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A Struggle of Being Married to Someone Who is a Disabled Veteran-Part Two

Updated on August 9, 2013

Fighting Graves Disease

The health plan we were on allowed you to switch Dr., but they required you to switch at the beginning of the month. I switched. My Dr. evidently was too busy to care about whether the welfare patients were healthy or not. I wanted a Dr. that cared about his patients. We found a holistic Dr. that would take the insurance and contacted him to see if he was taking patients. He was and we made an appointment. I went in to see him and was on two pills a day to lower my thyroid level. It was so high that they had to lower it gradually or risk throwing me into shock.

The Dr. walked into the room, looking at the chart and asked without looking up, what I was in for today. Then he looked up and said, "Oh, you have Graves Disease." That was the first time I had heard that term and asked him what that was. He told me that it was a disease that affected the thyroid first, causing it to go hyperactive. If the entire thyroid was involved, which mine obviously was, it was usually Graves Disease. I told him what the previous Dr. had done so far and he had my blood tested again. He did not think that the level was going down fast enough and doubled the dose. He also added a heart pill because he did not want me to have a heart attack at 40. He said my heart was racing and that could cause me to have a heart attack.

I knew when he walked into the room and identified my problem from across the room that I had found the right Dr. He also did the examination but it just confirmed what he had already known. He referred me to a specialist to be treated. But the whole time I was going to the specialist, he also had me coming back to him so he could keep an eye on my treatment.

I saw the specialist and she doubled the dose again. I was now taking 8 pills a day to lower the hormone level. It would get to 18 before they started being lowered gradually. She recommended that I take a radioactive Iodine pill to kill my thyroid. She said it would gradually, over the course of a year or two, kill the thyroid. This gradual lowering would keep my body from going into shock. I would continue to take the pills, lowering the number as the level dictated. I needed to have a blood test every month. I hate blood tests.

The appointment was made at radiology to take the pill. They have to handle it because it is radioactive. I went in and took the pill and they informed me that if I threw up within 24 hours, not to clean it up, call them and they would travel the 60 miles to come clean it up. I was to keep anyone away from it. Strange? Definitely! Comical? Absurdly!

We Got a House

Over the course of the next few months, life settled for me a little. I needed to go to an ophthalmologist monthly and have tests done to see if my eyes were being damaged. With Graves disease, fat builds up behind the eye, causing it to bulge out, causing the bug-eye look. It also causes damage to the eye which can be mitigated if they know it is happening. The range of my field of vision was shrinking but I had always had a wide range, so it wasn't worrisome. I developed dry eye, which makes them burn and itch abominably. They gave me saline drops to apply several times a day. The drops helped.

I had to have blood tests monthly to monitor the level of my thyroid and they adjusted the pills. I hate blood tests, did I mention that?

Welfare notified me that since we were getting Families First, I had to work in the Senior Center. My Dr. said no, not in the kitchen, my balance was bad and I could fall. They had me come in when they needed clerical work done. I typed up their cookbook and put the recipes in clear folders in a binder. They were handwritten and food stained. They were difficult to read. Then the Dr. said no more, he wanted me to rest. Welfare said okay to that and didn't bother us.

We were getting Families First because our income was still below poverty level. Dennis was getting his VA non-service connected money and we got food stamps. Our medical was paid for. We decided we wanted out of the campground and wanted to see if we could find a place we could afford.

A realtor was a member of the Church we were going to. We asked him if he knew of anyplace cheap enough. He knew of a couple. One of them had a regular bedroom and a loft over the kitchen. The loft wasn't big enough for our two boys. The other was a mobile home with two good sized bedrooms. We grabbed it. Katy had a toddler bed next to ours and the boys were in the smaller bedroom. We had a home for the first time in over a year. Hallelujah!!! Isn't God great?

One of the ladies from the church we were going to, had remodeled her laundry room and had a washer that she gave us. It had a problem spinning. It would spin for a minute and then grind screeching to a halt. Saved by another lady from the church. She worked at a dry cleaners with a laundry attached. Her boss said he would take a look at it. He found a nail that had gone point down into one of the holes. It was stopping the spinning. It worked great and lasted for the next several years.

We had problems with our landlord and he assaulted my husband. We moved up to Kingman, it was cooler and bigger. They had a VA clinic and Dennis could go there. Their hospital was larger and my specialist was there. We found a Dr. for the kids and me, who we liked.

The Dr. released me to find work as my pills got fewer and fewer. I found a job working for a Flying J truck stop. I was a fuel desk clerk. I learned to weigh trucks and do cash advances. I enjoyed the work because it was with people. I like working with people. Our old van was giving up on us though. We had to figure out how to get a newer vehicle.

Tax time came before the van died and we got earned income credit. We bought a car and a few other things that we needed. Dennis decided to trade the camp trailer in for an old motor home. It was dilapidated on the inside but the outside was good and the motor was good. I made cushions for the seats, curtains for the windows and painted. A few glue and screw repairs and it looked good. We didn't ever want to be homeless and this was a good way to keep that from happening. Things were looking up.


Heat Sensitive

My Dr. told me that I did not need to take the pills to lower my thyroid level anymore. My thyroid was dead. Hooray!! I also hate to take pills. I have a terrible problem remembering to take them. Dennis had to remind me constantly. But then she told me that my estrogen level was really low and she thought I should be on estrogen therapy for a year. She did not recommend longer than that but she thought it was necessary.

They put me on night shift. I went to work at 10:00 at night and got off at 6:00 in the morning. Oh well, I have always been a night person. I like to be up and running around. The problem was, how was I going to get any sleep with three kids running around the house all day. The boys were home schooled and Katy at 3, was always moving. I slept in the motor home. One of the seats folded down into a comfortable full-sized bed. I would come home from work and go straight out there to sleep. I would read for a little to unwind and just fall asleep with my book.

Katy decided one day, to come out and see me. She was not allowed out the door without someone because they knew she would be back there pounding on the motor home door. She went out the bedroom window. It was large and not far from the ground but it still scared us all. She could have gotten hurt so bad. She just wanted to cuddle with me while I slept.

My kids missed me but Katy especially. I had not worked since she was little and she missed mommy being around. One night, as I was getting ready to go to work, she said, "Mommy, can I go with you to work. I will sit in the car and be real quiet. I won't get into things and will just sit there in the car." Talk about a guilt trip. I will never forget this plea by my baby and I always feel guilty for having to leave her.

They switched me to days and one day while I was at work, Dennis and the kids took the motor home to the store. They were sitting at a stop light when it suddenly made a big bang and the motor blew. We had made a trip to see my mom and we had made various little overnight trips and had never had a problem but it decided to blow a rod through the bottom. At least they were close to home. They towed it off and we were back down to one vehicle.

We found a van that seemed to be running good and bought it. It was U-haul orange. You could see him coming for miles. It cost us $1200.

Dennis was taking many different medicines by now and a couple of them had warnings that they would make you heat sensitive. He was really suffering from the heat of Arizona in the summer, although we were in a cooler area. The political climate of the area was inflammatory also. Not good for this man with PTSD. His mom decided to give us enough money to move back to TN, where it was cooler.

We loaded up and took off for TN. We got into Oklahoma, and spent the night. The next morning we got ready to go and stopped to get gas. I went in to pay and saw the news on. I could not tell what had happened but knew it was something big. I told Dennis and we both listened to the news in the van and the car. It was big all right. The date was 9/11/2001. It was the World Trade Center. We figured no more taking it slow and exercising the kids, the gas was going to go way up like it did any time something happened. We were right, it doubled and then it tripled. We got to TN that afternoon and by dark, we were in Perry County.



Perry County was supposed to be a nice crime free community. They apparently just didn't report it. They were busting meth labs left and right. We got tangled up with a crooked Realtor who was renting houses that were for sale. We did not know that and the out of town owners did not know that. We ended up renting one of them. How he got away with it, I do not know. I found a job at a sweat shop making auto parts. Boring, repetitive work. I hated it. I also hated the mandatory overtime. I disliked the supervisor and the feeling was mutual. I didn't even have time to look for another job. I was stuck there for two years.

I was now on thyroid replacement pills. I had a dead thyroid and would be on these pills for the rest of my life. Worse than having an under-active thyroid, I would die without them. With them, they check my blood yearly to make sure I am taking the right amount. I am normal, except I gain weight really easily. One little pill a day and Dennis still has to remind me. The job, which I hate, has caused my blood pressure to rise and I am also on pills for that. Standing on concrete 10-12 hours a day causes my feet and ankles to swell. I have to take water pills. My back is killing me, so I take pills for that. I feel like I rattle when I walk.

In May of 2003, Dennis finally got his Service Connected disability. He received the check, I received our Income tax check and Dennis had a VA appointment the same day. I had gotten off work for the day to take him to his appointment and Rodger was going to school and then home. He was 16 and could take care of himself. We took the other two with us because David would fight with Rodger and Katy was in first grade. We took Dennis' van because I had a little Dakota pick-up. It was nice, newer than anything I ever had. It was only 6 years old. No dents, ran good, and I loved it.

We went to the VA in Nashville, which was an hour forty-five minute drive each way. We usually enjoyed this trip very much and on the way back, we stopped halfway, in Dickson. We would go to a Chinese restaurant and then go to Wal-mart. There wasn't one in Perry County. I was nervous for some reason. I kept trying to call Rodger but he did not answer. We were not rich enough for cell phones then. I called his girlfriends house, no answer. I figured he was probably at a friend's. I was still nervous and kept trying to call him.

We finally left Wal-mart and headed home, Rodger still was not answering and it was 9:00. I was going to kill him for not being home. By this time, I was a nervous wreck and didn't even know why. We turned into the driveway and no lights. My pick-up is gone!!! I am now in a panic. I go in hollering for him and he doesn't answer. It is 10:30 at night. His curfew, without special permission, is 9:00. Where is he?

I picked up the phone, to get messages. There are 43 messages!!! What the heck!!! As I am listening to the messages, a picture is forming and I am telling Dennis what they are. Some from his girlfriend's mom. Some from the hospital. Some from friend's moms. Some from friends. Rodger apparently got hold of my keys, which I keep in my purse and took my pick-up for a ride. He does not yet have his license, we had not had the money to get it for him yet. Insurance was expensive. We would not have let him drive the better vehicle anyway, he might damage it.

Rodger was speeding on a country road, a very windy country road and he wrecked. This was at about the time that we got to Dickson and I was getting nervous. Now I knew why. He slid sideways, at about 100 miles per hour, into a power pole and they had to use the jaws of life to get him out. His friend and he are both at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. This is one of the premier teaching hospitals in the country. They only send the really bad ones there. We called the hospital and talked to them. He was in surgery and the Dr. would call us as soon as he was out.

This is going to Part three. Sorry, I tried to keep it at just two.

Please remember to vote. I really appreciate the comments that I get on my hubs. They help me see if I am writing useful, interesting, informative hubs. If you would like to use information on these, please ask and please attribute. This is copyrighted work.


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    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Peg, I am hiding right now. I no longer have my emotional back-up. I will make it eventually, but at this point there are things I cannot handle. I keep getting bad news from those that are supposed to be helping me. I never realized it was so expensive to get a will into probate, when everything goes to one person.

      Rodger has finally gotten to the point (at 30) where he has grown up and is facing the consequences of his prior idiocy. His brother and sister learned from his mess-ups and Katy learned from David's as well. I do not have the problems with the kids that I did. It's a good thing because I do not have it in me to fight them. I appreciate you coming by to visit.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      You are amazingly resilient and tenacious. You've faced difficulty and hardship head on and come out on top. I love this story and the way you manage to look on the bright side when things are at their darkest. Too bad about poor Rodger and his teenage restlessness. Be well, friend.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      8 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      GlstngRosePetals, Being strong is a state of mind. Women are tougher than we think and I know you can do it. If you are not having someone with the DAV helping you, make sure to get them on board. They are an awesome organization and can help a lot more than we think. Good luck and may God be in your heart during this trying time.

    • GlstngRosePetals profile image


      8 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

      Its great to see an article im living through at present time with my husband who has been strugling for the past 20 years with the V.A. and disability, red tape. very frustrating up-hill battle. I hope i can be as strong as you.. Voted up!!!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Linking this too. Your resilience is commendable, and so is Dennis'.Votes up and away.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      8 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      snakeslane, it was an adventure. If we looked at it any other way, we would have cried. We just kept going. We are not quite as resilient now. The finish is hard too but we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things are better now. I appreciate your support on this and that you came by to visit.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Oh Becky, what a frightening ending to this chapter! You are such a trooper Becky! I have to agree with others comments that this personal story is very well written, with absolutely no pretentiousness. Not an easy thing to do when the going gets rough. I love how you seem to look at the adversity as one big adventure. (And sometimes fun and funny to look back on.) Keep up the good work. Regards snakeslane

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      8 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Peg, so glad you came by. I was forced into these things unprepared and most people are the same. At least we can get reassurance that we can make it through life's difficulties. God is about the only way I know and just take it one day at a time. If we start anticipating heartache and problems, it just adds to our stress and tension. We have enough to work with as it is. People and especially women, are so much stronger than we think. We CAN do anything, we just have to keep trying and keep going. I have told so many women that we are stronger than we think we are. I really appreciate you coming by to visit.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Becky,

      Reading this installment really makes one think about the important things in life. Your hand was forced to come to those conclusions earlier but your willingness to share is probably helping many other people with some of life's difficulties. Stay strong. You are an amazing woman! All up votes except funny.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      8 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Mar, we all get tied up apparently. We all need to remember where we get our strength. God is where I get mine, without him I have none. He has promised to never give us more than we can handle and we need to remember that. Most of the people who can't handle it, do not have God. Those that can't handle it, that do have God, do not have enough faith in Him to take care of things. Thank you for coming by to visit me.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      8 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Oh Becky,

      Thanks to you for reminding me how overdue I am in continuing on your series by your visit to me!

      I am absolutely in awe of what you 'personally' have encountered, let alone your dear husband. I similarly become quite impatient with whiners over the 'stubbed toe syndrome'.

      You, my dear friend, remind us that we are so much stronger than we may even realize at the time. I have the utmost respect for you and your decent family values.

      I will try not to take so long to check out your last installment. Voted UP & UABI. Hugs, mar.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      AliciaC, I wrote this as therapy for me. I was feeling really depressed and down. I was worried that it would be too depressing for people but I guess it is just showing them that we can get through so much more than we think. I am very glad that you are enjoying it. Thank you for coming by and visiting.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am so glad that you have your faith to help you through all your difficulties, Becky. This is an amazing story that you are telling in this series of hubs.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Lily It is so nice to see you here. I did not devote myself to him, I devoted to us. It has been so worth it. I have a strong, loving man who is devoted to us also. The great threesome in a marriage is God, man and woman. It is the most magical thing in the world when you can get a marriage like that and is so rare to get one. Both have to be committed Christians willing to work for it.

      Yes, there are others to help now but we have never been alone. We have always had help but now we have some money too. Makes it a lot easier. I really appreciate you coming by to visit.

    • lilyfly profile image

      Lillian K. Staats 

      9 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

      You devoted yourself to him... it is so comendable, and now there are others to help you. Be strong, all my love, lily

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      drbj, What a totally beautiful comment. I am glad you enjoy my writing. Thank you for the beautiful compliment. I am blushing now. I know no other way to write. Just put it out there. If I can't understand it, no one else will. I really appreciate you coming by to visit and hope you come again soon.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      Do you know why your readers enjoy reading your hubs, Becky? I think it is for two reasons: because you write extremely well in an easy-to-understand fashion. And because you write from the heart. Not everyone does. Thank you for sharing that talent with us.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Yes, Mommy knows. I was a nervous wreck and kept trying to hurry Dennis, who wasn't having the feelings, that we needed to go. He got to TOWN maybe every other month and was going to enjoy it. I have never been able to enjoy shopping since then.

      It is not so much that I hate to take them, it is that I do not even think about it. I cannot remember to take them. Dennis hates to take them but he remembers to. We have to work together.

      That was a terrible guilt trip, wasn't it? lol! She still tries, but it has lost its effectiveness. Thankfully.

      I really appreciate you coming by to visit. Thank you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Mommy knows, eh? (About the wreck.)

      Pam and I both totally understand about the "hate to take pills" part. There was a time she was on 14 separate medications that had to be taken daily, and while I've known one person who was on 28...:)

      I can really feel that guild trip Katy laid on you. Ouch!

      Voted Up and More.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Will, Believe me, I do not do it on purpose. I long for a nice quiet life, laughing at me grandchildren. I just want to enjoy them and garden, playing on the computer. I hate all of the drama and uncertainty. Things have been quieter lately but still not peaceful. Thank you for coming by and visiting. I appreciate it.

    • WillStarr profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      How do you do it? Wow, what an amazing life!

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Hypenbird, I am so glad you like this. I was so worried that it wouldn't be appreciated. I know my friends would come to read it and say nice things but you all are going beyond that. I think you really like it. I am in tears over this. Thank you so much for coming by and reading and leaving me your wonderful comment.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      9 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Becky this is truly amazing and a testament to the power of family love and endurance. I am glad you decided to make three parts because there is so much emotion here that more might be overwhelming. I can only say WOW.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Mike, I am speechless about your comment. I am so happy that you think it is well, written.

      I am just telling what happened. Yes, sometimes I do feel picked on. It would be almost impossible not to, at times. Their father is strong also. He is a born again Christian, as am I. I do not think that we would have made it through all of this without our church families and our faith.

      I do not speak of it a lot but I truly feel it.It is something that I feel is necessary, to show what a Christian should be, instead of just talking about it. I truly appreciate you coming by and leaving your wonderful comment.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Rosemay, I do so agree with you. One of our Pastors one time said that our difficult times was God testing us for our faith and that we were passing the test. I do so believe that. I appreciate you coming by and visiting.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      9 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Becky you have been through some pretty bad times, but it has all made you the strong woman that you are.

      Thank you for sharing

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      9 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Becky, what a powerful, well told story you are conveying. So many trials and tribulations that a less strong person would be feeling picked on. You are the center of your family, they all look to you for guidance.

    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Yes, Sunnie, whining drives me up a wall. It doesn't do any good. If you have a problem, speak it out and let's take care of it. If you are out of food, say so and we will get you some. I know how, I learned how to find things if we need them. I never could understand those who had to buy the best of everything.

      If I wanted something, I would go to yard sales until I found what I wanted at a price I could afford. I have a couch and chair right now that I paid $85 for and it is very good quality. It also looks good. The lady bought a new one.

      You also find out what you really do not need. I made do a lot. My home is probably as well decorated as any ones but it was all second hand. My neighbor has me showing her how to shop. She says I get better stuff and it costs a lot less.

      I am glad that you are enjoying this. I figured it would be a big downer but all of the comments have been positive. Life does seem to lose the allure of the material things when you go so long without. Thank you for coming by and for the wonderful comment.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      9 years ago are the person you are by what you have gone through..I am sure alittle whineing must get on your last as you know what it is to be without but you had your family to sustain you. Life takes on such a different outlook and it is not a bad thing sometimes. You learn to appreciate things that so many take for granted. Thank you for sharing your story..I love it!.I know one thing reading your story made me feel warm and safe even with everything going on around you..and I am sure your children felt that way too. Your love carried your family through.



    • Becky Katz profile imageAUTHOR

      Becky Katz 

      9 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      writer20, I do not consider it a terrible life. We have had things happen beyond our control and we just dealt with it. Sometimes it got a bit rough but with love, family and God; we always made it. Part three is going to be a little rough. Warning. I really appreciate you coming by to visit and for your support.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      9 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Wow! What a terrbile life you've had.It's great to have children to help you long. Little Katy always loved you and missed you. Voted up and awesome, Joyce.


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