This past weekend, I attended a retreat for caregivers of wounded warriors, organized by the Semper Fi Fund and the America’s Fund. I honestly didn’t feel like I was entitled to go, but the husband’s case manager insisted I should. The weekend was all about relaxing our minds and bodies. There was about 33 of us, mostly wives, but a few moms as well. I had a previously met a few girls, but overall, I really didn’t know anyone.
The retreat was at the Omni la Mansion del Rio, right on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. The hotel provided all our meals as well and they were seriously good. Friday night started with dinner. As with most events like this, we stood up to introduce ourselves and told what our husband’s injuries were and why we were there. By the time everyone was done, we were all crying. What some of these women and their husbands have gone through is unbelievable. So many amputees. I guess that really shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but it always does. It’s so unfair what these guys, their wives, and their kids have gone through. People don’t always think about how the families are affected. Once the tissues were passed around and the wine came out, the room got cheery again. By the time I finally went to bed that night, I was exhausted. All that crying and then the laughing, the rollercoaster of emotions just wore me out.
The next morning, we met up for the informative part of the weekend. A couple was brought in to speak to us. He is retired military and a clinical psychologist, his wife is a military combat stress therapist. They have been married 40 something years and were just a hoot. Especially her. She had no filter and wasn’t afraid to tell it like it was. They went over PTSD and briefly touched on TBI’s, then we talked about sexuality. I knew where they were going with that one, but they still surprised me. The PTSD talk started with going over the parts of the brain. Some people may know all that, but I really have no idea anymore. We then went over all the chemical reactions in the brain that are affected when a person has PTSD. Basically, the PTSD causes some chemicals to increase and others to decrease, which has side effects. We also went over a huge list of PTSD symptoms. The light bulb went on for me. It could easily explain some things that are going on that the husband and I just assumed were random. Then we talked about sexuality. You may not know this, but a lot of PTSD sufferers want nothing to do with sex. They have a low sex drive, no libido, or erectile dysfunction. On the other hand, a lot of guys have sex a lot and with a lot of people or they maybe use a lot of porn, but it’s not really about the sex. I’ll elaborate on all this later. I could spend all day relaying what I learned. We also had a brief talk about taking care of ourselves. We can’t take care of anyone else if we are neglecting ourselves. This led into a yoga class. I’ve never taken classes, I’ve only done yoga through P90X. Our instructor was a Semper Fi Fund employee and she was great. Since it was such a wide variety of women, she went slow and explained everything in detail. The class was more about teaching us to relax than it was about exercise.
After yoga we had a great dinner and then the whole night to do whatever we wanted! It was Saturday night, so you better believe a lot of us went out. Two other girls and I headed out and we started with a bigger group of 8 or so, but we lost them pretty quick. We wondered around on the Riverwalk until we found a restaurant with available seating outside, ordered a round of drinks, and sat and talked. One drink was the limit though, since we are all lightweights who never go out. Sunday morning, I had a massage scheduled. Most everyone had theirs Friday afternoon, but I got in late due to work. After that, it was time to head home. The weekend went way too fast, but I’m so glad I went. I met a ton of new ladies, a lot of who are local to me. We exchanged information, meaning we all became Facebook friends, and are already talking about getting together again. I didn’t think I needed this weekend, but I’m thinking I really did.