Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Old, Sliver Lady

Boker Tov:
First, thanks to my Buddy Beth, who left a comment on the last blog.
Yes, it is madding that we as a nation don't do more to help our men and women returning home from long deployments. The fact that many of our returning vets are coming home to find homes forcloused on and no jobs.
Support Our Troops....don't get me started....
This is the reason so many miliarty marriages break up under such strain.
It is the prayers, support and good wishes of friends such as Beth that keep us going.

Yesterday afternoon we learned that a simple oil change and car checkup wasn't so simple.
Like 2,000 dollars not simple. And the warrentiy didn't cover the work.
We don't have that kind of money now. We don't even have jobs.
Suddenly I felt like Isacc on the briar, smelling smoke and waiting for father Abraham to strike with the knife. Isacc didn't know there was a ram waiting to take his place. I am counting on it.
Our beloved car, Princess is dying. In fact, it is a miracle Mark hadn't been in an accident. The gentleman working on the car called it a death trap and didn't even advise driving it home.
And we need a car.
So Mark traded our baby in for a newer model and even got a good deal. Money will be tigh, but it is right now.
It made for a long day and night of prayer.
But Mark came home, with our new car.
And we mourned Princess.

Later as we laid in bed talking, we rememeberd that we brought Princess six years ago this month. We had been in a car accident with Mark's old jeep and it was totaled. It was hard for Mark to let go of Baby; he and baby were together since Fort Drum and she was part of our courtship, even our honeymoon.
Princess was the beginning of our marriage, even before we found the apartment we are living in now. She saw us through two deployments, a trip to South Carolina and runaways to Williamsburge. She has helped people moved, delievered chicken soup, challah, and play dough.
I am going to miss the old, silver lady.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Still Home

So I went into the Dinningroom to get my coffee and tripped over Mark's army boots.
Even though he wasn't home for me to fuss at, I was still ready to fuss.
And then I stopped.
Because tripping over Mark's boots means he's still home.
Someone we love and honour remarked that we have a way of finding the bright side of things. I guess we do. And I believe it is one of the reasons our marriage is a good one. It isn't always easy to chose to look for the good; if you burn both sides of the pancakes, how do you say "honey it's just fine?" Answer: you don't serve those pancakes, but make more. Or offer to take your wife out for pancakes.
No, Mark hasn't burned the pancakes. Just likes to take me out. :)
It has been a year next month since his last deployment. And again this is the longest he has been home.
And I love it.
I remember Mark and I speaking about this the other evening, how nice it was having his home.
Yes, we both know that the lovely invitation to return to the dance Afghtanisn could come, but right now we don't think about it, just enjoying our lives.

Last week Mark mention he now knows a few of his triggers, that causes the anger to rise.
We both enjoy Fox News, but there are times it triggers an over reaction. Such as the playing games with the miliarty and their pay, their benifits. So I don't keep the news on long. And please don't suggest CNN: that's a swear word in our home.
So I keep it on Shalom TV. And on that station too, keep away from politcial news.
Besides, Shalom TV is so much better.

What is PTSD

Boker Tov:

Now, before anyone accuses me of cutting and pasting, the following is indeed from various sources that I have taken notes from as I research PTSD. Others are things I already knew.
For you see,  long before I even Mark, I was treated for PTSD.
And in my case, it was far worse.
So what is PTSD?
PTSD or Post-traumatic stress disorder has been around for years, but getting more headlines in recent years to the nearly ten years this naton has been at war.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can develop following a traumatic event that threatens one's safety and/ or makes ones feel helpless. That one could not protect oneself, one's loved ones and/or those one had charge of.

Most people associate PTSD with battle–scarred soldiers–and military combat is the most common cause in men–but any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event feels unpredictable and uncontrollable. Examples of this would be a car accident, flood, fire or home breakin.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It can even occur in the friends or family members of those who went through the actual trauma. Example: one couldn't stop the child from being hit, one stop couldn''t the person from jumping or one couldn't stop the eviction.
PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear.
Such events include:
Natural disasters
Car or plane crashes
Terrorist attacks
Sudden death of a loved one
Sexual or physical abuse
Childhood neglect
Childhood bullyingThe difference between PTSD and a normal response to trauma

The traumatic events that lead to post-traumatic stress disorder are usually so overwhelming and frightening that they would upset anyone. Following a traumatic event, almost all of us will experiences at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. When one's sense of safety and trust are shattered, it’s normal to feel crazy, disconnected,  numb. It is also common to have nightmares, to  feel fearful, to be numb, to find it impossiable to stop thinking about what happened.
Most people find these symptoms  short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, but they gradually lift.
 But with  (PTSD), the symptoms don’t decrease, but they get worse.
A normal response to trauma becomes PTSD when you become stuck in the moment.

After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as one make sense of what happened and process one's emotions, one works through the emotions and finds once again a place of calm, of normal.
This is not the case with PTSD. 
One remain in psychological shock. One's memory of what happened and feelings about it are disconnected. One still sees, feels, tastes, ears and smells the event. It is as real at that moment as it was when the event first took place. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel the memories and emotions.

The symptoms  PTSD can come out of the blue or gradually, or come and go over time. Often  they are triggered by something that reminds one of the original traumatic event, such as a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell.
I found this list on list. Whileeveryone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms most have in common:
Re-experiencing the traumatic event
Avoiding reminders of the trauma
Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
Symptoms of PTSD: Re-experiencing the traumatic event
Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
Symptoms of PTSD: Avoidance and numbing
Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
Loss of interest in activities and life in general
Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)
Symptoms of PTSD: Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Difficulty concentrating
Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
Feeling jumpy and easily startled
Other common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
Anger and irritability
Guilt, shame, or self-blame
Substance abuse
Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
Depression and hopelessness
Suicidal thoughts and feelings
Feeling alienated and alone
Physical aches and pains
Again, all of us can experience a few, some or all these symptoms because of an dramatic event. It is when the symptoms increase in time that there is a problem that needs to be adressed.
However, there is indeed hope and treatment for PTSD.
I am livning proof of that.
More later.

Silience is The Emeny

Boker Tov;

The reason Mark and I speak out about the PTSD because silence is a killer.
PTSD, like many forms of depression, are still not pnly misunderstood, but not taken seriously.
A "real man can handle anything," is still a catch-word, thrown about like a football.
As the intake worker told Mark and I, "you can't go through four tours and not come out affected." It can't be medicated away, washed away with wine, or prayed away. "Claiming your healing," only adds more guilt that isn't needed.
G-d does heal, but sometimes that healing comes from going through the pregress, not having it taken away.
Besides, prayer isn't a lucky charm.
There is help out there for our warriors, but many fear they will get kicked out of the service over it, that it will affect their careers. It doesn't have to.
Many fear what will happen to their marriages, will their family and friends understand and worse, so much worse will their wife or husband still love them?
With Mark we are able to say there is very little signs of the disorder. But that is because his love for me and our life together was stronger than his pride.
And I realize my beloved needed my love and help, not watching my back side as I walked away when he needed me the most.
It was when the Beast was dealt head on that it because to weaken and finally starting to die.

I learned a lot during this past year as Mark and I struggled through financial lost, health issues and readjustments. There is a time for a couple to band together, close out the world and between and G-d face the storm. We must use wisdom in choosing the people that are to be in our lives; don't over look the red-flags and listen to each other about doubts. This would include with whom and where we worship.
That silence is a killer.
Many who couldn't hande the pain any longer have taken their own lives.
I don't want to read another soldier feeling that helpless.
And that is why we are speaking out.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

We Are Amused :)

Well it is another week.
Last friday, was Mark's last day of his Work-Study.
This week he has two interviews with the hopes of picking up tutoring jobs.
As our rabbi pointed out friday afternoon, more and more g-dly people are homeschooling their children and are looking for good science teachers who share their moral and spiritual values.
Yes, when he isn't serving with his unit as an Army Reservist, Mark is a science teacher.
And a science teacher of the worst (or best depending on your view); a torah-observate science teacher.
Should be an interesting year.

I am happy to say that the treatment is beginning to make a huge difference. Mark has PTSD, not as bad as most, but bad enough he needs treatment. Part of his healing was admitting there was a problem.
He laughs again and smiles more. I had to take my track shoes out of moth balls because once again I again getting chased around the apartment.
A huge part is finding just the right support as well as the right medication. We now have a strong support network that doesn't judge, but helps.
I was told much of the progress is due to the fact that I have fought to find Mark what he needed, to protect him from all that would harm him and kick his butt when that was needed as well.
"Do you have any idea how marriages are destroyed over PTD?" I'd been asked.
Too many.
For me it is this simple: I didn't allow nay sayers, cancer or two wars take Mark away from me and PTSD doesn't stand a chance as well.
In marriage there is no such thing as 'his problem' or 'her problem.' It's 'our problem." Whether is is drugs, brooze, cheating, grambling or some form of illness, it is the couple's problem.
So it isn't really Mark has PTSD as it is WE have PTSD.
And it reather nice now to be off the Roller Coaster and on the Merry Go Round.
I hate Roller Coasters.

Friday, 12 August 2011

A Shabbat Story:
The Newark Riots and a Match Made in Heaven

By Yossy Gordon
My uncle, Rabbi Sholom Gordon of blessed memory, was a Lubavitch emissary in New Jersey, starting in the early forties. Over the years, he touched thousands of lives.
Sometime around 1960, the mother of a former student of Uncle Sholom approached him with a problem. Her daughter, who had reached marriageable age several years before, was having a hard time finding a shidduch (match). Aware of the Rebbe's greatness, the desperate mother asked Sholom to arrange a meeting for her with the Rebbe. Sholom complied, and even drove the mother, along with her son who was accompanying her, to meet the Rebbe, of righteous memory.
"When G‑d sends her bashert... then I will close the store"My uncle waited outside. When the mother emerged from the Rebbe's office, she looked upset. "What happened?" Sholom inquired. "Well," answered the mother, "I went in to the Rebbe and asked him for a blessing for my daughter's shidduch. I was surprised when the Rebbe began to ask me questions about my life. He asked me what our source of livelihood is. I told him that we have a very successful store in Newark. The Rebbe asked me if the store is open on Shabbat. I told him that it is.
"Then, and this is what I really do not understand, the Rebbe suggested that since we are financially secure, we should close our store on Shabbat and that G‑d will then send our daughter her bashert (intended one). I countered that we need the store to provide for our daughter in case something happens to us and she does not get married. When G‑d sends her bashert... then I will close the store. The Rebbe disagreed.
"Rabbi Gordon," continued the woman, "I am from Europe. I know chassidic rebbes. I thought they just gave blessings and wanted a donation. I didn't come here for business advice..."
Years went by. 1967 arrived and with it came the Newark Riots and violence and vandalism. The store owned by Sholom's former student's parents was among those destroyed in the melee. Already nearing retirement age, and with her husband having passed away shortly beforehand, the mother decided not to rebuild the store.
The store was finally closed on Shabbat.
Within a few months, the daughter met her bashert. Today, thank G‑d, she is the mother of a well-respected family.

The Year of Living Biblically Part 2

Boker Tov:
 I brought the book just before Passover at Temple Israel's gift shop.
The title grabbed my attention because I remember reading about A.J.'s quest and didn't know how things turned out.
The other reason is A.J hinself. Author of the book, The Know-It-All, A.J. is the only person other than myself who ever read The Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z.
Last Saturday I was reading some of the book to Mark and told him about my draw to Jacob's book....
"Wait a minute!" Mark demanded, "YOU have read the whole Encyclopaedia?"
"Yes. It was summer time and I was bored. I always researching something and another subject caught my attention. So I just kept reading."
Not that I really remember everything I read.
Mark shook his head. "Now doesn't that surpise me."
Anyway, anyone that brave to take on all 613 commandments of the Torah and the over 1,000 commandments found in the New Testatment, plus those rules found in extra-biblical writings for one year and live through it, I had to read.
And since much of the commandments are connected to the Land Israel and Temple worship, this is going to be a mightly task.
Right now I am reading about A.J. realzing that G-d is always speaking. That this isn't a very quiet Being.
No surpise on my part.
Nor is this book a quiet read.
I find myself reading outloud various passages, putting the book down and discussing what I just read.
There is the story of his writing out the list of rules, dos and don'ts. And the contacting of a shatnez tester.
Shatnez is the hebrew word for :mixed fibers." A shatnez tester will come to your home and test your clothing for mixed fibers.
You can't always trust labels, so unless you know what to look for, you need one of G-d's wardrobe detective.
No I didn't make that up.
So our author recieves a lesson about fabic mixings.
And so does the reader.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Year of Living Biblically

Right now I a reading a wonderful book by A.J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically. I had heard of this story last year, of one man's quest to live as biblically as he could.
Not G-dly. Biblically.
The story is amazing, funny and quite frankly makes me think about the things I believe and why do I believe them.
A.J. was raised in a secular home, but over the years became increasing in matters of religion and its role in our modern lives. So he decided to live as closely to the Bible as he could for one full year. Such as keeping the ten commandments, avoiding wearing wool and linen and stoning adulters.
His was an honest, humble atempt, for one who's an agnostic.
It is indeed a page turner and makes the reader think. A.J. doesn't just stick to reading and following the bible, but takes the time to talk to an Amish man named Amos, a Jehovah's Witness, a visit to Lynchburg and to Israel.
You don't have to be a religious person to enjoy The Year of Living Biblically. Just someone willing to join in an adventure of a life time


I am happy to say I am out of the walking shoe and the toe is fully healed. The big toe nail is slowly growing back.
Mark is coming to the end of his work-study job at the VA. We are hopeful with the new school year beginning soon, he will pick up a job as a Science teacher, doing some tutoring on the side.
And I am in the middle of a hebrew's test. I am going through my first book, page by page. My teacher says I am doing great and I need to trust myself. To have more faith in myself for I know more than I think I do,
Life is a bit of an adjustment. I am thankful Mark is home; this is the longest he has been home since we have been married.
It does mean living on less.
And it means having to listen to folks say: "I don't understand why people can't find work. There are plenty of jobs out there."
Really? Like many Vets, my husband is having a devil of a time finding a job; ANY JOB. Where are these "jobs" I keep hearing about?

Have faith? Yes, we have faith. And it has been stretched greatly.
But in all things we give thanks.
For our home, our friends and family, for each other.
And for the unemployment checks.