02 February 2011


I posted this at my new blog, but I don't know how many of you are over there reading and I thought maybe my MilSpouse readers might appreciate this one, so I posted it here too. That is all!
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So today I was paging through an old pre-Christmas issue of People (one of the ones with Michael Douglas on the cover) while waiting for my chicken curry lunch to heat up in the microwave. Tucked in the back was an article about young widows. While not immediately apparent, it was actually an article about young military widows… how they found out their husbands were killed, how they have bonded over shared experiences, how they have overcome and honored their husband’s memories, etc. I casually flipped through the article and looked at the photographs. It was an article I should have been compelled to read, but I found myself intentionally NOT reading it. Like I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And then I started to feel it. That twisting, churning, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. The rush of panic and fear creeping up your spine and worming its way into your consciousness.
You all know what I mean, right?
That is when I realized that I COULDN’T read it. It was too close to home. Still. It was like a low-level PTSD moment for a MilSpouse. Even here, in South Dakota, safely retired from the Army, with no looming deployment… it still cut to the quick. I couldn’t bring myself to read their stories. It was like peering into the rabbit hole… I was afraid that if I got too close I would tumble in. All those familiar and terrifying feelings coming back to toy with me and mess with my head.
No thanks.
I think the thing about this "episode" is that I am amazed how strongly it hit me, even with all the miles and paperwork separating us from our former military life. It was like I was there, back in the midst of the deployment (or pre-deployment workup/misery/anticipatory grief period) in one instant. I mean, even the physical response was there. It was instantaneous. And it blew me away. I wasn’t expecting that while passing the time in the lunchroom, you know?
I think maybe it hit me so hard, even now, because the anticipatory grief period leading up to the deployment was nothing short of epic for me. Newly married, facing the questions, uncertainty and fear of a deployment (while I realized this isn’t new or special to MilFolks, it does make for a particularly noxious combination of emotions). Knowing he got shot the last time, knowing he was the kind of soldier that wouldn’t back away from a fight, but run headlong into it. Dealing with my first deployment on top of dealing with the bliss/confusion of being freshly wed. Being absolutely terrified of loosing it all before we got to really enjoy it. Having the fear and worry and depression wrap its arms around me and squeeze so tight that sometimes it was hard to breathe. Literally. Not being able to stop crying. Not being able to just STOP imagining the black sedan in front of the house, the knock on the door, the Class A’s standing in front of me. I couldn’t stop living out my worst fears in my head. Not being able to think about the deployment, the war, the Army, my husband it without launching into a mostly silent and internal meltdown. (If you can’t tell, I didn’t talk to many folks about this while I was going through it. Actually, I don’t know that I talked to anyone about it like I just have, here on this blog. Huh. But strangely, the pre-deployment portion of the program was worse than the actual deployment in a lot of ways. Sounds like a blog post for another time, no?)
Anyway, maybe the point is that your biggest fear and/or those life-altering experiences, whatever they may be, stay with you. You don’t really get over those things, not entirely. They linger in the back of your mind and rush forward to elicit the same responses as they did years ago whenever the triggers arise*. Even if the trigger is an article in People magazine. I think this is especially true when it is a fear that you have to confront so regularly and earnestly, like we MilSpouses do. And maybe part of it is that loosing your spouse prematurely is the sort of fear that, once out of the military, isn’t necessarily moot. It is a possibility that we have confronted time and time again, a possibility that really isn’t that unlikely when you are sending your husband off to war. Maybe that is why it stays with me. Then again, maybe it is just because dealing with a deployment was something that rather profoundly affected every part of me, it shaped me in more ways than I can count and who I am now is in large part to the (nearly) 2 years that surrounded it. Perhaps confronting it so early in life, when most couples are more worried about mortgages and daycare, makes the effects even more lasting. I’m not sure. 
I just know that just because the retirement papers are signed doesn’t mean the feelings go away. It is now clear as day to me that our stint in the Army will have an indelible mark on both of us, in different ways for sure, but the mark of the Army will always be there. Always.

*Sounds a lot like PTSD, right? But don’t be mistake my point; I’m not equating my MilSpouse drama with that of combat troops. Apples and oranges for sure.

31 December 2010

2011 and Changes.

Okay dear readers… I know things have been quiet around here for a while. I’ll confess that there are a few reasons why. First, Holy Hannah this new work schedule is kicking my butt. Not cool. Second, it has been hard for me to transition to this non-Army life of ours here on my MilSpouse based blog. I sort of feel like I can’t teach this old blog new tricks. And even though I thought it wouldn’t go down this way, since we got out of the Army, we really are disconnected from what is going on out there in the military ranks. I keep up with what y’all write and try to stay abreast of the issues out there, but it is a lot harder when you aren’t living it.
In short, what I’m trying to say is that it is time for Tucker and Swiss (the blog) to retire. I’m not going to delete it. I’m not going to vow to never write here again. But I’m not going to use this venue (primarily) for my blogging anymore. I guess I don’t want to dilute the MilSpousey goodness with the non-sensical drivel that is surely going to be the basis of my blogging from here on out.
BUT. I want to do a few things. First, I want to say THANK YOU to all of you, for following me and joining us on this crazy Army journey. Thank you for your kind words and support, for your humor and your kinship. You all are amazing and have made the struggles this Army life brought us much easier to handle. You’ve been my therapists, my counselors and my support system. And for that I will be eternally grateful. Second, I want to invite you all to the new blog. I can’t promise anything fancy or even good, but you can check out my new blog here: Tucker, Actually. Third, I want to wish you all a very wonderful New Year. Here is to a MUCH less eventful 2011 and a frank good riddance to 2010.
Thank you again for all your support and I hope to see you over at the new blog!

XOXO- Tucker (and Swiss and Fletcher)

25 December 2010

Merry Christmas...

Can it be that I haven't blogged since December 11th? For shame! But alas, I break the non-blogging cycle to wish you all a VERY Merry Christmas. I know you don't all get to be with your loved ones, and those of you who can are beyond grateful (as I am). So here is wishing safe and quick returns home for those who have loved ones deployed and a memorable and grateful Christmas to those of us who have ours home.

Merry Christmas everyone!
Tucker, Swiss and Fletcher

11 December 2010

Putting the Super in Supervisor?

Well, things here have finally started to normalize. We have come to terms with Fletcher's situation and are a week into Chemotherapy... we met our new Vet today and Fletch is still happy as a clam and more active than a toddler on speed. Life is pretty good here in South Dakota.


Remember how I said this position was just supposed to be a "Lead"? Ha! After day 2 of working there, they kindly mentioned that I was now, in fact, the supervisor. Wha??? What makes this funny is that I applied for numerous jobs that turned out to be supervisory in nature and I turned them ALL down. Why? Because, as I told Swiss, I have ZERO interest in being a supervisor and all that entails. ZERO. And yet, here I sit, supervisor of a lab. How in the heck did that happen? I claim false advertising!

So far it is fine. (Knock on wood please!) The workload is bordering on insane... but that is temporary as we get the new portion of the lab up and running. But the folks are all super nice and I get the sense that they sort of feel bad for me. I won't balk at pity... not this time. The worst part is that there was no supervisor before me, therefore there is no one to show me the ropes. Which is making this job training more akin to being dropped off in the middle of the Pacific and told to swim to Hawai'i with no map, no compass, no water wings. Bah!

Anyway, today (Saturday) we have the company Christmas party... I am dragging Swiss along to meet folks who's names I don't quite remember yet. Should be a memorable evening.  But until then? UNPACKING! Lots and lots of unpacking... 'cause there's nothing like company coming to get your unpacking ass in gear!

Have a swell weekend everyone!

01 December 2010

No words.

There are no words to explain how I feel right now. Sometimes emotions are too deep and complex and raw to put into mere words... this is where I find myself right now. The long and short of it is that dear, sweet Fletcher's situation is worse than any of us expected. The option for surgery became moot once we understood that we wouldn't be able to give him the radiation treatment they recommended and that even doing such drastic surgery and treatment wasn't going to guarantee us all that much extra time with him. It became obvious that doing all this to him was ultimately going to be a selfish choice. So, we are leaving our adorable boy alone to live out whatever time he has left with us. No radical surgery, only palliative low-dose chemotherapy and NSAID treatments.

Right now we have a bouncy, exuberant, happy puppy on our hands and I fear that doing all these extensive measures would have taken that away from him and us. So we chose to leave him be his boisterous and loving self until the time comes.

I know we made the right decision, after hours of talking it out with the oncologist and surgeon at the UW Vet center, it became so obvious that this was really the only fair choice to Fletcher. I haven't come to terms with the fact that we may only have a handful of months left with him... whatever time it ends up being will be too little. But we have come to terms with what we need to do: love him up at every chance, spoil him rotten, and ensure his quality of life is second to none. We have a lot of years of love to cram into not much time, so we aren't hesitating with the spoiling. Not one bit.

Of course we are still holding out and hoping for a small miracle, but I think we understand that knowing our time is limited, having this time with him, being able to make the most of this time is a gift in a way. So keep sending our little guy your prayers and well wishes, we can certainly still use it. And thank you for standing by us and all your kind words.

Tucker, Swiss and Fletcher

29 November 2010

Fletcher Update

So, wow... what a few days this has been. Swiss has left for South Dakota, someone has to be there to accept our household goods so he left this morning to head West. My new boss has been nothing shy of wonderful, they have let me postpone my start date until next week so that I can be with Fletch for his surgeries and take him home with me.

We still don't know much more about his diagnosis. Nothing has changed from what we last learned. Right now we are scheduled for an oncology appointment tomorrow and that will dictate surgery dates and give us an idea of what to expect. I know our little guy won't ever look the same, but I know he will bounce back and he'll still be the handsomest little stinker in my eyes. I think Swiss and I are coming to terms with the fact that we won't have Fletcher for nearly as long as we had hoped... it is still a shock to the system and it still breaks my heart, but we have already started spoiling him rotten and ensuring that whatever time he has with us will be full of love and pampering and frolics in the woods... and plenty of treats. I think we figure if we only have a limited time with him, we are going to have to cram in a lifetime of love in the coming months and years.

Our current dilemma is this. Do we stick with the local surgeon that seems competent (if a bit young) or hit the road and have the surgery done up at the University of Wisconsin's highly renowned Vet center? I mean, like my Dad said, do you want to look back a few years from now and wonder what if we had just gone to Madison? Realistically, with the diagnosis given, I don't think either one of them are going to be able to make this thing go away forever... but what if it is the difference between one year with him and two years? What would you do?

In any event, please send more puppy love and wishes Fletcher's way. He definitely still needs it and says thanks for all the kind thoughts and prayers you've already been lobbing his way. I'll keep y'all posted when we know more (hopefully tomorrow).

24 November 2010


So, I'll cut to the quick. My sweet boy Fletcher has cancer, it is aggressive and the prognosis, even after surgery, isn't good. It is rare in a dog so young... and I am kicking myself for not doing more earlier, but how was I to know? We thought is was just a goose egg. No one thought it was cancer. No one. I never saw this one coming, and it knocked the wind right out of me. So please pardon me if I cry as I type this.

We do have some options, the most reasonable one involves drastic surgery to cut away all of the tumor and the surrounding areas that likely house other tendrils of tumor. Since it is on his face, it means that he will never look the same. They might even have to remove his eye. But they say dogs don't care how they look, and I know our savvy little guy will adapt well. But still, this has been devastating news.

I am heartbroken. Swiss had to choke back tears as we turned around on the interstate to head back home with the news. My Mom and Dad are just as upset. I am so very very sad. It is just beyond unfair and so sad and a thousand kinds of not right. He doesn't deserve this. He's been nothing but snuggly and sweet and loving and funny and a kind, sweet soul. He's what got me through so many lonely days and nights during the deployment, his constantly wagging tail has always been there to greet us. His antics were always good for a smile and a laugh. He's been so good at overcoming all of the issues his previous horrible owners gave him. He's come leaps and bounds (both literally and figuratively) since we got him, he's turned into such a lovable and wonderful pet. He is such a sweet, affectionate and funny boy and to have this happen to him while he's still so young is unthinkable.

I am alternately angry and crushed. I am angry that this had to happen to him, after having abusive owners who made him afraid of whistles and any loud noises, owners who penned him up in a kennel with no padding leading to a broken toe, owners who somehow couldn't take care of this sweet soul and left him in a kill shelter with a broken tail and a missing tooth. He's been through enough. This is too much. He doesn't deserve this, not by a country mile. I am so upset that his sweet life may be cut drastically short. And I find myself asking the ever-futile question, why? Why did this have to happen to him? Why do affectionate and loving pets get things like cancer, what kind of world is that? Why so young? Why???

I've done nothing but cry since we got the news last night. I feel cheated and sad and devastated. This isn't what you are supposed to be worrying about with a 2 year old dog. He was supposed to grow old and grey with us. Now? We don't know. 1 more year, maybe 2. 4 if we are lucky. And of course I am hoping for the best, but I can't pretend that this isn't as serious as it is. We aren't going to have our sweet boy for nearly as long as we had hoped. And it just isn't fair.

We have chosen to take him up to the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Hospital for surgery (assuming it is possible, blasted Thanksgiving has put a huge wrench in everything) since they have a set of surgeons that specialize in soft tissue and have likely seen this at least a few times before. I'm going to give our boy every last fighting chance I can. And spoil him as rotten as we can.

Please put our little guy in your prayers or whatever and send lots and lots of good ju-ju his way. Lord knows he's going to need it and I can't do it all myself no matter how hard I try.