Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do you know?

I bought this at an estate sale because I loved it. It's bright and cheery and most of all because of the daisies on it.
I've searched for hours to find out more about it. Normally I can find anything. Not this one.
If you have any ideas or can read the symbols please comment. I would love to find out more of its history.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Feeling Loss - A Look Back

There is an app called TimeHop. It shows you posts for the last 4 years. This is one of mine.

20 July 2011

I have spent my life with this motto: I reject your reality and replace it with mine. It worked pretty well for me. I lived in my happy little world.

It really wasn't that simplistic but I never saw a big world. I knew it was there but it never mattered as long as the people closest to me were all safe and happy nothing else really mattered. I know that sounds selfish. I was young and small town naive.

When I saw the second plane crash into one of the World Trade Center buildings on September 11 my view of the world changed. It might have only been on tv but it was real. The only other time I had witnessed such tragedy was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. I never watched another launch. This was no where close to that. This affected the safety of our country. The false sense of security that I had living in small town USA that nothing bad ever happens to good old America.

I have mentioned before that I became a news addict after 9-11. I cried for the loss of lives that day and I cry for each and every soldier that is lost since. I'm not a political person. I honestly do not know the political reason of why we are fighting and have soldiers in so many different areas. To me it all boils down to taking a stand. I do know about taking a stand. Digging in my heels and no one is going to budge me.

My rambling really is boiling down to a specific thought. I just want you to see where I'm coming from. If you're a military wife you might already understand. But so many don't.

Back to shedding tears for soldiers lost. I have honestly done this every day when I read the news about another soldier lost for whatever reason. I feel a very real sense of loss. I don't know the person. I have never been to their home. They are a complete stranger. But I cry. That soldier WAS a part of someone's life. I cry for their loss.

Recently an event happened that was 'close' to me. No, I still do not know the soldier. But it was too close. I won't go into details but I will say it shook me to the core and shredded away whatever my little reality had been with my husband going into a war zone. I could no longer lie to myself. My husband is fine. Let me say this, he is in no more danger now than he ever has been. The ONLY thing that changed was MY perception. It was always easier to pretend that nothing could ever happen. It was an event that happens far too often in a war zone. It was just that it was 'closer' to home. A soldier was lost. It felt as if I had lost had brother. ME. I lost someone. Someone I do not know. Someone that someone loved.

I'm sure that sounds confusing. But I need to get this out of me. I have had to learn a new reality in the last week. I will adjust. I always adjust. I have cried more, worried more and have looked at things in a completely different light.

I went to the memorial service today for the soldier that was lost. I knew it was a memorial service for some other soldiers that were also lost in June. When I opened the memorial program I slowly turned the pages and there were 7 soldiers that were lost in the last month. From one division. I don't know what I was expecting but I did not expect to be looking at pictures of 7 men, most younger than my children. I did not expect to see their parents and grandparents there. There was no amount of preparing in the world that I could have done to be ready. Soldiers that knew the fallen gave eulogies. Psalms 23 was read. The names were read. At this point I was glad (if I can use that word in this context) that it was a reading of names rather than a roll call. Taps began. Taps is so final. Music reaches my soul. Taps goes as deep as any song can go. The firing of the volleys happened behind me. Each shot that rang out stopped my heart. Amazing Grace began to play as the families and Soldiers said their goodbyes. Watching the soldiers salute the fallen as they approached one by one was too much. I still kept it all in. Shaking with a need to cry for them. Not just the fallen but for the families and friends that lost someone so special.

I contained my emotions and tears through the service. I shook inside and my eyes filled with tears. But I wouldn't let them flow. I don't know my reasoning. I just felt like I needed to be stronger. That others wouldn't understand my need to cry. I had a friend with me. The same friend that went with me to the memorial service for the soldiers killed November 5, 2009. She understands me. She understood my need to leave as soon as we could. She knew I was holding it all in. I couldn't bear the reception after the service. She understood.

When I got home I cried for fallen then crawled into bed and took the longest nap I have taken in a long time. I feel better. I am adjusting to this new reality that so many before have already had to face.

This is who I am. If you hurt and feel loss, I feel it with you. When I get distant or distracted it's okay. Just know it's my way of mourning the loss around me everyday.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Lies at Ft Hood WTU or SCAADL....Don't bother

This nightmare should be over. I wish it were over. Since the one Commander was replaced it was a little better. Two days before my husband got his DD214 we were called into the new Company Commanders office. We were told that the SCAADL appeal was denied. To say I was angry is to put it mildly.

First, what is SCAADL?

"SCAADL is a special monthly compensation for eligible catastrophically injured or ill Service members who require assistance with activities of daily living or who are at a high risk for personal safety and cannot live independently in the community without caregiver support. SCAADL, authorized by the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 111-84), provides financial assistance for the non-medical care, support and assistance by a primary caregiver for the Service member."

To give a little background when my husband was first assigned to the WTU he was encouraged to apply for SCAADL. We both blew it off. We would be asked constantly if we had applied because I did everything for him. Several months later we decided to apply. At this point no one knew how we went about applying. Finally in December we were given guidance and got the appointment at Occupational Therapy to fill out the evaluation form. This happened via a referral from his WTU primary care doctor. The person he saw had no knowledge of my husband.

We gave that person the pertinent information with complete trust that he would correctly fill out the form.

In December when we applied we knew that he had some form of dementia even though it was not yet diagnosed. It's not hard to figure out when you live it daily.

He was diagnosed with Progressive Dementia January 31, 2014. The doctor actually told us before that but that is when it went in the chart. That is when all hell broke loose at the WTU. For some reason as I've written about before they simply refused to accept that diagnosis. As if an MRI showing hippocampal atrophy can lie.

The following week we were told his SCAADL application was denied. Mikey checked the box saying we planned to appeal. The Company Commander told us to see the Squad Leader for instruction. I asked the SL and he didn't know how to appeal but would look into it. The next week when I would ask the person that could help would be gone or didn't answer an email. It was one excuse after another.

In March when I met with the Brigade Commander he told me he took SCAADL very seriously and he had someone in S3 help us that same evening. That was three days before our 60 day time limit was expired! She composed a letter with information that we gave her. She let us proof read that letter. We handed her current medical documentation that had Lewy Body Dementia and the MRI and other pertinent information. She scanned it all in. She said if we were satisfied she would send it right then. It was okay so we said to send it.

What we did not see and were never offered a chance to read was the information that went with our letter. Documents that we could have rebutted had we seen them. An evaluation that was so ridiculous and signed by a Doctor that has no knowledge of my husband. The memorandum for record from the Company Commander and another form saying he did not have a catastrophic illness. All of which recommended the appeal for SCAADL be denied.

We finally got to see that information when we were told our appeal was denied and the decision was final. The information that was sent with ours included a letter from the then Company Commander that contained lies. Yes, lies. That is a harsh word and it is a simple word but it is the best word.

If you have followed along at all you know that my husband has actively sought treatment for drinking. Not just one treatment but several. His research was why SMART Recovery got started for Fort Hood soldiers! He took one medication to reduce his cravings so he could slowly cut back and then after a week of detoxification (that he checked himself into) he asked to be put on Antabuse. Antabuse is a medication that prevents you from even coming into contact with alcohol. If you drink while on it you WILL get very sick.

On to the statement.

This is verbatim and SM means service member. The memo was signed on March 19, 2014.

“SM has developed an alcohol dependency and refuses treatment given to him to assist his condition.”

He recommended that SCAADL be denied. He said that Mikey is able to show up for work on his own and take care of himself. The level of deceit in his memo made me so angry I didn't dare speak to anyone for two days.

I continued to read the other information sent. The Brigade Surgeon (Yes, the same one that expired Mikey's dementia profiles!) recommended SCAADL be denied because Mikey does not have a permanent catastrophic illness.

I really question that particular Doctors abilities to properly care for wounded soldiers!

Okay, let's look at the eligibility for SCAADL.

To be eligible to receive SCAADL, a Service member, whether Active or Reserve, must:

Has a catastrophic injury or illness incurred in the line of duty which compromises their ability to carry out activities of daily living such that he/she requires personal or mechanical assistance to leave the home or bed and/or requires constant supervision to avoid physical harm to self or others; 

Has been certified by a licensed physician to be in need of assistance from another person to perform the personal functions of everyday living; or

Would, in the absence of this provision, require some form of residential institutional care

 Now let's look at the Doctor's best educated guess on the type of dementia my husband has. I say best guess because there is no way to be 100% certain until the brain can be examined after death. Lewy Body Dementia. (There has also been confirmation of that diagnosis from a Doctor that is independent from Army protocol.)

Lewy body dementia is progressive. Signs and symptoms worsen, causing:
  • Severe dementia
  • Death, on average about eight years after onset of the condition
  • Treatment can be challenging, and there's no cure for Lewy body dementia. Instead, doctors treat the individual symptoms.
Let me ask you. HOW CAN THAT NOT BE A CATASTROPHIC ILLNESS?? (Sorry for yelling.)

Point two. In need of assistance by another person? He has a "no driving profile" that also states he has to have someone with him at ALL times. I think that would say he needs assistance.

Point three. The neurologist has said on more than one occasion that I will need to start looking at homes for him or at the very least day care centers. I will not do that as long as I am able to care for him! But if I were not here to care for him, what do you think would happen? Yes, he would be put in a nursing home.

I just don't know how else to express my level of frustration at the constant shenanigans of this particular WTU. The former Company Commander would even rant during morning formations about his friend that had cancer NEVER applied for SCAADL. I am certain by my own uncomfortable feeling from these rants that any soldier that had applied felt bad for doing so.

I spoke with many members of the Chain of Command last week. I told them I felt the entire SCAADL thing was a farce not to mention a huge waste of time and causes undue stress. If they don't intend to help soldiers that need it then why offer it?

WTU has been a nightmare from day 1. There are honestly nice people there. Those people can't make a difference when there are people in command with a purpose of making the wounded soldiers lives miserable.

I honestly believe that IF the same Commander were there we would never have seen what was in that packet. I don't think the new Commander knew what was in it and when I asked for copies he readily gave them to me. I had asked the former Commander for more information at the first denial counseling. We never received anything, not even a copy of the counseling.

This week after receiving advice from The Office of the Surgeon General I requested a new appointment to have a current evaluation done on my husband. I was refused that appointment. Yes, you read that right. The Primary Doctor (also a WTU doctor who will only do what they tell him to) and the Command said he could NOT be reevaluated.

An email to the case manager from the Office of the Surgeon General made them change their minds. We don't have the appointment yet. They know we don't have much time to get all this done. A referral will go in Tuesday. It'll be interesting to see how fast that appointment gets made.

It's not about the money anymore. It's about Fort Hood WTU doing what is right for the soldiers they are SUPPOSED to be taking care of. I'm sure we'll never see SCAADL but I will continue to fight to get policy changes made to make sure other soldiers have a better chance if they apply.