Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Garret's Half Day Schedule

As of yesterday, Garret has been put on a half day schedule.  Recently his pain managementcute animated soldier clip art doctor recommended that until he gets into the WTB, he be put on a half day work schedule to increase his resting time and by extension his recouping ability, and yesterday the Unit Physician approved it!  This order is for 30 days at a time, at the end of which he will be re-evaluated to determine if another 30 days would be beneficial.  The hope is that by then he will have heard back on his WTB application.  We'll keep you posted on any developments!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Academic Future

After much thought, debate, and research, I have decided to go to an online schOnline school clip artool to finish  my Bachelor's degree instead of a traditional university.  This way regardless of what our future holds, or where we end up geographically speaking, I will have the opportunity to complete what I started three years ago.

After doing some investigating online, I found two schools that would be a great fit for me and my academic goals for the future.  They are Walden University and Kaplan University.  I have spent the last week talking with admissions advisors at both schools, gathering information, and filling out applications.  Walden University is not like the "usual" online school in that just about anyone can enroll, you actually have to be accepted to their program.  Kaplan, does have a sort of screening process, but you don't have to be accepted per se.  Both schools have a lot of great features to offer, great academic programs for me to pursue and very helpful, friendly staff members. 

I'm still trying to decide which one it will be.  Pending I'm accepted to Walden, it will probably come down to financial aid packages.  In the meantime, I'm continuing to complete the steps for enrollment at both schools.  Both schools would give me a start date of roughly about the same time, the end of August, or beginning of September. 

This process while stressful at times, has been so motivational and so invigorating, I cannot wait to be back in the saddle again.  I will be sure to keep you posted!

New Job

I've been looking for part time work for the last six months to no avail.  It didn't help that I was limited to where I could work and the hours I could work, given that we only have one vehicle and my schedule would have to be compatible with Garret's.  Then last week Garret heard about an opening at the Thrift Shop (which is actually run by the Hui -- the spouse's club where I serve as Webmaster on the Governing Board).  I called my fellow board member who runs the Thrift Shop and she gave me the details.

The next day (Tuesday) I went in, filled out an application, and was told to be back on Thursday at 9:30 for an interview.  It went well.  That afternoon I got a phone call from Jodie, the Manager, offering me the job!  Needless to say I was beyond excited!

It is the perfect position for me (and for Garret) right now.  I am the new Donations and Display Coordinator, which means I'm in charge of all of the donations, getting them in the store and out on the floor so people can purchase them.  In addition, I'm the Supervisor for all of the volunteers who work there regularly, as well as coordinating them and training the new ones.  We're only open two days a week (Tuesday and Thursday) from 9:00 - 1:00.  This is perfect, because it will work well with Garret's crazy schedule, and enable me to continue pursuing my many other activities and commitments.  It's a salary position, and I won't say how much I'm making, but I will say, it's more than totally worth my time and I couldn't be happier!!!!!

The Thrift Shop is responsible for raising a good portion of the money the Hui donates annually for scholarships and welfare grants.  It's a great organization and I'm so excited to have this opportunity!  I start July 28th, and I can't wait!

Army Family Team Building Instructor

One day when we were at the Army Community Services building applying to get an AER loan to pay for my ridiculously expensive root canals (which we were approved for -- Happy Day!), the loan officer said, "You'd make a great instructor.  You're really outgoing.  The AFTB is always looking for good people to teach." 

First I said, "Thank you."  Then I said, "What's the AFTB?" I wanted to make sure she wasn't recruiting me for some kind of religious or telemarketing scheme.

She went on to tell me that the AFTB teaches classes (at varying levels) to soldier spouses new to the Army or to the base.  Essentially they educate you on all things Army related, from reading the monthly LES (pay stubs which in the Army is the equivalent of trying to translate a foreign language) to getting money for your education, and everything in between.  Before I knew it she had introduced me to the AFTB Program Manager, and I was signing up to take the instructor courses. 

I'll admit, I was a little hesitant to take on another volunteer commitment given the chaotic and hectic nature of our schedule right now, but in the end I decided it would be a great opportunity.  Not only would I get to meet new people and to help new military spouses adjust to the culture shock of Army life, but also knowledge is power, and understanding how the Army works and operates can only help us in navigating through this crazy world we now live in. 

My instructor courses start next week, Monday through Thursday, from 5:00-9:00 PM.  In addition to taking the instructor courses, we also have to take the individual levels we're going to teach, before we can actually teach them.  It sounds like a great program and I'm so excited to be a part of it.  I only wish I had found it sooner, like when I first moved here.  Oh well, better late than never.

NOTE:  For anyone who watches Army Wives, Pamela's character became and AFTB instructor in one of the more recent episodes.  It was the one where Roland was having an identity crisis, and walked out on her during her class.  Also, for the record Army Wives is full of little inconsistencies that make it not very accurate regarding the ways of the Army, but the story line is so good and the characters are so enthralling, I totally watch it anyway!

Med Board Process Began - Then Stopped

In late May we were notified that a Med Board had been started on Garret.  We were told to show up at Tripler (the major Army hospital) at such and such a date and time, to begin the process.  At this point we were like, are you kidding me?  He hadn't even started physical therapy yet and they're trying to make a determination as to whether or not he's medically able to do his job?  That's typical Army behavior, if it makes absolutely no sense, let's do it!

So we diligently showed up and went through eight hours of medical examinations and briefings, which I have to imagine is what one of the seven circles of hell is like, only to find out at his second appointment two days later, that it was a mistake and he shouldn't have been there at all. 

There may come a time when the Med Board (which is only the beginning step in a very long series of steps towards being medically chaptered out of the Army) is a reality.  Truth be told even then, it's not a guarantee that you're getting the boot.  We're just glad today is not that day.

Garret WTB Update

As written in previous posts, we've been trying to have Garret transferred to the Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) and meeting a variety of resistance in varying forms along the way.  Long story short, after getting the Army Regulations for the transfer process to the WTB, I took it upon myself to put together the necessary forms, documents, and information specified in the Army regulations (normally the job of the Chain of Command, but whatever).  Then, after a meeting with the 1st SGT and the Company Commander (don't ask), we were finally able to get the process officially started.  I am happy to report that as I blog this, his WTB packet is in processing and has been forwarded onto the necessary entities.  Hopefully we will know in the next few weeks whether or not it has been approved.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Getting into the WTB would give Garret the best chance at rehabilitation, because their focus is strictly on the individual soldier and getting them better or getting them prepared to chapter out of the Army.  Additionally, he would have the opportunity to get a case manager to coordinate his increasing number of appointments; and a primary care manager to coordinate the various medical treatments he's undergoing. 

The stage has been set, now all we can do is wait for the answer.

Garret Healthcare Update

In the last two weeks Garret has begun physical, chiropractic, and aquatic therapy as well as pain management education classes and the use of a prescribed TENS unit.  All of this is in addition to the pain management nerve block injections he was already periodically undergoing.  So far progress is allusive, but we're both hopeful that in time he might greatly benefit from these treatments and even make a full recovery; who knows, stranger things have happened.  He's also taking some new medications. which at the very least are providing him with some semblance of relief and the ability to sleep at night without making him nauseated or loopy.  Any relief you can achieve when you have chronic pain is welcomed with open arms, and it's an added bonus when you don't have to endure unpleasant medication side effects in the process. 

He should be undergoing these therapies for at least the next 4 weeks, at which time he will be re-evaluated to determine what benefit if any they have had.  Regardless of the outcome, I can say this: He is giving it his all, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get better, and that kind of attitude can only lead to good things.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hiatus Over

Every now and then life takes over and leaves you scrambling to catch up.  Long story short, now that my mom's visit has come and gone, and other very pressing situations have been adequately dealt with (for the moment anyway), I can now resume blogging to my hearts content.  A LOT has happened since we last left off and in an effort to avoid a three foot long blog post, I will be posting several shorter posts whenever I can (because even though I'm "caught up" I'm still busier than ever) until my blogs are completely up to date.  So stay tuned for an onslaught of information.