Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Journeys and Green Jello

Hello There! Its been over a month since I've been on the "blog" and I keep feeling the need to "update" but life has been flying by!
Lou left on January 15th for Afghanistan. Most of you reading know that a lot of my posts are about my husband and I think that's what makes updates so difficult. In the Army you have to be careful about posting information, stories or even simple photos of the guys overseas because of security. There are people on Facebook and the www searching for any information about troop movements overseas. They scan photos posted on your accounts, comments and stories to find details about troop strength, security, patterns of movement etc. All that to say that its a bit scary trying to decide what I should and shouldn't post. Normally I'd be writing day-to-day updates loaded with lots of good pictures all about my hero!
But, as it stands I'm going to try and follow "OpSec" (operational security) to make this web-friendly.
So, brief update on Lou's life in Afghanistan. He arrived there safely to freezing weather and a LOT of snow!
Just after arriving and freezing cold!
The tents collapsed several different times in January from the snowfall, leaving them without phones or internet for several days. Lou's FOB (forward operating base) is a small one, but it has a place to workout, a chapel, and a MWR building set up with computers that the guys can sign into and use for email. They aren't able to Skype/webcam which was disappointing but I'm still thankful for the emails that Lou is faithful to send! Also, there are phones available at certain times and with a special card you can make a 30 minute phone call. My Lou tries to call every day that he is not running missions. Normally getting a midnight phone call is a bad thing, but in my case he is 9 hours ahead of us so when he finishes breakfast and first briefing, he goes and calls (9 am his time the next morning) and hears all about my day and tells me the news from his yesterday!
Lou with his interpreter.
Its so wonderful to wake up to the sound of the phone and see the number 404 on my screen! Sometimes the phone connection will only allow one of us to hear the other, but the person trying to talk sounds like a "Charlie Brown teacher". In that case Lou will generally hang up and try again, and then the phones will work! Yay! He started out working with logistics but almost two weeks into deployment was given his coveted position as a "Platoon Leader" for Delta Company!
1st platoon, Delta Company. Lou on the far right.
He was so excited and pleased to be given the position and is always telling me about how he's trying to improve his leadership and train his men. As the platoon leader, he (my social butterfly husband, lol) is responsible for meeting with "village elders" in the various towns nearby and using diplomacy in negotiating to try and find out where the terrorists are hiding and living. He is learning Pashtu and has had some opportunities to interact with the Afghans in the Afghan National Army and experience some of their customs, chai being one! The ANA is with the Americans and groups of Afghan soldiers are assigned to the specific platoons/companies to be with them on their patrols. Its an interesting situation.
Lou receiving his combat patch for the 1st Infantry.
The area is fairly quiet at present but when the spring comes Al Qaeda will return heavily to their location and they are expecting fierce fighting. Please continue to pray for him and his mens' safety from all who want to harm them. They have already experienced the death of a fellow soldier from an IED incident. Its very frightening for me at times to think about how easily Lou could be injured or killed, I  have to stop and pray and leave it in God's hands continually or I will go crazy worrying about it!
While Lou has been gone, I interviewed for and was offered a position as a hospice nurse with Hosparus, a company here in western Kentucky and southern Indiana.
First day of work and flowers from Lou for Valentines!
I'm very excited about this as I had been hoping to work with hospice for some time and it just seemed like a perfect opportunity. I started orientation 3 weeks ago and have been driving over Hardin and Meade County Kentucky with various nurses learning the basics of charting via laptop assessments, handling medications and equipment issues, adjusting goals and learning about the various patients we care for with hospice. Meeting the patients has been the most fulfilling part of this job so far. I think that when many people hear "hospice" they associate it with dying/pain and although we are used in the last 6 months of a person's life, we do so much more than just "help you die". Many patients are weaker and unable to easily get to a doctor's office for checkups/ medications and with hospice we talk to them in the home, find out their needs and get all their medications ordered and delivered without them needing to sit in the office waiting on an appointment for 2-3 hours. We can literally talk to the doctor and the pharmacist and have the medication sent within a matter of minutes! Its amazing! Also, when we assess someone and decide that they and their family would benefit from an electric bed that helps reposition them or a bedside commode or a variety of other things, we can simply pick up the phone and get it brought to them and set up that day or the next! They can call the hotline 24/7 and speak with a real person who then transfers the call to someone who can help with the particular situation. We adjust medications for pain, oxygen for breathing issues and talk with the families sometimes even more than the patient. It seems like an all encompassing service, and so beneficial. The downside of hospice nursing? Listening to my first 50 voice mails on the shared phone system and hearing the nurses reporting the deaths of 15 patients. Reality is that your patients die. But, if you think about it we all are going to die and  being able to help them in these last few months or weeks is going to outweigh the sadness, I believe.
I have been cat-sitting for the past 4 weeks and now Gus and Teddy's owner got back from her Alaskan adventure and retrieved them tonight! The house is very quiet! Missy (my cat) has decided that the battle over the forces of evil (Gus & Teddy in her mind) has been won and she is very proudly walking around and purring her approval to have this house all to herself. :) I miss those scamps, they were always creating a ruckus and racing around the house at night in circles!
I'm getting ready to leave for my big trip back home to Virginia and looking forward to seeing all my friends and family! Its going to be a crazy time, I know. I can't wait to be back at Redeemer Church and spend a Sunday in worship with my family from home! So many friends to see and things to catch up on! I decided to go from the 8th-20th of this month. In the middle of the trip I'm squeezing in a drive to Culpeper, Virginia to see these cuties:
Drew and Ceddie- Aimee's kids
Geneva and Ceddie!
North Carolina to see these cuties:
Lizzie- Jim and Christie's daughter

Peter-Jim and Christie's son
And then to South Carolina to see these cuties:
Betsy and T's girls~Bekah



and Kate and May May
Debbie and Ryan's kids
This is of my newest nephew, TJ and his older sister Lily. Isn't she the sweetest older sister? He was born just a week ago and I can't wait to hold him! How many nieces and nephews do I have? Well, I couldn't find pictures of them all but there are 14 and 2 on the way now so I am a very busy aunt! I love them all!
Yesterday I came down with a horrible stomach flu. Something along the lines of the flu that Lou and I had on our honeymoon-did I tell you that story already? It was a funny time, as we learned all about "sickness and in health" in the week following our wedding! Now we still blame Lou's cousin Luke for our honeymoon flu but I have no idea where this one came from! For the last 24 hours I've  been surviving on Grinch colored jello water- lime flavor, of course! Hope it will pull me through so I can get back to work tomorrow! The fever and chills have left so things are looking up! In all the happenings of my life I am continuing to be reminded daily of how much I need to rely on God for my needs. Even with this little sickness I see how helpless I feel when I can't do the things I want to because of my limitations. I feel even more helpless when it comes to Lou and his safety. Knowing that there is nothing on earth I can do but pray for him and keep things running on the home front can sometimes make me want to go climb back in bed and hide under the covers- only coming out every few months to ask "Is it 2012 yet?" But, I know that is not God's plan for me or him and I am trying to take each day and ask myself if the things I do are making an eternal difference. Not just filling time until my wonderful man comes home to me but really using the time wisely. I hope so!