Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
We noticed that there seemed to be quite a few special needs children present. No big deal either. We figured they were on an outing. Evan has never been around children with disabilities. And let's face it--children can be cruel whether by intention or just by asking impolite questions with brutal honesty toward someone different from them.
Well, I look over and Evan was sitting with this boy who appeared to be not much taller than him. I had noticed the boy walking around aimlessly by himself earlier. I immediately went over to them, afraid my son would be rude and hurt the boy's feelings. I could not have been more wrong about my son. He spent a good portion of his time there playing with the boy, leading him by the hand through the playground, having fun.
A friend of mine, upon hearing this story, said he reflected on us as parents, that we have raised Evan well. I was so proud to have a child who will reach out to someone very different from him, to focus on what they have in common instead of the differences.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Unable to obtain a babysitter, we watched the film online (is it illegal to watch or just to upload???) Just John and I cuddled up with the laptop. I must say the film would most definitely be enjoyable for someone not potentially affected by the actual policy. It was enjoyable if I detached myself from the current circumstances of my life. I cried a little, especially at the imagery of a military funeral. But is it because of the moving moment of the film, or just simply that military funerals have always done this to me, long before I married a veteran or that same veteran I married decided he wanted to reenlist?
And okay, I must admit, the guys in the film were HOT. You got me there!
But I have to say it: Stop-Loss pissed me off.
At the risk of not sounding politically correct or in-tune with our men and women in uniform, I am sticking with that statement. It seems tawdry to go to a theater on a date and buy your popcorn and Sno-Caps and sit and watch the plight of our troops on the big screen like it is there for our amusement, first of all. Yet recently watching Lions for Lambs on dvd did not have this effect on me. It may be because L for L prompted healthy discussion and political debate here in my house.
I felt bad that I had this reaction to Stop-loss, so I started doing some internet research on the policy. I was sort of hoping to find some obscure fact about the practice that I had not before become aware. I didn't.
I believe that the film did bring some things to light that desperately needed to be. Primarily the PTSD that is plaguing our men as they return from war. And that stop loss is real. But in the film, all of the men returning are suffering from it. I know the statistics of PTSD are staggering, but not all-encompassing. And is the reaction of the average Soldier returning from Iraq to go AWOL??? The film made this look so easy. You just find someone to help you with fake IDs and cross a border. When the main character was standing at the Mexican border, I was hoping he did not cross it. Of course the film didn't load correctlly on the computer, and it stopped at this point, so I originally didn't get to see the real ending and was really pissed off. I just thought that would portray these men as cowardly, and send the wrong message to the troops.
So what is my reaction to the actual practice of Stop-Loss? Yes, it sucks. But almost everyone realizes when you sign a contract to serve, you are actually committing to several years after your active service ends known as Inactive Ready Reserves. John was IRR when the war in Iraq started. During this time, you can be called back to active service. Its just a part of military service. Would it really be better to reach the end of an active service term and return to civilian life only to be called back again? Yet there isn't any controversy over troops being recalled to active duty from IRR.
This leads me to a familiar topic: Read that contract you sign, people! You cannot expect to recieve money for college, pay, medical benefits, reenlistment/ enlistment bonuses, room and board, etc, without catches and loopholes. If you can live with the loopholes, like John can, sign the papers. If not, walk away. I read in an article while doing some online reading on the issue the following quote:
"....In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until sixth month after the war ends, unless my enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States..." Well, doesn't that about sum it up? We are in war. Two of them simultaneously, to be exact. If you signed the papers, you signed the papers. I'm sorry for them and their families. My family will be among them soon. But we are doing so with the knowledge that this could very well happen to John.
Two National Guardsmen sued over this, and it was shot down. They said their recruiters deceived them by not telling them about stop-loss. I did not know a recruiter was responsible for knowing every tiny detail about everything related to the military. That is why the contract is printed. They should have read it more carefully. I am glad a judge shot their claim down.
We are at war. We need troops, and the Army is under-performing in the task of getting new bodies to enlist. Its either stop-loss or a draft in order to keep the man-power needed to do the job. At least stop-loss is utilizing troops who are already committed and volunteered.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
On a completely different note: I love this song, and have been singing it in my head all day. Just an FYI.
Monday, April 14, 2008
WRONG! That child is far from angelic. Tonight, before his bedtime, he goes upstairs to take a shower. I hear nothing eventful to alarm me. No crashes or splashes or other ominous sound.
He comes down the stairs after the shower, and looks all cute with his wet hair and gorgeous smile. Then the smell hits!
"Evan, what did wash with?"
"Just soap Mommy!"
"What soap Evan?"
He runs away, leaving behind him a cloud of noxiousness. It would seem that my angel decided to clean himself with about five different perfumed gels of mine. They smell lovely by themselves, but not mixed all together. In fact, he smells like a French.....working girl. He runs up to hug me and it literally brings tears to my eyes, not because of the touching and tender moment, but because of the fumes that are wafting off of my child. I have not checked yet. I am afraid. I think his shower just cost me about $100.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
He contacted the Army. After being in this game for a little while, even I was impressed with what they had to say. Back in as an E-4, as in no loss of rank. PFT and body composition standards that will not break the back of a man who has been a civilian for almost a decade. Possibly even back in as an E-5 because he has completed 80 college credits as a civilian. Still no boot camp, but only a 2-week orientation of sorts. Almost guarunteed the MOS of combat medic, with said training allowing him to be a practicing civilian EMT upon discharge. Possible radiography tech training and credentials, which he wanted as a civilian but found the waiting list for nearby programs to be too long. A break for me. I could slacken my work hours a little and focus on getting that pre-med degree finished, at least. Relocation from an area he hates. This could possibly be the best opportunity for my family. BUT.........I am still scared. Unlike before, when I refused to tell him what I wanted, I have agreed with him verbally. This could theoretically fix all of our problems right now. It could make things better. But is it worth the risk? We are not so naiive to believe that this all comes without a cost. We know for a fact that he will ship off to war. It could be immediately or it could be a year after training. Unlike the Marine Corps, the Army deploys for twelve to fifteen months, at the least. That is a very long time for my husband and Evan's father to be gone. And what if something happens to him? Of course, everyone that leaves for a combat zone believes they will be like the other guys they know who came back safely. But they would be foolish to believe that they could not be, instead, the one on their hometown news broadcast in the flag-draped casket. Or the veteran they show learning to walk with his new prosthetic.
It feels like a gigantic gamble. Like we would be pawning something very dear to us, which we can't live without, not knowing if we will be able to ever get it out of hock. My mother always taught me to not gamble with anything you cannot afford to lose for good. And there could never be enough money in the world to make up for the loss of my John. I would never be whole again. He is a part of me after all of these years, after all.
I am at a loss. I am finding a hard time stopping him from doing something that will get us out of this situation. But I am also having a hard time with the danger of it all. Is this the only way out? And after a year, with him still wanting to reenlist, would any other solution be acceptable to him? Is he just doing this to get us out? Or is he using our current circumstances as a justification for going back in? I'm afraid I will never know the true answer to these questions.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
My favorite movie these days is "Fun with Dick and Jane". If you have lived under a rock lately and have not seen this movie, it is about the perfect All-American family who loses everything when his company goes under. Slowly they sell off all of their posessions one by one, and try any last-ditch effort to get money to cover the bills. When they finally get a foreclosure notice in the mail, they resort to desperate measures. I can relate, but like John and I, some people just are not hardened criminals. I wouldn't even have the cajones to try this. And even if I did, and tried to pull it off, I would feel so guilty and turn myself, as well as all of the money, in . Just like she said in the movie, maybe we just aren't Badasses!
Hahaha! This is from the Popeye movie that was out when I was a kid, and this song is sort of an inside joke. The other night, I got it stuck in my head, and was singing it around the house. Keep in mind that I sing a little worse than Shelley Duvall. It was also in Punch-Drunk Love, which had to be the strangest movie I have seen. Anyhow, John was laughing his head off at me singing this song, so I had to post this!
Friday, April 11, 2008
There are others out there who have the desir eto help but not the means. They have done what they can and I will forever be grateful to them, even if it something as simple as a good intention. But this is a very lonely place I am in. I feel like I am driving my friends away. I cannot seem to keep myself from venting or discussing what is going on in my life. But then on the other hand, when I do, I feel like I am bothering them with my troubles. Or that they just don't want to hear it. On that same note, I have a hard time being my outgoing, wise-cracking self these days. I am more bitter and depressed. No one likes a bitter woman. I fear I have become one of these toxic women that you read about in Cosmo or something, and don't know what to do about it. But how are you supposed to act when all hope is gone? When there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but only darkness for as far as you can see?
Sunday, April 6, 2008
I was 17 years old, on my way to my fast food job during my senior year of high school. It was pouring rain at the time, and I was involved in a hit-and-run accident when someone in a very large truck ran a stop sign. My car went skidding sideways, with my head striking the driver’s side window as my body went hurtling sideways. I was taken to the emergency room, where a head CT was done. I had a concussion, and was sent home. Lucky me.
But then a couple days later, we got a call from our family doctor telling us to report to the office to discuss the results of the head CT. It turns out that the radiologist, when reviewing the films, had discovered something out of the ordinary. I will never forget the sound my heart makes when it drops out of my chest, as it did that day when my doctor drew a crude depiction of a brain on a dry-erase board, explaining where they had found the mass. It was two days before Christmas. My follow-up with the neurosurgeon was a week later, the day after my eighteenth birthday. They sent me to the best. The Mayfield Neurological Institute of Cincinnati. So we trusted him when he told us that it was too small to be of concern, that it may possibly even be artifact on the film. It was forgotten as the years passed.
Here we are now. I’m a wife, a mother. A healthcare professional. And while I was sleeping off a twelve hour night shift, I am awakened to blinding, stabbing pain in my forehead. Pain so intense that my screams caused my husband and young son to run to see what was wrong. The room was spinning and nausea set in. Then came the fear. I was taken to the ER, where a head CT was done…..again. I knew it was not good when the doctor called me to the nurse’s station to look at the scan on his computer. For a moment, I was out of my own body. This is the same physician I had worked alongside to save the life of others. This was someone else’s brain on the screen. But there it was. Just lateral to midline on the right of my frontal lobe. That ugly, ugly thing that had caused the phone call all those years ago. As we stood there looking at it, another physician with whom I had worked walked through, saw the film, and exclaimed “Oh, S##T!”, not realizing it was my head we were looking at. That is when the tears started. The doctor’s voice seemed to be coming from somewhere else as he told the nurse to schedule the next scan with contrast. When she asked for the indication, it seemed unreal when he said “Brain tumor, right frontal lobe”.
That was March 14th. Since that day, the pain has not stopped unless it was under the influence of narcotic painkillers. I cannot work while on narcotics, so I have had time to mull this over in my head. There has now been a total of 6 head scans, including an MRA (Thanks to Dave, who knew immediately what it was!), 2 standard MRI’s, and MRI with contrast, and 2 CT’s. Yet we still do not know what is happening. The theory is that the pain is caused by the tumor pressing on my skull, causing back pressure on my brain. The debilitating symptoms alone are enough to justify its removal. I have not gotten official word just yet.
But what is most profound to me are the thoughts that have gone through my head. We expect our patients to trust us, no matter what. With their lives, the lives of their children, siblings, parents. Yet now that the time has come, I am having a hard time trusting the capable hands I have worked alongside for some time now. We expect them to take what is coming with ease, yet the idea of someone opening my skull is terrifying me. What is to become of me? What is to become of the brain that holds so much? The tissue that holds within it the memory of my son’s first step, my mother who I lost all of those years ago. The memories are all I have left of her. What is to become of my career when someone is to take a scalpel to the area that tells my hands exactly how to intubate, or exactly what drug to give to counteract my patient’s life-threatening arrhythmia?
I am learning too. For the scans, all of them, I was not claustrophobic enough to require sedation, but only for one reason, and one reason only. My John. I could get through all of them as long as I felt his hand on my ankle, telling me he was there, even when I could not see him. It did not matter that the tech was watching from another room, or that she made sure the call button was in my hand before she left me. It just mattered that my Marine was there for me if I got into trouble. After over seven years in a marriage where I have always been the strong one, it took this to show me how much I truly need him with me. To realize that it will all be okay if he is there. That we will survive this too. Together we can.
So why am I telling you all of this? I honestly am not sure. Part of me is hoping you will learn something from the story. Perhaps you will approach your patient a little differently, or hug your loved ones a little tighter. But another part of me wonders if this is something we all have to learn on our own.