Every hero has some weakness…

Originally posted to www.diaryofashieldmaiden.com

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian
Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

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.

So pick up a copy, or two, of the Raven series for a Warrior you know. Check out The Terror HERE. You will be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

A New Mission

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As many of you that follow me might know, I am caregiver to a disabled Veteran.  I have talked about TBI & PTSD pretty regularly but because of a few people reaching out to me for more information, I have decided to work on a blog specific to that issue.  While there may be issues that overlap between that blog and this one, it will be primarily geared to the journey of a caregiver.  I also will be blogging on the work on my novel from last year’s NaNoWriMo, SWITCH, which I have decided to pursue adapting to a screenplay.

All without trying to lose my mind.

I can do it, right?

If you are interested in following there, the blog is Diary of A Shieldmaiden with an associated Tumblr and Twitter account.  While my blog links will post to both of those, just like my personal accounts, there will be entirely different content on the Tumblr & Twitter accounts so you guys don’t get crazy bored.

As always, thanks you guys, you are just so awesome!

 

 

 

The Trouble with Trouble, oh yeah, and Syria too

I get a little crazy over politics sometimes. In all honesty, I think I have earned it with the extent to which I have worked in it over the years, but still, I understand not every home has people that yell at the television news.

In my defense, I warned them.

 I don’t work in politics as much as I used to but I have raised amazingly civic-minded children that go and do their own amazing things. I am very proud of that and feel like it’s my duty to teach them why they should care and why they should get involved. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s very hard.

This week was one of those weeks.

 It’s not a question of what we should do as a nation in the Ukraine, Syria, etc. Its all the vocal minority of ill informed people is becoming so loud that I can no longer bear the noise.

Sovereignty is the boss of things

 Sovereignty: the authority of a state to govern itself or another state.”national sovereignty”

synonyms: autonomy, independence, self-government, self-rule, home rule, self-determination, freedom “the colony demanded full sovereignty”

a self-governing state.plural noun: sovereignties

 Does anyone understand what it means any longer to be a sovereign nation? Maybe that isn’t high on the priority list in school any more but I feel like I have to mention that. How sad is that? POTUS cannot just direct folks to roll up into Ukraine or Syria because they are sovereign nations. If they ask for and accept assistance within parameters, that’s different but did, we not learn ANY THING in Iraq? By the Bush Administration misrepresenting the facts to the UN?

Just think about Ferguson

 In our own country we have people doing horrible things. Civil rights violations continue and one could argue human rights violation when examining all that happened just in Ferguson this summer. So say Russia or China takes issue with that and decides, lets just roll in there and solve that problem. What would be wrong with that? Some of our largest cities are battling gangs that cause pain, suffering, death and perpetuate crime that cannot be stifled. What would you say to a city that decides they are going to pick this place for random strikes and send in drones to kill all of them? What about the good, innocent people that live there? Why is it not okay in this country but just fine in others?

If just one more person screams BOMB THEM I will loose my mind

 The beheading of journalist in Syria is tragic. No one can argue those points. The follow up statement that we should roll up into Syria because they beheaded two Americans makes no sense at all. With all due respect to your opinions and ideas…

You do not know what the fuck you are asking

 A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America  ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’ – Unknown

As a caregiver to a combat disabled OEF Veteran, you do not understand what you are asking the men and women of our Armed Forces to do. It doesn’t matter how much you respect members of the military, past and present. The reality is that serving in the military is no longer viewed as a duty and an honor by the majority of population. In fact, less than 1% of our society serves anymore. LESS THAN 1%. That number is just as dismal when you consider the percentage of Congressional members that have served. So when I say you don’t understand what you are asking, I am speaking to the majority of Americans. You cannot fully understand when you haven’t done it yourself. You just can’t.

It is a constant battle

A good day is one where there are no blow-ups, nothing is forgotten, no one cries, no one freaks out, no bad dreams creep in and everyone is smiling the next morning. These days are too few and very far between. Most days living with TBI and PTSD are constantly trying to balance how much you intervene, how often you interrupt or when you take over. You will be yelled at or met with resistance. You will feel angry but most days stuff that down, either on your own or with your favorite vice (mine is usually donuts.) There is often crying and deep sadness. There is a lot of busy work to keep you from thinking such things. This and life has to go on. The kids go to school, the Vet has to get to appointments, animals need to be cared for and did I get the laundry done. BONUS: You forgot the wet laundry and now it’s molded in your washing machine, ruining everything. If you have never taken care of a TBI patient, it can be likened to abuse from time to time because there is no impulse control, there is no moderating the volume where its only on LOUD when they are ANGRY. Then there are those perfect days where everything is right with the world, everyone is happy, and new good memories can be formed.

 But then there is reality

There is no one thanking me for my service and there are a ton of caregivers that just can’t take it. They leave. I get that. I can’t judge them. I judge the VA system that is woefully inadequate, the advances they will not fund nor explore because it’s too expensive. My Vet needs a name brand medicine recommended by two doctors and they will not authorize it. Why? It costs too much for the VA. There are millions of Veterans in the system that go through the same hassles.

So don’t call me a traitor

It doesn’t mean I am un-American because I am not a Republican. It doesn’t mean I am a traitor because I think they are wrong on every point. I am tired of Republicans perpetuating the myth that soldiers are Republicans and Republicans take care of them. That is all bullshit. You would be ashamed if you knew how many service members told me they had to lie and pretend to be Republicans when they went to the board for promotion. The number that was looked down on when they had to apply for food stamps to feed their families is staggering. Yes, and just don’t get me started on how little soldiers are paid. It doesn’t make me a bad person because I don’t think full-scale military intervention is the answer for everything.

I serve my country every day

When I get through the day and everyone is taken care of and I can breathe, I understand the importance of what I am doing. My Veteran has important skills and mentoring still left to impart upon anyone that needs it. He has stories and memories that were not affected that should be told. Let us serve as a reminder of the reason that we can’t just go do what we have done in the past. This country already cannot afford it. This country doesn’t understand what it is doing to military families.

That’s the trouble with trouble

There are times when we must act. It is part of the joint human experience. Advances in technology and weaponry that allow us to be more focused in our show of force. But that’s the trouble with trouble, when you choose a side, you also choose your enemy. It is a never-ending cycle in our lives. Unless you support compulsory military service and a draft, stop saying our military needs to roll up in some country or drop bombs and nuke them back to the Stone Age.

When you use the words “we need to kill them all” I don’t think you understand the word “we.”

That word doesn’t mean what you think it means.

From your couch or in front of a computer.

What are you giving up to fight the good fight?

Are you even registered to VOTE?

What?

I can’t hear you…

The Kevin Project

Many of you know that I married a disabled Vet, Kevin, and/or that my daughter, Emma, is trying to go through the steps to make the Junior Dream Team and later, the US Olympic Archery team.  This week, there have been a ton of discussions in our house after the tragic events in Texas and later in California…both committed by Veterans.  I felt like I should post something and decided it would be a movie I had to do for school.  I chose to do the short film about the relationship between Kevin and Emma.

I think that there is too much negativity in the media about Vets and not enough positive stories.  I know I can’t change that all by myself but I am setting the intention with the hopes that some people decide to follow my lead.  Too many Veterans and their families are suffering not knowing they can get help at the VA and how to get it.  Too many people are denying jobs to Veterans because they are afraid of the stereotype.  Too many caregivers are not getting the assistance they need mainly because there is not a great deal of publicity around programs that can help them right now.

This has to stop.

Its hard.  Each and every day along with taking care of myself, my kiddo and my animals, I have to now have the daily responsibility for a Veteran that would rather be able to do things for himself.  It’s frustrating for him and its frustrating for me.  But I remind him.  I remind him to get his hearing aids and to drink water.  I remind him he needs to shower before he puts his leg brace on.  I remind him of all the tasks he has while I am struggling to remember my own.  When he gets cranky because I have told him twice to do something, I endure.  If I don’t tell him, regardless of his reactions, he will suffer far worse than I.

In between, something amazing has happened.

Even when he has to take a pill to make the headaches subside just a little each morning, he still gets out of bed.  Even though his shoulders and elbows ache, he still packs up his bow in the car with Emma’s.  Even though he could sleep 20 hours a day, he endures so Emma can excel.

And boy, do we laugh!

I hope you watch this and it changes your impression of Veterans just a bit.  I hope it reminds you the next time you hear someone, read an article, watch a news report and you see an over generalized negative impression of Veterans, I hope it causes you to take action.

We need you.