Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Life Without

Starting this, I made the decision not to include names because while this is about me and my family, it could be about anyone who is or cares for a veteran.  Reading through my first post I realized that I'm probably going to have to add names because otherwise points or stories I'm trying to convey won't flow.  So, here's what I've come up with.  My pen name for a novel I've been working on is Jackson so I'm going to go with that for myself.  I'll refer to my fiancee as Marilyn because she gorgeous and curvy, and the little man will be Jimmy after Jimmy Neutron who's super smart and uses it to both get himself in and out of trouble!  HA!

In the first post I gave a basic run down of how it is I came to begin a blog.  In that I touched on Jimmy and the fact all the adults get along and always try and do what's in his best interest.  What I didn't mention was that he actually lives with his dad and step-mom and not with us.  How did this come to be you may be asking.  As many single parents in the military may elect to do, when Marilyn was to be deployed Jimmy went to live with his dad.  At the time it was supposed to be a temporary situation and Jimmy would return to live with his mom once her deployment was complete and she was back on American soil.  However, when she came home sick everything changed.  She had to make a tough decision and to her credit, though not the easiest one, she decided that it was best for Jimmy to stay with his dad and step mom.

I've had people make comments or give me funny looks when they find out the situation, which I understand to a point.  When I first saw her pictures and read her profile (we actually met on the red flag went up for me when I saw that she had a son but he didn't live with her. However, it was quickly set aside when she told me what the situation was.  Would we love to have him here?  Absolutely.  Is it possible right now?  No, I don't think so.  He'd have to give up so much.  He loves hockey, lacrosse, and karate and at our current location we have none of those available.  He's in a great school and has friends he'd have to leave and he'd be entering into a situation where his mom gets sick from time to time which really affects him.  She's aware of all this, as am I, but it's hard; it's really, really hard.

What people don't see is how upsetting it is for her.  Not just when he calls and he's unhappy about something but also from time to time it'll really hit her that he's so far away and she can't see him everyday.  I've awoken in the middle of the night to her watching his favorite cartoons and cuddled up with his blanket and one of his stuffed animals.  For me it's hard because there's nothing I can do right now to change the situation.  We're looking for an opportunity to move closer (right now we're over 8 hours away) and we get to have him on vacations during the school year and for the summer but it's not the same as I'm sure anyone in a similar situation, be they male or female, can attest.

As I mentioned in my previous post, his dad and step mom are great people.  The first time I took Marilyn to see Jimmy after we met, his dad had reservations about me meeting Jimmy because Marilyn and I hadn't been together very long.  While she was annoyed, I had no issues with it and understood his feelings completely.  He was protecting his son and if you can't have respect for a man who wants to protect his boy who the hell can you respect?  That weekend I did get a chance to meet the dad for a few minutes and we talked some after and then the next visit I did get a chance to meet Jimmy.  It all worked out like it was supposed to in the end because everyone handled the situation appropriately.  

And that's how things have worked since.  Discussions take place when issues arise, they get resolved, and it's on to the next thing.  Do we all have different parenting philosophies?  I think it some respects yes but as of yet it I haven't seen where it's hampered the care, education, or health of Jimmy.  Everyone brings their own experiences and backgrounds into any parenting situation and as long as everyone can act like an adult issues can remain minimal.  I know it makes Marilyn feel much better about the situation knowing the Jimmy is in excellent hands and is well taken care of.  Would she prefer that he was with us?  Of course she would as would I.  Honestly, what parent wouldn't.  But knowing that he's in a safe, healthy situation and we have the ability to see him on a semi regular basis makes things better, at least a little.  

Navigating life with a child is a difficult task for anyone.  For those in the military, the circumstances are often compounded with issues the general public will likely never have to face.  I think it's the same for a parent with a disability.  Parent's often make decisions that put the child's welfare ahead of their own and when it's a necessary requirement for others to help you with daily living, those decisions are sometimes made much more difficult.  Will she second guess some of her decisions?  Likely.  Will I second guess some of the decisions we've made together?  Likely.  I came into this late and am kind of learning on the fly.  I'm thankful to the 3 of them for their willingness to be open to discussions because the last thing I want are more issues, especially ones that not need be.  

So I know this went a little off with the discussion about co-parenting but it's definitely a huge part of 5 lives in this situation.  While Marilyn's disabilities may have changed the circumstances of Jimmy's living situation, it hasn't changed the content of character of any of the adults involved and that's key.  Yes, it's hard having him so far away, especially on her, but right now it's working as best as it can.  Later I'll get into our living situation a little more and how we came to be here but looking back, for a variety of reasons it may not have been the best choice and moving farther away from Jimmy tops the list of reasons why.  However, for now it's what we have to work with and for the most part we do.  We even received a surprise at Christmas when Jimmy showed up unexpectedly because his dad drove him all the way up here.  It's something I'll forever be thankful for and a kindness I hope to be able repay someday.         


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Life

If you read the "About Me" section feel free to skip or scan the next string of words as it's basically going to be a recap of that section, though as I'm writing I'll undoubtedly expand on a few things.  Currently I'm 30 and about to enter into the institution of marriage for the first time.  Though the wedding date is now only months away I have no nervousness or reservations about it.  For me, it's not that hard to make the promise to stand by the person I love; it's what makes life worth living.

My fiancee has an 11 year old son who've I've already come to love as my own.  I have a pretty good relationship with his dad, as does she, as well as with his wife.  For all the BS I've seen with people arguing about the care of their kids once a breakup happens, I couldn't have asked for a better situation to walk into or better people to do this with.  The one thing I have yet to question from any of the parties, including myself, is whether or not the best interest of little man is truly at the center of any issues.  After seeing some of the things I've seen in these types situations, I'm very thankful for that.

Now that the basic introduction is done, I guess I'll get to the meat of the matter...what this blog is really all about.  The current generation of men and women have been at war since 2001 (though officially, we're not since there was no Constitutionally mandated act of war declared and ratified) and we're seeing the destruction it's inflicted on our own soil with the high percentage of soldiers returning with both physical and emotional degeneration and injuries.  For many, it's simply something they see when they turn on the news or read the occasional news story.  They might share something in support they see on Facebook or Twitter but most don't know the actual day to day struggles these men and women go through just to live life after they return home.

Though I may get into some things about PTSD and other emotional and mental discussions, that's not what I'm really going for with this blog.  My aim is to give a view into our life; our struggles and our triumphs in the hope that some may get a better understanding of what it's like to both be an injured veteran and their loved ones as well.  What neither of us is looking for is pity.  There are people who are a hell of a lot worse off than we are and we're thankful for what we have and that includes our wonderful family and friends.  She's been on me for a few months to begin this is the hopes that others may realize they're not alone in their struggles and also to give those who don't know or understand some insight into our day to day happenings.  With that, I'll begin though I apologize if this first entry runs a bit long.

My finance was sent home 7 months into her deployment as an Army Medic from Iraq after she began suffering from Grand Mal Seizures.  Though some of the members of her unit both then and now believed her to be faking to get out of finishing her deployment, how the fuck you fake a Grand Mal seizure and the resulting effects is beyond me.  What has taken place since has been a litany of Dr visits, meds, questions, theories, and increasing symptoms and/or side effects (currently, with no diagnosis it's hard to tell if it's one or the other or both).  As if the seizures didn't suck enough, in the past year she's lost much of the strength and dexterity in her legs and it's relegated to using crutches on her good days and a wheel chair on the bad ones.  On top of that, she's lost a portion of her short term memory.  Again, no one has any idea why.

I met her two years ago October 15th.  At that point she had already been retired by the Army and attempting to figure out what her next move would be.  During our first date she laid the whole thing out for me, basically giving me the option to walk away if I chose.  I didn't.  As a matter of fact I didn't even flinch.  At that time she was walking just fine and seemed no different than anyone else.  A month or so later I witnessed my first seizure and while admittedly scary, we'd talked before hand about what I needed to do when the situation arose and I handled the situation quite well for someone with no medical training I think.  Just like anything, when you're in the situation you don't think about it, you simply react and fall back on what you've learned and your training.  Now a days I've seen enough of them that I just fall into the needed responsibilities (I'll get into them on a later post) without a second thought.  So much so that when her sister was visiting this winter and witnessed it for the first time, I didn't noticed how it affected her and it wasn't until an hour later that I was reminded how scary and uncomfortable it can be for those not accustomed to it. It really is amazing what you can get used to I guess.

Sitting here now, thinking about everything that has happened and will happen in the future, I'm thankful for so much.  Do I wish for better days ahead, good luck, and fortune?  You bet your ass I do.  It's human nature not to want to be static, to want to evolve and improve.  But no matter what happens, I'll always be thankful for the little things...