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 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 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

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My son! My heart is breaking!

Today I am writing about something current that is breaking my heart. My son, Connor who is 10 years old and in 5th grade seems to be so angry at his dad and I.
He has so many issues with anger and has for awhile, but now the situation seems so much worse. He saw an OT when he was 2 and 3 for issues. I was concerned then about autism. They said he was fine but somewhat behind on fine motor skills and had some problems with dealing with emotions and textile issues. Now I don't feel I can even reach him-he doesn't hear me. He just reacts. I cannot get him to look me in the eye and have a conversation with dialog going both ways. He doesn't want to do anything with us. (today we tried to take him out for breakfast after his soccer game then shopping for a hallowwen costume, and then for pumpkins-we ended up going to McDonalds to eat and he got ice cream and all he wanted to do was go home and play with his friends-he just kept pushing and making it a miserable day) He fights us on everything!!!! He lies and is very manipulative. He has stolen from his sister. He has put himself in dangerous situations. He is easily influenced. We have to be very aware of what he is doing on the computer/internet-when he even has the privledge of being on it.He can't be trusted. He plays his dad and I against each other. If he goes somewhere and we tell him he needs to be home by a certain time-he never is. He calls me and asks if he can stay the night with someone, even though we have discussed this prior to him leaving and been in agreement that he understood to not do this and why. When he calls he starts in and when I say simply-"connor you know the deal we had and you need to come home"-he still continues. If I hang up he call back again and again-then to his dad the same. We go after him and he knows this is what will happen. We ground him and contantly take things away. He gets sent to his room. We praise him and give him things to work towards. He is not deprived of toys or love. He seems to really hate us and tells me all the time I don't care about him. He sometimes still throws himseslf down on the floor during his fits-basically when we say no. He has violent episodes where he throws things. He can act much older than 10 especially when around friends.He has even started to get calls from girls. I have 2 teenage daughters-this is a whole new ballgame and always has been since he was born-but things are really out of hand. I have to say I actually dread him coming home from school because I know the craziness will begin-I try to prepare myself, offer him choices but in the end all is the same. I hardly ever see him smile anymore but he seems happy with his friends. I afraid to even start a conversation with him. I am so sick that this has gotten this far-I cannot imagine the issues he will face as a teenager. I am actually afraid for him. I miss my little boy and I am so broken hearted.

The weird thing is: He doesn't show the anger or violent behaviors at school or with his soccer coaches or on the field. The issues he has in school are not always doing the work, or handing it in. He is very disorganized. He says he dislikes school. His grades range from A's to F', on the same report card. He visits the school nurse often with minor ailments. Last year it was a major chore every day to get him to school, this year has been a better, but we still have what we call "Sunday night Fever"-he starts complaining. Every bruise, cut, or anything else he makes a huge production out of. We try to downplay it. He does have asthma and allergies but getting him to take the medicine is also a chore am and pm. He has pretended to take the pills and then hidden them-so now he takes right in front of us so we know he is doing it. When we tell others about these behaviors (besides family) they cannot believe Connor would act that way. His sisters are also so frustrated with him. He is their little brother but he isn't pleasent to be around.

We have been trying to find a dr. for him to do testing but haven't had much luck with our insurance. I plan to contact the school social worker on Monday whom I know and go from there. I know there is something going on and he has been thru so much this last year with his dad being wounded. I am really so ashamed that I cannot parent this child, that I cannot connect with him and that sometimes I wonder what his future is.

I don't know what to do. I feel myself pulling away from him. I feel horrible.If anyone out there has a clue what we could do I would appreciate it so much.
I feel like a failure as a parent with him most of the time-but no matter what I am his mom and I need to do what ever it takes to help him as well as bring peace to our family. We could use the prayers also!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The System is Broken...

I wanted to add a post describing what my biggest issues and frustrations were up to this point in my story. I had little experience dealing with the military so I wasn't a veteran military wife who knew how the "military" worked. I didn't understand why things took so long-so I was inpatient. I didn't understand decisions weren't just made and then action was taken and followed out. I didn't know that to get from point A to point B that sometimes things were handled by going from A to E to S back B, in other words the system wasn't working and I wasn't pleased at all. I feel the men and women in service are giving a huge sacrifice and that really they have one of the the most unselfish jobs there is-so why didn't people care or have the answers when one of their own was wounded-I will admit I am not the best at handling chain of command or protocol-but I will say I am diplomatic,I tend to believe most people are truthful and give people and situations an opportunity to work out- after that I become (put nicely)tenaciously obsessed and pissed off!!! I know most people would be so surprised to know how complicated and messed up getting to my husbands bedside was as well as finding out information about what happens now... If you don't ask and look for it yourself you don't know about it. That was and is so difficult for me to swallow...

So recap on why the experience was a nightmare:

1.) I wasn't contacted when my husband was seriously wounded in a war zone. I was listed as next of kin and contact person. My in laws were contacted instead at about 1am by the company commander because he felt this was in my best interest based on meeting me 2 times.He stated my husband was unconsious so he took it upon himself to make the decision on who to call (which according to my husband and others he wasn't the entire time they were working on him) What is supposed to happen is this; The company commander is to contact the state (in the case of National Guard) and the state liaison/officer assigned from rear detachment, then contacts the spouse/next of kin listed,but not between the hours of 11pm and 7am (I think that is right on the times?). The liaisons job is to then stay in contact with the family and help them thru the process of knowing what happened and what was going to happen next. (Just so you know that the commander did inform me after I wrote a detailed email and sent it to anybody and everybody that he was reprimanded for making a decision that wasn't his to make).

2.)The officer from the state of Kansas that first contacted me ( I guess he was my liason???)-pretty much left me on my own after a few days and then wouldn't return my phone calls on a timely basis then when he did I actually knew more than he did.
He couldn't handle it if I got emotional at all.

3.)No one could tell me when or if I would be able to be at my husbands bedside when he got back stateside nor for sure what medical facility he would be going to. There are many hoops to jump thru or in military talk-certain things have to happen before we can make arrangements for you to fly to him (like the dr. saying he can have visitors???)-I will say when all was said and done, they did make my flight arrangements and pay for my flight to and from)

4.)I call people and they don't call me back or they pass the buck or they pass along a lot of mis-information. (mis-information is a huge issue-I got to the point where I would start every conversation with I need your help but if you do not know the answer just say "I don't know but I can help you find out"-don't give me information that may or may not be the case. I really hated that no one in whatever dept. of the govt. I spoke to seemed to be held accountable for the information they passed out.

5.) I hated that my wounded soldier was being treated in a foreign country and he was unable to speak for himself or even understand most of the time what was even happening and he had no one to advocate for him-this made me physically sick to think about.

I think for now that was my major concerns-I will say I was very proactive in calling the hospital in Germany and making sure they knew his medical history, that he had a family who loved him and trying to get myself physically to him. I more than likely was at times over-sensitive and very emotional but the situation warranted these as well as so many other emotions. I had to do what I had to do/I had to be strong and persistant-The Army was so new at dealing with so many wounded soldiers-especially national guard. The system wasn't set up for it-not that I got much comfort from that was a fact. I will say in the year since we were initially in this situation many parts of the system have been changed for the better. I have been in contact with whomever will listen in DC as well as our own state capital telling our story-I know it has made some difference and we are part of the change....that makes me feel good that some other family won't have to go thru all we did. I just hope I can be looked at as a strong advocate instead of a troublemaker. :)

More later to my faithful blog followers...
(not a novel yet)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oct. 15, 2006 7:21-am call to Germany

Started out the day with a phone call to Germany to check up on Rodney. The nurses overall have been amazing and more than happy to speak with me and discuss Rodney's medical status. This am I spoke with SPC Pilotte, she stated that:

1) Rod was very agitated and restless during his sleep (picking at things that weren't there etc.)*this was really hard to hear

2)Stated that due to his state of confusion they had taken him for a cat scan-initial results looked good.

3.)He was complaining of pain where he had abdominal surgery-medicating with Tylenol 3

4.)On anitbiotics x2 for respitory infection and for infection control of his open wounds

5.)That the goal was to get him up in a chair today

6.)I asked to have liason from the hospital to call me-I had already requested this so this was the 2nd time. She stated she had left a message for him to call-supposed to around 12pm Germany time.

5.)No solid food yet-just ice chips

6.) he would be flying out on Tuesday-unless they had other patients who had more critical needs and needed the spot on the plane.

7.)to call back later and I could probably speak with Rodney

The rest of my day consisted of going to church which was a nice but a bit overwelming with everyone asking questions and looking at me with sad faces. I tend to get emotional during service normally-but most definatly the place I needed to be on that day and time. Met the wonderful woman-Rene' Evans who was bringing dinner to us this evening.

When I returned home after church I listened to my messages on the home phone-(this was the first time I had left and no one was there to take phone calls)I had missed a really important call that I had been waiting for, for over 2 days-the call from Rodney's commander Major Gonzales. He did call me back from Iraq at approx. 2pm central time. I was had so many questions for him:

1)I wanted to know what happened: all he could tell me was that "25 soldiers were standing around the command post area,inside the FOB, so no one had body armour on-there were 4 injured, Rod was knocked unconsious and wounded the most seriously." He also state because of Operational Security he could only say "they made contact".

2.) I wanted to know WHY he contacted my inlaws and not me-because I knew Rodney had me listed as his contact person. (I am his wife!!!) He stated "I made the decision not to inform you after seeing you upset in the airport when we left" (ok this is a real touchy issue with me-I was upset but who wouldn't be-I was crying, the kids were crying but we weren't hysterical) He also said I had gotten sick in Mississippi before they left for Iraq because Rodney was leaving-(also a situation where he did not have all the information-he judged and made assumptions after only meeting me briefly 2 times)-
So I wasn't really happy with his answers and didn't feel I had gained much information, but with him being Rodney's commander I trusted he was doing his job and showed him respect. (As this story goes on you will find out why I lost all respect for him and we have issues with him to this very minute)

I did have a my 2nd conversation with Rodney after speaking with his nurse Capt. Zebb around 10:30pm central time-

He stated Rodney had given them a really difficult time during the catscan (made me wonder what he was thinking they were doing to him?),described Rodney's leg wounds in more detail-stating that one was 1 1/2 inches deep and the other 1 onch deep. I told him the liason had not contacted me as of yet, he would follow up on that he said.Flight on Tuesday scheduled for 2 pm departure and it is about a 10 hour flight (wow) The conversation with rodney was better than Saturday-but he still was really out of it. He spoke for a few minutes with Carley and Connor-which thrilled them to death. He was very weepy, emotional and apologizing. I reassured him and told him I would be with him soon. (getting so frustrating I just want to see him and be there to take care of him). I asked him "test" guestions-such as our address, my name, our anniversary, the kids names... he passed! The nurse had stated earlier that rodney didn't know who the President was-so I wanted to see for myself how confused he was-but this was a conversation he still cannot recall to this day. Glad I wrote all this down:)

sorry this is out of order-I didn't want to start over....

In the afternoon the Pastor came by and prayed with carley and I-as well as listened to our concerns, emotions, and offered comfort and suggestions. He suggested scripture Matthew 21;18-21.
*I look back on all that occured during this time and wonder where was Connor and taylor or how was I just going about my business-but you do what you have to do to get thru it with having faith it will be ok. During this I am spending a great amount of time on the phone trying to get travel orders-since no one could really tell me at the time what the process was.

More of the continuing saga later-
Imagining and Believing

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Conversation with Doctor...Finally

10/15/2006 sunday
I had asked to speak to rodney's dr. and telephone meeting was set up-because of the time difference it was for 12:30 am on the 15th-I was so ready to hear from the dr. I was willing to set it for anytime. A Dr. Marco from Landstuhl army Hospital called and this is what he said.

1.)Mortar wounds to chest and legs-shrapnel will stay in becasue it would cause more damage to try and remove (knew all this except it was the first time I had heard the word "MORTAR"-I didn't know hardly anything about what had actually happened.

2.)Be transported to Walter Reed on Tuesday

3.)Rodney had had abdominal surgery as an exporatory measure-so huge scar on stomach from below chest around belly button and ending below that. Closed with staples. Not sure if surgery was done in Mosul or Balad Iraq? (1st time I had heard this also)

4.)Coughing a great deal and most likely developing Pnemonia-they put him on antibiotics. The dr. spoke of the difficulty of removing him from the respirator-his blood ox levels kept dropping and at one point thought they might have to put him back on it,. but they were now giving him breathing treatments and taking regular chest xrays.

5.) stated he was waking up more, but they were having a hard time keeping him awake and seemed to be really confused. He was really fighting them and wouldn't leave in IV or oxygen. Dr. mentioned he might have had a concussion from the blast and would contribute to his behavior. I shared with him that Rodney had history of having a difficult time coming out of sedation. There was no mention of a head CT scan.

6. Stated he shouldn't have lasting effects from his lung injuries.
7. explained to me how deep the soft tissue leg wounds were-I was surprised how deep he described them since I had no idea how deep they were. The earlier information made it sound as they were nothing.
8. Stated he had a cracked bone in chest are-I believe he said sternum-but will heal on its own.
The Dr. and I had a good discussion-I felt like I now had more of a picture of Rod's condition. I did share with the dr. some of Rodney's health history (allergies, asthma etc..) so I felt I was helping to get him the best health care-from clear across the world I could. I still felt like someone needed to be there with him-he had to be so confused and scared.
(This is one of the things that needs to change and I believe it is to some point with the system-the wounded need someone to advocate for them and they need family around as soon as possible for many reasons.)

until next time- (more on sunday the 15th)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More of the story-stil Oct. 14, 2006

(I will try and finish up this really long day and pretty frustrating day.

The nurse from Germany did say one thing that didn't set right with me-when I mentioned Rodney being Army National Guard-His reaction was "OHHH he isn't real army"-what does that mean? They are fighting in the same war, from the same country, they wear the same uniform and they work/fight side-by-side. Not sure what this means in the whole scheme of things but hopefully he still get the same medical treatment!

The Chaplin did come to the house and visited with me and other members of the family. It was a very informational visit and spiritually it helped a great deal.
I really liked him-Chaplin Larry Parrish was one of the first people from the military to show sincere compassion during this process.

Went to Connor's soccer game-he had a really good game and it was great to get out among people for awhile. I got lots of hugs :)
After the game I had a house full again-mostly family. I called Germany to see about having the phone held up to Rodney's ear and was told they couldn't and wouldn't do that-I was told earlier in the day differently-it sent me over the edge.
I got very upset and felt nothing was in my control-I just wanted someone to hear me to know I needed help and everyone was looking at me like I was acting irrational.. I probably was but who wouldn't in a similar situation-my husband was wounded and in a foreign country, I ended up leaving my house to drive around-I recieved a phone call on my cell from a high ranking officer in the KS National Guard (I can't remember his name but I am sure he remembers mine)-Not one of my prouder moments...
The issue was me being able to speak TO my husband even if he was sedated and on a respirator-this person told me there was no way Rodney could hear me-I asked him if he had a medical degree and told him that rank didn't matter to me especially when I felt he was not showing me respect by validating my feelings and hung up on him-I was really in a bad place!
My sister called and did the most amazing thing-she asked me what can I do? Just tell me what you need me to do and what you want to do? I needed that so much!!! Thank you Lisa! By the time I got home everyone but my mom, sister and 2 of my children were home. What did I tell her I wanted? A nap and for someone to man the phones-and only wake me if it was news about Rodney.
I finally did get to talk to my husband 8 hours later (approx. 10:15pm our time) and it was such a gift! He was just off the respirator and it was a pretty one sided conversation but even hearing his voice being raspy was amazing.-He kept falling asleep on the phone but in between kept telling me how much he loved me and the kids and how sorry he was he got hurt.
The one really strange thing he asked was "did you get my letter?" I told him no not yet-I had asked him for so long to write me a letter-he had told me earlier in the week before he was wounded he had written one-but I had no idea he actually had sent it from Iraq (My husband says alot of things just to apease me-LOL). It seemed strange-but even stranger when I realized a few days later he did not remember even talking to me or the kids the first couple times. The mind is a most mysterious place-why did he remember the letter but couldn't tell the nurse who the president was? (I recieved his letter on the following Tuesday-5 days after he was wounded-I will treasure it forever). No matter what the first time speaking to him was a gift and made me believe he would be ok-now I just had to get to him.
To be continued...
Sorry so long-again I hope it makes some sense :.)

2nd email for friends and family-dated 10/14/2006

On Sat. Oct. 14, 2006 Rodney had arrived for treatment in Germany at approx. 10am (Geray time). He was in ICU and was still intubated and sedated.He was still listed as seriously ill. I was able to speak with a nurse (Lt.Christopher) about his condition which made me feel so much better. I was able to share some of Rodney's medical history and about his med. allergy. They were going to work on getting him off the the sedation and respirator. The plan was to have him transferred state side by Tues. Oct. 17th, most likely to Walter Reed. This conversation was most helpful and the nurse was very nice. I asked if I might speak to him later-basically put the phone up to his ear. Lt. Christopher stated later in the day that would be fine. I thought maybe Rodney would be able to hear me and even if he couldn't it was for me. I need ed to tell him I loved him.
More on this day in our journey later...
Thanks for reading (or at least I hope someone is reading)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Looking back-Friday Oct. 13, 2006

Still more from my little purple journal of knowledge :)

I was called by a Sgt. Major Rubio from the Kansas National Guard. It is my understanding that he is the person that will be serving as my liason from the state, keeping me informed of any changes or developments. He gave me the name of the Chaplin for the KS National Guard to contact.

Friday was pretty much a blur-making phone call,recieving phone calls, informing others, PRAYING, friends and family coming in and out. My friend Tina (and Connor's schools PTO President) brought by an amazing gift from the PTO (gift cards from almost all the resteraunts and the grocery store in town) as well as sandwiches, chips, pop etc..) Our friends the moll's brought by dinner. It feels so good and comforting to know so many care about our family.

I held together fairly well-a few crying spells. My mom was at the house contantly so I was able to take a nap in the afternoon-but I got up in a panic thinking about Rodney and wondering if he is in pain and scared. I know so little about his care and want to be with him so badly. My mom stayed the night-which was so great. No matter how old we get in times like these we need our mama's.:) We watched tv and talked-Connor spent the night with Rodney's parents and Carley went to a planned youth group weekend activity. Taylor was out with friends. Good for all of them to stay busy.

I still don't know anythiong about the incident. I do know that Rodney will most likely be in Germany for up to 3 days and it is about a 6 hour trip from Iraq by transport plane. Everything about this is so surreal-

10/15/2006-so as I look back I can remember still feeling confident that things would be handled smoothly, and I would know soon about the timetable for traveling to be with Rodney as well as what happened to him in Iraq. I am starting to get more agitated and confused as to why his commander went against protocol and did not contact me directly (his wife instead of his parents and sibling). More later...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Email to notify others and the start of the battle

This is the first email I sent out after finding out about Rodney (It was sent at approx. 7:30am on the 13th-I recieved many responses back along with so many prayers that and family and friends is all that kept me going-since I was sleeping in spurts and only eating when others made me. I was a mess but so determined to find out information and get to my husband. I was so worried about no one being with him and having no one to speak for him as an advocate.

I was contacted at about 8am by the DA in Washington DC by phone. I was briefed on his wounds and told he was be sent to Germany for treatment. I was also given information about how the procedure of me getting to my wounded soldier would occur. The Staff Sgt. made it sound a lot less complicated than it turned out to be.

I also found out from another army source that 3 other members of Rodney's unit were also wounded in the attack-2 were minor and one other was also serious. I kept asking to speak with Rodney's commander in Iraq-since protocol was not followed and he contacted my in-laws instead of me intially (this was very upsetting and is a whole other major part of the story I will share soon-it comes with many emotions).
I wanted as much information about what happened as possible-not sure if this is a normal reaction in a crisis but it is something that I ended up battling for and going through many channels to find out. We actually just recently after 11 months found out the actual "full" account of that day. Stayed tuned because things only get more interesting and unbelievable-I think most people will be shocked as to how unorganized and how so many parts of the system failed-so on top of being upset and so worried I am now starting out on a battle that ends of changing policy in the state of Kansas but stepped on a few toes along the way.

The determined army wife

dinner & a movie & a teenage oops

Carley and Friends

Tonight Carley and I left the boys at home to watch football and we went out to dinner, do a little shopping at Target (halloween party stuff) and then went to a late movie. The movie wasn't something I would recommend-but at least we spent the time together. Her and I have a great relationship and I want to work hard so she knows I am here for her- She did ask me though as we were driving: "How was 3am this morning?"-she is pretty in tune with her ole mom. (knowing this was the time I found out Rodney was wounded-no one else asked) So here's to taking a break and spending time one-on-one with your kids (especially teenagers)-you find out a lot-sometimes more than you want to.
I found out that my 14 year old daughter made a bad decision earlier today and rode in an older girls car to get food during a long play rehearsal-and that there were more bodies than seat belts. I was shocked-this is the kid who gets on us to wear our seatbelts all the time and is what we call out"moral" compass-so I tried not to freak on her and we talked about why she did it, how easy it is to get caught up in the fun and not use common sense,and what she could've done differently. She was very quick to say it will never happen again-I believe her but I did say she now knew so there wasn't an excuse ever to not wear a seat belt. I assumed because she is so mature, she would make the right decision when we never even talked about it-I feel like I dropped the ball! I should have known better myself-I have already been through this with her sister-uggh! I am not sure who to be more upset with myself or Carley? Things have been so crazy over the last year-I sometimes wonder if I neglected my parental duties and the kids got lost in the shuffle.
The incident today did take me back to another time; When my darling Carley was 2 years old and I take my eye off her for a second while we are outside playing and she is in the street pushing her dollbuggy-I was so scared then and I was today.

But no harm and there will be so many more lessons learned not just by her but by me :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rodney's Wounds from a mortar attack

(pic of Rodney's chest showing where shrapnel entered his body. I love that the pic shows the special dog tag I had ordered I gave him with a pic of him and Connor as well as my "little engagement ring he always wore on his dogtags :) )The wounds Rodney sustained from a mortar attack on Camp Marez in Mosul,Iraq after only being in country, boots on the ground for 42 days-
Some of the details of Rodney's wounds I knew when I found out the news and when I was officially notified by the Dept. of Army (DA) while others I found out over the next week and a half.

He had soft tissue wounds to both legs from the shrapnel fragments. The wound on his left leg was up high on his hip flexer. It was approx. the size of a babyfood jar lid and went clear to the bone. He lost a great deal of blood due to this wound and didn't bleed out only because one of the other soldiers put his knee and body weight on the wound to slow the bleeding. The wound on his left leg was located in the inner thigh area-it was much larger (you couldv'e layed a pop can in it-but not nearly as deep or life threatening). He had shrapnel wounds to the chest area-which in turn penetrated his lung and caused a collapsed lung as well as the chest cavity filling with blood. He had lost consiousness upon the blast happening but woke up and was aware most of the the time the medics and other soldiers were working with him before he was able to be transferred to the small base hospital. He wa taken into surgery for his lung issues, cleaning up of other wounds and he had exploratory abdominal surgery. He was put on a respirator. He was heavily sedated-drug induced coma and medvaced out of Mosul to Landstuhl, Germany-Army Hosptial with in a 36 hour period.(keep in mind Iraq is 8 hours ahead of us-central time)-After Landstuhl he was flown to DC and spent 2 days at a medical facility at Andrew Airforce Base then was sent to Eisenhower Army Hospital at Fort Gordon in Augusta, GA. While there a small piece of shrapnel was discovered during a routine CT-this piece was located in the center of his heart, in the muscle,between the four chambers. It was decided by the medical staff to leave it since it would most likely cause more damage to the heart to go in a remove it. The doctors were amazed and he shouldn't be here due to that one wound-he is a case study and there isn't many previous cases to use as research. The normal protocol for shrapnel in the body is to leave it (he has many small pieces throught his chest area and legs still today-that may or may not work their way out from underneath the skin by themselves over the years.) Rodney also suffers from PTSD, depression and possible TBI (tramamtic brain injury. He also has a few other medical issues due to the incident. He is still under the care of many doctors and is still on what they call "medhold". He goes to work for the Army everyday and continues to be a proud, patriotic soldier.

I believe Rodney is here by the grace of God- He is our Superman!


It's 3am and Rodney has been Hurt

Pic of Rod and Carley when he left KS June 2006Today was ok-nothing real emotional or exciting at all. Rodney and I were interviewed as a follow-up by our local newspaper (a few stories were written earlier in the journey) so we did talk about where we have been and where we are now.
I think we probably have talked about it in some way to each other everyday for the last year. Some times I have actually had to say I need a break from this today, I don't want to relive all the emotion today, but today wasn't one of those days-I am so thankful!
So now as the year anniversary of the actual event has passed...I realize that there will continue to be anniversaries-and for me 3:00am October 13th is when I found out that my husband/my soldier that was deployed to Iraq in a war zone was wounded-and our reality changed again...I went from being a first timer as a spouse of a deployed service member to a whole new "club"...and within our unit I got to be the founding member and I didn't want to join-this was unchartered territory. I had no idea what to do or who to call-This wasn't supposed to have happened. He was supposed to be safe on the FOB (Forward Operating Base-he wasn't going out on security missions-he worked at the command post as the assistant armourer, but no one is safe in Iraq. So as far as this blog goes-this is what I want to do over the next few days or for however long it takes to get what our experience was blogged. It is a way of healing-but I have to go thru the pain-face it head on-to continue on this road of emotionally healing from this.
I began a journal directly the day after finding out just to keep track of names and information-I had no idea how important this was nor that I would fill half a book in 8 days.. So I will be sharing what happened-not verbatim-and most of the time in past tense. I have told the story so many times verbally but find it harder to write it because there is so much that happened in a short period of time-so I hope it makes sense.

:"Finding out the News"Friday, October 13, 2006 approx. 3am
We are all sound asleep-Carley is even home (she usually goes to her Dad's house on Thursday evenings). We had all attended Connor's 4th grade musical on Thursday evening.The kids all had the next day off school due to a teacher inservice-so Connor was camped out in the living room. I had not heard from Rod for over 2 days which was not the norm-but I was trying to be strong and deal with the fact-I had to do whatever it took to get through this 12 month deployment...I like to be in control but I was learning I had no control over when and if I heard from him-I had to live my life, take care of things on the homefront and be a parent to my kids and survive with half my heart in IRAQ. He would call when he could-it is what I lived for in reality-any connection to him.
So-when my home phone rings at 3am I can remember thinking-that is my husband,(without even looking at caller ID)-he should know what time it is here and I am not going to answer because he needs to get used to the idea we have to have to try for as normal of a life as possible-(no idea why I didn't jump up and answer the phone-that was my normal reaction) cell phone rings-I still don't answer and just think he is being persistent (I also thought maybe it was my daughters boyfriend who had been out at haunted houses and maybe needed a place to crash-never happened before but it crossed my mind). Then a few minutes later my doorbell is ringing and someone is knocking-I am still not alarmed? (WHY???). I knew that the army protocol for notifying the next of kin in the case of a fatality and I knew they only did this between certain hours and not at 3am. What I didn't know nor had it ever been talked about in pre-deployment meeting was, what happens in the case someone is wounded?I went downstairs to the door and opened it to see my in-laws (Rodney's parents and sister)looking very sad-it took me a few seconds to even respond and of course I thought the worst even though this wasn't protocol (I still at this point believed the Army followed their own rules).I felt confused and disconnected-I then heard my father-in-law say "Rodney has been hurt"-I remember thinking what does that mean-Hurt just seemed such a mild word especially after hearing what his wounds were and how he received them. I know I felt so many emotions all at once-worry,fear,anger,sadness,and so so confused.I had so many questions and I needed answers Why were they notified instead of me? Was he in pain and when would he get back to the states? What happens next?? What do I need to do? I know I broke down but only for a short time-then I went into mom mode (letting the kids know what was going on-(Carley had heard me crying as well as her grandpa's voice. She had her back up to her door and wouldn't let me in "saying I don't want to know" over and over again-she expected the worst.) Connor handled it well and had questions, then went into party mode as more people desended upon the house. Taylor cried the hardest and longest.We all dealt with what we knew in our own way and held onto each other. I needed to keep it together for them. It was such a shock I must have just went into autopilot.Calling my family, friends, our pastor, the FRG unit coordinator as well as sending out an informational email to all those on my email list asking for prayers-
So the journey began, actually the week from hell began and I would never have believed it would be so painful or so many things would go wrong in the process of finding out information or getting to where my soldier was. That is what needs to change-it shouldn't be so difficult for the families during this time.

I know this was long thanks for sticking with me-it is 2:58am-almost 3am so glad this isn't like the movie "Groundhog Day"(little LOL)
Until next time and more of the story (Rodney's wounds)
God bless and goodnight

Friday, October 12, 2007

K-State on College Gameday

Very cool-I love it that soldiers from Kansas got recognized during a sporting event so many people were watching! HOOAH!

news article and video

Hi all-
I know it is late and what am I doing up-being the person who works until the job is I am but I promise I am going to bed after this...really

I wanted to add this link-hopefully it works-it is of my husbands units homecoming in August and he was interviewed-pretty cool!

If the link doesn't work-go to Topeka kansas news stations channel 49 and search for national guard homecoming-the unit is the 714th and it was on Aug. 26, 2007.

give it a

Ok off to bed-glad the kids don't have school tommorow---ZZZZZZ

It's Officially October 12th

The day one-year ago my brave warrior was wounded...
It is actually 10 minutes past midnight-Last year at this time I was dealing with my hubby being deployed in Iraq-I wasn't so worried about him-he didn't leave the post very often-they biggest challenge was being the single parent to our kids and not getting to speak to him when I wanted to...I had enjoyed putting a Halloween care package together for him and had sent it off a few days before. I had begged him to write me a "real" letter-you know with pen and paper:)-I awaited the arrival of that letter with great anticipation. Dealing with deployment was hard-but I was actually starting to get into a routine-then it all changed.
I think I will go tell my guy how much I love him and that I am so glad he is here safe and sound! If you have a soldier give him a hug they deserve it!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To celebrate or not celebrate?

ok that is the question for today? so here we go-(1st time blogger!) Today is the day before the anniversary of my husband being wounded in combat in Iraq-so October 12th is the actual day-9:30am kansas time. Trying to decide how I am supposed to feel as well as gauge how my husband is doing and the kiddos. One of the things I am struggling with the most is that the last year has been so very difficult and full of a great many challenges (we are talking dealing with the military) :) My husband has come a long way physically. Our family has suffered financially. Everyone of us in the family have our own feelings and issues relating to what happened. It has been compared to a grieving process-the loss being.. my husband being almost killed in a war zone and he won't ever be the same nor will we-there will always be the before and after-ok what is the struggle??? Do we celebrate tommorow in some way?? I am not saying we will have cake and balloons-but I do want to try to turn it around to the positive- (Live forward...)I can see doing the party deal maybe in a couple years-because we are so thankful he is here with us when medically speaking he should not be-Yes we are thankful now but the hurt is still so raw even after a year-we are still in the nightmare called medhold and our life is in a holding pattern. The other thing is so many people are just saying-oh it's been a year-time for you to move on- Rodney looks fine? etc...who decides when we move on? Isn't it a process? I am all alone on this one-I know no other wounded warrior spouses-so if you are out there-I would love to hear from ya- I will share more about the actual details of my husbands injuries and the rest of the story at a later date...
* Pictures taken at Fort Gordon, GA, Eisenhower Army Hospital-Oct. 20-Nov.1, 2006

So was the question but we will see what tommorow brings-that is all we can do!
Proud Army wife-