Sunday, August 29, 2010

Addicted to the Computer

The computer has been a sore spot in our life for quite some time. Actually, I think it has been an "issue" for almost the length of Allen's injury. The problem, as I see it, is that Allen has great difficulty managing his time and spends the majority of his waking hours in front of his computer. Don't get me wrong, I spend time on the computer as well, but I do manage to do other things daily and am able to communicate in person and not solely through the computer or some other form of technology.

This computer addiction all started when he began attending online classes. The classes were very difficult for him with all of his injury "stuff" and therefore he spent every waking moment working on them. Even with all of that time in front of the computer, he still had an extremely difficult time retaining the information he was trying to learn. Currently, he has taken a leave of absence (for over a year now) from his online program while he works to get himself into a more stable place.

Even though he's not taking classes anymore, he spends the majority of his wake hours on his computer. Occasionally he watches movies, but more often than not he is on the internet. He claims he is researching "stuff". The latest obsession seems to be anything related to sniper's and their weapons. When asked about this recently in his psychiatrists office, he simply answered "they make the best guns."

None of this is what really bothers me about his computer time. Although I must admit, the constant researching of weapons and snipers is of concern to me. However, the thing that really gets me is that he emails people frequently when he can't seem to speak a complete sentence to anyone here in his own house!

This weekend is a prime example. Yesterday he spent the majority of his day outside working on the truck. (The time he is not on his computer, in bed, or at an appointment, he's outside working on something and he doesn't want to be disturbed by anyone.) Of the few words that were exchanged through us, it was apparent that he was in a mood not to be messed with. He was pissed off at the world. I know this not by words or actions, but more because of the way he carries himself and his body language. Before his injury, he was NEVER like this. He was the most even tempered person I'd ever met. So, yesterday no communication between him and anyone else. This morning he got up with our youngest early because I wanted to sleep in for a little longer. He did not do this voluntarily, I had to push the issue. About an hour later, Dreyson came in and told me he couldn't find dad. I got up to look for him and found him locked in the bathroom, no lights on, which is not normal. We're lucky if he shuts the door! I asked him what was wrong and he said he just needed some peace and quiet and it was peaceful in the bathroom. I then gave him the choice of going back to bed if that is what he needed to do. Of course, he said he did and headed to the bedroom and shut the door. We didn't see him again until 4:00 this afternoon when he came out, took meds, made a sandwich and then got on his computer. His fingers were pounding away and so I asked him what he was doing. He was emailing his old good buddy so and so. I didn't say anything, but my heart hurt. The entire weekend he had not hardly spoken to anyone here in his physical life, but then he gets up and emails people he hasn't seen in years.

I know that he loves us more than anything. I also know that he would give anything to get better. But, his isolation is really hard not to take personal. It's a daily chore to keep remembering that it is the PTSD and TBI that makes him push us away, not him. Knowing all of this though, doesn't make it hurt any less.

Even Now...........Gina

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Separating Allen From Injury

I often hear the comment, "I don't know how you do it." For awhile this really bothered me, made me feel like I was handling our life different than anyone else would. My guess is that it is similar to the way Allen feels when someone calls him a hero. He would say, he was just doing his job. I never really know what to say.

I think that everything about life is a choice. We choose to get up everyday, live our life, and do what we do. I do not see that I am doing anything different than anyone else. Life hands everyone their share of ups and downs, although sometimes I think some get more of the downs than ups just like some get more ups than downs. I often think that God must trust me an awful lot, but that also gives me the strength to live this life, our life, everyday.

One thing that any spouse of a wounded warrior has to keep in mind is that our spouse has an injury, but the injury and our spouse are separate. The injury does not have to define who we are all the time, or who our family is. On those really tough days, or weeks sometimes, I constantly remind myself that what I am dealing with is the illness, not my husband. He developed this illness due to his courageous and selfless service to our country and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect always. Many times, this is not an easy task as he can be very difficult to deal with, but I know in my heart that it is not him, it is his illness. He would do ANYTHING to get past this monster called PTSD and that is what matters. Often it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then all I have to do is remember, he doesn't want to be this way and he isn't choosing to be like this. He is fighting with all his strength to stay on top and win! And because I know these things, I can continue to do what I do to take care of him!

Even Now........Gina

Freedom of Speech

Being at home most days I find myself often perusing the internet for articles related to our post injury life. We are still trying to figure out the ins and outs that go along with being retired, but for the most part, I think we are figuring things out. Yesterday, while on facebook, I happened a long an editorial written by a Vietnam era spouse. It was a very negative spin on military families and the sacrifices they make daily.

The writings of Mrs. Martha Sisk stirred up a lot of emotions for me. In a nutshell she said that current soldiers and their families need to soldier up and stop whining about the sacrifices they are making for our country. (I am going to post the link to her article with this post just so you can read it for yourself and I do not have to quote all of it. Also, so that I do not misconstrue anything she says.) She herself is a wife a retired Vietnam era veteran so it makes her editorial even more offensive to me. Being a part of the military brings a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood which she obviously has forgotten about. We should be supporting each other not badmouthing.

At the end of her article, she does say that those who have died in the line of duty or those who are severely injured are not who she is talking about. So, where does my family fall in her opinion? This is actually a question I wonder about for a lot of people, especially the politicians, military, and VA.

I guess my biggest issue with her opinion is that if service members and their families are not sacrificing what exactly is it? Yes, our military today is a volunteer force. Yes I voluntarily married my husband knowing he was in the military. However, my kids did not choose to be born to a military family. Nor did any of us volunteer to have our lives turned upside down by the injuries we are living with due to the sacrifice my brave husband gave to his country. I don't see how anyone could view our sacrifice as us whining about things when if given the chance, he would do it all over again in a heartbeat. And, I would support him in that decision! I think that it is a sacrifice that we all make willingly and yes, we do and will need some help to make it through. However, that is not whining. After all, our sacrifices we willingly make, are what allows you to write your opinion and have it published!!

Mrs. Sisk's full article can be read at . I would love to hear other's comments!!

Even Now.........Gina

Monday, August 16, 2010

Falling Through the Cracks

It seems along this journey, if someone is going to fall through the cracks it is the guys like Allen. The ones with the "invisible" wounds. Sometimes I think they are the ones who need the most help, but I know that each of the wounded has their own journey equally as hard as the next guy. I am definitely not here to decide who has it the hardest or the best.

July was an extremely rough month for us and August isn't too far behind. It started with the 4th of July and hasn't stopped since! Around the middle of July, Allen plummeted. After struggling to take care of him for a week, I finally took him to the VA. He was just too far past what any home care could offer him. He needed 24 hour care. He was at his lowest point so far along this journey. We keep thinking things will get better, but so far, we've been on one heck of a roller coaster ride.

After a week in patient, plans were made for Allen to come home for 2-3 weeks while we wait for a bed to open in the PTSD treatment program at the VA in Topeka. It is a 7 week, in patient program and the only program the VA has to treat PTSD. We looked into taking him back to Laurel Ridge in San Antonio but insurance will not pay for it. A little unknown fact is that while Allen has medicare, tricare, and the VA, the VA is the only one that will pay for any type of PTSD treatment. So, our only option is what the VA will do and that is this 7 week program. The kicker is, to get into this program one has to be completely stable and independent. With his recent setback and inpatient stay, he is not considered very stable. So, after coming home and us speaking with the Topeka program administrator, we know our reality. Allen falls through the cracks. He realistically will not get in until October at the earliest and he must be completely stable to enter. Another hospital stay will not help him get into the program, although I'm not sure we are going to be able to avoid that. He is teetering right on the edge.

In the midst of all of this, we are changing some meds which never helps in the short term. It will be 4-6 weeks before it is fully in his system and he is trying his best to hold it together and stay on top instead of falling off. It is going to be a rough wait, but we really have no choice. This is all very scary for all of us. The boys never know what to expect and live in fear that something tragic will happen to their dad. I can never relax and have to constantly know where Allen is, what he's doing, and where his current mental state is riding. Allen has this all hanging over his head while he is desperately trying to hold it all together.

It is extremely frustrating and sad watching him slide down hill so quickly and not being able to do anything about it. I've searched for programs that might be able to help him but have not found anything out there. It seems our only option is to wait for the slot at the Topeka VA to open and pray that he is stable enough to complete their program. When his doctor at the Kansas City VA called the Topeka program they told them 2-3 weeks. Allen was good with that. Then 2 weeks passed and we made a call ourselves to Topeka and they tell us October at the earliest. This is devastating to a family already on the edge. I find it ridiculous that the VA is the only one who can treat PTSD in vets, but yet they do not have programs to meet the needs of those they are supposed to be treating. I know that Allen is not the only one who needs this!

Today he's struggling still. Not sure October will ever get here!!

Even Now,