When I met my husband, Nick, in 2007, I couldn't believe that someone like him would ever want to be with someone like me. Almost one year, to the day,we were married. I had already known about his baggage and he knew of mine. Our lives seemed instantly perfect. He was everything I had ever dreamed of and more, until the deployment came.
Nick was deployed in January 2009 from Ft. Drum NY. We hadn’t even been married a year when it was time for him to ship off. I was still living in NV with my family when he left, but we lingered on the phone until the last possible second. In the days leading up to the deployment he made it clear that he was scared. Not of dying or being injured, but that I would leave him because it would be too hard for me. At the time I recall the words “your nuts don’t think that way” rolling off my tongue so easily. In retrospect, I should have actually taken the time out to validate his fear with a reality of my own. But how was I to know the reality of a war zone and what he would see could have such an impact on him?
In April he suffered a rollover accident causing a thoracic spine injury and his TBI (traumatic Brain Injury). In the months to follow he would strike 3 IED’s causing more severity to his back and head. He would call and complain about the pain he was in, but there was nothing I could do. No comfort I could offer. He would go to the medic for some kind of relief from the constant pain, but they offered nothing as well. The unit he was with made it clear that if “You can hold a gun, you can stay and fight!” But Nick could barely hold his gun, and barely hold all his gear. He was in a constant state of suffering, and they told him it was all normal and he would get over it.
In January 2010 my Superman came home! I can hardly explain the feeling I had when I saw him for the first time after the deployment was over. I was so happy to have my husband home; but little did I know I wasn't getting the same man back who left. I was getting a new person who resembled my husband. All the same I was thrilled to the point of tears, superman was home.
In March of 2010 Nick was admitted into the TBI clinic here at Ft. Drum. He began to accumulate a long list of appointments and prescriptions. A profile was made for him telling his commander that he no longer could perform his duties as a soldier. Slowly I watched my husband sink into depression. At Night he would shout in his sleep things I could not understand while he tossed and turned. Our sex life became nonexistent. He became an angry man when he would have to deal with the day to day task of being a father and husband. Who was this man in my house? Where did the man I married go? Nick was rapidly declining and we were all attached to him. This did not work for me.
In June 2010, I became a woman on a mission to get my husband back. I was no longer taking anymore crap from the army and their “quick fixes”. My husband had missed our children’s birthdays, fun with friends, even just being Nick was a hard task for him to accomplish. I was done and going to take the situation over myself. I wanted my husband back, and he was a fight worth having.
In August 2010 Nick overdosed due to his doctors not monitoring the prescriptions they had put him on. Nick left for work at normal time to formation. They were having a drug test that morning, according to everyone who was there Nick was in great spirits. After nicks “test” he went back to his office and just fell asleep. Around 1:00pm Nick called me telling me he had been asleep all day with no recollection of even waking up that morning. He had no clue how he got to work, and he was feeling dizzy, weak, and his heart was about to “burst from his chest”. Needless to say I flew to him and picked him up from work. First phone call was to his doctor to get Nick seen ASAP. Second phone call was his chain of command for not keeping an eye on him. For letting him sleep on the job and not giving a **** about him or what he did. It was after this incident Nick was transferred to the WTU.
Nick is now going through a medical retirement; the worst we feel is behind us. He was “diagnosed” with moderate PTSD, TBI, cluster migraines due to too many blasts, thoracic spine injury, 2 slipped disks, degenerative spine disease, and bad joints in his knees from jumping into trenches and such. Since being in WTU I am slowly seeing my “Superman” come back to life. I have come to realize that the Nick I knew pre-deployment will never fully return, and I’m starting to be ok with that. I am lucky enough to fall in love with the same man twice, and I know him better than anyone. I know he needs me to help him and navigate him through some of life’s difficulties. I can see PTSD rearing its ugly head when we go anywhere and I know when to remove him from the situation. When his TBI becomes an issue I always have a “safe spot” ready for him to hide away too. No symptom is too small and is always treated as first priority, and in return he is able to be an active participant in our family.
~ A. McCrillisNick is my Superman. In no way would I have the courage to fly overseas and be willing to sacrifice. Like Superman he went to defeat the bad guys, to save us from the evil of today. So now it’s my turn to rescue him. To be his knight in shining armor, to save him from the loud noises, bangs, crashes, screams, and everything else he fears. He is my Superman, and He will always be my hero.