Revisiting the Moment

Thursday, September 11, 2014

This morning we prepped my husband for his advancement exam and it was the first time my husband has worn a uniform since his accident in December 2013. Not only that, it was the uniform. As we got into the car, it was about fifty degrees outside, significantly warmer than it was that fateful night. When he let out an audible sigh rolling to the car, I knew something was up.

We talked about it the whole ride over. He kept dropping things on the floor of the car. Mind you, my husband is not a clumsy person. That would be me. He was distant, quiet, and not nearly as excited as he was for his first petty officer exam. I don't think he has stopped caring about moving forward in his career, because this gets him ever closer to that chiefly status, but I do think we were going through a bout of re-experiencing this morning.

Immediately after his injury,  my husband had PTS symptoms. He used to practically vibrate with anxiety, and he kept me awake throughout the nights because of his nightmares and pain. Sometimes he would shoot awake, thinking he had just fallen out of bed, or worse, he had dreamt the whole ordeal all over again and thought we were back at square one and heading to the hospital in that moment. It was terrifying stuff, and I remember jokingly asking my friends and family if they knew of any pills that would stop my own nightmares. I wasn't really joking, though.

One of my struggles with writing about our journey has been about comparisons. I think a lot about the folks who have been injured in combat or in direct service, and I still feel an undeserved sense of shame for bemoaning our ordeal. I remind myself of that Symposium we attended where so many folks were either ill or injured during the course of their lives, in incidents thoroughly separated from the military but nonetheless a part of their military experience, It's that active duty piece that protects us all, family included. I would never begrudge them their care or support, so why is it that I still feel like an imposter? The shame is misplaced, I know, but it still confronts me on days like these when I wonder how me mit have changed the outcome through our own actions. Accidents happen though, right?

I guess we have come so far from the day itself that I feel separated from the trauma of it all, and now I focus more on the practical and logistical details that are the aftermath. His injury may not have been sustained in the traditional sense, but it was sustained nonetheless, and even on an exciting day like today, we are still haunted by it.

I think today reality settled. Not to say that we have not thoroughly acquainted ourselves with what we face everday as a result,  but more of a final acceptance that was was still is. It probably will be forever, it small and maybe subtle ways. Chronic pain lays on the horizon, and many of the plans we had-like hiking Mt. Rainier on our wedding anniversary or learning to snowboard together-just aren't possibilities right now. Maybe in the future, we hope in the future, and we are determined in the future.

I say it a lot, but today was a reminder that we are still in search of safe harbor. Regardless of the injury or whether it was sustained during active duty or in the civilian world, these things temporarily cripple ambitions and goals, mobility and ability. They don't have to be permanent, though. After all,  we never imagined he would be wearing a uniform again, led alone that particular one.  Who knows, maybe it was a bad wardrobe choice for such a big day, but maybe it needed to happen so that would could work through these very issues. There is now science, and it certainly isn't an art, but it sure feels therapeutic and reflective.

The journey continues and we become stronger with each step, even if it stings a little. (Or in his case, quite a lot. Sorry, sweetie.)

Until next time...

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