Friday, January 31, 2014

Lefty Pain - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 238

In the chiropractor's office...a lot of solar powered dancing

This morning I woke up and the entire left side of my head was in pain. The entire left side of my brain was killing me! Not only that, but the pain went down the left side of my neck and then my shoulder. I’ve had one side or another hurt before and it basically just sucks. When I’m in pain like this, I really don’t want to do much of anything because life in general just sucks bad! Today I had an appointment with the chiropractor though, and I thought maybe he can do something to help. With this in mind, I didn’t take any pain killers…I just got up and got ready to go.

Morning formation was in winter PTs and I pathetically tried to do some of the warm ups with everyone. I think most of the time I just stood there and perhaps moved my arms around a little. After warm ups I was going to just head to my car, but the first sergeant was right behind me. Instead I walked around the parking lot once with everyone and then broke off from the group. I went and used the bathroom first, just in case someone asked…and I really did need to go. After that I went straight to my car, but it was too cold to sleep and my head was still killing me…so I just tried to relax and listen to the radio.

A little after 0800 I headed into the SFAC and checked my army email and then my medboard status on AKO as usual.

Here’s today’s results for my medboard status on my AKO:

218 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): 8/8/2014
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): 9/06/2014

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 157 days. The army average is now 143.01 days. Current days I am over the army average is 13.99

I then went to my 0945 chiropractor appointment early, normally I can get in to see him early if I happen to be there. That was the case today, I only had to wait about 15 minutes before he brought me back. I let him know what was going on and where the pain was. He did a little manipulation and then massaged my neck and shoulders. Everything was pretty tender everywhere he touched. I was hoping I would at least feel a little better by the time I left, but I still felt pretty much the same. I went back to my car and drove home.

Once home I took my pain meds and broke out the heating pad to place on my left shoulder and neck. I watched a college basketball game on watchESPN and waited for the pain meds to kick in. After about an hour I was feeling much better thankfully. Once the game was over, I did my schoolwork. The rest of the day might turn out OK now!

Later at night my wife and I went to watch our former high schools battle each other in basketball. Unfortunately my Bulldogs fell a little short to her Trojans. It’s always fun to watch high school basketball. The energy and the atmosphere are always a lot of fun. The band, the cheerleaders, the students, and the coaches all made it a great night.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Little Hardware Time - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 237

This morning I got up and headed to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I totally forgot to send my squad leader a text…oops. I did my usual morning routine and checked my army and navy emails, then surfed the web for a while.

My coworker had setup a spare server for us to use that wasn’t connected to any network. He said there was an error when he was trying to boot it up. He wanted me to open it up and re-seat all the RAM and look for anything else that I could re-seat inside it. I opened it up, and did just that…took out a lot of pieces and put everything back in making sure everything was secure. After that the server booted up fine. I guess we’re going to use this as a training server for us in the future.

I surfed the web some more to pass the time, which started to move really slowly today. I ate lunch at my desk and continued to surf the web. I noticed as I tried to find stuff to occupy my time, that everyone who came in our office to chat with my co-worker hates their job here. I’ve noticed this before, but it just seemed even worse today. The moral here is low and everyone it seems is counting down the days until they can retire. I never really wanted to work here because in truth I’d like to work as far away from a federal government job as I can get. If a job were offered to me though, I’d of course take it if I didn’t have anything else available…a man’s gotta eat! I really can’t imagine working here for real though, I don’t want to hate going to work everyday. The negativity in this entire building can get to you after a while. I really want to work with good people…happy people. Heck, I don’t even know if I’ll be getting a job in the I.T. field when I get out. Technology changes so fast, and I’ll have been standing still for over 4 years while in the army. I guess time will tell what I’ll be doing once I get out.

I left at 1500 and headed home to work on my schoolwork. Another day down, another day closer to getting my degree and getting out of the army.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Day @ Ft. Lewis - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 236

I always catch the statue at the end of the hall and think someone is there half the time

This morning I headed to formation in my ACUs, I have an appointment with my NCM at 0800. After accountability, I headed back to my car, pulled up my blanket, and went back to sleep. I had taken a muscle relaxer last night and was still groggy from it. I got up and ate breakfast in my car before heading up for my 0800 NCM appointment. I must have still been pretty groggy because right after arriving and sitting down with my NCM, I spilled my coffee all over my leg. Good thing ACUs are camouflaged right? I did my best to wipe everything up with a couple napkins my NCM provided. Nothing new with the NCM, so the appointment only took a few minutes.

I left and drove to Starbucks where I picked up another coffee, maybe this second one will help me wake up a bit. I brought in my textbook to read, but it was a little too noisy in there to try and do schoolwork. I left and went to the library, then proceeded to do my schoolwork. After I finished, I surfed the web for a bit and just passed the time until noon. I then drove back to the WTB parking lot and ate lunch in my car.

At 1300 I had another FTR preparation group meeting. We went over any loose ends during this meeting. I realized that I have to actually print out my transition plan to give to 6 different people during the actual FTR. My appointment is next week, so I guess I better put something together this weekend. It isn’t going to be too hard for me because I already have a plan when I get out and I’m taking steps now towards that plan.

After the meeting I went over to the pain clinic to see if I could get in any earlier for my chiropractic appointment. Usually if I arrive early I can get in early. That was the case today, I sat in the waiting area reading news on my iPhone for about 15 minutes before he called me back. The chiropractor did the normal manipulation to my neck and then gave me an aid to help isolate some stretches to do on my own. It’s basically a rope with knots on each end and has a softer foam piece in the middle. I place the foam piece on the back of my neck while holding the two ends of the rope in front of me. Depending on the position I hold the rope, I can stretch my neck and isolate certain portions. He went through each of the various stretches, first showing me and then having me give it a try.

Once finished I went over to my company headquarters in the WTB. I had to attend the required 90 day appointment with the social worker. The first part is filling out a sheet full of questions with yes or no answers. The questions are stuff like: Do you want to kill yourself? Do you want to kill someone else? Do you believe you have superpowers? Once that was filled out the social worker asked how everything was going and how I’m doing. I told her everything is great unless I have to come to Ft. Lewis. The meeting went fairly quickly because I don’t have any behavior health issues. It’s just one of those “check the box” requirements that have to be done while assigned to the WTB.

After the meeting I left for the day and drove home. I didn’t get home until about 1730, so I’m glad I was able to finish up my schoolwork earlier today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Surfing Makes for a Long Day - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 235

I sent a text to my squad leader this morning “MOU Today”, then headed to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I slid right back into my normal routine…check army and navy email, then surf the web. I then surfed the web some more…then some more. I forgot how long the day can be when I have nothing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I don’t have to get up as early, I don’t have the long commute, and I don’t have to pay the toll to cross the bridge. It’s just the fact that when I "work" for the navy, I usually have nothing to do.

I ate my lunch at my desk, and then surfed some more. I found an interesting forum that I was able to waste some time on. The forum is “The Physical Evaluation Board Forum” ( I came across it while trying to find out the average wait time for VA ratings (where I’m stuck at now in the medboard process). This forum has a lot of great information. There are a ton of questions asked with a lot of great responses from people that have gone through the process.

Later on in the afternoon a co-worker loaded a test copy of Windows Server 2012 on a spare server we had that isn’t connected to the network. This was just for us to play around with and test. I really don’t like the new GUI that it uses. I get where Microsoft is trying to go, they want the same look and feel for all of their products…from a phone to a server. The problem is that what works on a phone or a tablet doesn’t work so well on a desktop or especially a server. It all seems a little dumb to me.

I surfed the web a little more until it was time to head home for the day at 1500. I then did schoolwork and cooked a little dinner for my wife before she got home.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Saved by the Pee - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 233

The chiropractor's office where I get manipulated...he has a nice view as well!

This morning I headed to Ft. Lewis in winter PTs. I did the warm up exercises with the group, but when we broke and headed to the parking lot to walk, I headed straight inside. It was pretty freakin’ cold out and I had no desire to walk around in it. I had to pee, so if anyone stopped me and asked, that was what I was going to tell them. Luckily for me when I finished relieving myself there was nobody around…I just headed to my car to eat breakfast and listen to music. I tried to nap, but even with my blanket it was too freakin’ cold!

I went inside to the SFAC a little after 0800. I checked my army email and surfed the web for a while. I did get a reply from my PEBLO saying that the VA is still running 4 months behind. I continued to surf the web for a bit, it’s too cold to hang out in my car. At 0930 I had my chiropractor appointment. I had some pretty crappy sleep last night, so I started off the day in pain. The chiropractor relieved some of the pressure and pain. At 1000 I had an acupuncture appointment. I did the usual walking on the plastic rocks in my socks. I laid down on my stomach, then got poked in my wrists, down each side of my spine, on each of my ankles and the tops of my feet. My neck got the mixture of cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, and dragon’s blood rubbed on it. I then listened to the relaxing music for about 15 minutes or so with the lights off.

After acupuncture I was done for the day. I headed to my sister’s house to pick up my son and take him to the ferry so he could head home. When I got home I did my schoolwork. I had to take some pain meds because the pain was starting to make a comeback. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 231 & 232

This weekend was a kid weekend, but it was pretty laid back. On Saturday we all went to Olympic College (the local community college) and watched the men and women’s basketball games. Other than that, we just hung out at home. On Sunday my girls had to head back to their house, but my son stayed another night because he didn’t have school on Monday. Since he stayed with us, we decided to spoil him a little. We took him out to lunch, then went and watched the movie “Ride Along”, and finally we went out to eat dinner for my niece’s birthday. He stayed the night with my sister so he could spend time with his cousins.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Pharmacist - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 230

A view of Mt. Rainier during our ferry ride

This morning I headed to morning formation in Winter PTs. I had an appointment this morning, but appointments at the pain clinic can be in the PT uniform…in fact most people that go to the pain clinic are in their PT uniform. After accountability I headed back to my car, pulled out my blanket, turned on the radio, ate breakfast, and then just relaxed for a while.

At 0800 I had an appointment with the pain clinic pharmacist. This is one that my pain clinic nurse case manager setup for me. The folks in the pain clinic just want their pharmacist to go over all the medications that I’m taking. We went over each of the medications, why I’m taking it, how often I take it, and the possible side affects.

Here is a list of my current medications I’m taking and what they’re for:

Amitriptyline: originally prescribed as an anti-depressent for patients, but helps with neuropathic pain over time. This is why my PCM prescribed it to me. I take a dosage of this each night, because one of the side effects is drowsiness. I can’t really say if this drug has helped at all. I think it may play it’s part in helping bring down my average daily pain levels. I say I’m not sure because I’m also doing less to aggravate my injuries and I think the pain clinic is also helping.

Oxycodone: Also known as Percocet. I take this when the pain is getting pretty bad.

Tramadol: This is also a pain reliever, I take this when I have moderate pain. It’s nice to have two different pain meds as well, because I can alternate using them to help space out how often I take a certain pain medication.

Rizatriptan: Also known as Maxalt. This is used to treat my migraine headaches. I don’t get migraines too often, but when I do this has proven to be very helpful!

Cyclobenzaprine: Also known as Flexeril. This is a muscle relaxer. I take this when I’m in quite a bit of pain and know I have a while I can sleep. This drug makes me pretty drowsy, so I usually only take it at night. This drug will allow me to sleep when otherwise I would either have a hard time getting asleep or staying asleep because of the pain.

Indomethiacin: This is an anti-inflammatory drug. I usually take this along with one of the pain medications mentioned above.

After going over each of these the pharmacist said everything looks pretty good. I’m not taking anything that’s unnecessary, I’m not taking too much of anything, and he didn’t have any additional recommendations for me. He wanted me to be aware of certain side effects if I started taking a lot more. After that we just chatted about the time I was stationed in Germany. He had been there for a few years during his career and enjoyed it as well. I’m glad he was OK with everything I’m taking. I hate it when people question what I’m taking for pain, I only take them when I need them…and I’d be pissed if they wanted to cut something out. I’ve tried quite a few other drugs which didn’t do much of anything for me, so I’m happy with what I’m taking now.

When we left his office, the chiropractor just happened to be walking by. I had an appointment with him later on today, but he asked if I wanted to take care of it now. I followed him into his office and he did his manipulation on my neck, then slapped on a little lotion or oil of some sort and proceeded to give me a neck massage. He could feel how tight my neck was while doing the manipulation. This felt awesome, I woke up sore and had been pretty sore all morning. After my visit to the chiropractor I was starting to feel better.

I headed down to the pharmacy where I picked up all my refills. I had called in refills at the start of the week and my PCM put in refills for me yesterday for some of the others. Once I finished at the pharmacy, I headed over to the SFAC to check my army email. I emailed the navy to let my co-worker know my schedule next week. I also emailed my PEBLO just to check in now that AKO officially says I’m over a week past the army average for receiving my VA results. I think I’ll email her to check in at least once a month. I don’t want her to forget about me…and maybe she’ll have some news for me.

Here’s today’s results for my medboard status on my AKO:

218 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): 8/2/2014
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): 8/30/2014

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 150 days. The army average is now 142.78 days. Current days I am over the army average is 7.22

I ate a quick snack from my car, then went to my 1100 acupuncture appointment at the pain clinic. I took off my boots and walked on the hard plastic rocks in my socks. I then laid down on my back on the exam table. For some reason today as I was being stuck with the needles, it was a lot more sensitive. Usually I don’t feel much of anything when I’m getting stuck, but I felt everyone of them today. I got one in my forehead, each wrist, both ankles, and on the top of my feet. I then listened to the relaxing music, relaxed, and did my slow breathing. The acupuncturist, turned out the lights and left. I fell asleep a couple of times while she was gone for the 15 minutes.

After the appointment, I signed up for an acupressure class for sleeping and headaches at my acupuncturist’s request. The class meets once a week for three weeks. After that I headed home and did my schoolwork for the day. When my wife came home we headed to the ferry so we could go watch my daughter’s basketball game.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cognitive Behavior Therapy - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 229

A view from one of the windows of the hospital tower

This morning I headed to formation in ACUs because I have a 0700 appointment. As I was waiting in the parking lot, I received a text from my squad leader telling me that now formation is at 0730 in ACUs (probably because it’s Thursday which means sergeant’s time training). I was happy to text him back stating that I will not be there because I have an appointment. I headed to my 0700 PCM appointment and let her know that so far the pain clinic is going well. I had her order refills for my pain medications and then took off. I got a call from my NCM as I was heading to her office for my next appointment. She asks me if I know about an appointment at 0930 today. I said no, then I get a little pissed because I hate it when appointments get added without my knowledge. Luckily I was here already today or else I would not have made it. I let my NCM know I’m on my way to her office and she can tell me about it when I get there.

When I meet up with my NCM, I find out my 0930 appointment is for CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and is part of the pain clinic. By this time I’ve calmed down a bit, no need to get all worked up over stuff that is out of my control. At least I am already here and the new appointment is in the morning, so I will not be hanging around all day just waiting for an appointment. After my NCM appointment I head down to the SFAC and check my army email, but cannot log into AKO because it’s down.

I go back to my car and listen to the radio to pass the time. The guys on the radio were talking about a guest they had for one of their podcasts. The guest was a stripper that works in Seattle and I guess she has a lot of interesting stories. She keeps a blog ( and she also has a twitter feed you can follow (@RED_stripper). So I started reading her blog to pass the time.

At 0930 I have my CBT appointment. There is a group of about 8 people in this meeting and is a combination of army and air force personnel, but lead by a navy officer. We find out it’s actually an orientation for a group of classes that we can sign up for. The navy captain talks about chronic pain and how it affects daily life. We each go around and introduce ourselves, our pain and how long we’ve had it. We also say what we do to relieve the pain…if anything. There was a wide range of different issues people are dealing with here. Everything from a guy who was shot in Afghanistan to parachute jump injuries. The navy captain goes through a number of PowerPoint slides discussing what chronic pain does to people physically and emotionally. The class lasted about 90 minutes and then we are split into two groups. There are two types of classes that each meet once a week for three weeks. These are the behavioral and the cognitive class. Each group will go through one of the classes, then switch after three weeks. I had to choose the cognitive class because it is scheduled on Mondays and I already had appointments that conflicted with the behavioral class that will be meeting on Wednesdays.

After that I headed home, but didn’t quite make it all the way there. About halfway home a Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard was screaming my name, so I took a short break and had lunch with that awesome dessert. I then made my way to the mall and picked up a Seahawks jersey for my nephew. A little present my in-laws wanted to get him and mail it so it arrives before the Super Bowl. I have to take advantage of the military discount while I still can! Once finished with that I headed home and…you guessed it…did schoolwork! I’m looking forward to the days where I can go home and do whatever I want. I am ready to be done with school!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dragon’s Blood - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 228

The plastic rock path I walk on with my socks before each acupuncture appointment

This morning’s formation was in winter PTs as usual. After the warm-up exercises, we headed to the parking lot to do the usual walking. I had planned on just ditching everyone once we started walking, but the first sergeant decided to join us today. This means there will be no disappearing. I may have to change my morning routine and come up with a better plan. Walking around in a big circle in the cold is not what I plan to do each morning.

After PT I went to my car and did the usual routine, listen to the radio, eat, and take a nap. At 1000 I had an acupuncture appointment. It started off the same, I took off my boots and walked along the hard plastic rocks for about 10 minutes. I then took off my socks and my shirt and laid face down on the exam table. I then proceeded to get stuck with needles in my wrists, my ankles, the top of each foot, and many on each side of my spine. As I lay there with needles sticking out of me and listening to relaxing music, the acupuncturist then put some ointment on the back of my neck. She said it was a combination of cinnamon, peppermint, and dragon’s blood! She also moved some hot lamps above my neck and feet, then turned off the light and left. I got totally relaxed and probably dozed off a few times. She usually leaves for about 15 minutes before returning to take out all the needles. Even though I only lay there with the needles in for around 15 minutes, the entire appointment takes a good hour. This includes the walking on the plastic rocks, answering any questions she may have, and the process of putting in all the needles.

I then went to the pain clinic desk and scheduled my next couple of weeks worth of chiropractic and acupuncture appointments. After that I headed to my car, listened to music and ate lunch. I had an FTR (Focus Transistion Review) group appointment. This is a new mandatory class that we have to go through to prepare us for the actual FTR meeting that will be coming up within the next couple of months for each of us in the class. The army wants to make sure we all have a plan for our transition when we get out. We went over education and finances during this class. There was not really much group participation because you could tell nobody wanted to be here for it. It’s just another one of those “check the box” requirements that we have to get done before we can get out.

After the group meeting, I headed home and did schoolwork.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Manipulation - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 227

This made me laugh a little...the chiropractor had a little fireplace on his phone 
just sitting on his desk running the entire time.

Morning formation this morning was at Keeler Gym in winter PTs. I was going to do my usual and just head to my car after accountability, but someone forgot to bring the guidon from the company. (for those who don't know what a guidon is, click here) The first sergeant was pissed off and wanted all the platoon sergeants as well as the squad leaders to gather around her so she could bitch them out. Everyone else had to head into the gym. I got on a stationary bike, listened to music on my iPhone, and slowly peddled as I sat there. I did this for a half hour and then left.

I drove to the WTB parking lot and ate my breakfast in the car while listening to the radio. Speaking of listening to the radio, with my long commutes I’ve started to get into more podcasts. These are great for passing time while driving, and don’t have all the commercials that the radio does. Here’s a list of what I’ve subscribed to so far:

BJ Shae: this is basically a podcast of the morning show on KISW. They are a typical morning talk show along with listeners that call in. The topics are usually pretty entertaining and the podcast does not include any of the music or commercial breaks so it moves right along.

The Men’s Room: this is the afternoon show on KISW. These guys are pretty funny, entertaining and not even close to being politically correct. They definitely make the time go by while commuting. This is the normal radio show without any commercial or music breaks.

The Mens Room: These are the same guys mentioned above, but they also do what I call a bonus podcast. This is just for a podcast and not on the radio show, but this one is updated less frequently.

STP: “Steve the Producer” is one of the guys from the morning show on KISW. This podcast is weekly and is pretty long, usually over 2 hours. I just started listening to this one and it’s been pretty good.

Tales From the Spacepod: This is one of the podcasts that I’ve been listening to for a number of years already. These guys are friends of mine and usually BS about paranormal activities or conspiracies. They usually go off on a tangent and are pretty funny to listen to. Unfortunately it’s only a weekly podcast.

I headed into the SFAC and checked my army email. I also sent an email to my navy co-worker letting him know that the army has me booked this entire week, so I will not be seeing him at all. I go back to my car and listen to the radio for a while. As I’m doing this I notice an SUV sitting idle for about 20 minutes waiting for a parking spot to fill up. The SUV then slowly starts to circle the parking lot to see if there is any he missed. He does this for about another 15 minutes! Some people blow me away with how lazy they are. There is another parking lot a little farther away that always has open spots, but this guy doesn’t want to walk the extra 2 minutes. I see this all the time when I’m leaving the hospital. People will stalk me if they see me coming from the hospital going to the parking lot. I’ll be walking toward my car and there will be another car slowly following me. Most of the time I’m not even leaving, I’m just going to my car to wait for my next appointment. So I get in my car, turn on the radio, and just chill. Meanwhile the car that is stalking me is idling, waiting for me to leave so they can get my parking spot. It drives me nuts. Even when I am leaving, I don’t rush…these people are stupid.

At 1000 I went to my first chiropractic appointment. The first part of the appointment the chiropractor is just gathering all my history and asking me questions. He then does an exam. As he’s feeling my neck, he can feel all the tight muscles and the tender spots. He then showed me a model of the spine and explained to me everything that’s going on with my neck. It was pretty interesting and informational. He says that he thinks he can help me out a lot and I’m feeling pretty optimistic! He then did the manipulation on my neck, which I have to say was not too bad. I was pretty worried that it was going to hurt quite a bit, but he did a couple quick snaps and then had me schedule my next few appointments. There was some relief of pressure in my neck, and I walked away feeling better.

After the appointment, I headed home and did schoolwork. This is one of the tougher classes I’ve had, there is a lot of work that needs to be completed each week. Once this class is over, I have two more…I can’t wait!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up (MLK 3-Day) - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 224 - 226

This three day weekend took me by surprise, but I don’t mind at all!

Saturday: I slept in and found myself back at my normal pain levels which basically means I have pain, but I can manage my daily activities. The pain is annoying, but I usually don’t take any pain meds while at this level. I want to save those for when it gets worse. I started off the day with schoolwork to get that done with. I then picked up my mom and my niece along with my wife and we drove to surprise and watch my daughter play in one of her away basketball games. It worked out perfect…she was totally surprised to not only see me & my wife, but her grandma and her cousin as well.

Sunday: All about the Seahawks and football. My wife and I headed over to her parents where we watched both the AFC & NFC championship games. My wife’s sisters came over as well and we all had a blast watching the Seahawks beat the 49ers once again at home to secure the NFC championship. Now we’ll be heading to the SuperBowl.

Monday: I slept in and then did schoolwork to start of the day and get it over with. My wife had to work, so I took it easy most of the day. I watched some basketball on my AppleTV via watchESPN, cleaned up the yard a bit and then took my car to the car wash. A pretty laid back day…and I loved it!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Little White Lie - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 223

After yesterday, I wasn’t going to get up and do anything this morning. I sent a text to my squad leader today “MOU Today”. I am still in recovery mode after the last two days of agony. The navy already knew I wasn’t planning on coming in so there would be no issues. I went back to bed and slept until 1030. I got up and got ready about 1100 and headed out to Ft. Lewis. I had a 1230 pain clinic appointment with their nurse case manager. We went over all the options they have available. We scheduled some appointments and then I went over to the SFAC and checked my email and also checked up on my medboard status on AKO.

217 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): 7/27/2014
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): 8/22/2014

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 143 days. The army average is now 143.23 days. Current days I am over the army average is 0.23.

After the SFAC, I headed home. Once home I just took it very easy, I’m not as bad as I’ve been the last two days…but I’m still not in the greatest shape. Later on in the day I was able to do schoolwork, then took it easy for the rest of the night.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Turn for the Worse - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 222

A view of the Staff Duty desk where I spent one of the worst nights ever!

As of midnight, I’m still on staff duty along with the beginning of a new day. My headache just continued to get worse last night and into today. It eventually got to the point where I felt nauseous. This is quickly turning out to be one of my worst staff duty shifts ever. I still have a long time to go, I have a migraine coming on, and my pain medications do absolutely nothing when I am getting a migraine. I do have special migraine medication, but I left that at home because I don’t get them as often. At about 0200 as I was sitting at the staff duty desk I could feel my mouth starting to water. I had been feeling nauseous for a while now, but this was more than just feeling it…it was coming…and soon. I quickly got up, head pounding, and made my way quickly to the bathroom. I then assumed the position…kneeling to the porcelain god…and proceeded to throw up in the toilet. There goes all that good teriyaki from earlier.

After throwing up, I made my way back to the staff duty desk. This wasn’t going to cut it, so I moved to an area right next to the desk. This area is used by the soldiers in the barracks to hang out I guess. It has a few computers, a TV, and most importantly a leather couch. I got comfortable on the couch, watched some news on the TV and fell in and out of sleep. The entire time my head continued to kill me…this is misery. The pain in my head continued no matter what, but any movement made it worse…so I tried to stay as still as possible.

I headed back to the main staff duty desk to join my squad leader at 0630. I must have been looking pretty bad, because he told me I could just head home instead of staying there until 0800. I was glad to be able to leave, but the drive home was horrible. Traffic was fine, but my head felt like it was going to explode. I hated every minute of the almost hour long drive. When I did get home I quickly climbed in bed and actually did fall asleep until 1300. When I got up, I was still in extreme pain. For any of you that have never had a migraine, you are very lucky…just imagine the worst headache you’ve ever had and multiply it by 100! Life just sucks when a migraine is happening.

I couldn’t do much of anything the entire day because of the pain. I just continued to lay in peace trying not to do anything to make it worse. My wife came home and we went to dinner at her parents. My father-in-law tried to massage my shoulders because they were so tight. Once he got tired my wife picked up where he left off. It felt good, but the pain never went anywhere. When we got home I took muscle relaxers and NyQuil before bed. Not only is my head feeling like it’s going to explode, I’m also coming down with something. I’m coughing and my nose is stuffed up. I dread each cough because they bring with them lightning strikes going through my head. Life is miserable. 

I slept until about 0300 thanks to the drugs, but when I woke I was still in a lot of pain. I took migraine medication Maxalt and laid back down. After about an hour I could feel my head start to get better. I was able to get some more sleep, but my neck and shoulders are very sore…and I’m getting sick.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Staff Duty - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 221

A great little place to grab some good food just outside of JBLM

I headed into morning formation in winter PTs this morning. Each morning formation is usually pretty much the same. Everyone forms up, the first sergeant is in front of the platoon and receives a report from each platoon sergeant letting her know if everyone is accounted for. Once that is finished, she usually gives out some company wide announcements, sometimes these are just an excuse for her to bitch and moan. Most of the time it goes pretty quick. After that the first sergeant has everyone with appointments fall to the rear of the formation. While she asks each person who has an appointment when and where the appointment is, everyone else starts PT. I did the warm up exercises with the group and then we all started walking around the large overflow parking lot for the WTB Barracks and Madigan hospital. There are a few people that can actually run in the WTB, these are usually people that have either behavior health issues or they have healed completely from an injury. This small group takes off for a run, while the rest of us walk around in giant circles. This morning, like most mornings these days, I was just not in the mood. It’s cold outside, which has all my muscles tight and generally puts me in a fowl mood. I took one lap around the parking lot and just broke off and headed to my car. I wasn’t going to do a stupid walk around the parking lot freezing my ass off and call it PT. If anyone tried to stop me I would have told them I needed to use the bathroom or take some pain medications…luckily nobody did.

Once at my car I pulled my blanket on me, turned on the radio, ate my breakfast, then took a nap. I slept pretty hard until 0900 when my NCM called my phone. It turns out that an appointment was added to my schedule since the last time I saw her and nobody told me…that appointment was at 0900! This pissed me off a bit, I double checked my appointment sheet and sure enough there was nothing scheduled. Luckily I was in the parking lot and could make it to the WTB fairly quickly. The appointment was with an occupational therapist. She was all smiles and very easy going, that helped get me out of my bad mood and back to normal. I let her know why I wasn’t there on time and she said it was no problem. She just needed to update my progress with my MOUs (navy internship and school). I let her know both are going well and I’m getting close to finishing up school. That was about it for the appointment…no big deal.

After I got back to my car, I headed to the gym and used their locker room to change into my ACUs. I then headed to the library which is fairly close to the gym. I had my laptop and used the library’s free WiFi until lunch time at which point I drove back to the WTB parking lot and ate my lunch.

At 1300 I had an appointment that just showed up last week on my appointment slip. I had no idea what it was other than the guy’s name who I was scheduled to see. It was in our company’s conference room and turned out to be a group meeting to prepare everyone for an upcoming FTR (Focus Transistion Review). This group meeting is a new requirement and there are 4 of them that we have to attend before the actual FTR. The FTR is when I will have to tell a group of people such as the company commander, my squad leader, my NCM, and some other social workers what my plan is when I get out of the army. I thought I already did this once, but I guess with the new regulations, I will get to do it again. Today’s meeting focused on our current medical and behavior health treatments and our plans once we get out of the army. Right now all I can see for my future is daily chronic pain in my knee, neck, and head. Perhaps I’ll give medical marijuana a try when I get out, I wonder how that would go over in my FTR LOL?

After the meeting I went back to my car, listened to the radio and just leaned my seat back and relaxed for a while. I was in and out of consciousness. At 1600 I drove off post to a great teriyaki joint I came across a while back. I picked up a to go box and headed back to the WTB parking lot where I ate my dinner. At 1700 I started my staff duty shift with my squad leader. I started the shift off by taking my pain medications. The stress of doing this stupid shift may have caused what was the start of a killer headache. The lobby where the staff duty desk is located was full of people, mostly civilians. There was a New Comers Brief going on in the multipurpose room next door and each of these people were waiting for their turn to throw out a bunch of information nobody’s going to remember at all these new soldiers. It’s just one after the other blasting out all this information to new people here. It’s a little too much all at once I think. With all these people hanging out in the lobby, doing any schoolwork was going to be pretty tough…these were some noisy people.

Then all of sudden I see and hear a lot of commotion going on to my right at the edge of the room. Turns out one of the soldiers in the WTB that was just walking through the lobby had a seizure and collapsed on the floor. He laid there unconscious with a crowd of people around him. Someone runs over and calls 911 and explains the situation, there is a soldier here with a history of seizures that just collapsed and is now unconscious. I go out to the front and wait for the ambulance, which only takes a couple minutes because the WTB is literally right next to Madigan hospital. Once the ambulance arrived the EMTs put the soldier on a gurney and carted him off. So far this has been the most active staff duty shift ever.

Unfortunately one of the other soldiers didn’t show up for staff duty, so I will not be splitting up the night to take naps like last time. I also had to man the staff duty desk in the WTB barracks in the building right next to this one. I pack up all my crap and head over to the barracks. The good news is that it’s very peaceful, I break out my textbook and start to study. There is also free WiFi available so I took breaks and surfed around on my laptop to try and break up the monotony. At this point I’m thinking the night might not be too bad…boy was I wrong.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DRMO - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 220

A view of all the old computer junk that we returned today.

Send my squad leader a text “MOU Today”, then headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton this morning. I do the usual and check both my army and navy emails, then surf the web. The internet speed seems extremely slow today for some reason, but that wont matter too much because I’ll be doing physical labor today!

We loaded the TMP van up with a bunch of old equipment that we have been accumulating once again in the office. There were rack servers, desktops, various cables of all sorts, mice, keyboards, scrap metal and some other odds and ends. We filled up the TMP and by the time we were finished, the back was sagging down quite a bit from the weight. When we finished up, I took a quick early lunch. I knew this was going to end up going through our normal lunchtime and didn’t want to have my stomach growling all the way through it.

A co-worker and I took the van to the naval submarine base located outside of Silverdale. As we approached the gate, I was half expecting the guards to have us pull aside so they could thoroughly inspect our van. In the army whenever we did training for guard duty, a low riding vehicle was always considered suspect because it could indicate an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). We had no such problems at this gate though, the guard saw we were in a government vehicle and inspected our badges, then sent us on our way.

We headed to the DRMO site on the base and I backed up to the loading dock. My co-worker took in the pile of paperwork and a few minutes later a lady drove out some pallets for us to load everything onto. I took everything out of the van and put it on the loading dock, then my co-worker played Tetris and piled everything carefully on the pallets. Once we finished we found out that in addition to the paperwork we turned in, we had to attach additional copies onto the actual equipment. Luckily this was just one piece of paper for each type of equipment (i.e. rack servers). We completed this easy enough, then took off and headed back to the naval shipyard in Bremerton.

Once back in the office, I surfed the web for a while. I also searched around for some other online training I can do besides SkillPort, because the Linux training on SkillPort will not work on these government computers. Near the end of the day I could tell I did a little too much because I was already starting to feel the pain. I think this is the last of the old equipment we’ll be moving while I’m working here. Once my shift finished, I headed home and took my pain meds, by this time the pain had already started to come on pretty strong.

I then started working on my schoolwork. This class “Business Policy & Strategy” is a lot more involved than any of my previous classes. There is quite a bit of reading involved and then a lot of short answer questions and case studies have to be completed each week. The teacher is a stickler for grammar as well, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time I’m sure you’ve caught more than one error. With all that said, I will have to work a lot harder to finish this class and get a decent grade. I’m so close now…after this class I have two more before I graduate.

With the holidays, my pain, or my wife tired, it seems we have not gone to the YMCA and done any kind of workout in quite a while. We’re gonna either have to commit or cancel our membership. I want to go, but there always seems to be a reason we don’t end up going. Today the reason was definitely me, even though I took my pain meds I was still in quite a bit of pain and in no mood to work out. I feel myself getting bigger and heavier. I’ve past the point where I could eat whatever I want and do nothing, but still stay as skinny as a toothpick. I have to start eating healthier and getting a workout at some point.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting Poked! - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 219

The acupuncture bed I laid down on and had all the pins stuck in me. 
Pretty much your basic examination bed.

This morning I headed to formation in my ACUs because I have a 0800 appointment with my NCM. After accountability, I headed back to my car, grabbed my blanket and took a nap. At 0800 I went to my NCM appointment. It was the same as usual. The same questions, the same answers, the same everything. After the appointment I went back to my car and listened to the radio while eating breakfast. I hung out in my car until my 1000 acupuncture appointment.

I was looking forward to this appointment, I’ve never had acupuncture done and I’m optimistic about trying anything now. I’m so tired of always being in constant pain. The appointment started with the acupuncturist asking me a few basic questions and then rolling out a mat that was full of very hard plastic rocks. She said while she is inputting information in the computer, she wanted me to take off my boots and walk back and forth across this mat with my socks on. I could use the edge of the examination bed to help balance during this time. She proceeded to show me once by doing it herself. I took off my boots and started the walk…the walk of pain…lol. I’ll admit I have tender feet, I don’t go around barefoot much. This mat full of hard plastic rocks is about two feet wide and 5 feet long. I tenderly walked back and forth very slow and using the exam bed extensively. I’m not sure what this does, but I did it.

I then laid on my back after taking off my socks and my ACU jacket. The acupuncturist then used a little alcohol to clean up each of the places I was going to get stuck. She then stuck a needle in the middle of my forehead, I didn’t feel a thing with that one. The others went into each wrist, each ankle, and on the top of each of my feet. I could feel a little stick, but nothing hurt. The tops of my feet were the only that were a little more intense for the slight moment she was sticking the pins in, but it was nothing to complain about.

I then listened to relaxing music for a total of almost 15 minutes or so. Laying on the exam bed, listening to relaxing music, focusing on my breathing, with 5 pins stuck in me. She came back in and took out all the pins. To tell the truth I didn’t feel any different, but I guess it will take a few sessions before I notice anything. I then headed straight to a class in the pain clinic that my acupuncturist was teaching and suggested that I attend. The Class was CTM (Chinese Traditional Medicine) Nutrition. We covered a lot of things, but basically focused on the benefits of nutrients and sleep. The class was interesting, as is all of this eastern medicine that the pain clinic focuses a lot on. I’m going to go all in with this eastern medicine stuff. I’m still surprised that the army pays for all of this because it’s so alternative to what western medicine is all about. I may have said this before, but I don’t think I have anything to lose by trying out and learning all I can about eastern medicine. So far western medicine hasn’t done much. I get pills that dull the pain at times, and that is about it. I guess we’ll see what the east has to offer!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 217 & 218

Saturday: We didn’t have a lot planned for this weekend. The kiddos are here and we all went up to my in-laws to watch the Seahawks beat the Saints in the playoffs. We had a bunch to eat and hung out to visit for a while. We then came home with one of my wife’s friends and her son to have a family game night. We played a board game and had a lot of fun. It was nice to “unplug” for a bit and just have some old fashioned fun with family and friends

Sunday: Everyone slept in. My wife and I cooked our traditional “Big Breakfast”, which we try and do at least once each time we have the kiddos over. We watched a “Walking Dead” before the kiddos had to leave. My wife and I then just hung out and took it easy. Before bed I did the Epsom salt foot soak, which always feels pretty good!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Half Day Sounds Good - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 216

Sent my squad leader a text “MOU Today”, then headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I started my morning routine as always checking both my army and navy emails, then surfing the web a bit. I’m going to try and remember to post my medboard status as far as AKO shows each Friday. I check it everyday hoping to see some changes, but I think a weekly update here will give you the idea.

214 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): 7/21/2014
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): 8/12/2014

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 136 days. The army average is now 143.74 days. Current days until I reach the army average is 7.74.

I was supposed to shadow a guy from another office today to see exactly what needs to be done while conducting server checks. He came back and told me the software he uses had it’s trial period expire, so he can’t use it anymore! Guess we’ll try again later. I continued to surf the web until lunch time. I ate lunch at my desk, then decided to leave for the day. I found out my kiddos will be coming over earlier and I need to pick them up from the ferry.

Once I picked up the kiddos, we headed to Costco for a quick bite to eat (for them) and then home. I did my schoolwork while they watched some TV shows. Once my wife got home we all headed out to the movies and saw “Lone Survivor”. I had just watched a great documentary about this guy. The story is about a navy seal team that goes on a recon mission in Afghanistan. They end up surrounded by Taliban and one by one the entire team dies, except for the “lone survivor”. It’s his story about the mission and how he made it out. There are some pretty intense fight scenes and some of them are pretty hard to watch…but the movie as a whole is pretty awesome!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

More than Just Surfing - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 215

Sent my squad leader a text this morning “MOU Today”, then headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I started the day off as I always do, check my army and navy emails and then surf the web. I chatted with my co-worker for a while and he says he has a plan to actually have me start doing something soon. He’s setting up and configuring one of the few Linux servers that will end up on the network. He’s been spending each Friday at home doing Linux training because the training will not work on the government computers. He wants me to start learning Linux and then give me some hands on experience with the new server. We have a while before it will actually go online, so this will be some good practice time.

I was then given the access to perform “server checks”, but when I started to check it out, I found that I don’t have the necessary tools to complete a lot of the required actions. I guess it’s baby steps for this project…at least I have the access now. I ate lunch at my desk, then my co-worker showed me how he can boot the server from the Linux disk. He told me some stories about the time he worked at the VA. Booting from a Linux disk was very handy in recovering data from computers that were having issues.

I started a SkillPort on Linux, but the government computer was unable to run a lot of the training. The government computers are locked down so tight, they become somewhat unusable at times for certain tasks. I then surfed around the web for alternative training solutions, which should work fine…but will not show up in all my army transcripts like all the SkillPort training does.

I get a call from my NCM to confirm my next pain clinic appointments because she was out sick the other day when I tried to visit. I tell her than Monday is going to be hell because of the staff duty shift I have to pull on Sunday night/Monday morning. She says she’ll look into it.

I do some more surfing, reading the news and checking out various Linux training sites. I then get a call from my squad leader saying that my staff duty shift has been moved to Wednesday night/Thursday morning. This is good news because I will actually be at Ft. Lewis already for appointments on Wednesday, so I don’t have to make a special trip in for it. I also don’t have any appointments scheduled on Thursday, so I’ll be able to go home and crash. The only thing I’ll have to worry about is being a zombie for a day or two after the staff duty shift.

I got another call from my squad leader later on in the day asking if I wanted to take a PT test so I can go to the promotion board. I tell him I have no desire at all to go to the promotion board. In fact, I’m already checked out mentally from the army. I’m a civilian that dresses up in army clothes once in a while when I have appointments and such.

I left work at 1500 and headed home to do schoolwork. Later on at night before bed, while watching some TV shows with my wife, I had an Epsom salt bath for my feet. This was something my acupuncturist said she wanted me to start doing every night for 15 minutes to a half hour. I had a hard time trying to find Epsom salt at the navy commissary or exchange, so I just went off post to Walgreens and made the purchase. I took a 2/3 cup of Epsom salt and put it in a tub, then filled it with hot water. Epsom salt baths I’m told are an easy way to let the magnesium and sulfate from the salt absorb into your skin. I guess it will reduce inflammation, help muscle and nerve function, and even help ease migraine headaches…along with a host of other benefits. I figured I’ll give it a try…I got nothing to lose and it sounds like it may be good for a whole range of health benefits. I soaked for a good half hour and did notice my feet felt pretty good afterwards, they felt rejuvenated!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Acupuncture…almost - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 214

This morning we had morning formation as usual in winter PTs. After accountability, I did warm-ups with the group and then just headed to my car when everyone was released to do the walk. It’s really too cold to be out in this crap even with the winter PT uniform. I am so done with stupid stuff. When I got in my car, I grabbed my blanket and took a nap. When I woke up, I listened to the radio and ate my breakfast.

At 1000 I had an appointment at the pain clinic with the acupuncturist. I thought I would just lay down and get a bunch of needles stuck in me…this is my first time ever seeing an acupuncturist. Instead the entire 90 minute appointment consisted of an in depth question and answer session. The acupuncturist wanted to get a full history of my issues and my pain. I guess she’ll use this info when she does actually start to poke me. We then talked a lot about eastern medicine (traditional Chinese medicine) and the beliefs that come with it. I’m actually pretty optimistic…nothing else has seemed to work very well so far. The pain meds I’m taking work well with the moderate headaches, but when the pain goes to the extreme nothing seems to work. I also still use the home traction device about 3 times a week and I’m sure that has helped a bit.

She gave me some homework to do before my next appointment. I have to write down everything I eat for three days and also the hours I sleep. I also have to take a photo of the vitamins I’m taking so she can take a look. At the appointment desk I scheduled the next appointment for next Monday.

Once that was done, I was finished here for the day so I headed home. I watched a college basketball game via the watchESPN app on my AppleTV. I ate lunch and then did schoolwork. I received a surprise call from my PEBLO. My PEBLO is basically my point person for all things in the medboard process. I thought for a split second that my VA Ratings have finally come in, but that was not the case. She was just calling to check in and let me know that she hasn’t heard anything. After I submitted all my paperwork she said it would be about 4 months. 4 months came and went without a word. Now she tells me that it’s probably going to be about 4 months before I hear anything. I’m starting to think that she just says everything is going to be about 4 months. I guess we’ll wait and see…that’s about all I can do.

Later on in the day I received a text from on of the squad leaders in my platoon that said I had staff duty with him this Sunday night starting at 2000 until 0800 Monday morning. I didn’t reply…I’m just very pissed off right now. I have appointments on Monday that I just scheduled and now that means I’m going to be up all night pulling some stupid staff duty shift and then staying up for the appointments on Monday. Monday is going to suck balls!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pain Clinic - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 213

The True Freedom church right next door to Excitement adult video. 
Not sure if the church wants members to have true freedom and 
partake in the adult video, or if they are there to save Excitement's customers??

This morning I headed to the morning formation held at Keeler gym on Ft. Lewis in my ACUs, I had a 0800 appointment with my NCM. We had our formation, then they told everyone to head inside the gym. Once inside in one big formation, they had all people with appointments fall out to the rear. I fell out and waited for the first sergeant who came and asked each one of us when our appointment was. Once I said 0800 and she moved on, I headed out.

I drove to the WTB parking lot, ate my breakfast, then grabbed my blanket and took a nap. I headed up for my NCM appointment, but when I arrived at her office door it was shut. I went back out to the waiting room and called her number. Nobody answered, so I left a message saying I was there and would hang out for another 15 minutes or so. Once 15 minutes were up, I went to the SFAC and checked my army email.

At 0900 I had an appointment at the pain clinic. This appointment was with one of the doctors. I gave him an overview of my symptoms and a little history. He then explained a little more of what they do here. A lot of it is based on eastern medicine and ideologies. He has a very optimistic outlook and thinks they will be able to help me out a lot. This made me a little optimistic as well, I’m so tired of being in pain almost every single day…it can really make life suck! He said there was an opening with an acupuncturist tomorrow and had me make an appointment for that and also put me on the list for their program, which will eventually develop a personalized plan for me involving all the other areas such as chiropractic and massage therapy. I’m actually a little surprised the army is offering these alternative solutions, but I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to give them a try.

I then headed to my next appointment which was an ACAP follow-up. I found out they keep changing the requirements, so now I have a little homework that I need to do before I see him again in three months. It’s not a lot really, but I have to fill out a number of sections in their workbook and also show proof of a job that I’ve applied for and also have to show that I have three references.

I then headed to the WTB bathroom and changed into my civilian clothes. I drove to my best friends new restaurant that he’s running to check it out. We had lunch together and we hung out for a while. After that I drove up to Sultan and hung out with my kiddos after they got out of school until my daughter’s basketball game. It was a lot of fun to watch her play and win, but I didn’t get home until after 2200…then I had to do my schoolwork.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Surfin Safari - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 212

Sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then headed into the naval base in Bremerton. I did the usual morning routine…drink my coffee, check my army and navy emails, and surf the web. Today was actually pretty boring! There wasn’t a lot of interaction with anyone, I just sat there surfing the web the entire day! I had lunch at my desk and continued to surf the web. There is only so much we surfing you can do before it gets boring.

I ended up passing the time alternating between surfing the web and playing games on my iPhone. I also found a couple other people’s blogs they made during their medboard experience and read them to pass the time and to see if they were going through a similar experience as I am. You can check them out here:

My MedBoard Experience & Afterwards
First Hand MEB Experience

I feel like my life is on pause. I feel like my life is in limbo…my professional life that is. I can’t even really search for another job because I have no idea when I’ll be getting out. Sometimes I can get pretty frustrated, I just want to get on with my life. I just want to actually start doing some real work for a company. I want to feel like I’m doing something useful.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 210 & 211

This weekend my wife and I started out on Saturday morning getting the oil changed in our car. It’s a little thing, but we love the free oil changes for life that we get by purchasing our car from Peninsula Subaru. When we finished up there, we drove to Silverdale where my wife used a Christmas gift card and we also did some random shopping at various stores and then the mall. We finished up by heading to the naval submarine base outside of Silverdale to get some groceries at their commissary. When we got home and settled in, we watched a Netflix movie “Catfish”. We had come across the television show while hanging out at my in-laws and had to check out the movie. It’s a documentary about a guy who meets and falls for a girl over the internet, only to find out that she is not who she portrays to be online.

On Sunday we went to the in-laws to watch some football even though it’s a bye week for the Seahawks. We watched the San Francisco vs Green Bay game and we all rooted for Green Bay…just because I wanted to see the 49ers lose in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately they won…so they will be moving on. No worries…we’ll be back next weekend to cheer for our team when the play the New Orleans Saints.

As we wound down the night at home, we watched another Netflix DVD called “Pain & Gain”. Based on a true story, it’s about some weight lifters that kidnap a rich guy and basically steal everything he has. One of the guys moves into his house and just starts living the good life. They end up murdering a second couple they targeted and eventually get caught. It has some funny parts, but is definitely only worth a Netflix watch. Speaking of Netflix, we are sure glad to be back in the states. While in Germany, it would take about a month or so after we returned a DVD to get our next one via the APO mail system. Now it’s just a couple days, but our queue has quite a large backlog built up…we have a lot of movies to watch! I’ll probably add streaming to my account as well, but don’t want to incur any more monthly expenses until I get a real job once I’m out of the army.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

It Feels Like a Half Day - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 209

It’s Friday! I sent my squad leader a text “MOU Today” and then headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I checked my army and navy email and then continued to surf the web. I first checked my MEB/PEB status via AKO and it states the following:

213 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): 7/15/2014
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): 8/04/2014

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 129 days. The army average is now 144.15 days. Current days until I reach the army average is 15.15.

It’s interesting how the days remaining sometimes stays the same and sometimes fluctuates. My finish date constantly moves to a later date, but one thing keeps getting closer…the time until I reach the army average for the VA ratings process. It’s no guarantee that I’ll get mine on that day, but it gives me a date to look forward to I guess.

I kept surfing the web until lunchtime and then just decided to go home. It’s Friday and there is really nothing going on…there is no reason for me to stay and I think I’ve read all the news I can take for today. Once home there was no college basketball on, so I changed gears and checked out HBO Go on my AppleTV. I’ve watched quite a few documentaries using this “app”. Today I watched a pretty interesting one on a photo journalist named Tim Hetherington called “Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington”. This is the same photo journalist that worked on the movie Restrepo. He ended up living a very interesting life, but died during the war in Libya.

I then decided to get busy on my schoolwork, I’ve started a new class and this one seems to have twice the work than my previous class, so I’ll be pretty busy for the next 8 weeks!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Interdisciplinary Pain Management - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 208

I headed into Ft. Lewis this morning and when I went to the morning formation nobody was there. I’m guessing they either moved it or more likely changed the time. I really don’t care, I just headed back to my car and ate breakfast, then pulled out my blanket and took a nap.

I headed into the SFAC at 0730 when it opened and checked my army email. I received an email from a special forces recruiter…lol yeah right. I then headed up to see my NCM to setup next week’s appointment and also to find out where the pain clinic is located. My NCM called and told me about the appointment, but this will be my first time there. Fortunately it’s easy to find, pretty close to my PCM.

I then passed a little time in my car listening to the radio before heading up to the pain clinic appointment. This first appointment was a group orientation appointment. Their office is officially called Interdisciplinary Pain Management, but for ease of use I’ll keep referring to it as the pain clinic. The orientation included a short video, a PowerPoint presentation, and finally paperwork to fill out. The goal of the pain clinic is to try various ways to reduce pain including what I’m interested in which is massage therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. Even the mention of Chinese medicine peaked my curiosity. I just hope that something can make me feel somewhat normal again. Chronic pain every single day really sucks!

After the appointment was over, I took off and headed home for the day. I ate lunch, watched some college basketball and then did my schoolwork. Another day down!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Break - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 206 & 207

Wow…another year has come and gone! On New Year’s Eve I took my wife to work and then dropped my son off at the ferry so he could go back to his mom’s house. I then went back home and finished up my schoolwork for my current class “Business Ethics”. With this class finished, I’ll be wasting no time and starting my next class tomorrow on new year’s day. Right now I have three classes to go before I finish my degree, it’s been a long time coming. Everyone has been making New Year’s Resolutions lately, so I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2014. My first goal is of course finishing those three classes and finally getting my bachelors degree. I would suggest to everyone, don’t wait as long as I did to get your degree! This 4-year degree has been a work in progress for a very long time. My next goal is to find a job once I get out of the army. I’ll take any decent job offer I can get because the economy still isn’t the healthiest, but I’ll be trying to get something local and in my field. We’ll see how that goes, I’m not against commuting for the right job…but I’d much rather work close to home and family. Finally like so many others around this time of year, I’d like to get in better shape. I’ve let myself slide a bit and with the holidays it seems like we were always too busy to hit the gym. Now with the holidays over I’m hoping to get back into shape. The only thing stopping me will be my chronic pain issues. It’s extremely difficult to go workout while in pain.

While at home I watched some college basketball on my AppleTV via WatchESPN. I then went in and visited my wife at her work. Because of the holiday, she had to work late…so I hung out with her until she got off at around 2200. We headed home, watched the season finale of Son’s of Anarchy, gave each other a new year’s kiss, and listened to the folks in our neighborhood light off fireworks.

On New Year’s Day we both slept in and then eventually headed up to my in-laws to celebrate our niece’s birthday. Always nice to hang out with the in-laws and extended family…and I can never complain about their cooking!