Todd and Tara in hospital

Todd and Tara in hospital
My hero

Saturday, July 2, 2011

WWW meets NYC Writer's Guild East

About two months ago, I received an email from my contact at the Wounded Warrior's Wives Group asking me if I would like to attend a writing workshop in NYC for the wives of wounded soldiers. The purpose of the workshop would be to help us find our voices and develop the way we write. Really! NYC! To go and develop my writing? Hell yeah!!

June 17, 2011 I boarded the plane to NYC. I was so exited as I spent 23 years of my life growing up in NY state, but never got to go to the city. Finally, I get to see the big apple. I got in, got in my room at the Affinia Manhattan and settled in.

The next morning at breakfast all of us wives were a buzz thinking about what the day would bring. We took a bus to the Writer's Guild East building and walked in. We sat in a large conference room and were introduced to the writers who would be our mentors that weekend. To my amazement, Eric Bogosian walked in. Many of you might remember him from the movie, Talk Radio. That movie was crafted after his Pulitzer nominated play of the same title. Can you imagine sitting in the room with such an accomplished playwright and actor! He was a really nice, approachable person. Here is a picture of me with Eric.

We all had breakfast, introduced ourselves to the Guild and got sectioned off into groups to meet with our particular mentors. My mentors for that weekend were Matthew Eck and Gina Gionfriddo. Matthew is a writer who wrote a book called The Farther Shore. Gina wrote the play, Becky Shaw. She is an accomplished playwright and television writer as well. She has written for Cold Case, Law and Order and Law and Order Criminal Intent.

They talked to the other wives and I about what type of writing did we want to do and how to get started. We talked about what we have done so far and what we all hope to accomplish. Some of us had been blogging, some are quite accomplished in it and some have former news writing experience.

That evening we got to do some sight seeing and explore Manhattan. It was a blast. We were told that we were getting to go see The Lion King or Mary Poppins on Broadway. I drew a ticket for The Lion King and it was absolutely amazing. The sound was beautiful - there were 3 percussion stands (two up mid level against the sides of the stage walls and one below in the orchestra pit). Some of the characters joined the rest of the cast from different positions in the audience! It was a lot of fun to watch the "elephants" and other animals make their way to the stage. What a treat it was both visually and aurally. I sat in the front row! My friend Amy and I were giggling like little kids at our great seats.

We did more sight seeing and walked from 31st Street to 59th Street so we could see FAO Schwartz and the rest of the shops of notoriety. It was so fun to see all of the images as a New Yorker I had seen in movies and magazines, but had never gotten to experience. I never felt in any danger. The police had a large presence there and I felt safe even as it started to get dark. I really enjoyed the city.

Energized from new experiences and making new friendships with some of the wives I hadn't met before, I woke up ready for our day at the Writer's Guild. Matthew had us do a character development exercise that was really cool. We had to come up with a name for a character, then list various things that the character would believe in or have in their possession. From the bottom level up, I built a character. It was a very helpful exercise to me. We did some other writing exercises and it was an incredible learning experience.

When the trip came to an end, I was ready to return to my soldier and son, but I was happy that I had learned some new skills, met some amazing, courageous wives of wounded soldiers, and made some INCREDIBLE literary contacts. Part of me did not want to leave New York City as I had really enjoyed the bits of it that I had experienced. I wanted to see more and do more so I will definitely do that when we get to return late October-early November.

I can not thank the Wounded Warrior Project and the Writer's Guild East enough for the experience. It was incredible and I am so happy to have met such a brilliant group of writers. Thank you to everyone that made the trip possible.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Smiles and Sunshine and Strong Shoulders

Today is a beautiful day. It went from 19 degrees and snowy of all things to a great spring day of what feels like 65 degrees. Definitely a quick flash of winter for us here in Texas.

After dealing with the loss of all of the things I have not allowed myself to feel, it is a nice feeling of the weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I think I saved myself a few visits to the counselor with last weekend's revelations and thoughts I finally felt. Now we need to work on the task at hand, which is to get Todd the best help we can so we can help him figure out what his plan B will be in case he can not physically or mentally handle his job. His fear is that he will not be able to work due to his lack of short term memory. In order to do any sort of job, you have to remember what you have read a few minutes later. Sadly, he isn't cut out for a physical job as he has no energy or stamina due to his blood disorder and leg injury.
However, his shoulders are strong, his willpower is there, and I know that things will get better in time. Just have to take it one day at a time and tonight, I get to go to Carnival with my friends. I am looking forward to dancing and spending time with my girlfriends.

Monday, January 31, 2011

15 months have flown by

I had a major breakdown of grief the other day - it started while at the muster for the community based wtu and as I was looking the nurse manager in the eye and the Col, who I love. It all of a sudden clicked with me that it has been 15 months since Todd got hurt and I haven't seen a ton of improvement. My eyes started tearing up and it was all I could do to try to be non-emotional when covering all of what needed to be addressed and fighting to get him to go to the shepherd center. When I complained about his quality of life and how he needs and deserves better, they both agreed.

Saturday, on our way back from San Antonio, I got to stay with my bff and go to of all things, a Tupperware party. It was a lot of fun and I am going to have one. The next day I was taking a bath in her giant tub and all of a sudden I started crying as I remembered thinking that Todd resembled an old man getting out of his truck as he used his cane and negotiated the grass and rough terrain. It made me cry thinking that we are never going to be able to learn the Tango together. He had told me we would do that when he got home from Afghanistan. I cried for him having an uncertain health with his blood chemistry all whacked. I cried for the loss of the strong, agile man that I used to have. I cried for him suffering with his TBI and PTSD and how it has taken away his self esteem. I let it all out. I cried for all of the worry, the pain, and loss of his two friends that died that day. It was bottled up for so long and I needed to let it out. Now that I have let it out, I feel a bit clearer on what we need to do. My plan for him is clearer. Even though it will be tough on us, we will do what needs to be done to give him improved health and a reason for being.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 2011

It has been a while since I have gotten to put some thoughts down on paper. We have been pretty busy with traveling back and forth to San Antonio for CSF's Med Board medical appointments.

We also met at the Center For The Intrepid to get him fitted for a brace so his right leg that is considered a "salvage" stops buckling at the knee when he steps forward. He has had 8 surgeries on that leg so far. It is never a good thing for the army docs to call your limb a salvage. To me it gives a visual of a junkyard. Inside of his right leg, he has metal from his right knee to his hip bone. Now, due to his lack of white blood cells we really don't want him to have to endure any more surgery on that leg. An infection would cause him to lose the leg at the hip and that would be incapable of a prosthetic.

He has a lot of hetero-topic ossification in the limb, which is bone growth that grows all through out the remaining muscle. In other words, it's bone where he shouldn't have any. It pinches in against the nerves. Just sitting in a hard wooden chair causes him excruciating pain.

The brace prototype did show some positive results!!! It will take Todd some getting used to working his remaining leg muscles differently with it, but in about 3 weeks, the real brace should be ready for him to try. I hope it helps him walk better. I think for him to walk upright and without a cane, would be the gift he certainly deserves.

Time will tell!