Our guest blogger Tara and her husband Todd.
It has been one year and nine months since my husband almost died due to injuries sustained in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast in Afghanistan. It has been almost two years since he and our lives have felt the same. When I received the phone call about him being injured and getting flown to Bagrum Airforce Base back on October 16, 2009, I never realized how much our lives together would change.
When Todd was hurt, he suffered many physical injuries besides the moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the poly trauma to his leg and the damage to his blood count. He also suffered the loss of his friends, Sgt. Gabriel Green and SSG Christopher Staats. They were killed instantly when the Humvee ran over the roadside bomb that was buried underground.
We spent months together in the Fisher House at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. It was a place that families of soldiers could stay for free while their soldiers were getting medical treatment. It was a life saver as there was no way we could afford the cost of a hotel for 6 months!
Once Todd was finally released from the Warrior Transition Unit to the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit, we were able to go home and live together as a family. During Todd’s hospitalization, our son Liam was attending middle school. Our friends Jeff and Renee Clark took him in and let him stay with them so he wouldn’t have to move schools. Every weekend I would drive home to Taylor to get our son and then back to San Antonio to visit his father. Each Sunday for a half of a year, we would get our hearts ripped out when we had to say goodbye to him. It was so hard to say goodbye to our son!
When we finally got home, things for us were not that easy. At first, Todd would unlock his hand gun safe each night like clockwork to make sure he had it ready in case something would happen. I know he was just securing the perimeter for us to show he cared, but it made me a tiny bit nervous- what if he forgot to lock it the next day and one of Liam’s friends happened to find the gun sitting in the safe? We never let any kids come into the home and play without us supervising.
Fortunately, sometime has gone by and Todd has undergone some good therapy. He doesn’t get that vigilant about his gun as of late. Sadly, things that never used to be an issue for him now make him shower the world with profanities. If he drops something, it is an “F this”, or” S this” or D this.” I am not a girl that speaks as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. I grew up in New York, in the Niagara Falls area. The women I worked with while being a waitress spoke pretty course, much like Jersey truck drivers. Todd and I did not curse much in front of our child as we knew that they are copycats and we wanted him to use his vocabulary. However, one doesn’t bargain for PTSD or TBI. Both of those help eliminate the filter that is in place when someone is mad. If you add chronic pain to that, and then a good dose of Neurontin (Gabapentin), it totally reduces that mental filter.
For a few months, my husband’s anger escalated to where I did not even want to listen to him anymore. Every day he would talk to me and it wouldn’t really be talking, it was more of a rant as to what really upset him that day. It could be about any certain politician or the person that cut him off behind the wheel a few minutes before. It made it where I felt bad for my son as my husband would let the tiniest things get him very upset. Upset to the point of loud yelling and swearing. Nothing any kid or spouse wants to hear daily.
He did not want me to share with my son the fact that he has PTSD or that he is getting counseling to help him with that and the other issues he is trying to deal with. I told him our son had to hear the truth so he wouldn’t think his father was being a continual jerk to him all of the time. It worked well. Our son has a really strong understanding of how PTSD works and how trust is is really important.
Can you imagine having to hear someone having a rant each day and then later trying to bridge the rant you remember hearing to having the romantic notions for intimacy? It was a struggle. It took a lot of honest talking and a lot of not compromising in order to get the ideas across. It is so easy for me not to share my thoughts, but to just compromise.
We are doing so much better now. I have learned how to understand what he is yelling at me –is it coming from the PTSD space or is it him being truly mad at me for something
Our Guest Blogger: Tara Plybon
Welcome our Guest Blogger Tara Plybon to the PTSD Diary! Like our first guest blogger Megan Byers, I meet Tara in Florida during a Wounded Warrior Wives retreat that we blogged about here: Women of Warriors Retreat. Tara has a wonderful sense of humor and is often able to laugh through difficult times. She also provides excellent advice for fellow wounded warrior wives. Thank you Tara for sharing your thoughts, we hope to have you share more with us in the future! ~ Nicole