Sunday, December 23, 2012

Trying to Understand

From my friend Torrey Shannon's facebook post yesterday, "Words of advice: If your loved one is a wounded warrior, or even someone who has been deployed multiple times and not severely injured, PLEASE be respectful of them when they politely decline your holiday invitations! They are not trying to ruin your holiday or hurt your feelings. You may have had a 'tradition' to have your son-in-law or daughter come to every holiday meal, but things have changed dramatically in their lives when it comes to being around crowds and noise. Don't berate them. Don't tease them. Don't get your panties in a wad. Just respect their answer and let them create their own holiday memories. It may not include don't make it about you. Thank you!"

I just love Torrey. She and I have never met in person, but we are kindred spirits for sure. (And somewhere in the Army and VA someone just freaked out! Yes, we have found each other. You have been warned. Ha ha!! ) I shared her comment on my own facebook page because I know too many families, including my own who have dealt with this.  I just wanted to expand on this a little and use our family as an example. 

We turn down a lot of invites and let me tell you why. First, we are tired! You cannot imagine how exhausting it is to heal our wounded. Our family loves days of nothing. We do not get very many, Chaz's days are still filled appointments and recently he has added more because he has flipped to the VA side of this journey. We cherish our little family and as much as we want to share ourselves with so many, we also have to find time to do nothing. 

You have to remember we are juggling appointments, meetings, homeschool, events and now I have a beyond full time job (that I love). And I am still running a tax company. We are busy, busy, busy. I miss the days where I could just sit on the phone and chat with my girlfriends. Please know I am not complaining, we love our life, it's just very well organized. ;)

Our girls need us more than you think you do and I have no problems letting people know that. Cutie number one and cutie number two are the top priority for Chaz and I. Everyone else just needs to get in line, sorry, but that is how we feel. Some people really don't like that I put the girls and Chaz first, but my give-a-damn broke almost two years ago. I have learned some really hard lessons about trying to please people. I learned a long time ago I cannot make everyone happy, so I'll just focus on the three that I know the best and whose smiles and laughs fill my heart.

Second there's the physical. In our situation, you can all see Chaz's legs are missing. What you can't see is that his arm is fused in a 93 degree angle. You cannot imagine what limitations that causes for him. When we have the adapted van, life is easier for us. When we are in TN with my vehicle or in a rental that day a new level of difficulty and that arm tends to get in our way. I had no idea how useful an elbow was until Chaz lost his. Try to lock your elbow and scratch your back, or adjust the collar on your shirt, or just drink or eat something. Now pretend you don't have legs and try to get around with a fused arm. It is really hard. Now here's a good dose of reality, Chaz is only ONE of hundreds of service members with these types of injuries.

One time the girls asked Chaz what is it like to walk with his prosthetic legs. He had them pull their feet up to their butts and walk on their knees. They both commented on how much it hurts. We have talked to many people who have assured us that it will get easier for him, but it's so easy to forget that we not even two years into this journey. Chaz is just not ready to be on his legs all the time and that means he needs to be in his wheelchair. The world is not very "cripple-friendly" as Chaz puts it. So you can invite us to whatever it is, but can Chaz get in? Does he have access to a bathroom? Can he easily get out in case of an emergency? 

Nothing is worse than inviting us somewhere only to realize that you did not plan ahead. We had that happen recently. I hate seeing that people have the best of intentions, but then their feelings get hurt because they assumed rather than ask what Chaz's needs are. Our world is very unique and some people have a hard time understanding what Chaz needs.

That leads to my third point, the mental. Chaz has done remarkably well with his post-tramatic stress (PTS) from his injury. We began dealing with PTS after Iraq in 2005-06. We are not pros at dealing with PTS, but I know his triggers better than he does. His physical limitations add into his PTS, but he handles it all like a rockstar. So many are so angry, but Chaz would not change a thing. He gets around very well, but the world is not designed for wheelchairs and that limitation adds to his frustrations. I think having the unconditional love and acceptance from the girls and I has really helped Chaz heal.

When we go places and meet strangers you just never know what they'll say. I have had one person tell me, "I've seen his pictures on Facebook. He's getting fat and you need to get that under control." We have had people just come right out and ask if we can have kids, which is their politest way of asking if Chaz has a genital injury. You seriously wouldn't believe the things people have said to us and to other families. We have some great stories to tell. My favorite was the random guy who sat down and wanted to talk about Chaz's PTS. Hello random stranger, yes let me divulge all my intimate secrets to you. 

What makes us laugh is people think kids asking us questions bothers us. We actually welcome the kids' questions. Kids are smarter than you think. We are pros at explaining all of this to kids. We've had a lot of practice. Chaz and I love kids and we love teaching them about adversity. I wish more adults handled out situation like the kids do. 

So back to Torrey's statement. Please try to understand that healing a family is not simply and easy. These guys don't just come home. It is long, drawn out process and sometimes is beyond exhausting. We ask too much of our military families. We ask them to go to war and deal with it. Then we ask them to just do this and that and we don't think about their feelings. I am talking about my family before injury. 

Now after injury, I'll just tell you flat out, it ain't about you, so stop trying to make it that way. Listen to the family and don't read into it. It's not that we don't want you in our lives. Some of us just want a little peace and quiet. Some of us are creating our own memories. Some of us haven't had Daddies at home for a long time or like in our case two years in a row. So please just listen and accept us and wish us a Merry Christmas.


  1. this is a wonderful post...and one I can relate to in total (well, we're not dealing with an amputation, but otherwise...) Thank you for sharing =)

  2. I remember you posting something like this last year. I take it things haven't gotten any better. Why can't people understand that after all you've been through you could possibly just want to be alone for the holidays?! Just sitting here shaking my head about what people happens in so many different areas (people facing the loss of a child through miscarriage, etc). Why do people feel the need to even open their mouths?!
    We have eyewitness testimony of the Savior. What comfort this gives in time of need! Praying!
    1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
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  3. We have hope because of a babe born in Bethlehem. Praying!
    Luke 2:1-14 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
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  4. Know that you're in my thoughts and prayers!
    Psalms 61:1-4 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
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  5. Still here praying hard!
    Psalms 40:1-4a I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust...
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  6. These verses give such great comfort! Praying!
    Psalms 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
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