Smiles and Sunshine and Strong Shoulders

Today is a beautiful day. It went from 19 degrees and snowy of all things to a great spring day of what feels like 65 degrees. Definitely a quick flash of winter for us here in Texas.

After dealing with the loss of all of the things I have not allowed myself to feel, it is a nice feeling of the weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I think I saved myself a few visits to the counselor with last weekend’s revelations and thoughts I finally felt. Now we need to work on the task at hand, which is to get Todd the best help we can so we can help him figure out what his plan B will be in case he can not physically or mentally handle his job. His fear is that he will not be able to work due to his lack of short term memory. In order to do any sort of job, you have to remember what you have read a few minutes later. Sadly, he isn’t cut out for a physical job as he has no energy or stamina due to his blood disorder and leg injury.
However, his shoulders are strong, his willpower is there, and I know that things will get better in time. Just have to take it one day at a time and tonight, I get to go to Carnival with my friends. I am looking forward to dancing and spending time with my girlfriends.

15 months have flown by

I had a major breakdown of grief the other day – it started while at the muster for the community based wtu and as I was looking the nurse manager in the eye and the Col, who I love. It all of a sudden clicked with me that it has been 15 months since Todd got hurt and I haven’t seen a ton of improvement. My eyes started tearing up and it was all I could do to try to be non-emotional when covering all of what needed to be addressed and fighting to get him to go to the shepherd center. When I complained about his quality of life and how he needs and deserves better, they both agreed.

Saturday, on our way back from San Antonio, I got to stay with my bff and go to of all things, a Tupperware party. It was a lot of fun and I am going to have one. The next day I was taking a bath in her giant tub and all of a sudden I started crying as I remembered thinking that Todd resembled an old man getting out of his truck as he used his cane and negotiated the grass and rough terrain. It made me cry thinking that we are never going to be able to learn the Tango together. He had told me we would do that when he got home from Afghanistan. I cried for him having an uncertain health with his blood chemistry all whacked. I cried for the loss of the strong, agile man that I used to have. I cried for him suffering with his TBI and PTSD and how it has taken away his self esteem. I let it all out. I cried for all of the worry, the pain, and loss of his two friends that died that day. It was bottled up for so long and I needed to let it out. Now that I have let it out, I feel a bit clearer on what we need to do. My plan for him is clearer. Even though it will be tough on us, we will do what needs to be done to give him improved health and a reason for being.

January 2011

It has been a while since I have gotten to put some thoughts down on paper. We have been pretty busy with traveling back and forth to San Antonio for CSF’s Med Board medical appointments.

We also met at the Center For The Intrepid to get him fitted for a brace so his right leg that is considered a “salvage” stops buckling at the knee when he steps forward. He has had 8 surgeries on that leg so far. It is never a good thing for the army docs to call your limb a salvage. To me it gives a visual of a junkyard. Inside of his right leg, he has metal from his right knee to his hip bone. Now, due to his lack of white blood cells we really don’t want him to have to endure any more surgery on that leg. An infection would cause him to lose the leg at the hip and that would be incapable of a prosthetic.

He has a lot of hetero-topic ossification in the limb, which is bone growth that grows all through out the remaining muscle. In other words, it’s bone where he shouldn’t have any. It pinches in against the nerves. Just sitting in a hard wooden chair causes him excruciating pain.

The brace prototype did show some positive results!!! It will take Todd some getting used to working his remaining leg muscles differently with it, but in about 3 weeks, the real brace should be ready for him to try. I hope it helps him walk better. I think for him to walk upright and without a cane, would be the gift he certainly deserves.

Time will tell!

Wonderful Things

Some of the wonderful things I have experienced since my husband has been hurt is that people in the community where we live sent a lot of cards and some associations made quilts for him which were really beautiful. We received a few donations along the way, which helped for the gas that I had to buy going back and forth to Taylor every weekend from San Antonio to pick up our son.

Christmas was wonderful for us as we got to spend it in our own house, in our own city, and sleeping in our own bed! We were staying at the Fisher House at Fort Sam last year and it just didn’t feel the same. At least hubby was in the room with me instead of being an outpatient. I always reflect on our past year during the holidays. I have always done this, ever since I lost my Granny in 1989.

Our lives have been filled with some wonderful people. My family is in the east coast and we are out here in Texas so they didn’t come to help out when Todd got hurt. I really did not have any resources except for my friends.
My husband’s family lives a few hours away and they stayed with him for a bit when they could get away from their own obligations and jobs.
It was nice when it was just my husband and I together at night, talking about what we were going to do when he gets medically retired and what are we going to do with our home repairs and what we love and miss dearly about our son.

Every Sunday leaving the Fisher House to take him back to my friends that took him in so he did not have to leave the school mid year was just a killer.
It was a palpable dark cloud on us that we could see when we woke up. Knowing I was going to have to drive back without him in the car with me.

I don’t know if our son ever realized how much it killed us to say goodbye.
I am so thankful to God that we were all together and that we are living together as a family again. I can’t express to anyone how nice it is to wake up in the morning and hear my son’s laughs and to be around our dog and see our things and live the way we want to live.

I don’t think my husband’s family understands how much he has been away from home. Todd was deployed twice to war,spent many times away for hurricane duty and also went to mission trainings that took him away from his own bed.
We have most of the time- I think 14 out of 15 years of marriage we went to his parents house for Christmas, versus spending it at home and having our own tradition.

Now that CSF is injured, he just can’t take such a car ride. The 3 1/2 long car rides just kill him. It takes a lot out of him. It isn’t just the oppressive pain he has in his leg and back, but the energy it drains out of him. He received a couple of guilt-inducing calls and a card that did not have a nice Christmas message on it, but “hope you change your mind about the drive.” Well, no one in his family has had a leg almost blown off. None of them are suffering from PTSD and suffer from the constant pain and sleep deprivation he does. None of them realize how when you add up all of these factors and top it off with a huge dose of pancytopenia (low blood cells of all colors), it makes it so he can’t do anything the next day.

How long do I have to watch this crap go on and not say anything? His own father doesn’t believe that PTSD is a real condition so my husband does not want me to tell him. I don’t as that is his business. However, it is very sad for me to watch my husband feel like he is not being good to his family because he just does not feel good enough for a trip. He has his good days and his bad days. The bad days he can not get out of bed hardly. The good days he is smiling, looking good, almost a vision of his former self.

We (his son and I) understand the ebbs and flows of his health. No one else around him does. His own family assumed that once he got out of the hospital, all is good. It is sad the river of denial that flows through their minds.
They don’t want to think about how his life is so different now, how his mind is occupied even in sleep with horrors none of us ever want to contemplate, and makes it so sleep even isn’t fun. His legs, arms, body twitches a lot when he goes to sleep. He puts off bedtime every night as he doesn’t want to face the nightmares. I know that is why he does it. I even got him to admit it one night.

People he knew prior to the IED blast look at him and see his sweating forehead, the cane he uses, and the painful gait he has. They think that the problem with his leg is all he has. I let people we don’t know think that it is all he is dealing with and listen to them telling him not to give up and to keep up with his therapy. Like that is really going to grow back a new half of a quad on his leg. To me the bigger worry is why is he missing white and red blood cells? We have seen 3 hemooncologists and they do not have any clue. One suggested removing his spleen just to see if the white cells are being eaten up by it. I asked her what the probability is and she didn’t have any. So here we are, a year later and no answers. How long can he live that way? How long can the pain medicines be cycled in and out without hurting him long term? Will he be able to grow old with me?

Those are the questions in my mind,I have resigned myself to pray for his comfort and quality of life and leave the rest up to the big guy upstairs.
That is all I can do.

We are excited about celebrating 2011. We have a lot of exciting plans. My honey turns 40 and I am throwing him a party. My hope for you all reading this is that your 2011 is healthy, fun, and happy.