Tag Archives: marriage

How to anticipate and relieve holiday stress

Halloween has barely come and gone, if that long, before magazine articles, television programs , retail advertisements, and radio music  tell us that this is

“the most wonderful time of the year.” 

That is until the extra work of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, planning and entertaining makes it the least wonderful time.

snowflakes making a Christmas tree

While we  welcome celebrating with family and friends, those encounters can create emotional tension and strain. When we feel  sad that loved ones can’t be with us, either through distance or death,  the season can become the worst of the year.

By anticipating these events and feelings, we can prepare ourselves for the physical and emotional stress of the holiday season, and find a way to enjoy the festivities with “hearts all a glowing.”

These  resources offer  sound advice for confronting  and conquering holiday challenges.

Writer Bruce Y. Lee takes a lighthearted but serious look at the holiday season and suggests music may help us cope better in

 How To Reduce And Deal With Holiday Stress

Twelve Days of Christmas”: Keep perspective and if the Holidays are tough for you, remember that the Holiday season is temporary and will pass. Try not to take yourself and things too seriously. Just make sure you maintain healthy habits and avoid behaviors that will lead to health problems (such as gaining weight) beyond the holiday season.”

colorful wrapped packages

Consider this advice from WebMD before going 

Home for the Holidays 

“Don’t worry about how things should be. Most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings — they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.

a cute snowman

31 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas from Woman’s Day

#23 Know when to say no.

Can’t say no? Then keep your gatherings small and intimate. Get together with a few of your closest friends or relatives for the holidays. Choose to throw the big blowout parties at another time of the year, when you and your guests will have fewer commitments competing for your precious time.”

glowing cancles

 A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide to a Meaningful And Stress-free Christmas (Spirit of Simple Living) A Simple Christmas book cover

by Sharon Hanby-Robie

“The secret to a happy holiday is learning to collaborate and to create a plan that is uniquely yours with a goal to experience more serenity, more joy, and more opportunities to nurture the souls of those you love.

But, most important, it is to remember the greatest gift ever given, the gift of the Christ Child. Take time to simply sit and ponder this amazing miracle. ”

a nativity arrangement of the manger

And in his blog post

Choose Holiday Traditions That Serve You

Joshua Becker reminds us that

“Traditions should draw our attention to the underlying reason for the season.

Traditions should not detract from the season, they should elevate it.”

Here are the 5 key points I find in these references.

Which ones speak to you?

5 keys to manage holiday stress before it manages you 

  1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and others.
  2. Anticipate stressful situations, places, and people.
  3. Plan and prepare carefully, but stay flexible for the unexpected.
  4. Keep your  health maintenance routine- healthy eating, exercise, adequate sleep.
  5. Remember what is most important about the season-family, friends, faith.

Please let me know how your holiday season turns out this year.

Thanks to Pixabay for the Christmas photos used in this post.

I would love for you to share this  information  on your social media pages.

And follow Watercress Words for more information, instruction, and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH .

 

Featured Blogger Sunday's Best Linkup

This post was featured here.

Advertisements
black and white person's' hands raised

Say Goodbye for Now- a book review

Say Goodbye for Now

A novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Published by Lake Union Publishers

(This post contains multiple affiliate links.)

In 1959, Dr. Lucille Armstrong, or Dr. Lucy as she is called, practices medicine of sorts in a small Texas town. Although she is a “doctor of human beings”, she spends most of her time taking care of stray and injured animals.

To support them and herself, she occasionally treats people; “ it’s not a hobby, I do it for the money.” But because “people there didn’t take well to a woman doctor”, her patients are not always the town’s model citizens.

Dr. Lucy lives alone except for the menagerie of injured animals she has doctored back to life. She likes her life the way it is, until she opens her home to three  unexpected and unlikely guests.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW- A Novel

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Their effect on her life causes her to realize she doesn’t like being alone, it was “just better than being with most of the people I’ve known.”

Two of them were boys, Pete and Justin, who learn they live in a world where “just walking down the street together can get you viciously beaten.” The other, Calvin, a man who quit smoking, helps her learn to trust again. He remembers the day he quit because it was the day the Surgeon General announced smoking is harmful to health.

I  have reviewed several medical books, all of them non-fiction. I also enjoy medical fiction and have read many, mostly along the lines of medical mystery/thriller/drama. Probably the best known medical fiction are those written by physicians –

Michael Crichton- The Andromeda Strain,Robin Cook Coma,Tess Gerritsen- Life Support.

This book is different. I identified with the main character, a woman physician. Like her, I entered medicine when there were not many women physicians.  I like that she doesn’t read the newspaper because “the news breaks my heart.” ( It breaks mine too but I still read it.)  Dr. Lucy saves  letters; not just the ones she receives, but copies of the ones she writes.

As is true in the  practice of medicine, the main subject of this book is pain, along with loss,grief, injustice, loneliness, fear and anger.

But it is equally about resilience,recovery, friendship, love, sacrifice, and healing .

Almost like a surgeon, the author skilfully uses words to dissect and repair intense human interactions and emotions.

man and woman holding the letters L O V E

photo from Lightstock.com

The book intrigued me even more when I learned the author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, has written over 30 books, including Pay It Forward  (1999) named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

The book became a major motion picture, Pay It Forward.

In 2000 Ms. Hyde  founded the Pay It Forward Foundation, a 501 c3 Non-Profit Organization dedicated to promoting opportunities to do just that.

“The philosophy of Pay It Forward is that through acts of kindness among strangers, we all foster a more caring society. In the book, Reuben St. Clair, a social studies teacher in Atascadero, California, challenges his students to “Change the world”. That’s something we would all like to do, right? What if we could change the world, even in some small way?

One of the students in the class is Trevor, who takes the challenge to heart. As he goes about his day, he wonders what he could do, just a twelve year old student, to change the world. He starts by showing kindness to a stranger, and from there, moves on to the next person he can help.”

Besides mentioning the Surgeon General’s warning about tobacco use, Say Goodbye for Now references another historical event that impacted the characters’ lives.

In 1968 the Supreme Court considered the case Loving vs the Commonwealth of Virginia that challenged laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The ruling in favor of Mildred and Richard Loving changed their lives and thousands of  couples since.

The landmark ruling was detailed in a “documentary novel”, Loving vs. Virginia and dramatized in a 2016 movie, Loving.

LOVIE a movie

LOVING “A landmark film”

Like most good fiction, this book left me feeling  I made new friends. They were not perfect people , but none of my real friends or I are either. Each character faced the “rottenness of the world”, finding a way to live in it anyway and doctoring each other back to health.

This book is also sold at these affiliate links


use this link

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

IndieBound.org

In the book Calvin successfully quit smoking. You can too. Consider these

7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

No smoking sign

If you need help, talk to your doctor or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

man and woman at dinner

Two Words That Changed My Life

In college I participated in Chi Alpha, a faith-based student group. When I started dating  a young man of a different faith, he enjoyed coming to the gatherings with me and was accepted by the group. We were fond of each other, but his feelings grew stronger and more serious than mine.

I felt it only fair to end the relationship. We parted amicably but he left our group; it was awkward for both of us. Although I felt the breakup was necessary, I grieved for the loss of our friendship.

One evening several of us were talking in a group when a new member of our group joined us. We knew little about him other than he had recently left the Army and started attending our college. He looked at me and said, “Where is John tonight?” (not his real name) No one spoke as everyone looked from me to him and back to me. Apparently he was the only one who didn’t know we had broken up.

Finally, one of the girls softly explained, “They aren’t dating anymore.” Everyone remained silent, I suppose assuming I was upset at the reminder. I wasn’t upset but I realized everyone else was uncomfortable. I didn’t want our new friend to feel bad about the mistake, so I tried to make light of it. I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head. “That’s right,” I said smiling.  “I’m available.”

With that, everyone, including me, laughed. Thinking back now, I puzzle why I said that. It was out of character for me, a confirmed introvert, and besides, I did not need or want another romantic relationship with anyone. I was planning to attend medical school, and romance did not fit into that plan.

However, the young man took me seriously, calling me a few days later to ask for a date. And despite my reluctance to become involved, I said yes. “What harm could it do?” I thought. “Why sit in the dorm alone on Friday night?”

That night I learned about Raymond’s past. He separated from the Army after serving for three years. He had already earned a bachelor’s degree and was attending graduate school with his veteran’s benefits. I casually asked if he had been stationed overseas. He said yes- he had served in Germany and in Vietnam. I did not realize those words also would change my life.

soldiers at a remote military base

various scenes from the firebase where Raymond was stationed in VietNam; I understood nothing about what happened there.

This was 1972 and  the American war in Vietnam was raging. The United States government needed soldiers to carry out the engagement, and the draft was active and dreaded. The war was unpopular and divided our country. We watched the course of the conflict nightly on television news (no Internet  or social media then).

Raymond was the first person I knew personally who had served in Vietnam. Service members and veterans of that war were portrayed in the media as fighting an unnecessary, unjustified war at best and as baby killers at worst.Today military servicemembers and veterans are honored and considered heroes .  Today’s veterans feel proud of what they do; not so for those who served in Vietnam.

library interior

The reading room of the library looks the same as it did 40 years ago.

Over dates at  football games, church, social events and study times our feelings for each other grew. from friendship to love. He asked me to marry him a few weeks later, but I wouldn’t commit so soon. We married about 2 years later, as he completed his master’s degree.

Soon after our wedding I started medical school, graduated and started practicing.  He pursued a career in the Information Technology industry. We raised two sons, travelled, attended church.

But our “happily ever after” did not match reality. Our marriage was often tense, unsatisfying, and distant  and we did not understand why. We did not communicate well. He felt I was demanding and controlling. I felt he was insensitive and selfish. We had to look to the past to find the reason for the pain in our present.

family skiing on mountain

one of many family ski trips

Military medicine now recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a common result of service in combat; 40 years ago it was unrecognized and untreated. There were no support groups, counselling or rehabilitative services available.

My husband said little about his military service, so for years we both suffered the effects of unrecognized PTSD. By the mid-1980s veterans’ groups pushed to recognize the service of Vietnam veterans and encouraged discussion about the psychic trauma many of them dealt with; and with that came opportunities for treatment and healing.

army veteran standing next to a floral bouquet at a memorial

We always visit the traveling Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall when it comes to our area.

Through counselling and a support group my husband faced the past and gained a will to move forward. After reading a book , A Missing Peace, written by another Vietnam veteran, he considered taking a trip back to Vietnam and after much thought, signed up, although we were both apprehensive.

He chose to travel with Vets with a Mission , VWAM,  a faith based non-profit  whose mission is “reconciliation” between former enemies in the Vietnam war, and also within the veterans’ themselves.

By touring the country and meeting VietNamese people in peacetime, Raymond began moving past the painful memories and creating a new history. He found a country still suffering from the after effects of many years of war, and found a new purpose for his life- to help the very country that had caused us so much pain.

man with Vietnamese boys laughing

Raymond making friends and having fun with some Vietnamese boys

That trip led to another, and another, and another- thirteen trips  serving on volunteer teams to Vietnam with VWAM.  He served by teaching the computer technology he spent years honing and mentored Vietnamese professionals as they developed skills like his.

I accompanied him on many of these trips, serving as physician on medical teams, treating poor Vietnamese citizens in free clinics. We made friends with other veterans and their families, and with Vietnamese people, who often respected American Vietnam veterans more than Americans do.

Raymond found “reconciliation”  for himself and we experienced it in our marriage.  It was a process and still is.

2 Corinthians 5: 18 – “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself

through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” motto of  VWAM

man next to concrete bunker

visiting an old war bunker on China Beach

As  a pre-teen I read a book about an American doctor who treated poor people in a foreign country. I developed an interest in  health care through that and other books, and decided to become a doctor. I dreamed of someday traveling overseas and treating people like he and other doctors did. I didn’t remember anything  about him except his name. I did an Internet search and found his story- Dr. Tom Dooley. He was a physician in the United States Navy and in the 1950s he was assigned to direct the care of refugees- in Vietnam. (After his military service, he founded a humanitarian organization and tragically died young of melanoma.)

When I watched  the war in Vietnam on TV news,  I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never imagined that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would indirectly help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.  When I said, “I’m available” I had no idea how true that would be.

man and lady dressed in dance costumes

And I never expected us to do a ballroom dance routine for an audience!

Here are links to other posts about our travels to Vietnam

The end of the war was a beginning

Tuesday Travels-Vietnam

Building medical clinics in Vietnam

A Missing Peace: Vietnam : Finally Healing the Pain 

by Robert Seiple and Gregg Lewis          31-my2blq-rl

“The gripping account of the author’s experiences with “a war without closure” as a Marine aviator and as head of a relief agency ministering in that country. Through his own search for personal and national reconciliation, he shows us the only way to find real closure and genuine healing.”   (Amazon review)(This is an affiliate link.)

 

 

 

I am proud to say this post was chosen as

The Blogger's Pit Stop

Top 5 posts of 2016- #2

This week I’m sharing my top 5 most viewed posts of 2016. I’m not surprised that any of these were the most popular because a couple of them are among my favorites too. (Well, ok, they all are.) So here is number 2, one I am especially happy to share again, because it’s a love story-mine.

I believe words have power; that’s one reason this blog is named Watercress Words. And that’s why, when challenged to write a story about my most life changing decision, I wrote about

 

Two Words that Changed My Life

 

 

In college I participated in a faith-based campus group. I dated a young man of a different faith, but he enjoyed coming to the gatherings with me and was accepted by the group. We were fond of each other, but his feelings grew stronger and more serious than mine.

I felt it only fair to end the relationship. We parted amicably but he left our group; it was awkward for both of us. Although I felt the breakup was necessary, I grieved for the loss of our friendship.

One evening several of us were talking in a group when a new member of our group joined us. We knew little about him other than he had recently left the Army and started attending our college. He looked at me and said, “Where is John tonight?” (not his real name) Everyone became silent and looked from me to him and back to me. Apparently he was the only one who didn’t know we had broken up.

Finally, one of the girls softly explained, “They aren’t dating anymore.” Everyone remained silent, I suppose assuming that I was upset at the reminder. I wasn’t upset but I realized everyone else was uncomfortable. I didn’t want our new friend to feel bad about the mistake, so I tried to make light of it. I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head. “That’s right,” I said smiling.  “I’m available.”

With that, everyone, including me, laughed. Thinking back now, I puzzle why I said that. It was out of character for me, a confirmed introvert, and besides, I did not need or want another romantic relationship with anyone. I was planning to attend medical school, and romance did not fit into that plan.

However, the new young man took me seriously, calling me a few days later to ask for a date. And despite my reluctance to become involved, I said yes. “What harm could it do?” I thought. Why sit in the dorm alone on Friday night?

LARGE PLAQUE ON A BRICK BUILDING

“A Sooner Covered Wagon” hung outside of the campus student union

 

 

 

 

That night I learned about Raymond’s past. He separated from the Army after serving for three years. He had already earned a bachelor’s degree and was attending graduate school with his veteran’s benefits. I casually asked if he had been stationed overseas. He said yes- in Germany and in Vietnam. I did not realize those words also would change my life.

This was 1972 and  the American war in Vietnam was raging. The United States government needed soldiers to carry out the engagement, and the draft was active and dreaded. The war was unpopular and divided our country. We watched the course of the conflict nightly on television news (no Internet then). Raymond was the first person I knew personally who had served in Vietnam. Service members and veterans of that war were portrayed in the media as fighting an unnecessary, unjustified war at best and as baby killers at worst.

library interior

The reading room of the library looks the same as it did 40 years ago.

campus library

The campus library where we studied

 

 

 

And so over football games, church, social events and study dates our feelings for each other grew. He asked me to marry him a few weeks later, but I couldn’t commit so soon. We married about 2 years later, as he completed his master’s degree.

Soon after our wedding I started medical school, graduated and started practicing.  He pursued a career in the Information Technology industry. We raised two sons, travelled, attended church. But our marriage was tense, unsatisfying, and distant at times, and we did not understand why. We could not communicate well. He felt I was demanding and controlling. I felt he was insensitive and selfish. We had to look to the past to find the reason for the pain in our present.

family skiing on mountain

one of many family ski trips

 

 

 

Unlike the case in 1974, today military servicemembers and veterans are honored and considered heroes .  Today’s veterans feel proud of what they do; less so for those who served in Vietnam.

Military medicine now recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a common result of service in combat; 40 years ago it was unrecognized and untreated. There were no support groups, counselling or rehabilitative services available.

nam70

various scenes from the firebase where Raymond was stationed in VietNam; I understood nothing about what happened there.

 

 

My husband spoke little about his military service, so for years we both suffered the effects of unrecognized PTSD. By the mid-1980s veterans’ groups pushed to recognize the service of Vietnam veterans and encouraged discussion about the psychic trauma many of them dealt with; and with that came opportunities for treatment and healing.

Through counselling and a support group my husband faced the past and gained a will to move forward starting with a trip to visit Vietnam; by touring the country and meeting the people, he moved past the painful memories and created a new history. He found a country still suffering from the after effects of many years of war, and found a new purpose for his life- to help the very country that had caused us so much pain.

man with Vietnamese boys laughing

Raymond making friends and having fun with some Vietnamese boys

 

 

 

That trip led to another, and another, and another- thirteen trips thus far to serve on humanitarian aid teams to Vietnam. He served by teaching the computer technology he spent years honing and mentored Vietnamese professionals as they developed skill like his.

 

people looking at computers

Raymond teaching hospital staff about using computers in 1995

 

 

 

 

I accompanied him on many of these trips, serving as physician on medical teams, treating poor Vietnamese citizens in free clinics. We made friends with other veterans and their families, and with Vietnamese people, who often respected American Vietnam veterans more than Americans do.  Giving back healed him as well as our marriage.

man next to concrete bunker

visiting an old war bunker on China Beach

 

 

 

I remembered as a pre-teen I read a book about an American doctor who treated poor people in a foreign country. I learned about health care through that and other books, and decided to become a doctor. I dreamed of someday traveling overseas and treating people like he did. I didn’t remember anything else about him except his name. I did an Internet search and found him- Dr. Tom Dooley. He was a physician in the United States Navy and in the 1950s he was assigned to direct the care of refugees- in Vietnam.

When I watched  the war in Vietnam on TV news,  I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never considered that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would indirectly help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.  When I said, “I’m available” I had no idea how true that would be.

married couple in Oklahoma shirts

celebrating our anniversary at our alma mater’s game

And tomorrow, we’ll review the top viewed post of 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"faith, hope, love"

Weekend Words -a wedding update

 

2 Corinthians chapter 4 

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self  is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (English Standard Version) 

If you read this blog regularly or even occasionally, you know that I like to write updates on topics I’ve covered. This is one update I would rather not need to share with you.

This past week, Swift, the groom in this video, died from the cancer that he has so bravely endured for several years. Abbi, above a bride, is now a young widow.

Please keep her and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Weekend words is a regular feature of watercress words. At the end of the work week we take a break from exploring strictly medical topics to read words of faith, hope and love from the Bible and other carefully selected sources.

Disclosure:

This blog gains no financial benefit from  any charitable organization mentioned here. I recommend you investigate before donating anywhere. Affiliate links will be identified.

"faith, hope, love"

Weekend Words from 2 Corinthians and a wedding

 

2 Corinthians chapter 4 

 

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (English Standard Version) 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know Abbi and Swift, but they live in my city, and I have friends and colleagues who work at this hospital. This kind of event doesn’t surprise me at all; people here do things like this for each other, I hope they do in your town also. By the way, see the people watching outside on the sidewalk- it was almost 100 degrees that day. That’s love too.

 

 

 

Weekend words is a regular feature of watercress words. At the end of the work week we take a break from exploring strictly medical topics to read words of faith, hope and love from the Bible and other carefully selected sources.

Disclosure:

This blog gains no financial benefit from  any charitable organization mentioned here. I recommend you investigate before donating anywhere. Affiliate links will be identified.

man and woman at dinner

Two Words That Changed My Life

Dear Readers,

Today is my wedding anniversary so I am posting this story again. It is special to me so I want to share it with you today.

Thanks for being here today and every day you visit. I appreciate your time and attention to my musings.

 

 TWO WORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

By Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

In college I participated in a faith-based campus group. I dated a young man of a different faith, but he enjoyed coming to the gatherings with me and was accepted by the group. We were fond of each other, but his feelings grew stronger and more serious than mine.

I felt it only fair to end the relationship. We parted amicably but he left our group; it was awkward for both of us. Although I felt the breakup was necessary, I grieved for the loss of our friendship.

One evening several of us were talking in a group when a new member of our group joined us. We knew little about him other than he had recently left the Army and started attending our college. He looked at me and said, “Where is John tonight?” (not his real name) Everyone became silent and looked from me to him and back to me. Apparently he was the only one who didn’t know we had broken up.

Finally, one of the girls softly explained, “They aren’t dating anymore.” Everyone remained silent, I suppose assuming that I was upset at the reminder. I wasn’t upset but I realized everyone else was uncomfortable. I didn’t want our new friend to feel bad about the mistake, so I tried to make light of it. I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head. “That’s right,” I said smiling.  “I’m available.”

With that, everyone, including me, laughed. Thinking back now, I puzzle why I said that. It was out of character for me, a confirmed introvert, and besides, I did not need or want another romantic relationship with anyone. I was planning to attend medical school, and romance did not fit into that plan.

However, the new young man took me seriously, calling me a few days later to ask for a date. And despite my reluctance to become involved, I said yes. “What harm could it do?” I thought. Why sit in the dorm alone on Friday night?

That night I learned about Raymond’s past. He separated from the Army after serving for three years. He had already earned a bachelor’s degree and was attending graduate school with his veteran’s benefits. I casually asked if he had been stationed overseas. He said yes- in Germany and in Vietnam. I did not realize those words also would change my life.

This was 1972 and  the American war in Vietnam was raging. The United States government needed soldiers to carry out the engagement, and the draft was active and dreaded. The war was unpopular and divided our country. We watched the course of the conflict nightly on television news (no Internet then). Raymond was the first person I knew personally who had served in Vietnam. Service members and veterans of that war were portrayed in the media as fighting an unnecessary, unjustified war at best and as baby killers at worst.

library interior

The reading room of the library looks the same as it did 40 years ago.

campus library

The campus library where we studied

 

 

 

And so over football games, church, social events and study dates our feelings for each other grew. He asked me to marry him a few weeks later, but I couldn’t commit so soon. We married about 2 years later, as he completed his master’s degree.

Soon after our wedding I started medical school, graduated and started practicing.  He pursued a career in the Information Technology industry. We raised two sons, travelled, attended church. But our marriage was tense, unsatisfying, and distant at times, and we did not understand why. We could not communicate well. He felt I was demanding and controlling. I felt he was insensitive and selfish. We had to look to the past to find the reason for the pain in our present.

family skiing on mountain

one of many family ski trips

 

 

 

Unlike the case in 1974, today military servicemembers and veterans are honored and considered heroes .  Today’s veterans feel proud of what they do; less so for those who served in Vietnam.

Military medicine now recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a common result of service in combat; 40 years ago it was unrecognized and untreated. There were no support groups, counselling or rehabilitative services available.

My husband spoke little about his military service, so for years we both suffered the effects of unrecognized PTSD. By the mid-1980s veterans’ groups pushed to recognize the service of Vietnam veterans and encouraged discussion about the psychic trauma many of them dealt with; and with that came opportunities for treatment and healing.

Through counselling and a support group my husband faced the past and gained a will to move forward starting with a trip to visit Vietnam; by touring the country and meeting the people, he moved past the painful memories and created a new history. He found a country still suffering from the after effects of many years of war, and found a new purpose for his life- to help the very country that had caused us so much pain.

man with Vietnamese boys laughing

Raymond making friends and having fun with some Vietnamese boys

 

 

 

That trip led to another, and another, and another- thirteen trips thus far to serve on humanitarian aid teams to Vietnam. He served by teaching the computer technology he spent years honing and mentored Vietnamese professionals as they developed skill like his.

 

people looking at computers

Raymond teaching hospital staff about using computers in 1995

 

 

 

 

I accompanied him on many of these trips, serving as physician on medical teams, treating poor Vietnamese citizens in free clinics. We made friends with other veterans and their families, and with Vietnamese people, who often respected American Vietnam veterans more than Americans do.  Giving back healed him as well as our marriage.

man next to concrete bunker

visiting an old war bunker on China Beach

 

 

 

I remembered as a pre-teen I read a book about an American doctor who treated poor people in a foreign country. I learned about health care through that and other books, and decided to become a doctor. I dreamed of someday traveling overseas and treating people like he did. I didn’t remember anything else about him except his name. I did an Internet search and found him- Dr. Tom Dooley. He was a physician in the United States Navy and in the 1950s he was assigned to direct the care of refugees- in Vietnam.

When I watched  the war in Vietnam on TV news,  I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never considered that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would indirectly help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.  When I said, “I’m available” I had no idea how true that would be.

married couple in Oklahoma shirts

celebrating our anniversary at our alma mater’s game

What decisions have changed your life? Please leave a comment and let me know.