Iwo Gima

Iwo Gima
Marine Corps Marathon

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Disapointing Day - March 31, 2011

Last night, just before going to bed, I was on the phone with Jason's doctor. One of the other doctors had been to see Jason and told him that he was going to be loosing what was left of his left leg. She told me that, that was not the plan and assuaged my concerns, so I went back over to see Jason, even though it was getting late. He was awake and thought I would probably be coming back. I let him know about the conversation with his doctor. I also let him know that she said she had planned to stop by early to see him, as I had asked her to. We all went to bed, a little more relaxed, it was almost midnight.

At about 6:30am I was awakened by a call from his nurse, who said, "Jason wants you to come over to see him. The doctor is talking about the removal of his leg." I was up and dressed, and over there in about 15 minutes. Dr. Malone, his doctor, was talking to him and explaining what was going to be happening and that there was no plan to remove his left leg. If there was a concern, she would bring together the doctors and Jason, along with his family support - Bridgette, Linda and I. We talked for about 20 - 25 minutes and again, she calmed down our fears. About this time Linda showed up and joined us. I had made a couple of calls to Bridgette, but for whatever reason the calls failed the first two times and then I finally got through to leave a voice mail message. Jason was then taken off to surgery. Surgery was going to be a bit more difficult this time, as they had to turn him over, and have him lie face-down, as they were working more on his lower back.

Jason got out of surgery and we were given a call that we needed to come and meet with the doctors and Jason, and it was a call I had hoped would not be coming. They wanted to remove the left leg completely. I asked them several questions about why, and how he would function in the future as well as several other questions, but the bottom line was that they felt that in order for them to be able to effectively close up his wounds and provide him with a balanced base, to sit on. Otherwise he was looking at greater discomfort while riding in a wheelchair, and at this point it was unlikely that he would be able to be fitted for any prosthetic. However, there are new developments going on all the time, and perhaps something will be available for Jason in the not-to-distant future, and his future is what I am most concerned about.

Needless to say, we were all pretty upset about this, and didn't like the idea. The decision was, and is Jason's and Bridgette's to make, and he is resigned to the fact that his life is now in a wheelchair. He took the news better than the rest of us, or at least it seems he did. He is a very strong young man, both mentally and physically. I guess the deciding factor was the fact that there was a great deal of damaged tissue, including muscle tissue, that they were going to need to replace, in order to close the wounds so that he would be comfortable. That tissue is coming from his left leg. The alternative was to take it from his back, and that is a very poor option, as it would significantly impact his upper-body strength. Because these type injuries/wounds only happen in war type settings, the military is the only place where they can work on this type injury, so all the best experience is right here at Bethesda, and we need to have faith that the doctors are doing the right thing. That is easier said than done, but we will do our best.

We need the prayers more now, than ever. For Jason, for us and for the doctors.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30, 2011

Today was a good day with Jason, and for Jason. He is much more comfortable now, though he is still not allowed to eat, other than through a tube in his nose. His spirits are high, and all his vitals are in line where they should be. He will be going in for surgery tomorrow morning, to remove what is hoped will be the last of the "clean up" surgeries, and all the remaining tissue will be what he has to work with, going forward. The doctor came in today and had a very good chat with all of us, in that they are going to begin the closing up of some of the wounds, and especially the work that is going to be going on in getting what is left of his left leg all healed up. She talked of bio-synthetic materials, skin grafts, and most importantly, where they will be able to bring natural skin to natural skin for the best healing. The more they can do this the better for Jason.

Earlier today we had somewhat of a treat, in that the commander of the 38th Marine Battalion's wife, and a couple of other members of high level support teams for the Marines came looking for Linda and myself. She arranged a telephone call with her husband, the Colonel over all the men and women of the 38th, and he took the time out of his day to speak with us. This is truly amazing, considering all that is going on right now, over in that part of the world. He even said to give Jason a hug for him. Of course when I said that to Jason he just gave me a strange look, like I'd either hit my head, or got hold of some of the drugs they were using on him. Anyway, it was a nice surprise and an enjoyable conversation.

Then, at the end of the day came the best thing of all. Dr. Malone, Jason's doctor, came in to see him and talk to him about what was going to be happening tomorrow, during the surgery. She asked him if there were any questions and in true Jason form he looked right at her and asked, "When do I get to eat again?" Since he is no longer experiencing any digestive track problems he wants to chew on something other than ice chips. Linda asked (we were in the room), "Can he have a Popsicle?" She paused for a moment and then said, he could. Within a minute Jason got a cherry Popsicle and he was SOOOOOOO happy. He still has a tube running down in to his stomach that pumps out any fluids that might be there, so as he ate the Popsicle you could see the red liquid going into the collection area. Very shortly after that another team of doctors came in, and saw the red liquid and immediately jumped, as they thought he was bleeding. Dr. Malone was still there so she calmed them down quickly and said they probably shouldn't have gone with cherry. Jason ate about a dozen Popsicles (cherry, grape and orange). Simple pleasures are the best.

Thank you, all for continuing to follow this blog, and for making comments. Once Jason is able to he will be reading all the comments, as well as the blog itself. Please continue to keep Jason in your thoughts and prayers. It is truly appreciated.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A good day at Bethesda 03/29/2011

Today was a good day for Jason. The problems he was having yesterday are all past him now, and they moved him up from the 3rd floor back to the 5th floor, and he was pretty happy about it. His mood is good and he was able to relax a bit more, for the first time, and catch up a bit on his sleep. He still isn't able to read, though he enjoyed the gamers magazine that his brother Sean gave him. He can scan through the pictures to figure out at least part of what is going on. His vision is a bit blurred still, and I think it is a result of the medication he is being given. He can see well enough, though, to watch Robin Hood (Russell Crowe) as he had not seen that movie yet. Other than that, it was pretty much just a day of relaxing and working with the doctors.

He has another surgery tomorrow, early in the morning, where they will give him another general anesthetic, clean out some the wounds and make some assessments of what to do next. I don't want to sound so routine, as these surgeries take anywhere from four to six hours, and each time they take just a little more of the parts that need to be removed. The hope is that each time now will be the last time they have to remove tissue, and then they can do more closing, so keep those prayers coming. I told Jason that he has a bunch of followers now, and a bunch more who read the blog on a regular basis. It made him smile...

I'll keep updating this blog, as long as Jason is happy with me doing this. It helps to keep his spirits up and helps me to feel like I'm doing something. Thank you, for your prayers and support. For those of you who have requested his address, I'll put it here again:

George M. Ross, Jr (You can also put Sgt Jason Ross here and it will be delivered)
General Delivery
8901 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20889-5600

Resonses to some of the comments

You're welcome,
Thank you all
Okay, seriously - some of the comments have asked if they can send things. The answer is yes - with the caveat being, that they hospital room is only so big so please don't send BIG items. Cards, letters, even magazines (fishing, outdoor, camping, hiking...). Do not send food as right now he has a very controlled diet, if/when he can receive food I will post that. Also, for those that want to send flowers - feel free to do so, but please keep in mind, he is still a Marine!

Jason is back on the 5th floor, so that should tell you he is doing better, I am currently sitting in the waiting room, to go visit, while they set him up again, so I'll be putting out a better/more complete post a bit later. Take care and thank you all, for all the prayers and positive thoughts.

Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011 - Just another Monday

Today was a good day for Jason, in that he felt much better going into the late night, from last nights problems. and he did well with surgery. Then after surgery, though he was uncomfortable, it wasn't anywhere near the discomfort he had felt, so overall he said he felt pretty good. He looked a whole lot better too. The only challenge is that he is back on the 3rd floor, as they work to clear the blockage, and that should be done by tomorrow. He will be able to head back up to the 5th floor and once again work towards that next level of healing.

I was able to get over to the post office today, while Jason was still in surgery and picked up some mail, and a poster (haven't opened it yet, so don't know what it is), I think. We took them, all were for Jason, to Jason's room and there they sit, waiting for his return. He can't have things in his 3rd floor room right now, that aren't a part of his medical treatment. Well, that's not quite true - I was able to bring him a magazine, one of the gamer magazines that Sean brought for him, and Jason liked it, even though he has trouble turning the pages. It is something Jason is into, video games, and it is a fairly new magazine that he hasn't seen.

Linda and I spent some time with him, and while we were there Bridgette happened to call, to ask if I'd relay a message to Jason. I did one better, I just gave the phone to Jason and let him talk with her - I think it made both of them very happy, for a little while. Bridgette is still on target to return by Wednesday, and then Jason should be able to finally see his girls. Linda and I stayed with him for a little while longer, and watched the Simpsons with him (his choice). After that he felt kinda tired and said he wanted to sleep. That, in itself, was good news to hear, as he had been having some difficulties sleeping. Perhaps he will get closer to a more regular sleeping pattern now.

I would like to thank the people who have sent in cards and pictures and a poster (I think), as I am anxious to read them all to him - okay, Linda will probably be reading them, but the bottom line is that he will finally get to see and "read" them. All of the support is really showing and the prayers are very important, so please continue. We are hoping to have more days like this one, showing progress and improvement. Thank you, and bless you all for keeping Jason in your hearts.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27, 2011

Today both Sean and George, Jason's brothers, had to head back home. We understand that Jason will be receiving his Purple Heart, in a ceremony they do right there in his hospital room, next month. If it is possible, one or all of them will be back to see it. David and Miriam also said they want to be here for the presentation, so I've asked the Marines to provide me with a date to allow them to plan. It has been a blessing to have all his brothers here, as we really think it helped to bring his spirits up, and to help bring Mom and Dad's spirits up too.

Jason was feeling a little uncomfortable today, due to some minor issues with his stomach. I guess I was a little over reactive (over protective dad?) as I kind of jumped on a couple of the nurses and a doctor, as I didn't feel they were moving fast enough to help him with his discomfort. His discomfort went on for several hours, and Jason said he didn't have "pain" - just discomfort. But things are much better now, as we just left Jason's bed side and he was in pretty good spirits, and a big thing was that he was moving all his fingers on is right hand. It looks like he has regained just about all functionality of his left hand, even though there is still a brace on that hand supporting his index finger. The braces on both hands will probably be there for another couple of weeks. As a result of Jason being uncomfortable he didn't get to see his daughters, and now with the surgery in the morning it looks like it will be another couple of days.

One of the things that happened two days ago, that I had forgotten to mention in that day's blog, was a letter that we had brought with us, from a dear friend of the family, Denise F. She was the youth pastor that worked with Jason several years ago, and Linda read the entire letter (6 pages!) to Jason. He still wasn't able to hold the letter himself, at the time, and the medication he was on made it difficult for him to read on his own. He really enjoyed the letter, and is looking forward to hearing from others, as we have told him that cards and letters are coming. One of the things we have started doing is putting up pictures of family, and he would like to also have some of friends. They need to be big enough for him to see, so if you would like send a picture or two, you can got to CVS, or Costco, or some other place have have 5X7 or larger prints made. The pictures are being put up on the walls around his bed, and since he won't be able to get out of bed for at least another 2 months we want to have as many photos as we can, for him to look at. I'll be headed over to the postal office, and pick up any General Delivery that has come in so far, as I didn't have time to do it on Friday, and they're closed on weekends.

Keep all those prayers and good thoughts coming our way as I think they are really helping to move things along in a positive way. Little set backs like today are going to happen and we want to make them as minimal as possible. Thank you, all...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26, 2011

Today was a good day for Jason, and the rest of the family. We actually took the first part of the day to go over to Arlington National Cemetery and look around some. Sean had never been to Washington, D.C. so we figured since he is leaving tomorrow he should get a chance to see something of the historical places here. Prior to going we went over and spent some time with the girls so that Bridgette and her mom, Yvone, could go and see Jason. We then took off to Arlington. We got back about 4:15PM and then picked up the girls and went to go over to see Jason. We stayed with him until about 8:30PM. and then came back to Bridgette's room to wait until she and her mom returned.

While visiting with Jason we got to talk with him in shifts, and he was in a very positive frame of mind. Linda and I were able to feed him his dinner, and again he really went for those vegetables (today he had green beans). Funny thing though, for whatever reason, the hospital staff decided he needed extra jello. They put the jello in plastic cups, and he had three of them, all stacked up on his tray. I asked if he had requested jello and Jason said no. He was able to eat about half of it and about half of the rest of his dinner. We got to talking about some of the treatment he was receiving and some of the personnel, and the environment in general, and if it weren't for the fact that he was in a hospital bed you might have thought it was a normal conversation around just about any dinner table. The high point of the talk was when he said he would like to see the girls, Stacy and Jackie, and that he wanted Bridgette to bring them around tomorrow. We were all very happy about this as we were anxious for him to get reacquainted with Stacy and Jackie. Jackie is too young to remember her daddy, but Stacy talks about him every day.

Sean and George will be headed back to California tomorrow, and we are going to miss them. They will be coming back when they can, and I really feel that Jason has benefited from them being here. Yvone is going to be headed back home also, as she came out for the weekend, and will probably be able to come more often, since she doesn't live too far away. She told me the flight here didn't cost too much so she would be coming as often as she could.

One last thing... Apparently my email was hacked and someone decided to send out a SPAM email to my entire email list. I apologize for the trouble this may have cause anyone, and I hope it doesn't happen again. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers - we are getting messages from all sorts of people, letting us know they're praying for Jason and us.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday - March 25, 2011

Today was an interesting day, in that Jason had to go in for another surgery, and they were not able to close up wounds, as they found some more infection from the fungus. They are going to have to do some other treatments, and overall the affects of the different infections (bacterial and fungal) are just about under control, but sometimes there will be finds that cause a slight change in the direction the doctors wanted to go. There wasn't much other tissue to remove so there were some very good out comes from the surgery today, it just wasn't what they had hoped.

Jason felt pretty good after the surgery, and was happy with visitors today, just as long as there were only a couple at a time. Linda and I were able to come in at the right time, in that we got to help him with his dinner meal. Mom was in heaven when she got to spoon food, up to his mouth and he asked for the vegetables most of the time. The doctor told us that she wanted him to eat as much he wanted to, and they would be feeding him also via a tube through the night. He just can not consume enough calories right now for multiple reasons. I got to cut up his food and give him his drink, mostly water. His brothers took a few pictures that we had taken of the family, including Bridgette and Jason's daughters, and made some made some larger prints for the room. They are large enough for him to see, while he is laying on the bed, since they are all hung on the wall. It seems to have brightened his spirits. Bridgette came in after us to finish feeding him, so we went to get something to eat with our other sons. It has been great having all the boys here this week, for both us and Jason.

In my last blog I mentioned some of the organizations that have been helping us with our visit and stay out here at Bethesda, but I didn't mention both the Livermore and Pleasanton Military Families groups who have been helping watch and support things back at home. A big thank, you to both groups, for all that they have done. And a big thank you, to all of you for your continued support and prayers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24, 2011

Today was another tough day for Jason in that he was having some discomfort and the medical staff was needing to do some procedures with him. Just the procedures alone can be very uncomfortable, and to have all that other pain going can sometimes be almost over whelming. We spent some time with him, and did our best to make him comfortable, but it was one of those days where not much of anything is going to make it less bearable. Other than that I really don't have a great deal more of an update to provide, so I'm going to go with another tack today.

One of the ways that we, Jason's family, are being allowed to be with him, is through the efforts of the Marines, and also through donations that come through volunteer groups like Yellow Ribbon, Wounded Warriors, and Semper Fi Fund. They have stepped up to provide us with the ability to get all his brothers out here, at no cost to us, and provide them with housing and food, while they are here. So I guess what I'm asking here is that if you are in a position to make a donation to one or all of these organizations, please do so as it will surely help others.

Please keep the prayers coming in and we have begun receiving some small "gifts" to share with Jason. Thank you, to all who have, and are sending them. Jason will see them just as soon as I can get them to him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A step back - 03/23/2011

Jason went through surgery today, and physically the surgery was a success and they were able to get some closing of the wounds accomplished. They took the feeding tube out and allowed him to begin eating whatever he wants, and he has been drinking for a few days now (I brought in a case of pink lemonade today - just for him). All of this sounds good, and it is, but his mental attitude dropped a bit today, and you can really see it in him. David, his brother, and I were able to visit with him for a short while and then he asked to be left alone. David put together a sign that was stuck on his door that said only medical personnel were to come in to his room. A short while later Bridgette, his wife, came to visit and Jason asked her to leave. He is needing to get his thoughts together and come to grips with how his life is going to be, going forward.

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, and do your best to provide him strength, as right now is when he is needing it most. Thank you, for all the prayers so far, I do believe it has helped.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome to the 5th Floor!

Hurray! Jason was moved to the 5th floor today, as a sign that his healing is moving along better than originally anticipated. He was in good spirits today, and when I came into his room this afternoon, with a bottle of Minute Maid Pink Lemonade he said, "Hey, that looks good. Is that pink lemonade?" I said it was, and that was the end of my pink lemonade, and it was the best bottle I never drank! Heck, even when David showed up today, I asked him to go and buy another bottle to take to Jason. His new room is a bit more accommodating to things being put in his room, so we're going to be bringing in stuff to brighten up the place. That plus a few followers of this blog have indicated that they are sending some things for us to put in his room, and I am guessing it will make it a little more tolerable for Jason.

A sign that Jason has accepted what has happened to him was seen today, shortly after arriving in the new room. They were getting him set up on the bed and they had to adjust a few settings, and then I asked the nurse, "Can I put his quilt back on the bed?" and she said, "Sure." She then took it from me and spread it across the bottom half of the bed and asked Jason if it was alright. Was it too warm for him? I thought, that's a strange question... Then Jason said, "I don't have any legs. I don't feel the quilt." The nurse seemed a little surprised/stunned and then Jason repeated himself, and with a slight impatient tone. She then adjusted the quilt so that it was just a little higher on the bed and covered a little bit of his upper body. I don't think he was trying to be mean or rude with her, it was just that this was the first time someone at the hospital really didn't seem to know how to work with an amputee and it irritated Jason a bit.

He is already starting to show signs that he wants to get out of the hospital (like the incident above), and my guess is that as soon as it is okay for him to get outside he is going to take advantage of it. We have been doing a little investigating and there are a number of programs and activities set up for the Wounded Warriors, so that they can get out and do many of the same things they used to do, just differently. For example there are "hikes" that are set up for the guys, and they have power chairs that have little tank treads, so they can get up and down some of the trails. Some of the guys even go hunting, though Jason isn't much of a hunter. They do get out and visit some of the historical sites and visit museums, and all that type stuff that Jason enjoys.

Jason will be going in for surgery again, tomorrow, and we are expecting to hear that they are closing up some of his wounds. Actually, from what I saw, it appears they have already closed some of them, and now they're simply doing more. His next major step is to set up, and then into a wheelchair. To do this we will need to begin work with a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. Actually his cousin Jake is a physical therapist, and I'm sure there is going to be some opportunity for the two of them to talk, with both of them asking lots of questions and both of them providing lots of information.

Please keep the prayers coming, and all that positive energy coming Jason's way. He is making some very good steps forward, and I hope they continue. Thanks, to everyone for keeping up with this, and I will continue to update.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011 - Continued Progress

Jason was in surgery for several hours and came through in a positive manner. The doctor told me that they basically didn't see any bacterial infection and that the fungal damage was all but gone. They did have to remove a bone fragment from his pelvis, as that bone had died, but it was expected, so I don't consider it a set back, and neither did Jason. The doctor stated that as long as Wednesday's surgery looked as good as(or better than) today's then they will begin closing up some of his wounds, and by Friday we can probably begin to make plans for him to move up to the 5th floor, for the next phase of his recovery. He came out of surgery at about 1:00pm, and by 2:00pm we were in with him, talking about whatever he wanted to talk about, and then we noticed he was getting a little tired. At 2:20pm we left, to let him rest/sleep and thought we would be headed off to go do some other things, when at a little before 3:00pm I received a call from the Master Gunny Sargent, and he asked if we could come over to Jason's room - Scared the hell out of me - to say the least. Then he said that someone wanted to come by and visit with Jason and he thought it would be good for us to be there, so we hurried over to find a full Colonel and a 3-star General visiting with Jason. Oh, and the Master Gunny was there too...

They said they just wanted to see how he was doing and I guess they come and visit with the Marines who are recovering often, but it was the first time I had known about it. Actually it was kinda funny, as Jason was taking it almost as a matter-of-fact kind of visit, and Bridgette was nervous. I guess she gets that way around the high ranking officers, and she wasn't even in uniform. Anyway, Jason felt pretty good after the visit, and I think that was the intended affect anyway.

There is no surgery planned for tomorrow, so we should be able to go over and visit with Jason for more than just a few minutes, but then again we need to get some chores done. The Marines have provided me with a "free" rental car, actually it comes from the Yellow Ribbon Foundation, and the rental agency they use gave me a vehicle that needs some work. I'll be taking it back to them tomorrow, and seeing if they would consider exchanging it for something a little more road worthy. Actually we have been treated very well, since we've been here, and are very grateful for all that has been provided. That along with the prayers and support from all over is just so amazing, and we all sincerely appreciate it, so please keep it coming.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20, 2011 - Spring Time has come

With Spring comes new life and it seems to be very appropriate with the advent of how Jason is doing. Today marked a number of miles stones for our Marine Hero. Jason can now speak fairly clearly and hold a conversation with people; Jason can now move both of his arms by crossing his chest and lifting them up (about 5 inches) without causing him much discomfort; he can move his fingers on his left hand and even touch his thumb to his pinky, and he even showed the doctor that he could "flip him off." That last part was actually a part of the exercise that the doctor wanted him to do. Now the big thing... he was able to plant his arms down on the bed and push off at the elbow and lift himself up slightly off the bed. That is huge in the recovery process. I'd rather he not do it too often, until after they close up the wounds, but it is nice to see that he has the strength to do it.

On top of all those achievements, they have allowed him to begin eating "solid" foods, and drinking. The VERY first thing he asked for was a lemonade, so I went out to the store and found some real lemonade and brought it back to him. The nurse said it would be kept in the refrigerator, and that as long as it was okay for him to have it, they would bring it to him. His attitude is pretty positive, though I can see a great deal of discomfort on his face, and sometimes I worry that he is trying too hard to get out of the I.C.U. I want him out as quickly as possible, but I don't want him to cause a set back by showing how strong he is. Perhaps that's a parental thing, and I'm being too concerned, but none-the-less, it was good to see him up to the challenge.

Thank you, for all the continued thoughts and prayers, and it is good to see that we are getting hits on the blog from people from all over the country.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19, 2011 - Saturday

Jason had a rough night last night, experiencing bad dreams and waking up in a sweat a few times. As a result he was very tired this morning and basically asked if he could be pretty much left alone, so that he could get some rest. The doctors and medical staff have ways of helping with these kinds of issues, as there have been several other guys, before Jason, to have to go through the same type thing. Mom was able to visit him early this morning for a short while, with our friend Chris Greenlaw, and then Bridgette came a little later (she was delayed because of getting the girls ready, and I stayed behind to help). Bridgette spent about 10 minutes with Jason and let him sleep, and we all came back to the hotel and took a nap. Later in the afternoon I went over to see how Jason was, since I hadn't seen him all day, and he was still pretty tired. He asked me if I had a lemonade, to which I said no, and then asked the nurse about when he was going to be able to start drinking water, but I guess that isn't going to happen before Monday. He is scheduled for another surgery on Monday, for the continued effort of cleaning out the bad stuff. We are just hoping that it continues in a positive direction. I was only with him for about 10 minutes and then told the nurse that he was not to have any visitors, other than immediate family or from the medical staff. The nurse on duty said they would see to it.

I'll be updating more tomorrow, and think we will be able spend some time with him so look for a more complete update tomorrow. Actually today gave us some time to take care of some other things that have simply been sitting, so perhaps it was a good thing. Thank you, to all for your continued prayers and offers of support, it is very much appreciated.

March 19, 2011 - early morning

Good morning all, we are just getting ready to go visit with Jason, and will be putting more of an update a bit later today. Right now though, I want to provide an address where you can send cards, pictures, "things" to be shared with Jason. DO NOT SEND FOOD OR FLOWERS!! If we can brighten up his room in anyway it will help in his recovery. Send them to:

George Ross
General Delivery
8901 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20889-5600

Either Linda or I will be going to pick things up there, on a regular basis, and bringing them back to Jason. Thanks, and God Speed to you all.

Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18, 2011 - Day is done...

Jason had a good day today, with a successful 6-hour operation and initial close up of some of his wounds. The way the body works on wounds is that when the body feels that the wounds is ready to begin healing it will cause the wound to contract, and pull together. In Jason's case the wounds are so open that they can't close on their own, and need some help from the doctors. The doctors are allowing some of the areas to do some closing, as it will help in the long run, towards general overall healing, and then when they need to go back in - probably in a few days - they will be able to open them up easily enough, without causing additional damage. At least this is how I understand it, from what they tell me. The bacterial infection is pretty much at a minimum, the fungal infection is almost gone, and there was little tissue being removed today. All this was positive, and we're pretty happy about it. Funny, what makes one happy now.

After his surgery he was brought back up to his room and all he had was a cannula, to help with the oxygen, and then about a dozen other hoses hooked up in various places. This is so much better than when he first came in. Now, when he is somewhat recovered from the drugs, he can carry on a conversation, and you can actually understand what he is saying. Today, after the surgery, he asked the doctor when he was going to be able to eat. She asked him what he would like and he said a chocolate sundae, and spaghetti dinner. It was good to see him thinking about food now. Shortly after this he went to sleep, and we were told he would probably be out for the rest of the day. Bridgette spent the most time with him today, but in all honesty, there was a great deal said, but not necessarily with words. A real positive outcome from today's surgery was that he doesn't have to get his next visit to the O.R. until Monday.

There was a dinner for the Wounded Warriors and their families, and it was the first time we got to see several of the service men, getting out. They were all much further along than Jason, in their healing and rehab, and it was good being able to see how well some of them were able to get around. Even those with injuries similar to what Jason has. The amazing aspect is that from what I could tell, they all strong positive attitudes and accept what has happened as simply a change in coarse for their lives and that they don't show any despondency or dis-pare. We want for this to be a good and enjoyable weekend for Jason, and aside from a few things we need to get done, we will be spending most of the time with him. Stay tuned for more on Jason's progress, and thank you all, for all the kind words and prayers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day!

To day was a good day for Jason, as they removed the breathing tube from his mouth and throat, and his medications and pain meds were lowered. All this lead to him being able to begin talking to us, and have visitors, other than from family. On top of that, Bridgette came with the girls today (she went a short time ago to go pick them up), so he'll be able to see and speak with them as well. Of course tomorrow is Friday, and he is scheduled for another surgery (I'll talk more about that later) so we will need to go visit with him early in the morning, and then later tomorrow we will be able to visit with him again.

He was visited by a bunch of different doctors with all of them asking him the same basic questions of, "How are you feeling? Where do you have pain? Can you tell me where you are?" etc., etc. Then came the psychiatrist, who wanted to be sure of his mental abilities and neurological issues. He began with those same questions then asked, "Do you know what day it is?" Jason replied St. Patrick's Day - which it is, and this kind of surprised the doctor. He then asked if Jason knew what the date was, and Jason said, "Yes, it is the 17th.", and the doctor asked if he knew the month and Jason told him it was March. Then came the big question... "Do you know what year it is?" and Jason paused for a moment and said, "1729". The doctor was taken aback a bit by this and then Jason kinda smirked that little smirk he does and then the doctor realized he was joking. The doctor said, "Okay, now you're making me feel anxious - what year is it?" Jason said, "2011." and smiled. The doctor was pleased with his response and said he was doing just fine. They talked a bit more and discussed the challenges of phantom pain, where Jason commented that he had a pain in his foot, and obviously there is no foot. Jason seems to have accepted that he has lost his legs, and he seems to have done so better than the rest of us.

The surgery he is going to be going through tomorrow is much like the ones he has had in the past, only this time, if they can, they will be closing up some of the wounds, and this is a big step towards his being able to get out of intensive care. It all depends on how much they find, as far as the infection and fungal presence. It is possible that Jason can get moved up to the 5th floor, where he wants to be, and then begin the first part of his rehab therapy. We won't know until later in the afternoon, and then I'll update the blog. Thank you, all again, for your support and prayers. I told Jason that he has almost 100 followers now, and each time I look at it the number has grown.

What Happened - II

This entry is to provide a few more details to let those who want to know, what happened, and how did Jason receive these injuries in the first place. This information comes from the wife of the man who actually saved Jason's life, GSgt Rickabauh. We had the good fortune to meet her a few days back and she offered to provide the information.

They were out on patrol, and cleared a village in the northern part of the Hilmand district. They had finished clearing the village and left, only to learn the next day that the Taleban had come back in and set more I.E.D.'s so the patrol began clearing again. Jason was in full gear and leading the group, when they approached a masque. I was the last area needing to be be cleared again when he stepped on a hidden pressure plate. They don't use nice, well defined materials for their pressure plates, so not only was it hidden, it was not detectable with the metal detector. The explosion hit all the guys, with Jason obviously taking the brunt of the blast. GSgt Rickabauh was right behind Jason and put a tourniquet on him and then he was taken to the closest medical center.

From the center they stabilized him enough to get him to the next level medical center, still in Afghanistan where he was again stabilized and then flown to Germany, where they began treating him further. Fortunately, they were able to get Bridgette, his wife, out to be with him and they road the med-evac flight back to here, Bethesda, where Mom and Dad were waiting, and the treatment continues now.

More udates later today, but right now I'm headed over to be with him...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011

Jason had a very long surgery today, and it went well. The doctors were pleased with what they found and only had to remove a minimal amount of tissue. The wounds are all still open, and will remain that way until they find that the fungus and bacteria has all been taken care of. We were over to visit with Jason prior to the surgery and at that time he was actually pretty well awake, and only had a minimal amount of affect from the drugs. As a result he was able to communicate with us for almost a full 30 minutes and he was able to focus on us with clear eyes.

Once they took him into surgery we had other things to attend to. Laundry had to be done, and then we had our "official" orientation. As it was, I was the only one in the laundry area and was able to use multiple machines all at the same time and was finished in just over an hour and a half. Then we had to head back over to the hospital for our orientation, that lasted another two hours. So now we're getting hungry... We grabbed a quick sandwich and went back up to see if Jason had come back.

Jason was there, but now he was back under the affects of medications and drugs, and wasn't able to communicate again. We were only there for a short while when they said they wanted to do an MRI on his neck and shoulders. He has been wearing a neck brace since he first left Afghanistan and they aren't comfortable removing it until they know there is no damage. THEN, they found out that he still had shrapnel in both arms and said we can't do an MRI if they have shrapnel. Now they want to go with a Cat Scan, but by now it is getting later and David is going to the air port, and I need to go take care of some other things so at this point we don't know the results, and probably won't know until tomorrow morning. We'll be headed back over early tomorrow morning and then start again. We go through each activity and some times progress is good, and other times progress is not quite as good. We feel Jason is showing just how strong he is, because he hasn't had any set backs. There are others here who have not be as fortunate.

Bridgette plans to return on tomorrow with Stacy and Jackie; Stacy has been sick with and ear infection and has been unable to travel. Please keep Jason and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15, 2011 11:20PM

It has been a very long day and another trip up and down on the roller coaster, with a final little up, here at the end. Linda and I visited with another family, whose Marine has injuries similar to Jason's. The family was both honest and realistic about how the treatment and progress would be, and it felt very positive. David was up with Jason already, and had been for over an hour when we came in. We really don't know what we would have done if David and Miriam hadn't come. Jason was a bit more alert, and this was both good and bad, though I guess the reason it was "bad" was an inevitability. The good was because we were able to communicate better with him, and the bad was that it seemed like Jason was beginning to recognize that he was seriously injured and that he wasn't physically the same. You could see in his eyes and facial expressions that he was distressed, and not just from the pain. He answered some of my questions with blinks of the eyes, and we could tell that his vision was much better today as he could focus on who was talking to him. When I asked him about having visitors he indicated that he did not want to see any. I think it is directly linked to the fact that he understands some of his injuries. This is going to be difficult for him (and us) so we need to be prepared to work even harder to keep his spirits up.

Tomorrow he goes back in for another surgery, and from what we have been told it sounds like it is going to be a very long set of procedures. We were spoken to by five sets/teams of surgeons, all of them wanting to be sure that we fully understood what they were going to be doing. By the time we were done talking to them all I felt like I had a pretty good idea of exactly what was going to be happening. They all seemed to take painstakingly detailed explanations so that the families do understand and they are so very patient to answer questions - completely. Jason will be going in by 7:30AM, so they'll come and get him by 6:45AM. The surgery will be for about 6 hours, and possibly more. This is probably a good thing as we need to take care of some personal business and there is going to be a Family Wounded Marine orientation that we need to attend.

From what we understand, this first week is by far the most difficult, and I am so glad that we will soon have it behind us. We are so anxious to be able to talk with Jason, and yet understand the need for him to be kept the way he is for right now. It is heart warming to see the blog is being followed by more and more people. Miriam had to go back home yesterday, and David needs to get back to his job tomorrow. They will be missed greatly, and especially by Bridgette. Bridgette has been a real trooper in dealing with all the challenges at hand, and though we do our best to help her out, she relates better to David and Miriam - IMHO. The good news in this is that David and Miriam will be coming back, as time permits.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Follow up for 03/14/11

Just wanted to provide a last update for Jason, as we just got back from the hospital and had our visit with him. He opened his eyes but didn't see us, or respond to our questions. He's had a pretty rough day, though it was a good day. We are hopeful for the removal of the breathing tube tomorrow, but that remains to be seen. The support staff that is working with him all seem to be professional and courteous, as we have gotten to know some of them. We've also been able to meet some of the other families and their Wounded Warriors, as they are called. Some of them actually know Jason, so once he comes around a bit he will be able to have guys he knows to talk to. More up dates coming tomorrow. Thank you all, for your support.

3/14/11 Update

Well today was another roller coaster of a day, and so far has seemed to have ended on a high. We have met so many doctors and nurses that it kind of makes my head swim, but they all seem to have a great deal of focus on Jason and his recovery, and the head doctor, Dr. Malone, has been great about keeping us up dated.

Jason had to go in for more "clean up" surgery and it took several hours to accomplish. Before he went in they provided us with some of the details of what they wanted to do, and basically what they expected to find (the down). We had to wait about six and a half hours, when they were completed to find out that what they found was much better than they had thought they would find and they only had to remove a smaller amount of tissue. Though we don't want ANY more removed the fact that only a smaller area was showing signs of infection showed that Jason's body was fighting back and doing a good job of it (the high).

Jason still can not speak, and is still in a drug induced comma, but we are hopeful that he will be able to show that he can breath on his own through the night and into tomorrow. Then they will begin taking the breather off of him. We are vary anxious to be able to speak with him, but even after it is removed it may take a day or two for him to be able to communicate. I will continue to provide posts and updates as they come. Right now we're headed back over to be with him. Thank you all for your continued support.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

3/13/2011 Evening

I just returned from seeing Jason and his eyes are beginning to open, and he is starting to recognize different people. He is also starting to respond to questions by blinking his eyes, sense he still can not speak. They are happy with his progress and are feeling cautiously optimistic (there's that phrase again) for Jason and his recovery. My heart dropped, when I actually got to see some of his wounds but I did my best to not show reaction. Since it was just me, Jason and the medical staff I think I did pretty well. I still deal with the pain of seeing him like this, and Mom is doing her best to cope, and the Marines are providing us with support and counseling.

About the best thing that has happened so far has been that today, while I was talking to him, I asked him to squeeze my hand and he did. That showed a solid sign that he had control of his hands and there was probably no neurological damage in his arm and hand (this was his left hand). The right arm is still immobilized, so we won't know about that one for a little while, and even so we are confident he will have full use of both his arms and hands. More updates coming in the morning...

Sunday Morning 03/13/2011

Its early Sunday morning and we will be headed over to see Jason shortly. Yesterday we had a discussion with the Doctor and she told us that they hoped that they did not have to go back in for additional surgeries with Jason today. We also found out that we MIGHT be able to see him with his eyes open for the first time, tomorrow. It would be so wonderful to be able to talk with him, rather than just to him. They tell us that he can kind of hear us, and that he knows we are there, but that when he wakes he won't have much, if any, memory of us being there. They give him a drug that helps him to forget much of what is going on, and most importantly, the pain.

His hands look remarkably well, considering they only had the protective gloves on. One arm has a possible break/fracture, though there is no cast on either arm, I guess we find that out today. They took him down for additional X-rays of his pelvis, as that is broken and they need to stabilize more with a metal frame. He will continue to be going through surgeries for some time to come. One of the other patients here is a Gunny Sgt, and also EOD, like Jason, who experienced a similar set of injuries. We hope to get to meet him this week, as he is farther along in his healing and it could really help us understand better what is going to be happening to Jason. Also, it would be good to have someone here that Jason can relate to, more than just family.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Morning 03/12/11

Jason was in surgery early this morning to take care of his wounds again, and it won't be the last time. His surgery went for about four hours. The challenge he is facing (and the doctors) is that the soil in Afghanistan has bad stuff in it and when the blast went off, it forced some of that stuff up into his skin and muscle tissue. This can cause infection and other problems so they have to do extra treatments to combat the infections that are caused. Also one of the things they can do is to remove some of the tissue, and quite frankly Jason does not have a lot of tissue he can afford to loose. They are doing all they can to get all the infection out, but sometimes they can't find it all until it shows up.

We have been cautioned to be prepared to take 3 steps forward and then 1 step back until such time as he is ready to move on to a rehab center. The doctor said to be cautiously optimistic so that is how I am telling you all to be. We did get to go in and be with him again today, and we will again a bit later today. This is the way it is going to be for the next few days, but we don't know if that means two more days or four more days, but it won't be too much longer until they bring him out of his drug induced sleep. Please continue to pray for Jason and keep him in your thoughts. Our family really does appreciate the continued messages on the blog so please continue.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Update 03/11/11 - 8:40PM

Just left the hospital and spent some time with Jason. He is still very heavily sedated so he did not respond to our talking to him. David and Miriam arrived just prior to us going in to see him, so he got a bunch of visitors all at once and it was a good thing. We are making arrangements for Sean and George to come out, though it looks like they won't be able to get here for another several days. By that time Jason will be already getting some rehab.

On his condition, it was difficult for us to see him, in all the hoses and wires, but we are so happy to know that he is doing positive and getting better. We will be getting with the doctors tomorrow to find out more details but for right now they are taking him in to surgery to clean his wounds and make sure everything is working. Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow, and thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts.
Jason should be arriving in the next 2 - 3 hours, so Linda and I are anxious and nervous, scared and excited, happy and sad all at the same time. David and Miriam should be here soon (and that will help) and the Marines will be picking them up at the airport, I hope in time to be here before Jason arrives. The out pouring of support has been wonderful and very much appreciated.

First Follow up

Just to let you all know, I will be posting more (photos and stuff) later. Right now we need to find all the right things to have out there for everyone to share.

Thank you,

What happened?

First, we would like to thank everyone for all the prayers and support for Jason, as he begins his recovery from the injuries sustained. He is a strong and positive young man and that, combined with strong support from his family and all those who love him, we truly believe he will be able to find his way, from the injuries.

Most of you want to know what happened. Jason was on patrol in Afghanistan, doing his job, when an I.E.D. (improvised explosive device) went off. I'm not going to provide any more details than that, until I am comfortable providing it. He sustained injuries to both his legs, where his left leg was amputated from below the knee and his right leg from above the knee. He also sustained internal injuries and I guess maybe, that was the scariest part for his mother and I.

He was taken to an in-country medical center where they stabilized him enough that they could medevac him to Germany so he could receive additional treatment. Once he was in Germany they took him in for further surgery and it was a little scary again, as Bridgette, his wife, Linda and I were asked to fly to be with him. Linda and I didn't have our passports, so initially they flew us to Washington, D.C. where the State Department provided us with 1-year passports, and Bridgette was able to go directly to be with him, as she is also a Marine.

While we were processing we received news that Jason had improved enough and that he was to be flown to Bethesda, MD, and we would not need to go to Germany. Bridgette was already on her way and would be traveling home with him on the next medevac flight. This was a major relief for us, as it is a strong indication that he stabilized enough and was strong enough to make the flight. It is now about 4:00AM (EST) and we expect to be with him in less than 12 hours. His brother David and David's wife Miriam, are on their way out to be with him and us as well. His other brothers (Sean and George) are all working to make their way out here as well, with the help of the Marines (much appreciated), though due to their different schedules they all won't be coming at the same time. Perhaps that is a good thing, so that Jason doesn't feel over whelmed with too many visitors at once.

This is the first entry in the Sgt Jason Ross blog, and I hope to be able to provide regular updates, so that all who want to know what is going on, will be able to simply see this, and know if something new has happened. I want to, again thank everyone for all the support and please continue to pray for Jason and his family as we walk this path and challenge that God has given us.

George and Linda Ross