Sunday, February 16, 2014

Quitting my job

  I've been balancing a lot of things on my plate:  being a mother, wife, caregiver, educator, grad student, and so on and so forth.  I was about to burst from the stress of trying to keep all the plates moving without dropping one.  Eventually, something had to give.

I'm not a quitter, but sometimes, like the quote says, "quit the right stuff at the right time".  That's how I felt about my job.  I initially took the position as a teacher's aide at my daughter's school just to get out of the house and earn a little money.  I also wanted to get my foot in the door since I had a teacher's license and figured someday, when someone retired, maybe I could get a teaching position there.  It's not a hard job in theory:  Working 5.5 hours a day, home by mid afternoon.  However, it was just one more thing to balance in my hectic, stressful life and the reality of the specifics of the job were extremely demanding.

Back in January, Hubby got his Permanent and Total status, finally.  Around the same time, we also requested a re-evaluation for the VA caregiver program to see if he could qualify for the higher tier.  We got an email last week that yes, he has qualified and as a result, the stipend I receive for being his caregiver will increase.  After we received that news, Hubs and I talked and I put in my two week notice at work this past Friday.

I felt extremely guilty about resigning.  I knew that by doing so, it was going to stress out the teachers I work with and the administration would have to scramble to try and find a substitute or replacement for me in time.  But, at the same time, I knew that my priority had to be to my family.  The administration, thankfully, completely understood my situation.  I know that it's the right decision for me, my husband, and our kids.  By quitting, I'll be able to stay at home and take care of my husband's needs and our toddler won't have to be in daycare anymore.  So while I am sad to be leaving the staff I have grown fond of, and the students I worked with who made me laugh when I needed it, I am extremely happy and blessed to be able to stay home at this time with my husband and my baby.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blog or burst

I miss blogging.  There's something therapeutic about getting your thoughts down on paper.  It has to be healthier than keeping everything bottled up inside, and I am almost always trying to do exactly that.  

I try to keep it all together.  To the outside world, I try to appear as a cool, calm, and collected young mother and wife who has her crap together.  I smile and try to hide the chaos that is my life.   I hide it because I don't want to worry my loved ones.  What good would it do to get my parents or siblings worked up about my stressors?  It would probably do me good, actually.  Living with a wounded warrior day in and day out takes it's toll.  It would probably be very beneficial for me to have a great cry on my mom's shoulder or scream loudly in frustration to my sister just to get it out in the open. 

But, in reality.  I try so hard, so very hard, to keep my frustrations and sense of failure to myself.  I don't want to worry the ones I love.

And so.....I blog.  I blog to get it all out there because writing it out there in cyber space is better than keeping it inside.  If I get it out, then it's done.  I can reflect, and move on.  If i keep it locked away inside, it festers.  Festering is bad.

Life lately has been really, incredibly busy.  By the time I get the work done for the day, I'm ready to collapse into bed and fall asleep, usually by the early hour of 10pm.  Even now, it is going on 11:30 and I'm kicking myself because I still need to pack lunches for tomorrow for the kids and find a clean pair of jeans for me and instead I'm sitting here blogging.

But sometimes, you just gotta blog.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ignoring the nonsense

Sometimes it's really hard not to argue with your veteran.  When he belts out some stupid argument and acts like an ass, all you want to do is tell him to shut it.  Instead, you keep quiet, not wanting to start a yelling match.  You know that if you argue back or try and make valid points, he won't listen and will instead fire back with nasty remarks.    So instead, you sit and try and ignore the nonsense spewing from his mouth.

Sometimes this strategy works.  Other times, your silence is greeted with an increase in moronic comments from him.  He is trying to get you riled up.  For some reason, he wants to piss you off so much and the fact that you're calm makes him all the more agitated.

It takes all the resolve and willpower you can muster not to open your mouth and tell him EXACTLY how you think he is acting.  You want so badly to tell him that your 2 year old is behaving with more class and maturity than he is, but you don't.

Instead, you keep quiet.  In the end he storms out, cursing under his breath.  Cursing the fact that you didn't participate in the war of words.  Cursing the fact that deep down, he knows he is acting childish and immature.

You breathe a sigh of relief that he's out of the room.  And then you quietly mutter under your breathe the first word that comes to mind….


Monday, January 27, 2014

Dog therapy

I have this habit of looking up dogs online at the local humane society.   About three weeks ago I was online doing the usual:   Browsing the adoptable dogs to see if there was one that would fit into our family.  I clicked the page open and saw lots of pitbull puppies.  That's a no go.  I think they are the neatest looking dogs and I'm sure there are great pits out there, but you here too many horror stories about toddlers getting mauled and killed by pitbulls.

Anyway, at the very bottom of the page was a listing for a shih tzu.  He was so new, they hadn't had time to put up his picture yet online.  I don't know why, but I had a feeling.  I immediately dialed Hubs, who was on the way back from an appointment at the VA.  I told him to get his tush to the humane society and check out this little 2 year old Shih Tzu.  For whatever reason, he did it.  That in itself is a miracle.  Any other day and Hubs would have complained about going out of his way to look at some random dog. 

However, Hubs went and after awhile I got a text with a picture.  Buster, the Shih Tzu, was SO STINKING CUTE!  A few minutes later, Hubs called and said he was filling out paperwork.  An hour later the four of us were in a room at the humane society making sure Buster was a good fit for us.  Turns out that he was a great fit for our family.  

Buster has been an awesome addition to the family.  He's not a puppy so we don't have to worry about house training a dog.  Buster's the type of dog to just sit next to you on the couch and cuddle.  Hubby will sit down in his recliner and Buster will jump up and just sit up there.  It's been really soothing for Hubs to have the dog to pet and calm him down.  Isn't it amazing how having a pet, the right pet, can lower stress levels?

Right now Buster is sitting next to me on the couch.  Only bummer about having a dog is having to take them out to go potty.  It's about -25 degrees out right now and I'm going to need to take him out here in a few.  Brrrrrr!!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My love/hate with the V.A continues

I have a love-hate relationship with the V.A.  Most of the time, it's more hate than love.  Then, occasionally, you have a LOVE moment......A recent example would be Hubby's last C&P where the doctor was phenomenal and actually got it.

Today, it's more hate than love.  For well over two years, I have been my husband's caregiver through the V.A Caregiver Support Program.  Basically, we get a small stipend for all the things I do for him. To get this, we had to apply, have doctors assess us, and have a home visit from a nurse.  To maintain it, we still have a nurse come quarterly to visit with Hubby.

For the last few months, Hubs has just really spiraled downwards.  It's bad....I mean, bad.  The poor guy has anxiety attacks when I'm at work and relies heavily on me to do a lot of stuff needed for him to receive care.  I broached the topic of a rate increase almost a month and a half ago to the Caregiver Support Coordinator.   He explained that the need would have to be long term and started telling me, "you know, think of if your husband had an operation.  He'd need additional care for awhile but not long term so we wouldn't increase it for that".

That comment annoyed me.  My husband has PTSD.   It's not going away......ever.  

Anyway, I said I understood and he also said that it's hard to have doctors go back and reassess.  Well, I get that.....Except his original assessment was done in North Chicago and he hasn't seen those doctors in quite awhile.  More so, he was very good at hiding how bad it was for him.  Since then, he has opened up to his doctors and the totality and severity of his disability is now evident.

For all those reasons, I pushed to open it back up and reassess.  Who knows, maybe we won't qualify for the higher tier, but won't know unless we try. 

The irritating part is that this guy, the Coordinator, has been taking his sweet time getting back to me.  When I called him in December to as him about this and also to ask for help for me, he said he'd be right on it.  I was desperate for counseling of my own.  After all, this was the Caregiver SUPPORT program and I needed support.  Well......It took him a month to get back to me.  When he finally did call me, he apologized and told me I was sounding much better.    Well......okay......but no thanks to him and his "support".   

I've called and emailed him again several times about this reassessment.  Supposedly all he has to do is send it back to Hubby's providers.   Hubs meets weekly with them, and they haven't heard squat.

It's frustrating for sure to have someone who on one hand, says he is "There for you" and tells you that "you can call me anytime for anything" just to have him fall way short of that.  Please don't make promises you can't keep.  Especially to worn out, stressed caregivers and their stressed out spouses.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Permanent and Total

Permanent.     Total.

Permanent and Total.

These words, spoken today by the psychologist at Hubby's C&P exam were bittersweet words to hear. On the one hand, it's what we wanted.  It's what Hubs deserves to get.  However, at the same time, to hear that your loved one's condition is permanent is somewhat hard to hear.

Hubby has been receiving benefits from the VA and social security for quite awhile now.  However, he was not considered permanent and total.  Hubs has spent the last 5 years since his medical retirement afraid that if he got better, they would take all this benefits away.  He finally decided to put in for his Permanent and Total based on my urging and the urging of his psychologist and psychiatrist.  We submitted the paperwork and then, the VA decided to do a C&P, which is an exam to judge you, for lack of a better word, to see if you really deserve it.

Hubs has been stressed to the max about this exam.  I went with him today to the exam for support and to answer questions the doctor might have.  Turns out, the doc was awesome.  We sat down and we could tell right away that she had already read up on his files and she said that it was really a formality that we were there.  That right away eased my mind.  She was very approachable and somehow, I'm not sure how, she got Hubs to open up.

Hubs cried, I teared up, and at the end of the exam, the psychologist told us that Hubs would NEVER have to come in for another of these again.  She said she was going to write whatever she needs to to ensure that he gets his Permanent and Total.


I'm thrilled that Hubby can now feel secure knowing that it won't be taken away.  At the same time, it enforces what I already knew; Hubby is irreversibly broken.   There is no cure for PTSD.  I know that, Hubs knows that.  But to hear Permanent and Total…..still kind of hits you.

However, this is good news.  Hubby can and will continue to work on his traumas and coping skills.  He will learn even better how to get through the dark times when his anxiety and depression take over, without the threat of having benefits taken away if he shows improvement dangling over his head.
Yes, he will continue to fight the fight, and I will be right there beside him all the way.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tomorrow's the Big Day!

Hubby has been 100% retired for years now.  However, he was not permanent and total.  After having talked to his doctors and therapists, he finally decided to try for it.  Fear was stopping him from applying for it before.  He was terrified that if he went to try and get permanent and total, that perhaps the reviewer would decide that he was better than he had been when first diagnosed and that his benefits would be reduced.  He can't work so the fear of losing what financial contribution he has terrified him.

How sad that he worries so much that by even showing a little improvement, he is worried that his benefits would be cut or reduced. 

It's like his therapist told him:   You will always have PTSD, there unfortunately is no cure.  That being said, you can make progress.  It doesn't mean you're cured.

Anyway, tomorrow is the big exam where he goes in and they review his information and ask him questions.  I'm going with him to help keep him calm and answer questions that he won't be able to articulate the answers to. 

Prayers appreciated for a good exam and good results and prayers that Hubs will get some sleep tonight because I know he'll be hyped up worrying about it!