It’s Over!

12 Sep

As most of you know, over the past year and a half I’ve had some pretty severe medical issues pop up out of nowhere. I preferred to keep the bad news off my Facebook page for as long as I could. I have been going through an “MEB” which is Military lingo for a medical discharge. The Medical Evaluation Board determined I was unfit for continued military service today. Apparently, when you have five major surgeries and a couple dozen emergency incisions with no end in sight, they don’t want you anymore.  To be honest, it is completely understandable even if I hate the decision.

 

Although, I am extremely ashamed and disappointed in myself for “Not making it,” my health is more important in the long run. I feel like I let a lot of people down. To be honest it’s more guilt than anything. My legs haven’t been blown off.  I can see, hear, walk, and breath on my own. But I’m considered a disabled veteran. It doesn’t make sense and it completely boggles my mind. Why I should receive benefits for anything? I didn’t get hurt in combat, my body just decided to start hating me.

 

I was explaining this to my medical provider today when one of the other employees spoke up.  He told me he had served 12 years in the Army until he was medically discharged. He explained that not all disabled veterans look like they have been through the ringer and back. He said, “For those who couldn’t come back, you owe it to them to live well. Because they can’t be happy, healthy and with their families.”   I’ll never forget that, but it doesn’t seem to lift the veil of embarrassment or disappointment.

 

I love the military, it completed straightened me out as an individual. Changed my attitude and turned me into an adult.  It gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment every day. The feeling when a random stranger thanks you for your service is unparalleled by any other. The smile on your family’s face when they see you accomplishing your goals is amazing, especially when you have let them down in the past. If you have ever spent just one day in a uniform you know what I’m talking about. We are 0.45% of the United States population. In my eyes it says a lot just to make it through basic training and tech school. Overcoming the odds and taking a chance. But I sure wish I could have made it a career and not a sob story.

 

I want to thank my incredible husband for all he had done. From wound changings, hundreds of doctors’ appointments, dealing with a wife who reeks of iodine, ruining vacations due to emergency room visits, to pushing me in a wheel chair for countless hours.  He is the greatest husband, and so much more than anyone I could have ever dreamed of. I will always say the military spouse is sometimes stronger than the military member. Atilla is my proof, because he definitely didn’t sign up for this crap, but he did it all with a smile and a few jokes.

 

For the rest of my family and friends who have kept up or even felt concern for my health, thank you. I couldn’t have gone through this without your support. I can’t wait to thank each and every one of you personally. If I let you down in anyway, just know I have plans for making you proud again. I will be heading back to Alabama by Christmas time. I plan to get back in college and start over again.  I have been talking with the Wounded Warrior project, the VA and the future looks promising.

I’m not going crazy, I’m there

1 Aug

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I’ll go ahead and admit it. I see a therapist weekly for an anxiety disorder. I feel I shouldn’t be saying “I admit it” because I’m not really embarrassed about it. Granted, I’m not running up to random people screaming “I go to talk about my mental health every week!” Probably because I can’t leave the house on my own without feeling like I will have a panic attack. I see it as normal to see a counselor/therapist to get some thoughts out of my head. Most people can do this easily by talking to their spouses or friends. I however, do not have any friends (seriously) and I feel terrible bombarding my husband with my insanity everyday. I need an outsider’s opinion on if I’m blowing things out of proportion or not.

This week, I tried desperately to explain why/how I feel my head is going to explode whenever I talk to people to my therapist. Basically, I will either be introduced (or forced by my hubby) into meeting someone, and during those few moments after the names are exchanged my mind as already raced from one end of the spectrum to the other. I think to myself, “What do they think about me? Do I stink? No I smell like my vanilla perfume. Wait, that’s an old lady scent.What if they don’t like vanilla? Then I just smell offensive to them. Why are they looking at me weird? Oh shit, did they just ask me something?” 

While I was too busy thinking that the person is tearing me apart inside their head, they were really just talking about what they were doing that weekend and asked if I had any plans. To which I reply, “I think my grandmother always smells nice.” Thus, ending up looking like a crazy chick, who of course doesn’t have any friends. Although, I am extremely thankful, because at this point my husband usually drags me away to stop the word vomit from coming out of my mouth because it can only go down hill from there.

My therapist of course wanted to know more. After all, he wasn’t my first “Mental Health Counselor” where I’m stationed. And No, I didn’t scare the other one off, I hope. He said it was the end of his contract on base; you’re right he was probably lying. Anyways, my current therapist said I was never afraid to talk to him, and that’s usually not the case for someone who switches therapists in the middle of their “treatment”. I quickly pointed out there is a difference between talking to a therapist and talking to someone in the general public, civilian or not. He didn’t get it, so here I go to explain again, and yes, this is a quoted conversation. Don’t judge me.

Me: “You are actually much different than me having to talking to someone in public. Especially someone new.”

Therapist: “I’m not following, you didn’t know me personally before you started treatment.”

Me: “This is true, but you remember that doctor/patient confidentiality agreement yall make us sign?”

Therapist: “Yes…”

Me: “It’s a rule book in disguise, I get it. You HAVE to like me, at least while I’m here, you can’t say something super rude, or bash me in anyway just in case I’m really hiding how psycho I am and I go postal because you said my nails were chipped.”

Therapist: *shocked look, then starts nervously laughing*

Me: *not knowing when to shut up again* “I mean, it would be unethical for you to even go to your therapist buddies after I’m gone and be all “Yall, I swear to God, this bitch is insane! Please trade me crazies!” Plus, in your job, you kind of have to be politically correct. I mean, you’re like a mental prostitute and all.”

Therapist: *Hysterically laughing now* (most likely because I’m saying something that has likely happened before, or because I just called a good standing Mormon man a “mental prostitute”)

Eh, it wasn’t my best therapy session, but it wasn’t my worst. It did end in my being asked if I planned on ‘going postal’ or not. Probably not the best timing, since that whole Dark Knight Theater shooter thing just went down a couple weeks ago. I am lucky however to have an understanding therapist who enjoys my accidental insults. :-)

Temptations and Laziness

29 Jul

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Whenever I wanted to lose weight or just be more active before, it usually only lasted about a month until I gave up on myself. It’s been a month. I can definitely tell I am starting to get lazy. I just have to remind myself that getting into my running clothes is the hardest step. 

My soda intake isn’t where I want it to be. I’ve creeped back up to at least two 20oz bottles a day. I think never being allowed to have soda as a kid has ruined me as an adult. For the past week I haven’t been drinking as much water and I would say it has affected my running, if I had run more than once this week. My excuse? I always run with my hubby at dusk and he has been really hurting lately. I’ll wait until dusk, ask him if he is going to get ready, and he promptly gives me an excuse of why we shouldn’t run that day. With my Agoraphobia, there is no way I can convince myself to go running alone so late at night. It’s not a rational fear, but it is still there. I think I’m going to buy a treadmill for when this happens. But I already have enough coat racks.

I would nag and complain that he’s wimping out but let’s be honest, this is my dream not his. I’m the one who sat up and said “Lets run a mini marathon!” one night. Therefore I have to train as if I am running this thing all by myself, as it will probably end up that way. Me and 50,000 other women, yeah, I’m doing that. I’ll have a heart attack from anxiety if I think about it anymore.

However, I am proud to say it’s been a whole month since I last put a cigarette to these lips! I am very happy about that. I don’t get strong cravings anymore unless someone from work accidentally asks if I want to to outside to smoke. That’s when it sucks the most. However, I’ve saved a ton of money and I don’t smell like a 50 year old, sweaty, bartender anymore so I’m going to stay smoke free for now. I can definitely tell a difference in my running too. I don’t have to stop from fear of my lungs exploding anymore, which is always a good thing.

The medical evaluation board. It’s been a month and a half now since I signed my narrative. If you have frgotten, the narrative is the packet they send to a headquarters type place describing how much you suck at being in the military due to health issues. It can take anywhere from three months to a year to find out if they want to kick your butt out or not. I’m getting more and more anxious awaiting for the results. I assume I have been found unfit and I just want to move on now and put this behind me. The feelings of disappointment have not gone away yet, however they are not as strong. You are (for lack of a better word) brain washed from the time you enter the military that you are government property. Tough, well equipped, property. All I can think is I’m a faulty piece of garbage, but that’s the anxiety or talking, or maybe just the women hating crew chiefs. (EDIT: Not all Air Force Aircraft Maintainers are women haters, but I’d say a good two thirds of them are.) On a better note, hopefully I won’t have to hear their snide remarks much longer.

If you’re going through hell, keep on going. The devil might not even know you’re there. Even if his minions are pulling on your shoe laces :)

Getting Started

15 Jul

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To date, I have hit the gym countless times trying to start running. In my currennt state of health, running consists of bouncing along at a horrible speed of 4.8 miles per hour tops. I can only last about 5 minutes doing this until I need to start walking. Being a smoker doesn’t help. However, I really want this. 

I tried to quit smoking several times, the longest “break” was 4 months during all of my surgeries. I am happy to say I quit again two weeks ago, but this time I actually have a reason to quit. I want to be healthy and I want to run faster. I understand that some disabilities keep me from running fast, but I don’t want horrible lung function to be one of them.

I have not only cut out smoking, but I have significantly lowered my soda intake. Getting running cramps in all areas of the body from too little water and too much soda is one of the most irritating things a runner can experience. Again, a coke isn’t worth more pain and failure.

As far as the MEB (Medical Evaluation Board) is concerned, I signed my narritive a month ago and I still have no word back yet. This is expected because the timeline is usually about 4-6 months until the Veterans Administration sends you ratings and the boot. It’s frustrating to have to go through this process, but I am still happy I am realing in a paycheck while the Air Force decides what’s up.

Medical Evaluation Board

30 Jun

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Anytime an active duty service member hears the words “Medical Evaluation Board”, it’s devastating.  Let me start off by explaining what it is. An “MEB” is the military’s process of evaluating your health to determine if you are still fit for duty. Meaning, they go through your health records and over the period of about 6 months of limbo, decide if they are going to give you the boot, or keep you in. After 4 surgeries, and not being able to do my daily job as an aircraft mechanic, I knew my chanced of being retained were non existent. But I still had hope.

Some of you may want to know the horrible details. Let me first say, I am not comfortable explaining my injury. But if you insist, I will let you know I have had four major surgeries on my lower back. Due to a prior infection and other circumstances I now have to go into a clinic and receive an incision monthly to prevent staph infection. Every month, I receive a 1-2 inch cut and get it packed with iodoform, a strip like gauze soaked in Iodine. This packing has to be changed daily until my “new hole” closes up. Even though local anesthesia is used to cut, the gauze changes feel like barbed wire is being pulled from my spine, every time. No, I’m not looking for pity. 

After several of these monthly flare ups, my PCM (Primary Care Manager) referred me to go through the MEB process. I. Was. Devastated. I wanted my Air Force Career to last, not to be thrown into a Med Board and forgotten by my unit. However, you don’t have the option to refuse, you only have to hope to be retained. I asked my PCM if there was anything I could do to try to get healthier, such as exercise and diet change. She promptly said she was putting my on a profile/waiver and she didn’t expect me to ever jog, let alone run again. :O

Again, devastation. I had already gained quite a bit of weight since the surgeries began. However, let me be honest, I have always HATED running. I was that chick in high school who would do anything to get out of the mile run. But when you are unable, or someone tells you that you CAN’T do something, it’s the only thing you want. It’s human nature to want what we can’t have. 

Therefore, I WANT to run a half marathon. I use the term “run” very loosely but I am determined to make it happen. 

This is what this blog is about: Proving the doctors wrong, training for a half marathon against the odds,  getting healthy, making better lifestyle choices, and following a current USAF member on their way out of the military though a medical discharge.

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