Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Some hindsight insight

After emptying my emotions in my last post, I went back and read the post I wrote when his soul first came back and I was in bliss! 

When his soul first came back, that's when he was able to have the realizations about opening himself up to me and sharing his whole self and not protecting me from the pain he held inside. Now I realize that had his soul not awakened, he couldn't have had those realizations. It wasn't that the realizations woke his soul, it was the other way around. I know this because now the realizations are not even understood by him. He's unreachable. When his soul is gone he doesn't even understand what one has to do with the other, like I'm speaking Japanese. 

I wanted to give that update in understanding because reading the previous post would seem to lead one to think that his emotions are in control of his soul being awake or not. I can tell you that isn't the case. There certainly is no manual to how brain injury works and it certainly isn't the same in any two people, so I am experiencing as I go, taking notes, analyzing the information I learn, etc. As is usually the case with anything, I often have better understanding in hindsight. 

He's gone again

Well it's been probably a week of his soul not being there. I've given up hope that it's coming back. When it first came back, of course I was ecstatic!!! Then it began to flicker and sometimes it wouldn't be there but would come back and I tried to learn that maybe I'll get him part of the time. But now he's not there. He's just gone. It is an unbearable pain!

Right now he remembers when his soul was there. He remembers when he could KNOW I was there and FEEL my feelings. During that time he never jumped when I touched him because he could FEEL that I was going to touch him. He wasn't surprised by me or anyone. He remembers being connected to all life - when he'd walk outside and could FEEL the energy in the sun, the grass, the trees, the animals - he could FEEL its life. His memories will go. I already know they will. Then he'll be reserved to being the lost one who doesn't know he's lost. He'll be sleeping and not know he's asleep. He'll forget what it was like to be awake and he'll be full of fear again and after afraid for so long, it morphs into terror and then he'll be locked inside his own dead room. Since his mind works he knows that allowing himself to feel the grief of his loss is a very bad thing. It will spiral into suicide being an option that makes sense. So he won't go there. He'll use his mind to only focus on what he hasn't lost. He can smell things, he can see things, he can touch things, he can make things, and he can make things happy....on the outside.....which is all he can experience. He is grateful to God for another breath. When you are the one that loses yourself maybe that is what you can do.

For me it's very different! I am watching my husband slip deeper and deeper into his coma. He lays on the hospital bed with no brain activity to experience life but his heart beats which keeps him warm. He's essentially dead but when I kiss him he's not a cold body. Part of me feels selfish for keeping him alive just so I can feel his warmth. Part of me feels grateful that I can still feel his warmth. Part of me is really pissed off at God that all I can feel is his warmth! What kind of horrible trick is this??? I had lost my husband almost 6 years ago, I went through it (or not really) able to be distracted by all the fighting I had to do to pay our bills, then in my loneliness I had to find myself since I was by myself, then my wants and needs emerged until I finally actually dealt with the loss! And then.....he came back....and I felt the most joy that I could ever feel - a MIRACLE that God brought my husband back to me! And now he's gone again??? How can I go through this all again???? This is so unfair!

Living grief is what they call this. It is seriously fucked up!!! My husband body walks around seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, breathing and not experiencing or not connecting or remembering while I ache in my soul that he's a zombie. His body is here and his soul is gone. When his soul is there I can see his eyes sparkle, dance, and sing the most beautiful music and I am with him. When his soul is dead I can see blackness in his eyes, they are flat, dark, still, and tired.

I feel so afraid and angry and sad that I'm overwhelmed! I want to just scream! I am lonely again and I must put on my happy face to keep keeping on. What a sick fucking joke!

Right now, while he remembers his soul, we can grieve together like it's a child we both lost but soon he'll forget he had a child and then I will be even more alone. When his soul was here I'd tell him about when he first came home and told me to not look at him. Back then I just felt that looking at him made him uncomfortable like a room of strangers were staring at him because he couldn't FEEL me...there was no connection. I didn't know that then. I told him of my first realization that he was not there....when I sat across the table from him and while he was telling me a story I snuck a peek at his eyes and I saw nothing. I actually gasped because I saw what he looked like dead. From then on I even tried explaining that to doctors. I would tell them, "Look at his eyes, it's like they are dead" as if they'd be able to tell? was only me that could tell. Now that I remember all of this dead vs. not dead, I was talking to a very close friend of mine about his eyes and she said that before he was deployed she remembers his eyes danced and sparkled and when she came over and saw him after he got back, his eyes were dark and lost. THAT made me feel so good! To hear that validation that I wasn't the only one, I'm not crazy, he really is lost.

Now I have anger, sadness, and memories of my best friend, my lover, my soulmate being WITH me and now he's just not.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Miracle in our relationship

I don't know how honest and open I've been over the years about Dean's and my not being connected like we used to be. Since Afghanistan our connection has been me to him, his physical pain, and his moods...I can feel them. But he has been unable to connect with me. This has been the root of my loneliness! Even though I can be with his physical presence each day and some days we can have great conversations, it always ends abruptly where I see that he wasn't really connected as he's completely unaware of how his interacting with me affects me and he talks at me and I try to interact back but it has to be about him. I've tried for 5 years to fall in love again with a man who may never be connected to me like he once was but instead just interacts with me. It was sad for me to live this loss but I'd do anything for him because I love him.

Well we recently had a miracle touch our marriage!

I won't go into what precipitated it because that matters less than the miracle that came out of it. Dean hit rock bottom in a depression which caused him to pray to God for help in connecting with me and God answered his prayers.

Suddenly his eyes have life in them again! His eyes dance, smile, and sing like they used to. I can look into them and fall inside the pools that are the window to his soul. I feel like I get to fall in love with my new old husband and it's blissful! We are realizing that Afghanistan caused him to shut off a part of his self to me in order to protect me from the pain that lives there but that shutting off means that he's not sharing his total self with me. When he hit bottom he realized that if he doesn't share his total self with me then I'm not sharing my total self with him because that's what humans do to protect themselves. When you are protecting yourself in your marriage though, it means there's an assault somewhere to protect from. It plays in the background and is hard to pinpoint or explain. Another thing he realized is that there really is only ONE thing that a spouse can give his/her partner that someone else can't come along and give and that is their self, their soul, their vulnerability. Shutting part of him off means that what he WAS giving me, someone else could easily give me and he didn't like that being a threat to our marriage. This is why he sought God's help. We don't know how but his eyes suddenly became open and able to connect with me.

It's not like a light switch. There are still limitations we are learning. He still gets exhausted by energy use. But when he's not exhausted, it's different. He looks at me now with smiling eyes that peer into my soul again. HE's back in his body, it's not just his words and actions.

We realized that for 5 years he's been learning who he is again with his new abilities and limitations. For 5 years I've been learning who he is and having to modify my energy, habits, lifestyle, everything. But for 5 years we haven't begun to define our WE. There was no WE. There was him and I and we cohabited and I was his caregiver. I still tried to be the good wife and he tried to be the good husband but even that wasn't the same as a WE. I always treated him with respect and honored him in my caregiving. He always tried to make me happy and was thankful I stuck by him. But we were like two separate people learning to live together with his new self. That's just not the same.

Now I am enjoying our new adventure of making a WE. Who are we now? Stay tuned for sure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When reality slams into your face like a ton of bricks.

Over the years I've worked to get Dean to a point where he's stable enough day to day, in enough habits (which are the only way he "remembers" anything) each day to relieve me a little bit of all the little care taking tasks that I do. I'd like to one day have a life where I have SOME semblance of freedom to do things for ME. It seems, though, that in creating that daily routine of habits, I'm inserted into the equation because I live here! That means even if I'm the not one pouring his cereal, the fact that I am here in my living room while he does it and that he can say his few words to me, makes me a safety net for his independent tasks. When I am not here (now I'm more trying to put what I'm feeling from him and piecing together the overall impression I get from him) his anxiety level goes up? .....something happens to him.....that causes the habits that he's usually proficient at to become tasks that are flying all over place while he tries to catch and it's overwhelming to him. A good analogy would be if you were out in the woods at night, even with a flashlight, it would be an uneasy'd be predator territory, outside the safety of your structure/cabin/home and roaming around not knowing what is lurking in your shadows. Now take that same scenario in the woods, with your flashlight, and add a friend. Suddenly it is 10x less scary to be in that scenario. Even if you and your friend are not saying a word to each other, the fact that they are has a safety attached.

*** I am that safety.***

Funny enough, Dean could walk alone in the woods with less uneasiness than he can live in a house.

So over the years I've worked to bring him to a stable place day to day. Every great once in a while I do something for ME that requires me leaving. I had to make a quick business trip to Washington DC a few days ago....the reason it had to be as quick as it was is due to Dean not being able to handle life without the safety net very long. I flew out on Monday morning, got to DC late Monday night, went to a staff meeting Tuesday and got directly back on a plane to be home Tuesday night right before midnight. I did just under 14 hours of flying (not including time changes) in two days and with time changes was pretty exhausted. It was a trip that I'm really glad I went on because the meeting I attended was a vital piece of my success in my new job. I gained a LOT of knowledge that I can only get when I'm interacting IN PERSON with a situation! I was stimulated! I felt like I was part of something! I AM a part of something! I loved learning about what I'm a part of! I felt alive!! Similar to the feeling I got in NYC but this was even more vitally a part of me since it involves my job. I really like working and being part of a machine that creates something, I like feeling like I contribute to something being better.

So I get back home after a day of feeling alive and part of an awesome machine with a purpose, at midnight, crawl into bed very tired, wake up early and get my son off to school, go back to bed....haha. Then upon waking for real and spending some time with Dean, he wants to know how my trip was and I of course want to spill out all of my happiness and share what I learned. I'm feeling great! .....for about 10 minutes. Then he gives me the cues of that's all he can take, he's reached his limit for listening and taking in my energy and information. Please understand, his heart was SO ecstatic that I'm back like he is humpty dumpty and he got put back together and now his life has it's engine and can run again. He truly missed me like he thought he'd never see me again. But after 10 minutes he just can't be a part of MY vitality. Because I love him and he's hurting, I now have to go through this grueling process of sucking my energy, happiness, and purpose back inside myself where it lives in a dark cave and can't see the light very often. It's this total sadness that just hits me! This is my life! That meeting yesterday that makes me feel so good isn't really my life -- it's my dream -- but when I wake up it's just not feasible. Yesterday's meeting causes me to make goals and plans and have desires and want to achieve and makes my heart beat! And today's reality makes me realize that I can't have any of it. At least not yet.

I know it's silly to ask if anyone else goes through this. This is what it means for many women who care for their wounded veterans and yet there are still a lot of wives that are not having to live this way. Wounds are different even if they have the same name. And those wounds take different amounts of time to get to certain stages of healing.

I'm trying to be patient. I'm trying to have faith that God has a plan in all this, there is a reason I need to learn this self-restraint and to wait for my time. I know from experience that when I'm supposed to learn something, I can get through it a lot quicker if I just figure out what I'm supposed to learn and learn it! Perspective on one's own life is often hard to have. We can more easily see others' challenges and solutions more easily than we can see our own.

And sometimes along the path of learning, I just need to take a few moment to see the SUCK in it all! Reality sometimes SUCKS!!! That is all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Time & Season Changes

I am simply copying my facebook post of September 9th, 2015 to have a more permanent record of what's going on and to share with my readers what goes on with changes of the time/seasons.

TBI/PTSD fact of the week....things you may not know smile emoticon Weather changes (change of seasons) and shortening of daylight hours REALLY messes with TBI/PTSD symptoms! Constant migraines, general malfunctioning of his body (clumsy, off balance, pressing wrong buttons, doing abc when he was trying to do xyz, etc). Without season/time changes he encounters these problems more randomly, say 3 to 5 times a week, not all at the same time, and usually some wrench thrown into our routine caused it. But with season/time changes these problems are persistent and happening all together. All I can do is watch, bring meds, and try to be his extra hands while leaving him alone/giving him space.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"I wish blood would squirt out of my eyes"

"I wish blood would squirt out of my eyes", he says. "That way people would know that I can't talk or think or do this right now". I don't know what it means when he says "My brain hurts". My brain has never hurt before....I have never felt my brain before. I've also never felt my spleen before and he felt his during one (or maybe all) of the IED blasts. He felt all his organs during the blasts.

These are the things that make caregiving very touchy. Obviously I don't want to cause him pain and when I don't understand something I ask a question which then causes the pain I'm trying to avoid causing but I didn't know that a question would cause the pain until after I asked it and now it's too late. The part I get is the grouchy (in pain) bark of a response which puts me on edge. I realize that I'm on edge a lot and I don't think there is really anything to do about it. I don't blame him for me being on edge, if I was in pain all the time I can guarantee you that I'd be snapping at everyone! I just can't really help it that I've been jumpy and on edge when barked at since I was a kid.

We went to the beach for a four nights/five days. Sounds like a lot but it's the minimum really for Dean to get any pleasure from the trip. On the day we are leaving he has 3 panic attacks while packing because the stress is overwhelming. He says he's so glad to be going and will be so glad when it's over. He has always loved the beach, it's where we got married, we both have a special love for the ocean's beauty & power. The day of travel is exhausting for him. It takes at least the entire next 24 hours to recoup from it. Then he basically can do one "outing" each day. That means he can leave the hotel room to be in public for one hour each day and after that, he's exhausted. Sitting on the beach not around the public he can do for a few hours but eventually it's the sun that gets to him (light and heat become too much). So when we get to the beach on Saturday evening, he can't leave until Sunday evening. Then he joins us for an outing Sunday night, sat on a beach chair for a couple hours on Monday, a quick outing on Tuesday, and we left on Wednesday morning. The entire trip back on Wednesday is exhausting causing panic and exhaustion. Once home he'll be sleeping and recouping for a few days (I hope that's all it takes). He loves it and he hates it but we must do it because he loves it.

We are back home now starting the recoup process. He's taken his first and second migraine meds, he's been drenched in sweat, he's had his choking fit at dinner, and now he's out to smoke a cigar. I can see and feel that he wishes he could just climb out of his skin for a while and float around as a body-less spirit. I wish I could grant him that wish.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Caregiver Transformation

A while back I would say that I finally hit bottom. I was contemplating suicide a lot, feeling like I couldn't do this anymore, there was no point to breathing anymore, not liking who I had become (not knowing who I was anymore) and feeling like being alive was just a detriment to my kids. It was getting bad. I felt no reason to leave the house, no reason to get dressed, and I withdrew from everyone and felt mostly anger and sadness.

I had struggled with my weight since my pregnancy 22 years ago but with Dean's injuries I was just throwing my health away by eating myself to death. I reached my heaviest at 256 lbs about two years after he returned home. I had no motivation to exercise or eat healthy. I was eating junk to FEED me some happiness that I longed for. Food was my happy place, my vacation from the shit I felt all the time, my pleasure, my new best friend. With the depression, I wasn't hardly getting off the couch but to walk to the bathroom a couple times a day. I was feeling pain in all of my body and really in my soul. I was disappointed in myself and didn't really realize that. I was in a position of blaming my circumstances for my actions.

I began to realize though that if something were to happen to me, what would Dean do? And even worse, what would my son do? All the other kids were grown and could take care of themselves but my husband could not take care of our youngest who's entire life had been filled with repetitive separations from his dad and whose only security had been in me. Even if I didn't die (I don't believe we control that at all), what if I got heart disease, had a heart attack, got type 2 diabetes, got cancer? Any of those things would so destructively affect my family and myself as there would be no one to help me either that I felt I needed to do something. I actually felt the immediacy of it. I felt that even if I couldn't control death or even sickness, there were things that I could strongly contribute to. I believe a healthy person could at least fight an illness better than an obese, depressed person could. I knew part of my depression was due to my shame in letting myself get this far gone.

What could I do? I'd been heavy for almost two decades.

I went to a wounded warrior wife retreat and met a thin woman there who I found out had had gastric bypass surgery and had lost over 100 lbs. and the best part was that it was covered by TriCare. I felt like this lifted a veil off my eyes! I thought "This was my ticket out of this hell"...and really I believed it would work for me wonderfully! I attended an informational meeting about WLS (weight loss surgery) and began the process of getting insurance approval for the surgery. Dean didn't like the idea one bit but I knew I had to do it or else I wouldn't survive. When you feel your choices are die by suicide or drastically change your body's internal organs and make sacrifices for the rest of your life, it makes that 2nd option seem like a good deal. Now I was motivated! Now I would do anything to survive!

To have my insurance approve the surgery would be a year long journey of tests and other hoops to jump through. I checked each thing off the list and got to the final hoop. I needed to lose 5% of my body weight. Ok...that was about 13 lbs. I could do it. I was almost at the finish line! The day (surgery) that would be the beginning of a better life.

With this new motivation I got up the courage to join a local exercise group. I surrounded myself with others who struggled and it worked well for me because none of the other ladies were skinny-minis. After a few months I felt like I was getting in better shape but wasn't seeing too much difference on the scale. I just counted it as going in the right direction and kept plugging away. I investigated the nutrition piece. I needed to make dietary changes because 1) I needed to lose 5% of my weight and 2) I realized that I should practice eating differently since after surgery I'd have to eat different for the rest of my life. I bought a nutribullet and began drinking my vegetables (I hate vegetables) and that was a big key for me! I had also begun drinking alkaline water which let me FEEL the affects of food on my stomach for the first time. That led me to giving up fast food and soda. These three changes jumpstarted changes on the scale. I was losing weight...which I had done many times before but could never keep it off. It's ok because this time I'd have the surgery and THAT would take over and assist me from my sticking point all the way to my end goal.

I had forgotten the exact number the scale needed to show for ins approval and with the differences in scales and times of day I weighed myself, I knew I was in the ballpark of my 13 lbs loss and so made an appointment with my doctor to get it documented. By the time I got in to the doctor the scale told a story that really surprised me - I had lost 30 lbs and really weight was just dropping fast now. Well I didn't think anything of that 30 lbs loss except that I was happy to be for the surgery.

My insurance denied my request for surgery. After going through the psych eval, the sleep study, the nutrition classes, the swallow test, the gag reflex test, the 6 doctor visits with documentation that I "struggled with losing weight on my own", and now with my 12% weight loss I thought I was golden! But NO! My insurance said that if I was able to lose 12% of my bodyweight then I was able to lose weight on my own and so was disqualified for the surgery!

I was so freaking mad! I can't even explain how angry I was. I had worked my ass off for a year for this and now nothing? I had been able to get down to 200 lbs many times in the past but then always plateaued there until I eventually I would give up and eat the weight back on. I was sick of the up and down and up and down and the feeling like my weight owned me.

Now I had a different motivation though. The future of my family was resting on my success and I was already getting my nutrition in line and exercising so fine....I'll try this one last time!

I continued. I was succeeding and slowly got past my 200 lbs sticking point down to 179 lbs. I was ecstatic. Then some life happened and we bought a house and moved and my whole schedule and routines got all messed up. I struggled. Without all the supports I had built up around me, I began to fail again. I questioned why would this be happening to me again. Why could I not seem to do this ON MY OWN! Why did I need all this support? Was it the supports that were really doing the succeeding? I tried to keep a hold of my success as I slowly slipped backwards....creeping back up to 199 lbs. Shit! I gained 20 lbs this year??? OH NO, I was NOT going back dammit! I tried to build some new supports - that worked last time. Every time I built supports, they broke. A person flaked, a place closed, the class times changed, etc, etc. I felt that God was telling me "YOU MUST DO THIS BY YOURSELF". I didn't understand this at all! Or maybe instead of trying to understand, I was throwing an internal tantrum and telling God "But I don't wanna do it like that"! "I want help"!

It occurred to me that He wanted me to do this on my own (with Him as my support) because He knew I would then carry the strength within me that I had done it on my own, I could do it on my own, and no credit could be given to a trainer or my friends or my gym or classes but it was ME. It was the same words but reframed in the loving way of God rather than of the earthly way of me who wasn't getting what I wanted.

Many, many months prior I had purchased 21 Day Fix from an infomercial on TV. I took it out of the box and read through it. I realized that it would be challenging but it wasn't impossible. I actually could do this all on my own at my house. I even had a spare room with enough space! All I needed to do was to press play everyday and show up. This time though I was carrying the emotional weight of my family's future on me. I needed to do this for them! For me, but for them. I had to survive and become able to fight future battles that could wait in the shadows.

I did it. At first it was sparse, and I got better and better at doing it consistently. I stuck with it. I saw weight loss EVERY WEEK! This really kept feeding my motivation! My clothes were getting looser every month! Wow...I was doing this! Along the way I had to make other psychological, emotional, and mental changes which were 100% necessary at completing this transformation. I learned that from the beginning, my weight wasn't about my weight and it wasn't about the food. It was about my hiding from feeling bad, lonely, unlovable, unworthy, and ashamed. My eyes were opened to how I spoke to myself and about myself. I realized I would NEVER talk to any other person that way, I'd never talk to my children that way, but inside was this hurt child and I was talking to HER that way!

I've been writing an entire blog about my journey but I will end this blog entry with a quick summary. Through this journey with Dean's injuries and the loneliness I faced, the grief over the loss of my future and of my best friend/partner/lover, the emotional turmoil I'd hidden about my new role and my new future.....the pain goes on and on.....but I didn't allow myself to feel any of it with any depth. I knew it was there but I just distracted myself with tasks, I fed myself pleasure, and I just denied. Along the way I had listened to Brene Brown's book on tape about vulnerability (Daring Greatly) and that really helped me see what I was doing to myself. I learned that deep down I didn't feel worthy and I had to remedy this.

Now....I've lost a total of 110 lbs. I got a tummy tuck to remove all my excess skin. I found my self again. I am not at the end of my journey....I'm in the middle of it....and the journey surely changed many times along the way. I do not suffer from caregiver fatigue anymore. I learned that I have to put me first. I matter. I am worth being healthy, feeling vibrant, being alive, and being happy. I learned that other people cannot make me feel those things or have those things, they only come as a result of ME giving it to myself! That is freedom right there! I will never NEED anyone else to fill me up. I fill me up with God's help! No one else gets the credit to my success. Now I get it!

Here is a link to my very unfinished blog about my self-discovery through weight loss, in case you find it helpful:

Dean being vulnerable and feeling grief

For the past couple months we've been working on relationship issues as my years of burnout have so caught up to me that I had to go find myself and put me first and that led to this weight loss and stuff.... (I've had a major caregiver transformation that I'll post about later). Well my weight loss and transformation changed a lot of our relational dynamics. So we've had to do some readjusting. In this readjustment period some things have come to the forefront for him and he's actually expressing them to me.

Like his artistic side - I am not artistic, I don't really 'get it' except through him, but apparently when you are an artistic person you SEE the world differently, you notice beauty, you see it and hear it, you are tuned into it. Beauty is even seen in sadness or despair sometimes; an artistic person SEES the beauty in everything. That is Dean. Well now the grief of losing this part of himself has come to the surface. He's really feeling it! He's really missing it and longing for it. He's longing for a connection to that part of himself that he lost. It's heartbreaking to witness. 

Because we are working on our relating to one another, he's been focusing more on his emotions, feeling them, not hiding them, sharing them with me, and being vulnerable. This is amazing to witness and share with him. It's helping both of us a lot! It's also hard on both of us. It's hard to see him struggle with vulnerability and trust in this way but of course it just makes me love him even more (if that's possible) because he's strong enough and brave enough to go there. This is affecting intimacy in a very positive way.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sadness, Loneliness, and Back Pain

 I'm a master at not experiencing my feelings, at putting them aside and trudging on with the day. "How are you doing"? and I can say "Fine" so convincingly that no one would suspect a thing. I can say "Fine" so convincingly that I don't even think anything is wrong!! Yes, you heard it right, I hide my feelings even from myself.

When a feeling creeps up, I move to my head where I analyze things, organize things, focus on other things, decide to write about it (yes, I'm in my head right now), and do anything to not FEEL it.

The problem comes when I learn that after the years of self-care, weight loss, healthy choices and strength building I've done, I have a particular muscle in my lower back (iliosoas) that my massage therapist is convinced it giving me problems because I hold my emotions in. This particular muscle will hold your emotions for you even and then cause you pain. What a nice little muscle....not.

I've made it my small goal to try to experience my feelings which brings me to sadness and loneliness.

This morning, like every other morning this week, and like so many mornings every month for years, I laid in bed waiting for Dean to wake up and want to snuggle, cuddle (I hate those words), or otherwise just notice me and want to touch me. It's the closeness that I miss and that's not to say that we don't touch each other throughout the day. But the morning and the late evening are the two times a day that he's not wearing his dirty, smelly farm clothes and is freshly showered. So...every night I wait, ask, and hope he'll take a shower and THEN want to touch me before I fall asleep and every morning I do the same.

This morning was no different...really. My alarm went off at 6:30 and I laid there playing on my phone, falling back to sleep, snuggling next to the sleeping log, etc for TWO HOURS before I finally gave up and realized that he wasn't going to wake up and reciprocate. I was up for not 15 minutes before he was dressed and downstairs! Some would say that that cannot be a coincidence and wonder if he's avoiding me even if only subconsciously (I wonder the same thing). He said that what woke him was me not being there. So apparently when I'm giving up and getting any attention/intimacy/closeness from him and get up, that action starts his brain coming out of sleep. By the time the coffee has brewed downstairs, down he comes fully dressed in his stinky clothes.

Sadness. Aching loneliness. I know it's in there but I'm not experiencing them....I'm merely talking about them which really is only making me mad because sometimes this TBI/PTSD situation we are living just makes life feel cruel! If it were a person, I'd beat the shit out it!!!

And now my feelings have fully transferred to anger which is a way more comfortable spot for me. I'm sure my back will yell at me later.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My son came home last week from deployment. I didn't realize all the emotions I was holding inside of me until I got that text of the picture of his plane landing in Oregon. I knew he had made it back to the States safely but until that plane touched down in Oregon I hadn't felt the flood of relief!

Dean was so relieved too but for him that flood of emotion came yesterday when my son came out to the house to see us and Dean could see him, touch him, connect with him for the first time in a year! Dean was so happy - like happy to his soul. When he gets that level of happiness you can see it in his eyes! They sparkle with a peace and joy that can't be faked. It's pure giddiness!

He of course doesn't let on that he's so happy. He just enjoys the moments with that sparkle in his eyes. Once my son left I got to embrace the flood of joy that Dean was hiding inside as I watched all the stress and worry leave his body! His son was home! It reminded me of the way Dean looked 5 years ago when his unit finally returned to Oregon. He wasn't completely off the hook from the guilt he put on himself until they laid their feet on Oregon soil. He does that...puts the responsibility of others' safety onto his own shoulders. It's funny how even though I know he does that, I can't see it until it's come full circle and the guilt floats away.

When my son left for his deployment I was worried, of course, and knew I was saying goodbye to THAT kid because whoever would return would not be the same. Throughout there year there were times that my worry spiked when I'd hear of something happening where my son was stationed. The entire time he was gone, Dean always acted and told me that he wasn't worried, that it was because I was the mom and because I hadn't been there so I couldn't understand what he knew. That all made me feel like I was experiencing the worry by myself which I hated. Yesterday reminded me of the ability Dean has to keep his feelings locked up tightly from me to see or feel. Now, at least in retrospect, I know he was worrying with me.

Monday, May 11, 2015

How long can this anniversary last?

I was hoping he'd be fine after May 8th. Now it's May 11th and he hasn't really been fine. He's not reporting panic attacks anymore but now the symptoms seem to be morphing into reliving his feelings 5 years ago. The big difference is 5 years ago he was still totally amped up on adrenaline? or whatever chemical makes you be able to withstand pain and discomfort until you've achieved your goal. Now he's not amped up on anything. He's fully feeling the depression, the fear and worry, the physical sickness (migraines, headaches, sleeplessness, stomachaches) that happens to him when he's emotionally upset. He hasn't had restful sleep in 4 or 5 days now. He's not remembering his dreams which very strange for him!

The thought that this sickness fog could last until.....the end of June? which is when he got to leave for Afghanistan again; the end of August? which is when he finally returned back to Ft. Lewis on the orders that he was NOT returning to the war; the beginning of November? which is when his unit finally returned home safe and he could be fully home too. I just don't like those options. That's a long time for him to be like this and I'd be really afraid of where that length of sickness would take him.

Calling the VA doesn't seem like an option. They'd probably want to put him on a new medication, change one that he's currently taking, or get him in to see a therapist who will likely be a moron that will only end up pissing him off.

Do I try to just find someone on my own? I'm going to at least have to see what I can come up with there. In the meantime he's in a state of hurt and confusion and I can feel his pain from the other room.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Panic Problems update

Later that day, May 6th, that I wrote about his panic problems he had an even worse day. He had a very bad day with the animals to the point where he said to me very seriously, "I almost shot her" (speaking about our cow, Daisy). The animals were not responding to him in their usual way and Daisy even jerked away from him and hurt him which she is always very careful NOT to do. She ran from him this way and that way and made him chase her and have to try to outsmart her. He eventually did of course but that was all the energy he had and since he hadn't eaten lunch yet he then collapsed on our front lawn. He simply couldn't move for lack of fuel. He eventually got his body to the house and the couch. He had panic episodes the entire rest of the afternoon. 

The next day he took it easy. He knew he didn't have any strength in him to do anything. His caretaker was here and she monitored him. He was off balance, easily annoyed, and grouchy throughout the day. At dinner he mentioned that his happiness was gone. He said that he just goes through the motions and that he lost his spark for living; he plunders around all day doing chores but the zest for life just isn't there. He's worried about himself. 

Today was May 8th. He was uneasy, agitated, and grouchy all day. He made little eye contact, spoke hardly at all, escaped being in a room with more than 1 person whenever possible...very avoidant today. Then out of nowhere has a request of me that is not typical for him at all. I'm starting to see a lot of parallels between him the past couple days and the 5 year anniversary of him coming home. This anniversary is most sad for me because I remember clearly how it played out and how confused I was.

Let's hope tomorrow brings a new energy to him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

North Carolina trip - Operation Heal Our Patriots

Every year we go to a reunion in North Carolina for Samaritan's Purse Operation Heal Our Patriots. I love going and seeing everyone again, feeling the love of that entire organization, eating the delicious food, hearing the speakers, the whole experience is fabulous...well....if you take out all that Dean goes through to go there.

Dean does pretty well day to day on the farm. His disabilities are almost unnoticeable when he's doing his daily routine. I learned during our trip that that is solely due to the fact that his day is a predictable routine. Once you change something up, he begins to feel uneasy. His uneasiness is an upward slope that leads to pain & panic.

The uneasiness started the morning we left home when at 4 am we were in the car headed to the airport. There hadn't been any noticeable stress in packing and we made sure he got to bed early and could handle the early wake up. The morning was going pretty well. But as I was pulling out of the driveway he simply mentioned, "We're not supposed to be in the car this early...I don't like this feeling". He didn't say it in a he has a weird premonition type way. He said it in a this isn't my normal routine, Rainman sort of way. I put my hand on his leg and I assured him everything would be fine. We're doing this together and we brought medicine to help him if he needs it. He's such a trooper that he just rolls with it and pushes through whatever he feels.

TSA actually was prepared this trip and I didn't have to call and check up on any of their agents. They were all very punctual with all the right details so that made my job easier. We got to the airport and the TSA guy was there ready to help us. He got the wheelchair and got us through security without a hitch and took us to the gate. (I do always wish that TSA and the people that are hired to push the wheelchair through the airport would be trained in the "shut up technique" where they didn't sit and talk the ear off the disabled person whom they assume must have a walking problem only -- either that or I need to learn to somehow explain to them that a "brain injury" means it hurts his head for them to yammering on and on about their life). We made the first leg of the trip pretty good. He complained a bit about the small aircraft which he knows all about, the class of plane, when they were built, what type of equipment is on board, etc....cause he's my own personal Google...and when we landed he filled me in on an Afghanistan memory. Apparently each time he landed in Afghanistan the plane did what is called a "combat landing" where the plane basically heads straight toward the ground as if the plane is going to crash but of course doesn't and this is to avoid being shot out of the sky by the enemy. That's a nice fact to hear now as we're landing

At this second airport is where our trip gets it's first whiff of grumpy. We had lunch, he had a beer, we waited by our gate which I had already spoken to the desk about having us get an early boarding -- that's my first job when we reach our gate -- well because of the way all the asshole passengers were gathering closer and closer to the boarding entrance and because the airline employees weren't doing anything to create order there, Dean began getting really pissed off. I'll tell you that people at the airport are already assholes when it comes to a wheelchair person anyway...they don't get out of the way, they don't notice you're there as a person. I know for sure that if he were to stand up and put his "man energy" out there, people would get out of his way, but he's at one of his most weak and vulnerable states at an airport because it takes all his energy just to be there and not talk and not think. So here we are waiting for the airline attendant to call for pre-boarding, all the other passengers are inching closer and closer to the boarding area so that Dean is behind people (he has to stay in the location where a giant pillar is to his back because he needs to have his back up against a wall and I need to be watching and protecting his we're by the pillar). He wants me to go up to the attendant and tell them what I've already asked and arranged for. I'm here trusting that they'll make it right and at this particular time Dean did NOT trust them. So he's telling me to go up there and I'm telling him I already did and it's ok and to calm down. He isn't calming down and now people in his immediate vicinity can hear him getting upset. One man seemed to feel really bad for Dean and he went to the attendant and reminded them that Dean needs to pre-board. Now everyone is looking at us and I am so embarrassed -- both because my husband won't calm down, won't trust people to do their job, and because I didn't just go up there myself and do what this other man ended up doing for me. I just didn't feel good about any of this situation. Well thankfully the attendant started coming our way and Dean saw that he was soon getting the hell away from all these crowding assholes so Dean starts pushing himself forwards and yelling to people "EXCUSE ME" and just going and if someone's legs get rammed he doesn't care. I just blocked this all out and wanted out of there.

Thankfully we made it on the plane without fists thrown. At this point he needed a Larazapam!

The closer we get to our destination and with the help of that wonderful drug he gets better and better, calmer and calmer and our night actually turned out really awesome! We actually had a "date" when we got to our hotel in Charlotte. We went to a restaurant in the same parking lot as our hotel (that makes him feel safe cause his room is right there), we ate, he drank a couple beers, we flirted (which was my favorite part and so unlike him to do in, then we went back to our room *winky face*. We even topped the night off with a nightcap in the hotel "bar" (basically a countertop where they serve drinks in the and then went up to bed.

The next day he got to sleep in until almost noon before we had to drive to Asheville to our reunion.

The weekend went alright. I approached this weekend a little differently than retreats in the past. Previous retreats would always leave me crying somewhere feeling alone because MY husband was the one that couldn't participate hardly at all. MY husband was the one everyone would ask about "Where's Dean"?, "Is Dean not feeling well"? blah blah! I would always think "No he's not feeling well, he's got a brain injury and ya I know all these other guys do too but I don't know why MY husband can't seem to function with his"????  This weekend I went into knowing he wasn't going to fully participate and that instead of withdrawing and feeling lonely, I was going to participate in things alone and just be happy about it.

He and I learned to plan his energy out a bit. We knew he couldn't do group breakfast, group lecture, group session 1, group visiting, group lunch, group lecture 2, group session 2, group visiting, followed by group dinner, group closing lecture, and visiting like everyone else does. We knew that he could choose 2 or maybe 3 of those things to participate in and he would need rests in between but it's funny how even when you know something sometimes you don't navigate it well. The first night we checked in and he was grumpy and said "I don't want to see people" and I thought "Of course you don't cause this is a reunion (the purpose of which is to see people)" so I let him decompress in our room and I went and visited with people. I got him to join us for dinner after taking a Larazapam and then he went back to the room while I finished out the night. The next morning he did breakfast and lecture and was wiped out. He needed a giant nap during session 1, visiting, lunch and lecture 2. I got him to go to session 2 after a Larazapam which was super informative and he really liked it! The next day we were leaving so he came to breakfast and then we packed up and left. It was all like a whirlwind and was over like that. *Note - he's not supposed to take these Larazapams more than 3 times a week. This is his 3rd one in 3 days and I know he'll need one tomorrow. Oh well, I guess we'll find out what happens when he takes 4 in 4 days.

One aspect that I don't know how to handle about our reunion weekends is that all the couples we went to Alaska with know Dean but Dean doesn't know them. He only recognizes one of the guys and that's because the one activity Dean participated in in Alaska was going on the fishing boat and this guy (and his wife) were on the boat with us. This guy and Dean talked while on the boat and so his memory is tied information he learned about this guy. Now this guy is on Dean's facebook friend list and so that helps Dean remember who he is. At the reunion though couples may say "Hi" to him and Dean says Hi back but with a look of who are you on his face. I hope that the couples understand that Dean just doesn't know who they are.

Reunion is over, we're driving back to Charlotte. Dean sleeps. As we near Charlotte I realize we have about 3 1/2 hours before we have to be at the airport (5 1/2 hours before our flight leaves). I ask Dean he he feels about letting me drive into Virginia or something so that I can say I've been there. He's adamantly opposed to this idea which I don't understand. He stressfully explains to me that he will feel safe when we get to the airport and through security where he knows that he's relatively out of danger. This is news to me. Here we are, in our own rental car, with no people around us, no danger of him being touched or talked to and he's counting down the minutes until he can be through security at the airport! Well great. This is a new one. I don't get to take a longer drive and instead we sit at the airport for 5 1/2 hours....yeah.

The TSA agent, an older guy, who helps us at the Charlotte airport must be new and he's a talker! He doesn't know that he can get us through security quicker because Dean's a wounded veteran. He doesn't seem to know what he can and can't do and since I've been through this apparently a lot more than he has, I tell him what he should do. Of course when he finally does what I suggest (after first explaining to me that that's not how it works) it does work just like I say it fun for me to teach this new dude how to help a wounded vet. The guy is pushing Dean's wheelchair as he talks to Dean about every thought in his head, "Maybe I'll push you over here while your wife does this and that way we can blah blah", "Why don't I take this route because it looks like this elevator is closer" -- Dude...shut the hell up and just do what you are going to do without the freakin commentary, ok? Well Dean is way nicer than I am so Dean tolerates this guy's voice.....until he snaps and can't take it anymore....which is what I knew was coming. Dean visibly snaps a bit (he always snaps carefully because he really is very scary to people and knows this and his intention is not to scare people) and asks him to stop at this bathroom. While he's in there I have a little talk with this guy who is visibly shaken by Dean's baby-snapping. I tell him about his brain injury and that he can't ask him questions and tell him step by step what he's doing, Dean can't handle all that, it's hurting his brain. I explain that in Dean's mind he's in danger from all these people and he can't keep us safe if he's having to listen to his commentary. Dean just needs to get through security as quietly as possible. I tell the guy, "If you have questions, direct them to me please". Dean knew I would give him "the talk" while he was in the bathroom. When Dean came back I had a Larazapam and his migraine meds waiting for him.

Now the guy had a whole new focus...get us through security! Which he did. So now we could relax. We found the USO and made ourselves comfie as we could with a packed USO. We found a corner in the little playroom that had no children in it, Dean sat on a kid chair with his back against a wall and after I got him a few comfort items and could feel that he was calm enough I wondered around to find out where we could eat lunch.

Found a great place with yummylicious food that with Dean's two $12/each bloody mary's cost us $77!!! Holy crap.

Fast forward, we finally got on our non-stop flight to Portland. Made it home, got our car, drove home, everything was great, got Dean to bed by midnight -- Whew!

Panic Problems?

Dean's been having unexplained panic feelings. His first anniversary date is March 23. His second anniversary date is April something, middle of the month sometime. With both of those dates he has sickness that comes over him until the date passes and in years past, after mid April, he's fine.

It's May 6th and starting May 3rd he began to tell me of symptoms he's having that he doesn't understand. He's describing a physical depression that doesn't include sadness. An overall feeling of dread. Dreams that are worrisome to him. Then yesterday, May 5th, he said that he was planning to fix the furnace and he's got all his tools out and he's sitting there looking at it and a panic feeling comes over him. His heart starts racing, he begins to drip with sweat, his eyes go blurry and then to white where he can't see. His hands and body start twitching and he feels like if he would have been alone, he might have laid down on the floor so his body to uncontrollably spasm. He maintained secrecy of his symptoms though because his respite lady was here and he doesn't want to tell her what he's feeling. He made sure to tell me that he didn't want to tell me his symptoms either but he knows that it helps me to help him when we have to see a VA doc when I know what he's got going on with him. I asked him if he felt it was a seizure or a panic and he doesn't know but he's leaning toward panic.

I mentioned to him that although this would be a new date to contend with, 5 years ago on May 8th is when he came home for R&R with his broken elbow when I had to take him to Ft Lewis and they tried to keep him here and not let him go back to Afghanistan. He convinced them eventually to let him go back and of course got sent home again but I remember his mental state when he was home on R&R. He told me that this was not his home, Afghanistan was his home. He didn't want to be here. His mind was singly focused on having to go back to be with his guys! The urgency in his spirit was a feeling like a mother forcefully separated from her was horrible for him. When I mentioned the May 8th importance to see what that sparked in him he automatically went back to that time too when he hated being here. So this may explain these new symptoms? We'll ride it out and see what May 9th & 10th & 11th  look like.

Now it's 7am on the 6th and he's sleeping. Don't know what today will bring. Don't know if his body is just going to add more and more panic days until some point when he want to get help for it? I don't know. It's a good thing that over 5 years I've gotten really used to feeling the i don't knows.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The looping cycle of PTSD and TBI in his battle-zone brain.

My understanding of the dance between Dean's PTSD and TBI is deepening. I've learned a few things this year about how the two injuries affect each other.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a STRESS disorder. Dean's was caused by being in almost constant danger and under surprise attack daily, when someone is trying to kill you and all your battle buddies your body responds with all it's wonderous chemicals to aid you in saving your life! That's our "fight or flight" system. For the average civilian, who also experiences moments of fight or flight, the scenario causing the panic subsides and our brain chemicals normalize and we can find our calmness again. Since Dean's system had to be in overdrive day in and day out for many, many months, his brain chemicals don't know how to properly regulate themselves. Now, when he encounters stressors, his brain floods him with fight or flight even if the stressors aren't ones that could injure you.

Think of the stressors in our everyday lives - we can't find our shoes and we're going to be late, we bump into a corner and spill a bit of our coffee on ourselves, someone calls us while we are eating breakfast and they are upset, we get a bill that we didn't expect and now have to wonder how that will fit into the budget, our child gets hurt and abruptly breaks out in a cry from the other room, etc. These stressors occur to everyone, everyday. They are no big deal really....on the grand scheme of things. Our daily stressors aren't causing us to have to battle some attacker in order to save our life.

When our brain responds to stressors with a flood of chemicals, our body experiences symptoms like racing heartbeat, more blood gets sent to our skin making us flushed and warm and we may even sweat, our brain becomes ultra focused on the threat, we have momentary increased strength and stamina, etc. Think of if you've ever encountered a person in the throws of major stress (a parent who just lost her child in the park, someone who just had a car accident, etc), they are freaking out a bit....breathing fast, confused, very focused on the event that is causing the stress, red, racing heart beat, scrambling around but not having much logic...they are stressed!

Dean's PTSD now causes his brain to respond improperly to small, daily stressors. His body doesn't know the difference and so he gets all the physical symptoms like the ones I mentioned above.

Now let's add a layer that complicates it a bit. When Dean has one of these stressors, say he dribbles coffee onto his shirt, his body floods him with chemicals that cause him to immediately be ready to kill the wall he just bumped. He is PISSED! He tries to realize that it's just coffee, it's easy to clean, it's no big deal, watch how you act....your son is don't want to scare him....(these are all great skills Dean has that not every warfighter with PTSD has) and then the next layer kicks in. He then gets mad at himself that spilling a little coffee made him that angry. He's mad that people may have seen him freak out over coffee. He gets defensive and just wants everyone to get the fuck away from him, stop looking at him, don't help him, leave him alone and he continues this cycle of "mad at himself" until he can go be by himself to regroup his thoughts and calm his body's symptoms down.

I haven't even mentioned the complexity that the TBI adds far that's just his PTSD. His stress response is broken and blows little things out of proportion and he has no control over the flood of chemicals his brain decides to dump into his body causing him to just lose his marbles!

His TBI has it's own symptoms.

  • He can't process incoming information quickly, kind of like when you are trying to learn some really difficult math and you're in class the first day while the teacher is explaining concepts you don't know yet. 
  • He can't respond or communicate quickly, kind of like when you are learning a foreign language and your teacher asks you a question in French and wants you to respond in French back and you have to piece together a sentence with words you don't know how to access. 
  • He is often confused because he doesn't live in a whole picture with all the context there for him to understand. This would be like when you first walk up on a scene and don't have a clue what is happening, what just happened, who is involved, etc. There is a confusion taking place while you gather data to paint a whole picture for yourself. He lives without that whole picture because his memories don't stick. He can't really gather the missing data because that's another TBI challenge. He mostly just has to try and function without the whole picture or the memories that he thinks he has are incorrect and he pieces together a picture that is wrong. 
  • He can't see, feel, or experience himself accurately. He doesn't know when ate or if he's hungry or that the dizziness he's feeling is because it's been 10 hours since he last ate or that the stomach ache he's feeling is because all he's eaten for the day is sugar cereal. He doesn't realize his eyes are hurting and causing the headache he's getting because the light is too bright and he should put on the sunglasses that are hanging on his shirt. He doesn't know that he feels like he's falling down because he's in a room with stripes on the carpet. He doesn't know that he feels really sick throughout his body because a stressful day is coming up that he doesn't remember. He doesn't know why walking through a room feels like he's walking under 1000 feet of water with the sounds being muffled and him feeling heavy weight all around him and his body is pushing against a resistance he can't see. He has body sensations that he doesn't understand the cause of and just kind of trudges along not being a "complainer" about it but not knowing what is wrong either. 
With all these symptoms of TBI, when we add them to a stressful situation, they get a say too. Sometimes the TBI affects how the stressor begins or happens, sometimes it affects how he responds, sometimes it affects the results or aftermath of the stressor, and sometimes it affects some or all of them randomly.   

I'll give you some examples:

  • TBI affecting how the stressor begins: bumping a wall, spilling coffee on his shirt - His TBI is causing him to experience more vertigo this morning so he's feeling clumsy, he doesn't know it's because yesterday we went to the hardware store. Since he's off balance he bumps into a wall and spills his coffee, he gets mad that he's so damn uncoordinated and can't control his own body and that no matter how hard he tries he just can't make it happen! 
  • TBI affecting how he responds: he gets a phone call - He feels like he wants to answer the phone and says "hello". The person on the other end begins talking and Dean doesn't know who it is or what they are talking about. He can't figure out what they want or why they are calling. He picks up on a few key words and tries to run them through his memory to see if it pulls up any files to clue him in to the conversation. The person is continuing to talk while Dean is still trying to figure out who it is. Now he needs to interrupt the person and ask them to SLOW DOWN, not to speak so fast, that he has a brain injury and can't keep up with them. He asks them who they are. He realizes this is sister and so instead of getting mad he smiles as now registering her voice with his good memories, he feels love for her and is happy she called. He tries to engage in small talk so that he can keep hearing her voice. He realizes that after 5 minutes of trying to keep up he's very tired and he needs to get off the phone. He thinks of some words to say that can get him off a phone call pretty quickly, like "Well I have to get outside and feed the animals", or "Little Dean needs me so I gotta go". He ends the call happy but tired and his brain hurting. Now he needs to recover with silence for a while.
  • TBI affecting the aftermath of a situation: he's watching tv - He's watching some program on the History Channel for a couple hours. He decides that it's time to go out to the shop to get some work done. Later I go out to see how he's doing and he starts talking about some strategy in some battle that was really stupid and it's making him agitated. He doesn't know if it was 10 years ago, 1 year ago, 1 week ago, or 1 hour ago that he watched a program about this but now he's a little preoccupied with the stupidity of some guy in history and how if that one guy had done something different all of history would be changed and on and on. Now that he's agitated he's making more mistakes in the shop, having to redo tasks over and over again because he keeps losing focus. 
Any one of the above examples (or thousands more) causes him stress which then loops into the brain chemical response which loops into the TBI confusion into a cycle that because it affects every facet of his day to day life, the cycle doesn't really end. One loop pours into the next and on and on. Part of what I do is to keep track of what he's doing so I can know what is triggering something or causing something and then I offer explanations which sometimes helps him not feel "crazy". I also try to add in positive stimuli at every turn such as wearing the perfume he likes because that activates a happy, loving feeling in him which can turn a bad moment into a normal moment or cooking him a favorite food or giving him a hug or saying a loving word to him. These little positive things can help his battle-zone brain to have a tie to reality and to the love of his family which is the reason he stays in the battle rather than giving up. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Another Alive Day Down

This year's Alive Day came and went. SO glad it's over. Sometimes it feels like we've been at this "new life" forever but when it comes to Alive Days we've really only had 5...and they are all so different. This year he started to feel it a month beforehand. Dean doesn't know what day or month it is most of the time but his body was knowing that something was coming. The night before the date was actually here (March 22nd) I had told him about his Alive Day approaching earlier as an explanation to why he was feeling the way he felt and he posted some sort of "Fuck the Taliban" message on his facebook. I guess a part of me felt happy for him that that was the position he was taking. The beer he was drinking was partially responsible for his harshness...but he deserves it! 

Another change this year is that once his Alive Day passed he was fine. No more fog, his new regular energy was back, he could see clear again. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Alive Day is approaching

Well it's going on about 10 days of Dean in weird funk. He is admittedly feeling very strange everyday, no coordination, wiped out exhausted, can't think right, can't form words, can't even be mad at it (which is strange for him because normally when he's having such trouble I'll hear him cussing from the other room due to his frustration with himself), sleeping more, getting less work done (which makes him mad usually but again he's too wiped out to even be mad).

His "normal" is to operate at a 20% pace compared to a non-injured person and every 3 or 4 days be exhausted, need some more sleep, need to isolate even more, then he's back at it. But for this to be 10 days to 2 weeks of this exhausted state? If you take his normal 20% and make that be HIS 100%, I'd say he's functioning at 20% of his "new normal". This is getting bad.

We both have been trying to figure he getting sick? No. Any med changes? No. Have we been having marital tension or issues with the kids? No. Any stressful events happen or coming up? No. Well......then it dawned on me that March 23rd is his alive day. Maybe this is him beginning to physically feel it coming? I mentioned it to him and he said "Maybe that's why I've been having flashbacks (he didn't even tell me he had been having them)....smelling the shit in the air, tasting the shit in the air, feeling the dirt on me again....".
What is weird is that here we are in our 5th year since his injuries and each alive day has been different. Mostly I feel they are a bigger deal than he does. I don't even think I mentioned it to him last year (or maybe that was the year before)? I don't know if anything will ever really settle in and be predictable. I don't know why I look for it to be predictable? Maybe it's just a natural human inclination.