10 Months post SCAD & HA

This week saw me reach a milestone in my journey – 10 months post SCAD and Heart Attack…….

The 10 month mark finds me with more energy, a clearer mind (thanks to the sun coming out) and plans for the rest of the year being made.

I am able to comfortably walk for 45-60 minutes and have enjoyed being able to walk for longer periods of time. Today I ran into one of my cross-fit buddies and the angst of not being able to rejoin is tough. My cardiologist cleared me for a return to cross-fit a little while back at a reduced tempo and with modified sessions – unfortunately, the truth is I can’t be trusted! I know that I would quickly get swept up in the joy and pain of the box and would be trying to once again lift heavy and work harder than the day before. My family have also said ‘no way’ and I cannot argue with that.

Another first has been having my husband away for three nights this past weekend. It seems strange coming from an army wife, but three nights was bloody tough. I have never been able to sleep well when he has been away but due to being healthy and working I was always able to manage. These three nights were really hard. The lack of sleep left me absolutely shattered and antsy by the time he returned. The girls were fantastic (little man was away golfing with dad), and were great at ‘mumma sitting’. Upon the boys arrival home, I was in bed at 1930 and slept for nearly 12 hours straight – it was amazing.

I am more aware of my body and what it is trying to tell me. I feel every twinge and to be honest, sometimes I over think every little heart flutter and I will be working on getting in control of some of the anxiety that sometimes creeps in. Thankfully, it is not an everyday occurance.

A recent check up with the GP for bloods was met with great results. The concoction of medication I am on has thankfully not affected my kidney or liver function. Platelet count is fantastic (always a good sign when you have previously had really low platelet count and no spleen), cholesterol is great (never been an issue) and all other counts look great. I struggle to take head ache medicine so being on this amount of meds everyday I still find difficult but am fully aware that the benefits currently outway not taking them.

March is coming quickly and we look forward to spending spring break by the ocean and seeing some amazing friends. March will also see my Cardiologist follow up appointment. It will be just shy of 12 months and I look forward to chatting with him about the future and new research that has come about.

This week is SCAD Awareness week and I encourage you to talk to your friends and family, point them in the direction of the SCAD Research Australia website https://scadresearch.com.au, read the stories of survivors and to follow the most update research/ findings available, ways to become involved, donate, volunteer.

New SCAD t-shirt

As always, thank you for following the journey.

Lessons I have learnt as a Mil. Spouse and from other Military Spouses.😀

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As a Military Spouse, we get to experience so many levels of emotion and change. For me, the past 22 years have been challenging and amazing. We have said many ‘see you soon’s to our Soldier and to those around us. We have meet and made so many wonderful friends across the globe, shared wonderful times and of course said many goodbyes.

I am proud of they way I have been able to conduct myself and have never been caught up in the battle of spouses and spouses ranks. I have, however been on the other side where my husband’s rank has been significant for other spouses. There have been times when I have been introduced as Mrs Mulligan, the wife of insert rank Mulligan and have had spouses not engage in a conversation either because my husband was an Officer or a lower/higher rank than their spouse – I admire people for being themselves and for the way they conduct themselves as people not because of who they are married too (regardless of military or civilian)

Below you will find some amazing words of wisdom and guidance from spouses I have been fortunate enough to be on this crazy journey with.

Kindness

Always choice kindness. Surround yourself with positive people, especially during a deployment and avoid drama as much as necessary.

Spouses Rank

Don’t wear your spouses rank, be approachable because we were all that junior wife at some stage and we were all intimidated by the more “seasoned” wives.  

Your spouse is the rank wearer. Never confuse that with your role. I am not in the military therefore I am a spouse…not a LTC.

Inclusion

Always provide an inclusive environment. Everybody wants to be a part of something and to feel welcome. Remember we were all newbies at one stage and in fact everytime we pcs / post to a new location we are that person again.

Experience

Share your experience and guidance but do so in a kind and non patronising manner. Whilst we are all going through the same things (deployments, field exercises, long absenses, courses) we all manage differently and by sharing your experience you may just help somebody else.

Get Involved

Get involved in your surroundings, the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion. This does not mean you have to immerse yourself in everything military, but knowing who to contact in an emergency, where you can gain support and meet people.

Attend family functions, parades.

Try to get involved in something you enjoy whether it’s a job, volunteering, taking classes, getting together for a play group with others mums, etc. the more you reach out and form positive relationships with others the better your experience will be.

Get involved quickly – you meet the most amazing people that way. Focus on the amazing things the military brings – great opportunities, new people and new places – and amazingly resilient children.

Support

Remember that we are all in this together and that we need to support each other not judge each other. Surround yourself with like minded people.

Support each other, support the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion and Family Support Groups, Defence Community Organisations.

Look for opportunities to help others out, especially if you are feeling down or isolated. It will bless you as much as those you are helping and if you ever have a need you won’t feel so bad about asking for help.

Find a good friend who enjoys a wine (& a whine!) and you’ll be fine!!

Stay true to yourself

If you have something you enjoy doing keep doing it, if hubby is home still do what you enjoy (it is only going to be be a few hours).

Faith

If faith is important to you I would encourage you to grow deeper in this area. The knowledge that there is a grand plan and they are never truly alone even though sometimes it feels like it is extremely comforting.

Communication

Is what keeps an army marriage healthy, find the time after both having busy days to talk, this way there is no second guessing, you both know how each other are at that time and what is happening in the family.

Calendar

Always get a rough calendar from your spouse (if possible) of events, field excerises etc so you can plan yours and kids lives whilst he or she isn’t there.

Try not to get stressed about things you have no control over.

Understand that while your spouse wants to spend more time with you and the family his job is such that the mission comes first and it is inevitable that he/she will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays… it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.

Posting / Duty Stations

Make the most of the places you are posted to.

Every job and duty station in the military is temporary but at the end of the day family is the most important so nurture those relationships even if it means sometimes making sacrifices.

You will almost always be stationed away from family so do not be afraid to create family from those around you.

Don’t compare the places you live to one another. Just go to the next PCS, plug in and hunt the good stuff!!

Gossip and Private Situations

Speak positively about your spouse and your children to others and work through challenges between the two of you or with the help of a professional instead of “airing dirty laundry” to anyone willing to listen.

Spouse gossip doesn’t just hurt the spouses in the rear, it makes things harder for the troops on the front line as well (from a US Commander).

1998 – my first year as a spouse.

To me, being a Military Spouse is an amazing honour. One that I am proud to be. To my battle buddies across the globe, Thank You! Thank you for the sacrifices that you make each day, thank you for the support you have given me, thank you for the laughs, tears and wine we have shared.

Thank you for your wisdom in the words above, for guiding me and mostly thank you for being you!

Celebrating Christmas as a Military / Defence Family🎄

As a Military / Defence Family we quiet often celebrate Christmas away from our blood families, however, this does not mean we don’t celebrate or celebrate with ‘family’. Australia’s posting cycle is a major factor in Christmas plans – we usually get to spend one Christmas in our home in the posting location we are at as we are usually packing up a house and moving our life to somewhere new. December is the peak posting (PCS) cycle for us, it’s hot, the school year has finished and summer holidays have started.

One of the many joys of being a military family is getting to meet and form close relationships with other families all in the same boat – away from their own families.

This year we are lucky to have my mum visiting from Australia and although we were hoping she would have a white Christmas, it doesn’t seem likely (we had a big dumping of snow prior to her arrival). Whilst this takes our family count to 6, we will have a house full and a table set for 21!

We are excited to be welcoming other Military families into our home for Christmas who are also international and have no family here. The table will be set filling both the dining room and living room with 6 people from Australia, 4 from New Zealand, 3 from America, 4 from Spain and 4 from Brazil. Lunch will be a multicultral experience with roast lamb, roast vegetables, turkey, glazed ham, potato bake, cheesy brocoli, corn, peas, trifle, pavlova, Spanish wine and desserts also from Brazil and Spain.

The chatter filling the house will be vast and a learning experience for us all. The Spanish and Brazilian families working on their English and the rest of us excited to learn about other cultural experiences and Christmas traditions. Our eldest and the children from Spain and the eldest from Brazil know each other well and spend quiet a lot of time together both in and out of school, this will be a great memory for them to share.

Today, we had our Christmas photo taken with Santa while at Bass Pro. This year like some previous are shared with other special people joining in our photo. Today was Matilda, friends of ours from the UK who are also here on Exchange. Matilda is great friends with our daughter and she came along to spend the day. She is in the front row of our photo and we love that she joined in – more memories to share and treasure.

Christmas as a Military / Defence family may seem at times quiet and separated from the usual experience that families have at this time of year – we have shared many Christmas’s in motels, once at West Point Acadamy asking the Night Manager to write a note for the kids explaining they need to find their presents under a motel Christmas tree (they searched under 3 trees) and Christmas’ with family and friends.

From our family to yours, no matter what you believe or where you are – have a very Merry Christmas a happy & safe holiday.

Christmas can also be a lonely period for the Military / Defence Family with members on deployment, recalled from leave and those who we have lost. Consequently, spare a thought, say a prayer, open your home to other families and create new memories.

Taken at Christmas 2018 in South Dakota.
The Christmas stockings are our childrens and they travel with us every Christmas we are on the road.

Changes after Physical Trauma.

Taking up new obsession after cross fit.

Life after physical trauma can leave us with many negative thoughts and reactions – how we emotionally conquer these is half the battle!

After trauma, life changes and it generally changes for a lifetime. We have to reevaluate our day to day journey and the one we often took for granted – we have to learn how our new journey will take place.

Life for me prior to my SCAD / Heart Attack was busy, active and one that was simple. Prior to our posting to the US, I worked full-time in a primary school that I absolutely loved, was busy chasing the kids from activity to activity, had a husband in command, social activities were a plenty, two dogs that needed to be walked everyday, a spin bike that needed riding, I enjoyed the occasional drink(s).

We had never contemplated me becoming so close to not being here.

Life now, 8 months post SCAD / Heart Attack is still busy chasing the kids, still active but not quiet as simple as it onces was. I am currently not working due to being in the US and to be honest, I couldn’t work full time at the moment – the tiredness would see me napping under a desk.

Two of the biggest hurdles have been finding a new pace to keep active, keeping my mental health in check and embracing this new way of life.

I’ve discussed before my love for lifting weights and hammering it out in the gym, these days the activities I do are walking, indoor cycling (no hills) and playing golf. The pace is totally different and one that I am coming to terms with. The irony of my SCAD & Heart Attack is that I was doing everything in my power to keep my heart and body healthy – cardio, strength training, good diet and plenty of sleep and it seems that my love for hammering it out in the gym literally tore my artery….crazy!

The biggest mental battle I have is the medication – I am terrible at taking medication. I don’t like taking paracetomol for a headache so taking 8 tablets a day is just something I have to do but not something I will get used to – I do know it’s not forever and appreciate the benefits of why I’m taking it.

I have aways been fairly body conscious and stuggle most days with the way my body looks and the way it’s feeling at the moment. I try to focus on the the healthy points – my heart is strong, my artery has healed and I am alive. My husband is amazing and always tells me that he would rather have me a little rounded than not here…love the man for loving me the way I am.

For SCAD, the chance of reoccurence is about 30% and this sometimes plays on my mind – the what if’s. I don’t dwell on this number and I am certainly not living my life consumed by the number, nor do I think about it daily. I am aware, listen to my body and would rather live my life taking the advice and medical knowledge we currently know to ensure my heart stays strong but without putting undue pressure on it (no crossfit).

My family has also been impacted by the changes and the way we communicate on a daily basis has especially changed. I ensure that if I miss a phone call or receive a text from either my husband or kids, I reply asap. A wait in reply doesn’t necessarly send them into panic mode, but it does make them a little anxious. If I am going for a walk, shower or a nap, I send a quick text to let them know and one after when I am finished – I am certain this will tapper off but not just yet. It gives them a little piece of mind.

We all go through changes whether from a physical trauma, loss, move, change in circumstances, how we move forward is part of the challenge. My journey is still going forward:)

Defence / Military Kids

As a mum of three, my children change every day. Children from all walks of life have challenges, morals and lifestyles that are different. My focus today is on Military Kids and I certainly appreciate that their challenges are far from challenges other children around the world.

Military kids are known for their Resilience. The lifestyle that they are born into is one of constant change. For this reason they are usually very adaptable. Adaptable to change, surroundings, people and situations. Their resilience is to be commended, embraced and nurtured.

Military kids are generally kind, thoughtful and very aware of their surroundings and of others. They have said goodbye to more people by the time they are 18 than most people do in a lifetime. This helps make them understanding and open.

Military kids are strong. They are strong at times that matter however, this does not make them immune to emotion. These kids are aware of the difficulties faced by others and their own families. They generally are happy to jump right in to help others and stand up for what they believe is right.

Military kids can be fiercely independent. They come from homes that are regularly in upheaval, with the serving member away or in a high tempo area. They are taught from a very early age the importance of independence, they still need help but are very capable of handling situations that other children may not.

Military kids are proud! Not all show this openenly, often they are unsure what the response will be for others – don’t dampen their spirit. Let them and encourage them to be proud of their Military family.

Military kids have a great sense of humour – let them laugh.

Military kids are supportive to other military kids. They give each other strength and an amazing support system. Sometimes without words they bring comfort to others.

Military kids generally have a more worldly view on life. They are open and aware of different cultures and diversity – this is a great thing.

Military kids are unique, brave and incredible souls.

What I have learnt as a Military Spouse😃

The life as a Military Spouse is nothing short of an adventure. Plans are made and plans are changed. As I think about my life as a Mil Spouse there are some things I have come to understand.

1. Not everybody will like you and thats ok.

2. Be yourself…..always.

3. Be kind and honest.

4. Be welcoming.

5. Don’t judge or assume you know someone – the Military world is a small one. You will always meet somebody who somebody else has known and you will have a preconceived idea of what or who that person is – make your own decision.

6. You can’t make everyone happy – just as it is every day, not everybody will want to do something or like the planned idea.

7. Officer spouses want to get to know you just as much as the younger and newer spouses too – time has changed, it’s not the way it was.

8. People don’t always want to go along to Unit / Battalion functions / coffee groups etc but they do want to know that support is available.

9. Do support the Unit / Battalion when you feel up to it and can – not all Units / Battalions support the families as much as others – keep it going.

10. Always have a plan A, plan B and even a plan C.

11. Never rely on dates and timings – things change and can change quickly.

12. There is a lot of paperwork involved in a move and the computerised version does not always update or save correctly.

13. Always move with your eyes and mind open – you just might enjoy it.

14. Two years goes very quickly, particularly if you are loving your posting.

15. It’s easier to be the one saying ‘see you later’ than to be the only one staying.

16. Friends become family.

17. Be flexible.

18. Things will always break or stop working as soon as they leave.

19. Deployments are tough but you can do it.

20. Homecomings can be tough, but you can do it too.

21. Surround yourself with good people, experience new things, take on a new hobby.

22. Keep a journal during deployments and other absences.

23. Sometimes, no expectation are the only way – this way, nobody is disappointed.

24. Most importantly, stay true to yourself.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you have learnt as a Mil Spouse. There are many more lessons, tid bits I have learnt about Miltary spouse life but I know that you don’t have all day to read along;)

Phases of Separation for Defence / Military Kids (by Mrs Mully)

Defence / Military children go through many emotions during each phase of this separation. The lead up phase, initial phase, the long haul and the end phase.

The Lead Up Phase

During this phase the defence child may seem lost and the heightened emotions may begin.  The defence family home during this time becomes unsettled as the member prepares for deployment. The lounge room floor or garage becomes a logistics nightmare and a constant reminder of what is happening. There will be webbing, packs, boots, uniforms, helmets, safety equipment, socks, hootchie, sleeping gear, gloves and a mountain of other required gear spread from one end to the other – this to be honest feels like a punch in the stomach every time you look at it. You are reminded of the length of the deployment and the unknown of what can happen during this time. It is a natural emotion to feel concerned and unfortunately, the ‘what if’s’ take over.

Initial Phase

During this phase the defence child may have heightened emotions leading to outbursts with anger, frustration or complete sadness as they begin to settle in to everyday activities without the member at home. From a change of who drops them off at school, who packs their lunches, who picks them up at the end of the day, who takes them to what activities during the weekend and the night time routine. This can be very hard for all the family to manage and with older children, expectations can be hard to handle to.

The Long Haul

Some days are much easier than others. A routine at home has settled and the ‘norm’ for the family is running as smooth as it can and a countdown to the end as begun. At times you will find the defence child’s emotions can change quiet quickly – in fact it is sometime similar to dealing with grief. The child may be experience a great day, laughed really hard at something and then remembered that they can’t share it with dad that afternoon at pick up – this may lead from laughter to tears or anger.

During the long haul, it is important to talk to the child about what they are feeling, giving them the opportunity to speak about it or the chance to sit down and record what they are feeling or what has happened during their day. The chance to draw or write a quick letter or jot it down in their journal is so important. 

The End Phase

The last four weeks of a deployment are another time for heightened emotion. The countdown has begun and more concerns become apparent. The excitement builds, the frustration of time builds, the concern of changes occurring again at home. As with all things Military, the planned date for the homecoming can change regularly. It is important that the child is prepared for this change and I would encourage you to mindful of this as homecoming becomes close – dates can change several times. Once the parent is home, reintegration begins. For some families this is simple and things return to how it was, for others, reintegration can be more difficult. A change in routine, a change in parenting styles can all lead to further emotional outbursts.

It is important that their emotions, feeling, concerns are all validated – it is no excuse for bad behaviour, but please remember these children are under an enormous amount of emotional pressure that at times will come to a head at school.

These are my own words from my own experience and from working with Defence / Military Kids who have been through the phases mentioned above.