Tuesday, March 31, 2015

And then ANOTHER...

Sadly today another veteran lost his battle with PTSD...  While it seems the world is focused on how many "Selfies" a Kardashian is taking or which "Housewife" is fighting with another.  While people are focused on celebrity relationships and if McDonald's plans to serve breakfast all day somewhere, we have veterans dying.  Also, there is still a war out there.  We have military being killed in combat and coming home still fighting a war here at home.

You do see more attention to PTSD, but are we doing enough?  Are we just talking about it or are we actually doing something?  I don't know the answer to that, but what I do know is that one more is far too many.
It breaks my heart that these young men and women come home wounded physically and wounded with invisible scars and there seems to be nothing we can do to help them out of this dark place.

There is so much I want to do, but I don't have the knowledge or training to help them.  I know my heart is heavy for them and I would do anything I could to help them, but that isn't enough.
What can we do?  What are we doing that isn't working?  I don't know, all I do know is that I feel such heartache when I read another article of another veteran that sees no other way out other than suicide.  It just shouldn't be that way.  They have sacrificed so much for all of us and yet this epidemic continues.

Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for the attention PTSD is getting.  It's far overdue for sure, but attention without action isn't going to get the job done.
So many of Chad's brothers in arms are actively trying to reach out to their fellow brothers and I think that is great.  There are obviously more out there that need someone.

I don't know what the answer is, but I know there has to be more we can do.
My heart breaks for all these young men and women.  I can't begin to understand or know what they go through every day, but I know I'm grateful and I care about each and every one of them.

For all those that served with or around Chad, I love you and I'm here for you.  If you need someone and you don't want to burden your loved ones, you can turn to me.  I will be here for you.  It will not be added burden to me and it will not upset me.  I would much rather talk to you over the phone or via text or whatever than to read an article about you or attend your funeral.  Please, if you are feeling helpless turn to someone, anyone!  There is hope.  You are not alone.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Alzheimer's makes me angry!

This blog isn't about me, not really.  Not sure how many people actual even read my blog, but of those who do, I'm not sure if you have been directly impacted by Alzheimer's.  If you haven't, I would bet you know someone who is battling this disease or caring for someone who is. 
Unfortunately I have not only watched many family members fight this disease and most have lost that fight by now, but now it is getting even closer to us as our mom is fighting this disease and it is in full throttle. 
I don't claim to know all there is about this terrible disease, but I do know the impact it has on families and the ones who are caring for these sweet people.  I've tried to read as much as I can about this disease and at least educate myself in the best way to respond to mom and support her along with my sister who is the primary caregiver for her when my step-dad is not at home. 
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions according www.alz.org research.  There is no cure at this time for this disease.  Research and funding continues, but there is so much left to be done before we see this disease truly diminish. 
It's a very sad disease, but sad more for the caregiver than the patient.  It seems that once the patient has gotten past the initial start of this disease when they no longer are aware that they are forgetting or not processing things properly I believe (my opinion) they just become content in their own world and while they are usually in no pain, they don't really have a grasp on reality so the sadness (in my opinion) stops and they just live each moment with new eyes.  However, for the loved ones and especially the ones in their day to day life, this is when it becomes even harder.  These patients are usually difficult if not impossible to reason with and you feel you have already lost that loved one so you are forced to make decisions for them that you might not otherwise have thought about having to do.
It could be as simple as they can't find their sunglasses or new shoe strings to putting food in the cabinet with cleaning supplies or worse yet, forgetting about having something on the stove top and not remembering and potentially catching the house on fire or having a terrible accident.  These things happen to people with this disease and it breaks my heart for anyone having to deal with this disease whether you are the patient, caregiver, or loved one. 
As a caregiver, it can consume your entire life.  You have to basically be on call 24/7, because remember, their brains aren't functioning like someone without this disease so they have no concept of time or usually day of the week, month, or even year.  They will have random conversations and if you are low on patience, you might as well keep your distance.  This is not a disease for the faint of heart or the impatient person.  This disease will try every nerve you have.  You have to be prepared to hear the same story and sometimes you have to be prepared to hear the same story with a different version.  Also, one person might hear one version of their day and another person a few moments later will hear yet another version of their day.  It's just part of the disease.  You certainly can't take things the patient says personally or think that they planned to hurt your feelings (if they do) or forget important dates.  They truly cannot help this.  The disease controls everything about them even down to their appetite.
One of the hardest parts we have endured lately with our mom is the fact that she can no longer drive her car.  It has been heartbreaking and scary at the same time.  If we don't go with what the doctors have suggested and make sure she no longer drives and something happens, then we are just as guilty as if we had been driving when the mistake happened.  If we do take the doctors suggestions we run the risk of her being upset with us.  However, if you follow the process that the Memory Centers lay out for you it can take that burden off your shoulders and puts it on them.  That's what they want you to do.  that is why these wonderful places are there.  They are there to allow you to love your patient while they do the hard stuff and hopefully keep the tension and irritability at a minimum.  Please listen to your doctor and Memory Centers if you have one.  They will make this journey a little better if you will allow them and you actually follow their instructions.  They haven't been in this job and trained for it for nothing.  When you don't follow their instructions it makes not only the patient more confused and agitated, but it can make the care giving that much harder.  No one needs or wants that.  Right?
Sadly, this disease will take the life of the patient.  How long that takes, no one really knows.  It depends on so much.  I don't think any doctor can give a time table on the progression of this disease, but they can give you tips and tools that may help your journey go a little smoother (if that were possible).
I pray if you are reading this that you do not have to deal with this disease, but if you do, I would encourage you to read and research as much as you possibly can to not only help your loved one fighting this disease, but for the care giving as well and to support those that are there front and center.
If you know someone that is a caregiver, give them a break once in a while.  If it is possible, you go sit with the patient and allow them some down time.  Take them to dinner when they aren't caring for the patient.  Give them a call to see what you can do to help.  It will make a huge difference in many lives, I promise. 
Prayers and hugs to all who have loved ones fighting this terrible disease and may your journey be as smooth as it possibly can be.  This won't be an easy one for sure, but there is research out there that truly does give great suggestions on how to respond and react to the patient.  It will give you support as the caregiver as well to know you aren't alone in this journey.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Aches you can't fix...

All of us have aches and pains that we can take a pill for or numb in some way or even escape for a moment even if it's with a glass of wine or a massage, whatever it might be.  Then you have that ache and pain that no amount of drugs, alcohol, massages, relaxation exercise, nothing can actually take it away or even soften it.
I pray constantly.  I know, if you know me you may be thinking, really?  Well, I do pray, a lot and all the time.  I may not walk through the doors of a church when the doors are open, but I have a relationship with the Lord and I have faith.  It's real easy to figure out, if I didn't have faith that the Lord would reunite Chad and I again one day, I wouldn't be here to blog about how I feel or anything for that matter.  So make no mistake, I'm not (nor will I) contemplate doing anything to myself, but that doesn't mean there aren't days that I don't pray that the Lord would just come and take me to heaven any day.  If we could go visit heaven I would do that daily, but since that isn't an option, nor would it makes sense since none of us would ever leave if we could go visit, then I must push through and continue on this awful journey I now have to call life!
I'm not the only person that is having to live without her child.  There are other hurting parents out there that know the aches and pains of having to bury their child.  I just know that for me, some days are truly an effort to put my feet on the floor and fake my way through the day just to come home and know that nothing has changed.  Then it starts all over again.
Don't feel sorry for me... I have an amazing husband, family, and bonus kids, and friends that are always making sure not only that I am ok, but that I feel needed.  That means the world to me, but it doesn't bring my son back.  It doesn't take this ache and pain away that I swear continues to grow deeper and deeper as the days, weeks, and years pass without him.
I try each day to do better than I did the day before.  Some days I do okay, other days, not so much.  All I know to do is be sure I get up each day and put my feet on the floor.  After that, most days are a blurr.  I wish I could express it with more eloquent words, but for me, there is nothing eloquent about missing my only child and knowing I will never see him on this earth again.
My heart breaks for every parent that has to know this kind of ache and pain as there is no pill or hot bath or anything that will make it better.  It won't take it away.  Yeah, it could mask it for a moment or make you feel nice for a fleeting time, but when that feeling wears off (and it will) the ache and pain will be there and you will be forced to face it, again.
I don't have words of wisdom today.  My heart is sad and it hurts.  It hurts a lot so words of wisdom or encouragement just don't seem to find their way into this blog today.  I apologize for that, but I can't change it.
I will have my time of sadness and hurt and then I will put my feet back on the floor again and carry on until that faithful day when my Lord Jesus decides I have been without my baby boy long enough and he reunites us.
Chad, always my heart, always my hero, now my Angel... 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Completely lazy weekend

Rarely do I indulge in a lazy weekend with Life Time movies and lounging on the couch, but this weekend has been one of those rare weekends.  One problem (for me anyway) with lazy weekends is you have far too much idle time to think.  I know, thinking should be a good thing, but the way my thoughts come through (some fleeting and some sticking around for a period of time) really can take me into several different directions emotionally.  I don't know if that is such a good thing or not, but it can also be exhausting, even on a very lazy weekend.

I thought I would document a few of my emotional journeys I have found myself on this lazy weekend.

  • The news media has been covering Bobbi Kristina's "incident" almost non-stop on some news channels, but I haven't remembered one story about our military heroes that have received this much media coverage.  This makes me very sad.
  • I personally know of parents that are either unwilling or unable to care for their kids and don't seem to mind letting someone else do their job for them when all I want to do is mother my child.  It is hard for me to understand this mentality.  I'm sure there are logical reasons and circumstances that come into play in theses situations, but the majority of the stories I've watched lately are not portraying those situations.  This is just heartbreaking.
  • It also occurred to me that military movies must not be "political" enough to win an Oscar.  It was the top grossing movie and yet it didn't win the big awards.  I've notice this trend over and over and that is very sad to me.  That is based on true life.  Lives that are being laid down for all of us to have the freedoms we have and yet can't be chosen for top awards.  This makes me pretty sad. 
  • I have a very close friend (a Bestie actually) that is continuing to fight this dreaded cancer and every time she starts feeling better physically, she gets additional "less than great" news.  I would take all this cancer away from her in a second if I could.  It breaks my heart to see her struggle like she does day after day and has young kids and a husband.  None of them deserve this journey.  However, the journey, as hard as it is for her (them), she pushes forward and continues to think of others above herself.  She is constantly trying to set their life up where it will be easier for them should the Lord decide to take her home before they are all ready (I mean, who is ever really ready for that?).
  • Our mom has Alzheimer's and it is and has been progressing quicker than we thought it would. Good news, she is happy in her moments most of the time, but the sad part is it feels like mom is really not here at times.  It's hard to watch and know it is going on, but I also know it is part of the life we call our own. 
Each and everyone of these situations cause me to take pause and sometimes even takes me back to a dark place in my heart and mind.  It makes me stop and think of all the hurt I feel there is someone feeling another kind of hurt, but it hurts the same none the less.  

I believe this is a huge problem in our world these days.  We don't have enough empathy for those around us and we just focus on our own problems or sadness.  For as bad as you feel at the moment, there is most likely another person hurting just as much, but in completely different circumstances.  

I need to strive to be a better me and a better person each day for as long the Lord keeps me on this earth.  I could lie and act like I want that to be a long time, but in all honesty, the sooner he decides to take me home the sooner I get to wrap my arms around my Chadman again and not let go.  That's the selfish side of me wanting to be with him again and sooner than later.  The realistic side knows it will happen in God's timing and I just have to be patient and I've never been great at that so it makes it even harder to do.

I have an amazing husband and 4 bonus kids from him and a granddaughter that bless me daily.  I have over 150 bonus kids from Chad's school to USMC that let me know they love us and are here for us.  Not many parents of our fallen heroes has that blessing, but we do.  I'm so grateful for all the family and friends we have in our lives.  They keep us going during the hard days.  We are some of the lucky ones.  My heart goes out to those that aren't as blessed with this kind of love and support.  It  must make hard days even harder.

If your children are still on this earth or your parents, let them know often that you love them no matter what and you will always be there for them.  You won't regret it, I promise.