Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to share some of my favorite pics from Christmas Eve. I love the one of the kids with the IMAGINE sign! The first pic is of my kids be goofy-showing their love for each other-LOL. The other photo is of my nephews, Ethan and Zach, as well as my kids. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with family, yummy food and a white elephant gift exchange. We also spent some time together as a family watching a "Christmas Story". A little sad because Carley left for her Dad's at 10pm for Christmas with him-hard to have her away during the holidays but know I have to share :) I need to get some shut-eye or Santa will be really grumpy! Merry Christmas and Keep Imagining!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

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An Important Day in Our History..

December 22nd was yesterday-I know you all knew that but did you know the importance of that day in our journey? Last year-Dec. 22, 2006 at around 9 PM Rodney was on the ground at KCI airport finally home for the holidays and home for good after a long few months. We were all so thrilled and had the house decorated inside and out, all the gifts bought and wrapped and ready to celebrate not just Christmas but him finally being home. Little did we know that the year ahead would bring many more challenges and frustrations with the system but looking back it has taught me so much about myself, my family and what true appreciation is. We have been blessed so much more than we have lost...Yesterday was another one of those days of blessings and kindness more than we could have imagined!
We had special visitors from the American Legion Riders. They came bearing gifts..of the material kind but also those of genuine caring and kindness that warmed my heart and re-newed my faith in others. It made me realize that even though so much negative lives in the world that we are exposed to day in and day out-people are good as is our Father God-who obviously sent these angels to us.
The kids received amazing gifts and they were so excited! did I say Excited!!!!
We had an early Christmas (especially since Carley is leaving on Christmas Eve to go to her Dad's we are trying to squeeze it all in!). I was just as excited to see them open their gifts especially picked out for them-it brought tears to my eyes but good tears:) Connor received the LEGO's set that he had only dreamed of, Dallas Cowboys gear-his favorite team and a gift card to Target I think he already has spent in his head; Carley received more than one pair of PJ pants which she loves, gifts cards from Old Navy,Kohl's and Border's (she devours books), the Harry Potter DVD and Victoria Secrets Perfume-she was beyond thrilled; Taylor received pj pants also and being a college student I am almost sure she will wear them to class :),VS perfume, gifts cards to Old Navy and a $100 gas card (we all know how much gas costs so that was beyond amazing!) We received an entire basket of food including a turkey! Rodney and I were given gift cards so we can have some date nights-we could use the time alone :)
We have so much love for the group and the members that did the shopping and came out in nasty winter weather to deliver and visit! Our dog Beau even made Friends with each of them-I think he thought they came to see him-LOL.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We are blessed and the 22nd of December will continue to be a special day in our history for more than one reason!

God Bless & Merry Christmas to Everyone!
Keep Imagining!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saying Good-Bye to Georgia and Welcome Home! 2006

Photos of WELCOME HOME on Nov. 1, 2006
I need to finish what I started and get back on track with the original reason for this blog-at least catch up or I will forever be in 2006 and we are only a couple days away from the NEW YEAR-2008! I will just try and hit the highlights and describe some of the feelings and situations we find ourselves in during this time.

October 30-Nov. 1


  • Started off the day by visiting the Medhold Company that Rodney is attached to here in Georgia. The medhold company seems pretty unorganized from my civilian eyes but obviously I am not the one in charge :) Rodney's platoon leader has been very nice and visited us in Rod's hospital room throughout the stay. We sat in an over-crowded office for over 30 minutes waiting to meet with someone who could tell us what was supposed to happen next-not a new place for us but one that does tend to involve some stress. We did finally find out some info.- Rodney will be able to come home for about a month (the days he spent at the Fisher House are considered part of his convalescence leave) and then return to Fort Gordon. He will basically be going to formations, maybe doing some office work, going to Dr. appt.s and live in the barracks (basically like a dorm). We are not sure how long this will go on but hopefully he will be eligible for a program (CBHC) that is new that allows the wounded soldiers to be at home and go to local doctors -we will have to wait and see.

  • We then headed over to the Hospital to begin the out-processing so he can be released to go home. We met with his case manager and she gave us the list of what needed to get done. When at Fort Gordon the case worker will be working closely with Rodney and making his dr. appts. and following up to see how he is doing.

  • Rod then had an appt. with a primary care physician whom he had never met before, but it is part of the process. She just basically gave him a quick look over and his records etc.. then made a few comments and let us leave. Kinda strange.

  • We went to records to get his medical records-long wait so will have to pursue that another day-but very important.

  • Met with social worker-not sure why? She wasn't very informative or didn't offer us anything new to take with us on our journey to the unknown.

  • Went to the office for travel. We are still struggling to get on same flight-he needs someone to travel with him lucky for him I don't give up without a fight. They seem to recognize my name in this office which means I have made a name for myself-not one they probably want to share with me. I know they are just doing their job but not sure why things have to be so difficult and so much red-tape. I go into everything Army related knowing it will be more work than really necessary.

  • We did speak with a VA rep. which was very helpful and insightful. She told us not to allow them to release Rodney from Medhold until he was completely well-even the smallest thing get it taken care of.

  • Went back to Fisher House to separate Rodney's belongings into what is going home and what will go over to the barracks.

  • Went to get Rodney a new uniform jacket at the PX uniform shop-the one they sent with him-the zipper is busted. This is our dime not the militaries-that is messed up.

  • Set up things with Fort Leavenworth medical facility for the time when Rodney is home. He will be able to go to Munson Hospital to get his labs drawn for the blood thinner issues and have his leg wounds monitored. The Fort is about an hour away from where we live in Kansas.
He also had some de-briefing by a Chaplin as well as a mental health provider. I am concerned what is going on in Rod's head a great deal-he has been through a major traumatic event physically and emotionally-but right now they have said they are dealing with healing the physical first. That concerns me-I feel both can be dealt with simutanoulsy and worry about how things will be with the stress of home. We already have our moments where we are butting heads-but hopefully with a lot of love, patience and me helping to keep things less stressful we will make it thru all of this. Maybe...
WE are just wanting to get done whatever needs to be done-jump through whatever hoops we need to-so that Rodney can go home to see all the family including the kids and to be honest-as much as I like Georgia I am getting homesick for good old Kansas!

Rodney doesn't know but I have had some of our good friends at home planning a "small" welcome home when we arrive. I know he will be tired so I am putting the emphasis on "small"-Right now we don't have the ok on our flights together nor do we have a time for a flight-so hopefully all will work out on that. I know there are so many supporters back home who just want to say thank you-as well as our families that just want to see in person he is ok!

next day... Oct. 31, 2006-Happy Halloween! It feels strange to be away from the kids today especially Connor who still enjoys dressing up and going trick-or-treating-he is a vampire this year and I know Mam-mam (rodney's mom) will make sure he has a good time. Carley is going over to a friends house for a party and may-be some trick or treating. She is 13 so most likely the last big Halloween for her as a kid :(-it is hard but they understand (amazing kids)-and we are learning sacrifice is part of being a military family! Our last full day here in Georgia. We finally got the travel situation taken care of-we will be flying together! We will have a connecting flight in Charlotte so hopefully all will run smoothly. We should arrive in Kansas City on Nov. 1st around 5:00pm-so I am making phone calls to get the homecoming reception going now that we have a time of arrival! Last night we went out to dinner with one of the couples (they are from the San Diego, CA area) in the Fisher House and their son-we ate Italian. Fun and good food! It was good to be out-we just cannot move real fast with Rodney's leg injuries-but we can deal with that no problem! Tonight we are going out to eat with another couple to Red Lobster. Adam and Lisa-from North Dakota. We had a good time but it was strange to see all the little kids with their parents dressed-up for Halloween. Kinda a funny-we left the Fort to go into Augusta, so when we returned we had to show our military ID-Rodney didn't bring his. Luckily the guard let other vouch for him and we were let back on Fort. Another fun day of the journey :) Tomorrow we get to go home so packing and last minute details and we our homeward bound!!!!

Nov. 1st, 2006
Rodney went to his last minute appt.s and I packed up. Lisa was kind enough to take us to the airport so I was able to return my rental on the Fort. We flew out of Augusta which is a really small airport-our flight was late taking off but we made it to Charlotte in time for our connection (actually with time to spare but we went and ate and almost missed our flight because Rodney moves slower and wouldn't use airport assistance-but we made it). I will have to say thought that the flight from Charlotte to KC was the most uncomfortable flight I have ever taken-the seats were hard and wouldn't lay back at all-I was miserable and know Rodney had to be...Just a long day of travel after a long couple weeks in Georgia. We arrived in KC and were the last ones off the plane..Rodney's parents and sister brought Connor and a family friend, K, brought up Carley (Taylor was working)-it was so good to see the kiddos!
A surprise limo awaited to take us HOME! Connor's cub scout Pack had paid for it-the kids were so excited! I could tell Rodney was is pain and tired but he was also surprised when we got back to Gardner and headed to the High School-the total opposite direction than our house-he finally got it when he saw all the people with signs! Welcome Home Surprise courtesy of friends (Tina Vega & Keith Moll) and all our family! Thanks to you all!!!!

Finally Home...
Keep Imagining!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It is Finally Starting to Look a little Like Christmas...

Connor putting on an ornament on our Christmas Tree

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Time Blues

It is about 18 degrees here in Kansas today!!!! We have had icy weather and are due for more tonight. Did I ever mention I dislike Winter Weather!!!!
I have been meaning to get on here and update for a few days now, but to be honest I just haven't felt much like doing it. I don't feel like there is much worth writing about that is upbeat and positive. I have had more good days lately than bad so hopefully I will get in my "groove" sooner than later. I feel so out of the loop and forgotten. We have only received 2 Christmas cards so far. I really don't want the season to be just about gifts and getting together on Christmas with extended family-I want to feel joy! I look around and see that it is the holiday season but I don't really feel it. I do miss the excitement of Christmas through a young child's eyes-I feel like I am forcing my family to enjoy any aspect of the season and it is only a little more than 2 weeks away. Rodney did get the tree up but it is still undecorated and the boxes with decorations and ornaments are just sitting in the living room. A pretty sad sight. I hope it doesn't come down to me doing all the decoration. I have tried to express my feelings about how much it means to me that we all do it together but I think my expectations are too high. Anyone else deal with this with older kids? I have really been trying to feel better and do what the Dr. says but I still feel bummed by the holidays and I feel like I am the "ringleader" in the family-so if I don't suggest it or do it-it won't happen. UGGH!

So what has been happening with us:

  • Taylor made it home safe from college for winter break after her last final Saturday. It is nice to have all my kids in the same place for awhile again.
  • I did get some shopping done last week with my mom and then Rodney and I went out one evening. So I have a start on that task but I worry about being able to afford the rest with only one salary and me being unable to work.
  • I did get a facial and eye treatment last week that was so amazing and I loved the results. I had a gift card from my birthday from last December that was about to expire.
  • Carley has had TONS of homework over the last week. She spent most of the weekend on the computer writing papers. She is such a hard worker and always strives to do her best. I do love the fact she still comes to me to proof her work at 15!
  • Connor is doing very well in school still which I am so proud of him for. He is starting to spend a great deal of time on the phone sometimes even with girls!! I don't like that at all but he has always been a "ladies man" :)
  • Rodney will be out-of -town most of the week for some classes to prepare him for when he is released from med-hold. I will admit I was pretty upset when I first heard about it. I think mainly because we spent so much time apart when he was deployed last year and the last month or so I have had such a difficult time with my emotions and just dealing with stress. It does help that Taylor is home and I know we will be fine...I did it for months last year I can do it for a few days.
  • I have been cooking a lot, which for me is something I enjoy but is not something that happens with our busy schedule and picky eaters. We all actually sat down at the table yesterday morning for a Sunday family breakfast. It was so nice! I guess it is the little things.
  • My birthday is the 18th-not looking forward to it but it will come. It does every year!LOL

I better go get ready. I have a dentist appointment this afternoon. I lost a filling a few weeks ago and finally I am going since it has been causing me pain and I am only able to chew on one side. Did I mention I dislike going to the dentist as much as I dislike winter??

I hope my next post is more positive and I can say we are enjoying the holidays. Continue to keep us in your prayers as we muddle through this crazy journey.

Keep Imagining!


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ideas to Help Troops and their Families

I have been checking the websites I list on the sidebar of this blog to see if their were any updates and I thought I would mention that if you are looking for a charitable organization to make a donation to each and every one of them is an awesome choice.

The military assistance organizations we have been helped by and still continue to receive aid from are all non-profit and run solely on donations. They make up for what is not provided( in our case wounded soldier still on med hold) by the government. I cannot say thanks enough to the groups that provide these services-we would most likely be homeless without them.

So please take a moment and check them out and if you can make a donation during the holiday season-It will very much appreciated by these hardworking groups as well as the service members and their families it impacts the most.

I did come across a really cool site if you know a family who is in the military and you would like to gift them with GROCERIES-something they can always use. The site is www.commissaries.com and the go to gift of groceries.

Thanks for being a supporter of the Troops and their families.

Tracy Price

Army Wife

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Beginning of December Already ???

Happy December to everyone-

I cannot believe we are in the last month of 2007 and Christmas is less than a month away now.

I apologize for not posting in the last week or so. Things have been in a survival mode here mostly due to the stress finally catching up with me from everything that has happened over the last year and 1/2. My counselor explained it the best for me to understand-and that is that my cup just became too full and I have been trying to empty some of it out so it won't continue to happen. Not a good place to be but it is where I am at so I will slow down and try to stay away from stress as much as possible. I am visiting my counselor more often for awhile as well as getting my meds adjusted. I am trying not to freak out about the house being a mess or this and that not being done. It's not easy especially when my job title is "house manager"! My husband, bless his heart, is trying so hard to take care of so much as well as me-he has been great. I am so proud of him. Tonight he didn't completely lose it when the macaroni for mac and cheese went down the drain as he was trying to drain it for me at the same time was in the middle of cleaning the turtles tank. It was one of those moments-but we got thru it and moved on. (I am almost sure it will be a funny in a few days-cause after it hit the sink and he had been draining the old water out of the tank into that sink-yuck-I wasn't sure that for a second he wasn't going to spoon the noodles up and putting it back in the pan???) LOL

So where does that leave me with the list of holiday stuff to do...not sure yet. I do have some shopping done and have been doing some online. My oldest Taylor will be finishing her 1st semester up at college this next week or so-I am hoping to enlist her assistance as well as scaling back on some of the things I normally do-there may not be Christmas cards sent this year, as many gifts bought or the elaborate decorations but that really isn't the reason for the season, as it is said. I hope to take something "good" away from this and not always look back on it as the period where I couldn't do it all. For those that know me-I do try and do it all especially at this time of year, and what usually happens is I get so exhausted and caught up in the buying I miss the joy. So more Joy is what I am hoping for this Christmas! (...and maybe a tropical, relaxing vacation????LOL)
This is also the 1st year I don't have a "believing"child in my home-kinda sad but opens up a whole new way for us to celebrate. We are doing a white elephant gift exchange with my family and mom, step-dad, sister, brother-in-law and nephews-so it should be fun. My 10 year old son Connor is a little confused about the concept but we still have a few days to help him to get it. :) We will still have our traditions of Christmas Eve-the kids get to open 2 gifts (1 is always an ornament and the other PJ's). They know this but are always excited to see. They change into their PJ's, place their ornament on the tree and we sit down and read the real Christmas story together. We will continue these traditions because it is something they have always known and feel comfortable with and hopefully start some new ones this year. I would love to do something to make them aware of others needs, so a donation in their names to a charity is one of my thoughts.

I hope to have a less stressful Christmas season full of unexpected JOY and not have such high expectations-ask me on Dec. 24th how it went???
Thanks for reading and checking in on us. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for healing-because we are still dealing with the wounds of war-even if it isn't always in the most obvious ways.Leave me your comments and encouragement- I could really use it these days!

Keep Imagining!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy 15th Birthday Carley

Carley and her Birthday Chessecake

Carley & Rodney performing Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my daughter Carley-she turned 15 today!! We celebrated with family and Carley's Boyfriend Jordan last night at Joe's Crab Shack-we had a blast and the food was really good. Since Carley and my husband Rod's b-day are so close together we usually celebrate together (as we did last night). They both were dressed up by the waiter with hats etc. and then given musical instruments. They were then told to sing Happy Birthday to each other as LOUD as they could...wow did they ever-it was so funny (and a little embarrassing for them-but that was the point :)-Carley had no idea what she was in for-she just wanted shrimp!-Got her!!! It was a night to remember.
Carley is an amazing young lady with a true and sincere ability to love everyone and see the best in all. I am so thankful I get to be her mom. Soon she will be getting her restricted and driving to and from school (seems like just last year she was learning to ride a bike...)
Happy B-day Sunshine! Love you more than the all the chocolate in the whole world!!!
You are a true blessing to your family...I love ya, Your Madre

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another day in Georgia-2006

Oct. 29
Last night we got to set the clocks back an hour for the time change-so an extra hour of sleep never hurt anyone! Rodney has appt. over at the clinic to get his blood drawn to check his cumodian (blood thinner) levels. They are drawing blood often to try and figure by the levels of med. in his blood what the correct dosage is for him. It could take awhile to figure it out. I dropped him off at the front door and went and parked. Then I couldn't find him-I didn't know where the blood draw actually took place-so I lost my husband already! So I wandered around and asked a couple employees but no one was much help-but like I said before the hospital has a skeleton crew on the weekends. Once we found each other we went to breakfast at the "Huddle House"-first time to eat at one as well as our first time eating out together in many months. Our order took longer than the waitress felt it should so we got our meals free-I won't argue with that!
We went to the PX for a few things but Rodney was pretty wore out by then so we didn't last long. He did get a couple caps from one of the vendors-(Like he doesn't have hundred's at home-but one of them was a purple heart soldier hat-most deserving of that I think.)
We went back for naps, laundry and I made dinner-a nice evening of just relaxing!
We did spend time with our new friends at the Fisher House-which is very comforting.
There is one couple there whose son was hurt really badly from a motorcycle accident-after he returned home from deployment. They have been acting almost as our surrogate parents! Everyone is so kind and comfortable with each other.

I have had one concern over the last few days and hope it will work out-getting Rodney and I on the same flight home. He by no means needs to be flying by himself-especially changing planes for a connection. I made a call to DOD travel and transportation and asked for the officer who had helped me get to Georgia-they actually told me no one by that name works here (I couldn't believe it-wait yes I could). I was to tired to argue and will call back tomorrow to see if Staff Sgt. Riffe works there tomorrow-UGGGH! I am going to do everything in my power to get us on the same flights home! Not sure yet when that will be but I want to be ready when it does. Nothing should be this difficult but I am beginning to realize if a ball can be dropped it will so I have to keep praying and stay persistant for things to happen.
It gets really exhausting though...
More later

Friday, November 16, 2007

A special picture, a very special song & a video that is amazing (& my tattoo)

My daughter Taylor sang this song at my dad's memorial service. I have a tattoo with the word "IMAGINE" and angel wings on my back-I cannot explain how I felt when I saw this video by Mercy Me-other than it is explains my feelings perfectly-I can only imagine seeing my dad again as well as "My Father".Just wanted to share-feeling pretty down tonight for many reasons-but mostly missing my dad. (the pic above is me and my daddy in 1965-I was about 16 months old)and the other of my tattoo

Keep Imagining...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Rodney!

Happiest 44th Birthday to my amazing and strong hubby
I am so happy you are here with us-we are so blessed!I hope you have a good one sweetie! We could just used laid back though nothing too exciting this year (I can't believe you are so Old!-)Smile;)

(If anyone wants to send Rod a birthday message, his email is rodney.a.price@us.army.mil)
Love ya

PS the kids say Happy b-daY TOO!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Georgia-Fort Gordon Experience-the saga continued...

Rodney with Col. Martin at Fort Gordon
Rodney in the Fisher House kitchen-finally out of the hospital
October 24-28 2006

(I didn't write in my journal from the 25th until the 28th but I do know a few events occurred during this time period)

1.) Col. Martin, Kansas Army National Guard, came to Georgia and visited with us for over 5 hours. He was very kind and tried to answer or find the answer to any questions we had. He also brought up the fact that my persistence since Rodney was wounded had brought a great deal of attention to our case-even as far as the pentagon. I say HOOOAH! There are so many things that need to change about the process so if we are a part of that change that is good for future soldiers!
Col. Martin said something that we need to remember-basically don't sign anything to get off medhold until you have every small medical issue addressed, taken care of and in your medical file. That Rodney needed to be at the most optional condition he can be in with his wounds. So I guess we are in it for the long haul...
Col. Martin did start the process of setting up a purple heart ceremony back in Kansas. Rodney will be receiving his from the TAG -Adj. General of the State at a later date.

2.) I finally got a rental car-even if I had to pay for it-(not the Army) it was worth it. I had donated funds from back home and it was something I really needed.
I am now mobile...

3.) Rodney has been visited by many officers from Fort Gordon and will become part of the medhold unit here. Everyone is really nice and they go out of their way to make sure we are being taken care of. that is so appreciated.

4.) He was visited by a man whose organization affiliation I am not sure of but he brought him a small patriotic guilt made by some very kind individuals.

5.) Rodney is getting stronger,and his wounds are healing more each day. He is taking blood thinners since they have made the decision to leave the piece of shrapnel in his heart since they feel it would do more damage to remove it. They feel it should encapsulate and not cause him any problems.

Oct. 28th-2006
He is finally scheduled to be discharged today and then spend the next 5 days with me over in the Fisher House so we can bring him to his dr. appts, appt.s with case worker, blood tests etc.. before he is released to go home for 30 days convalescence.

But...of course we have no release papers and it is 2pm in the afternoon on Friday!
Things can never be simple-at the last minute-even after getting all of Rodney's belonging (ruck sack, and 2 other bags)out to the car with help-the dr. decides to keep him in the hospital just for the daily blood tests. I am not real proud to say but I lost it....

I ended up going to the patient advocate and getting permission from his cardiologist for him to be released as long as he came in for his appt.s-WOW what a stressful day!! Rodney was fine with staying so I looked like the _itch.. of the century, but probably won't be the last time ;) I just wanted to have him to myself and take care of him-I wanted my guy-to myself before we headed back home and had to deal with all the everyday stuff as well as what comes next. We really miss the kids but we need this time to get re-adjusted to each other a little.
The Fisher House room has 2 queen size beds-so Rodney has plenty of room to stretch out and sleep in a REAL bed for the first time in a long time.We have our own bathroom and shower. We have a tv in the room and a dvd player-so we will be fine. I am going to the commissary to buy food so I can fix him meals-which I am actually very excited about-the kitchen at the Fisher House is awesome and we have a place to keep our food separate. As I said before there is a laundry room-so that need is taken care of. It is so comfortable. There are actually 2 other couples staying that are going thru similar situations. the guys were both injured in Iraq-so the soldiers have plenty to talk about and bond over as do the wives and I. It is an absolute blessing!! There is a huge yard for Rodney to get exercise and the weather has turned back to beautiful. I couldn't ask for more at this moment in time!!!

Rodney and I have had our issues which I assume is normal with all the stuff we are dealing with-he says I am micro-managing his healthcare. It hurt but I will back off and help when he asks. He is still in pain and is starting to really deal with the emotional toll of the last couple weeks. He is a true solider and is used to being given orders and following them no questions asked-I am not that way at all-so we differ-but we need to find out information and ask or it won't be explained or we might not even know about something. But love will prevail-I hope...

Things are good-we are close to the hospital if there are problems and we are together and learning to navigate this road even with the twists, turns, bumps and detours-a new part of the journey has started.

(**if you are looking for an organization to donate to to make a difference for the wounded and their families-Fisher House is one of the best!!)


My daughter Carley was part of the cast of her high school's musical "Oklahoma" this past weekend. She had such an amazing time being a part of the girl chorus-she sang, danced, was in a fight scene and even had one line! It made no difference to her if she was a lead or a prop- she just enjoys being on stage and part of the entire theater experience. We really had a great time watching her and loved the show-all the kids did an awesome job!
We are so proud of all of Carley's accomplishments and her abilities, she is so darn smart and has very challenging classes-but we really enjoy watching her having so much fun performing!!! Congrats Sister Sue!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank You To ALL the Veterans!

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all the Veteran's out there-for their service to our country at any and all points in the history of the United States.
The History Channel is running amazing stories today all day to commemorate Veteran's Day which is officially today (but being observed tomorrow the 12th).
Veteran's Day is officially to be celebrated November 11th (11 month, 11th day on the 11th hour).

Happy Veteran's Day!!!
To my husband-Operation Iraqi Freedom (Army and Army National Guard)
To all the Soldiers of the 714th SECFOR Kansas Army National Guard
To my Dad-Navy (peacetime)
To my Grandfather Curtis-WWII-Navy (south pacific)
To my Grandpa Rousselo-WWII-Air Force-stateside
Thank You for sacrificing and allowing us to live in the land of the FREE!

Please Fly your American flags today and tomorrow and if you are a veteran you and your family can got to a "Golden Corral" restaurant tomorrow (Nov. 12th) for a free meal-check it out on the web.

God Bless all the servicemembers and their families!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Perfect Timing for a Visit

I hadn't shared yet about the trip Rod and I took last weekend. We left on Friday to go to Arkansas, which is about a 5 hour trip. It was a beautiful day and the trees were all full of fall colors. The reason for our jaunt to Arkansas was to visit my dad's grave site. My daddy passed away 4 years ago this last April from brain cancer. He was 64. My parents divorced when I was 9 years old and I had always lived with my mom. My dad and I had our ups and downs but we were alot alike in many ways..our sense of humor, our love of telling stories and talking for hours, and our love of history. I never would've imagined how difficult the grieving process for losing a parent was until I went through it. We only had 6 months with him from diagnosis till he went to heaven. He and my step-mom had moved to Arkansas for Kansas a couple years prior, which is where my dad spent much of his growing up years. My grandma, his mom, passed away only 2 months before my dad was diagnosed.
I was very close to her so it was a difficult time. I know losing both of them in a short period of time made the grief so much harder. I had only been back to Arkansas since his funeral one other time. I no longer have a relationship with my step-mom and half-sister who now live in my Grandma's home-It was always strained and I cannot do it anymore-way too toxic. So I hadn't been down to visit and stay for that reason. I knew in my heart I need to go so I picked a time for us to go and visit his grave site-I stopped and bought fall flowers for his, my grandparents and my great-grandparents graves as well as red roses for my dad. I had brought along a picture of my family which I also left. Rodney left one of his military medal and a KS national guard patch. I also buried a cross from a necklace I wore constantly during the year or so after his death until the chain broke. I hope it stays there forever. One of the cool things I wanted to share was what happened as we were driving into the cemetery.
Alittle history first: My daughter Taylor who is now 18 has a beautiful voice and sang at her grandpa's funeral service. She sang 'I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me-she was 13 at the time. So obviously the song holds a special place in my heart-and until recently couldn't even hear it on the radio without crying. I had but together a CD of songs for Taylor when she left for college in August and included this song. I made a copy of the cd for myself. I have had it in my CD player along with 5 other cd's for a couple months. I knew the song was on the cd and thought to myself during the drive wouldn't it be cool if that song played at the perfect time.
I wanted to mess with the cd to see where the song was at but something stopped me and the thought came to me "God's timing is always perfect"-the last 18 miles I had the urge to try and find the song but kept thinking "God's timing is perfect." I never said anything to Rodney but it was very much on my mind. Just as we were pulling up the hill into the cemetery-the song came on-Rodney looked at me like WOW and I said out loud- "God's Timing is Always Perfect". It made such a huge impact on me. I was very weepy at first and spent some time just sitting talking to my dad. Then I realized once again he is with me always, he is not at that place but it was nice to be able to go back and be able to leave things to remind others of how much he was loved. Another cool thing-I had put a small plastic trophy on the headstone that said "World's Greatest Grandpa" over 4 years ago-it no longer said that but the trophy was still there and someone had taped it down or glued it so it stayed. That was so awesome to see- It was something I needed to do and was so worth it.
Thanks for listening!
And keep Imagining!

(I love you Dad and miss talking and laughing with you-tell Grandma I want a chocolate pie and fried chicken whenever we all get to be together again :)-

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Another Day at Eisenhower Army Hospital

Rodney and I together during his stay in the hospital Tuesday 10/24/2006
To my surprise this am-it was a COLD walk from the Fisher House over to the hospital-I didn't think Georgia would be COLD! It isn't really what I would call really freezing,can't be outside weather-but it is cold to the residents of Georgia-they are all wearing coats, gloves, scarves and it is about 40 degrees-I didn't even bring a winter coat!

Rodney is supposed to have a couple tests done today to look at the fragment in his heart (that is so weird to even write-very surreal). He is pretty cranky-can't have anything by mouth so he hasn't had his pain meds nor has he eaten and of course they are running behind. Hopefully they will get an IV going here soon with morphine for the pain, they have one in for IV fluids. The procedure should let us know what the fragment is as well as exactly where it is located. So then decisions can be made on if it stays in or comes out. Rodney and I are both pretty much emotional messes right now and the waiting doesn't make it easier. Finally in the afternoon he was taken down and lightly sedated for an echo, another type of echo where he basically had to swallow a small camera and another test he can't even remember. He was very groggy and tired when he got back to the room. One of his Dr.s met with me and basically said they had a difficult time making out the exact location due to the imaging bouncing off the metal so they will be taking him to another facility tomorrow by ambulance to get a 3D image with a different more advanced machine.They are fairly postivie it is a piece of shrapnel though and not a needle port etc.. We do know that if the fragment stays in he will always have to take antibiotics before dental or mouth procedures and never be able to have an MRI (due to the magnetic part).

We had a visitor from the VA stop by to speak with Rodney about benefits and such-but I don't know how much either of us retained especially with so much going on today. I also made a lot of phone calls today:
I finally made the call to see about getting a rental car-I am tired of walking late at night and not being able to go to the PX on my own. I am on a waiting list.
I made a call to the Kansas State benefits director today-Janet Wisdom-waiting for a call back. Hopefully she can shed some light on what we need to do in that area and what Rodney is entitled to. This is a whole new ballgame for us and no one seems to know the rules! I have been trying to get a message to Rodney's commander over in Iraq to give Rodney a call. He really needs to hear from him and get an idea of what happened. He has spoken with one of the other soldiers wounded (he has already left and returned home for convalescence leave). He know some from him as well as remembering bits and pieces. I think he is starting to build a "story" in his head. I have no idea what the emotional toll will be from this for him-they want to focus on the physical before the emotional but I can't see why they aren't able to do both. I have asked for Chaplin's to visit and they have but that has been the only "mental health" assistance we have received so far.

DR. Lundy, one of Rodney's docs, and in my opinion the best one-came in before his heart procedures and was concerned about the high white blood cell count. He looked at all of Rodney's wounds including even the small pieces of shrapnel on his legs, trunk and chest. He found an area on his left leg that looked as he put it "angry" and could be the source of the infection.He did a small surgery right there in the room-so I had a front row seat! He opened up the area and removed a small piece of shrapnel. A little souvenir I guess. He also took of the bandage on his hip wound and took out the gauze-this was the first time I had actually seen how deep it was-to the bone. I was shocked! Rodney is also starting to cough more again -so off to chest xray he goes! He was also started on blood thinners today because of concern of clotting due to the heart issue. He gets it in shot form in is stomach area-ouch!

It has been a really long day-I have watched Rodney sleep and been doing so much thinking. I am so thankful that he is here no matter what shape he is in. He has been thru so much but I don't want to question why him or why us-I just want to go on from here-knowing that the road won't be easy-but learning form the experience and allowing it to help us grow as people and as a couple as well in our faith. At least that is what I hope for..
Going to go over to my room, do some laundry for both of us, call the kids and try to relax and get some sleep. It is so nice to have a place to go that feels like a 'home'.
More later..on the Georgia Experience!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Georgia Experience Continued...healing,dealing and a new discovery

(Picture of Wound Vac used on wound on Rodney's leg)

For all those patient readers..I am finally back on track with the story after Rodney was wounded (Please look back from the beginning for those new readers!)

Sunday, October 22, 2006- Nothing very eventful but to be honest the days really ran together while Rod was in the hospital. I do know the weekends were much slower paced. Trying to get Rodney more mobile. He has a medical device called a wound vac
helping the large soft tissue wound on his inner right thigh heal. It is an awesome innovation! I can't even begin to explain how it works other than it heals the wound from the inside out (which is what we need to happen) and it the sponge like material inside the wound has silver in it which has healing properties. It seems to be doing its job.The wound originally was about an 1/2 inch deep but as you could have laid a pop can lengthwise in it. It has shrunk some already. The other wound is deeper but smaller around and actually most likely was the more serious of the two probably nicking the femoral artery. He is so lucky to have had the guys around him he did when the mortar attack happened. They kept him from bleeding out and did all the right things. I can never say thank you enough! Rodney is in pretty good spirits with emotional moments to be expected. He has had a lot to deal with.

Monday, October 23, 2006
OK-when I said weekends were slower paced-I wasn't kidding. On my walk over this morning I could tell by the number of cars in the parking lot and the amount of people going in and out of the building-the hop ital was hopping!

I was met in the hallway after walking in the building by one of Rod's medvac case managers. The first thing she said to me was that Rodney needed surgery-heart surgery. I was a little freaked and confused about what had happened. When I got to the room I found out that there was a new issue but surgery wasn't for sure thing.
During a cat scan the doctor's discovered something foreign in the heart-they are speculating at this point and will be running more tests to find out what it is. Very scary stuff. An echo is planned and then most likely a surgery to remove it.
Rodney is adamant that they are not cracking his chest open! I am trying to stay calm and wait to see what the doctors say. I just can't figure out why this wasn't caught before-he has had numerous cat scans in the last week or so???
He is also dealing with more pain today and his white blood cell count is high and has been for a couple days. They say most likely a sign of some sort of infection.
They removed the staples from his abdominal surgery site today and placed surgical strips instead. Rodney and I have had our moments of butting heads today-I think we both are under some STRESS!!! It is hard-I have waited so long to see him and hug him and with his injuries it is hard to even hug him. I want him to know he can talk to me about anything-he seems so closed off. I did get a call from his dr. in my room later. He has been researching what to do about the piece of metal in Rod's heart and from that research and talking to other doc's he feels that we will leave it in unless it is protruding from the muscle into one of the chambers. They have a procedure scheduled on Tuesday to hopefully get a better image. They are thinking it is a small (2cm) piece of jagged, shrapnel. The big question is one we will most likely never know the answer to is how did it get there without killing him? According to the dr's it is a very rare case and something that they can't really explain.
Alot of probably's, and most likely, maybe, we hope etc..not what we want to hear but after all he is alive and shouldn't be but through God's intervention and grace he is...so who can argue with that.

I also started making phone calls today about when Rodney would receive his Purple Heart. They many times give it to the soldiers at bedside but we would like to wait until we get home and all the family can be there. So just trying to figure all that out too as well as what happens when he is released (which after today's news it won't be as soon as we thought)

Enough for today...
Tracy, Superman's wife

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rodney and Army buddies from the 714th SECFOR

Way too Busy!

I cannot believe it has been almost a week since I posted.... there for awhile I was adding posts sometimes more than once a day. I guess my only excuse is being way tooooo busy this week just living life-which isn't probably such a bad thing.

So what have we been doing...

Last weekend Rod and I went to "reintegration" with his unit that he served with in Iraq even though I think we could've probably taught most of the sessions since he has been back for over a year now-mostly we went for the food and the socializing!!
I met a lot of the soldiers and it was nice to be able to but a face with a name especially with everyone out of uniform having a good time.

Monday I started planning,cleaning, decorating, shopping and cooking for a teenage Halloween party--scary huh!!! My daughter, Carley invited 10 friends over to eat and watch movies on Halloween night-since this is the first year she felt too old to go trick-or-treating. We decorated the basement with spider webs (some of them were actually cob webs-but who could tell the difference??), black lites, and just fun decorations. We had pizza,chili, cupcakes, chips and dip,popcorn, apples and carmel and of course...candy (the fav seemed to be the gummy worms..). Carley's friends are an awesome group of kids no problems what so ever-they watched "Disturbia"-it isn't really that scary-but I heard some of the girls screaming at one point. They were definitely not the "Friday the 13th" crowd.
Connor was allowed by his sister to "visit" for short periods of time before and after trick or treating. He went with a friend and his family. I am not sure what the correct description of what he went as was-I just said some type of warrior-He had a sword, a long hooded black cape, painted face and hair??? He had fun and came home with a half full pillow case of candy! We dumped it out on the floor to go thru it to make sure it was safe and to see what good stuff he got (like chocolate!!)

Rodney and I took turns throughout the evening checking on the party goers, handing out candy at the door, keeping our dog "Beau" from attacking trick or treaters every time the doorbell rang (he is a poodle who thinks he is a guard dog!!) and then getting Connor headed for the shower and bed. He was so tired but of course you couldn't convince him of that. His attitude still more like a teenager than a ten year old-it really bothers Rod he wants his little boy back!!
It was a long night but so glad we could be home this year with our kids-as last year we were in Georgia. We did miss Taylor-since she is away at college. She said she went to bed by 8:30pm-must be rough-LOL.

Today I un-decorated and put up Thanksgiving decor., did laundry,washed dishes and got ready to go out of town again. Rodney and I leave in the am to go to Arkansas and then Branson, MO. I could probably use some prayers for the first part-the reason we are going to Arkansas is that I haven't been to visit my dad's grave in over 4 years. It is about a 6 hour drive and I don't have any real family connections there anymore-but I really need to do this. I miss him terribly-his laugh, his stories, his hugs and just knowing I can talk to him if I need to. I know it is just a place-he isn't really there-but it is something I feel really strongly about doing. I want to leave something-just not sure what yet.

Then we are going back to MO. to Branson to meet up with my Mom and step-dad. They recently bought an RV so we are staying with them. It will be cozy-but a lot less than a hotel room. We plan on going to Silver Dollar City on sat. to the Christmas celebration-yes Christmas! It started today-and it is something I have wanted to do for awhile. Not even sure what to expect-but it will be nice to just walk, shop, and do things at our own pace-not the pace of the kids. They about killed me when we were in Florida last spring-I had to keep saying "slow down"-and by the end of the week I could hardly walk-seriously!-but I got a massage out of it! It sucks to be old!!:)
Well I think that is the jist of the week besides the regular day to day stuff.
I did call about a job with the state helping out wounded soldiers-but it was already filled-but the LT. Col. called me back personally to tell me and to let me know there probably is another position in the same dept. coming up soon! Keep me in your prayers!!! I really want to do something like that, plus we need the 2nd income!
next week will be busy too-I have a skin cancer biopsy and then surgery if they find something) on Friday. It is a place on my nose-most likely basal cell since I had another spot on my chin about 12 years ago. I was really young for it at 31! I am a little freaked out because it is on my nose-but I am having a plastic surgeon do the work so hoping for the best and as little of a scar as possible.

Ok I need to get to bed-we need to leave early in the am. (I love to travel but hate to pack..so I need to go do some more of that first)

You all have a grand weekend-and remember to set your clocks back-an extra hour of sleep-YES!

I will do more "last year" update next week..promise;)
Thanks for checking in on me..

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Georgia-Fort Gordon Experience-day one

Sat. October 21, 2006 As I said in my last post I finally made it to Georgia and I am finally where I need to be. It feels like such a relief to finally be able to totally concentrate on Rodney and his care.

I spent the night in the recliner-so not the best sleep-with nurses in and out all night (doing their job!) They were all kind and apologized every time they had to turn on the light. I told them that I wanted them to do whatever it took to take the best care of Rod. The medical staff was very informative and answered my questions with respect and understanding. I just liked being able to open my eyes and look over and see Rod. Sometime in the am I left to go over to the Fisher House to catch a short nap, shower and unpack. It was a nice day and about a 10 minute walk.

I came back over to the hospital around lunchtime and went to the cafeteria and ate. That is one thing that would be really nice-is if they could figure out a way to serve meals in the patients room for the caregiver also.(the cafeteria had really strange and short hours) My meal were all paid for though, so that was a blessing.
Rodney was eating really well and said the food was good. He had lost a great deal of weight in a short period of time, so I loved to see him eating and getting his strength back. He was in pain still so he was still recieivng morphine. Dr. said he wouldn't heal as fast dealing with pain.

I did get the ok from the nurses to take Rodney outside in a wheelchair-it was the first time he had been outside in fresh air for over a week. We weren't out there to long-he got tired easily, but he seemed to enjoy it (except for the wheelies!whoo!-just kidding:)- We spent sometime talking-about what he could remember about his experience, what I had been doing to get to him and how the kids were doing. I had brought cards from many well wishers and we were receiving phone calls from family throughout the day.
We also had some very nice people from the 352nd out of Macon, Georgia call or visit us. We were a little confused at first-but soon figured out that the 353nd was the Battalion command Rodney's unit was under in Iraq. It was so awesome to have people show such kindness and sincere concern-good old fashioned southern care and hospitality. We even heard from the battalion commanders wife Julie Eveker-she called to check on us a few times as well as stopped by. The Family Assistance Group along with Mr. Joe Dingle made sure we were well taken care of and had all we needed in our home away from home for 12 days. I made a very special friend whose husband was the 1st SGT,of the battalion over in Iraq.She came t Rodney's room as a total stranger but we soon clicked and I felt so much better having someone to talk to. She hauled me around for the first few days until I got a rental car. She took me to the PX to shop-very cool and great therapy. I bought Rodney some clothing-shorts, jacket,t-shirt, magazines, and a gameboy as well as some stuff for myself!!She even came and brought me food one night because I missed dinner in the cafeteria. Pamela you were a godsend and will always hold a special place in my memories of Georgia.

We had doctors, chaplin's, case workers, social workers and volunteers from many organizations visiting us throughout the day (and entire time we were there).
I must say I felt very cared for as very thankful Rodney had such a good team taking care of him. He did start getting up to go the short distance to the restroom and took an actual shower. Moving in the right direction. He was complaining of his heel hurting and wanted me to rub it. I took a look at it-thinking it was probably no big deal. I realized from my experience from previous jobs in a nursing home situation-he was having skin breakdown on his heal-(most likely from the 10 hour flight from Germany). I told the doctor and he was concerned and put a special boot on him-he said skin can start to break down in only 2 hours in the same position-and can lead to some pretty nasty situations if left untreated. So I served as the advocate like I knew he needed!!!

I stayed pretty late at the hospital but wanted to sleep in my bed at Fisher House-but I soon found out that transportation on Fort Gordon was not a easy task. I called for a cab and waited for a hour-no show even after a couple calls. so I ended up going back up to the floor where the kind nurses called security for me and had them take me to the Fisher House. (the walk was very dark across parking lots-Rodney was concerned for my safety)

We had a full day so it felt good to actually sleep in a comfy bed and know I was able to go back to the hospital at a moments notice. The Fisher House is an amazing place by the way!!! I am thinking Georgia is also the best place on earth right now.

More later...
Finally in Georgia-a beautiful place

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More of the story continued...Thur.Oct. 19 & Fri. Oct.20, 2006

Eisenhower Army Hospital

The Day Rodney is due to travel to Fort Gordon-Eisenhower Army Hospital-Augusta, GA from Andrews Air force base in Maryland.
I received a call early from my contact in GA, Sgt. Hill telling me of heavy fog in Augusta-so it may cause travel to be later but most likely would burn off. Rodney's flight is scheduled to depart at 10am. I hope there are no more delays-but I need to prepare myself for that chance-especially the way things have gone over the last week. Rodney called around 10am that they were on the strip ready to take off. (I do know that later he told me they were a little delayed due to President Bush's motorcade arriving to take off in Air force One-he said he didn't see much but a bunch of black vehicles and everything moved really quickly. He then called again at 1:30pm to tell me they had landed in Georgia and he was on an ambulance in-route to the hospital.-Thank goodness!!!! I received a call from a Spc. Gordon later in afternoon. We discussed what was going to happen now-how soon things would move along so I could fly down to be with him. He shared a couple numbers with me for the hospital and to contact him. He rode with Rodney in the ambulance. He said Rodney was very emotional and really did need to have family with him. Spc. Gordon was now my contact person for getting info. to DC so I could travel. I was pretty disappointed to find out he believed it would most likely be Sat. before I flew out.
He told me about lodging at the Fisher House-which is a house close to the medical facility where family members can stay. My mom and I looked up information and it looked like the perfect solution instead of staying off-base farther away from the hospital. I would have to wait and see if there was any availability when I arrived-they did not take reservations for good reason. Family members were checking in and out on a moments notice-so I will deal with that when I have too. I attempted to reach Travel and transportation throughout the day- and finally spoke with Sgt. Brademous (the person who initially made the call to me on the 13th) around 6 pm in the evening. He had not received any paperwork from Eisenhower that day and had 12 other families also waiting for travel orders to the same location. So not looking good for travel on Friday. I am really exhausted, anxious and I have lost 7-10 lbs over the course of a week. (not the best diet plan but I didn't mind losing the weight!). I did speak with Rod after he finally got to his room after triage and all-he and I were not on the same page at all. He was so irritable and I was obviously not in the best shape-I was so hurt and scared thinking what if I cannot handle this and I am no help to him. We were both dealing with the destruction of our "plans'-this was not supposed to happen-him going to Iraq and making extra money was supposed to help us get out of a financial bind. Now we had so much more to deal with-I didn't care about the money issues so much as how he was going to handle not finishing his mission and being with the unit he had grown so close to over the last almost 5 months. We ended the call with him saying he would call in the am and hopefully he would have information on me coming to Georgia. I did receive a call from a medvac case manager in Georgia in the early am hours-she had been speaking to Rodney and he had been very upset that he upset me. She wanted me to know he did want me with him. She said that these soldiers have been thru so much and dealt with so many people that don't know after being wounded-it is so easy for them to take out their frustrations on the one they know love them and won't give up on them.
That made total sense and I appreciated her taking the time to care enough to call me. So much emotion and the not knowing is the hardest...

Oct. 20, 2006-Friday-I get the call and I am on a flight to Georgia to be with my soldier!! Praise the Lord!!!! After a long morning Friday of trying to get things moving-calling Georgia and then Dc and back and forth-I finally got orders to travel. It was so worth the work and I am so sure the people involved are so glad to finally not be getting calls from me :) My flight leaves KCI at 2:40 pm-I am packing away-most likely over packing but not sure how long I will be there.(I have about 5 people in my room with me chattering and helping-it is almost like a party-I am excited and a little nervous-even though I don't mind traveling by myself at all) The kids are all taken care of by grandparents and there is a list a mile long for what they have going on. I will miss my oldest daughter's senior night and my middle child's confirmation at church-but I am doing what I need to do and the kids understand.
The last week has been a blur but also felt like it was months not days. I am so exhausted but ready to see Rodney!!!!
My mom, step-dad and Carley took me to the airport. My mom made sure I was there in plenty of time (I have a tendency to run late no matter what :)-I flew from Kansas City to Charlotte, NC to Augusta, GA. I flew in a prop plane from Charlotte to Augusta-first time for that! One of Rodney's case managers met me at the airport on her own time in her own vehicle to take me to the Fisher House then over to see Rodney-it was almost 10 pm eastern time when I finally walked into his room. He burst out crying and hugged/kissed me and said "I am so sorry I got hurt"-I felt so bad for him-he had been so lost-. I ended up staying in the recliner right next to his bed that night-I couldn't leave him! I felt such a sense of relief and focus. I laid for the longest time and just stared at him-so thankful to be able to do that and see him rest so soundly. I wasn't worried about anything else at this point-I would deal with finding out information of his condition and see his wounds tomorrow!

It is a week ago today that Rodney was wounded-so he has been without family or familiar faces for over a week-but he has really only been fully awake since Tuesday.
Maybe that is a blessing?

More of the story later-The healing process in Georgia!

The "Wounds from the War" still sneaking up on us

I have spent a great deal of last evening and today contemplating how to approach this particular post. I am taken aback by how I didn't realize how 'much" our lives are changed forever not just because of my husband's scars or medical issues-the repercussion's reach so much deeper than that.

I had posted in a earlier post about my son, Connor and his struggles. I wanted to update on what has been occurring, what we have found our so far and how he is doing.
I need to say that I do not by any means believe my son is a "bad boy'-he is not by any stretch of the imagination. I love this kid who has been such a blessing to me-he has taught me more than I can ever say. He is an awesome soccer goalie, he loves his sisters so much and he is so strong... he has endured so much especially with all that occurred in his short life. He was only a few short weeks past his 9th birthday when his daddy was deployed. He was so sad that day as we all were, but now looking back I realize just how sad he did act. He was sad to the core of his soul as well as most likely so confused. I remember the moment his dad's bus, headed for training in Mississippi, turned the corner and was then out of sight after the send off ceremony. I looked at him and asked if he would like to go and get breakfast-he said "No Mom, I just want to go home"-he looked so defeated.
He wasn't like this most of time during the deployment or even after his dad was wounded-most of the time he was a 9 year old boy who played, tried to annoy his sisters, talked to his dad on the phone and seemed to be doing well for a kid whose dad was deployed, but yet we had no idea what was normal or abnormal. As a family we were just trying to do the best we could in an abnormal situation. I didn't deal well a lot of the time with Rodney being gone or with the idea of him going to war, but I know I tried for my family. I do wish I had had more of a support system in place with others in my same situation close by. I tried to put my kids first always and look for signs or issues. Connor had an amazing 4th grade teacher that made all the difference in the world to him as well as me-I knew she was watching out for him. I put together videos and slideshows for Rodney and included what the kids were doing and even taped them talking to him. After Rodney was wounded life got really messy and complicated-there was nothing close to normal except we did have to live our lives day in and day out like everyone else: we had holiday celebrations, the kids had their activities,my oldest was preparing to graduate and go to college and Rodney was healing. But ... I missed seeing Connor's pain-I looked and he had behavior issues at home but nothing really new-just Connor (he has always had a high need for attention :)- So now I realize when we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and not every waking moment is spent thinking about some aspect of our situation-BOOM... My Son's feelings, worries, fear and pain come out full force-and I didn't see it coming.

He is now under the care of a dr. whom is doing tests. He saw a counselor whom I have been seeing myself and he finally opened up and said this is what is going on:
He was so scared for so long and he is mad at all that happened. He had no control-so his "PTSD" is just now manifesting itself in inappropriate behavior, anger and difficulties in school. I cannot imagine what has been going on in his head-he had to feel so alone and confused. Now he is heading into pre-teenhood and he has so many feelings and emotions he cannot cope. So now we know-and another part of the journey has begun. We as his parents know we have to be so much more diligent than we have been in being there for him even when he pushes us away and to keep him talking to counselors,etc.. We will do whatever it takes to help him..and he does know that. Last night he said to me with a SMILE on his face..."Mom, I feel so much better after talking to (Micheal) the counselor-I feel happier." that all I want for him to be happy-for him to know he is loved and he is special and people do care, God cares and he will be ok!
I know we will always have things come up and we will wonder is this related to the 'war" experience-but all families have their own "chaos" to deal with right? We will survive this and so will Connor with the help we have set up as well as from us being more aware and focused.

That is a step in the right direction.... Put prayers for good things to happen for Connor and for him to feel it is ok to be a kid and enjoy life would be a good thing. He has had to do without because of financial issues and other priorities, sometimes I am sure he felt forgotten-I truly wish I could say yes we can go to Toys-R-Us and buy you that toy-but for now I can't. He is to young to worry about so many adult issues. He is a child wounded by war and he doesn't even live near a war zone. He is one of the little "heros". (don't tell him I said he was little :).
I wish I could fix it all for him as well as my husband,and our daughters but I am doing all I can do. Please pray financially things turn around for us-we need that so much to move forward and go on with our plan for our life. I appreciate all that have shown their love and support thru this last week or so on this site as well as others-It has made a difference. As I have said before I love to hear from you....

Thanks for listening
Love to all
Mother of Connor a brave and amazing young man.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back to the journey log- Wed. 10/18/2006

We found Rodney at Andrews Air Force Base-they do have a medical facility that handles the wounded in-route to other facilities-not sure why it was so "top-Secret".

I spoke with Rodney about his flight over from Germany. It was beyond miserable for him-They had litters/cots staked 3 high on a military medical transport. He was on the top tier and in a great deal of discomfort and pain especially from the chest tubes. He wasn't allowed to have but only a small dose of morphine now and then. He said the flight dr. told him that since he (Rod)wasn't mobile he needed him to be coherent enough to help them help him down in case of a crash-he said "I actually prayed the plane would crash, it was so bad"-it was over a ten hour flight. I cannot imagine!
He was scheduled to fly out of AAFB today but due to mechanical problems with the plane it was postponed until tomorrow-he was ok with that because he was so exhausted from the other flight. The manifest for the 19th did have Rodney on it to fly to Georgia-yeah!

Rodney was very difficult to talk to-irritable when I asked questions and no sense of humor which isn't him at all. I had my first taste of what it was going to be like as a caregiver of a strong willed soldier that wanted to go back to his unit in Iraq as soon as possible. He did say he needed me to be with him. I told him how hard I had been working to get to him and that it was so important for him to tell whomever would listen in Georgia that he needed me there- (he still doesn't understand how long I have been fighting to get to him).
Hopefully only a few more days of this agony of wanting and needing to be with him-I am starting to actually pack-believing this is actually going to happen! I will feel so much better to get to actually see him and touch him to know he is really ok-I know he needs the same.

(We had a fatality of a soldier from our community a few days before Rodney was wounded. He was a 19 year old-Shane Austin. His Funeral was today. I feel so badly for his family-so young and so brave. I had chosen not to contact the media after I found out about Rodney because I didn't want to take away from the upcoming funeral of this serviceman. The community really came together and gave Shane a beautiful tribute.-there were flags everywhere, the patriot guard was here and the high school was packed for the memorial service. I chose not to attend but heard about it thru friends. A True Hero-Thank you Shane and family for your sacrifice for our freedom)

More of our story later...
Getting to Georgia!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

a Rebel with a "Surprise"

As most of you know...
I have three kids-and today one of them had a "surprise" for me. I normally like surprises but I have been told I am difficult to surprise. I am just not so sure I like my college freshman to use the word "surprise" but she did.

My oldest-Taylor who is away at college and 18, making new friends,gaining knowledge, learning to live on her own, and growing into a responsible adult before my eyes. Believe me, I do expect some experimentation (I'm not totally naive) So Taylor sends me an email (she never sends me emails that was a nice surprise) It says something to the effect
"I can't wait to see you this weekend when your come up, I have a surprise for you. I hope you don't freak out." (Ok my mind is processing all that would make me freak out, as I am starting to imagine the best case scenario-or worst case). Then she goes on to say "A little rebellion never hurt anyone-LOL-I Love you mommy" (so glad she added the I love you mommy part but I only am "mommy" when she wants something or has done something I might not like, and what does she mean rebellion-I thought her rebellion was never cleaning her room!)
-so after awhile of thinking about it and realizing it can't be that bad (she is a total angel compared to the wild child I was in H.S. and college!) A tattoo-that has to be it-she has wanted one-she was with me last year when I "rebelled" at 42 and got mine (my first and last one!) Then I email her back with "You are in so much trouble....if you went and got a tattoo without me"- I received no response-so now I am moving on to the phone-"imagining even worse things like engagement and I am not even going to write my other thought. So I call- She answers "HIIIII MOM" and I say "What did you do? What is the big surprise".-not sure if this was freaking out in her eyes or not?-(again silence)so we start the question and answer session: "A tattoo-no, your belly button pierced-no, you colored your hair blue-NO!
"I got my nose pierced!!"
(silence from me-I was actually so relieved I was speechless for a second but I had to put on the mom act)-My reaction:'UUUUHHHHHHH! Gross!" That seemed to satisfy her as a reaction for rebellion along with some of my other snide comments, I'm sure I will keep up for good measure for the next few weeks.
So my Surprise...my daughter has rebelled and gotten an extra hole in her nose (a very small, mini hole for a little little stud).
Not sure what she was rebelling against but if it makes her feel like she is then "I hate it!! and I hope it really hurt!" :)
PS she wanted me to send her some of her Sr.pics from last year via email-I did and added a message "this is what you looked like before you had your nose pierced"

So my work as a parent is done for the day...
I have included a pic of Taylor-my rebel before she added an additional hole (She is really such a cool "kid"-my baby girl forever and I am so proud of her)...Plus it is her nose..Maybe she will go with me to get one...really I am just kidding!

Tuesday, Oct. 17th-the day Rodney was lost by the Army.

I am going to try and condense some of the story about the journey-Let's see if I can actually do it??? Just trying to figure out how to tell the story without writing a novel (Maybe I will write a real book about it all someday-LOL).
Tuesday, Oct. 17
*1:15 am (central time)/8:15 am Germany-Call from Germany-Major Harvey, Liaison
Conference call with him, Rodney and I. A brief on what is going to happen.
Flight leaving from Germany by 10am with a 10 hour flight landing in Maryland at Andrews Air force Base. Rodney will most likely stay overnight there AAFB or at Walter Reed. I was given a contact of Col. John Mayetta to receive info. regarding Rodney's arrival in the states. After Maryland he will then go to Eisenhower Army Hospital at Fort Gordon in Augusta, GA. I was also told to go ahead and call liaison in Georgia to start my travel process. The Major stated that it could be 72 hours after arrival for me to get TTO (travel and transportation orders)!-That sounded so ridiculous-it had already been 5 days since he was injured! I did speak with Rodney about what he had with him-he had no idea. Luckily there are some amazing people who provide soldiers coming thru Landstuhl with a backpack with some clothing and toiletries. Major Harvey did find Rodney's bags that had been sent with him in lock-up so that was a relief to me! He wasn't going to be flying back to the land of freedom in his birthday suit.

*Received strange call at 3:30am (central)from Germany saying flight was just now taking off.Delayed?? She stated she was the liaison-everyone wants to be the liaison??

* I contacted Sgt. 1st class Hill in Georgia-who wasn't actually a liaison (ok I am really starting to not like that title) but he was most helpful and stuck by me in the next few days. Took my cell #.

* Received the infamous letter from my soldier. It was wonderful and bittersweet since it was sent from a few days prior to him being wounded. I will treasure it forever!

*I was called from Dept. of Army/T & T by a Sgt. Riffe (coolest person working there!!). He said this is the process plain and simple: Arrival at medical facility,triage and then forwarded to travel and transportation and they then draw up the orders. sounds simple enough-WRONG! When I called later in afternoon to talk again with Sgt. Riffe-all the sudden no one by that name works there and I end up with the grand-poopa Jerk-he was very rude and told me I was basically a pain in his ass. Tracy the troublemaker-that's me!

* I called the KS Adj. Generals office since I had not heard back from them. I was told he would call me back. I then received a call back and the state of Kansas could do nothing to help get me to Georgia any sooner. At least they tried!

* I spoke with a Col. Mayetta in DC (My contact) and he told me Rodney was on the ground and he would get a message to him. I was so thankful!!!! He was back safe in the states.

* Tuesday afternoon-Rodney's parents were also following Rodney's journey. I received a call from his mom telling me they were told the flight took off much later than expected and they experienced head winds so the flight was longer than expected.

*BIG PROBLEM-NO ONE WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF ARMY OR ANYONE ELSE SEEMS TO KNOW WHERE RODNEY IS! His dad and I have called Walter Reed and he is not there. They told us to call the Malone House (which is an outpatient house for those able to take care of themselves)glad he wasn't there because he wasn't even able to walk on his own yet!-I was told once he got to the states it was no longer DA travel and transportation job to track him after receiving a call from them about Rodney's location-then why did they call?? Everyone was passing the buck. I asked if there was a facility at Andrews Air Force base and I was told no. then I asked again later and I was told they do but it is just a holding area. I asked for the number-no we cannot give that out. Finally after almost 24 hours Rodney's dad did get the number and we located him-funny thing was even Rodney thought he was at Walter Reed when I finally spoke with him on Wed. the 18th at 11:30 am (eastern time) I had to tell him he wasn't. What a fiasco!

Well we found him and he is safe... now we just need to get him to Georgia as well as me...

Thanks for the Support... a good day!

Thank you to all of you out there who have reached out and given me support through your experiences and your suggestions about the situation with my precious son-

I just wanted to do a short post on our Monday:

I went to eat lunch with Connor at school. Him and I worked on a science project together then we went to get his glasses adjusted and we did get a halloween costume and some decorations. He fought me at some points but I tried to stay positive and not react when I felt he was starting to get frustrated. I did speak with a social worker who works for the school district. I feel better and more hopeful after speaking with her. She does suggest getting him to a dr. and figuring out some of the bigger issues. So I will start making calls in the am-there are 17 dr.s listedfor child psychiatry within a 50 mile radius and none are actually even in our county. Most are alsmot 50 miles away-according to the insurance I have to exhaust all of those options before they will consider letting him see someone else. Pretty frustrating since I want him to see who has been recommended to me-the same dr. by my counselor as well as the social worker-so I want her to see him!! The fight is on!! Wish me Luck!

Overall the day was much more pleasent and he actually was smiling and laughing with us a some points-I treasure those moments!!!

Again thanks for checking in....
I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

email to supporters from 10/16/2006

On with last year..."he speaks and remembers>>>"

I left off on Sunday 10/15/2006 on the last blog about when my husband was wounded..

Today is Monday, October 16, 2006. It is approx. 10:00 am central time. I spoke with a Mrs. Smith at Family care center in DC this morning and she transferred me to a case manager Sgt. Major Hoot, who was able to speak with me about the logistics of what needs to happen so I can get to wherever Rodney ends up. It seems to get harder and harder every day. I know they have to have a process and I am not not the only one dealing with a wounded family member but so many days have gone by and I feel I know so little. This is what I was told:
1.)Rod still in serious condition
2.)to be able to travel to soldiers beside the dr. has to decide it is best for patient (I have heard this before-sounds crazy huh?)
3.) He will either be going to Eisenhower Medical Center in Augusta, GA or Brooks Army Hospital in Texas.

It is around 12:30 pm. I just called Germany and spoke with the nurse Col. Roder.
She told me the catscan results were normal but she also stated he was still confused and sleepy. She gave me a possible reason for this. TBI (tramatic brain injury). This was scary to hear and the first time there had been discussion of it. She explained that the blast c from the mortar attack causes a concussion of air and would have caused his brain to shake inside his skull. She also stated common and will most likely resolve itself. I asked about sedation-what meds he was still recieving and he was only getting tylenol 3 at this time. She told me he had 2 chest tubes for drainage and that the fragments in the lung were still there. He is still on antibiotics to ward off infection and still dealing with respitory issues. She also told me his route to Germany went this way: 47th CASH at Mosul (FOB hospital) to Balad, Iraq (larger medical facility) to Germany. He has come a long way already!!!

I did speak with Rodney-yeah! He called me....that is a definate improvement!
He called and when I said "HI" he said "Hi good lookin what are you doing"-I beamed.

He told me he had a call from the KS. Adj. General. He was so excited because he understood the General to say that I would be in Georgia when he got there-he would get me there. (Rodney had no idea of the process and what I had been encountering-and I didn't burden him with it). I asked him how he was doing and what he was doing . He said he had just finished eating and "I have been sitting here waiting for you to call"-I thought it was cute-especially since he called me! (this is the 1st time he remembers speaking to me since being wounded). I asked him what he had to eat he said 'Hairy, salty beef with rice" (YUM...but it was solid food-yeah)
I asked if he was watching tv but he said"no but it is on" then he started to get agitated and short with me (the confusion and pain) I did tell him in this conversation about who else was wounded-he had a few questions but for the most part didn't talk much about what happened. We will have plenty of time later. He seemed to be in a great deal of pain, so I told him to ring the nurse and ask for assistance. We said our goodbyes-he is scheduled to leave Germany tommorow and I still haven't heard from the liason who is supposed to know the details of what happens next. (I spoke with a nurse in afternoon-and she got me connected with the liason and he told me to call back in 11 hours-I have to remember we are dealing with a major time difference) I will be so glad for him to get back to US!

I did make a phone call personally to the Adj. General. I wanted to know for sure Rodney had actually spoken with him (confusion I wasn't sure??) and what he had told him. The adj. General was very kind and told me he had told Rodney "he would try and get me to Georgia to be with him" I then told him that he had one of his wounded soldiers in Germany waiting to come home to the states and he believed I would be in Georgia when he got there. He was very gracious and told me he would do what he could (difficult because when guard are deployed they become "property" of federal side so the state side has limited say on anything". He did say he would work on it and get back to me on Tuesday am.

I will be waiting...

(things start to get really crazy in the next day or so.., briefing conference call with liason in Germany at 1;15am my time, then later no one can locate rodney etc..)
More later..when the novel continues