Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh What a Day...

Yesterday was awesome! I spent the day painting Connor's room, and Tim finished fixing the door from our bedroom to the deck... the same project as the siding work that I showed in pics the other day. Late afternoon I decided to take a nice hot bath. I got some candles lit, drew my bath water, and climbed in. Tim brought me an unsolicited glass of wine. It made me feel so good! I stayed in there until my skin was all wrinkley, and it felt incredible! I got out and took my time getting ready. He got all fixed up looking good for our date. I tried to take a pic of us to put on here, but I couldn't get any of them to turn out good. Right before we left he had a card and a gift for me. He told me that he almost didn't give me the gift because it's not my main birthday gift, but my main one hadn't come in yet. He didn't want me to think that this was my "birthday gift." I was so excited that he was taking me on a date that I didn't care. I hadn't expected anything. And the fact that he had gone and gotten me a sweet card was even more touching. He wouldn't have had to buy me anything after all that. The gift was a pair of pink work gloves. I loved them! I've been wanting some bad. He apologized again for them being all he had for me on my birthday, and he told me that my other gift didn't come in time. Never in the past did I say a single word to him about not ever getting me anything for my birthday (and he doesn't read my blog), so it really caught me off guard that he was so apologetic. The date alone was more than he has ever done. I couldn't quite figure it out.

We went to P.F. Chang's and got our favorite foods... Seared Ahi Tuna for an appetizer and Kung Pao Shrimp for our main course. We then went back to Cabot to see a movie. We ended up deciding on Contraband with Mark Wahlberg. It was a really good movie... very action packed, which I LOVE!!! But the good guys were bad guys in it. That's the only thing I didn't like. I like for the good guys to be good guys. So when we got home we watched Person of Interest that we had DVR'd. That is our show! We never miss it, and if we have to be away when it originally airs, we DVR it. I could never get enough of it.

We finally made it to bed after 2am, so we slept in this morning (That's the beauty of setting your own schedule). After having our morning coffee and doing our morning internet rounds, I did a little school work and cleaned the house some. When the mail ran, Tim flipped out and wouldn't let me go check it. I'm always the one to get the mail because he's not real comfortable on our front stairs that go up to the mailbox. He wanted to get it, though. When he came back he had a huge mischievious grin on his face. He went in the other room for a second, then he came back, handed me an envelope, and said, "Here's your real birthday present." It was a gift certificate for a 90 minute hot stone massage. He was so proud of himself for getting it for me, which made it an even better present. I didn't expect anything, and I got my pink work gloves, a card, and a 90-minute hot stone massage. He had ordered it from a place in Little Rock, and they mailed the gift certificate. I've decided I will schedule it for shortly before ovulation next month so maybe it will help me relax and de-stress. I can't wait!


Tonight I was working on my school work. Our assignment for today was on Freud's psychoanalytic theories, and the implications of fixation on a particular stage. It was very interesting, but I found the classroom discussion to be even more interesting. My professor asked if anybody had ever encountered someone with traumatic brain injury. She was discussing the personality change involved in it. I chimed in immediately. A year ago, my husband was a different person. A year ago, he would yell at the drop of a hat. He would throw things, have fits, and lie almost constantly. Today, though, he remains calm the majority of the time. He has rage every so often, but when he does it is not as intense. He still struggles with some things daily, and his bad days are BAD DAYS! But overall, he's a completely different person. He treats me differently, he responds differently to other people, and he seems to have a slightly different outlook on life. My professor asked if someone with TBI and a personality change due to it can ever overcome that and go back to their former personality. I get confused sometimes by what should be attributed to his PTSD, what is TBI, what is just his personality, and what is because of the loads of frustration from severe chronic pain and the inability to do things he once did. But it has me wondering, is his personality changing back to it's pre-crash self, or is he just finally accepting what has happened to him and the way it has changed his entire life?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gift Requests

Today is my birthday. It's already a huge change from the past. Two years ago for my birthday my husband was in Oklahoma, and I was in Arkansas. Not only did I not get a gift, but I didn't even get a card. I got nothing. His birthday prior to that I had planned a surprise party for him, gave him several gifts, and made a big deal of it. For me on my birthday, though, not even a card...

Last year we were in Colorado with my family. We are a family that is more celebratory than the average family. My family made a big deal of my birthday, took me on a sleigh ride, took us all to eat at an awesome restaurant, and had a cake and everything for me back at the house. My husband got me nothing. Finally, late in the day, we walked into a shop and saw a toboggan I liked. He bought it for me and said it was my birthday present since he didn't get me anything.

This year everything has changed for me. We've had so many things going on. We're trying to redo our house so we can get it sold and get moved to a house in town. We're still working on his claims and stuff with the VA. We have several doctors appointments nearly every week for him. I'm in grad school. We have all the PTO stuff at my stepson's school. And the infertility treatments and appointments are time consuming and mentally and emotionally exhausting. We have not had a "date" in forever! Gifts for me don't really hold much importance to me now. I would rather get something for my husband, stepson, parents, or someone else. So.... my ONE gift request from my husband this year... A Date!!! That is all that matters to me. I just want to spend some time with him.

My mom then got to asking me what I wanted for my birthday. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could possibly want. The only thing that mattered to me was for her and daddy to come down and stay with us for a few days. She took me shopping in hopes that I would come up with something tangible that I wanted. Nothing. I could not come up with anything. All I want is a visit from my parents.

So today is going really good. I have a date with my husband tonight. He's taking me to P.F. Chang's, my second favorite restaurant. My favorite is Ruth's Chris, but we don't have one here. Then he told me last night that his plan for the date fell through. He tried to surprise me with a carriage ride in Little Rock. I was shocked! He was so upset that it fell through, but I was so excited that he was trying so hard to give me a good date that I didn't care at all that it fell through. Actually doing it isn't what matters to me. Knowing that my husband was putting effort into a night just for me meant far more to me than ANY tangible gift could ever mean!!!

Mom and Dad called and said they are coming down Saturday to go to an antique show with us and take us to dinner. They're only staying for the day because we have my stepson this weekend. They want to be able to spend a few days helping us redo the house when they come stay with us, so they are going to plan another time when we don't have my stepson and can get a lot of work done. So I get a double whammy from them... two visits!!!!

I am so excited about this birthday and my awesome gifts!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Day Away and a Day at the VA

I started writing a blog post yesterday while we were in the waiting room at the VA, but then they called us back. I saved it as a draft, and then I got caught up in other stuff when we got home and never completed it. So I'll post it and then continue on:

I seldom spend a day away from my husband. I still get my hair done in my hometown, so I often make that trip alone. I get there just in time for my appointment, visit with my family for a short bit, and then head back so I can be home in time to feed Tim supper. Yesterday was my appointment, but I stayed after to eat with my family and shop with my momma... and it felt so good!

I love my husband and I love spending time with him, but getting a day with my momma was perfect! It's funny how we want to be with our mom every second as a child, then we go through the teenage phase where we want our mom to stay hidden, and then we eventually come back around to the point where spending time with mom makes everything better. My mom is such a source of strength for me. I tend to be very independent, but it feels good to know that mom is always there.

...And now to continue...

Yesterday we had two appointments at the VA, and we weren't really sure what to expect. We had one in the compensation and pension unit on some claims we had filed. The other was in the spinal cord institute. My husband had a spinal cord injury in 2006, spent over a month in the spinal cord rehab unit in Memphis after his release from the hospital, and never was introduced to the spinal cord unit in North Little Rock. He had one follow-up appointment in Memphis in 2007, and he has not heard from them since. Then in comes Whitney. There is absolutely no reason for him to slip through the cracks like that simply because he didn't have a wife at the time to advocate for him, but it happened. I have been pushing all of these doctors, and the VA has been more than willing to help. Yes, we've had a few snags and troubles. As a whole, though, the VA has been incredible. It's just sad that it takes the warrior having someone to advocate for them before they get help. It makes me wonder what happens to warriors that don't have a spouse or parent to help them and never do. NONE of this stuff happened for Tim until 4 years after his injury, and I'm going to bet it wouldn't happen if I wasn't here to push it. These men are taught to do as they're told and not ask questions, so they don't. They take what they get, and that's it. I wonder how many wounded warriors are getting done wrong every day because of this. It's so sad.

The two doctors, all the nurses, and the entire support staff with which we dealt yesterday were INCREDIBLE!!! We were very pleased, and we feel very confident about the future of Tim's injuries because of these people. They were all amazed looking at Tim's medical history that he is where he is today. They attributed it to his drive and determination to never give up. I couldn't agree more. The doctor in the SCI even said that he thought the reports he read had typos when he saw Tim walking in with no more assistance than a cane. He was shocked that he even walks at all. He was so positive and willing to help in any and every way possible. The doctor in the C&P has a daughter with an injury at the T10 level (Tim's is T12), so he understands much of what Tim experiences. He told us all about the most recent research and really gave us a ton of hope for the future. After we finished with the whole process the C&P doctor came back up to us to make sure everything went well for us.

Some people have constant complaints with the VA. I have trouble getting things processed with them, but I cannot speak highly enough of just about every individual we have encountered as far as medical staff at the VA at NLR. We truly feel blessed!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Take a Break

We discovered a leak in our garage when I was getting ready to take Tim back to the hospital after his weekend home during his two week hospital stay in early December. It was raining, so we did the best we could to cover the area where it seemed to be coming in. After he got home from the hospital he went out on the deck and pulled part of the siding off to figure out the problem. It was worse than he originally thought. Apparently the builders did a poor job when they built the deck. They left it so water could go straight down into the wall during every rain. Luckily it was just in one spot, but a large amount of the wood there was rotten. We called our insurance, and they sent someone out to look at it. With our $1000 deductible, they really weren't going to be out anything. So Tim decided he could save us some money by fixing it himself.

He basically just covered it up through the holidays to buy time to fix it. Yesterday he went out there and began working on it. He was feeling good, so he thought it would be a good day for it. His doctors have been trying to teach him to take a lot of breaks so he doesn't have so many bad days. He worked for quite awhile, then he came inside when I finished cooking lunch. After eating he decided he needed to rest awhile. He rested for a couple of hours, then he went back out to work on it.

This morning he was in a great deal of pain. This was an indication to me that I need to convince him to slow down when he's feeling good. Almost without fail he is in a lot of pain afterward. Mid-day he was feeling a little better, so he convinced himself that if he went out to work on it he would feel better. He worked for a bit, then he came in and laid down. He just couldn't go anymore. Tonight he went back out for a bit, then he came in and went straight to the couch.

It's hard to make him stop when he's feeling good because I know how much it helps him mentally to be able to do things. I need to start reminding myself, though, of how down he will be the next day when he can't get out of bed. I'm going to try to do a better job of making sure he takes a break often enough. He does look really cute in his toolbelt, though. :-)

Yep, that's my hubby!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Living with PTSD

Sometimes PTSD is almost too much to handle. I avoid putting much on here about it, but I know it helps me to read of other wives who struggle with their husbands' symptoms. So I want to share some so I can comfort others in that way.

Living with someone with PTSD can be one of the most stressful things you could ever experience. It's like there's a constant bout of anger pinned up inside them all the time. Views on everything are negative. They always think everybody is out to get them, and the world is always against them. Rage bursts out at the most random times. Sometimes I just want to run far away from it all.

Yesterday was one of those days. There are situations that scare me, and yesterday that happened. I won't go into detail for the sake of privacy, but those days knock me down hard, and it's tough to get back up.

I've learned how to deal with it most days, but it just causes stress to build up inside of me. Somedays I get to the point that I just can't keep that smile on my face and try to calm him down any longer. The bad thing is, when I get down I stay down. I've tried to pull myself out of this funk today, but I can't seem to. On my bad days or when I'm in a bad mood I don't throw temper tantrums, gripe and complain, nag, get irritable, or snap at people. I just get quiet. I don't say much. When I do, I speak very quietly. I never get an "attitude"... I simply get down. I've been quiet all day, don't feel like talking, have quietly cleaned the house, cooked him lunch, and worked on school work. Sometimes I can ease on past it. But tonight I needed to vent. This was going to go in my private journal because I try to keep things like this off my blog, but I put this one here in hopes that someone else can see it and feel like they're not alone in the struggle of living with someone with PTSD. It's a daily struggle, and all I can do is pray that it gets better someday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Antiquing and Flea Marketing

We've started browsing antique shops and flea markets as a way to get away from the stress of everything. Primarily we like to go to flea markets and find things we can repurpose. Yesterday, though, we went to Botkinburg and found the most amazing antiques. One of them I fell in love with, and if I came into money it would be mine! We couldn't find the history on this particular piece, but look at the beauty and craftsmanship:

After leaving there we revisited a couple of antiques/flea markets that we had been to a week prior. We got a few items to decorate our rustic style home with and a couple of things we can repurpose. I don't have pics of the door and ammo box we got to repurpose. They are still in the back of Tim's truck, and it's too late and cold for me to go out there and get pics. I'll post them later. But here are a couple of items we got to decorate the tops of our kitchen cabinets.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New Year: A New Focus

This is a new year, and I had full intentions of posting this on the 1st. It looks like I'm starting the year off by still not being real consistent with my blogging. I should have resolved to work on this. I have a post in my head every single day, but I seldom get them typed. So... for the 12th of January, here is my beginning of the new year post.

I have decided this year I will have a new focus. Last year I focused on having a baby. It consumed my every thought. When looking back on our new year's resolutions from last year, Tim and I saw that we both set our main resolution as getting pregnant. The longer it went without happening, the more depressed we both got. I decided this year I would redirect that focus. Rather than trying so hard to get pregnant, I would focus on being consistent with yoga, organic eating, and other things that will prepare my body for a pregnancy. The problem has been our schedule with our reproductive endocrinologist. I've been forced to focus on it some. They scheduled our next testing to begin January 4th. I quit temping, charting, and I planned to quit OPKing (ovulation predictor kit), but the opk has not worked. It is all for good reason, though. I was tested on the 4th, and everything turned out really good. Tim was tested on the 9th, and my HSG dye test was scheduled for the 10th. We were extremely nervous about Tim's tests because of his injuries and medications. We are still thanking God for getting good results all around! We could not be happier. Yesterday we met with our RE to discuss our next step. He gave the go ahead for insemination. He said in our case we should start with a few rounds of natural insemination. If it doesn't work, then we'll add meds into the mix. We're too late in this cycle, so we'll attempt our first IUI in February. Wish us luck!!!

Last year I tried to fix things out of my control. I focused on fixing the way a particular person treated someone I love. I realized that it did nothing but stress me out. I tried to show someone who has ill feelings toward me for no logical reason that I am really a good person, and there is no need to treat me that way. The nicer I was, the madder this person got. I finally was informed that this person wants me to be bad, and it makes them mad when I prove them wrong. Those feelings are out of my control. All I can do is continue to do the right thing, pray about it, and let God take it from there. Some of my husband's problems are out of my control. Though I can help in some areas (and I believe we made HUGE strides in MANY areas last year) there are some areas that are out of my control. I must quit focusing on those and letting them stress me out.

Instead, this year I will focus on things that are in my control:

My fitness is in my control. I will not kill myself in the gym. I will not overdo my workouts. I will not train for any intense competitions... yet. I will do what is best for my body to make it baby-ready, and I will be consistent with it. I will allow myself the opportunity to get back my former love for fitness.

Finances are in my control, and I will continue to work hard to make sure we are on a good path financially so we do not add stress to our life in that area. I will be organized (I'm a little ocd when it comes to this), and I will be consistent in my budget tracking.

Career aspirations are in my control, and I will continue to work toward them. I will allow enough flexibility so I can change as I see fit, yet I will remain focused enough to reach my goals.

Fun is in my control. I will focus on having fun more rather than being so rigid. I have a tendency to focus on "things that need to be done." I will adapt the motto "Work hard, play harder." I will allow time for fun and entertainment.

Most importantly, my relationship with God is in my control. I will maintain a relationship with Him, growing closer to Him by the day.

So... there you have it! I didn't list all of my goals. They are going to remain private for now. I simply told my new focus.

Now I want to hear it! What did y'all plan for the new year???