Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bre Turns 10!!!

After a long day of cleaning and thinking, I still cannot come to terms with Breanna being ten now. Where have the years gone? Ten years ago I was doing everything I could to keep my baby alive and to not have her pre-term. Yet, through all of my hopes, fights, and prayers that was not in God's plans. I ended up having Breanna right before we hit 35 weeks via an emergency c-section because her heartbeat went from real slow to non-existent. In my life, I have never felt the fears and worries that rushed over me that day and the weeks leading up to that day. For over 15 weeks we fought and fought for just one more day on not having her.

Bre was 5 pounds even at birth with no fat at all on her. She was so tiny and could literally fit into Kev's hand. Amazingly, we brought her home a couple days later with her weighing 4 lbs 7 oz. Until that day, I had never seen a little one so small. The morning of the day we had her, I had to have an amniocentesis to determine if her lungs were developed so that the NICU would be able to be better prepared for her.  Within a few weeks, we learned just how underdeveloped her lungs were when she had to be placed on the Apnea Monitor. Bre remained on this up until she was almost one.

When we became pregnant with her, the doctor tried to convince us to terminate our pregnancy because of my health and reasons with her.  We fought him on it and decided that we would take the chance. Right before 20 weeks, I went into pre-term labor and spent more nights admitted into the hospital than I did at home for close to 15 weeks. There were numerous times we came close to losing Bre and to this day, we find her a true miracle.

Many people always told us that she may be delayed in things, milestones and learning abilities due to her being a preemie. The only thing she was behind on was her size for the first five years. Other than that, she has been on target for everything. She started walking at ten months, she was talking by one. She is an honor roll student who amazes us more and more with every passing day. She is a miracle to every one of us and each of us are so blessed to have Breanna in our lives.

So, on this day, I am very proud to say Happy 10th Birthday, Breanna! You have made the past ten years of our lives amazing!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kevin is Being Medically Retired

A few days ago, Kevin received the call that we have been waiting on for what seems like months! Wait, what am I talking about, it has been months of waiting. Kevin's PEBLO called him to inform him that his rating from the Army was sitting in her office. Yes, family and friends, it is official... Kevin is in fact being medically retired from the Army. We are now waiting to receive his memorandum, which could take around thirty days. For most soldiers in this situation, it has taken about two weeks to receive the memo, but as his PEBLO stated to us, the majority of them don't have a file the size of Kevin's. So, for now, we will continue playing the waiting game and should be able to move from El Paso in the upcoming weeks.

We are still moving to Mena, AR for many reasons. It is the best thing to do for our family and especially for Kevin with all that he has going on. He needs a small town environment and as we said before, he has fallen in love with this town. We are super excited to get out there and to start this new chapters in our lives together.

For now, we are packing our slowly packing our house and trying our best to prepare for the upcoming move! We already have a house lined up, for the most part, to rent upon us arriving in Mena. One that we can't wait to move into! The house sits on about an acre and a half with an amazing view of the mountains out the front door. It is all one story, which we are super excited for! Seems that stairs are a little too much for the time being. It is a brick house with three bedrooms and two and a half baths. This will be the first house since living in GA that we have had an actual laundry room inside the house. How the little things bring even more excitement! In Germany, our laundry room was in the basement of the apartment buildings, and in many of the houses in El Paso they feel the need to put the washer and dryers in the garage. Not something either of us are a fan over! As soon as things are final, we will post photo's of the house!

Family and friends, please give us time and respect throughout this adjustment period to get situated. There will be moments of ups and downs due to this being a huge change for us. We know that the roads ahead may be a roller coaster, but we will be okay and we will get through it all! Thank you for the continued prayers and thoughts through everything!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Survivor's Guilt

For a few years now I have witnessed my husband struggle day after day with what is known as Survivor’s Guilt. Experiencing this is what prompts me to write this article. Mainly, it is to let others know how common this is and ways to help. Survivor’s Guilt is something that we as families cannot relate to, yet we find ourselves in situations of trying to “fix” things and help our spouse move past this battle in the aftermath of the war.  

It can strike at any time.......

It haunts our military service members on a daily basis.... The demons of war and the loss of the ones they are bonding and fighting beside that are lost causing them to lose themselves at times... It is one of the causes that leads a service member in the decision to take their own life. This horror that can damage and destroy some of our troops lives is known as Survivor's Guilt and it affects thousands of our men and women everyday...

This article has been reposted by request of some individuals on our FOV blog. Please feel free to share your thoughts here in the comments or on the site with the entire article. To read more on this article that I wrote not too long ago after watching my husband with some of his battles, please read it at our FamilyOfaVet.com blog site, http://blog.familyofavet.com/2011/10/survivors-guilt.html. And please, feel free to share this with your loved ones. Just because our service members return home from combat, does not mean they are not forever changed. A part of the war will always remain with them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Re-Evaluate the Life You Live

How many mornings do most people wake up, roll out of bed and start their day not realizing just how blessed and fortunate they are? Sure, they may have a stack of bills, or a week a chaos between work and children and they may have to sit in the dreaded traffic to and from work. Does that make life that bad or does it make it to where people should be grateful? To me, the vast majority of people should take a step back, re-evaluate their lives, and just be thankful. I say this because I have personally had the experiences of not only fighting for my oldest daughters chance of survival and my husbands adjustment after combat and all that war does to a soldier with his experience; but I have also been faced with fighting for my own life on quite a few occasions over the 28 years that I have been living. Yet, through it all, I still look at things in the optimistic way, even if I can't go and do what everyone else can on a daily basis. I never know what is ahead of me.

Let me tell you some of what I have been through:

At the age of 2 I spent a few weeks in a burn unit in downtown Atlanta, GA for pulling a pot of boiling water on me. The water left me with severe burns and scars that I have to this day, covering me from chin down. I was immediately admitted into the Grady Burn Unit. To this day I hate the feeling of hot water so I will wash everything I possibly can in the dishwasher. The smell of burning skin still haunts me and leaves me incredibly sick feeling. Yet, the thing that matters the most, I am still here. That day I had someone watching over me.

At the age of 5 we were in a real bad car wreck in GA one evening. My mom was driving and someone pulled out in front of her. I was at the age of defiance and had unbuckled myself because I was determined to sit in the front seat. During this time, my brother, who was two also became unbuckled. When the wreck happened, I was thrown from the backseat into the front floorboard, as was my little brother. By the grace of God, I was injured pretty bad, yet my baby brother was not. He landed on top of me and walked away with no trauma. I landed head first into glass that shattered upon impact and was left for awhile pulling glass out of my head. When the paramedics arrived I was unconscious with blood everywhere. My mother had been injured and was unable to do much from her being knocked out at first. She had to have stitches in her chin. I had a pretty bad concussion, glass in my head, and stitches in my knee. Again, I survived this experience. Now days, I refuse to even move the car unless everyone is buckled up and my kids are securely fastened in their seats. I have been known to pull over or just stop the car if they aren't.

Past these things, from the age of 9 I started to experience health problems with my thyroid and at the age of 14 problems with the female organs. If you have been reading this blog for awhile, then you are aware of my health struggles. At 22 my thyroid had to be removed and I am life dependent on the medications now. Over the past almost three years, I have spent time in the hospital hooked up to machines and going through procedures and testing because my body rejected the thyroid hormone. I had real low blood pressure and a real slow heartbeat. Again, surprising the doctors, I fought through these times refusing to give up.

At the age of 14, I was told I would never have children. Yet, at 17 I became pregnant. I had my children at 18, 19, and 23. Of course many will say that is way too young and, while I do agree, I also think that God had plans for me and was watching over me because at the age of 25 I had no other choice but to undergo a hysterectomy. I lost all my chances of ever having another child again. At 25 and still at 28 I struggle everyday with this. I am constantly in a personal battle trying to understand it more.

Lastly, on two different occasions late last year I was admitted into the hospital for Renal Failure. The first time, I was in kidney failure for four days at our house, refusing to go to the ER because the doctors at Beaumont said the pain is normal. Why would I overreact and go in to the ER if this was the case. Yet, at that point I had already had to undergo many surgeries and knew something wasn't right. I got to the point I was struggling to breathe, couldn't walk, and had spent four days not being able to urinate. I started to vomit and knew I had no other choice than to go in. Kevin rushed me to the ER and within no time we discovered I was in kidney failure and that my whole body was in fact, shutting down. The ER doctor came into my room, sat down with tears in his eyes, and informed us they didn't know what to expect from all this and couldn't make any promises. At the age of 28, I laid on my bed, called my dad and broke down into tears. I had a husband and three children that needed me and yet, I had no idea if I would ever make it back home to them. For days and months I fought for my life. I went into renal failure again a couple months later.

To this day I am not able to jump up and do as I use to (before last year), I am constantly having to monitor what I eat, drink, and even the medications I take for the above reasons and a few more reasons I have no talked about. I fought for my life and will continue to do so. Nothing is ever guaranteed in this life we live and too many like to complain and have pity parties over things that hand fulls of people would fight to have. No matter where we are in life, at most times, life is what we make it. Anyone can turn a negative situation into a positive one, yet there are far too many that choose not too. I often wonder why that is. I know my optimistic  outlook can at times drive others crazy, but I feel if I were any other way I would not have survived the past experiences. Even if I can't work full time like I use to or have a few drinks because too much on my kidneys is real bad and can end my life instantly, my life is far from over. Even if I have more surgeries that lie ahead, which I will, it won't hold me down or stop me (just for note, I have had more than 11 surgeries now). There is a reason that God has left me here. In ways, I wonder what is ahead and if something big will happen. I wonder if there are ways I will make a difference in other people. I hope so. To only be 28, I feel so far above the actual age from experiences in my life and health issues.

The reason I got on this kick is because I saw a video this morning and it really touched me. Two Iraqi boys were left in shoe boxes following their births years ago and were discovered by a Nun. This Nun took them to the orphanage where they spent some time before a woman from Australia found them. She originally took them back to Australia for surgeries and ended up adopting them. They lost a lot due to chemical warfare, like their hands and who they are and have no idea how old they are. There was nothing left with them in their shoe boxes. This morning I watched a video with Emmanuel in one of the most inspirational and motivational performances that I have ever seen. It reminded me again of just how valuable life really is. Please take a moment to watch it and be prepared to tear up. I know I did! Amazing how far he has come, as well as his brother thanks to this amazing Australian family that took them in and made them their own.