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 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
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 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 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..