Uncategorized

The Royal Wedding – Sunshine Arrives


While watching the wedding of Prince William and Kate, the weather report was a bit sketchy; however, almost as soon as Kate arrived in the stunning, classic wedding gown and stepped out to walk towards her Prince, the Heavens appeared to beam with light.

Perhaps this was just a coincidence. Since I am a person who truly believes in omens, visions and the symbolic reasonings of such, I truly believe it was Diana showing William and Kate how proud she is that they are married.

Many people have compared Kate to Diana. Her style for fashions, her elegance and charm. I believe she is a breath of fresh air for our world. Independent, modern, and such a beauty, Kate will shine above the rest of the royalty, and she will make William a happy man. The chemistry between them is amazing. How hopeful I am that they will be a happy and loving couple. The wedding was beautiful, especially at the ‘proper moment for the sun to beam from the heavens.’

Perhaps a coincidence? Hardly. The sunshine was a symbolic gesture to let everyone know Diana, her spirit and her great love for her son, was there – guiding them and giving them strength.

Such a beautiful couple they make. How I wish them the best!

Uncategorized

Happy Royal Wedding Day – Kate and William


Friday, April 29, 2011 — The church is decorated with tall trees, flowers and all the elegance of a splendid wedding day.  The crowds are strolling inside Westminster Abbey. Women dressed in the finest of designs and spectacular hats. Men are adorned in morning suits. All the best for a great 21-first century couple – Prince William and Kate Middleton.

For almost a decade, we have watched the love radiating from their eyes and hearts. How desperate they tried to keep their love a secret.  Paparazzi tormented Kate when she stepped out of her car – anxious to get just the ‘perfect’ shot of her — perhaps a bit too anxious.

Today is their day! Let us all hope today is a joyous happy day for all the world, and for love.

In 1981, I watched another Royal Wedding – the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana. I gasped when she strolled towards the church with such a beautiful princess style gown, the 25-foot train gliding so gracefully behind her. During her lifetime, I admired Diana, the strength she had, the contributions she made, the generosity and love for others. Never did she turn away from a challenge. She stood tall. It is unfortunate that we lost such a beautiful, graceful Princess Diana in 1997. It is sad that she can only watch this day in our spirits and within the heart of William and Kate and Harry.

Happy Royal Wedding Day. Let us all remember this spectacular day while toasting the new Royal Couple! Let us hope their love story will be strong enough to stand the test of time, the tragedies and stress of marriage. May the paparazzi give them a bit of freedom as they grow.  Here’s a toast to Kate and William – may your pillow never know a word of anger. May your days be filled with love. And when life gives you disappointments, shower yourself with a bit of L-O-V-E.

Uncategorized

Thank You for Your Comments Related to Veterans’ Issues


To those of you who read my blog on a regular basis — and apparently there are many of you — I would like to thank you for your kind thoughts, stories, issues and comments. Since I wrote the story about our recent experience at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, my e-mail has been busy with interesting comments. When I wrote the second portion to that story, “Diplomacy Pays,” I have heard from wives — or should I say — the wives who have weathered the storm of a Veteran suffering with PTSD.  Additional comments from ‘second wives,’ ‘third wives…’ and so on, including compelling comments from soldiers — thanking me. The soldiers thanked me for sticking it out with my husband. They expressed that I must really understand what PTSD is like. Perhaps sometimes I do. Other times — I wish to throw in the towel while reminding myself that if I am diplomatic to Phil, and If I apply the silent treatment, perhaps the mood and rage will go away — at least, for a while! Surprising to me is the discovery that many of you have experienced the same issues I have while watching your special veteran suffering with the side effects of war.

I suppose I should smile or snicker to myself now while recognizing the VA does not understand. Several times they told my husband he must not suffer that bad because he is [and I am quoting their words…] ‘still with your first wife…’

I’ve written about those scenarios before, so if you are interested, research my name on Google “Barbie perkins-cooper + veterans-for-change…” and you should be able to pull up those stories.  Now, I am taking it upon myself to continue writing about the issues related to Veterans; however, there will be a twist…these stories will be from the perspective of the many wives who have written to me. Rest assured, the names will be changed, along with events…but according to my reading public, my stories have opened their eyes to how a loved one learns to cope with PTSD.

Stay tuned for more stories. I have several deadlines approaching so if I appear a bit quiet, I am still around — working while pursuing my dream as a successful writer.

If you have a story to share about PTSD, please e-mail me at:

barbiepc@bellsouth.net

Uncategorized

Happy Easter


Today is a beautiful day, filled with vibrant rays of sunshine beaming down from the Heavens. Today is a day of remembrance, and a day to rejoice in the belief of God, Jesus and Easter. Happy Easter to all who are reading this blog, and Happy Easter to the world.

It is unfortunate that our world consists of wars, hatred, bigotry and such pain. Our lives are short. Our time that we have to walk along the paths of our world are sometimes cut way too short; nevertheless, let us all give thanks for our family, for our friends who become extensions of our family — sometimes, even closer than we anticipated.  Let us all take a moment from our busy days to appreciate the freedoms we have, and to appreciate our soldiers who fight so bravely to protect us.

Today is Easter. A special time to enjoy and be thankful. Yes, it is a day where children will frolic and play, rushing around to find the special egg or candy. It is a time when some people dress up not just in their “Sunday best” but their Easter bonnets, dresses, suits and such — just to show how proper and stylishly dressed they can be. For me, it is a day to remember my special grandmother, all that she taught me, all that she instilled within my soul. Easter is a day to remember our Lord and his resurrection. Happy Easter to all of you. Enjoy your special day with those you love, and please remember the reason for the season. Happy, Happy Easter!

Uncategorized

Gulf Oil Disaster – One Year Later


Today, one year ago, we lost eleven men during the Gulf Oil disaster – Deepwater Horizon. How I remember the dreadful tragedy. My heart broke for the families who would not see a loved one come home again, the children who would never kiss their father goodbye before leaving for work, a husband who would not share his life with those he loved. The intense flames and the gusting oil rushing into the beautiful Gulf Coast made me so angry. How could this happen, I asked.

Now, most people still remember the disaster — but do we really know the names of the eleven who died? Allow me to introduce them:

Jason Anderson, Bay City, Texas, a father

Aaron Donald Burkeen, 37, father and husband, a resident of Sandtown Community, Mississippi – reportedly, he died a hero striving to get everyone to safety.

Donald Clark, 49 from Newellton, Louisiana – husband, reportedly scheduled to leave the rig the following day.

Stephen Ray Curtis, 39 from Georgetown, Louisiana – active in his church and he loved spending time with his family.

Gordon Lewis Jones, 28 from Baton Rouge, Louisiana – he left behind a wife who was pregnant with their second child.

Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27 from Monterey, Louisiana – a religious man with a wife and three children.

Karl D. Kleppinger Jr., 28 from Natchez, Louisiana – he loved barbecue and NASCAR. He was a husband and father.

Keith Blair Manuel, 56 from St. Amant, Louisiana – engaged to be married, until—.

Dewey Allen Revette, 48 from State Line, Mississippi – husband and father of two daughters.

Shane Michael Roshto, 22 from Liberty, Mississippi – married with a three-year-old child. Inscribed within his hard hat were his anniversary date and his son’s birthdate!

Adam T. Weise, 24 from Yorktown, Texas – he loved playing football and was a outdooors kind-of-guy.

These men had character and strength and we will miss them. We will also miss all of the wildlife that died. I cried when I glanced at the TV seeing brown pelicans covered with oil, unable to move or fly or do anything to protect themselves.

After the news continued to escalate about this tragedy I became angry with BP. How could they allow this to happen?  CEO Tony Heyward did not appear to be concerned. He appear more concerned with ‘getting his life back…’ Isn’t it sad that he wanted his life back when eleven men would love to be home with their loved ones. Today, we rarely hear about Tony Heyward. Perhaps that is good.

The Gulf Coast is a beautiful, pristine coastline, and I am hopeful that all will return. Reportedly, the shores are cleaner and the seafood is safe. Things are returning to normal and I am hopeful those are true statements. I plan to return to the Gulf Coast again someday, and I will research to see how sugar soft the sands are, and of course, I will look for pelicans. Still today, I wanted to reminisce a bit — to remember the people we lost. The tragedy of losing loved ones and wildlife. The Gulf Coast is such a special, beautiful place. The culture is rich. Restaurants and hotels are some of the best anyone could ask for. The people are proud and extremely friendly.

Since the Gulf Oil tragedy I haven’t patronized a BP station and I still go out of my way not to patronize. I am making a statement, I suppose. I want to remember the tragedy, especially those brave eleven men who lost their lives, exactly one year ago — today on April 20, 2010. Rest in peace.

Uncategorized

Diplomacy Pays – When Dealing with the VA Hospitals


A few weeks ago I posted a blog on this site about a dreadful situation at Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital, Charleston, SC. If you’ve read it, you recall I discussed a situation with a nurse named Hannah and her abrupt demeanor. Perhaps she was having a bad day. Perhaps she was fighting PMS. Perhaps she thought I would simply slip under the woodwork. Hardly! Nevertheless, her excuses for her behavior are unacceptable and I hope she learned from this experience. All of us have difficult days; however, we must remember that when we are in the service or a professional industry, we are dealing with people. If we come across as ‘bitter’ many times, people will retaliate with defense mechanisms. Fortunately, I inhaled. Exhaled. I took a deep breath and gave her a piece of my mind — only with diplomacy!

The next day, I compiled my notes while caring for my husband and his neck pain. Writing the story, I posted it here, sharing the experience with my reading public, in hopes to educate others. I sent a copy of the blog story along with a letter to the appropriate authorities at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

An Apologetic Reply

Last Thursday, I spent a bit of time on the phone with someone from the hospital. Unfortunately, since I was packing to go out of town, I failed to jot her name down; nevertheless, it was apparent from the phone conversation that the story has been publicized a bit at the hospital and there is an ongoing investigation. Later, on the way to Atlanta, GA, my cell phone rang. Since I was driving, I did not answer. After checking into the hotel, I pulled voice mails, receiving a call from another medical professional at the hospital. I phoned his cell phone and we had another interesting conversation, along with more apologies for the situation.

Practice Diplomacy

So, the bottom line for this posting — who cares — perhaps you are saying? As an advocate for Veterans, I would like to share — diplomacy pays when dealing with situations at the Veterans Administration, or at a Veterans Hospital. While it is true that many veterans get annoyed when waiting, like cattle headed to pasture, diplomacy does pay. If you are dealing with illness, or anxious to hear from the VA about your claims, it is best not to go on the attack. As I’ve stated many times in Mail Call, a newsletter publication I write for a local VFW, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. If you approach with kindness and diplomacy, people listen. Yes, it is true, the VA appears to move in slow circles — but if you go on the attack, are rude or impatient — this only leads to negative actions and reactions. My husband has filed many claims related to his illnesses from Agent Orange, PTSD, Diabetes, etc…etc…etc… At times it appears that he is lost in the shuffle, but — still we practice the rule of diplomacy! I do find it an interesting footnote that when our Veterans return from war, they still must battle an intense, emotional war to get what they were promised and still deserve.

Coping with the Stress of PTSD and Other Situations

My husband is a Vietnam Veteran who suffers intensely with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It doesn’t take much to push his buttons — especially me! Perhaps that is why he prefers that I deal with difficult situations because he knows he has a short fuse and will blow up! When the situation occurred at the VA Hospital, I was thankful he did not hear the nurse’s comments. All he heard was me, when I spun on my heel and retaliated. It took all of my self-control not to go on the attack with the nurse. I am certain that now she probably regrets saying, “You can always go somewhere else…” I hope her words taught her something about biting her tongue — and being diplomatic. 

Perhaps some of you have not lived with a Veteran who battles with PTSD. My husband only shows his true behaviors of the PTSD side effects behind the closed doors of our home. Yes, there are times he gets impatient with others, and some people have asked me how I tolerate these situations. I simply smile, inhale, exhale and say that ‘this too shall pass…’ I’ve lived with him for many years and I know the triggers, along with the curious, vacant stare in his eyes. It’s a look I do not like — the look of a warrior, headed to battle, facing the unknown.

It is true — I haven’t forgotten the loneliness, apprehension and fear that a wife, husband or family member experiences when a loved one leaves for war. And it is also true, I anticipated that when he returned, he would still be the young, happy and loving soldier he was before he left to fight for our country. Trust me…when a soldier returns from a combat zone — life is changed — significantly. No one can understand what they experienced, and perhaps that is why they NEVER talk about these situations.

I suppose my husband is appreciative that I tolerate what PTSD does to him. As his wife, I do not hold it against him. I made the commitment to be with him, ‘in sickness and in health,’ when we married. After he returned from war – a stranger who refused to discuss the war — I read articles about PTSD, recognizing he had many of the symptoms, and when he finally admitted he might suffer from it, I replied, “I may not be a medical professional, but I live with you and I KNOW you have it!”

Sharing Our Experience

After our experience at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, my husband shook his head when he discovered I was composing a story about the incident. “You’re just wasting your time,” he said. “It won’t do a bit of good.” How thankful I was that he did not hear the nurse’s comments, just my response. When he saw the anger and emotions in my face, he knew something had happened. As a professional writer, I am accused of wearing my emotions on my shirt sleeves and no doubt, my heart was about to burst from the anger I was struggling to hold back on that date.

After completing the story,  I printed it, read it to him and packaged the composition ready for mail. After posting on my blog, I was curious if people actually read it. Last Thursday, I discovered the story was making the rounds and people were listening…

So, the bottom line — when dealing with a difficult situation — be diplomatic. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. And if the anger cannot be controlled — simply walk away. Document everything by collecting names, dates, times, etc. Assert yourself about the situation by placing your feet in the shoes of the situation. While it is true there are many complaints about the length of time it takes to get service at a VA Hospital, or with the VA Administration, we are still dealing with people and I fully believe every situation is unique.  As for the response from Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, I truly appreciate that they took the time to read the story and to do a thorough investigation. Our Veterans deserve diplomacy and patience. After all, they have been fighting wars and most of them never share their experiences during those traumatic times. We as caring family members and medical professionals must treat them with respect, especially if they are suffering from illnesses, PTSD, and the little incidental sufferings only a Veteran can understand.

Thank you, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center for listening to me and my husband’s experience. It is nice to know that you are listening to us and working towards providing some of the best medical care you have available. Yes, Diplomacy pays!

Uncategorized

Civil War Returns to Charleston – April 12, 2011


Pop. Pop. Bang. Bang. Bang. The sounds of the Civil War have returned, only this is April 12, 2011 at 6:45am – 150 years later!

Today, the sounds of war are everywhere, especially in Charleston, SC where I hear the thundering sounds of war. If these sounds are symbolic of the noise and warnings of war in America,  the rumbling thunderous sounds give me a new appreciation of freedom.

Today within the City of Charleston, Confederate forces are at Fort Sumter, SC, all dressed symbolic to the uniforms of the Confederacy. Crowds are lining up along the Battery and other areas, dressed in jeans, Tee shirts, and fashions of the times of 2011.   Union re-enactors are at Fort Sumter, the Confederate re-enactors protect the Harbor of Charleston.   

Today a cannon will fire every 15 minutes. Undoubtedly, I will not have difficulty getting my pups to come back inside when hearing the thundering rumbling sounds of the war.  

While hearing the ‘sounds of war reenacted’ I am reminded that  Americans are blessed due to the freedoms we have. The freedom to reenact a war, the freedom to speak our minds, and the freedom to protect those we love, all to the credit of war. Today, we are at war – in Afghanistan and Iraq, although some people will say we are no longer at war in Iraq. We still have troops over there, and we still hear about soldiers who lose their lives in Iraq, so — in my opinion — the war in Iraq still exist. Today, the residents and tourists of Charleston may observe the beginning sounds of the Civil War. Listening to the thunder of the cannons, I have a new appreciation about the Civil War.

Never was I a fan of the Civil War. I remember discussing the Civil War in school, and I definitely had my opinions about it, especially from the perspective of a young feminist. I believed it resembled opinions, beliefs, and bigotry I did not believe, as a thoroughly modern woman, so I will keep my opinions about the Civil War to myself. I appreciate the history and I am hopeful that as a Nation, America has risen to the occasions, recognizing that we are all equal, not divided.

Today, I will listen to the cannons exploding at Fort Sumter, thankful that I live in a City where history is preserved. I know a few of the Civil War re-enactors and I appreciate the battles they are preserving while perspiring in their heavy uniforms. I can’t help wondering how many of them have cell phones tucked within their pockets! Wouldn’t it be interesting to see one of them texting, or answering their phones. I doubt that will happen. Most of the Civil War re-enactors are serious about their work and it is a testament to them while they fight the battles.

I admire how the women of the Civil War wear their Confederate costumes, the heavy fabrics, crinolines, bonnets, and corsets. I am so thankful those fashions have changed — significantly! Today, I will listen to the Civil War as it returns, while enjoying the sunshine outside, dressed in comfortable shorts and thoroughly modern attire!  The South has risen again. Now, just where is a glass of wine!

Uncategorized

Cooper River Bridge Run


Living in Mt. Pleasant, SC – near the starting line of the Cooper River Bridge Run, there is an aire of excitement as the sea of runners, walkers and supporting parties, workers, volunteers, etc. etc. all come together to get the Bridge Run started.

“And they’re off…” Finally. Yawn. Stretch. Yawn. “Just where is my coffee this morning?” I listen to the music and the shouting. Years ago, I looked out my kitchen window to see cars parked up and down my road, the side road, and sometimes so near my driveway I wasn’t certain I could get out. Silly.Then I remembered, the only way I could get out to run an errand was to walk. For several years, I was a bystander for the excitement.

One day I am going to walk that bridge, I continue telling myself. Never would I run it. Asthma would shut me down!

To all who run and walk, I admire your persistence, and one day, I do plan to join you. Someday. Sometimes you might see me standing on the curb cheering you on, along with the sea of people who are there — cheering — shouting — wishing and hoping that someday they will be doing the same.

Ok, so here’s my shocking goal for 2012 — I will walk during the bridge run, but please — no cameras! I’ll have to wear a fancy hat to hide my hair and face! Next year, I am doing it! I have a year to practice. I walk 2.5 miles daily — with my three precious dogs, so next year, I will do it — without them. No one wants to get in the way of my babies! With a sea of runners, walkers, spectators, I can be only one who will not be noticed! Hopefully!

Now, I’ve made the commitment to walk the bridge in 2012. Just where are my Shapeups! I need a new pair now since mine are scuffed to a smooth surface. Humph! Perhaps that is the justification to buy a new pair. They work great for walking — but if you should buy a pair, they have the tendency to rock — and — so do I!

Uncategorized

Hurry Up and Wait…Playing the Waiting Game at the VA Hospital


             On March 30, 2011, my husband awoke to severe pain in the neck. Knowing he is a heart patient who suffered a TIA in December 2008, Phil phoned his primary care doctor at Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital. For those who are not aware, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a mini-stroke. A TIA is considered a warning sign that a true stroke may be about to happen. Time is crucial to receive medical care. Phil phoned the TAPS line to make an appointment to see his primary care doctor. When the nurse at the VA hospital returned his call, he listened to the symptoms, telling my husband he would receive a return call from the doctor within twenty-four hours. “Twenty-four hours,” I replied. “If you are having a TIA there may not be 24 hours We’re going to E-R!”

            Arriving at E-R of the VA Hospital, I noticed a sign, “No cell phones permitted in this area.” I turned my cell phone off. We entered the emergency area, standing in line awaiting a simple nod from someone acknowledging our presence. We watched the employee answer the telephone, hang it up, answer another telephone, while placing it on the desk to answer her personal cell phone. Upon answering her personal cell, she motioned that she wasn’t assisting with patients and walked away. We crossed over to the other line, now filled with two people who arrived after we did. Finally we were serviced and my husband told them he was a heart patient and had a TIA in 2008. His neck was causing excruciating pain and he wanted to make certain he wasn’t having a stroke. Almost immediately, my husband’s vitals were checked. Within 30 minutes he was moved back to the E-R area, examination room 10.

            For two-and-a- half hours we sat in the room. No one came to check on his condition. In the corridor my husband listened to the nurses and assistants chattering away about their lives, partying, marriage, while answering their cell phones and surfing on the Internet. My husband is a Vietnam Veteran with PTSD so patience isn’t something he tolerates well. After waiting for such a long time, I approached these people, greeting them diplomatically. “Could you please give me an estimate of how much longer it will be before my husband sees a doctor?”

            Hannah, the young, attractive blonde dressed in orange scrubs glanced up from her laptop screen. “We have a lot of patients. Many are sicker than your husband, so we don’t know how long it will be.”

            “You do realize my husband could be having another TIA. I am certain when the doctor arrives he will recommend an X-ray, and then we’ll have to continue the wait. Strokes demand a quick response.”

             The nurse shrugged her shoulders. “We looked at his records, but I don’t know how much longer it will be.”

            “Why is it always such a long waiting game every time we come here?” I asked. “My husband could be having a stroke.”

            Recognizing I was getting nowhere, I turned back to my husband’s examination room. The nurse replied, “You can always go somewhere else…”

            I spun on my heel, approached the blonde again and replied… “That is the wrong thing to say to someone, especially a Veteran. When the USA needed them, they did not say they could go somewhere else to avoid war…How dare you say that to a veteran. Perhaps you should go somewhere else to work…”

            Arriving back at my husband’s room, I was so angry I was shaking. Within two minutes a doctor entered the room, introducing himself as Dr. Edward O’Bryan.” He examined my husband, testing his balance, doing all the necessary tests to determine he was not having a stroke. The diagnosis was neck strain. A shot was given, prescriptions written and a request for an X-ray was completed. While speaking with the doctor, I demanded to know the blonde nurse’s name. “Hannah,” was the reply. Dr. O’Bryan was 100% professional with a great bedside manner. I explained my concerns to him, along with the words expressed by the nurse. He apologized. I let him know I was taking notes, would write a letter to my Congressional Representative, and would write additional stories about this experience. He nodded. Later, I spoke with a nursing supervisor who reassured me that the nurse in question had been reprimanded.

            Isn’t it a shame that sometimes it takes a bit of assertiveness to get the necessary care at a VA Hospital. When our veterans went to war the expression, “Hurry up and wait,” became a cliché. In 2011, it is not just a cliché, but appears to be a standard operating procedure at Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital. It is a pity that veterans are treated in such a way. Whatever happened to the promises made? Our veterans fight wars to protect our freedom. I find it inconceivable that when they need a little TLC and examinations they are told to “Go somewhere else.” Our Veterans deserve better treatment and medical care. They made our country proud, not a disgrace!