When do you stop?

Back in January, I started a support group for fellow wives of wounded soldiers in the Austin, Texas area. When I first started it, I was unsure how it was going to work out and worried that I might not be ready for something like this. It is hard to take on projects when your soldier does not allow you to get your 7 or 8 hours of sleep in one straight block. At my old age, I am not so able to thrive without rest. Funny how I took that for granted. I used to go one whole day without sleep when I had my own business. Talk about drive. I am still driven, just in other ways now.

Back to the group- I have found it to be one of the best things I have ever done. It has helped me a lot and I have seen where it has been useful for some of the other ladies, too. There is room for growth and I have big plans for it. I am so happy that others in similar situations don’t feel as alone anymore. It is something I am very glad I did. I get to hear about successes first hand from others trying different methods on fixing their husbands.

So, here is a big question about drive, research, and pushing. For all of you with wounded soldiers at home suffering with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and other debilitating health issues, when is enough enough? I can’t seem to stop researching the latest and newest methods to help restore cognitive function. I am always googleing TBI, PTSD to see if there are new strategies in helping to remedy the side effects. Through one of my friend’s blogs, I see there are injections that are being given to soldiers suffering with PTSD and that they do help a lot on reducing anxiety. However they have to be repeated every 3-4 months. To get the shot, you have to go to the clinic, which is far from here. So my hubby would have to endure the painful journey of getting there as well as receiving the injection, which would be another kind of pain. When I started talking to him about it as I got excited when I saw Kristle’s blog, he said he was not interested.

What? You are not interested? You like having PTSD? You like having the nightmares that make you literally sweat out a gallon of sweat each night and have the flashbacks? You like waking up sick to your stomach when you experience one of your many horrible wartime experiences? How can you not want to get rid of this? How can you not want to try something new to get it eliminated?

I got upset. I thought WTF- why am I doing all of this research to help him regain his short term memory issues and other cognitive deficits that really frustrate him if he does not even want to try something that has a documented success rate?

He won’t even try acupuncture and I have many wives tell me how much it has helped their soldiers with pain and also some of their anxiety. Anxiety is the huge feeding pool which fuels PTSD. This is not fair. I hear about all sorts of new treatments and things to try and he won’t even consider it.

What do you ladies do? I am frustrated. I don’t want things to be like this for the rest of our life. I want him to have fulfillment from what he does and to feel good about himself again. I want him to one day wake up without the chronic pain that knocks him down and makes him sick to his stomach.

Is that too much to ask for? Do I just stop and give up?

When I look at my husband, who is still young at age 41 and has a life left in front of him- I can’t imagine him not trying something to help him feel more like he used to. Would he want to spend the next 25-30 years suffering with chronic pain? Would he want to keep going and keep the blinders on to alternative treatments around him?

Can I just stop and let him control what he tries next? Can I let go of this?

Not alone in being alone

One of my fellow wounded warrior wives posted a funny, but sad list of “You know you are a wife of a wounded soldier when..” It was amazing how many women posted something that I have experienced. It was very eye opening as I did not realize how much of it I had experienced.

What I mean is that the time has gone by so fast, I did not pay attention to all of the minutia that had changed in my life or that I had to adjust to. When reading some of the other women’s comments, they triggered memories in my mind that I had forgotten about. Kind of like when you watch a mother hold a toddler on one hip, balance a diaper bag, purse, laptop bag, and lunch in the other free hand. Her toddler drops a toy and she bends with everything else in her hands and arms and in one quick, efficient step, has retrieved the toy.

You just adjust physically and mentally and get stronger as your baby grows. In this case, it was mental growth. Realization of how things that can seem so bleak and difficult (and there were some pretty tough days) are surmountable. The ability to keep plugging along is something us WWW’s have in common. Ever since I had found the website for the Wounded Warrior Wives, it has been a literal lifesaver for me.  I have posted their website in the Useful Links area.  I recommend it to any of you spouses.

In some of my blogs I wrote about the isolation I felt being the caregiver of a wounded soldier. No one else knows what it is like laying next to someone having nightmares that cause their husbands to get up and run to the restroom because they are so upsetting they make him throw up. To lie there and listen the moans, yells, avoid the flailing arms moving in self-protection, and console him when he wakes up. To get up with your child in the morning after you have had only three hours of sleep and act like everything is rosy and handle a few things and then take a nap when scheduling allows. To be fully aware of all of the things that trigger his PTSD and keep him in a zone to allow him to be more comfortable when he is out in public, in crowds, and other places where he can feel apprehensive.

We (wives of wounded soldiers) do all of those things without really thinking about it. We do it out of love for our soldiers. Just like how my husband STILL opens the door for me first, even if he is having an extra sore day and he will walk all the way around his truck to my side first. Even in rain. The Taliban did not blast away the gentleman that he was prior to getting injured. They did not blast away his courage, his strength, and his heart for his country. He does those things automatically.

When I look back on the isolation that took over me when I was away at the Fisher House and had to spend the weekdays away from my son, I can remember when the darkness faded and the sun started to shine. It was when I first read a forum that one of the wives had commented in. It was seriously a light in the tunnel of never ending darkness. It makes me think of that Police song,”Message In a Bottle.” The lyrics in which Sting’s character finds a million other bottles with messages lying on the shore,”It seems I am not so lonely being alone..” It just rang true. None of us are alone anymore. There are brave wives dealing with bureaucracy to help the future veterans not have to fight as hard for their health care. Some of them are giving voice to the many issues we are all enduring. I applaud every single one of them. I can only thank you. Your willingness to share the resources you have found along the way of helping your husbands recover has only inspired me to do the same.