Apr 30, 2007

Finally! Cruise Pictures!

Well, I was finally able to post some of the pictures from our cruise. They don't have any descriptions yet but you can at least see them now. You can click on the picture below or click on the Flickr link on the right to be taken to the set in Flickr.We'll add some comments later. Hope you enjoy!


Apr 27, 2007

Moved In... Sorta'

Thursday was a very busy day for me. I had to go to the office to finally turn in my badge, turn in some keys, take care of some paperwork, but most importantly... sign and get a copy of my NCOER!!! The ordeal is over! It took a few weeks, but I finally got it in - and it was a pretty good review. But it took so long to get everything done that someone had to drive me to WRAMC for my 1530 doctor apointment (Thanks for the ride Alan - and thank God for that GPS!) I made it to the doctor appointment and it went well. My new PCM is on the ball and should be easy to work with over the next few months. Earlier this week I got a call from a nurse at the clinic at Fort Belvoir - she told me that a test they did on my blood last week came up positive for G6PD deficiency. I'm not going to go into detail about what is now because when I told the doctor he thought it would be a good idea to run the test again to make sure they got it right. He's also going to check my liver enzymes to make sure they're at a decent level. I went down to the lab, they took my blood, and I was off to my apartment to pack. I also finally talked to my Neurologist and we talked about my EEG results. We had a bad connection, so at first I thought he said that they were wildly abnormal... I was confused! But it turns out that he said they were mildly abnormal. He didn't see any epiliptic activity and said that the results were in line for what would be seen in a post brain surgery patient. So, basically nothing to worry about right now. We just need to see how this new drug works over time.

I'm learning how to get to and from WRAMC using the metro system. Buses run pretty frequently on two streets at the front and back of the post. I take a bus to the Silver Spring metro station and then take the red line to Metro Center and transfer to the orange or blue line to get to where most of my friends live. Total time during rush hour is about an hour. I'm guessing that off peak it will take about an hour and a half. I don't think it's too bad - the fact that I can even get around this easily is amazing.

I went home and started packing. A few friends from my new Tuesday night Community Group from church came over to help and after a while we got hungry, so we went to Cafe Asia to eat (I love their food!) They all went home and I continued to pack. With an end in sight I kept at it until 3am when basically everything was pretty much ready to go.

This morning Tamra came over and we got everything loaded into her car and made the trek over to WRAMC. When we got there we had a hard time figuring out where to park to offload the goods. A young Private agreed to watch the car while we unloaded in the circle drive and took everything up. When we finally got everything up to my room on the third floor, my key wouldn't work on the door. Tamra went down to park the car and I went down to the S-4 office to see what was wrong. They told me to call the guy that assigned me the room. I called the SSG that assigned me the room and he said I needed to call S-4. Not so fast! No passing the buck here... he told me to meet him at the S-4 office. It turned out that since I didn't put anything in the room, when they did a walk-through of the rooms, my room was empty, so they assigned it to someone else. Now, this may sound like a Charlie Foxtrot to you, but this is par for the course for an Army operation. Anyway, several phone calls were made, rooms were looked at and by the time we were sure I could have a room on the second floor, two hours had elapsed.

The room is decent. Each room has a walk-in closet, tile floors, a bathroom with a stand up shower, a kitchenette with a small stove, fridge, microwave and sink. There is also a plasma TV and an iMac in each room. The room wasn't exactly clean and the furniture wasn't placed very well, so we methodically moved furniture around, swept and mopped the floor underneath and put it all in new places. It took us quite a bit of time to get everything wiped down and cleaned up. We basically got it to a state where Tamra could take all her cleaning stuff home and I could finish up any odds and ends when I get back on Sunday. It was getting late in the afternoon, so I packed up some clothes for the weekend and we headed out. John, Tamra, Zach, Amanda and I had a nice dinner at Ray's the Steaks between Rosslyn and Court House and then we hung out at John and Tamra's for a bit. Now I'm at Amanda's for the weekend. She graciously offered their spare bedroom to me and I gladly accepted.

Tomorrow we're working on fixing up a run down house in Alexandria and then rest in the afternoon. I feel like I have a lot to do in my room still and that's occupying my thoughts. Amanda offered me some towels and bedsheets that I can use while I'm here. I have towels, but they're thirteen year old brown Army towels. And they gave me bed linens, but they're not fitted and not comfy. Thanks Amanda! I just need to unpack and get everything put away so that it feels like a home away from home. After that, I'll be happy. Please pray for a smooth move-in!

Apr 25, 2007

Sign of things to come?

I showed up at WRAMC for my 0900 appointment with my Social Worker and guess what? My SW has been out all week. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come… When I went back to the building where all the Case Managers were, they were all gone to some ceremony. Seems to me that at least one should stay behind – they all just up and left. I checked in to see if my orders assigning me to WRAMC came in yet and they hadn’t. And my promotion orders didn’t come in either. I poked my head in the housing office to see if I could at least get my room, but that person was out too. My day was really beginning to feel like a downer. I checked into my platoon’s office and checked my email and such. I decided to look in the housing office one more time and success! I got a room assigned and went off to check it out. It is in what appears to be a recently renovated building because it sure didn’t look old. My room is on the third floor and will do nicely for a few months. I’ll have more details on the room when I move in after Friday. The only issue I have is that the last person didn’t do a very good job of cleaning it. So, before I move in I’ll be giving it a good scrub down to make it meet my standards.

When I was checking out my room, my Case Manager called me to see if I was still in the area. I was and went by the office to drop off some paperwork and found out that I have an appointment with my new Primary Care Manager (PCM) tomorrow at 1530. So, I’m going to go to my work in the morning to turn in my pager and badge, finally sign my NCOER and if the orders come in, get my E-7 pinned on (or velcro’d on) and grab some lunch. Then I’ll make my way to WRAMC for my appointment. Tomorrow night I have to gather everything up again to prepare to relocate. If you’re free and want to hang, give me a shout – I might be able to use a little help and it’d be nice to not be alone.

Allison picked me up tonight and we had dinner with a bunch of friends who live together from the church. They really did a great job of cooking! They do it every Wednesday night, so I might make this a regular thing. Thanks to all of you at the community house for dinner! And thanks to Kezia for the ride home. Another long day tomorrow – off to bed with me. BTW: I am feeling much better on my meds. I think the extra rest I’ve gotten over the past few days has helped, but my tummy is still a little uncomfortable. That should pass in time though… I hope!

My Dad Update: Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My dad was released from the hospital on Monday. They put him on medicine to thin his blood and dissolve the clot but over the weekend in the hospital they thinned it too much and took him off it. Monday they said the blood clot went from his mid thigh to his mid calf. That's a long blood clot. And they still sent him home with no meds. I do not understand that. They told him he had to be very still at the hospital because the medicine was dangerous (Coumadin) to prevent the clot from moving to his brain and causing a stroke but they sent him home on Monday. Doesn't make sense to me. So he goes back Thursday for more blood work. And they are saying that it will take months for the swelling to go down which means he won't be able to work which I don't think he should anyway. But he's so worried about not working and their bills. I can understand his worry but he's going to kill himself from the stress or if he tries to go back to work. And it's hard for me to tell him not too worry and it will all be taken care of. Please keep praying for them. Thank you and happy hump day. Two more days and it's the weekend!

Apr 24, 2007

MRI Results

I slept good last night. I went to Bethesda NNMC today for my EEG, but didn’t get a chance to talk to my Neurologist – he asked me to call him tomorrow for the results. I did sit down with my Oncologist and we looked at the MRI pictures. Everything looks stable and there is no new growth at this time. Yippee!!! It’s late so I’m making this a short one. I have a few appointments at WRAMC tomorrow, so I need to get to bed.

Apr 23, 2007

Is Today Only Monday?

I'm really tired, so I'm going to be short and to the point today. My commute to WRAMC this morning went fine. I found the building I was supposed to report to and the office too. I met with the LTC and she got me moving in the right direction. I met with at least ten other people in various departments. I got a meal card so that I can eat in the Dining Facility (DFAC) for free; was assigned a Social Worker that I'll meet this Wed; a Case Manager, whom I met today; the people in the Reserve Liaison office, who will cut my new orders; the housing guy, who will give me a key to a one man room in building 14 (not the famous 18) on Wed; the Chaplain; the personnel folks in S-1, who take care of the paperwork; and my new command structure, as I have been assigned to 5th Platoon of the Medical Holdover Company. They tell me that my orders assigning me to WRAMC will start 28 April 2007. My current orders end 27 April 2007. This means that I will move out of this apartment in Rosslyn, Arlington, VA on Friday and move into the housing on WRAMC in DC. If you want to write me, you may do so after this weekend at the following address:

SSG Mommaerts, Roger J. Jr.
WRAMC, MHO 5th Plt
6900 Georgia Ave
Washington, DC 20307-0001

My cell phone number and email address will remain the same. I’ll really begin in-processing to WRAMC next week and visit with many more people. They tell me that I’ll be here anywhere from 90-150 days. Right now I understand that they have only two formations per week where everyone assigned must show up to make sure everyone is here: Mon and Fri at 0830. Tue-Thu we just call in to let them know we’re still alive. Weekends we’re free to do whatever we want as long as we don’t leave a 50 mile radius. If we do, we can get a pass or take leave if we’re eligible. I’m sure that those that are in good health will be assigned some kinds of tasks every once in a while, and that’s okay. For now, that’s about all I know about WRAMC. I spent pretty much the whole day there, from 0800 to 1545. And it was a warm one today too. And the AC isn’t on yet… because it’s not the right time of year. That is so government, right?

I talked to my Oncologist today and he said the MRI looks good. I’m going to meet with him tomorrow after he talks to the radiologist and after my EEG. I’ll give you the skinny on that tomorrow.

So, these new meds I started taking on Friday… they give me no less than a few side effects which include but are not limited to: headaches, fatigue (I feel tired ALL day), slight chills, stomach ache, twitches, my right leg feels very tired at the end of the day, trouble waking in the morning (BIG trouble), pressure up my spine and on my shoulders, and last but not least, it’s messing with my emotions. I had a major breakdown today. I’m not afraid to admit it. I was blubbering like a baby, but didn’t really know why. I guess it felt good to get it out, but I guess I wasn’t exactly sure why I was crying. I don’t feel very good on this medication right now and I hate being alone. I was and maybe that contributed to it too. Well, my good friend Kezia called me just at the right time and saved the day. She swooped in and picked me up. We went to dinner and then hung with friends Chris and Jumoke. I feel a lot better tonight and hope this doesn’t happen again soon. There is so much going on right now and I suppose I just needed a release. And with these meds in my system, they came out this way. I have that EEG tomorrow and will voice these concerns to my Neurologist – we’ll see what he thinks. Also, I understand that my promotion is in the works and the orders for that should be cut by the end of the week. Yay!!

Apr 21, 2007

No News

I didn't get a call from my Oncologist today. I called his office, but there was no answer. I think he never made it in to work! I wouldn't have wanted to work today either. Today was beautiful here in DC! I had a hard time waking up today and getting going. I think it may have had to do with the new meds. Buddy came over and encouraged me to get out of the apartment, so I did. We played TopGolf with Tamra and Zach. I have never even swung a club at a golf ball before in my life, so it was a new experience for me. Needless to say, I stink. I did much better at miniature golf afterward.

Tonight we grilled some steaks over at Buddy and Amanda's with two of their friends. Then we played some Yahtzee, which I've played in the distant past, so it took me a while to relearn it. I had a good night. I'm going to get ready for bed and see if I can fall asleep at a decent hour tonight.

Apr 20, 2007

All Day at the Hospital, New Meds

Today was a pretty stress free and straight forward day. I got up, headed to Bethesda NNMC on the metro and saw my Oncologist for my 1130 appointment. It was a fairly easy visit. He had a resident there learning today so I got the help teach strength, balance and memory testing. They do this every few visits just to gauge my level and see if there any differences from last time. I think my strength gets better each time, but the memory stuff stays the same. I'm not getting any younger!

After that, I grabbed a quick bite and then headed to my Neurology appointment. We discussed my last seizure and also talked about the strange twitches going on around my right big toe and the side of my foot. For about two months before the seizure, the activity was so pronounced that I would lay in bed and could feel it. Sometimes it would keep me awake for a while. Then, after I had the seizure, they seem to have slowed down quite a bit. He was interested by this and seemed fairly certain that these were, in fact, tiny focal seizures occurring throughout the day. I thought it was just my brain confused and healing doing that, but that is basically a type of seizure, I guess.

We did more strength testing and he also seemed satisfied with my improvement, but wanted to control the seizures. I am at the maximum dosage for Keppra at 2,000mg per day. He also told me that Keppra is good at controlling generalized seizures, but not so good at focal seizures. I tend to have focal seizures that progress to a generalized seizure. So, he waded through the list of additional medications that he could add and finally ended up at one called Tegretol. I’ll be taking 400mg per day to start. I took my first 200mg tonight and feel okay – a little drowsy – which is a side effect. He said that it also might make my stomach feel upset for the first few days, but it should pass. It’s feeling pretty good so far. The only issue with the Tegretol is that it can increase liver enzymes, so he’ll need to draw levels to make sure that I’m getting enough of the medication into my system and that my liver enzymes don’t increase to a dangerous level. He also wants to do an EEG on Tuesday, just to see what kind of activity by brain is creating. He mentioned that there may be some scar tissue or something else in my brain that is irritating it and causing these seizures. It is apparent that something in the part of my brain that controls my right foot around my big toe is irritated. He said that if I was interested, they might be able to pinpoint it in time, and possibly go back in to remove the irritation. Hmm… we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. He was also happy that I had an MRI scheduled for later in the afternoon and would use the data from the EEG and MRI to compile the NARSUM for my MEB. He said that he’d have a better idea of what to include in the NARSUM, but was not going to do it until I was stable. That means that next week, WRAMC will only transfer me into their system, I’ll have to move there and then will have ongoing appointments until the doctors think my condition is stable enough to begin the board process. In addition, my doctors don’t want to see me moved to a different location – they would prefer that I stay close to them for my care during the MEB process. My Neurologist said, “Why start you over again with a new doctor? That’s just stupid.” I agree. I hope WRAMC agrees.

After the visit with him, I went down to MRI, and after a short delay due to an emergency MRI, I had my time in the machine and actually fell asleep inside the magnet again. I didn’t have a chance to get a CD of the images because it was after 1800 when I finished, but my Oncologist is going to call me Saturday morning with the results. I’ll pick up a CD on Tuesday when I’m there for the EEG and will try to share them with you.

After the MRI, I high tailed it back to Clarendon and joined up with Amanda, Buddy, Ryan, Zach (John’s brother) and Tamra for dinner to celebrate Tamra’s getting out the Army. We went to The Cheesecake Factory and ate a lot of food and of course, dessert too. Buddy and Amanda gave me a ride home and hung out for a while with me. All in all – another good day. I’m looking forward to a weekend of rest and beautiful weather here in DC. I’ll let you know what my Oncologist says about the scan results tomorrow.

My Dad Update: Friday, April 20, 2007

My dad's back in the hospital today. He went to the doctor this morning because his foot was still swollen and hurting so bad he couldn't walk. So Dr. Bond sent him to the hospital for a sonogram. Dr. Bond got the results and sent him back to hospital. There's a clot blocking blood going back to his heart at his foot. They put him on an IV of meds to dissolve the clot. He may be in until next Thursday. Praise the Lord my dad actually made a doctor's appointment and they caught this blockage before it traveled to his heart or brain or led to amputation. Please pray for the clot to disappear and his health to improve faster as a result. He's been doing pretty good except for the swelling. This has prevented him from going back to work so he is concerned about their bills and the impending hospital bills. Please also pray for the Lord's provision. Thank you.

Apr 19, 2007

More Successes Today, MRI Tomorrow

Today Tamra and I did the whole military hurry up and wait thing. She picked me up at 0700 and we headed down to Fort Belvoir, stopping at a Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. We got to the clinic at 0730, checked in and then we waited… they called me back to take my vitals at 0800 and I went to another waiting room with Tamra. And there we sat… and sat… and sat. I’m not kidding. We sat there for hours and finally near 1130 they called me back to see a doctor. They only had two doctors working, and so many people showed up to in and out-process, that they had to fit us in between other patients. The doctor that saw me questioned how I was going about the process. I told him about the plethora of people that I have talked to about how to go about this and he still seemed confused. He finally gave in and did what he had to do; he approved my permanent profile and gave me a form 14 that I’ll take to WRAMC. Then he said he needed to call someone at WRAMC, a LTC. It turned out to be the same LTC that told me to go this route to begin with! So, everything has come full circle. He didn’t reach her but sent me on my way a little after 1230.

I didn’t get a call from work either about my NCOER, so I didn’t have to stop there. I had a nice early day and got a chance to take a nap. I did call the LTC at WRAMC and also had to leave her a message. She called me back this evening and said that I needed to come in as soon as I could. But tomorrow I have appointments with my Oncologist, Neurologist and I have an MRI, all at Bethesda NNMC, throughout the day. I told her the soonest I could be there would be Monday morning, so I have a 0800 appointment. She said that she looked up my record and noticed that my home of record (HOR) is Austin, TX; she suggested starting me at WRAMC and moving me to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX to finish up. It was loud where I was and couldn’t really have a discussion so I just said I understood and told her I’d call back tomorrow with more questions. We’d really like to do the MEB here in DC because of several reasons:
  • -My doctors are all here
  • -I have lots of friends and support here
  • -I have a supportive church here
  • -I can’t drive and could get around well on the Metro
  • -Holly can come to DC to work and see me too (maybe)
  • -I might have another minor procedure to improve my incision next week (4/27)
  • -I think the care would be far superior

So, I have my reasons. But ultimately, it is going to be what the Army wants. But, my prayer about not wanting to move before this weekend has been answered – it will for sure be sometime next week. I have that MRI tomorrow, so please pray that the tumor has not come back and that I’m still healing up there. I think I am. Tomorrow evening we’re having a little celebration dinner for Tamra. Today was her last day in uniform in the Army. Now’s she’s on terminal leave until July (I think.) If you're interested in joining us, let me know. Tamra, you’ve been a real life saver and great friend this week. Holly and I thank you and John so much for supporting us through everything. We love you guys.

Apr 18, 2007

Easy Day Today, Unknown In Store Tomorrow

Not a whole lot to report today. I had a hard time going to sleep again last night. This morning I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out where my evaluation was. Even though my NCOER was reportedly signed by everyone except for me, there must have been some kind of change or it got lost, because the completed NCOER is apparently now on somebody’s desk to be reviewed... again. Soooo…. when the powers that be finish reviewing it, everyone will sign it - and someone is supposed to call or page me to let me know that I can come by to sign it.

With that all figured out, I was finally able to call Tamra to pick me up and we made our way back down to Fort Belvoir. I made it through every step of the medical checklist except for the review with the doctor. They only do these out-processing reviews Mon thru Wed and Fri from 1300-1400 and Thu from 0700-0830. Well, tomorrow is Thu – so guess what that means? By bootie has to get up extra early because Tamra will be here at 0700 to pick me up. Tamra has to be at WRAMC in the afternoon, so we are hoping that we can finish up at Fort Belvoir pretty early and then make our way to WRAMC where I expect I’ll need to go next to continue the process. I really don’t know what’s going to happen when I talk to the doctor. I know that they’re going to see that I need to be put on medical hold, but I have no idea how they’re going to do it. I’ll have all the details on how that goes tomorrow. And hopefully my work calls to say that my NCOER is ready to be signed, so that we can stop there on the way to WRAMC and finally cross that off the list.

After getting back to the apartment, I had to tend to some more emails and also worked on a paperwork issue related to my pending promotion. I’m hoping that I’ll be promoted soon! I went to a farewell this evening for dear friend Erika, who is going to San Antonio for a few months for some military training. She’s a good friend of mine and Holly’s, so she and Holly might get together since she’ll only be about 80 miles away. In fact, she’s going to a school at a location that I’ve been to – so I know for sure it is a quick drive.

Okay – I’m heading off to bed now. I need to get up around 0530. Goodnight.

Apr 17, 2007

300 and minor victories

This blog is our 300th! Holly and I started this thing up when I first mobilized to DC in May 2004. We’re at almost exactly three years so it would appear that we average 100 posts per year... interesting statistic. Or not. :-P

Okay, so today… what did I get done today? Well, before I even get there, let me tell you that I tossed and turned until about 3am. My mind races through all the things that I need to get done in the next few days, ways to get them done quicker, and the ever present thought of having a seizure while alone always haunts me. I don’t know why I am afraid of it. But sometimes it terrifies me. The two times I was conscious for the start of them, they were agonizing and I remember them well. I think back to how horrible and scary it feels and just don’t want to have it happen to me while I’m alone. It’s nice when Holly is there, as she was every time, to tell me its going to be okay. But eventually it is going to happen when I’m alone or in public around strangers. I just need to keep praying that the Lord will ease my fears. Join me, will you? This is a toughie for me.

Alright, back to today. Since I didn’t get to sleep until late, I woke up later. I finally got to the Pentagon around 10am and went to the medical clinic. I went to the desk and told the nice lady that I was out-processing and needed to retrieve my records. She went to the back and brought them out. If you take a look at item number one on my list from yesterday, you’ll remember that I needed to get my profile paperwork. As soon as the lady handed me my records, I cracked it open to see if the profile was in there. Nada. I then explained to her that I called right before I went on leave about this and that someone changed it in the computer and that the paperwork must be somewhere. She looked in her computer and saw that I did call about it. I found an old temporary profile and handed it to her and told her that I just needed a new updated one that is permanent like in the computer. She took it to the back to a nurse to see if the doctor could fill it out. While she was gone, I stood at the counter, bowed my head, and just prayed that the good Lord would intervene and just get it signed today somehow. She was gone a while and I sat down. After a few minutes, the nurse came back and said that the doctor needed to see me to fill it out and that there were no more appointments today. The lady at the front desk said that I would have to call back at 6am the next morning to make an appointment with my doctor so that she could do it. This didn’t sound acceptable to me. First of all, my doctor knows what’s going on with me and could have the form filled out in five minutes. Second, I already called over a month ago and asked the doctor to take care of this – and someone did because it changed in the computer. I really had a problem with having to do extra legwork to get something signed that should have been signed a month ago.

I expressed these concerns to the lady at the front desk and she was willing to hear me out. I’m trying to get a lot done and can’t get around easily and they wanted me to go the extra mile to get something done that should have already been done. Are you getting me? Finally, I told her that first and foremost, I am a soldier, and I will obey an order; and if the commander of the clinic tells me to go home and come back tomorrow, I will obey that order without another word. But if there was anything that we could do to get the form signed today, I would do it. Silence. She told me to have a seat and she disappeared. When she returned, she said that the nurse of the day would see me shortly.

After another wait, the nurse, an Army Captain, called me into their office. I again explained my dilemma to the CPT and she listened to me. The CPT told me that they would be able to help me out, but it would not be immediately. It was nearing noon. My doctor would have an opening at 1340 that day where the paperwork might be taken care of. I made a quick call to Tamra, who was supposed to drive me around, but wasn’t able to get a hold of her. I decided this was an answer to my prayer so I decided that I better take the CPT up on the offer, even though it meant that I wouldn’t get out of the Pentagon until near 3pm. The CPT made the appointment and I was off to find lunch. It worked out great because I needed to drop off a set of keys anyway at the office I worked at for a while. They were happy to see me again and let me use a workstation to check my email, make a few phone calls and eat my lunch.

I made it back to the clinic by 1330 and was called back to see the doctor. The doctor finally came in at around 1350. I brought the doctor up to speed and in less than five minutes the form was done and in my hands, and I was out the door. Four hours of work to see a doctor for five minutes to get a form filled out. Can you believe it? Now we can cross number one off the list! A big thanks to the nice lady at the desk who was willing to do what she could to get me what I needed today. I was sure to fill out a comment card commending her actions and dropped it in the comment box.

On to number two: I called Tamra and she picked me up at the Pentagon City Metro station. We headed down to Fort Belvoir and found our way to the out-processing building. We checked in and I had to provide copies of all my orders for the whole three years and other paperwork. I was then given a checklist of buildings that I needed to visit to get them to check items off of the list. Things like: Personnel, Finance, Medical, Dental, etc. We went upstairs to the first item on the list: personnel. When we got there, I explained to the Staff Sergeant that I was eventually going to have an MEB. Thank God I told the SSG that, because since that was the case the SSG said that we should skip everything on the list and just go right to medical. Nothing else would matter since I wasn’t really going to get out right now anyway. I just needed to get to medical so that they could see there is an issue and they could refer me to WRAMC. Boy, talk about a life saver! The SSG was very helpful, so I made sure to save their phone number for any future questions I might have. It was just after 1600 and we noticed that the first place in medical was still open, so we went there first.

We found the building after getting slightly lost and I picked up a medical packet. The packet said that pretty much all the other stations were closed, so we decided to call it a day. Tomorrow we’re going to head back down to Ft Belvoir and try to get the medical stuff completed. I also need to sign my NCOER that they couldn’t find on Monday. I’m going to call work in the morning to see if they have it handy. If they still can’t find it, I’m going to go to Belvoir first. If they do have it, I’ll go to work first thing and sign it and then head down to Belvoir.

So, I’d call today a pretty good day. I just hope that tomorrow goes smoother. After work, I made some copies of paperwork that I might need tomorrow and sent a copy of my new profile to my unit in Fort Worth as they needed a copy. Then I went to a community group of my church that meets in Kezia’s building. Kezia and Jumoke picked me up and I had a great time hanging out with everyone. I feel pretty tired today, so I’m hoping that my body gives in and I can get some decent sleep tonight. Thanks to everyone for your prayers!

Apr 16, 2007

Can you say confusing?

Today was my first day back at work and boy… was it a doozie! First of all, I’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep here in my new digs. The first night, Saturday, it rained all night. There is some kind of metal skirt that sticks out from the building on my floor, so guess what? I got to hear the pitter patter of drops falling off the building onto the metal skirt. I didn’t get to sleep until nearly 2am and then was woken up by jets making their approach to Reagan National Airport at 6:30am. Yes, I am a light sleeper. Last night, Sunday, the wind was howling like crazy. The northeast has been getting pummeled by this storm and it just won’t die. It sounded like things that were loose on the building were being tossed around outside.

I got to sleep around 2am again and managed to get up around 8am. I grabbed a quick bite in the store downstairs and headed off to work. I got there around 10am and was warmly greeted by everyone. My boss was happy to see me too, but apparently there were some issues with my evaluation not being turned in yet. In the Army, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Officers are required to be evaluated annually. They are supposed to be done by a certain time of the year, and when things fall behind, the people up the chain get hounded for not having the evals of their people done on time. I knew this before I went on leave and completed my part of my NCO Evaluation Report (NCOER.) Well, I guess we are cutting it too close for comfort since everyone from my unit in Fort Worth to the people at work want to know where it is.

The first thing I did was track down the guy that I knew could tell me where it was. I found him and was told to talk to another person higher up. That person knew that it was missing but didn’t know where it was either. Basically, all the people that needed to sign it had already signed it and they were just waiting for my signature. But now the eval was no where to be found. This person said they would talk to another person and see if they can track it down and that I should check back later. I checked back later and the person was gone. There was some kind of sewer leakage that blocked one of the entrances on and off base today, so they let people that lived far away go home early. I guess that person left? I stayed to get my work done… I won’t be at the office tomorrow, so I hope they find it so that I can sign it on Wednesday. My boss wondered why they just could not print out a new one and have everyone sign it again… I have no idea.

Speaking of work, I made quite a few phone calls regarding the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) process that I am about to begin. The issue is… I have no idea how I’m supposed to initiate it! I think I know the problem though… normally a soldier doesn’t have to initiate it – it begins when they get hurt and then they get worked through the system. My issue is that because I have been having all my treatments done at the Navy hospital, the Army hospital has no idea what’s up with me. They don’t know I need an MEB! At first I thought I was supposed to begin out-processing from my office, and also take the paperwork that I do have to Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and that would start the process. But when I ran this by my Reserve Management Office (RMO), they said that I should probably not do that quite yet. Instead, I should call WRAMC and the office that does the out-processing and see what they say.

I followed their instructions and called WRAMC. I explained my dilemma to someone there and they told me that they would have to speak to someone above them to see what needed to be done. To my surprise, a few minutes later they paged me and I called back. They had a list of things that needed to be done and paperwork that I needed to gather in order for everything to go smoothly. A plan! It sounded good to me, so I took notes and hung up. One of the items on the list required that I ask the out-processing office a few questions too. I called them up and they had a similar, but slightly different plan. They urged me to call a different person at WRAMC, but to come to them to begin out-processing immediately! I called the person they suggested I call and they were very helpful. They told me basically the same things the first person at WRAMC told me with a few slight changes. I called the first person back and left a message with them explaining that I had spoken to the out-processing people and this other person at WRAMC and that the plans were slightly different – I expect a call back from them tomorrow.

Okay, so all these details, right? Here’s what it comes down to:

  1. When you can’t physically perform your duties in the military because of an injury or disability, they put you on what is called a profile. They have temporary and permanent profiles. I have been on a temporary profile since the surgery, but my main doctor recently put me on a permanent profile because you have to have one to start the MEB process. First thing tomorrow, I have to make the trek to my medical clinic in the Pentagon to get a copy of that P3 profile. Simple enough, right? We’ll see.
  2. I need to begin the out-processing process which has to be done at Fort Belvoir, which is about 30 miles south of DC. I can’t drive, so our good friend Tamra, who is also in the Army and happens to work at WRAMC, is going to give me a ride. There, I’ll begin the process, but when I get to medical, they’ll see my past history and things will screech to a halt. They will immediately refer me to WRAMC for an MEB. Then we’ll drive to WRAMC and I’ll meet with some of the people that I spoke with on the phone today. And it all works out perfectly because Tamra needs to take care of some business there tomorrow too! I’m not sure of what all will happen when I get there – I’m kinda flying by the seat of my pants on this one.
  3. I need a Narrative Summary (NARSUM) from my doctors explaining what happened to me and what conditions I have now. I have appointments with my Neurologist and Oncologist on Friday to knock this one out of the way. BTW, I also have a follow-up MRI Friday afternoon to see how things look up there. Pray that everything is still getting better for me, okay?
  4. Since this happened to me while I was on Active Duty, it is considered a Line of Duty injury (LOD). Apparently there was supposed to be a form filled out quite some time ago (a DA2173 to be exact,) it was never done, so the folks at WRAMC will take care of that for me.

Wow! So those are the major things at this time that I know of. In addition, I was told that once I go to WRAMC and they begin the process, they will put in a request to the Army to cut a new set of orders assigning me to the Medical Holdover Company at WRAMC. The Army will then have 72 hours to cut the orders. Whatever date the orders say I am assigned to WRAMC is the date that I have to move out of this temporary apartment and into the housing at WRAMC. My current orders expire on April 27 – I’m sure they will be done by then. In fact, if I go there tomorrow, they might be cut by this Friday. I was kind of hoping to spend one more weekend in this apartment close to everyone I know, but I might have to move before then. Or, they might cut the orders by Friday, but the effective date won’t be until sometime next week. That would be preferable since I have medical appointments pretty much all day Friday and it would suck to move over the weekend. So, let’s pray that I am told to move next week too.

Confusing? We’re just getting started. Tomorrow should be a fun filled day of running around and being told different information. I pray that it goes well. I know I’ve probably given you way too much information, but I wanted to tell you everything and it also gives me a way to put it on “paper” to make sure that even I have it right. I’ll update you tomorrow evening. And if you have questions for me, please leave a comment and I’ll answer them. Now it’s close to midnight again and I’m still up. So, I’m posting this and going to bed.

Apr 14, 2007

Back Safe in DC

I made it back safe to DC thanks to JetBlue. My good buddy Matt O picked me up from Dulles and I got checked into the apartment with little trouble. We had a great dinner at Cafe Asia (one of my faves in the area) and then he dropped me off. It has been chilly and raining all evening and night and is apparently supposed to all weekend. Holly and I talked on the phone for over an hour, I unpacked a bit and I'm ready for bed. I'm looking forward to going to Grace in the morning and seeing more people that have been great friends. I'm off to bed... it has been a long day.

Apr 13, 2007

Back to DC Tomorrow

Well, here it is over a month later and I'm already heading back to DC tomorrow. Man, it feels like I just got home! We had a chance to see some of our very good friends while I was here: David, Kate and the kids; Miki, Sean and the kids; Jill N; Jill R; all of our family... but we never got a chance to visit with our very good friends Joy, TJ and all their kiddos! It's been too crazy guys, we'll see you when I get back! We love you and thank you for everything!

We did get to go on that fabulous cruise... and yeah yeah... I know the pics aren't up yet. We have been mega crazy! We had to move back in and then leave, then come back and finish unpacking and we completely redid our home office setup. Then Holly started back up at work again this week while I tried to rest a little bit and take care of other odds and ends around the house. I spent a pretty good amount of time yesterday and today packing and tomorrow I head off at 12:05pm CDT. Thanks to Matt O, in advance, for picking me up at Dulles.

Anywho, my thoughts are all over the place today. I just wanted to let y'all know that we haven't forgotten about you, our loyal readers, and we'll be back on the blog-wagon soon.

Apr 8, 2007

Seizure #3

Happy Easter everyone.

Roger had another seizure about 1:15 a.m. today. It happened almost like the other two, started at his right foot and traveled up to take over his whole body. We were both asleep and he felt his leg convulsing. He exclaimed he was having a seizure which woke me up. I think he said it twice because I think I thought I was dreaming, but he can't remember how many times he said it. I also wasn't expecting him to have another seizure and being completely asleep meant I wasn't ready. Roger is scared and very disappointed. He is concerned about going to DC by himself next Saturday. He's on the highest therapeutic dose of his anti-seizure medication which the doctors rarely see seizures. And we're both confused by why he had another seizure. He also had two more months and he could start driving again. Now he has to wait until October unless he has another seizure.

He bit his tongue which hurts and is tired and weak especially on his right side. He feels like he is limping a little. The same thing happened each seizure before. He was tired and weak for a few days. He said he felt like he ran a marathon which is technically what his brain did. We just got home from trying out that new church. It was good but I'm looking forward to a regular Sunday message since Easter is always a special message and can be different from the pastor's usual style. Now we are on our way to Roger's parents for Easter dinner.

Would you please pray for healing from the seizures for Roger, for peace and safety while he is in DC and guidance with the Army MEB process? Thank you so much for your prayers.

Apr 4, 2007

One Year Ago Today

At 12:15 a.m. this morning, Roger said to me it was one year ago today that he came home from the hospital. I thought no it's tomorrow, but then I realized that it was after midnight and agreed with him. I remember thinking it was awesome he was going to be home for our anniversary, April 5th. We weren't sure when he was going to be released from the rehabilitation hospital. They would not release him until he could escape a burning building on his own so his release depended on his improvement. It was great that he was able to be home for our third anniversary. So tomorrow we will celebrate our fourth anniversary at Christopher's World Grill in Bryan, Texas which is where we celebrated our first anniversary.