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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Stroke of Luck

It was a Tuesday, I was running with a friend, and I had a sudden headache. It was sudden and accompanied by neck cramps so I didn't think much about it, I've had tension headaches before and this felt similar. But...something was off. Oh, well, my friend went through the FAST review and nothing was off. No facial droop, no slurred speech, just a headache and neck cramps. I did like anyone else would do. I ran back to the starting point and went home, took some ibuprofen and went to sleep.

The next morning, the same thing, nagging headache, and neck cramps. I had a busy day planned at work so I took more ibuprofen and took my husband to the airport and went to work. The headache disappeared with the ibuprofen, but those neck cramps stuck around. I toughed it out at work for half a day, but then I went home. I took a muscle relaxer and went to sleep. I spent the rest of the day self medicating, but I was alert, and oriented. The next day still with the headache, but at last, no neck cramps. I considered it a victory and went to work. The day was going well, the ibuprofen was working and I was having a good day at work. That is until I was sitting at my desk talking to a co-worker, when the headache returned with a vengence. I've never had a migraine before, but there's a first time for everything, right?

I remember saying, "I don't feel good" and then my vision narrowing. Boy was that an understatement. I woke up on the floor of my office, with two faces looking down at me, covered in sweat. I was told to not get up and that an ambulance was coming. Ambulance? What? Thats when I started panicking. Worried that I would pass out again, I was talking as fast as I could, emergency contacts, medications, history of the headache. The ambulance came and I was taken to the hospital.

Being a pilot's wife, you have to have an independent spirit. You have to be able to take care of yourself. Nothing ever prepares you for sitting in an emergency room on your own, with your husband halfway across the country and no family nearby. As a I am a relatively healthy person, passing out is not a good indicator of things to come, so off to have a head CT I went. sitting in the room, my head was on fire, but I had to wait while they did the exam. The tech said that I might have to wait a bit as they might want to put contrast dye in to get a better look. Less than five minutes later, there was dye in my veins and back in the machine I went before they wheeled me back to my room. As I was a bit on the delirious side by this point, I don't know how long it took, but the doctor came in and told me I had an aneurysm. Aneurysm? Aneurysm. I knew what that meant and that's when I started crying. You see, after working in nursing homes, assisted livings and adult family homes, I was all too familiar with what an aneurysm meant, and I was petrified. The idea that I could die didn't enter my head at all. I just thought, what happens if I live?

Thank God for pain medication because I finally was given something for the headache before being whisked off to surgery where I was given anesthetic and when to sleep. I remember waking briefly in my room, my friend Sonja there waiting for me, before I drifted off to sleep again. I woke briefly when my mom's flight arrived, and when my husband finally got home, but for the most part I don't know how long they stayed.

I spent the next four days in a haze of pain medications, waking only when people came in or left. I'm pretty sure that I was entertaining. That's also when in my brief moments of being awake and in pain, I discovered that I was a pretty lucky gal. I had been at home for several days before receiving treatment and I could easily have died, or passed out at home alone, or while driving my car. I had an excellent medical provider who was able to treat my aneurysm without shaving my head. It was also this provider who treated me in a manner that allowed me to hope for a full recovery.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh, the honeymoon phase!

It's official! I am now working during the day again. I can't contain my excitement over this development. It is so nice to be able to meet friends for dinner, to be able to tell what day it is just because my alarm went off. Oh, the bliss. I'm happier and since the husband transferred to San Antonio, he's much happier too. Life is good. I don't say that often enough.

So... I started my new job on Monday. And maybe it's spring, maybe it's sleeping at night again, or maybe it's just me, but it feels like a giant weight has been lifted. The change has a name, but I didn't realize how much of a fundamental change this would be for me. I'm having a tremendous opportunity to impact change in an newly developing program, and to be able to make such a global impact is very gratifying. When I say global, I mean GLOBAL. I wake up excited to go to work. I didn't realize before, but I was that dreaded burned out social worker, who didn't hate their job, but wasn't truly in love with it anymore. I can't say I'm back in love, but I'm definitely closer to the "I miss you, hey lets talk about getting back together" feeling. I don't feel like I'm just doing things because it pays the bills and because I'm worried about not having any other options. Like I said, if the changes I impact and make are truly embraced I will most certainly have lots of options. I also like that my boss allows me to be independent and accepts my stubbornness as an asset. If only the rest of the world would see it as that. It's nice to work with people are just like me in that respect. It's refreshing to feel as though I finally belong. So lets hope this honeymoon lasts.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Changes on the horizon

It's been a couple of months since my last post. As we only have one computer and it was in my husband's possession for that time, that meant I had little opportunity to post. Things have been busy. I've been working a lot of nights, husband has been working a lot of days. It's a good thing we are both pretty independent. The only real difficulty is that since he has only spent two weeks home that means that my night shift work has become even more problematic. Fortunately I have only two more weeks of nights. Insert my happy dance here. In two weeks time I will be working as a sexual assault counselor. It will be a challenge but I am looking forward to regaining my life again. This also means that the husband can work on his schoolwork while I'm at work and then we will actually get to spend evenings together when he is home. I definitely miss that and can't wait to have that back. It's still really frustrating with the husbands work, he's moved...again, at least he keeps moving closer to home. He's been gone for three weeks at a time. Ugh! They keep changing his schedule so there's no knowing when he's coming home. The harder part is trying to maintain my independence and balance that with his absences and uncertain returns. To say that it creates friction at times, is putting it mildly. The thing that keeps it running even remotely smoothly is the idea that it's temporary. Just as my schedule is temporary, so is the husbands. Changes they are a coming.

Friday, February 4, 2011

when to keep my mouth shut

Being a social worker is hard work. Hard, but something I'm definitely good at. I love the fact that sometimes my job description requires me to be a gigantic pain in the ass and that I get to do this with my social work ethics backing me up. How many people get to say that? I think advocacy is something that is fast becoming lost in today's society. Why else would we have such a problem with bullying? If we taught our kids to speak up for others instead of making politics the reason for our lack of courage maybe it would be less destructive. Maybe we'd all have a little more pride in ourselves, maybe we'd even see the changes we believe someone else should be making.

How does this fit in with being a pilot's wife, you ask? Because often as the spouses we hear the injustices our partners endure in order to keep their job. Some pilots are lucky enough to be represented by a union, but by and large the smaller carriers are not and their pilots get hosed. Such is the case at my husbands work: for months the work rules have been changed to fit his company's needs, but they don't comply with the policy manual they have provided their employees. What does that mean? That means that they are not keeping up their end of the contract they have with their employees. In the past when this has happened I opened myself up to challenge his previous employer, I even encouraged the wives to get involved. In short I became the lightning rod that his company targeted when they sought to dismiss him. As a social worker and an advocate my decision seemed appropriate, after all, the wives have as much to gain or lose from a company that chooses to disregard their employees. As a pilot, I just gave his employer a reason to fire him for inciting unrest with his colleagues and without the protection of a union they were able to fire him. Because of ME! That's a pretty big burden to bear, especially since we were in the middle of planning a wedding, he was unemployed and involved in a protracted legal mess with this company. The issue became much bigger and much more real as far as advocacy is concerned. Believe me when I say there is a lot of guilt and anger. As a result, his former colleagues shut up, quit fighting, and the dissatisfied ones left in droves.

We met with them several months later, his former chief pilot and wife were there along with several other former colleagues. Guess what happened. The guys would talk to us, mostly about shop stuff that wasn't meant to exclude me but did because of the topic. The wives? The wives actually sat with their back to me and ignored me for the two hours we spent at dinner. Not an exaggeration, the only words uttered were "hello"followed by a pointed turning away from me in their seat. What could have caused this? Me and my big mouth, plus the fact that I had "betrayed" my spouse by trying to help and then getting him fired. The judgement was pretty swift and boy was it harsh.

Thinking about now and the current situation my husband finds himself in, it is absolute misery for me. I can handle some bitchy women who think of me as a traitor and can't bother having enough manners to engage in social pleasantries because they dislike my actions. What I can't stand is feeling powerless because I can't help, or I risk more backlash directed at my husband. Sure I can direct the conversation about resources, but I can't offer myself as a resource or a representative. AGONY! Then comes the part where as a spouse you listen and then can't do anything or risk retribution by his company. I want to be an advocate, I really do, I have a serious problem with observing injustice and all it does is make me want to fight. Prior experiences, however, have taught me that regardless of my wish I just have to keep my mouth shut. Boy does that leave a bitter taste.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where have you been?

Okay, so I haven't been as diligent about my writing as I should have been. I have lots of excuses and none of them are good. Such is life. I can only say that I will try harder.

Things are interesting. I made a huge decision since my last post and that is to change my job. It has been one of the most anxiety provoking experiences that I have had in a long time. The change was very much necessary and I can say that my mental health has improved with the change. The husbands job was also a key element in my choosing this particular job. I accepted a night time position in an emergency room as a social worker. This is not a position most people would consider, nor would anyone really jump at the chance. However, this job had a lot of elements that were an asset and considering my husband is gone much of the time for work, it doesn't have such an undesirable impact on my life.

I can say that my husbands job did drive this decision. The employer will potentially allow me to relocate in a variety of places around the world should the husbands job take us that direction. This I think is something that many people in my situation struggle with. Especially if they have an established career. The question I have struggled with for a long time is, whose career is more important, mine or his? In a perfect world, this wouldn't even be a question, but being in the airline industry, and with me being in an industry that requires me to acquire specific licenses in each state I would choose to live/practice, it is a nightmare. Do we follow the airline job, and I give up career and just follow him from place to place, never really establishing a position for myself? Do we stay in one place and commute which means even more time apart? What happens if he loses his job and we are stuck with my low paying one because I haven't established myself? I'm a pretty independent gal and establishing my own identity is important. I mean, I spent LOTS of money learning how to follow my chosen career, so some emotional/personal investment should be made, right? I like what I do (most days) and it gives me something to do during the times he is away. So I guess you could say that this is a really positive step for me and a very important step for us. After all change is good, and a happy wife means a happy life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Combatting Loneliness

I missed the husbands phone call last night. I had gone running with a group at a local shoe store, and had gotten home too late to speak to him. I didn't hear my phone ring. I hate it when that happens. When he's gone that tends to be the highlight of my day. I tend to not sleep well until I hear from him just because I like to know how his day went and that he made it home safe.

It's a hard life being the wife of someone gone all the time. I'm an person who likes structure and routine. With a schedule that changes by day and minute that makes the adjustment difficult. I like knowing when he's going to be home so we can plan what we're going to do and not knowing drives me up a wall. I guess you could say that the type A side kicks in. I manage with the help of friends to inject some spontaneity into the hum drum of when he's gone. I have to say that without them to keep things interesting, I would be losing my marbles.

Friends...that is the saving grace of this job. Married friends are an even bigger asset. They tend to support the fact that you're part of a duo and have some empathy about being apart for weeks at a time. I've been blessed with some very good friends and thankfully they take me under their wing. They're awesome they invite me over for dinner and out to happy hour. I can honestly say that they help bring a stability to this life.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I've been married to my pilot for almost 3 years now. It's not an easy life and after nearly seven years together we are still navigating the difficulties that the career and the personal life can encounter. My biggest goal is to be a helpful resource, a support. During a difficult time in my relationship I sought support from other pilot wives and found it less than helpful. Ignoring or avoiding the pitfalls and having a safe place to vent the frustration with the job was unavailable. I want to share my experiences with others. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I knew what I was getting myself into when I met and married my pilot, I hope to help other's know what they are going to encounter as well.