Saturday, September 18, 2010

Trying to Catch Up!

This is a long one, but please stay with me!

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last blogged. A few days after I last posted, Jay was accepted into the WTU, the Warrior Transition Unit. It's a unit for soldiers who are healing. In the WTU the soldier is given a case manager who lines up appointments and therapy. The soldier's job is to heal. This is great news because it means that he isn't just trekking along thru the no man's land that he's been in--he'd sort of slipped off his old unit's radar when he went on medical leave. Now higher-ups are asking about him and he has appointments and formations to attend. He's no longer on his own.

He had to out-process from his old unit just as if we were changing duty stations. It was a long grueling process because scattered amongst all the signatures and meetings for out-processing were MANY doctors' appointments. Twelve just in that first fourteen day period. And there have been 27 scheduled for the month of September. I am not complaining! I am happy that he is getting the tests and therapy he needs.

But all these appointments have meant that this is the very busiest I believe I have ever been in my life. Jay still can't drive. He has done it a few times but not recently. This means that his morning formation (7:17 am) , his appointments, his 3pm PT (required daily physical training), his meetings, etc are all Nathan's and mine too. (We live just far enough off post to make it not worth our while to go home every time we drop him off somewhere.)

Nathan (who prefers the name Rush) was to start Kindergarten this year. We decided I will homeshool him instead. I have no one here to help me get him on and off the bus or pick him up if something goes wrong at school. Schooling him myself became our only option. Homeschooling deserves a blog of it's own because it's turning out to be so much more difficult than I thought it would be. I thought it would be easy since we could just homeschool anywhere. We've done flashcards and worksheets while waiting in the car, in the hospital's waiting rooms, on the steps of Behavioral Health, and we've tried it in the park. But it's just too distracting. The only times I have been successful have been the days that Jay has outpatient (where I drop him off at the hospital in the morning, he catches the van into the city for PTSD therapy with the other guys, and I pick him back up in the afternoon). On those days we have a block of several hours AT HOME and we are able to get tons of stuff done. Otherwise, it's been a complete flop.

I have a tendency to write long meandering posts that just go on and on. Since it's been over a month since I updated it might be simpler to just list what's been going on so that I can just start fresh next time.


Jay finally received an official TBI (traumatic brain injury) diagnosis. I know...DUH!!! But now it's recorded and he's in the TBI clinic's rotation of doctors and therapists.

Thru an MRI we learned last week that he has degenerative disc disease. He was a medic and lugging all that gear around has really done a number on his back. He's been in constant pain since he got back from Iraq in '08. Now we know why!

He is now in physical therapy in a nearby town two days a week for his back.

He was sent to the city for a several-hours-long psych test. Thru that we discovered where in his brain his damage is likely to be. I couldn't tell you myself, but at least it's on paper!

Thru that psych test he is now being set up with a speech therapist for his intense stuttering. He had never stuttered before he came home from Afghanistan. It just appeared that first week back. Then it tapered off. By about mid-August it came back full force and is really affecting his communication.

His anger outbursts have subsided!!! As have his seizures. Of course this is all do to the proper combination of medication. The psychiatrist says he has to stay on them for three years before he can try to go on his own. That will be a scary day when he decides to go solo. But for now, things seem to be under control.

Jay went for a sleep study a couple weeks ago. He spent the night at a little clinic off-post hooked up to some equipment to monitor his breathing and whatever else. We got the results of that yesterday. Basically, there is nothing THAT doctor can do for his poor sleeping. His recommendation was less caffeine and to cut out the cigarettes. Thanks. I'm not slamming the doctor. But, if it was just that easy to quit smoking there would be no smokers in the world. And since he's not sleeping well, the caffeine helps to keep him moving.

The sleep study doctor did say something that Jay is very concerned about. He told him that the drug he takes for nightmares (Minipress) keeps him from reaching a level of sleep where dreams occur making it impossible for him to dream. Well, at night while he's sleeping Jay wakes to see people that aren't there. At least not in the physical realm. So, if they aren't dreams, what are they?

Jan, Jay's therapist, is all over this kind of stuff. She has a very open mind so I'm sure she and Jay will explore this further. Jay sees people that aren't technically 'there' throughout the day too and Jan takes him seriously. Thank God for Jan.

Jay is med-boarding. We were told we could expect to be out of the Army by March or April. Heaven help us after that!

I'm including a list of his medications. As much as a record for myself as for anyone else who might be interested:

Adderall--improve concentration/memory
Nexium--acid reflux
Levitra--erectile dysfunction from all this medication!!! This bottle of pills will last forever because while he's losing his drive, I'm too tired to rev him up;)

I am hoping that this post did not sound like a lot of complaining. A couple days ago, Nathan and I were sitting on the ledge outside the physical therapist's office. It was the last appointment of a long and hot day. Homeschooling, again, was a complete failure so I just let Nathan dig for roly-polies (pill bugs) in the dirt. I won't lie, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

We were off-post and on a fairly busy street. Off in the distance I saw a person trying to cross traffic in a wheel chair. I held my breath as I watched this elderly person being pushed across the street. Then as this person was coming toward me AGAINST traffic-as there was no safe place to be for nearly thirty feet or so- I realized that it was a motorized chair and she wasn't being pushed at all but had something on the back of her chair. As she came closer and crossed another street into the parking lot where we were sitting I saw that she wasn't an elderly woman at all. She was maybe my age (mid-thirties), her legs deformed with what looked like extremely painful swelling, and it wasn't "something" on her back it was "someone", a boy about Nathan's age. He was clinging to his mom for dear life as she navigated thru traffic. She wheeled thru our parking lot without looking up at us and then she rode off, clogging up traffic as she disappeared over the hill.

My heart dropped and I felt a wave of shame slam me in the face. Sure, my car's air conditioning is broken. Sure, it's hard to keep a six year old occupied AND happy during hours of appointments. Sure this just plain sucks. But, that woman...that woman put me in my place and I hope I never forget her face. She was just chugging along doing what she needed to do with her kid strapped to her back; the rest of the world be danged! She is me, but I am not quite her. Not yet. But I'm working on it.

Thank you to everyone who left such lovely comments on my last post. I have responded to you individually over there and I hope you forgive me for it taking so long to acknowledge your well wishes. Aside from being busy, I've been avoiding this blog because I just didn't have the emotional energy to dredge all my thoughts out onto the screen. I didn't even realize that people had left such sweet encouragement. I feel like such a jerk. I assure you, the pity party is over. I'm ready to chug down the street!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friends and Losses

It seems as though I've been neglecting my blog. My family has needed my attention and I haven't had a lot of time to write. Recently Jay's grandmother passed away. She lived out of state so we could not make it to the funeral. I don't think Jay could have tolerated the experience even if we could have gone. But, it wore at him terribly that he wasn't able to be with his family to say goodbye.

Also, last week, a young man from Jay's therapy group killed himself. This was devastating to his small group. I will not go into this much now because I am so filled with rage that I only have nasty things to say. Not towards this poor boy, but to the people who let him down. I feel that the Army drops the ball quite a bit when it comes to caring for its soldiers. But, THIS...well, sometimes when you drop the ball, you can't just pick it back up again.

I have so many negative feelings for the Army right now that I think I should shift gears for a little bit.

I have been thinking a lot about friends. While I do not have a lot of friends, I do have three that I intend to keep for the rest of my life. One from high school, one from my days working at a nursing home, and one from my days packing bottles at a plastic bottle factory. They do not know each other and each of them represent a different stage in my life. I have felt that these women are sisters to me. That's why it was particularly hurtful that when Jay came home from Afghanistan and went into the hospital these friends disappeared. It's not as though I was being Debbie Downer. I never got the chance to be. After the first phone call updating them about what was going on they all high-tailed it out of my life. I have known these women for YEARS. I have been with them thru so many of their life experiences that I was crushed that I was left to fend for myself. Not one of them has called me back.

But, I recently read in a PTSD relationship book, in a chapter about friendships, something I found so valuable, "Do not be angry with your friends for leaving you. They are just not in a place in their own journey to be there for you." I believe that my friends are not horrible people. My family is in a dark place right now and maybe my friends do not know how to deal with that. Maybe it's easier to just turn away and hope that someone else is going to handle it.

I know that this is a rational thought because I have been that horrible friend myself. Many years ago when I was a new mom I met a girl at work who was exactly my age. We got along so well even though we lived very different lives. I was a wild child/single mom and Tara was the classic devoted wife; married to her high school sweetheart. Though she was still quite young and only a newlywed, she prayed and prayed for a baby. When she got pregnant everyone knew she was going to be the greatest mom ever. After the baby came we would go to lunch and share stories about our baby boys. I was in awe of her devotion to God and to her family. But at times I would resent her for all that she had. I was alone, struggling because of poor choices I had made as a teenager, and there she was--lit from within by a light that I had no idea how to find and wrapped up in the cozy cocoon of a family she had created for herself.

One night after work, when her son was five months old, my friend lost control of her car. Her precious baby was killed instantly. After the funeral I did not know how to talk to her. I knew she had friends and family so I thought, "What can I possibly do for her that other people aren't already doing?" A complete cop-out. She never returned to work so I just faded away from her life. I abandoned my friend because her loss was so great and her grief was so big that I did not know how to face her. She did everything right. She followed all the rules. She had the perfect life. And she faced the ultimate loss. There I was, a mess of a girl with no future, no faith, no prospects and my baby boy was safe in my arms. My guilt was so overwhelming that I did not speak to her for ten years. Am I a bad friend? I certainly was to her. Am I a bad person? Absolutely not.

Some time ago, thanks to My Space, we were able to reconnect. I was again in complete awe of her. She was (and still is) married to that same high school sweetheart and they went on to have three more children together. And though my guilt still prevents me from getting too close to her, she welcomed me back without so much as a single word about my abandonment. If she could be that generous with her grace then surely I can show my friends some slack. I am in no way comparing my situation to the tragic loss of a child. We are at opposite ends of the pain-spectrum. But, if SHE can show so much loveliness and warmth, I really have no excuse.

I have chosen not to call my friends again so that they can have an easy way out. I do not want them to be uncomfortable. Should my friends ever call me again I will behave as if I just spoke to them last week. I will not let on how wounded I have been that they have left me alone. I will understand that my friends are not at a place in their own journeys to be there for me. I will show them the grace that Tara showed me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just Some Rambling

A couple Saturdays ago Jay went in for some brain testing. We are still waiting for those results. Hopefully they will be able to help pinpoint where (if any) damage occurred. Why does this matter? I don't know. Maybe I just want to see it on paper. Maybe I just want to be able to slam that paper on someone's desk and say, "FIX THIS!!!! IT'S RUINING OUR LIVES!!!!" Will it change anything? No. Not one bit.

The day of the test Jay had to miss two doses of some very important medication. I knew it was going to be a rough day but I had no idea exactly how bad it could get. To make a long story short, by the end of the day Jay had demanded a divorce, took the car keys, and drove himself into the city. I said a lot of prayers and was more than relieved when he walked back thru the door, safe and sound, a couple hours later.

But, honestly, and embarrassingly, I was also relieved that he had asked for a divorce. I wanted to run away. He'd been so mean and I was so tired of always trying to say the right things that for that bit that he was gone, I was actually excited to have been given my ticket to leave. I know that I don't really want to leave. I don't want my marriage to end. But, just for that little bit of time, I was free and I felt better than I had in weeks.

We managed to work things out and after his medication leveled back out, things returned to normal. He has not had any angry outbursts since then and I think this combination of medications is the key. We have still had moments of frustration that were never a part of our lives before PTSD, but at least we are at a place now where we seem to get along. I know we love each other. Thankfully, we have many years of that love behind us as a foundation.

Nearly everyone in Jay's therapy group (all soldiers with PTSD) has recently divorced or is on the verge. It's so sad. It's sad because the marriages are ending. But it's more sad to me because when I ask Jay why it's happening his reply is always, "The wife just doesn't get it" or "He says his wife's a bitch."

I've never met these women so I can't say if these things are true or not. But I can say this--it is VERY hard to be the wife of someone with PTSD. It's not like he's just in a bad mood sometimes or he's a little paranoid. PTSD controls our entire lives. He's in a bad mood ALL the time. He hates everyone and everything. It makes him stutter. It makes him shake. It keeps him from sleeping. It turns him away from his God. It scares his children. It keeps him from being 'him'.

Those wives were probably just like me. They married someone who was sweet and kind and loving. And then before their eyes their husbands morphed into some monster that they barely recognized. Why did their marriages end? Was it really because the wife just didn't get it? Or was it because she was just broken down and couldn't deal any more? You never know what goes on behind closed doors. That is such a common phrase but I think that it is one of the truest.

Will that be us someday? Will this stupid disorder claim our marriage? I'm hoping not. I cannot let Jay live alone like this. This disorder isn't his fault. What's happened to him isn't his fault. And as long as he's still trying to get well, and as long as he's still trying to not be swallowed up by drugs or alcohol, then he deserves for me to ride this out with him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This week was a rough one. Jay is about two weeks into his new medication and it seems to finally be leveling off. But, wow, what a terrible transition. He was so angry. Everything I said set him off. He hasn't been able to drive and that's been a huge sore spot for him. Add the fact that it's ME telling him not to drive and you can imagine the conflict that results.

He did finally get to drive, though. He decided he was driving to his appointment with his therapist, Jan. I reluctantly agreed. I didn't have much choice. I know that he did ok, but there were times on that little trip that I felt his reflexes weren't as quick as I would like for them to have been. I felt very much like a mother in the car with her teen child, behind the wheel for the first time. He didn't drive thru the gate onto post since being on post raises his anxiety so much. So, he pulled over into a shopping center and we traded places. I was so relieved to be driving again. I gave him lots of praise and told him how proud I was of him. If he's so determined to get back to driving then it will do no good for me to express every single doubt I have.

As we sat in the waiting room before Jay's appointment it became very clear to me that he and I were at a fork in the road of our marriage. A couple months ago, when he was in the hospital, I had gone to an appointment with his therapist there. As we all walked into his little office Jay sat down, I sat next to him, and then we moved our chairs closer to each other so we could hold hands. Brian, the therapist, said the chairs were set up a certain way for a reason. He said he could tell how close a couple was by which chairs they chose (there was another empty chair across from us) and whether or not they faced each other. Not only did we hold hands, but at times we pressed our feet together. As we sat waiting for Jan, though, I had sat down where I always do, but instead of sitting next to me, Jay had chosen a spot several chairs away.

All week I had been battling with Jay. His anger had been out of control. He had been destructive. He had cussed at me for the first time in the seven years we have been together. In a rage he had gone into his garage and spray painted HATE on the wall. This was so disarming to me. I took a picture of it to give to Jan so that maybe it would help her see what I was dealing with. When she came in the waiting room to get him I handed her the photo and said, "I don't know what you had in mind for him today, but can you just help him?".

She said, "Of course." She kept him back with her for an hour and a half. The office closed at 5pm and around 5:10 they finally came out. She sat with me and explained that everything Jay is experiencing is normal given what he's going thru. She told me that this won't last forever. She told me that it was ok to let him drive. On our way to the car Jay told me that she hadn't been alarmed by the picture I gave her. He said she seemed glad that he had a place to go to let off steam. I like Jan. I respect Jan. But I wonder how well Jan would sleep at night if her husband spray painted HATE on the wall. I wonder how she would feel if this is what the neighbors could see...

I want to paint over it but Jay said he needed to leave it up for awhile. Great. I can only imagine what the neighbors think of us. Jay tells me that I shouldn't care what the neighbors think. But I don't think it's fair that he can tell me how to feel.

I'm embarrassed. Jay already has an angry look about him. When he came home from Iraq he started covering himself with macabre tattoos; creepy images of death. He wears black t-shirts and blasts screaming, death metal from his garage as he works. The other day he told me that as he and a friend (from PTSD therapy) were standing at the garage door talking, a woman was walking her dog up our street. She actually crossed the street to keep from walking by our house. MY HOUSE!!!!! They waved to her to try to be neighborly. But it's too late. We are the strange people.

In two hours we will be sitting in another doctor's office in the city. Dr. W referred us to a guy who is going to map Jay's brain. I can't give any more details than that because I'm very unsure exactly what's happening. But, I know it's supposed to last about two hours and will give us an idea if there is evidence of a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and where exactly it might be. It could also show us nothing. Which would be frustrating. I'm told that you can prove that there has been a TBI but you can't prove there hasn't been one. Meaning, if nothing shows up he could still have significant damage that just doesn't want to be documented, which will just make things harder for us down the road.

What puts all this in perspective for me right now is something that Jan said as she was talking to me the other day. She confessed that she had gone thru her own battle after her husband died. She wasn't relating to me but she was trying to show that she felt anguish similar to what Jay feels. Just hearing her say her husband had died flipped a switch for me. With everything Jay is going thru, I'm sure Jan would gladly go thru it with her husband if it meant she could be with him again. I will hold on to Jay and cherish him. He is still here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Plot Thickens

When I started this blog Jay was just beginning his journey thru this disorder. I knew very little about PTSD but I knew that WE were madly in love and that whatever IT was, it was not enough to tear us apart. I was given advice from doctors and therapists on how to keep our marriage strong. I listened to what they said and I read all the books and pamphlets they gave me. I read how to deal with selfishness, rage, and all the other brutal side effects that this disorder can dish out. But, in my heart I felt that THAT advice was for other people. My Jay would never be difficult or mean or rude. My Jay was sweet and kind and loved me more than air. In truth, it was the fact that HE was so great that we were not only going to make it thru this, we were going to thrive.

But, PTSD alters the way the brain functions. When the average person is faced with something that causes fear: a stranger at the door, speaking in public, etc., the brain creates a fight or flight response. A pretty simple concept. We get a rush of adrenaline that lets us either run away or stand up against whatever the stressor is. We might get sweaty, our muscles might tense up, and according to what I've read we might get tunnel vision and our hearing becomes more sensitive. All of these things are survival mechanisms. We face the stressor (or run away) then our bodies go back to normal. A person with PTSD is in that heightened state ALL the time. It never shuts off. Sweating, muscle tension, and certainly in Jay's case, VERY sensitive hearing, NON-stop. His body ready to fight or flee at all times.

So far, Jay has been able to experience all these things every minute, even while sleeping, and not let it affect the way he treats me. That is, until he started yet another medication this week. Last month Dr. W put Jay on a medication that's aim was to eliminate the zombie episodes. It worked. But it turns out that Jay's frequent violent outbursts (followed by almost euphoria) meant that whatever was causing the zombie-ness was also still stirring around Jay's brain. So, he put him on another medication to stop the rage before it destroyed Jay's life.

I haven't gone into Jay's anger all that much. I get so little time to sit and write that I tend to not want to focus on the negatives. But the truth is that he is so very angry now. And since his brain doesn't function like it used to, he misunderstands things very easily. This means that simple little arguments can lead to major breakdowns. During his rages he has destroyed a few of his tools and punched screwdrivers into the garage wall. A few days ago he got upset about something trivial and when he read his garage's digital thermometer and saw that it was 105 degrees he picked it up and smashed it on the floor. I asked him why he had done it and he said that he didn't need to be reminded that he was hot.

He constantly spews profanity. I'm no prude, but I rarely cuss. For no other reason than it just sounds silly coming from my mouth. Jay's cussing is out of control. It's not like he just tosses out a curse word when he stubs his toe. His profanity actually hurts my ears. He throws out words that are violent and nasty and hateful- not to us, but to strangers on TV or people driving by (who thankfully cannot hear) or at inanimate objects that have not worked the way he thinks they should. It's so unnecessary and so undeserved that I'm having trouble letting it slide. I've warned my children that this isn't ok behavior and they understand that Daddy's different now because of the boo boo on his brain.

This new medication, which is supposed to curb this anger, is doing something very nasty to my husband. All week he has been different. Not quite the zombie state from his first week home, but he's slow moving and his eyes are so odd that he looks high or very drunk. His movements are as if he is in slow motion and he doesn't look at me, he looks thru me, like he's not quite focusing. He has stopped initiating conversations with me. We have had some serious fights because of his misunderstanding something I've said. Thankfully, I have been able to corral my own emotions to see that it's all the disorder and more likely the new medication, that is causing this personality shift. So our fights are not actually battles but more my trying to convince him that I am not the bad guy.

When I started this blog, the 'love story' part was effortless. It's easy to love someone who is kind and gentle and who obviously loves you back. It's easy to love someone who is hurting when he holds you and tells you that you're the only thing saving him. It's easy to love someone who WANTS to be loved.

It's turning out to not be so easy to love when that person is bitter and angry and hurtful. It's not easy to love when the other person resents you because you've become the care-giver and he's become the cared-for. And it's especially difficult to love when the other person has pulled away and gives you no reinforcement that all your efforts to make his life better are even appreciated.

I guess if this were a fairy tale this would be the point where the lovers are tested. PTSD has managed to turn us against each other. So, in our tale, the brave prince has been put under a dark spell that makes the princess believe that he no longer loves her. But, I believe in happy endings to corny love stories so this is but a twist in the plot. The princess will remember that, deep down, the prince's heart can't beat without her and that he needs her now more than he ever has. She will persevere and find a way to lift the horrible spell. And of course, they will live happily ever after.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Freedom ISN'T Free

A couple weeks ago my daughter asked me what the phrase "Freedom Isn't Free" means. We were sitting in an office in the hospital when she had read it on the wall. It was a small poster that was inches from my husband's head as he was bent over a desk, struggling with the paperwork that starts the med-board process. He was painfully recording dates and places and events and occasionally looking to me to fill in the blanks when his mind wouldn't let him remember all the details.

It could not have been a more achingly poetic moment. I could not explain to her at that time exactly what it means for us because I would have dissolved into tears. I gave her the pat answer that throughout history many men and women have died to protect our freedom; our way of life. That in fact freedom is very expensive.

True. But, there is so much more to tell her. For every soldier who has paid the ultimate price, there are thousands of others who have still paid dearly. Some have given their legs, their arms, or like her dad, their minds. They've sacrificed their youth, their comfort, and precious years with their families. Some have fought because our government made them, some have fought because they felt called to do it. ALL deserve our utmost respect.

For every soldier who has ever died there is a mother and father who lost a child. For every soldier who couldn't handle the stress of flashbacks and pain and turned to drugs or alcohol, there are children who lost a father. For every loving spouse who returned from war angry and bitter, there is a couple who lost their marriage. It is a spiderweb of tragedy and grief.

Since Jay returned as a broken version of the man he used to be I have been struggling with the 'WHY?' of it all. What was all of this for? Someone's political agenda? Greed? I can knock myself out trying to find a point to it all.

But, if I sit back and just let go of my anger, I know the answer that will work for me.

As we are all with our families this weekend celebrating our nation's birthday,
lounging in our lawn chairs,
chowing down on too many hotdogs,
laughing and joking with our friends in our cozy neighborhoods,
watching our children waving their sparklers,
knowing that they are free to be whomever they wish to be,
and that they'll never know a thimble-full of the pain a lot of other children do,
THAT feeling...
that feeling of warmth in our chests,
and calm in our bellies,
that feeling that all is right with our part of the world...
THAT is the WHY of it all.

Freedom isn't free. I know that. It is a very expensive gift that I will never take for granted again.

The Mad Hatter

Just weeks before he came home from Afghanistan Jay mentioned to me how much he wanted a Mustang he had found online. I knew that he had been receiving treatment for his then suspected "anxiety disorder". I knew that he was feeling low and uncertain of his future. Yet, I was positive that as soon as he got home, I would make it all better. I thought, naively, that one look at the kids and me and all would be perfect again. But, just to be sure, I would drive out of state and pick up this magical car for him because THAT would be the icing on the cake-of-recovery.

We needed a second car but we certainly didn't need this particular car. It's terribly impractical, hard for me to drive, and loud. When I drove it home it drew so much attention that I felt very uncomfortable. It's not a fancy or expensive car. Just an old '87. But, to talk to Jay, you'd think that every hope and dream he ever had rumbled under it's hood.

Now here we are nearly three months later. Jay has all but lost his mind, has received a PTSD and TBI diagnosis, spent several weeks in a psychiatric hospital, and returned only slightly better. The car that he lusted over sits in the garage undriven, except for the couple times he's had the courage to test out whatever new whatchamacallit he's decided to put on it.

I have often regretted buying that car. I drained our emergency fund to buy it. It raised our insurance. It is a money pit as there are endless (unnecessary) projects that Jay is indulging in. And although he won't say it, I think it's a constant reminder of the fact that Jay is sick because he can't bring himself to drive it. But, thru it all -bad decision or not- it is making Jay happy. And it keeps him busy and gives him something to focus on.

Still, the car makes me very nervous. I rarely turn my back on Jay right now because I never know when his mind is going to slip. Our daughter spends a lot of time with him out in the garage when she's home so I am able to do other things in the house. I opened the garage door not too long ago to find the car jacked up with my love and my daughter underneath it. I nearly threw up. He was teaching her how to change the oil. That's fine. But all I saw was a million ways that this could end badly! They changed the oil without incident. But, just three hours after this, Jay had a horrible episode that I can only describe as a seizure. What if it had happened under the car? What if he had made some kind of mistake and hurt P? He would never forgive himself.

Just before he came home from deployment I took the kids to see Alice in Wonderland. I nearly cried when I watched it. It was so clear to me that The Mad Hatter had PTSD. Of course, he was already 'mad', supposedly from mercury poisoning from the hat making process. But, after the horror he witnessed during the massacre of the White Queen's people by the Red Queen's Jabberwocky, he changed completely. His personality flip/flopped depending on the situation at hand. He had flashbacks. He would get a sad, lost, empty look in his eyes sometimes. Tell me these aren't symptoms of PTSD.

I told Jay this and as he watched the movie later he felt the same way. I can't imagine how it must feel to identify with a character that has gone crazy.

Like a lot of guys, Jay names his vehicles. When it came time to name the mustang, after we had thrown out a dozen ideas, The Mad Hatter became the perfect fit.

Naturally, my car became Alice by default. Although, I think it's quite fitting. In the movie, Alice becomes very attached to The Mad Hatter and takes it upon herself to look after his mental health. She chooses her words carefully to make him believe that 'normal' is terribly boring and she, herself, is convinced that Crazy is a wonderful place to be. I could learn a lot from her.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Father's Day and Our Anniversary

Saturday, Jay felt up to going to the stores to look for a couple things for his garage as his Father's Day gift. I was really happy for him to get out of the house so I drove him to Home Depot and Sears. If someone you love is experiencing social anxiety and is afraid of people, the best place to be might NOT be Sears on Father's Day weekend. It was packed.

On top of that, I parked at the Sears sign at the mall which wasn't really where the store was at all. We had to walk across the entire mall. It was the first time Jay had been to the mall since he got back from Afghanistan in April. He was very nervous as we walked passed all the people. It must have been Basic Training Graduation Day too because we saw lots of young men in their Class A's (their fancy uniform). We walked by one young couple, he in his uniform and she in her pretty summer dress, and my memories returned to me of the day Jay graduated Boot Camp.

Jay had entered the Army rather late (he was mid-twenties instead of the more common teenager). He had worked in factories since high school and was sick of it. When our factory downsized and he was pushed out of his good job to a harder, lower paying job within the company he looked to the Army to get us out of the trap we were in. The plan was he would join, I would stay on at the factory, I would quit later and join him at his duty station. Then he would either stay in the military or quit after his enlistment time and go to school since they would pay for it. Seemed like a good plan.

He graduated from boot camp and I had gone to Oklahoma to see him. We had been apart for 11 weeks and that felt like a lifetime. I'll never forget how handsome he looked in those Class A's. And even though we weren't as young as that couple at the mall, I felt that rush of excitement that they must have been feeling- being at the start of a great journey, with a beautiful future just up ahead. Jay must have felt something too, because as we walked by he whispered (more to me, and not to that poor boy) "I was You, once. Then they sent me to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly blew me up, and now I can't even set an alarm clock. Enjoy!" I know he has a lot to be angry about and he is entitled to those feelings. But, I still choose to think that that young couple will live happily ever after.

Speaking of Happily Ever After, our anniversary was Monday. It was bittersweet because six months ago we had planned for a romantic second honeymoon to the coast. Now, Jay is so gripped by fear that he can't cross even one state line to visit our family let alone travel to the ocean. I had wondered how this anniversary would unfold.

Normally, I would have played that classic woman-child game of not mentioning it just to see if he would remember. That would have been mean right now so I brought it up a week in advance and often throughout the days leading up to it. I hadn't expected a gift because he is only away from me when he is in therapy so I knew he wouldn't be able to buy me anything. I control the bank account so he wouldn't be able to sneak anything by me online either.

But I hadn't expected that there would be NOTHING. It was just another day. We went to Autozone so he could pick up a part for his car and as we walked around the store I was secretly feeling a little sorry for myself that our life had come to this. No more romance. No more sweet words.

But as we were standing in the checkout line he turned around and without any words, he pulled me to his chest and gave me a big, long squeeze. Right there in a crowded autoparts store my husband wasn't afraid to wrap his arms around his wife and give her a big bear hug-- not because it was our anniversary but because he loves me every day. Happy Anniversary to us, indeed!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Memo Board

I am feeling neglectful. It has been a very busy week and I've had trouble grabbing the me-time to hop on the computer to blog about what's been going on. I want to thank Erin again at Luck & Bliss for making that cute little button. She is such a delightful, ray of sunshine that just perks me up every time I turn on my computer. I love her conversational style, her creativity, and her willingness to share thru her tutorials. Because of her thoughtfulness, she has single-handedly turned my little journal into full-fledged therapy for me by mentioning me to the ladies who read her blog. She truly does have some very kind readers and the comments I've received have really helped me during this lonely time. I cannot thank her enough and I am so happy to have crossed internet paths with her and the ladies she has introduced me to.

Normally, I type until my fingers nearly fall off and then edit away until I'm left with what is probably still WAY too many words. Today, though, I want to just share what I woke up to a few mornings ago.

To set it up, Jay has very little short term memory. He has hung several dry-erase boards thruout the house to keep track of what is in his head, to make lists of what he wants to accomplish for the day, and to post rules for the kids. He calls them his Prosthetic Brain.

A few nights ago we had a small disagreement. We rarely argue now because honestly it really is useless. Not because we are soooo in love and we see how silly arguing is--that would really make a person gag, huh?-- but because he processes information differently now and any time he feels threatened in any way he gets very defensive. Even the most innocent comment from me can send him spiraling down hill for the whole night. So it's in everyone's best interest for me to let things roll off and to not make waves. This isn't me walking on eggshells. This is me seeing that my love is hurting and not wanting to exasperate a problem by always having to have my way. This is working for now because for one, I am pretty cooperative and do not NEED to have my way all the time, and for another, he will most likely not remember our conversation the next day. So why go thru the drama? That's not to say that our conversations are pointless. But, the day after a conversation of any type he is less likely to remember the actual details and words spoken and more likely to remember how those words made him FEEL.

But try as I do to not stir up trouble, I did hurt his feelings the other night when I didn't exactly agree on where the kids' game systems should go. He was annoyed by all the wires and thought the systems should be out of sight. I thought the kids should have easy access to the systems or they wouldn't play them. Long story short, this simple disagreement led to a major meltdown. What I perceived as a conversation about where to put the kids' toys, he heard outright ridicule of his ideas and rejection of him as a person. He was up past midnight trying to explain to me how badly he felt that I wasn't on his side. I went to sleep exhausted. Exhausted by the busyness of the day and exhausted by all the emotions that are wrapped into every detail of our lives right now.

The next day I found this:

I'm sorry for being so difficult. I can't imagine what kind of burden I can be sometimes. I love you very much and I love Nathan (Rush) and Paige, too. Sometimes I feel like such an alien. I promise I'm trying as hard as I can. Thanks for putting up with me. J

His little message made me cry. I hate that he feels so badly all the time. I hate that he feels like a burden. But, I love that he lets me know how he feels because it makes it all that much easier to adore him!

PS-I included his comment about my turkey burgers because I was just so danged proud:)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jan and Dr. W

Friday was a big day. Jay had his first appointment with Jan, the therapist, and a follow up appointment with the psychiatrist, Dr. W. Thankfully, my wonderful mother came down to watch Rush for the day. She called me the night before saying she had the day off and she would be here super early so that I could go talk to the doctors without the boy. She didn't ask. She just said, "I'm coming. You need to go." I can never repay her for that. It's a long drive down here and it was a long day for her to be stuck at my house since the appointments were stretched out so far. On top of that, I misread the appointment sheet and thought our psychiatrist appointment was at 1pm. We showed up at the office and they told us it wasn't until 1500. Jay told me a long time ago that I need to learn military time. I thought I had. 1500 is 3pm not 1pm!!! The rest of society seems to run just fine using AM and PM so why can't the military? (Ok, a quick google search slams me with the knowledge that the 24hour clock is the most used in the entire world. Oops. It appears that I cannot expect the military to cater to me.)

So without little Rush dominating the room, Jay and I were able to have very productive visits with the therapists. I had an appointment with Jan several weeks ago while Jay was still in the hospital. I thought she was an artsy type who seemed really laid back. I had told Jay that he was going to LOVE her. Our appointment got off to a rocky start though when she lost the giant questionnaire that Jay had spent 30 minutes filling out. She searched for nearly 10 minutes between her desk and the front office. Finally she found it...on her desk. One of the questions was "How do you relax?" Jay had stated that he likes to watch Spongebob Squarepants with the kids. Jan read the questionnaire and asked, "This Spongebob, it's a cartoon I guess? Does this say Square pants?". It turns out we had just met the ONE person in the country, possibly the world, who had never heard of Spongebob. I kept waiting for her to say she was just kidding but she was completely serious. We found this inconceivable since Spongebob has infiltrated our house like black mold. Jay has only been a dad for seven years but I've been a mom for 16 and that little sponge has been in my face since my oldest was a kindergartener. To never have even heard of him makes me wonder what exactly it is she's sniffing from those aromatherapy bottles. But scatter-brained and un-commercialized as she might be, we like her. And more importantly, she likes Jay and wants to help him. Anyone who wants to help him jumps to the top of my favorite people list.

And to be fair, I suppose I can see how someone might go thru life without ever knowing about Spongebob. Her child is grown, perhaps she has no grandchildren. She might not watch TV, and that's not terribly uncommon. Now that I think about it, I feel like a big jerk for ever suggesting that she's somehow unusual. However, as a mom with kids raised in the Spongebob era, I still find it hilarious.

Our appointment with Dr. W lasted two hours. He is the most considerate and caring doctor I have ever met. He is unquestionably concerned with Jay's case and very much wants for him to get well. He even handed Jay a piece of paper that said You Are Repairable. I thought that was so sweet. I went through my list of concerns: not driving, unable to leave him alone, the zombie-ness, the lack of short-term memory, etc. He addressed every one and is convinced that Jay has had a TBI (traumatic brain injury). Most likely resulting from a particularly nasty blast that occurred while he was in Iraq. Strangely, I am happy to hear this. I have always thought that this one particular explosion had caused damage but I had no proof. I still don't, but at least I have a doctor who believes that this is the case and that it needs to be examined. He thinks that an MRI will not provide the details that he wants so he'll send Jay in for something more detailed. I am not excited to hear that my husband's brain is scrambled. But, I am comforted to know that what Jay is experiencing might actually show up on 'paper'.

Dr. W has filled out our paperwork to begin the med-board process. This will be the first step to getting out of the military. It could still take forever but there is a Warrior Transition Unit that Jay will go to while we ride it out. He will still go to outpatient therapy every day with the other guys (and girls) but instead of returning to his unit to be their medic, his main job will be to get well. I am so glad that I went to this appointment because there was so much information exchanged that there was no way Jay could have kept it all straight. I had to write it all out when I got in the car because I knew that I would never remember it all. On Monday we drop off the paperwork that Dr. W started and pick up the new prescriptions. Then we wait.

I have so many emotions tied into leaving the military that it will have to blogged another day. This post is long already. I am happy that the process is being started to get Jay away from the environment that causes him the most stress and at the same time nervous about our financial future. But if there is one thing I am learning from this experience it is that there is little use for my worrying. I can plan and plot and diagram and chart our future all I want. But if there is something waiting around the corner to knock us off our path then I will just have to scrap it and start over. This is true for everyone. It would do my up-tight nature good to just let go of the wheel for a while.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In-Laws and Lots and Lots of Lasagna

It seems like it has been forever since I've updated. Every day there is something new that I want to add but it seems like I can never sneak away to the computer for a few uninterrupted minutes. I really miss our laptop. I could be anywhere in the house, typing til my heart's content, without a twinge of guilt. But now that I have to get on the Ol' Dinosaur in the back room it's very obvious that I'm neglecting something/someone. My laptop died a few months ago and instead of taking it in to someone who might be able to fix it, Jay has decided he wants to give it a go. I'm nervous because according to You tube instructions for our particular problem there is soldering involved. I'm sure Jay is capable of fixing it. I just don't want his shaky hands to cause him to fail and ruin his day. I'd rather just not have the silly thing than for him to have another reason to be depressed.

He's had so many good days lately. (I'm afraid to type that out.) I know he's had bad moments within those days but at least he's been lucid most days. We did have a rough night Saturday. We had a leaking pipe that happened to be in the closet. The dripping of the water and the smell of the pipe reminded him of Haditha Dam which is a place he slept for a while. This of course led to thinking of other stupid Iraq crap, thus tossing him down the rabbit hole for pretty much the rest of the night. He was pretty much gone by the time we got back from Lowe's with the pieces to fix the pipe. He sat on the floor while I crawled inside the closet. He fixed the broken pieces while in a complete fog and handed them off to me to screw in. It was excruciatingly slow and what would have been a five minute job took over an hour. But our water was turned off and we had no idea when he'd return to normal. Luckily for me my husband takes two or three (or more) baths a day so being without water wasn't an option for him, even when he was a zombie.

Monday my in-laws were supposed to come down for a visit. They flaked, of course. But they said they would be here Tuesday. It would be Jay's brother, sister-in-law, their three kids, my other-mother and her grand daughter whom she is raising. I spent the whole day scrubbing my house and baking. I made cookies and assembled a Reese's dessert. I put together a big lasagna and had it ready in the fridge. I bought snacks for the kids. In my heart I knew they weren't really coming but I went thru the motions just in case. They were supposed to be here around 3pm. Jay texted his brother at 5pm asking where they were. It turns out they couldn't come because they got stuck dog sitting. They didn't even bother to call. This is the same brother and sister-in-law who didn't even call Jay while he was in the hospital. When he was admitted I even personally called my sister-in-law and gave her Jay's address and number and told her how important it was that he hear from them. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. I give up on this family. Truly, I do not know where I'm supposed to summon up the grace to remain civil to these people.

So, now I'm stuck with this giant lasagna. My husband has no appetite and eats just enough to stay alive. I have one child allergic to milk products and another who thinks cheese is gross (WHAT?). I only made the dumb thing because it was something that feeds a lot of people and I could prepare it ahead of time. I suppose I could just pop it into the freezer but I don't have a lot of space. This just makes me so mad. My next door neighbor is a single mom. I've never really spoken to her but she has two tweens so maybe she'd appreciate the night off from cooking dinner. I also have a single neighbor across the street. She probably doesn't make giant lasagnas for herself so maybe I'll bake it up and split it with her. That would be weird, "Howdy, neighbor. Here's half of our dinner. Bon Appetit!" If my in-laws ever do come to visit I am setting out a plate of Saltines and Kraft cheese slices and that's it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Our Weekend

What a crazy weekend. Last Thursday I was terrified that Jay was slipping backward with all his tics and twitches coming back. I was so relieved to see his face when he got off the van at the hospital that day. Seeing him meant that the therapist hadn't thought he needed to be admitted again and that he and I would have a four day weekend together. But by Sunday I was ready to call the hospital myself to beg them to admit him.

I can look past the tics that make him breathe erratically and the twitches that make him unable to control his arms and legs when he's been triggered. We can cope just fine if he never drives alone again. I will sleep on the floor for the rest of my life so that he can watch the doors all night if that's what he wants. The short term memory problems mean that often times our conversations feel hollow because I know that the next day he will probably not remember talking to me. But if there was only one thing I could make go away it would be the zombie-ness. Days and days of just blank stares and no conversation. It's almost more than I can take to know that my husband is in there but can't come out.

I had tried to post all weekend. I sat down to the computer with list after list of all the off-the-wall stuff Jay had done. Staying out in his truck til 2 or 3am trying to pull out a stereo system. Refusing/unable to sleep and nodding off while standing, smashing his head more than once. Or falling asleep in the chair with a bowl full of Fruity Pebbles. Getting mad and pulling down the obnoxious alarms he installed because I had accidentally left them off. (I had turned them off so they wouldn't wake him when I had to set the chair out to dry after cleaning milk and cereal off of it). I really could go on and on. But all of it is nothing compared to the empty stares and silence that came with it all. So there was no need to blather on about the day to day shenanigans. In a nutshell: he couldn't sleep so I followed him around day and night to keep him from killing himself, lather-rinse-repeat.

There were moments of lucidity in there though. Just bits. Kind of like in the movie The Notebook. I felt like the husband whose wife had Alzheimer's. He read to her and talked to her every minute, hanging on to that slight chance that she would have a moment of clarity and be herself again. And after she did come around for a few minutes, she would disappear inside her head again and not remember anything that happened. After this experience I think I understand what it might be like to care for someone with Alzheimer's. It's so hard to love someone who knows you, but doesn't see you. At least for us, the zombie-ness seems to come and go.

Clarity is so fragile for him. This morning started like most with no speaking and a little peck on the cheek. But when he got off the van today he was smiling. He came home ready to go shopping for stuff for his new car. He was laughing and kidding around with our son. We were so happy. Then as we were passing thru a busy intersection a car went by and honked incessantly. Not at us, but it didn't matter. The cussing started immediately, then the shakiness.

While we were at the auto-parts store a guy came up to him and started making conversation about the work he was doing. He wasn't an employee, just a nice guy who was interested in what he was planning for his car. I stood behind Jay like a mother watching her child on the playground, wondering how he would react with this other boy and if he'd make friends. Jay was polite but not talkative and the guy picked out the part he was originally reaching for and walked away. Jay told me he had wanted to talk but he just couldn't. I told him he did just wonderful and that it was going to take time. He has retreated to the garage for now. I'm hoping that he won't retreat inside his head too. It's been nice having him back today.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

But Monday Was So Perfect

I would like to thank Erin from Luck and Bliss for mentioning me on her blog. I am touched that she felt like sharing our story with her readers. When I saw her post about us yesterday I was motivated to do a really positive update. I had just dropped Jay off at the hospital for his second day in outpatient care. I had straightened up my house and felt pretty on top of things. Jay had seemed so good. He had presented one of his breathing tics the night before but other than that it seemed like we were at the beginning of recovery.

So I began my post by blathering on about the night before. I was going to talk about how he had wanted to go to a public place again, to walk around and get himself back into circulation. Then how we had gone to a small flea market and he had appeared nervous at every turn. I was going to say how he had wanted to pump gas but had forgotten how to use the debit machine at the pump. Then I thought I'd throw in how when we had gotten home he had taken his shoes off and sat them on the dining room table. I was also going to bring up that he was bathing a ridiculous amount. He had been taking three to five baths a day since he came home from deployment. But then I was going to wrap it up that these were just little quirks that we could move past. After all lots of people get skittish in public places. And he could forget how to do simple every day things, he hadn't pumped gas in a very long time. Shoes on the table? A silly little mistake. Five baths a day just means he likes to be clean. But before I could finish my post it was time to go pick Jay back up from the hospital. I would have to come back to the computer later.

Later would prove to be pretty awful and that positive update I wanted to share will have to wait. Because those quirks from the night before weren't quirks at all but warning signals that I refused to see. I had wanted him to be well so badly that I was going to ignore every oddity. It was just a replay of what had happened when he first came home from Afghanistan. Things had seemed fine at first but in a moment everything shattered. Yesterday afternoon we were joking with each other and flirting and making naughty plans for after Rush's bedtime. Then before I knew it, he was angry and throwing things around in his garage.

Since I am shielded by anonymity I will speak freely. Jay and I had a little conversation earlier about what he wanted me to wear to bed that night. He suggested little bitty short shorts. Short-shorts barely flatter teenage girls. I'm 34 and have three kids. There is little hope for me looking anything other than pitiful in short-shorts. He kept asking, like husbands do. I kept saying no, like wives do. He then said, "Just tell me what you want ME to wear and I'll wear it!" Sounds like a man, doesn't it? I had to explain to him that I didn't need for him to dress up and that even if I did, he would look good from every angle because he isn't cursed with cellulite and all the other nastiness that comes with bringing three people into the world. I said, "In order for this to be comparable I would have to ask you to do something that took you so far out of your comfort zone that you would rather poke your eye out with a pencil than do what I have asked." He went quiet, then walked away.

I thought that we had just had some friendly, flirty banter. No voices were raised. There was no hateful sarcasm. He was simply asking for something and I was coyly saying no because I'm uncomfortable with my body. This isn't an unusual conversation in a marriage. We have a wonderful life in the bedroom. I am open to lots of things. But leave my thighs out of it please. That's all.

When I had gone out to his garage and saw that he was throwing things around a bit and cussing for what seemed like no reason I knew that things had shifted. I stepped inside the house to help Rush get setup with an activity so that I could talk with Jay about what was going on. I returned to the garage and saw my husband sitting in his chair with his head between his knees just sobbing. This was the first time I had seen him cry since he got home a month ago. I thought that maybe the emotional stress from dealing with this disorder every day had gotten to him. I thought maybe he was upset that he didn't understand why this was happening to him. I'm a chick. I understand just needing to cry. I knelt down on the floor and put my arms around him and let him weep. I rubbed his back. I kissed his cheek. I thought to myself, "this is good, let him get it all out."

He probably WAS crying for all those reasons. But they were background reasons. What started the tears was my rejection of him. When I had said that I didn't want to wear short-shorts he didn't hear the friendly, flirty banter. He heard "I would rather poke out my eye than do that for you." I know that he's been misunderstanding a lot of what people have been saying this past month. I've noticed a lot of times where he has been quick to jump to the conclusion that someone is being hateful or is out to get him when this has never been the case. Now it was happening to me. He had taken what I had said and processed it completely differently from what I had actually meant. I did my best to clean up my mess. I didn't get defensive or upset. I gave him nothing but gentle patience. Despite his acceptance of my explanations, it ended up not being enough.

When he first came home from deployment I wrote that I felt that it was a horrible storm that shook Jay and started his breakdown. This time it appears that short-shorts were the catalyst for what appears to be another round. Last night the tics came out full force; the erratic breathing, the facial twitches, the wobbly, marionette-legs. It was all back and I couldn't stop it. I just wanted to scream out. He had only been home for three days. Three days.

I'm hopeful that lack of sleep is playing a big part of this. Just like before his hospitalization he had stopped sleeping for more than an hour at a time. And just like before, last night I had to follow him around so that he didn't set himself on fire because he would drift off while smoking. I had to watch him in the tub because he would nod off and slide down into the water. Finally, he gave in around 11:30pm and I felt that I could close my eyes. When I woke up this morning I realized that in the night he had gotten up and fixed himself four pop-tarts, a bowl of cereal, had eaten a package of cheese, and had taken another bath!! I noticed that stuff was out of place. He had crumpled up a clean uniform and thrown half of it in front of the washing machine. He doesn't even wear a uniform right now and my husband never even kind of puts dirty clothes away. Getting clothes (all be it clean ones) that close to the washing machine is completely out of character. When I asked him what had happened in the night he couldn't remember any of it.

I'm scared. I'm afraid that I can never turn my back on Jay again. I'm terrified that this is how we will have to live from now on. I'm also terrified that when he is in therapy today they will not let him come back home. I'm expecting to get a phone call telling me to bring him his things. He has a four day weekend. No therapy, no expectations, no place to be for four whole days. It starts tomorrow. If I can just get him home this afternoon, I can hope that he will get some rest and that everything will be fine again.

What kind of woman wishes that her husband doesn't get the care he needs? A woman in denial, I guess.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

His First Full Day

Yesterday Jay finally got to walk out of the hospital. It was a really sunny day and his face was just glowing. I could see that he was scared to death though. One of the things that terrifies him is being on the interstate. It used to never phase him but now it paralyzes him. Naturally, there was absolutely no way to get home (within a decent amount of time) without getting on two different freeways. Lucky for us since it was just after 9am the traffic was pretty light. He did really well on the way home and I was so proud of him.

We had some therapy related errands to run and I could tell that he was anxious to get everything in line. He started outpatient today and he needed to clear with his command whether or not he could even go and whether or not he would have to go to formation every morning before being at the hospital at 7:15am to catch the van that takes him to outpatient in the city. It's hard to believe that someone who is NOT a doctor--not a medically trained individual in any capacity, can decide whether or not a REAL doctor's orders should stick. Luckily, Jay was free to go. However, he still has to show up at formation every morning at 6am. Which means that Rush and I get to sit in the parking lot every morning for formation since Jay is still not ready to drive. Then we'll make a mad dash to get Jay changed out of his uniform (street clothes are encouraged at the hospital) and over to catch his ride.

His unit is going on block leave for several weeks starting this weekend. We are still unsure whether or not Jay will be using his leave or not. He will be going to outpatient every day regardless. Since he won't get back until after 1pm every day from the hospital it is unclear right now how the rest of his day will go. And that means I don't know how the rest of my own day will go. This could end up being the 'Summer of Waiting in Parking Lots'. Which sucks because it's also the 'Summer The Air Conditioning Went Out in the Car'.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fury, Then Perspective

Friday---The Fury

Today was supposed to be the day that Jay could come home. I kept it in the back of my head that they might keep him into the middle of next week. But after a meeting with his team (doc, therapist, etc) it was decided that if all went well I could pick him up Friday. Friday-today. Today as in yesterday-it-was-clear-that-the-next-day-would-be-FRIDAY!!!

The key I guess is that little phrase, "if all went well." All did not go well but not because of any fault of my husband. Things could not get processed in time for him to be released before everyone left for the weekend. Apparently, Jay has to make a stop in at the behavioral health center on post after he is released from the hospital. At noon today I got a call from my very depressed husband. He said that there is a 2pm deadline to process everything. So, from yesterday afternoon til 2pm today NOTHING was done in time to get Jay home. Now, he has to sit in the hospital all weekend even though he is technically cleared for release!!!

I had to listen to the disappointment in his voice as he explained to me that he couldn't come home because someone didn't start the process to release him early enough to meet the 2pm deadline. All of the office people who made this decision got to go home at 5pm. My husband gets to stare at the hospital walls for another three nights for no medical reason. Tell me how someone could know on Thursday that Jay was to be released but could wait until it was too late to file paperwork. Or tell me how it is that someone in behavioral health could deny the process knowing that it would mean that someone would have to stay in the hospital another weekend. I knew at 12pm that this was happening. In my eyes that's two whole hours that SOMETHING could have been done.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, this is really not that horrible. It just frustrates me because he just came home from a deployment. Then almost immediately he was hospitalized. He misses his family. This mishandling is just frustrating. I could be seeing it all wrong. Maybe to the people at the hospital it wouldn't hurt for him to stay a few more days. Fine. Then don't tell him he could go home on Friday. Don't even give him that sliver to hold on to. Jerks.

After receiving the news that I wasn't picking Jay up I immediately went into big-pig mode. I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor plowing my way thru a bowl of pasta salad. According to the box on the Betty Crocker Bacon-Ranch Suddenly Salad, my food therapy cost me nearly 800 calories. I just couldn't stop myself. I can't help but turn to food during all this.

The week that Jay was in all that turmoil before the hospital, I lost five pounds. Everyone commented on my weight loss and it felt great. It seemed like a silver lining around a cloud that was otherwise raining down complete poo. Then after he was admitted it occurred to me that I had lost those five pounds because I had neglected to EAT! Now, I just shovel it in. A few days ago it was a bag of Doritos and a box of Swiss Cake Rolls in the course of two days. I'm a mess.

Thankfully, it's a gray, cloudy, sad-looking day. My favorite when I am depressed. I want to pout in peace without that bastard, the Sun, poking his fat, chipper head out making me feel guilty for just curling up on the couch.

I started writing this post last night. A big storm came thru and knocked out the power. When it came back on I never went back to finish. Instead I spent the entire night (til 4am) reading blogs by different military wives who were coping with varying degrees of hardship and heartaches.

Saturday---The Perspective

It's pretty common thinking that if you think that your life is bad there is always someone out there who has it worse. I don't believe I would go so far as to say my life is bad but I'm also not above crying in the shower, wishing I could just get carried down the drain by a bubble of soap.

After reading the blogs (pages and pages) I see how much I have to be thankful for. These women were not only dealing with PTSD and TBI but it was usually on top of severe physical injury. I am blessed that Jay didn't lose any limbs. I am blessed that he doesn't have any internal injuries. I am blessed that he is alive.

I am most blessed that he still loves me and WANTS to get well. After that, what else is there? We just keep going forward.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A New Week

Monday again. Yesterday was visitation and it went really well. Two of Jay's friends from work surprised him. It was nice to see that people care about him enough to make the trek up to the hospital on a weekend. Jay seemed a lot like his old self. I could tell though, that the hospital is getting to him. He is ready to come home. He's scared to death of the real world but I know he is tired of being away from me and the kids.

Today I had a meeting with Jay and the therapist. What a really nice guy. He asked a lot of questions that really got Jay to open up about things that I was completely unaware of. For instance he feels useless right now. I had no idea. I am heartbroken that he feels that way.

I wanted to tell him that being useful was never why I loved him in the first place. I wanted to say that if being useful meant doing things around the house, he was never exactly "useful" to begin with:) I wanted to say that he doesn't have to BE anything or DO anything to be loved in our family. It's a free ride. Just a perk for being one of us. I wanted to say that if there was any 'reason' why I loved him, it had nothing to do with usefulness. I love him and want to be with him for purely selfish reasons. I want to be near him because he makes me feel like I am the only girl in the world. He makes me laugh like no one else can. And he makes me feel safe. Not financially safe. Not physically safe. He makes me feel safe in a way that means that what we have is real and it's not going anywhere. Money: come or go. Mental health: come or go. WE are forever.

Those are the things I wish I had said. In reality all I said was, "I wish you didn't feel that way." V-e-r-y helpful. sigh.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another Weekend

These weekends without Jay are really bumming me out. I mean, we made it thru another deployment yet here we are apart some more. Enough whining. I did get to talk to him a bit this afternoon over the phone and he seemed in good spirits. His smoke breaks are timed so he told me he'd call me again tonight. I'm counting on it.

Yesterday I had to tell him that I couldn't get his new ('87) Mustang started. He told me when he went into the hospital to keep going to the garage and starting it every few days. I totally forgot. How? I have no idea. But when I went out there to finally start it up, the battery had died. I'm not sure why. The day Jay went to the hospital he wanted to sit in his car for a bit before we left. Maybe something was left on and drained the battery. I hope that's all it is. I don't know anything about cars but when it makes no sound at all when you turn the key, I suppose a dead battery is a safe bet.

Also, I had to tell him that the Army is screwing with his paycheck AGAIN. He is owed some back pay that he never received while deployed. He tried to get it fixed while he was in Afghanistan but it never was. He went in to have it fixed when he got home and I was hoping that they had finally decided to give him his correct pay. No luck this payday. Maybe in another two weeks. I want interest.

He's also owed another chunk of money for being deployed that he had to turn in some paperwork for. Unfortunately, all the other guys did this when he was going into the hospital. So we have to wait for Jay to get released before we can even turn ours in. I suppose I could just turn in the paperwork to one of his superiors and just hope for the best. I think, given the track record of complete FAILURES I've witnessed within our time here, I will just wait til Jay can take care of it personally.

On a positive note, it IS the weekend so that means my daughter, P, is here. We are having our last Ghost Whisperer marathon later today. Three discs from Netflix completes Season 4 and brings us up to date. I am a little sad that these little marathons are ending. The regular season of the show is ending next weekend. What will we do all summer???

I suppose it is perfect timing that it is all coming to an end since Jay will be home sometime soon. Given that he sees ghosts of his own right now, I don't want to upset him by watching it on TV. It's weird how a guy who once LOVED horror movies now needs to be sheltered from something as innocent as Ghost Whisperer. Whatever it takes. That's an easily avoided trigger, so avoid it we will.

And as for how soon he'll be home, maybe within a week. Finger's crossed!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday's Visitation

Because Jay's Wednesday's visitation is at 6 I have to cross the city during rush hour. This terrifies me. I don't mind stop/start stoplight traffic. But this particular traffic requires alot of merging as I dart across freeways. I hate it. So much in fact that I left my house early enough to completely avoid it. Which put me in the hospital's neighborhood around 4pm. Early, early.

There is a giant mall a couple stop lights down from Jay's hospital so Rush and I just hung out there for a bit. I was hoping that there would be a play area like there is in our hometown mall, but no such luck. Next week we will look for an outdoor park close by. If it's raining I know we can still hang out near the fountains in the mall. I'll just bring Rush's nintendo DS and I'll grab a magazine. Maybe we'll have a snack or something. Anything to avoid killing someone on the freeway.

Sunday was Mother's Day and I wrote that I was livid that Jay's parents didn't come to visitation. Jay was disappointed but not surprised. I felt that it was totally unacceptable seeing how the hospital is less than an hour away from their house. I called them on Monday not sure if I was going to be able to maintain any grace and poise. I didn't have to worry about it. Jay's dad immediately went into apologetic mode and said he'd be there on Wednesday. I politely told him that I was very protective of Jay's feelings and I wouldn't stand for him to get hurt therefore I wouldn't be telling him that they were coming. If they showed up, then it would be a nice surprise. But it wouldn't be a letdown if they flaked...errr....if something came up.

They DID show up. And they stayed the whole time. They even got there an hour early because they worried about the traffic too. I was so impressed. I know it seems obvious that parents should want to visit their son in the hospital. But this family is DIFFERENT to say the least. They are moving up my ladder of respect just for coming.

My other-mother did make the comment to Jay, "Sooo, what are we doing for Mother's Day?" He told her, "Mother's Day has passed." Uh, yeah it did, remember? You weren't there!!!! She wants us to take her to the movies. Ugh. I want to have a normal relationship with this woman but this just rubs me the wrong way. I guess we can tell her we are taking her to the movies and then just NOT SHOW UP!!!!

Clearly, I have some anger issues for this family. They have put Jay thru so much over his lifetime and even though he is eager to put it all behind him, I am not so forgiving. Still, every time we see them I tell myself we can start over and build from here. We have built from "here" so many times that "Here" could have it's own zipcode.

On a positive note, we find out today about how long Jay has left in the hospital. It could be as little as a week and a half. I'm trying not to think about it because of course, it could be longer.

Whatever happens, at least we do see each other twice a week. I get to touch his face and he always pulls my chair as close as possible to his. He keeps his arm around me the entire hour and a half and at least once "accidentally" brushes against my chest. It feels like high-school. Especially since we have visitation in a cafeteria. In fact, it might be kinda sweet to look at it like that. We are just flirting right now, seeing each other occasionally and when he gets out it will be like our first date. Hmmm, but will I put out on our first date?? After a deployment and almost immediate hospitalization (not to mention stopping the mood-killer Zoloft!) I doubt it's even up to me!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Visitation Day

Sunday was visitation day and I spent the whole morning begging for the afternoon to hurry up and arrive. I can only visit Jay from 2:30-4pm. Not nearly enough time. It was Mother's Day and my mother-in-law (the other-mother) was supposed to show up with Jay's dad and niece. I was kinda jealous because I only have three hours a week to spend with him and I don't want to share. BUT he does need to see other people so I will graciously step aside if others want to visit.

I don't know why I even thought that they'd really show up. As I was sitting in the parking lot, getting ready to go in, I got a call from the-other-mother. "Emme," in a sad, little voice, "We aren't going to be able to make it." WHY? "Jay's dad didn't get up in time and hasn't had a shower." Ummm, really? This is your excuse? I said, "Don't worry. I'll let him know you tried." Later I learned that Jay's dad told his grandmother that they hadn't come because the niece was sick. Which is it? Whatever.

Here is what you missed! Jay walked into the cafeteria holding two little flowers. He had them sticking out of eye-drop bottles. One for me and one marked 'mom'. AND YOU WEREN'T THERE!!! Yours just wilted in my car along with any raveling of respect I ever could have mustered for you. SHAME. ON. YOU.

I have become incredibly protective of Jay's feelings. I will destroy the person who makes him sad. Luckily, I suppose, he's been dealing with this family his whole life and expects this type of behavior. He wasn't the least bit surprised. Disappointed for sure, but not surprised. I do not accept this. I have been nice for years because Jay is determined to build a relationship with his parents. He keeps trying and keeps trying. And over and over again they just keep letting him down. It's hard to watch. He wants for us to be the bigger people and let things go. I keep holding my tongue because he wants me to. I don't know how much longer I can keep my mouth shut.

On a positive note, Jay looked amazing! He was cheerful and very happy that a friend from work had stopped by for a few minutes. I loved seeing the surprised look on his face when he saw his friend sitting at the table. He was completely unexpected and perhaps helped guard Jay's heart a little from his parents' absence.

Jay experienced one little episode while I was there. He was mid-sentence about the cafeteria lady when he suddenly stopped speaking, got a blank look, started having his breathing tic for about 30 seconds, then began his sentence again. He was also startled by the air conditioner kicking on. But, all in all he seemed so much like himself.

I learned that the zombie-like behavior he was exhibiting before wasn't because of too much medication. It was sensory overload. He's missing alot of memories from that first week home. For example, I brought up the neighbor's break-in and how I had called the cops. He didn't remember that day at all. At the time his brain must have just shut off from all the excitement. It was explained to him as if he was living his life thru the lens of a video camera but it wasn't recording.

He is doing much better now. Initially, we were told he might be in there for a couple months. But now it looks like maybe he will be home in three weeks or so. That, plus the week he has just finished would be the classic 28 days. I hope that it is enough. At this point I don't even care. I just want him home. I just want to take care of him again. If he never drives again, if he never works again, if he can never step foot in Walmart again, I don't care. I just want our family back together. Of course, I want him to get well. And I will wait as long as it takes. But sometimes I can't help but think we can just shut the world out and make our own reality.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Friday, May 7

Today was Jay's appointment with the social worker, Jan. Since Jay is unavailable at the moment, Dr. W suggested I keep it. I was a little nervous going in. I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that Dr. W wanted me to speak with Jan because he knows that what Jay is going thru is affecting the entire family. But I didn't know if I would be expected to talk about my feelings or if we'd work together to make a plan of action to keep my family together thru Jay's battle.

I sat in the waiting room filling out the health questionnaire. A thousand questions but so easy. I have wonderful parents, I had a beautiful childhood, I don't drink, don't smoke, don't do drugs, I don't have anger issues, and there are no dark family histories lurking in my family tree. I am the most boring client/patient EVER. Since I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of whining about my feelings on our situation I decided I would go in there and just focus on what Jay needs from us. I'm not saying that a wife shouldn't go in there and whine if she is feeling overwhelmed or sad or angry. She most certainly should get those feelings out to someone who has the power to help her. It's just that I am not at that point.

Rush came with me so all worries about what Jan and I would talk about were for nothing. He dominates the room. Especially since he's currently obsessed with tornadoes. He talks about them non-stop, he watches videos on the computer, he "tracks" the weather on the radar, and he draws them incessantly. He doesn't seem afraid of them. At least not in the usual sense. As he says, "They are just in my head and I can't get them out." Naturally, Jan was all over this. She made the connection that anyone might about how Rush's life might feel like a whirlwind and out of control right now. I thought to myself that this was straight off a TV movie. Is it ever really so cut and dry? Jan told me of an art therapy for children that's going on thru July. I definitely think I need to get him into that. He carries a pen and paper everywhere and he draws almost continuously thru out the day. Art therapy sounds perfect for him.

When Rush was busy with other things Jan and I were able to talk. She is so easy to talk to. She has a look that says "You are safe here." She reminds me of a high school art teacher with her big beads and her long skirt and the funky posters on the wall. She carries a bag of aromatherapy bottles in a sparkly bag. She is really special.

The conversation stayed mostly around what I can do to make sure my marriage doesn't become a victim of Jay's disorder. THAT I am comfortable with. Jay and I are dedicated to each other. He and I have been thru so much over the years and I absolutely refuse to let this come between us. I will do whatever I can to help him thru this.

After our appointment I was off to get P. It's nearly three hours round trip and when I got home I was dragging my feet. Thankfully, our Friday dinner ritual lately is biscuits and gravy. P loves it and since I use a sausage gravy mix (much to my mother's horror!) and canned biscuits it's almost as fast as drive-thru but for less than $2. Our other Friday night ritual is Ghost Whisperer. My daughter loves that show. We have been clogging up the Netflix queue with past seasons. Every Saturday we have a Ghost Whisperer marathon to get her caught up. I thought that our weekend tradition might end or at least slow down once Jay got home from Afghanistan. But, here we are just like old times. In fact, last night Jay called and I stepped out of the room. When I came back to the couch P said, "It feels like he's still deployed." It does. He's just forty five minutes away but at times it feels as though he hasn't come home at all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thursday, May 6

Today is my first day with no physical contact with Jay since he got home from Afghanistan. He was admitted on Tuesday and visitation was yesterday. Today I am on my own. We've been apart so much that being without him is quite normal. But being away from him when he is sick is breaking my heart. I know that this is a journey he needs to take on his own but I can't help but want to at least hold his hand while he goes thru it.

I waited all day to see if he would call. I finally called him around 9pm. I figured he was waiting til just before bedtime to call me like he did when he was deployed (which he was) but I just couldn't wait. I needed to hear his voice. I needed to hear that he was upbeat and positive. I needed him. We only spoke for a few minutes before he was called away by something. But those few minutes put me at ease.

One of the things I was looking forward to at the end of deployment was finally being able to walk from room to room without worrying where my cellphone was. I guess I am still chained to this thing for a little while longer.

Wednesday, May 5

I'm starting our story from the day his deployment ended. These entries are composed from memory, my journal entries, and the notebook I used to log Jay's unusual behavior.

Visitation Day

Even though I had just dropped Jay off at the hospital yesterday I am ecstatic that today is visitation day. It's from 6-7:30pm which puts me on the edge of downtown right at rush hour. I spent the night with Grannie which is north of the hospital. I had to battle the bumper to bumper snake-line around the city. Thankfully, it was an easy trip with little exiting and merging and everyone around me seemed calm and patient.

My nerves were shot by the time I got there. I had stopped earlier to get him a calling card, a magazine and a few other things. I got WAY down the interstate when I realized I hadn't ever bought the calling cards which were the most important thing. I stopped at one gas station but they didn't have any. I didn't want to fool around guessing if another gas station might have some so I back-tracked to where I knew there was a Walmart. With my mistake, the traffic and me getting slightly lost once I got in the area, I ended up being about 20 minutes late.

He didn't care. I had been led to the cafeteria where we are allowed to visit. I waited for him to come down and when he popped around the corner he was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen. He actually smiled. I hadn't seen that in several days and it was so wonderful. We sat at the table and tried to talk while Rush kept himself busy with a salt shaker. There are no toys in the area and I don't believe I am allowed to take any items into the cafeteria. It appears that visitation is going to be a little frustrating. It's hard for a five year old to sit still for an hour and a half.

We sat there holding hands and occasionally just laying our heads down on the table. We are emotionally exhausted and it was nice to just sit together, touching, but with no pressure to speak. I wonder how long he will be there. Dr. W told me to expect 6 weeks but to not be surprised by 2 1/2 months. The lady who admitted him said that a baseline is 28 days. When I talked to Jay he said his doctor told him a couple weeks.

I don't want to rush him because I want him to be well. But, I just miss him so badly. We have already done the deployment. This is the time that we are supposed to be together getting to be a family again. I have had it with the Army life. It's not for me. It's not for Jay. I'm finished. Since he joined the Army nearly FOUR years ago we have spent 14 months together. And two of those months were block leave and R&R. Jay has missed three out of Rush's five birthdays. We have spent one anniversary together. Enough already. I. AM. DONE.

Tuesday, May 4

I'm starting our story from the day his deployment ended. These entries are composed from memory, my journal entries, and the notebook I used to log Jay's unusual behavior.


I woke up when the alarm went off at 4:45am to find Jay sitting at the table tying his shoes. At least that was the last thing he was doing. He had fallen asleep mid lace. What a sight to see him fully asleep with his butt in the chair and his face nearly in his boot. Poor guy. I was so angry that even though he was being admitted to a psychiatric hospital today he was not excused from formation. Good God, heaven forbid he not show up to stand in the wet grass for ten minutes.

We made our way to the hospital in the city. Jay was so nervous and kept stalling. I practically had to drag him in there. It was absolutely the saddest day I can remember, short of a death in the family of course. I had packed his bag with three complete changes of clothes, tons of cigarettes, and his toiletries. He was allowed little else. No cellphone, no ipod, nothing. I helped get him admitted and hugged him as tightly as I could. I told him how I was so very proud of him and how I would come to visit him as soon as they let me. And then a very nice lady walked him thru the door and left me in the lobby. I made my way back to the car and sobbed til I could barely breathe.

I drove up to get Rush from Aunt B's. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing. I had the window down and as I crossed the big bridge that leaves the city from one state into another, a peacefulness washed over me and I knew that Jay was going to be ok. We have spent tons of time apart. Years in fact if you were to add it all up. But this was different. This time, he wasn't leaving to do something he had chosen to do. This time I felt like he was a victim and left to struggle thru treatment. A victim of the Taliban, a victim of our government, a victim of a navy doctor who did little when my husband was begging for help. But, I know that he is not truly a victim. Thanks to thousands of Vets before him, he is receiving treatment that was unheard of thirty, twenty, maybe even just ten years before.

I finally made it to Grannie's house and fell asleep in her recliner. This past eleven days had been the most exhausting of my life. I was thrilled to have my husband home, devastated by what he was up against and completely convinced that I needed so much help to get him well again. Where I thought in the beginning that I could just love this little problem away, I clearly see now that it is WAY bigger than me.

Monday, May 3

I'm starting our story from the day his deployment ended. These entries are composed from memory, my journal entries, and the notebook I used to log Jay's unusual behavior.

Trying Day

Jay rarely became aware at all today. He was stubbornly awake but never fully lucid. He had the day off and I really wanted him to just relax all day. The next day he was to begin the outpatient treatment and I knew he was nervous. But life had another direction. We went out for him to smoke but I immediately had to shuffle Jay and our boy back inside as I was witnessing a break-in at our neighbors house. Jay didn't catch on right away to what was happening. I would have loved to just pretend I didn't see anything so I could let Jay skip the drama that would follow. But, of course, I called the police and waited for the mess to unfold.

I didn't know the address of the house that was being broken into as it was behind us. It was irrelevant anyway because the man had darted out of the house when we had gone outside. So, the cop came to my house. I met him before he could come in and tried to quickly explain to not startle my husband. He understood and was very polite. He went about his policeman business at the house behind us but left his car in front of my house blocking our car. Another police car was now parked behind his. Wonderful. Not only does the whole neighborhood know that I have called the cops, they are all out wondering what's going on.

Thru it all, there is poor Jay, looped out of his mind from his medication, teetering on the edge of sanity from this stupid disorder, and all our neighbors are gathered around to find out what's going on. This is to be expected and was actually kind of helpful as there has been a string of break-ins to peoples' vehicles lately. The truck across the street from my house was broken into not long before Jay came home. A couple months before that, a guy had come to my door late at night. I didn't answer the door but spoke to him thru the window. He was trying to sell me a GPS he had pulled from his pocket. Thru talking to my neighbors I learned that he had tried to sell it to another guy as well and then another neighbor spoke out and said it was HIS device that had been stolen! What a world. I am now afraid to go into my own backyard. This jerk smashed in the neighbors window (which is right behind my house) at 2 in the afternoon in broad daylight. What else is he capable of?

After the excitement wore down Jay decided we needed to go finish our business at the BMV. I wrote earlier that we had gone before but just as we were paying our bill, the entire state's computer system crashed. So we made our way over there shortly before closing time and walked up to the door to see a sign stating that they couldn't accept debit cards at the moment and they were sorry for the inconvenience. We have an out of state bank and there was no time to gather up the cash so we just decided to come back another time.

We got back to the car and I saw a little black truck in the parking lot with the Airborne emblem on the back window. Days before, in this very parking lot, we had met a little old man from the 2-504, which is Jay's old unit. They had talked a little bit but we left with nothing more than a handshake. Jay was upset that he hadn't asked the man for his number so he could take him out for lunch. Could this be our chance? We waited in the car for the man to come out. Yes, it WAS him. I was so excited. I went up to him and asked if he remembered us. He did. I told him a little bit about Jay's story before Jay could get out of the car. He asked to exchange numbers so we could get together sometime. The man was so nice and I'm sure he was a little shocked by all the attention. Jay just felt such an attachment to him and I felt such an attachment to someone who had made my husband so happy. I'm sure the man wasn't expecting all that for just driving to the BMV.

When we first ran into the man I told Jay that maybe it was destiny that they meet. If the system hadn't gone down when it did and we hadn't waited fruitlessly for it to come back up we never would have met the man. I said that maybe Jay was meant to give that old vet a boost that day by showering him with admiration. Now, I'm convinced that it's so much more than that. Why would their paths cross twice like that? If there hadn't been a break in at our neighbor's house we would have left much earlier in the afternoon to go to the BMV. But as it happened, there they were, two generations from the 2-504 exchanging handshakes in the parking lot again. Maybe they never actually meet for lunch. But something happened that afternoon. Maybe Jay helped that man in a way that I'll never know. Who knows? It was no coincidence. That much is true.

With all the excitement from the day Jay crashed on the couch as soon as we walked inside. I would have left him there all night but Dr. W called and said that he wanted Jay admitted the next day instead of fooling with the outpatient treatment. This meant that I had to drive all the way back up to Aunt B's house. (Aunt B is Jay's aunt and the ONLY woman who watches our boy). That's almost a two hour drive. But I knew that admitting Jay the next day was going to be a big deal and I didn't need little Rush (as he likes to be called) to be there witnessing it or interfering with it.

I was able to wake Jay to explain what was going on. I got everyone to the car and made the long journey to Aunt B's and Grannie's house. They live in the same apartment complex so when we see one, we see the other. By the time we got home it was 1:30am and I was worn down. But Jay couldn't sleep. He was too nervous about the next day. He can't be alone in the tub and I struggled to stay awake as he had yet another bath around 2:30am. I finally fell asleep at around 3am and woke up when the alarm went off at 4:45am to find Jay fully dressed in his ACUs almost ready for formation.