Onward and Upward

During his marathon week of VA appointments Sean had upper and lower GI scopes which fortunately did not show any problems. He had a CT scan of his sinuses and a follow up ENT exam and will have sinus surgery in January for recurrent sinus infections/fluid build up. He has also been evaluated by pulmonary for shortness of breath and found to have reduced lung capacity (but clear xrays) and sleep apnea. He will do a sleep study in December.

Prior to his service in Iraq his biggest health concerns were seasonal allergies and an occasional cold. It illustrates the continued need to research and provide top-notch care to our Veterans. He has all his limbs, and everything in it’s place, but it’s the collection of persistent health issues that wears him down. It is true in so many of the Veterans that we have met. It’s the little things that daily take their toll in addition to the primary conditions.

Sean was extremely frustrated that every doctor he sees and test he has leads to another test or procedure. Indeed, it has been this way for four years. 

We are both frustrated with waiting. . . waiting for resolution. . . waiting for our lives to get back on track.  But, as the psychologist pointed out last week, what if this is it?  What if this is our life?  We are trying to find the “new normal” yet this might be it.  Hmmm. . . that is an interesting scenario. 

Sean will not go back to the fire department, or deploy again with the Army.  He might never feel 100% or be pain free or not need medications.  His vision won’t improve.  There will likely be many appointments in his future.  I may or may not go back to work.  I will need to be his driver.  Our kids are growing and moving on and moving out (and moving in and moving out).  There will be improvements over the years, of that I remain optimistic, but in the last five years we have learned how painfully slow change can be. 

I’m not working now, I was trying to volunteer as a tutor in the afternoons, but even that is overwhelming.  Driving exhausts me, and we have put on so many miles this year.  I worry about my ability to go back into a classroom full time, take time off for the appointments I need to attend, balance the evening work from school with quality home life, and somewhere find time for me.

Sean is happy working in the Kindergarten classes.  Perhaps there are more volunteer opportunities he will explore.  He wants to stay active in the sporting camps.  He is getting involved with service groups in town and attending meetings for the VFW, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans.  He attends a weekly men’s group at church.  Sean has applied with Guide Dogs for the Blind for a service dog.

Sometimes it feels like his world is expanding while mine is collapsing.  It feels like everyone in the family wants something from me and there is little in return.  I guess moms aren’t supposed to need help or support.  I don’t have the same connection to my coworkers as I am not there daily.  I have lost my military FRG friends as they have deployed soldiers and a different focus.  I have felt those relationships dying for a long time.  I spend all my time with Sean.  Sometimes I want to say, “This is not the man I married.”  He is different now in a lot of ways.  I have to remind him that I need his support.  I need him to be there for me in return. 

We are working with his psychologist to build independence.  Maybe that will mean taking the shuttle to and from activities (but at $8 round trip it gets expensive).  I would love to see him manage his own daily schedule and do some work around the house.  Someday he may be able to take the DAV van to Sioux Falls for his appointments if he no longer needs me there. 

As the kids spend more time in the real world they will need less from me and will learn to stand on their own (I hope!!).  In less than two years our youngest will be out there, too. 

What if this is it?  Life passing us by while we get bogged down by the day to day and forget that each day is our life?  I have given this much thought this week and realized that if this is it, we better get on board and make more of it.  There needs to be some peace in our daily lives.  We need to stop waiting and start living.  How do we do that?  Attitude.  I’m not good at changing my doom and gloom attitude, so this might take a while. 

On another note, Sean’s MEB packet is finally moving forward to the PEB!!  By tomorrow it will be on it’s way to Ft. Lewis, WA where the PEB will take over the process.  It would be wonderful if things could move along quickly now and get this resolved before the end of the year. 

As for me, well, I’ll be up and on the road at 5:30 AM tomorrow for Sean’s appointment in Sioux Falls.  It will be dark and early and I will most assuredly be crabby.  So, I had better go out and enjoy today:  groceries, dropping off lunch money at school, driving Sean to his church meeting, Sean’s doctor appointment, driving Sean to DAV meeting.  I can see it’s going to be a challenge to change my attitude when that’s all I can see!

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