Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why Are We NOT Paid?

Yesterday was one of THOSE days.
You know the one that starts out crappy, and it goes downhill from there.
I took everything in stride all day...went with the flow and just kept going.  After all, that's what I do.  I ALWAYS find the bright side of things.
Yesterday was no exception.  Even with things being crazy and it being a big time MONDAY...I still found the bright side of things.  There's always something good in EVERY bad situation.  
YOU JUST HAVE TO FIND THAT RAY OF HOPE.

So, what happened? 
Well, there was an incident at work that caused us to scramble to open.  The ray of hope there was that it didn't cost as much as it was thought at first.  

What else happened?
Not much during work, but after work I had an appointment.
And, I discovered something.  I'm not quite ready to spill on that, but it does lead me to the incident that had me literally IN TEARS.

You see, having a family member with a Traumatic Brain Injury is a ROLLER COASTER.  You can be on top of the world one moment because things are finally starting to settle down.  Things are getting better and you THINK that everything is under control.  But, the problem with a TBI is, that rug under your feet...it gets yanked BIG TIME.  There is no set schedule, there is no routine, there is no getting used to things.  
EVERY DAY IS A CHALLENGE.  Every day is unknown.  Yeah, you may be in a routine with the daily tasks, but there is always that wrench that is just standing over you, waiting to get thrown into your plans. 
That's something else that you learn...YOU HAVE NO PLANS.

I read an article yesterday about military spouses being thrown into the role of "caregiver".  This article didn't state anything about PTSD or TBI, but just in general the role of "caregiver".  
I have to say from experience...
The role of CAREGIVER is broad and definitely NOT DEFINED.  
For some, it's taking care of the household and bills and kids and just everything while the spouse is deployed.  For others, like me, it's the literal role of CAREGIVER.
We are given the task of taking care of our spouse when they have a TBI, when they have PTSD.

I believe, as I have always believed, that God chooses us for these roles.  He doesn't give us more than we can handle.  There are times when we think we can't handle any more, just to get a little more thrown on our already full plates.  
When I married Mike, I said for better or worse and in sickness and in health.  I loved him 20 years ago, and I love him today.  I love him with our without his TBI.  But, there are times it is 
REALLY HARD.  I'm not saying it's hard to love him, that is the easiest thing for us right now.
But it's hard to live this life that God has given me.  It's hard to watch someone NOT be able to handle things that we both know he used to be able to handle.  
Emotions is one of the hardest things for him to control.  The combination of PTSD and TBI just magnifies the problem.  

I often find myself apologizing to people because of his outbursts.  I frequently have to get us out of a situation because he has no control of some emotions.  It's not his fault, and I know he tries.  I also know that this kills him because he remembers what it was like to be able to control the emotions.  He knows EVERY DAY that something is wrong with him and he has no control over it, nor can he fix it.

Back to God choosing me.  I've known for a long time that I'm here for a reason (that's another post that I haven't had the courage to write yet).  I know that God has chosen me for something...I just don't know what it is, and I'm not sure I want to know what it is, because then I would be working towards that reason.  
All the soldiers coming back from war with PTSD and TBI...Yes, I know you didn't ask for this.  I know that your spouses didn't ask for this.  I also know that you and your spouses were chosen for this by God.  My faith in God is very strong.  I don't question him.  I do, in my times of despair, question WHY?
Why was I chosen for this?  How am I so strong to deal with this?  

The incident yesterday, again, put me on that line.  You know, that line where you question, "How much more can I take?"  I thank God every day for the people in my life.  Because without their hand and shoulder to lend me strength, I don't know if I could keep going.  Yet, every day I wake up and fight again for my husband.  Every day I wake up and deal with whatever new problem that comes around.  Every day I wake up with HOPE.  Every day I wake up LOVED.  Not only by my husband and family but by my wonderful friends and coworkers.  

I have learned to deal with the role of  "CAREGIVER".  I accept this challenge and this life with both eyes, both arms, and my heart WIDE OPEN.  

But, on days like yesterday...I wonder...
WHY ARE WE AS CAREGIVERS NOT PAID BY THE MILITARY FOR OUR SERVICES?

Why, when a civilian has a TBI, do they have a nurse or social worker come into their house and help them with the same things that we spouses do?  Why does the Veterans Administration take advantage of us spouses?  We care for our spouses, we make sure they get their meds, we make sure they get to their appointments, we make sure the bills are paid, we make sure that they can lead as normal a life as possible with the new disabilities that they have.  This is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job.  In some cases it's a FULL TIME JOB.  But, in my opinion, the Veterans Administration takes advantage of use.  We don't get recognized, we don't get paid (by them), we don't get any extra benefits.  
WE TAKE CARE OF OUR VETERANS BECAUSE WE LOVE THEM.  WE MADE THAT VOW TO THEM WHEN WE MARRIED THEM.  
FOR BETTER OR WORSE, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH.

I'm not saying that I want extra money, though it would be nice.  I'm not saying that I don't like my life, I LOVE my life, I just don't like certain aspects of it at times.  The good times far outweigh the bad.  There are ALWAYS MORE SMILES THAN TEARS.  But, just once, I would like the Veterans Administration say, we recognize the job that spouses do, and we couldn't do our jobs without the spouses.  Here's a little something for all your hard work.

*OK...end of my little rant...yes it was one of those days where I was in tears and just needed a HUG*