Perspective From the Flipside

When my husband deployed to Iraq, it seemed like most people thought my fears and worries would be focused on a worst case scenario that involved my husband not coming home. To me, it seemed like that fear was almost inherent to deployment to a war zone. And, because I treat worrying like a competitive sport, I couldn't just stop there.

Nope.

I concentrated on the smaller things. Things that wouldn't end his life, but would impact his civilian career. A wrenched back, a twisted knee or something else that would prevent him from putting on the Brown and doing it for you.

What would happen to us if that happened?

But, it didn't happen. And my husband returned home from Iraq in one glorious piece.

Fast forward three months to Father's Day–last Sunday. My husband spent the afternoon in the yard working while I attended our oldest daughter's dance recital with her younger sister. When we arrived home, my husband informed me that he had not been wearing his sunglasses or safety glasses while using the weed whacker and a stone had been thrown and had struck him in his right eye.

We went to the emergency room and followed up with an eye doctor. To make an incredibly long, horrendously frightening story short, my husband experienced a "rebleed" behind his eye and was diagnosed with an 8-ball hyphema. In layman's terms, the chambers in the back of his eye filled up and it was impossible to make out a pupil or iris. This was excruciatingly painful given that it sent the pressure inside his eye to astronomical levels and ended in emergency surgery on Thursday afternoon.

The prognosis? We haven't a clue. Until this current crisis is over and his eye heals enough to be examined with other equipment, we don't even know if his retina is intact. And, we also won't know (maybe for weeks) if he will have vision in his right eye. Kind of important for a guy in the ARNG and for someone who drives a delivery truck for a living.

What I'm amazed by now, though, is that I'm not sitting around thinking, "Wow! This was just what I'd worried about when he was deployed and now it's happened and we're potentially sunk."

Nope.

All I can think is, "This is definitely not cool. But, it isn't the end of the world. He's still here and that's what's important."

What a flipside of perspective I've gained from being a Guard Wife. Not sure I'd have this perspective if we were civilian all the way. Not sure I'd have the wherewithal to face something this potentially life altering if I had not stared down deployment more than once and surprised myself with surviving. And, I'm not even sure my husband would have the confidence in me that he has if he had not seen me in action while he was off fulfilling his military duties.

He told me today that he cannot imagine going through this with anyone else but me.

I pray that when we have confirmation of his long-term prognosis that we can look back on this as a time when we realized that even what you imagine as the worst can still be okay if you're with the right person.

Once again, I find myself more thankful than annoyed regarding the lessons I've learned as a Guard Wife.

About the Author

Guard Wife

Melinda, who writes as Guard Wife, hails from a rural farming community in a Midwestern state. She moved to the southwest part of her home state to attend college and remains there some twenty years later. Today, she's a licensed attorney who spends most of her professional time working within the academic support and bar exam passage programs at her alma mater. Her volunteer interests vary from pro bono legal work to Brownie troop leader to Soldiers' Angels. Melinda and her husband have three daughters, the youngest of whom the couple brought home from Ethiopia the same week Melinda's husband returned from a deployment to Iraq.

Melinda also writes about her experiences as the mom of an older internationally adopted child at www.5forHope.com and maintains her individual blog at www.mostcertainlynot.typepad.com.

  • Good perspective. I’ve often said that my previous National Guard deployment taught me that truly important things could be reduced to “Life, Limb, or Eyesight.” But then my 5-year-old had a scare with her vision in the months leading up to my second deployment. I surprised myself when I didn’t go into crisis mode, but instead just put it into the routine.
    Bottom line: “The worst can still be OK if you’re with the right people”? You’re right on target with that!
    Best regards, hopes and prayers to you and your family in this most recent challenge. And thanks for writing this.

  • Guard Wife

    Thanks for stopping by & commenting, Charlie. I hope everything worked out with your daughter’s vision. I know sometimes with the kids I’m pretty adept at gathering myself and charging forward as THE MOM (insert superhero cape here). I’m glad I can be stronger for my husband than I imagined I might be should something scary happen.

  • Dear SpouseBUZZ,
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  • I am so sorry for posting twice! I thought the first didn’t go through….please disregard the first. Thank you all so much!
    Best,
    Lindsey

  • Maharet

    I don’t want to come off as grumpy, but I don’t like to read spam in comments…may be well intentioned spam, but it can be emailed to the people running the site. They might actually post it.
    Sorry you’re going through all of this GW. It’s strange how you spend so much time worrying about him while deployed, wondering what you’ll do over the little things (which I don’t consider actually little. lol)and it’s one of those little things that comes a bites you while he’s at home.
    I just goes to show you. If something is meant to happen it doesn’t really matter where in the world you are, you just better be ready.
    Best of luck to you.

  • MLH

    Thank you.
    I really needed some positive perspective right now. And your husband’s comment about not going through this with anyone but you.. well it somehow made me feel closer to my husband, it gave me a warm feeling in my heart I haven’t felt since I saw him last.
    Your positive attitude is inspirational, I’ll be praying for a quick recovery for your husband!