Tag Archives: Military

Advocating For My Wounded Warrior (Part 3)

I’m sorry to have been away from my blog for so long. It’s been a very, VERY, busy year. Work has been kicking my butt and by the time I get home I really don’t want to do much. We’ve had some other things kicking our butts too, but that’s another story (click to read more). I’ve also taken on a new hobby that incorporates some “me time” along with my love to share smiles and helping veterans. I joined Pinups For Patriots! YAY! Go me! If you want to check out what I’m doing in the Pinup world, please like my Facebook Page.

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Anyway, what I would like to talk about today is the fact that I haven’t stopped advocating for my husband when it comes to his pain and the VA. In fact that is also another part of my busy life. So, last year in October was his last civilian Botox treatment.  He was due for another one in late December, but you know how the Holidays always throw off everyone’s schedule. So we went to schedule it in January. For the past 3 years he has been having this done, every three months, all we’ve ever had to pay for was the doctor’s visit. The Botox was covered. Well, 2016 rolls around and not any more. We will have to pay $1000 every 3 months in order for him to get his Botox. We just couldn’t afford this.

So I asked him to ask his Primary Care at the VA to refer him to VA Neurology. He had that appointment on the 3rd of February. When we explained the conditions, he said, “No problem. I can refer you to the Pain Center for that.” We also brought up the fact he wanted to try Ketamine Infusions. And the doctor said he would include that in his referral and we could discuss it at the Pain Center.

A month goes by and we never heard anything. We logged into MyHealthEVet every so often to check for an appointment. Called the VA Pain Center and they said they never received a referral. He finally found out that on the 4th of February, a different doctor went through his records and saw that he was getting care outside the VA for Botox and revoked the referral.

Joy.

Ok, two months have gone by since the original Neurology appointment. He had his first visit with the VA Pain Center, his consult, on May 6th. May 6th! And even though he’s been there before he STILL had to go through his history. Oh and it’s all right there in his medical records! But they decided to start from scratch. He had to go through a “test” procedure with steroids and lidacaine, something that he’s gone through so many times before and it didn’t work. It was documented in his VA medical records that it didn’t work. Yet they wanted to do it again since “it’s a new procedure.” Um, no it’s not. TheHubs explained to the doctor the exact procedure he went through the last time he was there. It was the same procedure the doctor was explaining to him. But, let’s try it one more time. That happened on July 5th. And guess what?! It did nothing for him.

Ugh.

So we had to wait even longer to get that Botox injection. His next scheduled appointment was 3 October. This was when he was to have his Botox. Even though we brought his civilian doctor records of the last 3 years worth of injections, the VA only does half the dose at double the time. Oh this is so frustrating. During this appointment we also found out that the VA Pain Center is not trained to do most of the areas he has been getting Botox injected into, which happen to be his worst areas. So they are writing in his notes that he needs a referral to go to Neurology to do that. We also mentioned Ketamine Infusions. They said they have done a few of those in the past but he needs a referral for that as well. The nurse instructed us to contact his PCP to get that referral.

We sent a secured message to his PCP on the 4th. We get a reply on the 11th stating that Neurology is submitting a referral to the Choice Program (where he can see a civilian doctor). Of course we haven’t heard anything. I call up The Choice Progam and they don’t have an authorization letter for me to speak on his behalf, even though we’ve sent it in multiple times over the years. Apparently they are not the VA, but work with the VA. Ok. So I finally get to talk to them and they don’t have the referral yet and it usually takes at most 3 business days to get it.

We sent another secured message to his PCP and the nurse instructed us to contact the VA Neurology. VA Neurology knew nothing about a referral. They said his Primary needed to submit the referral to the Choice Program. Emailed his PCP back, and they said, no, Neurology needs to submit the referral.

Oye ve! Can we please stop this merry-go-round? I want off!

When we emailed the PCP back, the nurse said that she will “forward this to a specialist,” whatever that means.

So, I’m still fighting for my husband for him to get the care he deserves and hopefully some relief from all the pain. It breaks my heart to see him balled up in bed, ripping at his hair, squeezing the crap out of his neck, nearly in tears all because of the pain.

This was taken outside the VA Pain Center when he went in for his procedure…the first time. I just love it!

img_20160705_102314

LadyJai

Related Articles you may like:
Advocating for My Wounded Warrior (Part 2)
Advocating for My Wounded Warrior (Part 1) 
Our Story

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When The Fog Burns Off

Several weeks ago, my husband called me while I was at work.
Nothing unusual about that.

However, this time his voice was broken and quiet and he said, “Something happened.”

My mind raced within a microsecond of what could possibly have happened. My throat closed. My stomach flipped.

Before the sobs took hold and the line went dead, he managed to tell me of the memory that the fog had shrouded from him since the incident happened in Kosovo back in 1999.

My own silent panic raged inside of me while I dropped everything at work and sped home. He was no longer answering the phone. The more I tried, the faster I drove. Even if we had someone who could go check on him, I knew he was in no state to answer the door. Had I called 911 and had a sheriff go out, it probably could have made things a thousand times worse. I just had to get home as fast as I could.

I already had a plan in my head if I were to get pulled over by the police for speeding. I would have handed them my driver’s license and told them to meet me at my house because my husband was in full PTSD meltdown and I needed to get there as fast as I could. (Honestly, in hindsight, I probably should have called 911 to let them know what I was doing. Not sure how that would have ended though. Would they have come to the house? Would it have made TheHubs worse?)

Once I got home, I found him huddled under the covers, won’t come out from under them. I called his VA doctor and between me talking with him and the nurse talking with him while I held the phone to his ear, we finally calmed him down.

But that memory of his time in Kosovo, that memory that his brain had protected him from, still lingers.

PTSD never gets better. No amount of therapy or drugs can make it so. I don’t care what the VA says. PTSD is something that will haunt the person for the rest of their lives. They, alone, are the only ones who can manage it. Living with someone who suffers PTSD is not so haunting, but it does affect everyone it touches in some way. Those of us who live with, and love, someone who suffers with these demons has to learn to adjust. And the only way to learn is through communication between everyone involved.

I am blessed that he is comfortable enough, trusts me enough, to share with me his demons. But I am also cursed with the knowledge of those demons and knowing that I will never be able to take them from him.

LadyJai

 

 

Related Articles you may like:

Our Story
PTSD or Moral Injury
Anxiety, Depression, and Secondary PTSD

VA Appeal Update #6

I contacted the VA Under Secretary, in hopes to either speed up the process or at the very least, let them know about the gobbledygook woman that did his C&P.

Again, they just “passed the buck” on the whole thing. We did get an “update,” if you want to call it that.

Here’s what we got:

STATUS OF APPEAL:  Your husband’s appeal began in July 2011 when VA received his Notice of Disagreement.

BVA VIDEOCONFERENCE HEARING:  On 07-24-14, a videoconference hearing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) was requested. The next step in the appeals process will be the scheduling of that hearing. Your husband will be notified in writing of the date and time of the hearing.

 A hearing is not required. The wait for a BVA videoconference hearing can be long as there are limited slots available. The St. Petersburg, FL Regional Office – which is where the hearing will be held – received many requests for BVA videoconference hearings prior to your husband’s July 2014 request. Those requests are filled based on date order.

 If your husband decides to withdraw his request for the hearing, the appeal would then go directly to BVA for their review. (provided no additional evidence has been submitted requiring Regional Office action) Please know that he is entitled to a hearing – it is his choice whether to have the hearing. If he decides to withdraw the hearing request, that written, dated, signed statement should be submitted via:

·         fax to VA’s Evidence Intake Center at (844) 531-7818
·         or mail to Evidence Intake Center at –
Department Of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Newnan, GA 30271-0020

APPEALS BACKLOG:  The appeals backlog is large. Regional Offices and the BVA are working those appeals based on the date they were received. I apologize for the long wait which I know can be frustrating. The Under Secretary has repeatedly requested additional resources from Congress to help VA work appeals more quickly.

EXPEDITING AN APPEAL:  However, please know that an appeal may be expedited for a veteran who is terminally ill, homeless or otherwise experiencing very serious hardship. If your husband is in one of those categories, he may request that his appeal be expedited based on such circumstances. To do so, submit that request in writing with documentation of the hardship to the VA regional office in St. Petersburg, FL. Documentation of severe financial hardship could include such things as copies of bankruptcy proceedings, eviction notice, past due bills, utility shut-off notices, etc. Submit the request and the supporting documentation via:

·         fax to VA’s Evidence Intake Center at (844) 531-7818
·         or mail to Evidence Intake Center at –
Department Of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Newnan, GA 30271-0020

 If your husband does not fall into one of the above categories, then his appeal will continue to be worked in date order. That means it may be a few months to many months to even more than a year before the next step in the appeal, which is the scheduling of the BVA videoconference hearing. Again, I apologize for the long wait – but I want to give you a realistic timeframe.

 CHECK STATUS OF APPEAL:  To check on the status of the appeal, please call 1 (800) 827-1000. Your husband’s representative, Disabled American Veterans, can also provide updates and assistance.

I hope that this information is helpful to you and your husband. As noted above, the next step in the appeals process will be the scheduling of the BVA videoconference hearing. Your husband will be notified in writing of the date and time of the hearing.

This waiting is expected. I grew up in the military. Everything was hurry up and wait. But this is absolutely ridiculous.

Let the “more waiting” ensue.

LadyJai

 

 

Related Articles you may like:

Our Story
VA Appeal Update
VA Appeal Update #2
VA Appeal Update #3
VA Appeal Update #4
VA Appeal Update #5

Where Did the Magical Season Go?

So, can this day/week/season hurry up and be over with already?

Every year I hide behind my words – <Insert Holiday Title Here> is nothing but a commercialized guilt trip and we should celebrate love, kindness, thankfulness, gratefulness, family, friends, and whatever else, EVERY day.

Yeah, just words. Sort of.

In all honesty, I have always disliked many holidays. I dislike Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents day, Boss’s Day, Administrative Assistance Day, and any other day you can think of. The truth of it all is, it’s a holiday that people adopt so they can party (like St. Patrick’s Day, or Cinco De Mayo), or it’s a day that all the retailers try to lure you in with “savings” to get your money or guilt trip you into buying something for your love or your child and if you don’t, you suck.

And it seems to be worse around Christmas.

My heart and soul must live in a different time period, especially around Christmas time.  The magic of the season is everything to me. You know what I mean. Old movies like HOLIDAY INN or WHITE CHRISTMAS, or the kind you see in a Thomas Kinkade painting, and all the stories of miracles happening around Christmas. A quaint little neighborhood. A blanket of virgin snow. A single trail down the center of the road that leads to the horse-drawn carriage. Christmas lights and decorations lining the streets and warming the houses. Everyone smiling and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, helping those who needed help, and giving a small gift of friendship in any form. Friends and family circling round the fireplace drinking hot apple cider, singing Christmas carols, and sharing in the warmth of the love. Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

Oh to see the world through my childhood eyes again.

To set the record straight, It’s not just about the lack of presents. With all due respect, presents under the tree is only a tiny part of that ideal Christmas image in my head. With each passing year, though, the magic of the holiday seasons grows more distant and unattainable. Decorations, still packed away in boxes stored in the garage, are left untouched for years. The lack of cold and snow, does nothing to put me in the mood either. I have no motivation. And when I do, I do it all alone. And now, while the desire is there, that little voice inside my head says, “what’s the point?”

I no longer like going out window shopping, just to enjoy the decorations or looking for ideas for my own house. There are way too many people. It would be ok if everyone was happy it was Christmas time. But now, everyone is so rude, and a thousand times worse during this season. It spurs anxiety in both TheHubs and I.

PTSD and Pain have ruined this time of year for me. TheHubs only feels 3 emotions: rage, despair, and nothing. He doesn’t get into decorating, socializing, or celebrating anymore. This, in turn, makes me not want to put in the effort. Maybe it’s the lack of UV light, the drab days, the lack of color all around, that adds to the depressive state. They do talk a lot about this time of year being worse for depression. So maybe that’s part of it. But I also know that seeing your loved one in constant pain, suffering his demons, and hardly ever seeing the smile on his lips and twinkle in his eye, well, you just let it slip through and wish it were all over so you can get back to the everyday life without seeing everyone else’s Christmas cheer.

This year has been especially hard, making this holiday season a bit worse for wear.  We’ve been through some seriously trying times. Communication is the only way to get through it. And while the PTSD Rage Monster flares bright, I wondered if we’d ever get back to that point. But we did. We both opened up. We both are constantly working on our communication. But while you’re smack in the midst of living the hell, it is hard to see the light. There were several of these times throughout the year. More than we’ve had in a very, very long time.

And then there were all the medical issues.

For me, luckily, this year was pretty simple. Just a few follow-ups with my Psychiatrist and adjustments to my meds–which at this time, I am not going to up them because of the price. It’s like two completely different prescriptions, even though it’s the same medication. One strength dose in the morning, a different one in the evening. But, it’s on a higher tier in the formulary so I have to fork out a bit of money for that. (And don’t even get me started on next year’s medical insurance.)

When TheBoy started school this year, he also started complaining about his feet hurting. It wasn’t until about a week in that it got so bad he called us from the nurses office saying he couldn’t walk anymore. We took him to a podiatrist and that’s when we found out he has incredibly flat feet (like his father) and loose tendons (like his mother). Luckily, the doctor had a quick and permanent fix, giving him an arch and correcting his feet to hopefully not have pain. It would require surgery on both feet. And now was the best time for him to have it since he’s still growing. He’s already had one surgery, and his second is on Dec 8th. (if you want to read about this condition, you can see the pictures here)

And then we found out he needed braces. UGH!

On top of all this, we also have to foot the bill for what the VA doesn’t cover for TheHubs. All his medications, and the neurologist he’s been seeing for a little over 10 years. His Botox injections, and pain medications. He also had surgery in September to help correct his severely deviated septum, which was supposed to help his apnea and we were hoping to alleviate the positional pain that came from sleeping since he would now be able to breath out of his nose while sleeping on his belly. It helped somewhat, but nothing to write home about.

So, our bank account has been pretty much wiped out — of course adding to my already discouragement for this season.

So when TheBoy comes to me, without prompting, and says he would be fine with nothing for his birthday and Christmas, an instant surge of pride is quickly replaced with a great sadness because I know with all these medical and dental bills that are going on I cannot afford to get him something, or anyone else either.

This season is about giving. And I do so love to give, whether it be a present, a smile, a hug, a positive thought. I am happiest when I am giving and helping people. I am happy making others happy. Sometimes, though, I would love if everyone else felt the same way I do.

When I started writing this post, it was so very negative. I couldn’t see the positive, and wondered if I would ever feel any Christmas spirit again. After getting it out, admitting it, I realize that just like being positive in everyday life, being happy on Christmas is a conscious decision. So today, I am making that decision – the decision to try to enjoy the season and not focus on my dreams.

I am going to try to make other people happy. Maybe it will help me get back into the spirit of the season. If I can buy someone’s coffee while I’m out shopping, or find a homeless vet who hangs out on the corner near the mall and give them $20. Or get back to leaving my Positive Post-It Notes around town while we are out and about…*IF* we are out and about. I really want to be able to share the positive and the happy and give someone a smile. The more people who see kindness, maybe it will spread and the rudeness will diminish?

I honestly believe in karma and “what goes around comes around”. I just have to be patient. And patience is not my best quality.

One can only hope, though.

So I am going to ask you to do the same. Maybe it might help you too. Be kind to everyone. You never know what their story is.

Be kind. Smile often. And spread the happiness.

LadyJai

If you’re willing, I would love to hear your stories as well. Let us all feel not so alone, especially during this holiday season so we can have a little bit of light in the PTSD darkness. Love you all.

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The Lasting Effects On One Veteran & His Family from 9/11

Allendale This memorial was designed by two Allendale residents, a college student and a sixth-grader. The 5-foot-tall granite marker is draped with a bronze American flag and adorned with a bronze eagle on top. Its inscription includes the words, “We remember.” The monument sits on pavers shaped like the Pentagon.

Allendale – This memorial was designed by two Allendale residents, a college student and a sixth-grader. The 5-foot-tall granite marker is draped with a bronze American flag and adorned with a bronze eagle on top. Its inscription includes the words, “We remember.” The monument sits on pavers shaped like the Pentagon. – New Jersey Monthly

While today marks a day we will ALWAYS remember, while we recount the stories of where we were that day, while we share in the patriotism that brought us all together, I wanted to shed a little light on how that day STILL affects some of us. We weren’t at Ground Zero. But it doesn’t mean we weren’t affected — all those who witnessed the terror, all those serving in the military, or joined up to serve because of that day. How it still affects us all.

He was full-time active duty Army at the time. When the 2nd plane hit, he told his troops, “Pack up, guys. We’re going to war.” They spent the next 3 months readying themselves for war.

I worked in the 3rd Corps war room (contractor for their secured network) and I watched as his unit’s orders came, got canceled, came again, and then canceled again. Over and over my heart wrenched and relief surged only to be yanked away again. It was a very stressful time for all of us.

For him, though, he *wanted* to go. To do his duty. He was denied the First Gulf War and Somalia as he was needed on the home front to train lieutenants before they were shipped off. He felt like a failure because he didn’t do what he signed up to do. Then, Kosovo happened and he deployed. No one remembers *that*war“. He didn’t feel as though he fulfilled his destiny there either.

Because 4th ID was chosen to go to Afghanistan before 1st CAV, he was again denied his duty (in his eyes). And again, he still feels like a failure, that he’s not a true soldier. He feels guilty for being a veteran, for having all the things he suffers because of some dumb “wag the dog” stunt that no one remembers, for missing out.

9/11 is a very conflicting memory in our household. While we love that it brought ALL Americans together as one, regardless of race, creed, color…it also means that my husband missed his chance to be the hero he always dreamed.

I hate seeing him in pain, both physically and emotionally. I hate that he cannot see himself like I see him. And I wish others could see him the way I see him too.

To this day, that war overshadows everything about him.

LadyJai

If you’re willing, I would love to hear your stories as well. Share with everyone so we never forget that day and its lasting affects on us.

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Where Were You When The Towers Fell?

VA Appeal Update #5

I’ve been trying, for two months now, to find the contact information for Secretary Bob McDonald. I’ve had one person offer help with our claim because she had his “cell phone number” and would “gladly help so no one had to go through what they had to deal with.” Yeah, after 3 attempts to contact her different ways with no response, I’ve given up on her.

I sent the second letter to Rep. Ted Yoho on 6 February 2015 and haven’t heard anything back.

On 3/4/2015 I tried sending a letter to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and when I hit the submit button it returns a 404 PAGE NOT FOUND error. I also sent that same letter to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and when I hit the submit button on their contact form, I receive “Access Denied.”

Yeah, I’m beginning to think there’s a conspiracy to cover up anything dealing with the VA. So much for their “TRANSPARENCY.” UGH.

Sent them both a tweet about it. No response.

Went to the Senate’s Facebook page but the option to post on their page has been disabled.

Went to the House’s Facebook page and asked about the 404 error there, and tagged the Senate’s account. Now we wait to see if they respond.

Yes, I’m getting very, VERY frustrated.

I went home that night and posted this in my caregiver support forum:

Today was a complete waste of time and effort. So many things I WANT to do but I spent most of it lost in google and government red tape. Someone in another offered to help with our claim issues and never followed through. I also haven’t heard back from my Representative I wrote to a month ago. So I decided to see if I could look up Secretary McDonald’s contact info. No luck there either. Then, I went to the House AND Senate Veterans’ Committees and their contact us form. One gave me a 404 Not Found error. The other, Access Denied. I thought maybe it was just the browser, so I tried another. Nope. Me thinks there is a conspiracy! I tweeted both of them. No response yet. I went to their Facebook pages. The Senate Committee page doesn’t allow posts from followers. But the House one does. I commented about their web page issue and tagged the Senate in that same post. No response yet. So frustrated. I guess we are supposed to be patient and wait, even though we’ve been doing that since 2003. I guess we aren’t meant to be lucky like everyone else. I guess pain and suffering in more ways than just what he’s going through is our lot in life. I should accept this. But I’m not going to stop. I will continue to try to get my heart hurt because that’s what I have to do. If I don’t do it. He will give up. It just reminds me of the story of Job in the bible. There’s always hope. Right?

I received an offer to help from one of the admins who was “connected.” Four emails later, and started feeling a bit better.

But that didn’t last.

I’ve sent the letters to Senator Ted Yoho, the House & Senate Committee several more times since February. I have heard nothing. What else can I do to get this going? I know I’m supposed to “Hurry Up And Wait.” That’s been the military motto my father drilled into my head since I was a baby. You’d think I would understand this by now. Logically knowing this is so very different from actually practicing this.

A few days ago, we did receive a letter from our Regional Office stating:

We have certified your appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and are transferring your VA records to the Board in Washington, D.C. The Board will notify you when it has received your records.

More Hurry Up And Wait. Let’s see, here’s a brief rundown of our latest claim with the VA:

  • 7/22/2009 – Claim Received
  • 7/29/2010 – Claim Considered
  • 8/2/2010 – Notice of Decision
  • 7/14/2011 – Notice of Disagreement
  • 10/2/2012 – Personal Hearing at the VA Regional Office
  • 1/29/2014 – VA C&P Exam
  • 7/14/2014 – De Novo Review election Received from Appellant
  • 6/22/2015 – Certified the appeal and sending records to the Board of Appeals in DC.

You can see how frustrating waiting can be!

In the mean time, I continue to advocate for him, anyway I can. But I’m running out. If anyone has any more ideas I can try, I am open and willing to listen. Please send them my way. I have finally found Secretary Bob McDonald’s phone number, which I will leave here for anyone else; but I think I might be too chicken to call him. I wouldn’t even know what to say. I write better than I speak.

http://static.c-span.org/assets/swf/CSPANPlayer.1434395986.swf?clipid=4507948

LadyJai

 

 

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VA Appeal Update #2
VA Appeal Update #3
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Happy Lung Leavin’ Day 2015 – The Mesothelioma Story

A week and a half ago, I was approached by someone on my blog asking me to email him because he had something to ask me.

I’m paranoid by trade and by upbringing. Not only was I a BRAT and an Army wife, where we are raised to understand OPSEC and how to become a hard target; I also work as an IT Security Consultant where I am extremely aware of spam, phishing, vulnerabilities, identity theft, and cyber bullying. Heck, I’ve had to track down and contact a couple of people who were using my email address to set up accounts in their name with their personal identifying information, to include a credit card. Had I been a bad person, I could very easily have ruined a few people’s lives. But I’m not. (you can read about this here, in my article called Am I A Victim? – Reverse Social Engineering).

Anyway, as I was saying, I’m naturally paranoid when something like this comes my way. I googled his name and email address. I looked him up on Facebook. Everything pointed to a legitimate plea. Even my first impression of his request gave me a hint to legitimacy due to the way it was written. But, I always err on the side of caution. I asked TheHubs. I asked a friend. It took me all day to weigh the odds. I even set up a secondary email address, just for this blog before I emailed him.

What I had found out about Mr. Von Saint James was accurate. And it was a legitimate email with a request for help. He told me what he wanted and I agreed. It was a no-brainer.

Lung Leavin’ Day is a nickname given to the day that Heather had her lung removed.  While LungLeavin’ Day is technically February 2nd, her husband wants to spread awareness throughout the month of February. Here’s a little about her story:

1Nine years ago, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She had just had a baby and was given 15 months to live. After surgery to remove her left lung, Lung Leavin’ Day was born.

Heather continues to survive. This is her 9th LungLeavin’ Day celebration! The purpose of this holiday is to encourage others to face their fears. Each year, they gather around a fire in our backyard with their friends and family, write their biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. They celebrate for those who are no longer with them, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, they celebrate life!

You can see Heather’s interactive page mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday that tells the full story of their special day.

After reading their story, so many fears came flooding back. This, THIS is one of our biggest fears. Mesothelioma is not pretty. And usually, it’s a death sentence. TheHubs was a heavy-wheeled mechanic in the Army for 13.5 years. The first nine were spent in an asbestos insulated motor pool changing out asbestos breaks on military vehicles. Normally, a tour in the Army lasts 3 to 4 years. Unfortunately, the way the paperwork went for him during Team Spirit, The First Gulf War, Somalia, and a couple of cancelled PCS moves, he ended up staying in the same unit, at the same post, in the same motor pool for 9 years. This is unheard of. He watched three or four rotations of personnel while he stayed.

The thought of cancer from asbestos always tickled the back of our minds, but it was what it was and there was nothing we could do about it. It wasn’t until the Army contracted a company to survey the motor pool, remove the asbestos from the building, and then document all the personnel into some national database somewhere (they never told us where) did we start to figure it was serious. There was a problem with the contract, too. They only removed the asbestos from the walls. The ceiling remained untouched. TheHubs remembers having the insulation falling from the ceiling every day but nothing was ever done, even after the “renovation.” At least, not while he was there.

We moved on. The Army stopped using so much asbestos in their brake parts. They renovated the old buildings. But honestly, I don’t trust much of the “renovations” anymore after the motor pool fiasco, and after so many contracts I’ve worked on over the years with the government. I have seen and experienced so many things, how can I trust the government?

Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen so many lawyer ads on the TV about Mesothelioma that it’s constantly in our face. We know that it can take between 25-50 years to manifest, IF it manifests. Well, we are now at the 25 year mark from his first exposure. And now we learn that you can contract this through second-hand exposure. That means, even MY chances of contracting Mesothelioma are great because he would come home and I would snuggle up with him while he was still in uniform, and I washed his clothes. Not only that, now that I look back, I’ve lived and worked in government buildings since the day I was born.

Even today I wonder if about the place I’ve worked for the last 12 years. My co-worker dried her hardest to have a fish tank here. Everything died. Even when she used distilled water, everything died. She took it home and the fish thrive. Makes you wonder. I mean it is an old WWI building. It was even considered a Fallout Shelter once. The sign has since gone missing. I always wonder about sick office syndrome because of all this. But now, I wonder about asbestos in all those other military buildings I lived and worked in. Only time will tell. We just keep praying that it will not bless us on top of everything else that bless our lives.

We’ve already had to deal with lung cancer in our family. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer on September 11, 2001, the same day the Towers Fell. It was not due to his smoking, but it scared him enough to quit (for a little while, anyway). My father was exposed to Agent Orange during Vietnam. That’s what caused his cancer.

This experience changed my image of my father for me. He was my indestructible strong man. My Superman. To see him mortal, laying in the hospital room, he looked so small and frail.   But I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t break down in front of my mom. I had to be her strength. I had to be my dad’s strength. (and I am still trying to find out why I have always put that on me.)

He’s been cancer free since his surgery. We’ve been very lucky with that. I admire Heather and her family. They beat the odds and they came out the other side with a glorious outlook. I admire their dedication and willingness to help others. Their story is inspiring. I hope you will take the time to check it out. And if you need resources or reference material for Mesothelioma, please see below:
http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-cancer/
http://www.mesothelioma.com/treatment/
http://www.mesothelioma.com/veterans/
http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-cancer/

Here is a video where Heather goes into detail of her experiences as well: http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/

There’s always hope in the face of darkness. I will always hold on to these stories. They will get me through if ever we are blessed with Mesothelioma.

God Bless you The Von St. James’

Heather and Family

LadyJai