This season of our life began on 21 November 2007, the day before Thanksgiving. The boys and I were at my sister’s house with my parents in preparation for Turkey Day when our lives were forever changed by that one phone call. Allen had been injured by an IED and was in critical condition and soon being transported to Landstuhl. We really didn’t know much more than that. By Sunday, I was getting on a plane to Walter Reed where I would get to see my husband! Little did I know, that my husband had been transformed into a completely changed man, someone I only recognized from the outside. This transformation was not obvious in the beginning, but has become more and more painfully clear every day since.
We ended up spending four months at Walter Reed. After he went out patient there, we were able to do a lot of fun stuff. We did all the touristy stuff as well as several wounded warrior events. He was able to function well for the most part, but he did have several severe episodes that painted a picture of what was to come. Those severe episodes gradually increased and caused him to be admitted to hospitals several more times since. Currently, he suffers from severe PTSD, TBI, depression, migraines, and he has been diagnosed with diabetes, hypo thyroid, and several other things. His psychological wounds, compounded by his TBI are definitely the issues we struggle with most.
It is almost the 3 year anniversary of that day that changed all of our lives. Our entire family, as well as our friends, have been affected by Allen’s injury. As a spouse, it is extremely difficult being married to someone who is so completely different. At the same time though, I too am different. Through this journey I have changed as much as my husband. I am independent and strong, not afraid to speak out, outgoing, and much more confident in myself. I am not afraid to step out of my comfort zone, even though it is still very uncomfortable to do so. I was a teacher before but now my passion has completely changed. I have an incredible passion for helping wounded warriors and their families. I volunteer for several organizations dealing with mental illness and suicide. Through it all though, we have survived and managed to keep our family together. We have all made sacrifices and we are stronger and closer because of it.
While it is often easier to talk about the hard parts, we have also received many blessings along the way. We have met some of the most amazing people that we now have the privilege of calling our friends. We have been on several trips with other wounded warrior families that were amazing. Many organizations have helped us out and we are extremely grateful for them. Our most important blessing though is our faith. Our faith has brought us through the most terrible parts and made us stronger in spite of the pain.
Currently, my husband is receiving treatment for his PTSD at The Pathway Home. We are extremely hopeful that this program will help him become independent, and able to participate in life again. While it is difficult being apart, it is also giving me the time to take care of myself and focus on my kids. As a full time caregiver, I know in my head that I need to take care of myself first. It wasn’t until I got home from taking Allen to California to this program that I realized I had not been doing that. It has allowed me to be more relaxed and therefore a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. Please check out her blog.