Why I blog

It has been a very long time since I wrote my thoughts or feelings down; even for myself. I was in therapy for 8 years at the V.A.; twice a week for the first 4 years. I had the same therapist for 7 of those years.

My first therapist held me captive in her house, which made me suicidal. I called to hospital many times for help. FINALLY, the VA told me that they gave her a choice: retire, or be fired. Thankfully, I also found someone who gave a shit enough to help me get out of her house. How that all happened is another story.

I was the first patient with MST at my clinic; and the only one for quite awhile. The VA sent me to a 7 week inpatient MST program in Temple, TX. It was ridiculous on so many levels. I will share some of my experiences there, some other time. Let’s just say that I left with an entirely NEW set of traumas. I am extremely proud of myself for making it out of that place alive, and with some of my sanity still intact. 

We had to do an amazing amount writing, which I did. We took all kinds of psychological tests, too many to mention. Anyway, we were each assigned a doctor. Mine would tell me over and over again that I was stoic- like that was a bad thing:). She broke me once, and was very proud of herself. 

I had the same therapist for 7 of those 8 years, and she was great. It was like, if I was not her patient, we could have been friends. It was really nice, and I healed A LOT. I was out of town for 6 weeks, so my husband could undergo some therapy for his TBI’s. I was having a hard time, called her, and she told me that I was healthy enough to take care of everything alone. I felt betrayed to the core. Needless-to-say, I do not see a therapist any longer. I know they are not all bad, but I think I have had enough damage DONE by therapist to last me awhile.

I have always enjoyed writing, so I thought that doing this, reasonably anonmyously, might be good for me– we shall see. 

I have been through a lot in my years, the different kinds of trauma is kind of funny, but more on that as this blog progresses. 

I am not sure of a format for this blog, I just plan on writing my thoughts and or feelings. Thanks for your time.

One of my favorite places. Garden of the Gods city park

He hates the word hero

This is about my husband, my hero. I have his permission to write these things about him.

He spent 22 years in the Army, and has been to combat many times from Panama, to Bosnia, to Iraq, and many others in between. He has earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

In his contract, when he joined the Army, was Airborne and Ranger school. HELPFUL HINT: Get it ALL in writing when you join, or you may NEVER get it!

Back when one had to EARN the beret!!

His first duty station was in Germany, and he was attatched to the 69th Chem. Division. They were known as the 69th criminals, just for a bit of background. They did nothing illegal, really, just little Hooligans.

The 69th was RECON, and was the best. Because of this, they were invited on a “Spur Run”, by the Cavalry. It is a big long competition, where you earn your “spurs”, if you complete. It is very difficult. He was an E-3, and one usually had to be an E-5 to be invited.He earned his spurs, and was invited to become Cavalry, and he became a Scout.

Undercover in Bosnia. Second deployment 2002

All the soldiers brought matchbox cars and candy to give all the kids in Bosnia. He was constantly surrounded by children, AND they guarded his vehicle when he was away!

First deployment to Iraq in 2003.

My husband was first boots on the ground in Iraq- in the shit. He was kicking down doors and close quarter combat.

When they and all their equipment got to Kuwait, they welded all kinds of crap onto thier vehicles. They looked like Mad Max going through the desert.Of course, the Army made them take it all off!

Right before he left, the Army doctors told him that he had Lukemia, but they were sending him into combat anyway. He tried to tell the doctor that he thought his blood was messed up, because of all the shots he had to get before deploying. The doctor said no way, no how, could that be.

He goes into combat, thinking he is going to die ANYWAY, and starts acting like an idiot Rambo. IN combat standing up, shooting from each hip, not taking cover, etc. He was being such an idiot, that he got shot TWICE. That was his first Purple Heart. 

The soldiers were not supposed to bring thier cell phones, but they did. My husband was IN combat, and the Army doctor called. he said oops, you are not dying, you do not have Lukemia, and you were correct all along.; your blood was messed up from all the shots you received. IT HAPPENED!! Needless to say, he IMMEDIATLEY took cover and quit acting like an idiot.

During his first deployment, Geraldo Rivera was reporting in the immediate area. He gave a position away of some of our soldiers, and 13 Army Rangers died in an ambush.

That jackass was walking by my husband and his men, and said something wholly inappropriate. My husband honestly does not remember what Rivera said, but it pissed him off. He went after that ass, and Geraldo ran away. Lucky for him my husband’s men held him back.

Second deployment to Iraq, 2005, he ran a prison
  • Skip with some of his prisoners.

In Russian prisons, the guard that is in charge, is the one who beat the shit out of all the other guards. As you can see, Skip is not huge, but he was the one in charge. They were TERRIFIED of him at first. As they stayed there longer, they gave him the name, Abu Shagra; it means the fair one. I am VERY proud of him for this.

The prisoners ate MRE’s. They were allowed to eat all, except the #22. It was pork, and they did not eat it, due to thier religious beliefs. By pure accident, one of the prisoners was given a #22. HE LOVED IT!! All the soldiers tried to explain to him that it was pork. They even drew a picture of a pig. That did it; for all of about half a second. He did not care. They even had the Iraqi interpreter explain what he was asking for. All he would say is, “Mista, mista, number two two”! They were not going to starve the guy, so he ate  pork.

A reporter came out to his prison to do a story, and my husband was talking with the camera man. The guy said that he did not really like his boss, but it was a job. My husband did not know who the reporter was…

Can anyone guess who that reporter was? 

If you guessed the jackass Geraldo Rivera, you win a prize!!

Luckily, my husband’s men saw Geraldo first, and made thier way to my husband, who at that very moment, saw the jackass.

He began running at full speed,  desperately grasping for his pistol. Skip shook off the first four guys, and was going to KILL that idiot. More people piled on Skip and Geraldo ran like a bitch into a building.Needless to say, jackass did NOT get his story.

The Army was supposed to give soldiers at least 12 months inbetween deployments. My husband and his men had 3 MONTHS. My hero brought ALL of his men back, alive, TWICE!! For those of you who may not realise, that is a BIG deal.

I want to thank all of you that hate being called ‘hero’. You are heroes to me, and I will NEVER forget the extreme sacrifices you have made FOR ME. Thank you and I will NEVER FORGET!!

My husband, along with many other heroes have been in more combat, in more countries far away from home than most realize. Please take the time to thank a veteran and active duty personnel whenever you can. They really do appreciate the thought.

She was an angel; and her name was Carolyn


This is a picture of my mom, with her birthday cake. Her birthday was in June(notice no snow). She WAS Christmas– lived it every single day. She kept our tree up year round, with a box of presents, underneath.

I remember stopping kids at the front door, on their first visit, and saying something  like, I know it is August, but the Christmas tree is still up. When you come in, my mom is going to give you a gift. Do not argue, just take it and say thank you.

She took care of newborns as a foster home. One of the adoptive parents even made my mom his GODMOTHER. She was devastated when my mom died.

I had a friend while I was in junior high, that lived up the street. She called one day, crying. Her mom was German, from Germany, and would not let her decorate their tree the way she wanted. She came to my house and helped us. 

I have two brothers, and ALL our friends called her, mom. 

I used to drag abused and neglected kids home from school on the bus, and she would always make sure they were safe, and taken care of. I bet her conversations with the bus driver were interesting.

All she EVER wanted to be, was a mom; and she was the BEST mom! My older brother and I are not quite 9 months apart, and were always in the same grade. In 5th grade, he went to a different school. I asked my brother why(whom I I IDOLIZED), and he said it was because he hated me. OUCH. So, I asked my mom. She told me that my brother was getting lost… He was known as Julie’s brother, not Jim. She changed his entire life for the better.

My very first T-shirt with print said, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”. This was 1979-1980. She wanted me to learn the piano; but I did not like it; so she made me a deal: learn how to play Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman, Hear me Roar”, and I could quit. That was a great deal, and so much fun sitting around the piano with her, BELTING out that tune!

She was the best friend I ever had. The best mom that anyone could ask for, and I am sure that I have disappointed the heck out of her. Maybe not. She used to tell me and my two brothers that all she wanted for us, was for us to be GOOD PEOPLE, and be happy. I think I am a good person; sometimes giving to a fault. I am working on the happy part…

Sorry it’s sideways

Surprise!!

I had a very hard time sleeping last night. I am so SICK of the hot weather! When is fall coming? This heat makes me feel worse; I need to temperature to drop. 

When I actually got out of bed, I did not even make it down the hallway, before my legs gave out. What the hell is going on? I am wondering if it is because I may need vitamins. Could it be my spine? Apparently, I only have one disc in my entire spine, that is not herniated, or bulging. L3-4 is my lone standout. 

I am trying hard not to whine. This is very new to me. I just got this diagnosis at the end of June. For the 5 1/2 previous, I was just trying to survive. It is amazing how changing my diet has helped; I am still nauseous 24/7, but only vomit once a day, or so. I am also trying to come to terms with my anger with the V.A. I have not seen a VA doc since I got my diagnosis and am kind of afraid of what I will say to them. I actually have an appointment next month.

The weakness is getting to me the most. I lettered in three sports, every year durng high school, and had been very active. I loved running. Now, sometimes, I can barely make it to the livingroom.

Oh, and the judgement I get from others, when I actually leave my house. They look at me and assume that nothing is wrong. All they see is a tall, thin woman in heels and a dress. Well, if they bothered to ask, I would tell them that ever since my second neck surgery, if I wear any heel UNDER 4 inches, my entire spine hurts. If I wear ANY kind of waistband, I get very ill. So, dresses and heels it must be(my husband LOVES it).

I guess that I am done bitching for now. Have a good day.

Laughing Out Loud

Laughing and joy are important. I, myself, just finished laughing out loud with my husband. 

We took our puppies for a short walk, and TaTonka saw a rabbit and took off. They both wear(wore) these cute shirt-like, velcro harnesses. Tonka’s came undone, and we were off to the races! 

Skip, my husband, had forgotten his “magic knee”(a spiffy knee brace), and has not been able to run in quite awhile. He LOVES that dog, so he RAN! It was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time! Don’t worry, Skip knows I am writing this; he was laughing, too.

Before he finally got a knee brace, I called him noodle knee. His knee would collapse to the side, and wiggle like a noddle- it was disturbing. He made it through the sprint uninjured, and with his dog.

One of the joys I have, is taking them for a walk. We live at about 7000 feet, and about 10 miles from the base of a 14,000 foot mountain. We have lots of wildlife in the city; from rabbits, foxes, deer, beer, and elk. It is really cool.

I am beginning to ramble, so goodbye, for now.

Having just recently received the diagnosis of gastroparesis; it was caused by my vagus nerve being “nicked”.  I have only begun to do any research on this, and have found very few post/articles     about this type of vagus injury. My vagus nerve was cut during a C5-6 fusion. 

These are some of the symptoms I have:

-Difficulty swallowing and talking

-Inability to rotate head away from affected side(which a doctor INSISTED I was faking)

-Heart palpitations and rapid pulse

-Persistent cough

-Hoarseness and weakness of voice(from vocal cord spasm or paralysis)

-Gastroparesis

-Ovarian cysts

I am worried if my nerve will fray, since it has actually been cut? This probably sounds stupid, but I worry about that. 

I guess I should be grateful that the VA did not kill me, and I will eventually get there, but right now I am PISSED! There was a team of doctors in my surgery JUST TO MONITOR MY NERVES. I may get into all that at a later time.

I realize that I am the one responsible for my health, but if anyone out there knows of another who has this “condition”(I don’t even know what to call it), I would appreciate ANY info. 

I would also like to thank those who have reached out to me; I really appreciate it. 

Effective Immediately

In the mail the other day, I received a letter from my VA, stating that I have a new primary care provider; effective immediatley. This is the 5th primary care provider I have had, and not ONE can even PRETEND to give a shit. My 4th provider has been moved to somewhere else in the clinic. My new provider is a male. I am so pissed. They KNOW I need a FEMALE; I have MST, and it is in my records that I need a female.

I have lost all respect for every single person that works for the VA; if they are not a whistle-blower. Especially my fellow veterans. There are so many horrendous things going on at the VA that either nobody cares about, or it is just too difficult for the public to believe we are really being treated this horribly. We are, and more people need to DO SOMETHING. Doing push-ups is  not helping us. Let’s look at the reason WHY. It goes way beyond long wait times.

Thank you for your service; now go home and die

I was in a car accident in 2008, which resulted in every one of the discs in my spine to herniate, or bulge; except one. My head was locked to the left, and my left arm was essentially paralyzed. In September of 2010, I had my first neck surgery( a C4-5 disc replacement). During my pre-op appointments, the attending surgeon told me that they were going to have a civilian surgeon come from the medical school to assist, because they had not done very many of these procedures. Holy shit…

The surgery went as well as expected- the post-op was rough, but I got through it. My throat was so swollen that I could not talk, or eat for two weeks. Shortly after this surgery, it was obvious that they had not done the correct level. Nothing had changed. My head and arm were still locked, and the pain did not get any better.

My primary care told me that she finally had to push the surgeon against the wall and tell her that I NEEDED another surgery. I began the pre-op process at the VA for my second surgery in January of 2011. The residents were all giving me a hard time; they were insisting that I was too young for a fusion in my neck(I was 42 years old). They said that I would lose about 10-15% motion in my neck looking up, and to the left. I informed them that I could not look up at ALL, nor to the left, so I could live with that percentage.

I was told that a piece of bone would be taken from my hip, and put into my neck, and I would have a stiff neck brace for 6 weeks. It took me a moment to get used to that idea, but I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so I knew that I could handle the pain.

Fast forward to the morning of my surgery. I am in the actual pre-op area with an IV in my arm and all; then along came a certain resident that I will not name, and gave me some very disturbing news. He said that “they” had been discussing my case for the past hour and a half and they decided to change the ENTIRE surgery. Instead of having my own bone as the fusion, they decided to use metal. After waiting for hours in pre-op, someone finally came in and told me that they were waiting for a team of doctors that would be there just to monitor my nerves. 

When I woke up in the ICU, which was the original plan, the FIRST thing I heard was a nurse telling me that my surgery took way longer and was way more brutal than they thought. Yes, she used the word brutal. She then told me that I took more anesthesia than anyone else my size. I will still never understand how/why a nurse would ever say that to a patient that just had neck surgery. I was one of TWO patients that my nurse had, which was apparenlty too much for her. I had this huge cardiac lead thing on my chest, which kept beeping because she put them on incorrectly. She got so frustrated with me that I cried and begged her just to take them off- which she did. The only thing this nurse in the ICU did for me, was get me a shampoo cap, so I could try and get some of the dried, caked on blood out of my hair.

There was a very bright spot though. I could move my left arm and my head, and the pain was gone!! I was feeling great, even after the surgeon drew her little pictures explaining my “brutal” surgery. I was so happy about these results, I did not care that I had a broken neck, and was taking care of myself. 

The plan was that I would spend one or two nights in the ICU, they had me on massive steroids to avoid the throat swelling. Once I was “stable” I would be moved to a regular hospital room for a day or two, depending on my progress. That did not happen. I was in the ICU for one night, and then they sent me HOME. The nurse literally walked away and left me alone with a broken neck, no wheelchair, and no escort. It took me an hour and a lot of begging, just to get a wheelchair. Needless to say, I was so ready to go home, and did.

Initially,my  recovery went well. About a month after this second surgery, I began to get very ill. I was naseous all the time, and vomitted for HOURS, DAILY. I could not speak, only whisper, and anything beyond tip-toeing made me vomit. I was miserable. I could not eat, I had night sweats, felt like I had the flu, all the time. I BEGGED my VA primary care to get me back to the surgeon, I just KNEW my neck surgery had everything to do with why I was sick. Not one single person believed me. They all said that was IMPOSSIBLE. 

I was sent to the GI clinic, who also refused to entertain the idea that my recent neck surgery was the cause of what was going on with me. I was so ill at one appointment that I could not even stand up straight. I was finally admitted to the hospital. I was subjected to every single GI test they had; including swallowing a “smart pill”. They told me that all the tests were normal. I was discharged after a week with them telling me that they knew I was dying, they did not know why, they were doing no more tests, and here is a big bag of pills. Go home and die. NICE.

I am 5 feet 9 inches tall, and got down to 108 pounds. I could not eat, drink, talk, move. I was miserable. Since the VA told me that all my tests were normal, I thought that maybe I was having a reaction to the hardware in my neck. I was told no, no, no way. It got so bad that I wrote AND visited my Congressman’s office. His military liaision told me that Congress CANNOT tell the VA what to do. WHAT?! The manager of my VA clinic was there as well, and the only thing that got done, was they assigned my another primary care.

My first visit to the VA after this encounter should not have surprised me, but it did. I noticed that this HUGE cop was following me around. While I was in the waiting room, he pulled my husband aside. He told me husband that he better keep and eye on me because I am a trouble maker. Things continued to get worse and more absurd.

My new doctor was HORRIBLE. She told me that I was faking, that it was all in my head. The VA used the excuse that my PTSD is MST, and all sexual trauma manifests in the abdomen. Give me a break. I had to remind her more than once of the oathe she took. FIRST DO NO HARM. She lied in my medical record, was outwardly abusive and argumentative. She listened to NOTHING. I was almost diagnosed with high blood pressure, she was that bad. My pressure SHOT up when I had to deal with her. 

I went to the patient advocate, who by-the-way, are USELESS in the VA. I just got more abuse. 

Finally, this woman gave me a referral to GI again. THIS time, I was able to use the veteran’s choice program, which is where a veteran can choose to go to a CIVLIAN doctor, if the wait time is longer than 30 days, or the VA facility is too far away. An appointment was made for me to get another upper endoscope through this program. When the doctor came in to talk to me before the procudure, he said that he understood that I was having a problem swallowing. I told him the same thing that I had told EVERY SINGLE VA PROVIDER; that I had a neck surgery January of 2011, and became very ill, shortly thereafter. 

Guess what he said?! He said that he bet the VA cut my vagus nerve and paralyzed my stomach, and ordered a gastric emptying study. The VA had done this study a couple of years earlier, and they said that it was normal. I was made an appointment at a civilian radiology office for this study. I ate a scrambled egg with a bit of radioactive materail in it, and had to lie still for two hours while they measured how quickly the food left my stomach. This one showed that I have Gastroparesis, due to post op injury of my vagus nerve. 

The reason the VA said that my test was normal, is that they did the entire thing INCORRECTLY. They MADE me walk up and down the hallway inbetween pictures(walking speeds up digestion). Talk about pissed off. How many veterans have died? I almost died TWICE, because of them. I have informed the VA, the Inspector General and Senators. Not a damn thing has been done. 

I was at the edge of suicide more than once. I began to think that I WAS going crazy; that it was all in my head. Thank God for the civilian doctors, who were the FIRST ones to show me any kindess, or even listen to me. For that I am grateful.

The VA still does not know I have a diagnosis. I just received it in June of this year, and have not gotten a return appointment with the VA, yet. God help us all.