It’s been one year since Martin graduated from Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT). This first year has been pretty interesting, if I do say so myself.
Within months of arrival to his unit, he broke his finger during a mandatory “family day” sporting event, requiring surgery through my medical insurance, which was by choice after the military medical community fumbled his diagnosis twice, and delayed his care. Continue reading →
Martin: “So just to confirm: there are beaches in Delaware?”
Julie: “You’re joking right? It’s on the coast. You won’t have a lot of beach time, though, and it’s cold that time of year.”
Martin: “I’m not planning on swimming.”
Julie: “Oh really?”
Martin: “Metal detector.”
I have no concerns about him falling into the wrong crowd of young Airmen.
Facebook wants to know when I became a vegetarian. For all the spying and data hoarding Facebook does on me, one would think all my posts about bacon, lamb, beef jerky, and the like would make it clear I’ve never been a vegetarian.
Facebook also wanted to know when Martin and I got engaged, when we met, etc., and I’m like, “This really sounds like the beginning of the interview Martin had back at the embassy when he was getting his visa.” And that got awkward fast..
Today was my first full day as a furloughed government worker.
I took Miss C to school in the morning. I made Nutella toast for Lola and Jaz. Martin was gone most of the morning: he had an appointment with our family doctor first thing, and it stretched into hours spent in the orthopedics clinic having his broken ring finger x-rayed and re-set in an effort to correct the shoddy care he received at the Air Force clinic during his recent Air Force Reserve duty time.
Oh, have I not mentioned that one here on the blog?
It’s been a wild ride.
Two weeks ago, Martin was playing in his unit’s soccer game during the wing’s Family Day festivities. He was goalie, and in the midst of a play, his finger took a direct hit. He was taken to the emergency room there on the Air Force base, where a young medical lieutenant took x-rays, determined Martin sprained it, and wrapped it up for him using generic medical tape.
When Martin got home and showed me his hand, I literally gasped. Martin smiled for the picture, but later that evening, despite my re-wrapping it for him to stabilize it better, he could barely speak in full sentences, he was in so much pain.
The next day, he got a phone call from the clinic.
An actual x-ray technician — a senior airman — was reviewing the x-rays taken over the weekend, and saw two fractures and a dislocation in Martin’s finger. She recommended he come back in to get seen again.
So, Martin did what he was told, called for an appointment, and was told the earliest he could be seen was a week later. I wanted to take him to our civilian medical doctor right then and there, but as he was still on military orders, he preferred to let the military do what it does. So, one week later, he was seen, re-splinted and told he needed surgery at another military location in our area. But alas, he was told to wait before scheduling a consultation because the referral paperwork process takes a few days.
That’s when I threw my bullshit flag.
A flag that was stitched together over the course of my own 13.5 years in the military, when I was at the whim of an understaffed/overwhelmed military medical system that produced both fantastic and timely health care (those are links to those stories) … and care that left much to be desired.
It was one thing to tolerate that kind of care for myself when I was in uniform, but to watch it be done to my husband?
So, I scheduled an appointment for Martin with our civilian medical doctor (using the health insurance I get through my job), and sent a note explaining the situation.
By the time Martin showed up this morning, our primary care doctor knew what to expect, and immediately submitted a referral. Martin literally walked upstairs at the same clinic, and was seen by orthopedic professionals who not only took a few more x-rays, but also contacted their hand surgeon (in another location) to consult for Martin’s treatment.
The whole thing took more than three hours. And it was incredibly painful as they re-set the bones and bent his injured muscles and tendons in a position to promote proper healing in an effort to avoid surgery. Martin will have a follow-up with the surgeon early next week to see if these efforts worked.
Martin came home with his hand bandaged up pretty thick. He also had copies of those x-rays.
I was so livid as I looked at them, seeing the damage myself with my untrained eye.
But at least I feel confident in his care now.
So I focused on making Martin as comfortable as possible as the numbing agents they gave him during the re-setting process wore off, and the pain of having his broken limb pulled, twisted, and maneuvered into place again made him both speechless and a little whiny again.
This meant slipping him some night-time pain meds to help him sleep, keeping his arm propped on pillows, and then v-e-r-y slowly slipping in next to him to rub his back until he fell asleep.
For that, I was glad to be home.
And of course, I got to spend more time with the kiddos, too.
That meant chasing after Jaz in his fedora and cape, and taking the girls up to Starbucks for some caramel apple spice drinks after picking up Miss C from school. (We also brought one home to Martin.)
Since I normally work from home during the work week, this didn’t feel like an unusual day by any means.
Other than Martin’s injury, the only thing that made this day a little more different was the achy pit in my stomach that got even tighter as I prepared my paperwork to apply for unemployment next week.
The kids and I skipped “family day” at Martin’s base today because, as he texted, it was just a bunch of adults standing around, eating, and playing sports. Nothing for the kids – no static displays, no activities, no face-painting. Nothing to hold their interest. So, we stayed home.
However, we missed the excitement. Martin’s currently at the hospital on Andrews AFB, getting an x-ray for his finger which he *may* have broken while playing goalie during his unit’s soccer match.
Apparently, when he showed up to be treated, they were like, “Um, our computers aren’t showing you as military. You’re still listed as a dependent under your wife in our TRICARE system.”
Martin just got home and showed me the result of his visit to the hospital on Andrews Air Force Base.
I hate that what I’m about to reveal to you may perpetuate some military stereotypes, but it was a lieutenant that wrapped up Martin’s injury. Martin said he was just ready to leave the place (after waiting and waiting and waiting for care), and figured he could fix it at home. But not before I took a photo of this awesome tape job!
I think it was more painful for him to remove the tape than the injury itself. On the bright side, they DID give him Vitamin M. Scotch tape would have been better. It was super sticky and tight, and pulled on his skin, which did not feel awesome, especially on the other side of his knuckle, where it’s all purple and swollen.
I now feel he’s officially “in” even if the TRICARE system refuses to accept it.
And there you have it. I proved to Martin that NCOs really do fix what hapless lieutenants bust. Now, maybe I’ll begin the conversation about using some sunscreen next time.
Last night, as I gave the men in my house Air Force-authorized buzz cuts, Martin was teasing me, asking if I was going to get up extra early and make him coffee/breakfast as he does for me when I go to work. The thing is, though, he has to leave the house no later than 6 a.m. on a Saturday to get to the air base on time.
Earlier this week was the one-year mark since Martin first raised his hand and enlisted in the US Air Force Reserve. It was a Monday. I was working from home that day. Martin and Miss C drove to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland so that Martin could complete more paperwork with his recruiter. He texted me at one point, and said, “Hey, I can actually do it now. Is that okay?”
He meant enlisting, of course.
I texted back, “Sure. Go for it.”
And then 30 seconds later, I wrote, “Don’t forget to get pictures.”
What a year, right? And we’ve got much to look forward to this next year. He’ll be leaving our home for another three months for more training in another state. I’ll be on my own again with the kids.
But we got it. It’s cool. It’s what he signed up to do.
Ha! About an hour ago, Martin’s unit gave him (and a few others) orders to start his two-week annual tour TOMORROW. No warning. No advanced communication. Someone just thought it a good idea to schedule all the new guys for annual tour without telling them until the day BEFORE, with only an hour left in the work day to resolve any issues.
Amelia the Minivan is in the shop and Martin took the car to Andrews. We ran out of milk, so we grabbed the bikes and headed to the store. Which, I realized, is uphill the whole way. And it is a freakin’ sauna outside. But there was a sale on Cheez-it’s and Gatorade, so Mom’s heat exhaustion was totally worth it.
There’s a certain sense of satisfaction I feel as I listen to Martin try to log into the Air Force website responsible for his travel orders and such. It’s the password requirement. Hearing him curse in two languages … seeing him throw his fists in the air … “Why the hell do they need 15 characters? WCKR is NOT a word! Why is it saying it’s a word? It’s NOT A WORD!!”
I know now: it wasn’t me. No. It was never me.
PS – After about 15 minutes of entertainment, I finally went in there and showed him the trick. Sure, I could have let him suffer for about nine years, as I did before learning it, but I *do* have to live with him.
Martin left early this morning for his first UTA (unit training assembly) weekend at Andrews as part of the Air Force Reserve.
I was all like, “Yea! So glad it’s not me anymore! Go have fun WORKING on your weekend and never getting paid on time and computer-based training and briefings and inspections and paperwork!! GO HAVE FUN!!”
Then I went out in the hall and found three hungry children staring up at me, waiting to be fed and entertained all weekend … by myself! *gulp*
God help us all.
The reason I keep a few cute sock singletons in my kitchen towel drawer … popsicle holders!
Can’t remember if was a Heloise column from “Good Housekeeping” or some other homemaker magazine where I first read that tip, but the kids think it’s hilarious. And their hands don’t get cold or bothered by the plastic edges. It’s the only way my son will eat one!