Monday, September 30, 2013

NCM & ACAP - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 114

This morning I headed into the main building at WTB where we have our formations in front of as I usually do each morning. As I sit inside the news is playing and I dink around on my iPhone until it's actually time to head out to the actual formation. This morning it was pouring down rain, and surprisingly they had some common sense and decided to have the formation inside. I was in ACUs, I have an appointment at 0900, but I would have told them 0830 if anyone asked.

After formation I headed to my car as usual. My morning routines here at the WTB are getting to be pretty boring. I eat my breakfast and listen to music, then take a nap until it's time for my appointment. I head into the SFAC and check my army email, then I headed up to my weekly NCM appointment. I didn't have anything new to tell her and she didn't have anything new for me so the appointment didn't last too long. These weekly NCM appointments are basically so the nurse case manager can look the soldier in the eyes at least once a week.

I headed down to the SFAC again and waited there until 1100 playing around on my iPhone. What did we do before smart phones to pass the time? I had an ACAP follow up appointment with my counselor at 1100. He asked how everything was going and if I needed anything from him. He signed me up for a LinkedIn class and then sent me on my way.

At this point I went home and did schoolwork. When my wife came home we went to the YMCA and worked out. It feels nice to get in the gym again…away from the army.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 112 & 113

This weekend wasn't all too exciting. We cleaned the house and then went to see a local comedy benefit show in town with a friend. Sunday we went to the in-laws and watched the Seahawks win…always fun! I did hear from SPC Metal (my battle buddy way back in basic and AIT). Looks like he might get stationed at Ft. Lewis, which would be pretty cool. It would be nice to see him again and hang out with him and his wife.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I've Been Here Before - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 111

I headed in this morning to my internship with the navy. There was pretty much nothing to do today, so I just sat at my computer and read emails, read the news, checked Twitter for more news. I would much rather be at home hanging out doing nothing, but at least going to work with the navy is only a ten minute drive vs the army which is an hour drive plus a toll on the bridge.

I had lunch in my car and then headed back to the office. I did the same old thing at first (checking email and such), but then decided to do a couple SkillPorts. I figured I might as well get a few hours done with the SkillPort training, I can then add that to my CompTia continuing education credits. That was about it today…I felt like I was back in the army sitting at a computer with nothing to do. I kind of wish the navy would actually train me to do something, but it seems I'll only be helping out a guy swapping out old computers for new computers until this project is done. Then I hear that I'll be working at the navy base outside of Silverdale. Once there the rumor is that I'll actually be learning and working on stuff for real.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

More Traction - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 110

At the Ft. Lewis commissary...I've heard them called 
lots of names, but never a "Toilet Room"

This morning I headed to the morning formation in ACUs. It's getting pretty cold out lately and I see the company has upgraded to full winter PTs. (This includes the jacket, pants, gloves, and hat). Once released our platoon sergeant has everyone report up to the company headquarters. We all head up and find out that we have to fill out some paperwork. In typical army fashion, this is just filling out paperwork to have it in our file. We weren't given any instructions, just told to fill it out to the best of our ability and turn it in. It was basically stating everything that needs to be done before we separate from the army, we would choose either green, amber, or red depending on how we feel we've accomplished each item. The problem is that some were so full of acronyms, I had no idea what they were. I turned mine in half empty, then left and headed to my car.

I already didn't care for the army too much, but the longer I'm away and in the civilian world, it seems the more I am really starting to just hate the army. Take this paperwork we had to fill out, if they wanted everyone to do it correctly, they would have given us instructions instead of just telling us to leave it blank if we didn't know. There is so much that is done just to check the box, it drives me nuts. Back in my car I ate my normal breakfast and then took a nap.

When I woke up, I headed to physical therapy for some traction. I have a good feeling about this physical therapy, but I guess time will tell if it's really helping or not. After physical therapy, I made my way to the commissary and did some basic shopping before heading home and doing my schoolwork. Once my wife came home, we headed to the YMCA for some good cardio workout.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Island & The Shotgun - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 109

This morning I headed to my internship with the navy. The morning started off a little slow, I entertained myself with my iPhone for about an hour. After that we loaded up 2 PCs into the TMP and headed off. We headed first to the naval base outside of Silverdale. We were able to install, setup, configure, and test the last remaining PC we were having issues with.

We then headed up to an island I've never heard of where there is a naval base I've never heard of. As we arrived at the gate, a guard came out as usual to check our IDs. Unlike any other military base I've been to, there was another guard that came out holding a shotgun. The guard with the shotgun stood there just watching us…waiting for us to do something crazy…itching for a chance to use that shotgun of his. Luckily our credentials got us on the base with no issues…and no shotgun blasts.

We headed to a secure conference room and replaced an older PC with our new one. We setup, configured and tested the machine. After that we made our way back to our office. Once we were back, I headed to my car and had lunch. Unfortunately we only get a half hour lunch, which means I walk to my car quickly, eat lunch while listening to the radio, then head back. There is not much time for anything else.

We then headed to a pretty cool office at this navy base. In fact it may be the coolest office in the shipyard…or at least the one with the best view. We arrived in this secure office at the top of a building. It was basically an observation tower with views of the entire waterfront and all the navy ships. There were screens everywhere with various security cameras keeping an eye on everything. We replaced an older machine there with our newer machine. As usual we setup, configured, and tested the new machine. The folks working in this small observation tower have the greatest view of all. As I stood there looking out the windows, I could see all the big war ships from views that not too many people get a chance to see. It also has a nice view of the entire bay. I am guessing the people that work up here spend quite a bit of time stuck up here because there was an exercise bicycle in the middle of the room. I wish I could have taken some photos.

We headed back to the office and I finally got setup with computer access on the navy network. After chatting with the support folks, they had me insert my CAC (common access card) into the computer. After they ran a script, I was able to log in and access the network and email. To my surprise I already had about 30 emails in my navy account. Now that I have computer access, I can at least keep myself busy when there is nothing to do here.

I headed home after that and did some schoolwork.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No Hat - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 108

I headed to morning formation as usual. I leave my house at 0445 for the 0630 formation at Ft. Lewis. I only takes me an hour to drive, but I give myself much more time just in case there is bad traffic or any other unseen delays. In order to leave my house at 0445, I get up at 0420. Most of the time I'm on complete and total auto-pilot that early in the morning. I've done many things like forget to shave and forget my lunch. I guess my brain just doesn't work that well that early. This morning proved to be one of those days…I realized when I was getting ready to get out of my car and head to the morning formation, that I forgot my hat. I'm in ACUs and we are not allowed to walk around outside without a hat…that is not a complete uniform. Oh Crap!

So I just stayed in my car, my squad leader will assume I'm at my internship with the navy because it's a Tuesday. I didn't want to text him and lie, so I just didn't do anything and let him assume. I really can't believe I forgot my hat! So I eat breakfast and then take a nap in my car. I then keep an eye out for people and make a strategic escape from my car to the hospital, luckily I didn't run into any NCOs on the way. I don't feel like getting chewed out for being out of uniform.

I get a text from my squad leader stating we have 100% flu shots at 0900…I ignore, I'll text him later, I'm not going to show up out of uniform. I head to physical therapy at the hospital for traction on my neck. I have a headache before and the traction along with the heat seem to help temporarily. It doesn't take long before my headache returns and it gets worse as the day progresses. I'm not sure if it's coincidence or if the traction made it worse.

I head back to my car, walking fast trying to avoid any NCOs…or any soldiers for that matter. I head to the SFAC and use their computers to check my army email. I then head to the ACAP office (in the same building) and speak with the navy HR folks. I had an appointment to see them while they were in today. They gave me the ins and outs of getting a job as a civilian working for the navy. It was pretty much the same as the federal resume class I have already attended. I may have been a little preoccupied as well because I was still pissed at myself for forgetting my hat.

After the appointment I head home and do schoolwork, but by this time my head is killing me. I try one of the new medications the neurologist prescribed me and much to my surprise, it gets rid of my headache completely after about an hour. This is good news! The medication is called "Maxalt" and is for migraines. My normal headaches aren't migraines, but they can trigger migraines. I was just about to take some Percocet, which would have helped, but doesn't get rid of my pain totally.

When my wife got home we headed off to the YMCA to get a good workout in. I'm enjoying working out at the YMCA. They have some great equipment and I am totally out of the army environment. I think this was a good decision, I can get a good workout in a better atmosphere and a better mood.

Monday, September 23, 2013

NCM - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 107

A view of the Tacoma Narrows bridge one of the days 
on my way home from Ft. Lewis

This morning's formation at 0630 was cold and wet. I have on my ACUs because frankly I don't want to do PT with the company. I've mentioned this a little before about how I don't care too much for the army PT, but I also think it's pretty stupid to do PT outside when it's cold and wet. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, maybe it's because I've pretty much had it with the army, maybe it's because I have a little common sense. Part of it may be because I'm getting old, in pain most of the time, and I seem to be falling apart…and I'm grumpy.

I head to the back with everyone else that has appointments. Our first sergeant is back and went through the line asking everyone what their appointment is for and when it is. I tell her I have an NCM appointment at 0830 (the latest we can have an appointment and still not participate in PT). I do have an NCM appointment, but it's at 0900, so I may have fudged the time a little.

I head back to my car, eat breakfast and take a nap. At 0830 I went to the SFAC and checked my army email, then headed up to my NCM appointment. The appointment is the same old thing, a required appointment each week with my nurse case manager to make sure I don't have any issues and to make sure everything is moving along smoothly.

After the appointment I headed home and did schoolwork…another day down.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 105 & 106

The kiddos came over this weekend and we celebrated my oldest daughter's birthday. She's 17…I can't believe it! On Sunday we all went to my in-laws house and watched the Seahawks play. We have a lot of fun all watching the game together…good quality family bonding time :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Back to the Lab - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 104

Morning formation at 0630 and I go in ACUs. I have to head to the laboratory at the hospital at 0730 for blood work. I can't eat or drink anything until I get it done, so I wasn't going to do any PT and the lab opens at 0730. After formation I head to my car and wait…can't eat anything yet!

When I made it to the laboratory at the hospital, I checked in at the counter and then headed straight back to the technicians…quick service! They drew my blood and slapped a bandage on me, then I was good to go. I went back to my car and had breakfast. Breakfast these days is usually my coffee, yogurt and a cereal bar.

I hung out in my car listening to the radio and passing the time for a bit, then headed into the SFAC. I checked my army email and then printed out my GoArmyEd SOU (Statement of Understanding). This document has to be signed by me and my commander annually in order for me to continue to use tuition assistance to take college classes. I swing by my squad leader's desk and drop off the ACAP paperwork he requested along with my SOU so he can get the commander to sign it. I had to look over a counseling statement and sign it before leaving. Once that was done I headed home and did schoolwork…now the weekend can start!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Deja Vue - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 103

I headed to my internship with the navy at 0700. We headed out to the navy base outside of Silverdale once again. We stopped at each of the 4 places we went to yesterday and tried to get everything working. There is a delicate balance that has to be maintained on the navy computer network between security and usability. If security is too tight, then there is no usability. Of course the navy can't loosen up the security too much just to make everything easy to use, that would leave the network open for attack. There delicate balance has to be achieved where security is as tight as possible, but the users can still actually use their systems.

We were able to get three of the four computers working correctly and joined to the navy domain. We had to bring the fourth one back so my coworker could take a look at it back in our office. After this second time out to the naval base outside of Silverdale, I'm starting to get to know my way around.

We didn't get back until 1400, by this time I was starving. I headed out for lunch, but the guys told me to just leave for the day, no use coming back just for a half hour. I headed home and ate lunch, then did my schoolwork. When my wife came home we headed to the YMCA where we both had a great workout.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Navy I.T. - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 102

The building I did my Navy I.T. internship in

I headed to my internship with the navy this morning at 0700. I went back and forth playing around on my iPhone and reading a Windows configuration book. After a couple hours I helped load 4 PCs into a TMP and we drove to another naval base outside of a neighboring city of Silverdale. We went to various shops around the base and replaced some older PCs. These PCs are all part of a legacy system that the shop I'm in maintains and supports. Most of the normal desktop and laptops are supported via a third party contractor. I didn't do much at all except actually physically move the computers, unconnect the old ones and reconnect the new ones. I would then sit and watch the guy I was with start them up, do some basic configurations, and then test them. Unfortunately because of some security restrictions, we were unable to get any of them actually online. We left them all hooked up and we brought the old ones back to our office.

When we got back, I had lunch in my car. I then headed back to the office and we all ended up chatting amongst ourselves in the office until it was time for me to go. The guys I work with (navy civilian workforce) are all pretty nice and it sounds like they want to teach me a lot of stuff, but there is just not a lot we can do right now.

I headed home and did schoolwork for the night.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Federal Resume Writing - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 101

I sent a text to my squad leader a little after 0600 reminding him I'll be doing the navy internship. I then go back to sleep. I had told the navy yesterday that I wouldn't be able to come in because I have an appointment today, which I do but it's not until 1300. It just didn't make sense for me to go to either place so early, so I took a nap and then got up about 0800. I did my schoolwork for the day and then got myself ready.

I headed off about 1115 and headed to Ft. Lewis. I had to attend a "Federal Resume Writing" class. When I arrived to the classroom it turned out that I was the only one there. After the class started there was one more guy who joined late. The class went over how to tailor your resume for specific federal jobs. Unlike civilian resumes, federal resumes should be a lot longer and fairly detailed. We went over how to use the USAJobs website (searching for jobs and uploading resumes). I was then signed up to speak with the navy HR folks who will be coming in next week.

I headed home about 1500 and did some more schoolwork until my wife came home. We then headed to the local YMCA and worked out. I don't have anything against working out, in fact I have always been an athlete growing up and have hit the gym quite a bit in my adult life. It's working out with the army that I really don't care about. I have been slacking pretty much since I left Korea. While in Korea, I hit the gym everyday after work. It was a little easier because I was a geographical bachelor. It kept me busy and helped the day pass also kept me in great shape. After I left Korea and headed to Germany I can say my disappointment in the army grew more and more. I was already pretty disappointed that I didn't do any I.T. work while I was in Korea and then when I actually went to a signal company, I found out that I wouldn't be doing any I.T. work there either. It wasn't just that, but a lot of things about the army that just pissed me off more and more it every day. It just really didn't make much sense to me how the army did pretty much everything. There was no common sense at all. It got to the point where I had no desire to do anything with the army, and that included working out. I gave everything the bare minimum. I can see now that it has actually started to affect my health from my last appointment. I've gained a bit of weight and I've been slowly just getting out of shape. Now my wife and I will be heading back to the YMCA on a regular basis at nights. I can workout for myself now and not have to worry about the army at all…these workouts will be for me and me alone. I really don't plan to do anymore PT with the army at all if I can help it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Gimme Some Traction - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 100

A random photo on the web that I found. This shows pretty much
what the cervical traction device looks like in physical therapy.

I headed to this mornings formation in ACUs. When all appointments form up at the back, I tell the NCO that I have an NCM appointment (technically I'm not lying, I just don't have an actual appointment at 0830 or before…mine is at 0900). I have no desire anymore to do anything at all with the army. The army PT is just a waste of time and the entire time I'm doing it, all I do is get pissed off. It's better for my well being to just get away as fast as possible.

I head to my car and eat breakfast then take a nap. At about 0830 I head into the SFAC to check my army email, but the room is full…I just head up to my NCM appointment a little early. The weekly NCM appointments are just to make sure everything is moving along smoothly and I don't need anything like refills or extra appointments made. I've mentioned before that the NCM is my central point of contact during the medboard process. The NCM makes all my appointments and lets me know if I have any new ones coming up. My NCM sees that I've been referred for physical therapy and makes a call while I'm there. They make an appointment for next week…I take off.

I head back downstairs and check my army email at the SFAC. A few minutes later I get a call from my NCM telling me that physical therapy called back and changed my appointment to today at 1345. This pisses me off quite a bit. I didn't pack a lunch, I had plans to head home eat lunch and do my schoolwork. I have to take the appointment, so I get to sit around and twiddle my freaking thumbs until 1345 this afternoon.

After my head cools a little I call my friend who happens to live about 10 minutes away from Ft. Lewis. We meet up for lunch and then hang out in a coffee shop for a while just chatting and passing the time. This worked out perfect, we got to catch up and I wasn't bored out of my mind while waiting for my newly scheduled appointment.

I headed to the physical therapy appointment with pretty low expectations. I had several weeks of physical therapy while in Germany and it didn't help much at all. When I arrived and was called back, my therapist asked a bunch of questions and to my surprise he has already done a check over my medical records and even took a look at my MRI. He performs a few tests such as having my arms in various positions and resisting as he pushes or pulls on them. There was one that he did twice which had both my elbows to my side with my arms out in front of me. He pushed down on my left arm and I resisted, but when he pushed on my right arm it went down fairly quickly. In my head I though he was just using more force. He asked if I was right handed (yes) and did the same test again with the same results.

He then has me lay down and place my neck in a device they use for something called "traction". As I lay down and place my head in a cradle, the therapist straps my head in place and tells me to relax. The device slowly starts to stretch my neck, slowly moving my head away from my shoulders. It didn't seem to stretch a lot, but it was definitely noticeable. After a few minutes he unstraps my head and has me stand up. We then perform the same test with my right arm, this time I am able to resist his push downwards. This was a total surprise to me, in fact it seemed like a magic trick. He assured me that he was using the same force every time he tried to push my arm down. He said it seems there is some compression in my neck, and this traction device will help relieve the compression. This is the first physical evidence I've seen involving my pain in neck and head. Usually all I can do is describe the pain all the time, but now I see that it's actually affecting me physically as well.

The therapist then puts me on a schedule for traction twice a week for 3 weeks. He says if it helps with the pain as well, he will recommend a portable unit for me to use. I actually feel optimistic again…maybe I can do something to actually reduce the pain I'm feeling on a daily basis. When I go up to the front desk to schedule the remaining appointments I find out I can only do it on Tuesdays and Thursdays…looks like I have to change the days I'm doing the internship, at least temporarily.

I head home excited with the news and the possibilities. I labor through my schoolwork which is pretty tough. The class I'm taking is business law. All the reading is pretty dry and I have no real interest in the class other than just getting through it. Every day with this class is going to be tough just to get through!

On a side note I see that I've now been at Ft. Lewis for 100 days now. I've done everything I can do, now it's just a waiting game to see how long it will take to get my percentage results from the VA. On one hand I want to get them and get out as soon as possible, but on the other hand I'd like to finish school before I get out. I guess we'll see which comes first.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 98 & 99

 Seahawks's good to be back home and able to see them play again!

This weekend was pretty relaxing. I had all great intentions of getting out a lot more once we got back to the states, but sometimes its nice to just chill. I hung out with my wife on Saturday. We headed to the YMCA and signed up. We've been members in the past and both of us feel like we need to work out a little more. Neither of us likes to go to the base and workout even though it's free. In fact I like to stay as far away from the base as possible whenever possible.

Sunday we headed up to my in-laws and had a lot of the extended family over to watch the Seahawks play the 49ers. It was a lot of fun especially because the Seahawks kicked the 49ers butt. This is the kind of stuff I really missed while being overseas. It's hard to keep up with the local teams because of the time difference, and bonding with family during events like this are priceless!

Friday, September 13, 2013

PHA - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 97

A photo of "The Medical Mall" inside Madigan hospital. 
This is where a lot of the specialty clinics are as well as the pharmacy.

This morning I headed to morning formation in my ACUs, I have a PHA appointment (basically my yearly physical). After formation I head to my car and fall asleep within seconds, for some reason I'm extremely tired this morning. Once I woke up, I took my time eating breakfast in my car and then headed into the hospital for my appointment. On the way in, I check my calendar on my phone and realize my appointment is at 0800…the entire morning I had it in my head that it was at 0830. I quickly walk to the family practice clinic at 0810 and they still decide to see me. This is a good thing because missing appointments is a pretty big deal while in WTB. In fact I could get UCMJ action taken against me for missing appointments.

After visiting with the doc I hear that I'm a bit overweight, I have pre-diabetes because my blood sugar is pretty high, and I also find out I have high cholesterol! My entire life I've been very active in sports and have always considered myself pretty healthy, now that I've hit 40 it seems not only is my body falling apart, but I'm having other health issues as well. The doc doesn't really tell me to do anything different except to eat more vegetables and work out more. He also put in a request to have my labs done again just to verify the results.

I then headed up to see my squad leader. He says they aren't tracking any of my ACAP appointments. So my squad leader hands me a paper that I have to take and get filled out by my ACAP counselor showing the dates and classes I've attended so far. When I headed down to see my ACAP counselor, there were already a number of people waiting…I guess multiple people are not being tracked correctly in the system. I take off…I'll get him to fill it all out later.

I head to my wife's work and meet her for lunch. She works with an old friend and previous co-worker of both of ours from a previous job at a newspaper. We all have lunch together at the buffet. So much for eating healthier…I guess I'll have to start that tomorrow!

After lunch, I headed home and did schoolwork.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Navy Sexual Harassment - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 96

I headed to my internship with the navy at the shipyard in Bremerton this morning. I arrived before anyone else in the office. The rule for hours here is a little different than any other job I've had in the past. There are prime hours where everyone has to be in the office which are 0900 - 1500, but people can choose to start as early as 0700 and work until 1500, or start later on, for example 0900 - 1700. I choose 0700 so there is no way I can make it to the morning formation for the army, and I just head straight to this internship. This saves me a lot on gas, toll charges and even sleep.

While waiting for others to arrive in the office I did the usual to entertain myself…play around on my iPhone and read the news. Once everyone arrived I headed out to the naval sub base near Silverdale with another fellow. I had to meet with the security folks and get briefed, then sign some paperwork. They are basically adding me in their system and "claiming me"…I now belong to the navy…lol.

I waited around for my ride to finish up with his business and then headed back to the shipyard in Bremerton. Once there I hear that my navy ID is ready, so I head to the pass and ID office and pick up my new ID. I also get a sticker for my car that allows me to park in the active duty parking lot. This is fairly important because parking is very limited at the Bremerton shipyard.

I take lunch and hang out in my car for a while. I ended up giving SPC Mac a call and we chatted for a while. He's having a heck of a time at Ft. Gordon dealing with all the army crap that seems never ending. He just needed someone to vent to…and I could sympathize with his situation.

Once back in the office everyone had to attend mandatory sexual harassment & prevention training. It doesn't matter that I've had this multiple times recently with the army, I now get it with the navy as well. I can tell you it's pretty much the same. A couple of civilians volunteered to head up the mandatory training and we went through a slide show and a couple movie clips. Everyone signed in to make sure and get credit for attending…nobody wants to have to sit through this twice in a short period of time.

Once the training ended, I headed home and worked on my schoolwork. Spending most of the day as an intern with the navy cuts down on my schoolwork time, but hopefully it will lead to some good experience or at least some good contacts that I can use in the future.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Autopilot - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 95

Went to morning formation in ACUs and realized I forgot to shave this morning. I get up so early, I think I'm on autopilot half the time. I don't know how the heck I forgot to shave and I'm not a guy who can get away without shaving for a day…I get a 5 o'clock shadow at about 1300 or so. Luckily it's dark enough at the morning formation that nobody noticed..or at least didn't say anything. I think I'm slipping into civilian mode in my subconscious now.

I head back to my car after formation and eat breakfast, then take a nice nap. I head into the SFAC and check my army email (keeping my head down and not making eye contact with anyone). I then had to head up to my NCM appointment. Luckily my NCM is a civilian and doesn't really care if I shaved or not. We went over how I'm doing and how everything is going. (pretty much the same as last week and the week before…nothing has really changed)

After the appointment I headed straight to the commissary and picked up some disposable razors and shaving cream, then headed to the gym to actually shave. Now I feel that I can walk around in uniform comfortably without having to worry about getting yelled at. I then headed to the library and did my schoolwork until lunchtime when I headed to grab a bite to eat at Subway.

After lunch I headed to the neurology department for a follow up appointment. The doctor said my brain MRI came back with just some minor anomalies, but nothing substantial…so that is both a good and bad thing. Good that there is nothing wrong with my brain, but bad because they can't pinpoint why I get headaches so often. The working theory is that they are because of my degenerative disks in my neck that are causing nerve endings and tension in my head to cause mild to sever pain at times. All I know is that I live with headaches on an almost daily basis and I hate it. It really degrades my quality of life.

The neurologist upped the nightly dose of medicine I take and also gave me a couple new things to try when the pain gets pretty bad. One is an anti-inflammatory and the other is migraine medication…I don't think that will help much because I don't have symptoms of a migraine…at least not too often. The theory is that my tension headaches may trigger migraines. I'll give it a try…I'll try anything at this point. They are also going to recommend physical therapy, which I also don't have too much hope for. I tried that for months while in Germany with no positive results. I am also signed up for a headache class given by the neurology department. So all in all, this was a pretty disappointing silver bullet.

After that I headed home and rested for the remainder of the day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dept of Navy - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 94

This morning I started my internship at the naval base in Bremerton. I headed straight to the HR department first and went over the new employee handbook. Well I use the term handbook loosely…it's really a bunch of pages in a three ringed binder. About half way through the process I realize that I didn't text my squad leader this morning and almost had a heart attack. The last thing I want to do is get into trouble while in the WTB. I was supposed to text him and let him know I'm alive sometime before they have the morning formation at 0630…it's 0730 now. I text him and let him know I've been with the HR lady and didn't get a chance to send one off before now. He replied back saying no worries.

I then proceed to my new desk and meet my new department and co-workers. They are all civilian in this area, which is nice, I'm in civilian clothes and don't have to worry about anything military…I can just be normal for a while. Surprisingly one of the guys in my office is the brother of a long time co-worker I had back in the newspaper business. It's a small world!

I haven't been setup with computer access yet, so after all the introductions my first day at work for this internship consists of me sitting at a desk playing around with my iPhone. I read quite a bit of Facebook posts, news on twitter and anything else that kept me occupied. The one thing I did the entire day was help physically move a desktop computer from our office to another building. I guess this will be the first major project I'll be helping with. We have a number of new machines to replace old ones with.

I read a bit more on my iPhone before 1500 hits and then I head home to do schoolwork. Even though I didn't do much, it was nice being in civilian clothes, not having to commute to Ft. Lewis, and doing IT work (kind of) again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Era is Upon Us - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 93

Headed to morning formation in summer PTs with jacket. Right after formation I hang back and chat with my squad leader to remind him about my internship that I'm starting tomorrow. It's a good thing to, because he didn't seem to know anything about it. After I finished talking to him, I just headed to my car. The PT had started and I was already away from the formation, so why join late?

I ate breakfast in my car and listened to the radio until 0730 when the SFAC opens up. I head in and check my army email, then headed home and did schoolwork.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 91 & 92

Deep Fried Butter...I can't believe anyone would even try that! 
This weekend was a lot of schoolwork at the start of it. My kids came over Saturday afternoon and we all hung out and watched movies and the new Ultimate Fighter. This season has women coaches and half of the fighters on the show are women. I wanted my daughters to see this just to show them that women can do pretty much anything these days. Sunday morning we headed off early to "Do the Puyallup". This is the slogan of the Washington State Fair (used to be called The Puyallup Fair). It's a major fair with lots of rides and everything else that comes along with a big fair…including deep fried butter! (nobody tried that)

Friday, September 6, 2013

They Took My Blood - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 90

Morning formation is at 0615 at the soldier field house gym for battalion PT…at least that's what I was told. When I arrived at the gym I only saw one other guy from my platoon there. It looked like an entire company was using the gym to take a PT test. As we stood there and realized nobody else seemed to be showing up, we head outside and see the battalion starting to form up across the parking lot in the tennis court…in the rain.

We both head over there and stand in the rain for a good 20 minutes until the battalion commander decides to come out and say "It's raining, let's not delay this…we'll head inside". By this point I'm already pissed because we were told the gym in the first place and we've now been standing in the rain for 20 minutes. I just head to my car and take off, I head to the hospital and then take a nap in the parking lot…I always make sure to get my time back that the army wastes.

I slept until 0830, then headed to the lab in the hospital and take a number. Shortly after I get called back and they draw some blood, then tell me I'm good to go. I head home and do schoolwork…today I took the final exam for my human resources class. The final exam requires a proxy, but interestingly enough they allow what is called a remote proxy. I had to download some software and then I was able to use their "remote proxy" via my webcam. Once I finished the final it was time to start the weekend!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

ACAP - WA State Resume - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 89

This morning's formation was at 0840 in ACUs at the Evergreen theatre on post for a town hall. I left right after formation and headed to an ACAP appointment, which is good…usually the town halls are pretty boring stuff. My ACAP appointment wasn't until 1000, but this was a new place I was heading to and I also had to make sure to be there early.

The ACAP class was for getting a job working for the state of Washington. Working for the state would probably not be a bad gig. The instructor went over similar stuff as the other ACAP classes (de-militarize your resume). He also showed everyone a bunch of different websites to check out. Probably the best thing out of the class though was getting the teacher's contact info. He actually works for the state and said he would help out anyone that wants to get a job. He even proposed going out and getting coffee to talk over everything and answer any questions.

The class ended around noon and I headed home to eat lunch and do my schoolwork. Right in the middle of my schoolwork my NCM called and gave me the date for my PHA appointment. She also let me know I have to go to the hospital lab and get some blood work done before my PHA appointment which is next Friday. I'll take care of that tomorrow, now it's back to schoolwork.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NCM, PCM & Pharmacy - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 88

This morning we had our formation with summer PTs and the jacket. While we were in formation it started to rain so we headed inside. Once inside we did a little stretching and then called it a day. I headed to my car and ate breakfast, then listened to the radio for a bit.

I headed to the SFAC when it opened up at 0730, I was able to check my army email and digitally sign some paperwork for the internship I'm about to start with the navy. I then took off to the gym to change into my ACUs. After that I headed back to the WTB and hung out in my car for a bit listening to the radio and playing on my iPhone.

I headed in for my weekly appointment with my NCM. Everything was the same old song and dance routine. I'm doing the same…no changes. I did let her know that I'm now due for my annual PHA (Periodic Health Assessment) also known as a normal physical in the civilian world. Everything that I need to do shows up on a system called MedPros, and I check that each time I check my army email at the SFAC. My NCM will make an appointment for me and let me know when it is.

I head out of there and straight to my PCM visit. My PCM visits have now grown to become monthly…well close to monthly because she's usually over booked, so they will now be about 5 to 6 weeks between visits. We went over all my issues and I had her issue me more Percocet. After that I headed down to the crazy mess that they call a pharmacy here. I waited almost 2 hours in the waiting room before getting called. I'm also active duty in uniform, so I get queued up faster than all the other suckers that have been there who knows how long! Luckily I had my iPhone and Plants Vs Zombies 2 to pass the time.

I headed home and did my schoolwork. I then get a text from my squad leader stating there is a 1400 formation today. I just ignore it, my MOU states that I'm in school and will not be at the end of day formations. I have better stuff to do.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to the Gym - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 87

A funny sign inside Keeler gym

This morning we had formation at Keeler gym, which is usual every Tuesday…and I didn't forget this time! I waited in my car until the last moment (as did many because it was raining), then joined the formation. They moved the formation inside and for a moment I couldn't believe it…actual common sense was used! We did accountability then everyone broke off to work out. Some played basketball and everyone else grabbed a cardio machine to work out on. I chose the stationary bike and rode that with my headphones on for a half hour, then headed home. Once home I did schoolwork…not a whole lot to report on today.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up (Labor Day 4-Day) - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 83 - 86

Just another photo of the Pacific Northwest
Taken by one of my old coworkers and photographer at the local newspaper

I spent the four day weekend just hanging out with my wife. We spent time with both our families and on Labor Day, my wife had to work, but I hung out with my extended family for a barbecue. This is the kind of stuff I really missed during my time spent half way around the world for the past few years. This is the kind of stuff that really matters in life, the things that you can't replace. It was a pretty nice and relaxing weekend. I was able to ride my Harley quite a bit and just enjoyed pretending to be a civilian.