I saw this today and thought of you guys. Being a caregiver is hard, especially when you are part of a couple and the Veteran is your spouse. I loved this so much because its a great description of what we go through. The original post was from a life coach that maintains a couples enrichment board on Pinterest. I would encourage you to check it out too, you can find it HERE.
Cross posted to http://www.qoftu.com
Some days it is hard to remember when I wasn’t struggling to get my Warrior to remember something. Then those days come that I have too many things that need remembering in my head and then I forget. HOW IRONIC.
I talk about different ways to help him all the time but one of the easiest ways to help a TBI/PTSD patient work different parts of their brain is to get them to read. Not the easiest thing, granted, but there is really something for everyone out there. It’s worth a shot.
One thing about my Warrior is that he LOVES action (big surprise there) anything. Movies, television, books. One of his favorites is historical fiction books, particularly anything related to other warriors (see a theme here?) I can’t even remember how our household stumbled upon Giles Kristian only that it happened furiously and all at once. It wasn’t possible that we could get enough of him.
Then a funny thing happened…
My Warrior inadvertently became the best fan of Kristian. I don’t say biggest because that’s not really what I mean. I say best because a TBI/PTSD patient is likely the BEST kind of fan because they are constantly setting down books and forgetting where they put them. Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it is hilarious. During our travels, many Kristian books have been left behind in hotels rooms across the country, like some sort of Viking Gideon Bible program. We laugh about it now and imagine all the new fans we have inspired because we leave a book behind somewhere. I can’t remember how many times we have bought each book but it is safe to say MULTIPLE times.
Why keep buying them, you ask?
Because they are just that great. When we first started buying the books, they were not available in the US. I literally would scour EBay after each new release to find which bookstores in the UK and Australia would post them for sale (I bought from both.) When he announced via Twitter that they would be released in the US, we literally had a WOO HOO moment out loud in our house. Now we are hoping for a series of movies based on the books!
Books are the best gifts. Especially Viking books.
One thing my Warrior noticed once we started working on a sleep plan to try to help with the memory loss that sleep deprivation adds to the TBI/PTSD patients problems, was that if he was watching too many of his action/drama type movies, they seemed to activate those parts of his mind that caused the reoccurring nightmares. When I suggested that we switch to reading before bed there was a dramatic decrease in those nightmares. But what happened when he began reading the Raven series was something different altogether.
He was excited to read.
There are a great number of things I could say about the way Kristian writes but largely, for our household, the greatest thing is how he so richly captures the life of a warrior. There are sad and terrible events, but there is bonding, friendships and loyalty. More importantly, he deftly depicts the HONOR. Too many times Warriors return from any number of conflicts and are not revered or cared for. Sadly this continues but one thing so prevalent in Viking culture and shines through Kristian’s stories is the honor in which these warriors live their lives.
I would recommend reading any and all of his books. There are often social media contests in which you can win book copies (both of us have each won once) and you will not be disappointed in any of them. I had the great privilege of previewing his short The Terror and as usual it is full of fierce loyalty, warrior competiveness and love. What is better than that?
That’s right, NOTHING.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
My Warrior is off on a rigorous challenge this week through the Soldiers to Summits group. We don’t really know much about the organization from friends so this will be a new opportunity to check out a new organization. If you are looking for something that is different from the traditional recreation event, they look like the have some amazing options.
I asked him to take a ton of pictures and write-up what he learns each day so that I can post it here for you guys next week. Fingers crossed that it’s a good chance to learn about himself and be better balanced in life. Isn’t that what caregivers want most for our Warriors?
I feel like there should be a 12 Step Guide for Caregivers to get through (or get over) Thanksgiving and the quickly approaching Christmas. I go into them optimistic and full of hope. I think I have prepared and covered down on any potential problems. Then the shit hits the fan. Here are my 12 steps:
- We know we are powerless over PTSD episodes but we believe that they can be managed.
- We continue to believe there is a purpose for the journey; we just have to keep reminding ourselves.
- Planning every detail and anticipating problems is what we do, even if we don’t do it effectively enough.
- Making sure to include interests of our Warrior in holiday time should ensure that they remain relaxed and in a good frame of mind.
- We know it is likely to not work out the way we want it to.
- There is never enough time in the day to fix everything but we will try.
- Cross fingers, say prayers and try to mentally will the bad episodes away.
- Go in a room by ourselves, get mad, get up and go back out to try again.
- Try really hard not to take it personal.
- Always take it personal.
- Eat a doughnut. Or a cookie. Or both.
- Give up and hope tomorrow is better.
Can I get an amen?
Isn’t that how it is? It is for me. I start out with all great intentions. Road trip? Okay, I will drive half of the time. Snacks? Healthy nuts, fruit and water will keep the gluten monster at bay. Music? I will alternate between the tastes of everyone in the car.
What actually happens?
Traffic becomes unbearable for the Warrior. Crowded bridges and overpasses in large cities offer unending anxiety that accumulates until they explode. No matter the stress or issue for any other driver, it is their fault and their actions are purposeful. Healthy snacks yield to caffeine drinks and sugar that seems the easy fix temporarily. No thought is given to the result of them and a litany of profanity is available to the caregiver that tries to offer an opposing view. Don’t put on Christmas music because basically it just irritates them.
You just can’t win.
So what to you do make things easier? Is there such a thing? Often I feel like nothing progresses until there is an argument about it and then the Warrior hears. It is easier to convey a message in anger sometimes; I just don’t understand that part. I don’t like it. I don’t want it and it is distressful. For whatever reason, it seems to be a common theme in my house though. Right now I just keep repeating step 12. It will get easier I am sure.
Do you have any tips that can help a caregiver getting through holiday trips, trials and trauma? How do you keep from loosing your mind?
I went through the interview process for this study and wanted to share the information with you guys. This is a study specific to Caregivers of those with Traumatic Brain Injury after 10/2001. This information will be used to inform Congress and will last up to 15 years. They are still trying to enroll the 600 caregivers they need. If you are interested, please get in touch with them.
I understand better than anyone that we all already have too much on our hands but this is information that our country’s leaders need to get and digest. It is an opportunity to let them know what is working and more importantly, what is NOT working. I think its worth the effort!