Friday, February 28, 2014

A Sick Acupuncturist - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 266

My alarm went off at 0420, I got up and took a couple steps…then decided I was not going to go in today and got back in bed. My squad leader was not going to be in and I don’t think anyone else would miss me being there. I went back to sleep until about 0700 or so, that’s about when I needed to get up and get ready for my 0900 acupuncture appointment today.

On my drive to Ft. Lewis I received a call and found out that my acupuncturist had called in sick today and all her appointments were cancelled…I guess she doesn’t poke herself enough. This was going to be my last appointment anyway for acupuncture, but I wish I would’ve found out before I started heading in. I continued to drive in and parked in the WTB parking lot where I took a nap. Once I got back up and going, I went into the SFAC and checked my army email. I then stopped by my NCM and dropped off the VA paperwork she gave me yesterday along with my ratings information.

I headed to the pain clinic a bit early for my chiropractic appointment. My neck pain was starting to get worse, but the manipulation he gave me seemed to help out. After the chiropractor I drove back home and did schoolwork. Taking two classes at once is quite a change from what I’m used to, it requires a bit more planning. I then spent some time job searching. I’ve been averaging applying for about 1 or 2 jobs a day.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pee and the Suit - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 265

As I was sitting in my car in the WTB parking lot waiting for morning formation, my squad leader texted me with a heads up letting me know that I have been selected for a pee test. I do appreciate the advanced notice, because I can then bring my coffee with me to formation and then straight to the pee test. The morning formation was in ACUs for sergeant’s time training. As expected, my name was called along with about 9 or 10 others for the pee test. Those of us called had to head directly to the company headquarters, while everyone else had some sort of sergeant’s time training. This might be the first time I’m happy to actually take a pee test!

Once at company headquarters we gathered in the lobby and slowly one by one each person who felt the urge to pee went in for their test. I finished my coffee and refilled my tumbler with water from the water fountain. I drank…waited…and watched people head into the bathroom with the NCO escort to conduct their pee test and come out with a little bottle of pee. I continued this process until I had refilled my tumbler at least 3 times and there were only me and one girl left to test. I didn’t want to risk a false start like what happened last time. After a little over an hour and a half I had to call my NCM and left her a message letting her know I wasn’t going to make it to my 0800 appointment because of the pee test. Then it happened…I had no doubt that I had to really take a good piss. I slowly took off my ACU top and headed over to the table that had my little empty plastic bottle waiting for me. I verified my bottle was empty and initialed next to my name on the sticker. The NCO put the sticker on my bottle and handed it to me. I then went to the men’s room with an NCO behind me to witness. The NCO witnessing was much better than previous ones, he just stood about 5 feet behind me and let me do my business…much better than 6 inches from my penis trying to cheer me on like the last time. I easily filled up the bottle and had to take a while longer at the urinal just to finish peeing. Once finished I screwed the cap back on my little plastic bottle, washed up, and then took the little bottle back to the NCO waiting outside at the table. The NCO at the table then secures the lid with some tamper proof tape and has the witnessing NCO sign to say he watched me pee. That is the entire process for a pee test…now I can go on with my day.

Since I was already in the company headquarters lobby, I went back to see if my NCM could see me…but she was already gone. I left her a message. I then stopped by “the suit closet” and tried on a few tops and pants. The suit closet is for soldiers in the WTB and has a total mishmash of items that we can choose from to make a complete suit to keep and use for interviews in the civilian world. I was able to find a good coat, pants, and a tie. I also swung by the SFAC and checked my army email.

I had an acupuncture appointment at 1000. I started as usual walking back and forth on the hard plastic rocks for about 15 minutes. I then took off my top down to my t-shirt and my socks, then laid on my back. I got poked in the forehead, wrists, hands, below the knees, the ankles, and the feet. I must have been pretty tired because I totally fell asleep after she put on the music, turned off the lights and left me.

After the appointment I got a call from my NCM saying she wanted me to come by now if possible or tomorrow. I figured I would knock that out of the way and went to see her. The visit with my NCM was the typical questions and then she gave me some VA paperwork to fill out. I guess they’re going to try and setup my first VA appointment before I get out, which will make for a nice transition. I took the paperwork and left. I drove home, ate lunch, and then did schoolwork.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It’s The Final Classes - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 264

Sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today” and then headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I walked in the office and saw that someone had cleaned up my desk. Not that it was dirty or anything, but it had a pad of post-its, a few pens, and some notes. Now it had nothing except a pad of paper and a pen…even my name tag was taken down. I guess someone thought I wasn’t coming back…I’ve had a lot of appointments at Ft. Lewis lately and didn’t even make it here last week. Today is the only day I was going to make it this week. No problem, not like it’s a real job…or like I even did much of anything. It’s really just an excuse to not go to formation at Ft. Lewis.

I did the usual and checked my army and navy emails, then surfed the web. I decided to check and see what my medboard status is on AKO.

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

227 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): 10/11/2014

My current step in the process is PEBLO Counsel & Soldier Election (I’ve actually done this, but it’s not showing up yet). My actual time waiting for this step shows 12 days. The army average is now 8.93 days. Current days I am over the army average is 3.07.

I can’t put much stock into any of these numbers, I guess it’s just entertainment for me. I continued to surf the web and read the news. I then causally scanned for some jobs. There are two new guys in the office that just got hired, so I chatted with one of them for a while. He was previously in the army and then did some civilian contract work over in Afghanistan. I ended up taking off after lunch…as I think I’ll be doing from now on when I go to the navy. Because I’m now closer to getting out, I need the extra time to finish up my schoolwork. I am taking my last two classes at once so I can try and finish my degree before I get out of the army. I went home and started my schoolwork. My final two classes...Finance and Web Design. These are going to keep my busy!

When my wife came home we went to the YMCA and I had a decent cardio workout. We then went and had dinner with my sister and her family as we do every Wednesday night.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Getting My Time Back - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 263

My alarm went off this morning and I almost got up and ready for formation…almost. Instead I reconsidered and went back to sleep. I will always find a way to get back my time that the army stole from me, and the army stole over 4 hours of my time with that stupid staff duty shift yesterday. My squad leader is going to have today off because he did the entire 24 hour shift, he’s the only one that would probably even notice that I’m not there.

I got up and got ready in time to make my 1000 TCM sleep & headache class in the pain clinic at Ft. Lewis. Today’s class covered diet according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). The instructor went over the differences between the average American diet and the TCM diet. The TCM diet recommends having a lot of colors on your plate during each meal (i.e. banana would be yellow, fish would be white, carrots would be orange etc). The suggestion is having at least 5 colors. There was also more in depth discussions about how various foods affect the body and which ones should be avoided. I’m not going to get into too much detail, but if you’re interested you can do a Google search of “TCM Diet”.

After the class I was able to get in and see the chiropractor early. It was now a bit after 1100 and my appointment wasn’t officially until 1345 and that was my last appointment of the day. So I was able to get adjusted and get out of there. I drove home and ate my lunch while driving. Once home I took the final exam for my Business Strategy class. Nice to get that class done and out of the way.

I then spent some time searching for a job. I applied for a few and also updated my resume a bit. When my wife came home, we went to my in-laws for dinner. After dinner we came home and watched a Netflix movie “In Bruges”. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was set in Bruges, Belgium and the scenery reminded me a lot of our time in Europe. It also featured a midget…which always makes me smile....a little :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Staff Duty…The Short Shift - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 262

This morning I didn’t have to go to the morning formation because I had staff duty at 0800. I slept in and eventually made my way into Ft. Lewis. I arrived at the staff duty desk about 0750. I pulled out my laptop and surfed the web for a while just browsing the news, then doing a little job search. There is some remodeling going on in the building and now the TV that was mounted on the wall is now on the staff duty desk, right next to where I was sitting. I spent a while just watching the morning news shows.

I ate my lunch at the staff duty desk, then I had to leave to my cognitive health class at 1300. Surprisingly my squad leader said I didn’t have to come back after the class…that was a nice surprise! Staff duty is such a waste of time and one of the many things I will not miss about the army. Thankfully today’s shift was only 4.5 hours instead of a 24 hour shift.

The cognitive health class was a lot more of the same as it has been the last couple of times. This was the last of the 3 classes and went a little over the hour time limit. The class focused a lot on mind over matter. We even did a little self hypnosis session near the end. After the class I drove home did schoolwork. When my wife came home we headed to the YMCA where I did a cardio workout on the elliptical.

Finally the end of the night had me as a guest on the “Tales From The Spacepod” podcast that I’ve mentioned in these journals from time to time. The were talking about underground bases and I spoke a little about my time in Korea working at CP Tango, the command center that is under a mountain!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 260 & 261

This weekend was pretty laid back as most have been lately. My girls came over, but my son has the flu so I didn’t see him. We took the girls to lunch on Saturday and then watched “The Lego Movie”. My wife had been wanting to see that for quite a while now. It was entertaining and funny. We then all headed to my sister’s house to have dinner. An uncle we haven’t been in contact with for about 17 years was visiting…and cooking us all dinner (he’s an awesome cook). It was pretty cool catching up with him and hanging out. When we left, we brought 3 of my nieces over to stay the night and play with my girls.

On Sunday we had our usual big breakfast all together. When my girls left, I took my nieces back home then my wife and I headed to Costco before having dinner at my in-laws. Not really a whole lot to report other than it was nice to see and spend time with my family.

Friday, February 21, 2014

JAG - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 259

Headed to morning formation in ACUs because I had a 0700 appointment with my PCM. Once accountability was over I went back to my car and quickly ate breakfast. I then went to my 0700 appointment with my PCM. I let her know I was doing pretty good except for the 3 day spell earlier this week. I had her put in prescriptions as usual for my pain medication, then left. I had a 0800 acupuncture appointment at the pain clinic. This went as usual, first walking on the hard plastic rocks in my socks and then laying on my back and getting poked in my forehead, wrists, hands, shins, ankles and feet. One the needles were all in, the relaxing music was on and the lights off, I pretty much just relaxed and slept for most of the time.

After my appointment, I headed to my chiropractic appointment which was pretty quick. The doc just had me lay down while he did his manipulation on my neck. After that was over, I headed to the hospital pharmacy and picked up all my refills and prescriptions. The pharmacy was of course busy, I had to wait for a while…luckily I had my iPhone to keep me entertained.

I had lunch in my car and then waited for my 1230 physical therapy appointment for my positive profile. This is something that just appeared out of the blue on my appointment sheet. My NCM said it was located on the 8th floor of the hospital, but that was all I knew. I wandered around for a bit until someone finally showed me where the office was located. Once there I spoke with the physical therapist for a while. We went over all of my issues, then she took measurements on my range of motion with my legs, arms and neck. She also did some resistance test and logged everything in her computer. I guess I’ll get an updated positive profile in a week or so. A positive profile basically states what I can do versus what I can’t do.

After this appointment I headed back to my car and took a nap. I then went to the JAG office. While in the waiting room I received a text from my squad leader stating that I had to do staff duty on Monday. I really hate this place and I hate staff duty. This just really pissed me off. I did find out later that I would only have to do it from 0800 to 1600, this is much better…but I was still pretty pissed. I hate the short notice and I also hate that I was told that everyone only has staff duty about once every three months. I just had one about a month ago, so this really sucks!

At JAG I spoke with a lawyer that specializes in the medboard process. My PEBLO suggests that everyone have JAG look over the findings and make sure everything looks good. I was fine with my findings and the lawyer just wanted to make sure I was fine with getting out of the army…of course I am…I can’t wait…I’m done with all this stupid shit. After JAG gave their blessing I went straight to my PEBLO and signed all the paperwork. I was going to wait until Monday which was my final day, but after the staff duty text, all I wanted to do was get this process started and get the hell out of the army.

I headed home after signing everything. I was told the next step will have me put into transition processing. Once this is done I’ll get a call from my PEBLO and she will give me a date for my retirement brief that I’ll attend. At this brief I’ll find out all the steps that I’ll need to do before getting out. The max for getting into transition processing is 30 days, but my PEBLO said it can be as short as a week.

Tonight just my girls came over to stay the weekend, my son has the flu and is feeling pretty sick. We had a great homecooked meal and then watched a couple of movies that arrived via Netflix. The first was Charlie Bartlett, which was a comedy about a rich privileged student who gets kicked out of private school and must attend a public school. It was pretty good and kept my girls entertained. The second movie of our double feature was Untraceable, which was a thriller about an FBI agent who is trying to track and capture a villain who is killing people and broadcasting it live on the internet. This movie was also decent, it kept everyone entertained.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sergeant’s Time Training…No Thanks - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 258

Headed to morning formation at 0630 in winter PTs. They do all the general announcements as usual and since it’s Thursday, there is sergeant’s time training at 0900. Luckily I have an appointment at 1000, which I of course need to arrive 15 minutes early to…so I will not even be attending the stupid training. I really can’t wait to get out of the army and back into normal life as a civilian doing a civilian job. I did the warm ups with the group for PT, but once we started walking I just walked straight into the building. If anyone stopped me to ask, I was going to let them know I had to take a piss…which i did. I then just headed to my car, it’s cold out and I was in a bad mood already.

Once in my car I ate my breakfast, then pulled up my blanket and slept. At around 0900 I made my way to the SFAC and checked my army email. I then went to the pain clinic and had my acupuncture appointment at 1000. I started off as usual walking back and forth on the hard plastic rocks in my socks for about 10 minutes. I then laid down on my back and the acupuncturist put needles in my forehead, hands, wrists, close to my knees, ankles and feet. Once she turned on the relaxing music, turned off the lights, and left, I pretty much just slept the whole time. It’s always a very relaxing experience, even with all those needles in me!

After the appointment, I drove home and did my schoolwork. I then spent some time looking for jobs online. I’ve been applying to an average of about 1 a day and I’ve heard back from a couple so far. If I don’t find something soon, I’ll probably open my search to a wider area.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

100% Weigh In - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 257

I received a text from my squad leader last night for this morning “100% weigh in immediately after 0630 formation, uniform is PTs. 100% ID check conducted by the XO at formation as well”. I’m going to assume that this doesn’t apply to me and sent him a text “MOU Today”, then went back to sleep. The closer I am to getting out, the less I want to play any army games. I got up about 0930 and did my schoolwork, then took a shower and got ready for the day.

I’m still feeling pretty tender in my neck and head areas. I checked all the job boards looking to see what I can apply for. I’m really hoping to find something decent that is local. I really don’t even care if I do computer work anymore, I just want to work for a decent company.

I headed off to Ft. Lewis after I ate some lunch. I went into the SFAC and checked my army email, then went to the pain clinic for my chiropractic appointment. By this time I was in some pretty serious pain, I had taken my pain meds…but still waiting for them to kick in. The chiropractor lubed up his hands and gave my neck and shoulders a quick massage before doing the manipulation. He also worked on my back a bit, then tried to stretch out my neck and shoulders a bit more. By the time I left, I was still in pain…but feeling a little better. This was probably do to both the chiropractor and the pain meds starting to kick in.

I drove home and just relaxed on my couch until my wife got home. We went to the YMCA and we just walked on the indoor track for about 45 minutes. We wanted to do something even if in pain and this seemed the logical choice. I was glad we ended up going and felt like I got something accomplished. We then went to my sister’s house as we do every Wednesday and had dinner. It’s always good to see my family.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Bad Night’s Sleep - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 256

Last night I slept like total crap. I was in quite a bit of pain, but didn’t want to take a muscle relaxer because it was already too late. I didn’t want to be groggy and tired this morning because of it. I tried using ice, but nothing seemed to help. I didn’t sleep much at all, so when I had to get up I was extremely tired and in extreme pain. I took my pain meds and got ready. Morning formation was at Keeler Gym. Once accountability was over, the appointments went to the rear of the formation to have the first sergeant go over each one, everybody else headed into the gym and I just headed straight to my car. If anyone would have said anything I would have told them I was getting my pain medication, but nobody did. Once in my car I drove to the WTB parking lot, ate breakfast, and was able to sleep now that the pain meds were starting to take affect.

After a couple hours I got up and went to the SFAC and checked my army email. I then went to the pain clinic and attended my TMC Sleep and Headache class, ironically I needed help with both today. We went over the acupressure points in our feet and hands from our last class. We then went over the pressure points in our ears. After that the class was over, it only lasted about a half hour which was fine with me. I got a call from JAG stating they received all my medboard paperwork and wanted to schedule a review appointment. I headed to their office and filled out some paperwork and scheduled an appointment for this Friday. My PEBLO told me it’s always a good idea to have them look over everything before signing. I’m OK with my findings, but I’m curious to what they have to say.

On my way home it was just pouring down rain, which made traffic a bit slow. Sometimes I think people forget we are in Washington and how to drive in the rain. When I got home I did my schoolwork and then started searching the job boards. I’m going to really start searching for a job now that I know my time is limited in the army. I’ll take anything to bring in the money, but I really hope I can find a decent place to work.

I spent the rest of the night relaxing, using the heating pad on and off again trying to get myself feeling a little better at least. I’m glad I have my pain meds, but I hate taking them everyday just to feel somewhat normal and live without pain for a bit.

We watched another Netflix DVD that arrived called “Boarding Gate”. I can’t even remember adding some of these movies to my Netflix queue, and this one was no exception. The movie was pretty slow at first and just kept dragging on. Finally about 3/4 of the way through there was an action scene, but that was about it. I wouldn’t really recommend this flick to anyone.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up (President’s Day 3-Day) - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 253 - 255

Pac Man Royale...we played this quite a bit at GameWorks in Seattle

We decided to have our Valentines celebration on Saturday. A few of our friends were going out to Seattle and invited us to join them. I started the day off getting my schoolwork done so I wouldn’t have to worry about it later. We caught the ferry to Seattle around 1500. When we all arrived in Seattle we hit GameWorks first, which is sort of like an arcade for adults. We played some games and drank some beer. We all had a lot of fun playing “Pac Man Royale”, a twist on the classic Pac Man game, but with up to four players all competing against each other.

We then all had dinner at PF Changs, can’t help but think of my battle buddy from basic and AIT, PFC Metal and his wife when we eat there. The food was awesome and everyone enjoyed themselves. We then went to another bar called Olivers and met up with some former co-workers of ours from The Wenatchee World. We all had a few drinks and then hit our final destination…a strip club. I guess it’s a tradition of our friend to always go to the strip club with his girlfriend on Valentine’s day. Kind of odd, but I was down with it…I’ll never turn down naked chicks. I don’t know what I expected, but I guess anything after the clubs we visited in Amsterdam is going to be a bit lame. We caught the last ferry home at 0050, which is always filled with interesting & entertaining people!

We took it pretty easy on on Sunday. I checked my weight and saw that I only lost 1 pound this week…well I was hoping for a little more, but I guess anything in the negative direction is good news. We went to my in-laws and hung out for a while. We had lunch and did a little laundry while we where there. When we came back home we watched a Netflix movie. We’re now so far behind from being in the army, we kept adding movies to our queue, but in Germany it would take a good 4-6 weeks to get a movie after sending one back. Now we’re getting them a lot faster and trying to catch up a bit. Tonights movie was “The Air I Breathe”. This was a strange movie. Lately it seems I don’t even remember half the movies I stuck in our queue because it was done so long ago. This movie was packed with stars such as Brendan Fraser, Sara Michelle Gellar, Forest Whitaker, Andy Garcia, & Kevin Bacon. I can’t say this was a particularly great movie, but it was interesting. The movie takes the viewer through each of the characters lives and how they affect each other. Definitely a movie not worth seeing at the theatre, but good enough for the Netflix queue.  

On Monday my wife had to work, so I stayed home and took it easy. I did some schoolwork, cleaned up the house a bit, and started checking the web for a new job. I got a call from a technical recruiter, but they needed someone to start March 3rd, still a little too early for me. I should be around 90 days out at the most…I should know more in a week or two.

When my wife came home we headed to the YMCA and had a good cardio workout.

Friday, February 14, 2014

PEBLO - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 252

This morning I had all good intentions to text my squad leader, but totally forgot. I’ll just let him assume I’m working at the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I wasn’t planning on doing that or going in early to formation because there is a town hall meeting this morning that I have no desire to attend. I started my day doing schoolwork (my other MOU). Once I finished, I slowly got ready for the day. I did have to head into Ft. Lewis eventually for a 1300 appointment with my PEBLO.

At my PEBLO appointment she gave me my ratings paperwork and went over each part with me. I thought it all looked good, but she said I should at least take the weekend to look it over. She suggested everyone at least have JAG look everything over before signing it. I have 10 days to sign it all.

I then drove to the WTB parking lot and headed up early to my chiropractic appointment. After that I had my acupuncture appointment. It started off as usual with me taking off my boots and walking on the hard plastic rocks in my socks. After that my acupuncturist said I wasn’t going to get poked today. Instead she was just going to go over everything and assess my progress. So I sat there as she asked me a bunch of questions. We also went over the acupressure I learned in the class earlier this week.

When I left, I stopped by the flower shop on the way out of the hospital and picked up an arrangement for my wife…it is Valentine’s day after all. When a man keeps his wife happy, the marriage is happy! I then drove home and just took it easy for the rest of the day. I already had my schoolwork done, so I was able to just hang out with my wife and relax.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bored - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 251

I sent my squad leader a text “MOU Today” and then headed to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. Started the day off as usual checking both army and navy emails. I then surfed the web for a while. I’ve mentioned this before, but after a while surfing the web can just get boring. I was bored out of my mind today, wondering what am I doing here? I surfed every news site I could find, read boring articles just to pass the time. I just thought this internship working in the navy IT department would actually be something that would keep me busy. I tried to do the server checks, but there was something wrong with the database…so I couldn’t even do that to pass the time.

I ate lunch at my desk and continued to surf the web. The highlights of the day were filling up my bottle with water from the water cooler and then making multiple trips to the bathroom. I continued to surf the web to the point I just couldn’t do it anymore…I then turned to my iPhone to pass the time. A little Plants vs Zombies helped with this.

Out of the blue my co-worker asked if I wanted to see the process he does to scan for vulnerabilities. I said sure, and watched over his shoulder as he ran a scan, showed me the results and then remoted into various machines to fix the vulnerabilities. This is a never ending process for him, because it seems vulnerabilties are always coming up. Watching him do the whole process kind of tied things up for me, I’ve heard various discussions around the office and didn’t know exactly what they were talking about until I saw the process. It’s similar to what I used to do at a previous job…only I didn’t run the scans, just fixed the issues.

By the time he was finished showing me, it was time for me to leave…which I did. When I got home, I did schoolwork. A pretty boring day overall!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ratings! - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 250

This morning I had planned on texting my squad leader, but totally forgot. I was in a rush to get ready and leave to the naval base in Bremerton. I didn’t remember my squad leader until I was already at my desk and by then it’s a little too late…morning formation is already over. I did my usual morning routine and checked my army and navy emails. When I checked my medboard status on AKO it was still messed up showing 0 days remaining and the final date as unknown. It has been like this for about a week. I was going to wait until Friday to email my PEBLO, but decided to do it today instead. I sent her an email letting her know what I’m seeing when I log into AKO and asked her if she had any idea why it’s been like that for a week.

I then continued to surf the web for a while. I decided to check my army email and to my surprise my PEBLO had responded to my email. She said she is expecting my ratings today or tomorrow! I was a little in shock, it seems I’ve been waiting for so long…now it’s about to happen. I was a little nervous as well wondering what my ratings were going to be. Of course I wasn’t pinning all my hopes that I would see my ratings today or tomorrow, I’ll believe it when I see it.

I surfed the web more, browsing the news while periodically checking my army email to see if there was any response. I ate lunch at my desk and continued to surf the web. I then received a call from my PEBLO saying she had my ratings. She didn’t tell them to me over the phone, but said she would email them to me. At this point I’m still surfing the web, but checking my army email every minute or so!

Finally I received the email, my heart was pounding a bit as I opened each attachment to find out what my ratings were. I ended up getting 40% from the army and 50% from the VA. I’m still not sure what all that means, I am meeting with my PEBLO on Friday to get all the answers.

Here’s the breakdown of my ratings:

The army:

Tension Headaches: 30%
Degenerative Disc Disease of the Cervical Spine: 10%

The VA:

Tension Headaches: 30%
Cervical Spine Degenerative Disc Disease: 10%
Right Knee Strain (Osgood Schlatters Disease): 10%
Tinnitus: 10%
Hearing Loss: 0%
Left Shoulder Injury: 0%

The funny way they do math takes the total of 60% from the VA and rounds it to 50%.

Now I started surfing the web to make sense of all this. I found out a lot of stuff, but some was conflicting. What I gathered is that I’ll be medically retired from the army, but will receive pay from the VA (the higher of the two amounts). If what I gathered is correct, I’ll receive a blue (medically retired) military ID. This would be awesome because I would still be able to take advantage of the commissary on any base. That is going to save us some money. I’ll know more I think once I see my PEBLO.

It was hard to do much the rest of the day except think about my future. With my ratings now in, this should be the beginning of the end for my time here at the WTB and in the army. I’ve heard the max time I would have is 90 days, but it could be shorter depending on circumstances.

After work I headed to Costco to pick up another canvas photo we ordered. We decided to get canvas prints made of the various cities and landmarks we have visited around the world. It should be pretty cool once we get them all and put them up in our house. Once home I did my schoolwork, then my wife and I headed to the YMCA. I was in some pain, so instead of the elliptical we just walked around the indoor track at a pretty decent speed. It all worked out pretty well, I didn’t make anything worse, the pain meds started to kick in, and I think I got at least a little bit of a workout.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TCM Headache and Sleep - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 249

This morning morning formation was at Keeler Gym, I came in ACUs because I had an appointment at 0800 with my NCM. All those with appointments fell out to the rear and had the first sergeant ask each person when and where their appointment is. The guy next to me showed her his appointment slip and then complained “how come I’m the only guy who shows his appointment slip?”. The funny thing is everyone else just stated when and where their appointment was and the first sergeant moved on to the next. The guy before me said when and where it was and held up his appointment slip. The first sergeant took it and closely examined it before moving on to me. I just verbally told her I had my NCM appointment at 0800 and she moved on. I did have my appointment slip in my pocket, but I’m not going to pull it out for examination unless I’m asked.

After formation I headed to my car and drove to the WTB parking lot, then ate my breakfast, pulled up my blanket, and tried to relax. I had a real crappy night trying to sleep last night, so I thought I might fall right asleep, but for some reason it just wasn’t happening. Maybe it’s meant to be that I’m going to this group class for headaches and sleep. I headed to my NCM appointment at 0800. Her computer was down so she couldn’t input any information or print off a new appointment sheet for me. I just had one printed off though yesterday after all that mess at the appointment desk in the pain clinic. I’ve already input all my appointments into my calendar. I use my iPhone calendar for pretty much everything…it helps me keep everything straight.

After my NCM appointment I headed to the pharmacy and picked up my muscle relaxer refill, surprisingly it wasn’t too busy yet. I then headed up to the pain clinic for my Traditional Chinese Medicine Headache and Sleep group class at 1000. When we all walked in, we found a chair for each of us along with a tub, a towel, and a handout. We were told to fill up our tub with hot water and then come back. We all lined up at the sink and then filled up our tubs one at a time. Some were better than others walking it back without spilling. The instructor put some Epsom salt in each tub and had everyone take off their boots or shoes and start soaking their feet. The instructor is the other acupuncturist in the pain clinic. They rotate teaching this class each month. As we were soaking our feet the instructor went over our handout pointing out all the various places on our feet and hands that can be used for acupressure. Applying pressure or massaging certain spots on our hands and feet will help with headaches and sleep. We are supposed to try this at least 3 times before out next class in a week. I already do the foot soak in Epsom salt about 5 times a week on the advice of my acupuncturist, so I’ll just add in the pressure points. It would be nice if it helped with sleep and my pain. Time will tell I suppose.

I drove home and ate lunch, then did schoolwork. Now I have the rest of the day off to just kick back and relax!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cognitive Health - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 248

Just a quick photo I snapped of Mt. Rainier from the front of the hospital

I sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then went down and made my wife and I a smoothie for breakfast consisting of banana, strawberry, blueberry, a little apple juice and some ice. It was pretty good! I then hung out and read the news for a while. Even though I sent the text, I never planned to go to the navy today. My plan is to work on some schoolwork (which is also my MOU). I have appointments at Ft. Lewis later on this afternoon, so I figured I’d hang out and have a leisurely morning at home before getting ready and heading in. After my smoothie and some coffee, I continued to do my 2013 taxes. I had to pause after a while because some of the paperwork I need is in my wife’s car…and she left a while ago. I hunkered down and started my schoolwork, I’m currently in week 6 of this 8 week class.

After homework I got ready for the day…showered and shaved, then drove to Ft. Lewis. I think I like this schedule where I can get up and get ready slowly, get my homework done, and then head to Ft. Lewis in the afternoon. I don’t have to deal with any formation or pretty much anything army related except for my appointments. My first appointment today was at 1300 for my cognitive health class. This is the group class where the navy captain discusses a lot about how powerful the brain is. She went through a number of PowerPoint slides, then had us each talk about how we felt the last week while in pain. My story is the tale of two extremes, it seems when my pain is low I start to think everything’s going to be OK and perhaps I’m getting better and not going to have to deal with pain anymore. When my pain is bad I think my life sucks and this is how I’m going to feel the rest of my life…I will never be able to do simple things such as play with my kids. She then had us all try and relax with our eyes closed, then she guided us into some deep relaxing therapy. During the entire process trying to imagine or focus was hard for me, the entire time it seemed like the vent in the ceiling just kept getting louder and louder. The captain said that is actually a good thing…I guess when a person relaxes a lot their mind may focus and pick up on other things going on around them…OK.

After the cognitive health class, I had a chiropractor appointment. The appointment was quick and good. The chiropractor does the manipulation on my neck and spine, then also pulls my head and does some stretches, pulling my head and pushing my shoulder. I felt better after the appointment and went to schedule my future appointments for both acupuncture and chiropractic. What should have been a 5 to 10 minute process turned into an hour and a half process. Evidently someone at some point in the last couple weeks was scheduling my appointments under a different person in the army that has my same name. They should be checking the last four of the social security number or the DoD number, but didn’t. I just happened to notice none of my previously scheduled appointments were not on the slip I was given. When the appointment desk checked it out they found out their mistake…so I had to stand there waiting for them to get everything corrected. It doesn’t help when the guy behind the desk hates his job and was constantly letting everyone know. Once he finally did finish, I headed home for the day and hung out with my wife.

We did make it to the YMCA and I had a good cardio workout on the elliptical. I spoke earlier to my chiropractor about working out and how if I try and push myself, I always end up in a lot of pain. He said to try and push really hard for only 30 seconds, then go at a slower pace for 5 minutes. I used his method for the entire 45 minute workout and surprisingly I still felt like I had a great workout and more importantly I wasn’t in any severe pain. I’ll stick with this and see if it continues to work out for me from now on.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 246 & 247

Didn’t do a whole lot this weekend, except hang out with my son. My son and I went to watch my little niece play soccer and while there SPC Mac gave me a call. He is still pretty stoked about his percentages he received. I was able to talk to him a little more about them. He said his ankle issues (which was the reason for his medboard) only gave him 20%. He received a lot more for other issues they found…the biggest was for behavior health, he had a lot of anxiety while in the army. In fact we both felt pretty much the same way, only he went to get it treated while in, so there is a long record of him getting help for it. Now I’m thinking I should have done the same. Having anxiety medication and treatment probably would have helped me get through my army time while in Germany…and it would also be nice to claim for a percentage when getting out. Oh well.

My son and I watched UFC 169 and played it pretty low key for the entire weekend. It was awesome just hanging out with him and my wife…I just soak it all up as much as I can because I missed so much while being in the army. It was strange not having any football on Sunday! I did weigh myself on Sunday, now I’ve been eating a little healthier and staying away from sweets. I weighed in at 213.8 down from 222 last Sunday. I think if I continue to workout and stay away from the sweets that I should be just fine if I end up getting weighed in on the 19th. I have to be 205 by then. I’ll also continue to make some green smoothies as well to replace a meal or two and get my veggies in me. I started doing our 2013 taxes, but had to stop when my mortgage website was down for scheduled maintenance and I couldn’t retrieve an online statement.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mom’s Birthday - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 245

Sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then went back to sleep. You see there wasn’t going to be really anything for me to do with the navy today because my main co-worker stays and does online training at home on Fridays. I had better plans than working anyway today, it’s my mom’s birthday.

I got up around 0900 and started working on my schoolwork for the day. I then headed out and picked up my mom from her office and took her out to lunch for her birthday. I received a text a little after lunch from my squad leader saying I have a self assessment ready. No worries, I check my army email almost everyday and when they are ready I do them. This notice must have come either late yesterday or sometime today. I had planned on doing it on Monday when I head back to Ft. Lewis. About an hour later I get another text from my platoon sergeant stating the same thing. WTF? I have never been late with submitting the required self assessments, I’m not sure why they are up my butt about this. Luckily I have a CAC reader and I can boot my laptop into Windows when needed, so I was able to log in and do the stupid self assessment and get them off my back. While logged in, I checked AKO for my current MedBoard Status and it’s still a little messed up.

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

0 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): Unknown
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): Unknown

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 154 days. The army average is now 145.01 days. Current days I am over the army average is 7.99

Not sure what is up with the MEB dashboard in AKO, but it’s all off now…not sure if that is a good thing or not. The actual time waiting for ratings has changed, my days remaining at 0…what’s that about? Also the unknowns kind of make me uneasy. Usually when this is messed up, it clears up in a day or two, but it’s been saying this for the last few days. Maybe I’ll email my PEBLO next week if it’s not back to normal and see if anything’s up.

I headed over to Sultan and watched my daughter play her basketball game. I always have fun watching my kids play…win or lose. Tonight’s game was a tough loss after making a great comeback. The only bad thing about watching basketball is that it always really makes me want to go out and play too…and I can’t do that anymore unfortunately. After the game I brought my son back home with me to hang out for the weekend…the girls have a dance they wanted to stay for. I remember how it was when I was their age, so I let it slide.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

SPC Mac Gets His Ratings! - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 244

Sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then headed off to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I started the day off as usual checking my army and navy emails, then surfing the web. My MedBoard status on AKO is still jacked up…wonder if that means anything? After surfing the web for a little bit, I started the daily server checks…my new job duty here. I was only able to access about three of the servers, all the rest I didn’t have access to. I guess it’s a start though. I sent my co-worker an email showing all the servers I couldn’t access. Maybe they can fix the permissions before the next time I come to work here.

I logged into the GoArmyEd website and signed up for my last classes. After my FTR yesterday, they said once I get my ratings that the process may move pretty fast. I was under the impression that I would have 90 days, but they informed me that the 90 days is the absolute maximum. So now I’ll be doubling up and taking my last two classes at once. It will be a lot of work, but it will also be nice to finally just have it all done.

I surfed the web some more and chatted with co-workers for a while until lunch. I ate lunch at my desk and then took apart a server we had back in our office. It’s getting a hardware error when starting up, so I took out all the pieces I could and used an eraser to clean all the contacts. I put everything back together, but it’s still coming up with the error. I didn’t have much hope that it would be fixed, but I figured it would pass the time.

I then received a text from SPC Mac who was in my platoon in Germany. We both left within weeks of each other and we’re both going through the medboard process. He ended up at Ft. Gordon and had quite a few more claims than I did. He even started the whole claim process a couple weeks after I did, but he just received his ratings from the VA. He had some ankle issues and other various issues such as depression. He received 60% from the army and 80% from the VA. He’s so happy he could piss himself! He also had a great PEBLO who told him to make sure it’s the worst day of his life when he had his appointments with the VA. Now I’m a little scared, because when I went to the VA I was trying my hardest with all the tests. Not to say SPC Mac was lying, but he made sure they knew how much each issue hindered him. I have the habit of sometimes playing everything down a bit. I’m happy for him, he got screwed over quite a bit while in the army…almost to the point where he didn’t even want to go through the medboard process and just quit. Now he’s very happy he stuck with it and made it through the process. Unfortunately I hear the Seattle VA is one of the slowest in the country. I guess we’ll see how much longer it takes for me.

I continued to surf the web until it was time for me to head off for the day. I headed to Costco and picked up a canvas print we ordered. We decided to start ordering one canvas print of a selected photo from the various places we visited while in Europe. This first one was a pretty cool picture I took in downtown Amsterdam. After that I headed home and did schoolwork.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Focused Transition Review - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 243

A photo of the common area in the WTB Barracks. 
I'm sitting on the leather couch looking at the TV, 
but there are also PCs that can be used by the soldiers as well

This morning I headed to morning formation in ACUs because I had an NCM appointment at 0800. It was so freakin’ cold! Some folks had their polar fleece on that was issued to them, but all I could do was wear my army issued long johns underneath my ACUs. I had to turn in my polar fleece when I left Germany. That was probably my favorite part of the uniform! The appointment folks fell out and headed to the rear of the formation, then waited for the first sergeant to come and ask each one of us when and where our appointment was. Once I told her, I took off and went inside the barracks building. It was going to be too cold to hang out in my car even with my blanket. I went to the common area of the barracks and hung out on the leather couch and watched some TV. The couch was pretty comfortable, I think I may have dozed off a few times.

At 0800 I went to my NCM appointment. Everything was pretty much the same as before…same questions and same answers as every week. I did have her order me a new refill for my muscle relaxers, but had her schedule it for pickup next Monday when I’ll be back. After that I headed to the SFAC and checked my email. I also checked my MedBoard on AKO, but for some reason the numbers are all messed up still. I guess we’ll see if anything changes in the next couple of days. After surfing the web for a while, I headed out to my car and grabbed my paperwork for the FTR at 0930. I had to make up 6 copies of my transition plan for everyone that is going to be in this meeting. I was waiting in the lobby and my squad leader came out and said we could start early…fine with me.

I sat down at the company conference room table with my squad leader, my NCM, a social worker, the company commander, and the battalion commander. I then handed out my sheets and told them my plan for transitioning out of the army. I’m almost finished with school, I have plenty of work experience and I don’t anticipate any issues finding a job. They could tell I had a good plan and had everything together. They only had a couple of simple questions and then I was out of there. The meeting is scheduled for at least an hour, but I was done in less than 15 minutes! They are used to having kids with no life experience except the army in there. Kids that have no idea what it’s like to be in the civilian workforce. I’ve been there and done that for over 15 years in my field.

I went to the library and did schoolwork until lunchtime. I ate lunch in my car and then drove to the WTB parking lot. From there I headed to the pain clinic and had my chiropractic appointment and then my acupuncture appointment. This time had me on my stomach with needles in my wrists, down each side of my spine, my ankles and the top of my feet. It’s actually a pretty relaxing experience once all the needles are in, the music is playing and the lights are off. I was on the verge of falling asleep the entire time.

After acupuncture, I drove home where I met my wife and we headed off to the YMCA. I worked out on the elliptical and upped the speed a bit. I wanted to get a better workout and push myself a little. The problem, even with no impact on the elliptical is that when I push myself, I pay for it later on. Not with sore muscles, but my neck and my head just seem to get worse and worse as the night goes on. I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to work out and get back in shape. I want to lose some of this weight I’ve been packing on, but when I exert myself too much I’m in pain for the rest of the night. It really sucks. I took a muscle relaxer to make sure I at least slept well.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Actual Work - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 242

Sent a text to my squad leader this morning “MOU Today”, then headed off to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. I started the morning as usual and checked both my army and navy email accounts. I then surfed the web, first checking my MEB/PEB status on AKO and then just surfing and reading the news. All my MedBoard information was messed up on AKO. It was similar yesterday and has been messed up in the past, but usually it is all back to normal again the next day. Today it shows me as having 0 days remaining with unknown as a status for when I’ll get out for both no appeal and appeal dates. Makes me wonder if it’s just messed up, or if they are changing something with my records. I guess time will tell.

I continued to surf the web until lunchtime, when I ate lunch at my desk and continued to surf the web. There was a department meeting in the conference room along with all the other units around the area that video conferenced in. The director gave news that he was leaving, he was offered a promotion and will be taking the job in two weeks. He’ll now be the CIO of another part of the shipyard. We were told who will be acting in his place and what the rest of the year looks like budget wise.

After the meeting, I headed back to my desk and…yes I did some more web surfing. With about an hour left in my shift one of my co-workers called and walked me through the process of server checks. They have daily, weekly, and monthly checks that need to be done on each server. I was told about this before, and shown how to start these checks…but the training was never finished. Now I have the complete training and will start performing the daily checks each day I’m in the office. Not very exciting work, most of it is just reviewing the logs and transcribing any warnings or errors to a database…but at least I have a job to do now instead of just surfing the web all day.

When I left for the day, I headed to the dealership to swap out the loaner car I’m driving and pickup my car. Wow…it drives so much better now! When I arrived home I met up with my wife and we headed to my in-laws for dinner. We hung out there for a while before going home. Once home I had to do schoolwork, since I didn’t have any time during the day to do it. It made for a longer night, but I got it all done and turned in.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cognitive Health - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 241

The sign on the door where I get my acupuncture

This morning’s formation was pushed back until 0900 in ACUs. I knew I was going to be at the pain clinic with an acupuncture appointment, so I sent my squad leader a text letting him know. I was able to sleep in a bit and head in much later than usual, which was nice for a change. I had a 0800 acupuncture appointment and a 0945 chiropractor appointment in the pain clinic. While waiting for the acupuncture appointment, the chiropractor saw me and quickly took care of my appointment with him. He had me lay down and did the usual neck manipulation, which only takes a few minutes. I then headed into my acupuncture appointment. I walked on the plastic rocks with just my socks, then laid down on my back on the exam table. This time I got needles in my forehead, my forearms, my wrists, near my knees, my ankles, and the top of my feet. This was a bit more than I’ve had before, but I couldn’t even feel most of them. I laid there with the lights off, a heat lamp over my right knee, and relaxed for about 15 minutes.

After the appointments I headed back to my car and just listened to music. I brought my iPad to read and my laptop to use to pass the time until my last appointment for the day which is at 1300. This appointment was a cognitive health group appointment at the pain clinic. There were four of us in the group. A navy captain was the instructor. She went over a lot about how the mind can affect the body. She had us do a few mental imaging exercises and then discuss our reactions and feelings. As an example of how the mind can affect our body, she had us imagine holding a lemon in our hand. She described the lemon thoroughly and then had us picture the act of cutting the lemon in half. Once finished she had us picture taking a bite of the lemon. The point of the exercise was to show that just by thinking of the lemon and picture the biting of the lemon, it caused everyone’s mouth to salivate. There was no physical lemon and there was no aroma of a lemon, but picturing it in our mind can affect our body. She did a little more talking about the mind and body, then gave us some ways to try and focus away from the pain.

After the class, I drove to the Subaru dealership and dropped of my car for some maintenance. It needed an oil change and all the belts needed replacing. I’m way past due because of our time in Germany. The dealership may not be the cheapest way to do it, but the oil changes are free for life and they gave me a complementary loaner car to use while mine was in the shop.

I then went home and did some schoolwork. Once my wife came home we headed to the YMCA. Now that all the new year’s resolution folks have probably quit, we need to start getting back in there. I used the elliptical and got a decent cardio workout. My wife and I are also going to start eating better. Part of that is getting more vegetables in us. We have a Magic Bullet blender and found a green smoothie recipe online to try. It was fill of kale, celery, green pepper, green apple, broccoli, ginger, and some lemon. I was expecting it to taste pretty bad, but it really wasn’t. I can’t say that it tasted great or anything, but it was very manageable. Being the first time I have tried this, I need to let it blend quite a bit longer. It was a very thick smoothie that I kind of had to chew before swallowing. We’ll probably mix this recipe up a bit, but at least we’re getting some good nutrients in us.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 239 & 240

This weekend was of course Super Bowl weekend, and our Seattle Seahawks were in it once again! We started off the weekend on Saturday cleaning up the house a bit, doing a little homework, then going out to a basketball game. I had just heard that our town of Bremerton had a “semi” professional basketball team. So we checked out one of their games, which are played at the local community college. The “Kitsap Admirals” are in the ABA, which I had no idea was even around anymore. I did a little research while we were waiting for the game to start and found out that there are also some odd rules added to the game. For instance a shot behind half court is worth 4 points and any time the “3-D” light is flashing, any shot is worth an extra point. The “3-D” light went off anytime a team lost possession in the back court. The game was interesting to watch. There was a dance team for entertainment during the breaks as well. I had to check it out, but I can’t say if I’ll be heading to any more games. There were a couple dunks, but the skill level was more like an advanced men’s recreational league. There was also a lack of professionalism. The game itself was postponed about 45 minutes because the refs were late and the players were arguing calls constantly. The cost to get in was $10 each, which I thought was a bit expensive. The cost to watch the college games is only $5, and they are a lot more fast paced and just an all around better game to watch.

Sunday was the Super Bowl. We headed over to my in-laws pretty early and hung out there the entire day. There was a lot of food, family and friends there and the game was nothing short of amazing…if you’re a Seahawks fan. I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember. Growing up I watched the Seahawks play all the time on TV. I even saw a few games in the old Kingdome. It’s always been tough because we never had a team quite like this before. As a city, we also haven’t won a championship since the Sonics did it in the 70’s…and they were stolen from us. I rarely even watch the NBA now because of that. The Seahawks dominated the game and it was a constant celebration everywhere. The feeling is just amazing!

Speaking of Super Bowl and food, my wife and I both ate like total crap today. We both decided it was time to start eating better and getting back into shape. Our trips to the YMCA have slowed down to a trickle and we’ve been eating a lot of crap lately. I’ve also noticed a huge change in my body. I was probably in my peak shape while in Korea. I didn’t eat much and I lived practically next door to the gym. I spent a lot of time working out. I’ve since gained 27 pounds! My clothes don’t fit like they used to. I can say that when I’m in pain, I usually have no desire to work out. I also have a massive sweet tooth. I’m going to have to make it to the YMCA and do something, even if I’m in pain. I figure if I write it down here, I’ll have something to keep me accountable.