Allergies and the East Coast

I have terrible allergies. I mean really bad. I grew up in Colorado, near Boulder, so allergies there weren’t too terrible. The air is really dry and arid so allergy sufferers normally don’t have such a bad time of it. When we moved to the east coast for the military, I really didn’t think much of it. That was until one April morning, 3 years ago, when I woke up with a balloon instead of a head.

I remember looking outside and seeing the world blanketed in a soft, yellow pollen. I had NEVER seen anything like it. Our black car was yellow. Our green house was yellow. The dog was yellow. Another fun fact about me…I can’t take allergy medicine. I mean I can, it works, but it makes me so sleepy that I can’t be trusted to take care of my kids if I take it.  This being said, I washed my face and made sure to clear the pollen from my nostrils and eye sockets (how did it get into the house??) and started my day.

I think my youngest was maybe 3 or 4 months old so I wasn’t getting much sleep or rest time as it was. My husband was working the night shift at the naval hospital, so I was on my own. Even though there was pollen all over the place, it was still a really nice day outside. North Carolina in the springtime is beautiful. It’s not so painfully hot yet. Now remember I had no experience with pollen or anything like that so I happily got my kiddos dressed and took them out to the park.

Big mistake. I stepped out of my front door and started sneezing. My stroller made tracks through the pollen on the sidewalk. My eyes were watering, my throat was itching, my nose seemed to be running and stuffed up at the same time. I did manage to make it to the park, let my oldest play for about 7 seconds and then had to call the outing to a close.

I hacked my way back home, stripped off my clothes and stumbled snottily into the shower. The water ended up running yellow, that is how bad this pollen was. I called the doctor who gave me a prescription for an allergy medicine (which is now available OTC I think). This too made me fall asleep.

Now that we are in Virginia, the allergies aren’t any better. We had a pollen snowfall a few days ago so everything is again coated in that nasty stuff. I still can’t take allergy medicine unless I am planning on going to bed the second the pill hits my stomach. My husband and children are completely immune. They could go and make pollen angels outside and be fit as a fiddle. I would probably die from asphyxiation. Next duty station: somewhere with a low pollen count.

Spring Break

My youngest, sleeping off his Benadryl high. Poor little panda bear.

Hurrah, it is spring time! April is beautiful in the southeast. The weather is in the 70’s and 80’s most of the time and the trees and flowers are blooming. My allergies are out of control and my nose is running like the leaky faucet in my kitchen. A lovely mental picture, to be sure. Despite all of this, I planned to go outside to do some yard work yesterday. Let’s get this straight, by yard work, I do not mean planting a lovely row of gardenias in my back yard. I mean that I will be raking/scooping up the tons of dog shit that accumulates over the last week.

Cleaning up doggie waste is generally my husband’s job. I handle the kids, the house, my schoolwork, the bills, and any other random chore that comes my way. The dogs and the backyard are his deal. He wanted the hounds, he takes care of them. Easy way to look at it. Naturally, he went to the field this week. Also naturally, he left on Monday morning without taking care of the backyard. Since the weather is so nice, I planned to spend the week outside, tiring my children out. The oldest is on Spring Break this week. We have a gigantic trampoline in our backyard and the community park is outside our gate. But in order to get to the trampoline, or the back gate, I had to carve a path through the dog poop.

I put the boys on the trampoline while I toiled in the yard. They were bouncing and having a generally good time. I looked up from raking, the smell of dog excrement in my nose, just in time to see a gigantic hornet land on my youngest, Joey. This little boy is fearless, really. He will do anything at any time…Totally all boy. As I see this hornet land on my child, I yelled at him to stay still, don’t bounce! You see, I am allergic to bee stings and the allergy is genetic. Of course, Joey, being a 2 year old, did exactly what I told him not to do. He flung up his arms and did a belly flop onto the trampoline. Naturally, he was stung by the hornet.

I went into panic mode. I had visions of anaphylactic shock running through my head. My husband was gone (and the Epi Pens with him), my five year old Scott was screaming that his little brother was dying, and I had dog shit on my shoe. Joey had been stung on the neck, near his ear. He was already starting to puff up. I was watching my child turn into a balloon. Luckily, the kids were dressed, had eaten lunch and the car had gas in it. I hauled both of their asses into the car, threw a movie into the DVD player (best invention ever:  a DVD player in the car), and tried to buckle Joey into his car seat. He wouldn’t fit! He looked like a red-headed, red-faced panda bear. The buckles wouldn’t close over his tummy. He had fluffed up to unimaginable proportions.

The whole drive to Portsmouth Naval, I had my eye on him in the review mirror. Thankfully, I didn’t hit tunnel traffic. The emergency room nurse took one look at my panda child and stabbed him with an Epi Pen and IV’ed him up to some Benadryl. The swelling started to go down. There was no damage to his airways or anything like that. This is lucky since that is what happens to me when I am stung. A few hours later, I took home my slightly less fluffy panda bear boy and an extremely bored and cranky five year old. Joey was drunk on antihistamines, weaving in and out of the rooms in the house, giggling. I was exhausted.

In my panic to get to the hospital, I left my phone at home and didn’t get a chance to snap a picture of Joey in the throes of a hornet sting attack, but I did get one of him passed out in a Benadryl stupor on my chest (posted!). I texted my husband and told him politely, but firmly, that I was never taking care of the “yard work” again. It was obviously detrimental to mine and my children’s health.

Pre Deployment Leave!

I have mentioned before that my husband is deploying soon to a particularly scary area of the world. For an “undetermined amount of time.” This really gets to me. Normally, these sorts of deployments are the usual 6-7 months. They don’t often get extended. But with all of the crap going on in the Middle East, and due to the fact that my husband is part of a gung ho marine platoon, they have done away with nice things like time constraints. How hard is it to at least give us wives an estimate? I am guessing 8 months, but I wouldn’t put any money on it.

So normally, before a deployment, the military person is granted “pre-deployment leave”. Usually it’s 2 weeks. A nice little break with your family before you leave for undetermined amounts of time. Well, since my husbands deployment was moved up by 2 weeks, they have cut the pre deployment leave to 7 days. Are you kidding me? First he is gone for however long they want, they moved the deployment up by 2 weeks, and now I only get 7 uninterrupted days with him. Not cool. Not cool at all.

So I decided to grab the bull by the horns and TELL my husband that him and I would be having some grownup alone time before he leaves. We never had a honeymoon (see my strange wedding story blog) and I can’t get over this fatalistic attitude about this deployment. I would rather have spent an awesome few days with just him and me than have sat at home worrying about the upcoming separation. In my bull horn grabbing, I picked Las Vegas as our destination of choice. I had been before, but I was 15 so you can imagine how fun it was for me. My husband hasn’t travelled as much as I have yet, so he has never been.

Ahh Sin City. Now, I posted earlier about how I google everything…you bet that my browser history is FULL of websites about Vegas. Where to stay, what to do (gamble!), where to eat, tips for first time visitors…you get the idea. I haven’t picked a hotel yet, I won’t until I make sure that we actually get paid this week (re: Government Shutdown post). But I am thinking about the MGM Grand, the NY NY, or the Monte Carlo. I can get flights and hotel for 3 nights for around $900. Any ideas, comments, or opinions would be much appreciated. We will be trying to fit the most fun and grownup excitement into 3 days. And preferably without any “Hangover” style mishaps. The tickets get purchased next week!

Government Shutdown.

Ok this really grinds my gears. I am NOT into politics, never have been and most likely never will be. Whoever is in the White House at a certain time usually has no bearing on my day-to-day. At most, we just get more or less of a raise at the beginning of the year. But for the past few months, the government has been threatening a shut down. Fantastic.

At first, I read over the article and shrugged my shoulders. Eh, what was the big deal? So we couldn’t visit national parks for a while (and I know this is not the only thing that would shut down…don’t flame me yet). But then I started researching more in-depth. Bring on the googling. I googled for hours. Looking at military websites, government websites, forums…you name it, I was there lurking. I unearthed some articles that irked me. People were saying that the government employees would NOT be getting paid. Well fine, I said. My husband is in the military and who would ever think about not paying their military members? Two hours later, I was steaming mad. There is a general consensus around the internet that if the government can’t pull their heads out of their asses, we will not be getting paid.

So I sweated through the middle and end of March and was pleased to see our LES up for the April 1st pay period. An LES is the military version of a paystub. Comes out a week before we get paid. It stands for Leave and Earnings Statement. Our money direct deposited on the 1st and I paid my bills, did my grocery shopping, put a little in savings. The usual. Then I get up this morning to drink my coffee and surf the net and I see a news story on how congress can’t figure out what they want to do and that my husband may not be getting paid as of April 8th.

They made a big deal of saying that active duty military members would be required to report for work and would see their pay retroactively when the government starts running again. That is all fine and dandy, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime? Yes, we have an emergency fund. No we don’t live paycheck to paycheck but this would be an extreme inconvenience. In the civilian world if you go to work you get paid. Nobody would say, “Hi, I am going to need you to work a 12 hour day in extreme conditions. By the way, you won’t be getting paid.” But this is exactly what my husband, and many other military members will have to be doing. What about the guys fighting for their lives and our freedom in Afghanistan? Do they not deserve their meager paycheck? What about those military families that are on welfare and food stamps? What about the $1000 in back pay that they still owe me for the screw up on our pay while my husband was in Cuba? Military pay has always been a hot issue, and now it’s about to get hotter.

I like to think that the American people wouldn’t call for this. That we support our troops and recognize that any work deserves a paycheck. But what I think doesn’t matter. It’s those childish men and women who are in charge that can’t get their shit together and keep our country running smoothly. One signature and the men and women who are protecting our country will not be getting compensated for their dedication and hard work. To me, that is pathetic.

Field Week.

I hate the field. With a passion. In Marine Corps lingo, “the field” is when a platoon goes and practices all of their defensive maneuvers, rolls around in the dirt with warpaint, and generally acts like big strong military men. Going to the field is usually extremely fun for the marine (or navy corpsman in my husband’s case). They get to do what they joined the military to do, without having to deploy. Unfortunately, deployment is exactly why they go to field training.

My husband and his platoon are deploying soon. Ugh. Can you tell that I am completely unenthused about it? This will be our first big deployment. Ever since he was stationed her in Norfolk with the FAST team, the field weeks have been out of control. The point of the FAST team is to secure things like foreign embassies and weapons and such overseas. They can deploy at a moments notice. This also means that their deployments are on a rotation. No matter what, I usually know the general time and to where my husband will be going.

What stinks the most is that he just came home from a deployment to Cuba (Guantanamo Bay) a few months ago. And now he is going back out again. I know a lot of people (mostly civilians) who would say, “Oh well, you know what you signed up for when you said I do.” This is true, yes I do know what I signed up for. But the reality is so much more terrible than the thought of surviving a few months without your husband. When my husband left for Cuba, it felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest…I wandered around for a week not knowing what to do. Suddenly I was in charge of two extremely confused and sad children. And I was all by myself.

I got through it (more on that later), and was so grateful when he came home. I wasn’t worried about the danger (there was slim to none doing training exercises in Cuba). But then he got home and I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy him being home since he was basically going to have to turn around and go out again. I have tried to live by the moment, enjoy the time I have with my husband, and the time that my children have with their dad, but it is so hard.

This upcoming deployment will be much more dangerous. If anyone reads the news they should have a fairly good idea of where he is going. While I am fairly candid in my blog, due to OPSEC (operational security) I cannot say exactly when, or to where he is going. Gotta protect our military! But I will say that this one has me worried, scared even. All I can do is trust that he will come home alright.

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