Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ups and Downs of the Air Force Life

I know it has been a couple of weeks since I posted! It has been a crazy couple of weeks.  Two Fridays ago, I wrote a post and never put it on the site.  Two weeks ago was really not such a good week. Last week got so much better, though!  Now that we are out of the woods, I feel more like sharing what we were going through.

The one highlight of two weeks ago was how sweet everybody was to call, text, email, and Facebook me on my birthday! Thanks everyone! Instead of taking forever to go through this post and change it for "past tense" instead of "present tense", I'm just going to post it as it was written on April 27:

So.  Poor Chris.  Some of you may know that he has struggled with motion sickness since he started flying, which was actually a couple of years ago at the Academy.  The T-6 is the most powerful plane he has ever flown in and the motion sickness hasn't gotten a whole lot better since he has been flying it.  There are times when he gets through the flight just fine, but there are times that he gets so sick he can't fly the plane.  This is not uncommon, it happens to a lot of pilot students.  The body can adjust to the motions of the plane, and eventually it just gets used the motions and you stop getting sick.  This takes longer for some than for others. There is a very specific regimen that the Air Force uses to help people overcome their motion sickness.

Step one is medication.  You can take these medications, which are a combination of stuff to help you not get sick and amphetamines to help you stay awake because the other stuff can make you drowsy on its own.  Amphetamines are highly regulated.  You can only take those medicines for 3 days.  While you take them, you are flying so your body is actually adjusting to the motions of the plane without having the symptoms of motion sickness that disrupt your flight.  The idea is, by the time you fly 3 more times, once you are off the medication your body has adjusted and you don't get sick anymore.

Unfortunately, between Chris' cold and some bad weather that resulted in cancelled flights, Chris took his medicine for 3 days but did not get to fly all 3 of those days...then he actually  had a 10 day break before he flew again.  The medicines really didn't get to serve their purpose. The Air Force is really cut-and-dry.  They won't give him a chance to take the medicine again.

If you still get sick after the medicine regimen, you go to step two. Chris got sick on his flight on Monday.  He couldn't finish his flight, so his instructor pilot had to take over.  On to step two.

So step two is the spin chair.  This is what everyone wants to avoid because it is not pleasant.  They spin you around in this chair basically until you vomit.  It's designed to be 100x worse than a flight should ever have to be.  It is such an extreme version of the worst possible motion sickness scenario, that it is very effective in adjusting your body to the motions of the plane...if your body can adjust to the spin chair, it is going to be able to handle a plane ride no-problem.  After 3 days in the chair, each day spinning for 3 10-minute sessions, most people's bodies are adjusted and they are over their motion sickness.

Chris has been doing the chair the past few days.  Obviously this has made his days terrible. The doctor told him to eat foods he didn't mind throwing up.  They make you do all sorts of things while you are spinning to make it as bad as possible...close your eyes, head down.  Open your eyes, head and arms up. 

If you continue to have motion sickness to the point where you can't fly the plane, you move on to step three.  Step three is, you are dismissed from pilot training and go take another Air Force job. Please pray that Chris won't have to go to step 3.

Things are looking pretty good at the moment.  Monday was the day he got sick.  He knew he would get assigned the chair on Tuesday, so Monday was not a good night.  We were both already very stressed about the possibility of having to move to step 3, even though we weren't to step 2 yet.  Tuesday was better...he did not get sick in flight.  However, he still got assigned to the chair.  Wednesday he also did not get sick in his flight, but that afternoon was his first chair session.  In the first 10-minute spin, he didn't get too sick.  On the second and third spins, he got sick and threw up both times.  Yesterday, he did not get sick in flight again.  He got sick in the chair but did not throw up.  Unfortunately, he felt sick the rest of the day after that.  Autumn and I went to a beer tasting/food pairing dinner in downtown Columbus...Chris (and Jon) wasn't able to come because they didn't get released until about 9.  They met us when they got out, but you could tell Chris didn't feel well.  Today he's doing a simulation but he is going to get spun one more time on Monday and fly....then, after that, we just hope that he is going to be cured of his motion sickness.

I also did not have a good week at work.  The excess stress from home, plus a couple of computer malfunctions did not help.  I'm ready for this week to be over.  Also, Chris is supposed to solo next week.  I did not expect him to solo this early, but I am really upset because I'm afraid I may be in Birmingham working and won't be able to make it back to watch him get dunked in the pool of water (it's a tradition after you solo the first time for you to try to run back into the flight room, and if your classmates can catch you, they throw you into this nasty pool of sitting water).  Obviously, I want to share in all the excitement and take pictures.  This is kind of a milestone.  So I'm just praying for some heavy rain next week.  Maybe his solo can get delayed until I am scheduled to be back in Columbus on Thursday.
I'm headed to Auburn for the weekend and Chris is going to stay here.  I'm looking forward to being with friends and family, but I'm bummed out about Chris not being able to come.  I am taking Monday off of work to help my sister, Jessica, ring in her 21st birthday.  Tuesday morning I'm heading to Birmingham to work there until Thursday, which is also the day of my Rodan + Fields launch event here in Columbus.

Okay!!  That was my blog for April 27, which I never published. So before I move forward with the events of last week, I'm sure you are all wondering what wound up happening with Chris.  He seems to be cured of his motion sickness, hooray! Thank you for your prayers.  He soloed last Monday, and sadly, I missed it.  However, he sent me this video of him getting dunked. This dunking process was traditionally a LOT more rambunctious than it is now.  But apparently some guy got a concussion recently when his head hit the side of the dunk tank, so until all that blows over, they have to be pretty gentle with the dunking :) They still have nasty water, though! (For full screen, click the icon in the lower right corner of the video).

Let's hope he never has to return to the chair! Since then, he's had several good flights. On Friday, he soloed again and there was some confusion in the air traffic control tower that could have caused several planes to collide.  Chris stayed calm under pressure and increased his altitude, which, in effect, prevented the collisions.  That just goes to show you that just because this is "just training", doesn't mean that Chris' day-to-day job is completely safe...this is a very scary realization for me, but I suppose that is what I signed up for when I said "I do"...when you become a military wife, you are really saying "I do" to a whole lot more than most wives! "I do" vow to never let my own anxiety over Chris' job affect the way he gets treated at home.  But I'm so thankful to be where we are and to get to hear the stories every day when he gets home.

I had a great weekend in Auburn two weekends ago visiting with everyone.  I got to spend time with some of my girlfriends, with my family (including my sister's 21st birthday celebration), Chris' family, former co-workers, I got to pay a visit to the Auburn School of Accountancy, and I did some business while I was there.  Busy, busy weekend but so much fun! Here are some pics:

Jessica and me at the Auburn University Singers proud of my talented little sis...she blew an Adele song out of the water on her solo! It was fantastic!

Family birthday celebration.  Jessica and I are 3 years and 4 days apart.

Happy 21st, Jessica! Wearing the crown I gave her (I also gave her that wand to carry out) and her b-day sign with a list of 21 tasks to complete while out on the town!

Sara and Lauren also joined us because they love Jessica like a sis! The two girls on the right are Jessica's friends from the education program at Auburn

Birthday dinner with Tammy, Greg, Warren, and Aunt Bette at Hamilton's.

Grand opening of the Event Center's upstairs lounge.  Love the cozy atmosphere and view!

View from the upstairs patio

Upstairs patio again

Upstairs bar area

On a side note, one of my coworkers showed me where Chris and I were in the local paper a couple of weeks ago on the opening day of the Farmer's Market (second down on the right side).  Next to us is another couple from base, Amanda and Nils Lorenz.  Amanda and I went to an afternoon of Pilgrimage tours a few weeks ago and she also came to my launch this week.  She's a sweet girl and I'm glad I'm getting to know her! My coworker was kind enough to laminate this for us...the "Scene and be Seen" page...I guess we are really "making it" here in Columbus, haha!

I left from Auburn last Tuesday morning and drove to Birmingham to work there until Thursday.  Thursday, Meredith came back to Columbus with me to help me with my Rodan + Fields launch event.  The theme was wine and cheese.  I had a great turnout, it was really laid back and a nice time.  Meredith and I were able to practice showcasing the products, and everyone was impressed by them after hearing how effective they are, seeing before/after pictures, and getting the chance to sample a few. 

Meredith and I with the table of all the great products! Thank goodness Meredith came to help me, because we had about an hour and ten minutes to get ready for the party once we got to Columbus from Birmingham!

After the launch, a few of us headed downtown to a photography studio where they were holding an art show/beer tasting.  That was very interesting and I found out that they have events like those the first Thursday of every month.  Like I said before, Columbus actually has plenty to do if you take the time to look for it!

Friday night we played cards over at Jon and Autumn's, and the next day we spent at Market Street Festival, which is Columbus' biggest event every year.  There were probably 100+ vendors there selling all kinds of unique goods.  There were also concerts and shows (a cheer competition, even!) and lots of food.  Saturday was also Cinco de Mayo.  We came home mid-afternoon for a break from the sun and heat, and I made a mexican dinner.  Yum!

Taking a break from cards to cuddle the pups!
Chris with this ginormous car that was at the car show at Market Street Festival
We found this painting by Nicole Bexton at the art gallery this weekend in downtown Columbus...we thought it bore a stiking resemblance to the picture below of Mason (which is our most likely choice to enter into the Humane Society contest)...isn't that crazy?? Haha.  We wanted to buy it pretty badly but it was $875, so I may just have to recreate it at Sips-N-Strokes one of these days...
Chicken enchilada casserole, tomato/cucumber/avacado/corn salad, and a Modelo.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

 Once again, I'm sorry for not keeping up with the blog for so long.  As you can see, there has been a lot going on and it may have finally caught up to me! I will do better going forward!

Thanks for reading! We are looking forward to traveling home this weekend for Mother's Day.  We also have the special treat of getting to see both sets of Chris' grandparents that we do not get to visit with very often.  We have another project underway that I can't wait to share more about.  These are exciting times!

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