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.


  1. Not a woman in denial. A woman who loves her husband deeply and wishes she could be the one to fix him. I would totally be the same way if something was wrong with my husband - I'm his wife and it's my JOB to fix him if something's wrong. I hope your weekend is all that you hope it will be, but if they keep him there, try to focus on taking care of yourself?

    And if you ever need it, my email is hepkittenink(at)gmail(dot)com - feel free to use it. Not sure what you'd need it for, since I'm just some person you've never met, but whatever. :)

  2. Yup, feel free to hit me up too if you need. And your posts don't have to be positive they just have to help YOU.

  3. My dear Emme,
    I wish I could hug you right now and let you know that a stranger cares about you and your family. Please know that you are not alone and have the bonus of having anonymous people to talk to! If you ever want to vent or just talk my email is And I thank you and your husband for his service to our country.
    My grandson is a medic in the Army. He has done one tour in Iraq and is scheduled to go to Afghanistan later this year. He too carries a big burden from the things he saw and had to do. He seems to be coping with it and is now in nursing school.
    You and your family will be in my daily prayers. Please know I am sending love and good wishes your way. And if you ever want to talk, I'm here.
    And as an aside, my body has changed tremendously in the last couple of years due to disability and medication. A very wise person told me something that changed my outlook. Even though you might feel you do not look good in those shorts, what your husband sees is the woman he loves and the sexiest woman on the planet. He sees you as perfect. Go with it. I can say from experience, he sees only the woman he loves. Takes some work but totally worth it!!!
    Hugs and blessings,

  4. Hi Emme,
    I came to your blog via Erin's "Luck and Bliss". You write so movingly about your experiences. I think you and your husband are in a very difficult and dark place at the moment, but I hope you keep being strong for both your sakes and for the sake of your children. It is encouraging to know that you have found doctors and a hospital where you get the understanding and the help you need. I very much hope that all of us who read your blog make you feel appreciated as a loving wife and your husband as a brave man. I am sure that with you by his side and your determination to support him during this difficult time you both will be rewarded with a recovery and happier days to come. Do not expected it to be fast though, so you do not get discouraged by possible set backs and please pour your heart out if that helps (in my experience it usually does).
    My most deep felt empathy to you and your husband. Be brave and strong and the sun will be shining again in your street! Love from across the big pond!

  5. Thank you ladies for all the kind words. I will treasure them. This is indeed the hardest experience my marriage has gone through. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to get all these thoughts out (what was life like before blogs?) and to receive such wonderful support from caring, delightful strangers. Your kind comments mean more to me than you can possibly know.

  6. Hi Emme! I came to your blog from Erin's Luck and Bliss. I am so touched by your story. I am so glad that you write. I hope writing helps you express your thoughts and your feelings and just vent out without thinking about hurting someone's feelings. I went back and read your story from the beginning. I hope this period of your life will pass soon. You are a very strong woman, an incredible woman in fact. Be strong. *hugs

  7. Hi. Totally random stranger here (another Luck & Bliss follower) I adore your blog. I mean I am sorry you are going through what you are going through but the way you share your struggles, his struggles and your family's struggles is both moving and important for others to read. As well as cathartic for you, write whenever you can because it helps.

    I just wanted to let you know, that I know there are some great books on Alzheimer's and dementia that I think would be helpful. I understand PTSD is not the same, but when you talk about having to watch and follow, these books give you ways to do that without your family member feeling like they are being watched and followed. Just an idea. Although I am sure you are up to your ears and then some reading about PTSD and how to cope.

    Also also, my partner was electrocuted years ago and suffered a serious brain injury, and although we don't go through what you are going through, I understand the need for whiteboards and how arguing does not in many cases and so on. So I just want to say thank you as well, for letting us know that you understand what we go through too.

  8. Melissa, thanks for stopping by. You are so right that writing has become cathartic. But, knowing that someone else is reading makes it all that much more therapeutic.

    Thank you so much for the suggestion to read up on Alzheimer's and dementia. I have no idea why I hadn't thought of that. There are so many similarities, albeit not as severe! I AM up to my ears in PTSD information so it would be refreshing to read coping strategies from another perspective.

    I'm sorry to hear that a brain injury affects your family. I think there is a lot that we could learn from each other.

    Thanks for letting me know that you take something away from our experience.