Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quasi Public

I do not understand why people feel the need to attack us when we are going through a tough time.  Are they really that insecure in their own lives?  Are they really that unhappy in their own lives?  Do they really think that highly of themselves that they feel they need to educate all of us lesser people?  (please wait while I finish laughing hysterically.)

Someone said it must be jealousy.  Jealous of what?  Having a loved one almost lose his life?  Having a loved one have his legs cut off?  I know Green Day sings, "They cut off my legs, now I'm an amputee," but it is not a joke.  Yes, there are benefits, such as meeting famous people like we met Sgt Slaughter today, but look at what we have to sacrifice!

A friend of mine also has a blog.  She was the one who advised me to start blogging.  It has been very therapuetic.  One of her recent entries was about boundaries and respecting the family's privacy.  She was attacked for a lot of nonsense, some of which I am going to address herein, especially because I was also attacked for similar things in the Guestbook of my Caring Bridge blog.

I have met families who blog.  They blog to keep family and friends up-to-date on their loved ones' progress.  I have met families who refuse to blog.  They hold their privacy too precious to have anything about them on the web.

Why do I blog?  Well, I started this to keep family and close friends up-to-date about Derek's progress.  I only expected very few people to ever read it.  Then, the Army Moms on Facebook wanted updates, and it was easier for them to refer to the blog then to keep posting on the thread.  But then I found out that my blog was being shared with Church groups around the country and even on the other side of the world.  Our story had taken on a life of its own.

I started just talking about Derek's medical issues.  Now I talk about issues with the hospital, this new normal, family issues dealing with this lifestyle, etc.  This really has taken off.

Our story has NOT taken off as much as my friend's, however, and, while she is my role model, she was basically accused of being an attention hog and seeking the limelight.  I was accused of the same thing in my Guestbook, and Caring Bridge deleted that entry after I said I would not. 

Back to my friend....  Although I have not known her very long, I cannot see that about her.  While I do know someone whom that would describe, that is not my friend.  She does not seek all that comes her way, but it finds her.  She is a wonderful spokeswoman for this unfortunate life, and she does it with grace and humour.  What I have witnessed about her has been someone who has gone out of her way to help whomever she can no matter how busy she is.  She has two young children, but she still makes time to help those of us just starting on this road.  I hope that I can be of as much assistance to new families as she has been to me.

So there are those of us who chose to blog about our journeys and those of us who do not.  Those of us who do, we do so for many different reasons, one of which is to educate the public about the little known world of the wounded warrior. 

What the news shows is not the whole story.  What was shown during the Army/Navy Game of Derek sitting next to Dr. Perdue and the triple amp talking about the comaraderie of the guys in the Matc is not the whole story.  The real nitty gritty of the day-to-day is shown in my blog, my friend's blog.  If you want the REAL story, read the blogs.  Follow the day-to-day, not the edited cuts that show the pretty story.  We are the real face.  And I don't think this woman who criticized my friend got that.  Yes, my friend smiles.  Yes. Derek, Krystina and I joke and laugh.  But we are the real face of this.  We don't sit and cry about it.  And that is why my friend is approached by the media and the White House and the powers that be when they need a spokeswoman, because she knows how to handle herself.

And putting ourselves out there, in the public eye does make us quasi-public figures, but it does not mean that we are not entitled to our privacy.  There are parts of our lives that we choose not to make public.  There are injuries and procedures that I have chosen not to share.  In the event that Derek gives me permission to share those aspects of his journey, I will do so, but not until he is off of all pain medications and thinking clear!

I cannot tell you how many inappropriate questions I have been asked.  And I get that people care.  I get that people are asking the questions because they are concerned.  But would you like it if I went up to you and asked if your husband could get an erection?  That's my son!  I actually had someone come up to me and inquire if he could get an erection.  I asked if she intended on having sex with him.  Another man asked if he could have children.  I told him I didn't know because he hadn't yet tried.  My friend told me that she has been asked if she and her husband are able to have more children, as well.

When dealing with wounded warriors, please remember that certain questions are just too personal, just like if you are dealing with the average joe on the street, whether or not we have a blog.  Please remember three things:
          (1)  If you would not openly bring it up at the dinner table with Billy Joe and Mary Sue Smith from down the street, please do not do so with us, wait for us to raise the issue;
          (2) Please do not stare at the amputations, wounds, etc.; and
          (3) Treat us the same as you would have before the incident.

Just because we choose to put certain things out on the internet on a blog does NOT mean that you can delve into every aspect of our lives.  My friend was accused of making the boundaries blurry and criticizing those who have questions.  I have never seen her criticize anyone with questions, just those who have questions that cross the line of decency, as discussed above.

There was an accusation made to my friend about "marketing herself for profit."  A similar accusation was made to me.  Profit?  Through this?  Let me tell you something.  If you or I were in a car accident and lost our legs, how much do you think we might be paid in a law suit?  $250,000?  Minimum?  Probably more like $500,000 or $1,000,000.  These soldiers get $100,000. Maximum.  That is $100,000 for whatever injuries they sustain IF it is determined that the injuries are severe enough to be awarded the entire amount.  Then yes, the vet is also entitled to a percentage of his pay grade as "retirement" and Social Security.  Wow.  Maybe $3,500 per month.  Maybe.  Maybe $2,500.  It depends on what he was making.  Is it enough to comfortably support him and his family for the rest of his life?  Only if he wants to live in a trailer in tornado alley and survive on tuna fish.  The vet will be eligible to attend school, and it would behoove him to take advantage of that.

But there are other expenses.  The housing grant is all of $64,000.  For anyone who has purchased or remodled a home, you and I both know that it will cost a lot more than $64,000 to outfit a home that will be equipped for a wounded warrior.  This is why so many take advantage of the shows George to the Rescue, Extreme Home Makeover, etc., as well as have fund raisers.

The vet is entitled to a car grant of $18,000.  A wheelchair accessible van that is fully outfitted so that a wounded warrior can not only ride in but drive the van would cost a lot more than that to purchase and modify.

The military and the non-profit organizations are wonderful.  They do so very much to help our wounded warriors live a normal life.  We have so much to be thankful for.  But we do need the help of the community that comes forward with the fund raisers, the dinners, the bake sales.  My friend was accused of marketing herself, but she was only saying "yes" when her community, just as when our community held dinners and bake sales for Derek and the family that will be needed because, unfortunately, there are expenses that are just not covered.

I do not know what some of those expenses are yet.

Unfortunately, as a mother going through this, my experience is going to be very different then my friend.  I was given many applications and grant forms that simply do not apply to me.  I was given a mortgage assistance form and a tuition application.  I am not entitled to either.  Because I am Mom.  Because the mortgage is in my name, I am not entitled to that assistance.  I am not entitled to help paying the mortgage while helping care for my child because he is not an owner of the home.  Also, I am not entitled to tuition assistance to further my career in the event that I have lost my job as a result of this incident and need to find a new one.  There is very little assistance offered to Moms.

Moms get the daily allotment and room while our soldier is inpatient, and if we are the NMA when our son goes outpatient, we get the daily allotment and a room in Bldg 62.  We also get the occasional massage, which I am very much looking forward to tomorrow since I am suffering from the worst migraine I have ever had. 

Derek will have OT at 10 and PT at 11 tomorrow in the Matc.  He is looking forward to the workout after a quiet weekend.  Next weekend will be anything but quiet!  6 days until Christmas!  Are YOU ready?

We lost one of our favorite nurses today.... Michelle Bennett, as she prepares to leave for ICU school.  We wish her the best of luck.  She will be phenomenal in her new position.

Are you sure about this?  No!  Let's go!

Climb to glory! 


  1. Wow, I can't believe that total strangers would ask such inappropriate questions - it never ceases to amaze me at just how stupid some people are!

    The financial assistance that is available to wounded warriors was very eye-opening for me. I had no idea that as a MOM there is not much assistance available to you. It doesn't seem fair. It seems like whoever the primary care provider is (mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter) would be eligible for the benefits that are offered. With all the passion that you've shown through your blog, I'm sure that when the time is right some of your energies will be put towards trying to make things better for other moms caring for their wounded warriors. You, Derek AND Krystina are all a daily inspiration to me!

    Climb to Glory!

  2. I am in your corner, Siobhan.
    It is my opinion that those people who criticize blogs a jealous of the attention they garner. They want to be notice too. Unfortunately, they are getting the wrong kind of attention. And, also unfortunately, this occurs all too often in this "self-centered" world. "What about me? I have problems, too! (whine, whine)
    So, keep on keeping on. Make us see that the world doesn't not revolved around us. That our problems are not the end of the world, that the way you handle them proves our worth. Break our rose colored glasses, as it were, tell us about real people with real problems dealing with the heart break and joys of being an MOM, a fiance, a wounder soldier.
    Sending lots and lots of hugs and kisses and love to all of you. Prayers, as always.

    Climb to Glory!

  3. I have never seen a post by you or your friend that even comes close to giving me the impression you are trying to profit. I'm sorry people are jerks. I snorted when you said that one woman wanted to know if he could get an erection. I mean really does she walk up to random people asking that question? Heck I wouldn't even ask my boys (okay they are grown but they will always be my boys) that question. What you and your friend have done for me is not measurable in money. You've shown me that we can have strength and grace in the most difficult situations. Sometimes we may have to bitch and sometimes be an angel but it's done out of love. You both have shown me that there are people who do put their loved ones above everything else that may be going on. Krystina has shown me that a young woman her age can have some serious maturity, strength and love.

    I didn't know about the "money" aspect of it. 100K is all these men will get for what they've lost?! No money doesn't solve the problems they will face but it will help them survive in their new normal. Yes 100K is a lot when you don't have it but it's not much when you start thinking about what needs to be done for them. Reading yours and your friends blogs makes me want to go up to DC and give them what for. Honestly I think maybe they should adopt a wounded warrior that has no family to help as you and your friend have helped your wounded warrior. Let them deal with all of it and see what really needs to happen. Okay I'm getting worked up about it. My son is coming home for Christmas, he is stateside but will be deploying sometime next year. So yes you and your friend have become my Army mom and wife friends, at least that's how I feel. So Merry Christmas and give Derek and Krystina a hug and the hug you give them will also be my hug for you.

  4. There will always be the rude, ignorant, uncompassionate, narrow minded, arrogant people on the internet or living down the street. They are hard to ignore and even harder to educate.
    I live in Caldwell...i had originally read about Derek in the local paper. My sister on the other hand started reading your blog right from the beginning..mentioning almost daily the trails and tribulations you were going through. We found a familiar similarity in your personality...with an appreciation of how much you fought for Derek's patient care in the hospital. I started to follow Derek and ALL OF YOU on has educated me...made me aware, made me pray, made me cry, made me proud.
    I too have a therapy dog.. named Ed...he does not have a rank lol but when you get home I'd love to bring him by to meet you all.
    Let me leave you with my favorite Irish toast:
    "May those that love us, love us.
    And those that don’t love us,
    May God turn their hearts.
    And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
    May he turn their ankles,
    So we’ll know them by their limping."

    Merry Christmas from Caldwell !!!

    Judy Carlough