- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband is having some memory problems. It’s like he is having a brain freeze or brain fog. As I think about it, he has better long-term memory now than his short-term memory. If we go to a restaurant, he sometimes argues with the wait staff over what they bring to the table for him - he often forgets just that quick what he ordered.

I’m not sure what is going on, but I am concerned. When I mention it to him he becomes defensive. My husband is very young - he’s only 40. It’s frightening also because I’m wondering when he is going to forget who I am or his children. I hope you don’t think I’m being too worrisome or paranoid, but in my stomach I feel like something is wrong with him.

He has had multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan - too many to count. He’s told me himself that he’s been in IED explosions where he has flipped over in his Humvee. I believe he may have some brain injury like I hear so many service members talk about.

How do I get some type of evaluation or help for my husband? He is so young and I don’t want this problem to get worse and rob him of his precious life. Any resources you have will be helpful. Thank you so much for all you do.

- R. Young

Dear R. Young,

Traumatic brain injuries are very real for our service members serving abroad, so your concerns are valid.

I try very hard not to step out of my lane, so let me be honest. I am not a medical doctor. As a clinical social worker, I am licensed to make mental health diagnoses, such as schizophrenia or depression. When it comes to brain injuries and other medical concerns, I recommend you see a medical professional immediately.

What I can confirm is his symptoms sound familiar to those of others who have received diagnoses of brain injuries. Getting an evaluation from a medical professional in this specialty would confirm it.

I am happy to report that the Department of Defense is doing more when it comes to treatment for our service members with brain injuries. Many report, however, that access to specific medical care still can be difficult.

I will be brief but clear. You should start with his primary doctor for an evaluation to rule out any other health concerns. After your husband explains the symptoms, his doctor should refer him to Behavioral Health.

If you want to speak to someone in Behavioral Health first, you can call the clinic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for guidance on how to get an evaluation for your husband at the Traumatic Brain Injury clinic. The number is 202/782-6061. Please stay in touch with me and let me know how you are both doing.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My wife wants to be more accepted by my sisters and be friends with them. Right now she feels as if they isolate themselves from her on purpose. For example, when we visit my family, they never include my wife in outings or events with them and their friends. My wife is their age. My mother will even attend, often leaving my wife at home alone or with me to entertain her. If I’m not with them, then my wife is not invited.

I try to understand and talk to my wife, telling her not to take it personally. When I try to talk to my mom and my sisters, they usually laugh it off. This is only getting me grief from my wife.

In May, my sisters and my mother are taking a weeklong all-inclusive trip to Cancun, Mexico. To make matters worse, they have not invited my wife and are rubbing it in her face.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but I feel sorry for my wife. I guess I’ll have to take her to Cancun to make her feel like one of the girls, right? How can I bridge the gap between them, Ms. Vicki? We’ve been married for seven years and it hasn’t gotten any better.

- Wife Only Wants To Be Friends

Dear Friends,

Now you have me wondering why my friends didn’t invite me to Cancun with them last month - just kidding. Here’s the deal, it was their choice whom they invited and I didn’t take it personally. Besides, I couldn’t have gone anyway. They later told me they had a great time and I am happy for them.

It sounds as if you resent having to spend so much time with your wife because your mother and sisters won’t. They’re having a lot of “mother-daughter” time, and your wife is not invited. Obviously, they are comfortable with their outings being only for them. Maybe in the future it will be “mother, daughter and daughter-in-law time.”

Is your wife’s mother nearby or does she have siblings? Does she have friends? It sounds like she values spending time with family, so she should begin to cultivate the same environment with her own family and friends instead of resenting that she does not hang out with your mother and sisters.

Encourage your wife to find other interests and hobbies. You could be a great support in helping her do this, especially with finding friends and building a relationship with her mother and siblings. Moreover, you are right; your wife should not take this personally.

Until something changes, you are the one who will be in charge of entertaining your wife. Good luck.

Reader responses to previous columns:

• This is in reference to the April 9 letter from the guy who has cheated on his wife so many times that he now is in debt because he makes large purchases to smooth over his behavior. Well, I think he and his wife are both stupid. It’s time for women to wake up. It’s 2009; no woman should be ignorant to what is going on with her household finances. You are only asking for trouble.

• To Teen with a gr8 life who wrote a letter April 9. Please listen to Ms. Vicki. What she is telling you is very true. I had a life just like yours at one time. Things were going great until I thought I fell in love with my high school sweetheart. If only I had waited, things would have been different.

I did not want to listen to my parents or anyone. The sun rose and set on this guy and I thought he was the only one for me. He has been gone and continued with his life. The only thing he left me is two children to care for by myself. This does not have to be you.

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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