Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When War Rushes Marriage.

(2004 and 2014)

August 5th, 2004 was a hot muggy Thursday in Phoenix. I had returned from Kevin's pre-deployment vacation up in Portland, Oregon to visit his family. The 2nd deployment was only weeks away, and I just watched his mother say goodbye to him. She had done this before, but it was brand new to me. I saw her cry, and I saw the fear in her eyes. It was on that trip in Oregon that he made a comment about what if he did not make it home that stayed with me. I never thought about that. What if he didn’t make it home? I was only his girlfriend, and I couldn’t only be the girlfriend. I loved this man more than anything. I didn’t want my love for him to fade away if he didn’t come home. Girlfriends aren’t listed on an obituary.
As I sat in my parents’ house, gearing up for a brand new semester at Arizona State, I had only a few weekends left with this man I met only 6 months ago. I had to send him to war? Why? This was the hardest thing I ever had to do. In tears, I made a phone call to him I never thought I would make at the age of 19. “Do you still want to marry me?” I asked. That Friday morning he went to his command to let them know he needed to leave to go get married.  By the time he had arrived in Phoenix after that 4-hour drive, it was too late to do it in Arizona. So we got in the car and drove to Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday August 7th.
Once we arrived in Las Vegas, our first stop was the courthouse. We had to get our marriage license application and make it to our appointment at the Chapel. We made it just in time with only a couple of minutes to spare. Together in an empty chapel with the pastor, and his wife who was our witness, we were married. Once we emerged from the chapel we realized how much it was going to suck to drive back to Phoenix after the day we went through. He called his mom and told her a little white lie that he was in Vegas, and needed a hotel room because he and his USMC buddies had drank way too much, and couldn’t drive back to base. She got him a cheap room at the Boardwalk hotel for his 24th birthday present (since it was only a week away) and that’s where we spent our wedding night, completely broke but in love, and blissfully happy eating a pizza with only 2 weeks left together.
The next two weeks flew by insanely fast. We were living 4 hours apart, and he was getting ready for his second deployment. It was too difficult for him to come out to Phoenix, so I had to drive out to base. We had to take care of making everything official in the Marine Corps. We had to go to the hospital to get me enrolled in Tricare, then off to DEERS to get my ID, and finally to get our base stickers on our vehicles. Even though we were newlyweds, the blur of the deployment was there and our time together was quickly running out. He ironically was scheduled to deploy on the first day of school, so we said goodbye the Sunday before and it was the most heartbreaking drive back to Phoenix of my life. I had to pull over on the side of highway 62 in the middle of the desert and throw up twice. I just said goodbye to my new husband and I was deathly afraid of it being forever.
            We kept our marriage a secret for 20 months; nobody had directly asked me if we were married. I didn’t sit there and think “how will this hurt our families?” because the reality is, we weren’t hurting anyone. We were enduring something as husband and wife that not many can say they have been through, and it was hard. The seven months he was in Iraq my life was at a standstill. It revolved around letters, phone calls, and wishing it was February because that’s when he was coming home. It was hard to read letters from Kevin about brothers dying, getting shot at, and standing post, him getting in that Humvee incident where he eventually would sustain life long problems and have neurosurgery. It was hard sitting and working at AZ PBS at night; I worked in Master Control and had to watch the news report roll the names of deceased in Iraq before the commercial break. I would watch names one by one with USMC listed next to them, and just cry. I would beg and plead to myself sitting in that glass box in Tempe, please God, do not put my husband or his brothers’ names on that screen please do not put a name up there I know. Two months later, it happened. There was the name of his brother, someone I spent time with in Palm Springs. I felt my world collapse. This wasn’t some long distance relationship; my husband was in a war.  
            Over the last 10 years, so many things have happened, both good and bad, as we try to figure out life after being injured. We had an incredible wedding where we celebrated with a vow renewal on February 3rd, 2007, with all of our family and friends. The birth of Isabelle Ellen, on March 13th, 2008 brought so much joy to our lives. The Marine Corps activating Kevin in 2008 and trying to deploy him a 4th time to Afghanistan. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 2010. The birth of Abigail Emma on December 29th, 2010, which brought even more joy to our family. There was a move to Reno in 2011 for a year that didn't work out, and we quickly moved back to Phoenix. Kevin having neurosurgery in 2012, and soon after we were awarded a home from Building Homes for Heroes. Our lives may not be perfect, but I know that after 10 years if I had to go back in time I would do it all over again. Why? Because I meant what I said to Kevin on August 7th, 2004 - to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Love you, you crazy ass devil dog! 10 years down, and a lifetime to go! Can't imagine my life with anyone else!

10 Years! <3

Professional photo credits: Wailea Photography, Ivy Studios Photography, mmb Photography, Photography by Jo, and Mark Mabry Photography.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Educating Civilians on Caregiving a Wounded Warrior

Photo by Sgt Richard D. Stephens, USMC 
I have had jobs at many different stages of life with a military man. One job that when he was in Iraq, they forcefully cut off any contact I had with him. No personal email, no MySpace (oh yes, we are talking circa 2006 here baby!!!), and no Motomail. What is Motomail you say? Oh Motomail was this fun service that we had before the days of Skype. (Seriously, people have it so good now....don't even get me started. Skype. LOL...oh I wish...)

So basically how it worked was I could type out an email, send it, and he would get it printed out there, sealed and delivered to him in only a week versus 3-4 weeks it would take with snail mail. Anyways, I digress. What kind of company stops all communication between a wife and her husband in war? A bunch of assholes. I don't care, I will say it. No amount of money, quality, whatever the stupid reason may be is ever justifiable in completely taking away a wife's ability to talk to her husband who is risking his life every day in Iraq. I couldn't even take his phone calls at my desk, I had to book it outside to answer the phone. Sometimes I would miss it...and sit at my desk and cry. It was bad enough I couldn't email him, and then they didn't allow me to answer my phone. It was awful. I had full blown anxiety attacks sitting at my desk because it was weeks since I had spoken with him, and a bunch of money hungry, power controlled men in suits had the final say. But I am glad my husband fought for their freedom to make my life a living hell during that deployment. What they taught me is people truly don't know what it's like to sit at home while your husband is being shot at on the other side of the world.  And lets talk about my quality of work I was doing after they cut off my communication. Uh....I watched ABC episodes on my computer, fully prepared to get fired.  I had a foot out the door the moment they pulled what they did on me. I understand other social media, but cutting off a MARINE CORPS MESSAGING SYSTEM?! Oh lord, I must have really been a terrible employee, taking 10 minutes out of my day to send my husband a Motomail that would reach him in a week.

Now lets talk about what happens when said military man is injured and can no longer work.  Most people who have "MR. MOM" at home have expectations. Expectations that can no longer be considered acceptable when you have someone with many injuries from combat. So my day would start with an alarm, probably just like yours. I would have to wake up 45 minutes to an hour early, because he spent nights checking windows, and didn't fall asleep til 4am. Here I am at 6am, getting myself ready for work, begging him to wake up and help with the kids. But there he lays, motionless and snoring from the night of tossing and turning, and waking up to check every noise heard. So I would always be running late, I had to get my daughter ready for school, and fed, and beg and plead for him to get up and take her to school. Does that make him lazy? No. It's not his fault his brain wouldn't turn off, and every damn medication the VA gives him makes him take a coma instead of sleeping. So we have yet to find a good sleeping medication for him that doesn't make him take comas. How does that make me look when I walked in late? It made me look lazy. How many times I got a text "please try to be here on time!" Jesus, I get up at 6am...it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him. I even tried telling them, but the bottom line is this: THEY DON'T GET IT. It's not their lives. In fact, the only people who really, truly understand are other wounded warrior wives. That's it!

Every wounded warrior situation is different, yet we share similarities. Mine doesn't sleep well because of the chronic severe pain and PTS. So he usually can fall asleep by about 2am these days, and will get up about 20x (no, I am not elaborating) between the time he went to bed, and the time he finally gets up, usually around 11am. So if I have him at home while I am working full time, lets talk about how well that works out. (You can see why I had to quit...) He couldn't wake up, and I would get phone calls from him in excruciating pain begging me to come home and take care of the kids because he couldn't move from his bed. And then I dealt with petty bullshit at work, that would bring me home in the worst moods of my life. Is that what my family deserved? No. I do know that petty bullshit happens in just about every job there is, but when your "attitude" is the reason they hold a raise, well, that's not exactly fair either considering the monumental pile of shit I had on my plate with my veteran, kids, and the VA. My attitude was directly because of the people I was dealing with in the office, who did not understand my life.  If I wanted to be micromanaged, I would have joined the military. (LOL) So I would come home, drained from the drama, a 30 minute commute to find my house destroyed by two tiny little people that I love. I had to make dinner. I had to clean up. I had to do bedtime. Every single day I had to communicate with someone, or something Veterans related. My husband should be able to get services no problem at the VA, but even today when I write this I have another battle to take on. Example: VA sends him for physical therapy on his cervical spine (neck) where he had neurosurgery. He arrives and the guy tells him he's sending him for outside water physical therapy for the lumbar. LOL...... (wheres an emoji when I need one. It would be the eyes wide open face)

So if you are an employer of a caregiver of a wounded warrior, just try and understand that their work doesn't end when they get home, and it definitely did not start the moment they walked in the door. The only rest I ever got was when I was asleep, and many times I would wake up in a full blown panic, heart racing and everything. I never was well rested when I showed up for work. I already had dealt with a phone call from the VA before even stepping foot in the building.  We are the hardest working people on the planet, but when we become the target instead of the ally, it's a painful reminder that nobody supports us besides our own, and that sucks.

FMLA Information: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs28m.pdf and yes, wounded warrior's qualify under military. Use it if you need it caregivers.

Friday, July 4, 2014

What Motivated Me to Change My Lifestyle

Many moons ago, I made THIS POST about me becoming a Beachbody coach.

This is not a sales pitch. This is me being real - I am talking to the military (or wounded warrior) wife right now who I used to be. And I am telling you if I can do it, you can too.

I know you are probably sitting there thinking "Lindsay, whatever. You don't know my life." Ah, but I do. I have a 100% disabled husband who was injured in Iraq, a job, and 2 kids. I made the decision to change my life, starting with a bag of Shakeology and I went from there. I am not going to tell you it's easy. Heck, I still struggle today with my weight. Every day is a challenge for me. Want to know what I had last night? I mean we are being real here. I had a medium chocolate milkshake from sonic, it was delicious, and I had no self control. But today I have to undo that. I know one milkshake in the grand scheme of things is not a big deal, but for me it is. It turns into the snowball effect of DOOM! Sugar is my drug. I am addicted.

Ok, so why should YOU get healthy? If you are like me, you might have little kids, and you might get winded chasing them. (That was my story) And while I was watching my husband's health get worse, I realized my kids can not have 2 parents who are unhealthy. How is that fair to them? It's not. I am not trying to guilt trip anyone, this is just me talking for me right now and explaining why I made the changes I did.

You might read this and be like whatever, I can't do it because of reasons like it's too expensive, I don't have time, and I understand that. In fact, being real again, I am going to be 100% honest right now. When I signed up to be a Beachbody coach, I never thought anyone would ever take me seriously. I mean I was an overweight wounded warrior wife who would barely do 10 pushups on my KNEES. I had a LOT on my plate. I told my mom, my very first customer, and a few friends, and that was it. I made a general facebook post:
(I love timehop by the way!! Best app ever! hahaha) 

But look, that's all I did. Did I get a ton of people to sign up? No way. Only my mom did. :) And that was ok. I was a coach, working on ME, and I really didn't expect to turn this into a lifestyle for myself. There are people who came to me a year ago, and never ordered, and guess what? They come back because they see one consistent thing from me: Shakeology.

So you want to know the other selling point for me? Being a military coach. (Yes, Wounded Warrior Wives qualify too!) Which means your coaching fees are WAVED and you get the biggest discount. Anyone who lives this life knows that we all live on a fixed monthly income. So I understand the cost. That's why becoming a military coach is worth it, biggest discount, and if you don't want to sell it, you don't have to. So that's why I am telling you all this. You can coach with no fees as long as you are ordering your shakeology.

"But Lindsay, I can't afford it." Ah, my life again. I too, could not afford Shakeology. You want me to spend $4 a day on a shake!? Say what? Oh but wait, that Starbucks I got on my drive in to work cost MORE than my Shakeology MEAL. I think that's another factor people aren't considering. This is a meal replacement, not just a protein shake. Guess how much my lunch at Chipotle cost me? $9. How much is Shakeology again? Oh ya, $4. So wait, I really could afford it because I was spending $14-$20 a DAY on coffee and lunch. So by me investing in this meal replacement, I was saving myself money. Now this was me working full time. I do know many of you guys do not eat out, and that's a different story, and why you would make an even better coach, because you actually want it.

And then of course, there is this a clinical study PROVEN to help people lose weight, which I did not have this backing with Shakeology until a month ago:

I can go on, and on, and on. Ultimately, this is your decision to make for YOU. We are always so focused on our wounded warrior's health, that we forget the most important person there is: YOU. Bottom line is we can't take care of our wounded veteran if we are unhealthy.

Check out my Beachbody page here. You don't have to commit to buying a bag, you can simply start with the $20 taste sampler to see if you even like it. I posted this because I care. I could care less if I make $5 off of someone buying a sampler. I would rather you sign up as a coach, where I make ZERO commission off of what you buy. I just want this Wounded Warrior Wife community to be healthy....for all of us, and our Veterans. Empower each other right?! At least that is my goal here!

And uh, remember my crappy pushups on my knees? The other night I did 35 on my toes. THIRTY FIVE. Yeah. I'm not so wimpy after all. ;)