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Old 07-08-2005, 01:55 PM
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Summer Vacations

Dew to the lack of activity on this board, I assume a lot of us are on short or long trips this summer.

If you haven't left yet or are scratching your head after you got back - here are some comments I wanted to pass on.

My wife and I spent a little over three weeks in a round trip to New Mexico. She had a good week of training with the Boy Scouts, I went fishing during that week and had a great time.

I had difficulty with the deadlines in our time schedule. I was very tense knowing we had to be in certain places at certain times. My wife is much more spontanious than I, so we did a couple of things that were not scheduled. Of course, that threw timing off for everything afterwords which resulted in several long days of driving.

Wish I could have just let things go and enjoyed the trip as it evolved. Is this a PTSD thing? I really felt a compulsion to stick to our pre-determined schedule - which spoiled the spontanaity of the moment.

Maybe some of you can watch out for this stumbling block.
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Old 07-09-2005, 11:45 AM
Don Dodson Don Dodson is offline
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Re: Summer Vacations


I am not sure if being more comfortable with a highly structured environment is a PTSD thing, but many people with PTSD experience your same uncomfortable feelings with sudden changes in plans or situations. It might have to do with our pre-PTSD experiences, which pre-disposed us for more pronounced PTSD reactions. I think if our pre-war experiences as a stage, upon which the drama of war has played out. Different people, different sets and furniture, but still the same stage, lighting and curtains.

In my case, I see how being the son of an emotionally closed, rational, left-brained, non-musical sanitary/civil engineer (whose brother had committed suicide) shaped my emotional "not OK"-ness. He was a loving father (died in 1998) but was happiest when visiting or talking about water utilities, until Alzeimer's disease robbed him of his strongest skill: thinking. Also, being the son of a highly emotional, self-centered, former singer, hypocondriac mother, who probably was emotionally neglected as a child, has had its own impact. She, too, was a loving person and wanted only the best for my brothers and I, within her limitations (died in 2001). Neither taught me flexibility, resliance in the face of crisis, or effective relational or communications skills. They didn't teach me to rely on God, either, although they were Sunday School teachers and regular church participants.

The combination has been hard for me to relate to my beloved wife of almost 33 years, and two adult daughters. My wife's own origins play into the mix. My stupid attempts to deny that I was even a veteran for 26 years hasn't helped and has shaped our world. As a civilian Red Cross Disaster Team membger and as an EMT and EMS manager, coming home from plane crashes, shootings, death and dying, has resulted in my wife and daughters being more fearful than I would like to see.

So what's my point? We are the sum total of all of our life experiences. For all of my "family of origin" dysfunction, they gave me a strong moral compass, an abiding faith in God Almighty, a high priority on education and material wellbeing. What I missed was uncondtional love, a system of responding to life's crises without either hysteria (mom) or silence (dad). My younger brother is completely inflexible, lives like a hermit, avoids change and new situations at almost all cost. My older brother rebelled and made his way in the very left-hemisphered world of computer programming: bits and bytes.

Of the three of us, I am the only one to have served in the military. I am also the only one who professes faith and relies solely on our Lord Jesus Christ (rather then Jim Beam). So who I am now is the "stew" of all these parts, slow cooked over life's experiences. I really crave sudden changes, spontaneous situations that create the need to think on my feet. I hate routines and boring stuff. Maybe that's what drew me into emergency medical services and risk management: something new every day. I love instructing and teaching others. As I continue growing as a Christian, I find myself more and more praying something like, "Lord, if this or that can be done, please let it happen; but if You have other plans for me, help me adapt and be open to what You have planned for me."

I will suggest that putting schedules and dead-lines on a vacation is something I stopped doing years ago. When I feel the need to know where I'll be the next night, I'll make reservations for a very short day's drive. (True, sometimes mximum flexibility results in more frustration than its worth! Last summer I took a solo driving trip for the first time since 1972 and did regret that I hadn't made a reservation for Sante Fe, New Mexico! I left Copper Mountain, Colorado around 1:00 PM and got into Santa Fe around 10 PM, really really tired of driving. I tried to find a certain brand hotel and kept getting turned around. I finally got to a place that cost way too much but I didn't care because I really didn't want to sleep in my truck!)

I think it is good advice you shared, "Maybe some of you can watch out for this stumbling block." Our families and friends who are ignorant of PTSD and the cost of war don't understand why we are the way we are. Load that on top of our child-hood and non-war experiences and it is no wonder some of us have very few really close friends; even our spouses. I see from your Profile you are an engineer and think of my dad's comfort zone in math, million gallons per day calculations, sedementation rates, etc. You might have a natural preference for the physical, hard-scaped world that can be counted on with certainty.

Maybe make the next trip an exercise in spontaneous plan changes; take the pressure off. Most importantly know that when our best made plans change here and now, no one is going to die or be maimed! We veterans must conciously work hard to constantly remind ourselves, I'm home now; I'm not on Point anymore, that chopper circling overhead is doing a traffic news story not looking for Charlie in the wire. In most of our lives, now, we can take a breath, relax and know that God is God, and has us "in the palm of His Hand."

God loves you brother, and so do I! Glad the fishing was great. WELCOME HOME!

Don "Oboeman" Dodson
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Old 07-12-2005, 02:45 PM
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Re: Summer Vacations

Thanks for the rely and the reminder. I think a spontanious vacation might be a good thing. It'll have to wait until more vacation days build up.
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Old 07-14-2005, 06:51 PM
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danausmc danausmc is offline
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Re: Summer Vacations

Originally Posted by Pointman69
Thanks for the rely and the reminder. I think a spontanious vacation might be a good thing. It'll have to wait until more vacation days build up.
Spontaneous is good if you can make it happen....one day we were still trying to figure out how to get to The Dalles Oregon for a Pointman Conference and diddling around with train and air and even bus.....well it got too late so on tuesday evening we jumped in the car and drove, having to be in Oregon for a 9 a.m. radio interview. We got there at 3 a.m. Oregon time and it was quite a ride. Took four days to get home. The following year we drove to Seattle. But this time took almost two weeks round trip, saw and actually stopped wherever my wife thought she might want to see something and it was great. Our whole adult life was always, be here, be there, be at a certain time, don't know what would have happened if we did not? Maybe turn into a pumpkin I guess......now we have regressed to a point where we get there when we get there unless its a specific obligation.....
Time to step back and actually enjoy some of that life that God has given us. Not a bad plan.
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Old 07-17-2005, 01:20 AM
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Re: Summer Vacations

Lets see now.... spontaneous vacations? Well all I know is that I left town on June 15th to attend the PMIM Conference in Hesperia, Ca. on the 17th. And then I wandered back to Tucson about 10 days later. PTSD? Intractable Itinerant Preacher? Born under a wandering star? ADHD? Holy Spirit giving directions? Maybe all of the above! One thing for sure; there is no lack of the need to spread the Good News.
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Old 08-24-2005, 07:58 PM
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Re: Summer Vacations

Don D. ya could say that being in Risk Mgmt in the Last Days certainly has job security, same with morticians...
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