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Monday, January 27, 2014

Plans are Useless

It's a known fact that things never go the way you plan for them to go.  I should have known that this would eventually apply to Mr. L and me as well, but when things are going swimmingly for you, it's hard to imagine anything but all that happiness and good fortune when you're making plans for the future.

For most of his life, Mr. L knew that he was going to be involved with the military somehow.  When he was a kid, he thought that the Army would ultimately be his path, but when the Army recruiter wasn't in on the day he went to sign up, the Navy recruiter stepped in and snatched him up.  It's funny how something so small can have a major impact on your life, isn't it?  I most likely never would have met Mr. L if it weren't for that Army recruiter being MIA!

And just for fun...my and Mr. L's first picture together...we were babies!
After joining up with the Navy, Mr. L also knew that he was going to stick it out and retire in 20 years.  After he and I started dating, I also understood that this was the right career path for him, although it took me much longer to finally admit and accept it.  His career was going well and he was being recognized for his hard work, so we just knew this was definitely the way things should be going.

Unfortunately, we've come across a road block and we're not sure what this will mean for Mr. L's future in the Navy.  I haven't talked about our issues much (except maybe a few mentions on my Five for Friday posts), so I'll give a somewhat brief background.  Back in April of last year, Mr. L had an incident while he was on a deployment.  It sounds pretty trivial looking back, but a bug flew into his eye and hung around for a few hours before he was able to remove it.  He ended up with damage to his cornea, but while his eye was actually healing up perfectly, he began to have major episodes of intense, grinding pain in his eye socket.

This eye pain went on nonstop for weeks.  We visited an optometrist and an ophthalmologist who both had no idea what could be causing it, especially when his vision was still perfect.  Ultimately, it came to a head when the pain started spreading to other parts of his head and face in the form of debilitating migraines.  After a trip to the emergency room, pain killers, and an MRI, we were sent on to see an ENT.

The ENT looked at his MRI, did a test to see if the deviated septum the MRI revealed Mr. L had could be the cause of the pain, determined it wasn't with a test, and sent us on to a neurologist.  And that's where we've been for the past six months now.  The neurologist has been working with Mr. L to see what kinds of medications work best for his pain management because he has no idea what's causing the pain.  Terms like "ocular migraines," "cluster headaches," and "neuralgia" have been thrown around, but his symptoms don't closely align with any particular one, making it much more difficult to treat.  Although we have made progress on the pain front -- he's down from constant 24/7 pain to a few episodes a day -- it isn't enough.  He's still unable to do the job he's supposed to be doing and has now been put on limited duty.

This, this, a thousand times this.  (source)
Limited duty basically means that he's put in a less stressful job so he can focus on getting 100% better.  Unfortunately, he still actually hasn't been assigned to this job (he's in a kind of in between department right now) which is another frustration entirely, but we're doing our best to make it work and to be proactive on the medical front.  We're looking into alternative medicinal practices like acupuncture and chiropractic care while also experimenting with other treatments recommended by his neurologist.   We're also considering surgery to fix his deviated septum just in case that might solve the pain problems he's having.

These past nine months have been awful for Mr. L.  We've had to make a lot of lifestyle changes in response to the pain he's been having (especially when we found out noise is a factor in bringing on the migraines) and we're both incredibly tired and frustrated at not having any answers.  It seems like such a small thing, but having a name to what we're dealing with would feel like a small miracle right now.  If we knew what it was, we would know how to fight against it.  And now there's a possibility that Mr. L might be separated from the Navy entirely because of all of this.

We've been slowly talking over the last few months about what our game plan would be if he was separated, but it hasn't been until this month that we're really shifting our thinking in order to prepare.  We're lucky that we have the option to move back home and have a complete support system waiting for us, but we're sad, frustrated, scared, and angry at the same time.  It wasn't supposed to happen like this.  We were supposed to be set for another 9 years and continue to travel and explore the world on the Navy's dime.  I'm thankful that we've gotten to go to the places we have so far, but I'm not ashamed to admit I wanted more and I still do.  It's difficult to remain positive, especially when I see firsthand Mr. L struggling and fighting to get through a day without pain.  I worry for him and I hurt for him and I wish I could take this pain away and bring him back to his old self.  If it's this overwhelming for me, I truly can't even wrap my brain around how it's affecting him.

But it's really important for us to realize that we aren't out of options yet.  We don't have a reason to give up hope right now, and we need to keep our focus on the next series of treatments and the possibility of changing up the medication he's currently on.  He wants so badly to not just stay in the Navy but to return to his old job, and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that happens.  But we know that if it doesn't happen the way we want it to, it isn't the end of the world.  It'll be scary and a complete shock to our lifestyle, but we'll make whatever happens work and come out all the better for it.  We just have to be patient...unfortunately, we're not really patient people, especially when you consider how much time has already gone by and how frustrating his medical appointments have been so far (for reasons far beyond not knowing what his condition is).

I guess my main point in writing this is to clue people in on why I haven't done much (if any) writing on the goings on in our lives right now.  Honestly, it's depressing (although we know it could be much worse) and I know I'm not normally one for reading depressing posts.  But this is what's happening in our lives and it's important to understand that things aren't all rainbows and puppies and unicorns all time time, even when you live in Hawaii.

Although that whole natural beauty thing here does kind of make things at least a little better!  (Shark's Cove on the North Shore)
Actually, I probably have another reason for putting this out there too.  No matter who you are, even if you have a pretty secure job in the military (relatively speaking), prepare the for worst.  Keep it in the back of your mind that life can change in an instant and knock you down and that you need to have a back up plan just in case to protect yourself and your family.  Whether it's getting an education or saving for a rainy day, you just need to have some semblance of a plan.  If we had known something like this could have happened to us, we would've started seriously budgeting years ago and I would have definitely already gotten my Master's degree or at least started on it.  Get your financial and educational lives in order now so you don't have to look back and wish you'd taken action when you still could.

For now, we're going to keep on trucking along and also keep praying that we find at the very least a successful pain management regimen to keep Mr. L working in the Navy and happy.  We're going to soak up whatever amount of time we have left in Hawaii and we are remaining hopeful that things will get better while in the meantime beginning to plan for the worst.  And in the spirit of that planning, I'll leave y'all with a quote I found oddly comforting from Dwight D. Eisenhower: 

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” 

2 comments:

  1. Oh....I'm so sad you guys are going through this. All from a stinkin bug! I hope the docs hurry up and figure out the next step quickly. Just a quick little tid bit... I worked with a woman that had extreme headaches also, she ended up getting nose surgery and it took them from the extreme down to just a couple every so often.
    Hope everything turns out OK.
    *hugs

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    Replies
    1. The surgery is still an option for him, but the couple of ENTs that we've seen didn't think it would fix his pain because they used a numbing spray on his deviated septum to see if the pain would stop after it got numbed up. The pain didn't, so they're not too confident that it would work. However, we're keeping it on the table because it would fix some sinus issues for him anyways and at this point we're willing to try most anything.

      Thank you for your sweet words! I appreciate them :)

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