Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jason - Month 18

A little late, but that's ok.

We took a trip to Seattle to argue our case about Jason's disability rating. It was stressful to say the least, getting everything in order last minute to go, travel logistics with a toddler, and switching around my schedule at work. It was worth it, I hope. It seems like it will be, but we won't officially know for another couple of weeks.

It was intimidating to go in and sit in front of the board. Jason was so nervous. He did such a good job, though. His lawyer was really excited when we were all done. There were so many formalities, and I felt like I was in another world. It was all recorded, and so at the beginning they had to say certain things as part of the official record. It sounded so weird. We were in a conference room with three people on each side of the table. So it wasn't like we were on trial or anything, but I know Jason was nervous sitting across from a full bird colonel with a booming voice.

He explained what happened, in detail, and explained each of his injuries and how they would prohibit him from doing his job as an infantryman. I remember him saying "...I would basically become a burden to my other soldiers, and that isn't safe." I felt so bad for him in that moment. I know this is taking a lot out of him, and he wants to get out of the Army so bad right now after dealing with the all the WTU crap, but to hear him accept defeat like that broke my heart a little bit.

In the end, in their official format and booming voices, the president of the board deemed Jason unfit for duty with a total of five unfitting conditions. Again, he hung his head and I could just see his entire Army career flashing before his eyes. He'd never let it truly sink in that he's giving up a huge part of his life, because then he'd have to face the fact that his future is still uncertain. That, and he's just a guy, he'd never be emotional about such things. My heart still broke for him in that moment.

They never interviewed me, I guess Jason's account was detailed enough. I certainly would have loved to give my two cents though. I think we all know that!

And, can I say - Thank God for the Ventura family! If it wasn't for them, I'm not sure what we would've done with Cooper while we were at the hearing. That would've been interesting, to have a 13 month old crawling around an official hearing. We are forever indebted to them for watching him that day!

Now we wait.

And in the mean time, we get to make the following decisions:

Jason needs another surgery. Do we do it in Denver, or back at Walter Reed, or somewhere else?
Our lease on our current rental house is up this summer. I'm over this house.
Do we move to another house in Colorado Springs? Do we buy? Or keep renting?
Do we use our final Army move to move back East and be closer to family for help when needed?
Or do we use it to move ~20 miles away?
Do we stay here and let Jason finish up school but be painfully far from built in babysitters (and the beach!)?

Sounds like fun?

Not so much. It's caused Jason and I to argue more than we've ever argued in our relationship. Every day we have another idea about whether or not we should stay or go. (there are a lot more factors to be weighed in to our decisions than I've listed)

The surgery is called an Ertl, and involves cutting his tibia to be of equal length to his fibula and then using the cut bone to bridge the two together. This results in a much stronger base for him to bear weight on instead of the very sharp tibia that most of his weight ends up on currently. This would shorten the nub a couple inches, and then they'd revise the scar as well. He would be without a leg for 6-8 weeks, and when he is cleared for weight bearing again, he'd have to go through the prosthetic fitting process all over again. They tell us the swelling wouldn't be near as bad as it was last time, so hopefully the process wouldn't be as long. I do know it will be a pain, and Jason will likely be in pain again, and he's not excited about that. The problem lies in the fact that he wouldn't be able to crutch around the house and hold Coop at the same time. We'd need help if I plan on working, and I think our families have agreed to help, I just hope we can cover the amount of time he'd be out of commission.

This also means we'd probably have to miss our highly anticipated beach trip :( I can't tell you how disappointed I am about that, but this surgery won't be an annual thing either, so we will survive another year without the sun, sand, and salt water.

When I look back on the last 18 months, it feels like 10 years have passed. I'm tired. Just tired of making big life changing decisions, or adjusting to another new normal, or planning something we didn't plan on planning. Such is life, and we're not the only ones with heartache and hardships, I'm well aware. But sometimes I'd just love to not worry about anything, and just sit on the beach without having to worry about when we'll be able to afford to come back.

I'd also love to be newlyweds again. We still haven't even been married for three years, and when people ask, I have to think twice before I speak, because I could swear it's been at least five. I just want to be young(ish) and married with our first baby. And that's it. No leg junk to throw in to the mix.

It's the month of love, but it's been more of a bah humbug kind of month in this house!