to form a new soul that would be ours, merged together in love. Something tangible and real. Something to love and cherish and hold close. Not a thing to toss in a box and throw away if something were ever to happen to him, like the things I had around the house that would remind me of him – pictures, computers, clothes, etc. All those things could not ever replace a lost soul.

We decided it was ok to go off my birth control and let nature take its course. Yes, we were both scared. And, looking back, I realize that my desire to have his baby clouded my vision because he was scared for many more reasons than I “heard.” I knew he was scared because he didn’t know how to be a dad, what with having no father to model after. But there were other things he didn’t let on and let me keep trying.

I didn’t pay any attention to the passage of time and not getting pregnant. Not really. I attributed everything in the first year to my body readjusting to no birth control pills.

September 11th, 2001 my father was diagnosed with lung cancer brought on by Agent Orange. We spent about three weeks with my mom and dad in November that year while my father had surgery and recovery. It wasn’t until I saw my father laying in that hospital bed, faced with his mortality, did I realize he might not see his grandchild. This tore into my heart. Right before we left, I told TheHubs what I was starting to feel the urgency to make a family, so my father can meet his grandchildren.

So what was wrong? Why haven’t I been able to conceive? I was getting worried something was wrong and my family would never evolve. We went through all the normal testings and nothing was wrong. Two years, and still no baby. More and more tests on me. I’m pretty sure I was getting on TheHubs’ nerves by now, pining away at all the pregnant women I saw. It hurt so bad when one of my friends turned up pregnant. Ugh! WHY?! That’s all I could think.

My last doctor’s appointment there was mention of fertility drugs if they couldn’t find anything. But before that, he wanted to do a procedure on me to make sure there wasn’t anything going on in there, maybe blocking my tubes or whatnot. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty, but let’s just say that while I was unaware due to pain, TheHubs watched it all and said it looked like something WAS blocking because the dye the doctor put inside looked like a dam releasing. And the next month I was pregnant.

My pregnancy was a dream! No sickness, no moodiness, no real cravings to speak of – though I did manage to down 5lbs of peanut butter every week. 😛 My delivery was a dream as well, despite him being a month early and we weren’t ready.

But let me tell you, after the delivery and we were settled back home trying to figure out a new routine, I had a serious bout of postpartum depression, though I didn’t know it at the time. It got to the point I would cry at everything and at nothing, every moment I was awake. I was done. I had my pregnancy. All I wanted to do was give it back so I could have my life back. I felt horrible for feeling that way, too. All those movies and TV and everyone else saying they instantly fell in love…nope, not me. What was wrong with me?

Postpartum depression. No one talks about it. So I had no clue what to expect. But that’s what it was. And once my brain chemistry reset, with a little pharmaceutical help, I was on the path to bonding and loving again.

By the time TheBoy was born, TheHubs had gotten out of the military and was trying to hold down a civilian job. He had already been diagnosed with migraines but they were getting worse. We had decided a LONG time ago that the one who made the most money would return to work after the baby was born. Unfortunately, we made the wrong choice. Yes, my pay was greater than his BASE pay. But we failed to factor in all the allowances and benefits he received each month. In hind sight, he made more than I did. In hind sight, we should have discussed this more. But that was before we learned how to communicate better. In hind sight, I STILL feel guilty for “making him give up his dream.” I still feel that it was my fault, and maybe it is a little, but there are other factors involved with him deciding to ETS than just me and the baby. I am slowly learning to squash that guilt when it rears its ugly head. Yes, I will take the blame for some. But we’ve discussed this at length and as he says, “Everything happens for a reason.” And maybe that reason was because he may have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan with his unit and returned the hero he always envisioned, with a flag draped over his casket. So, I keep that at the forefront of my mind when guilt rises to the surface about that situation.

As TheBoy grew, so did the pain TheHubs suffered. I would come home from work to find him laying on the floor, curled up nearly in tears trying to feed TheBoy. He would go to bed to try to alleviate the pain while I was left to care for TheBoy while I was home. Nothing ever made the pain go away and his migraines were coming more often. I paid out-of-pocket to get him in to see an acupuncturist and a chiropractor. We went to countless doctors in the hopes of relief. Every new research article, every new doctor, every new prescription, I always hoped for a cure, or at the very least, a reprieve.  It always ended in disappointment, and financial hardship.

By the time the headaches and migraines came every day, by the time he developed photophobia, and by the time he was diagnosed with PTSD, his involvement with our normal every day lives was extremely limited. He’s crushed he can’t do normal dad things with TheBoy. And he hates that he’s a “burden” (his words, not mine) to us and has turned me into a single parent.

Because, sometimes, that’s how I feel and that’s how it is. When the pain is too great, we don’t eat dinner with him, we don’t do errands together, we don’t watch TV together. When the pain is too great, sometimes outings or family gatherings and celebrations get cancelled, or we go without him. When the pain is too great, he takes his medicine and sleeps away the days.

I admit it. I forget sometimes and get angry. It quickly morphs into me feeling guilty and selfish when I remember the pain. So I keep my mouth shut and go on with my life as a caregiver.

The scary thing about parenting now is the effects of all this on TheBoy. He’s become a recluse, doesn’t go outside and play anymore, doesn’t have many friends, and doesn’t have interests outside of his xbox, minecraft, or games he plays on his phone.

I do my best to explain to TheBoy what his dad is going through and why he is the way he is and how to deal with it. I tell him I’m learning as we go, just like him. But I don’t know if he understands fully. We talk about it with him because hiding from it could very well make things worse (like in the beginning, before we knew what was wrong, between he and I). We fear TheBoy is going to suffer, if he isn’t already, secondary PTSD. We fear that we are failing as parents.

While many parents would have that same fear, I believe it is a hundred fold for the families of disabled veterans. But we do the best we can with what we have and work through a day at a time, sometimes a breath at a time. The most important things for any of us is communication, support, and love. And the biggest, most important, and scariest thing we can ask from anyone outside our circle is understanding.

LadyJai