Iwo Gima

Iwo Gima
Marine Corps Marathon

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31, 2011 - Back out of the ICU

Jason started the day in the I.C.U. (a.k.a. - C.C.U.) and was on a clear liquid diet. To say the least, he wasn't a happy camper. Fortunately they changed him back over to "regular diet" before the morning was over and he sent me off to get him some REAL food. Within a couple of hours of that change he was back on the 4th floor, back in his room, where he was able to relax and eat as his heart desired. The reason he was in the I.C.U. was precautionary, and it made perfect sense to me, its just that Jason and every other patient that is fully awake, does not want to be there any longer than they absolutely have to.

He got back to his room in the new bed, and had to wait until a little later in the day to have the trapeze re-installed. Actually it was quite impressive how the trapeze was put back on the bed. It comes in several pieces, with some of them bigger than others, and from my perspective it was a bit daunting. The techs came in the room with one of them obviously in charge and giving instruction to the others. He immediately saw that two pieces had to be changed out and sent one of the other two off to get them. Even with that, they have it all back up and in working order in about 20 minutes. What made this even more impressive was that they had to work around some of the equipment that was already there, and attached to Jason and the bed.

Jason had a couple of visitors today, with one of them being Marine General J. Mattis, who came by to see how Jason was doing and to pay his respects. Jason was truly moved by this visit as the General is someone he very much admires. The other visitor that Jason had was from one of his EOD brothers. I didn't get much of a chance to speak with this Marine, though he did talk with Jason for several minutes and that is the more important thing. I believe they were both in Afghanistan for a short period, and in the same unit.

Okay, one of the things I need to say about the merger of the two medical facilities, Walter Reed and Bethesda, and that is that the food service has made some major improvements. I thought it was pretty good before but now it is even better. From what I have been able to pick up from some of the other people around the hospital (military, civilian and patient) is that they are all happy with how this has all turned out. Who would have thought that the Army and Navy would come together and create something even better? My hat is off to them.

Well, that's it for today - Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers. Jason IS doing so much better, and we only see positive ahead.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30, 2011 - H.O. Surgery

Jason had a tough day today, but a good day! He started off the day very early with the prep for going to the O.R., and Linda and I were able to be with him for the full time. Normally they take the patients down to the PACU prior to surgery, and they almost always have to spend a good portion of the time just sitting and waiting. To say the least, it is kind of boring for them. Jason didn't have to do that this time, and we were glad. What he did do though, was to have all the preparation done in his room, and he was able to have us as company while he waited. Once they came to take him down to the O.R. it happened in a rather rapid manner. During the waiting period he had visits from several of the doctors, just to make sure he understood what was going on, and to see if he had any questions. It was a nice change, to be sure.

Once he was on his way down to the O.R. Linda and I went to find some things for his room, that we have been wanting to get for the past couple of days - things to hang back up some of the pictures from his previous room. We knew we were going to have some time to work on his room, and then on top of that it looked like he would be going back to the ICU for recovery and spend the night there. The down side to all this is that he won't be able to eat solid food, and will be put on a clear liquid diet, for the rest of the night.

Well, he got through the surgery with no problems, and in fact the results were the best that they could have hoped for. You know how the doctors will always hope for the best and plan for the worst? Well, the best happened. The H.O. was removed, the main section that was causing the most problems. There were no other complications from the surgery and the wounds continue to improve. There was concern that there was going to be some challenges for closing up this "new" wound, and there were none. There are going to be a few days now where he will be in a little more pain than he has been over the past several days, and he went in knowing that. The good side is that it is only for a short while (maybe a few days) and then he will begin to feel much better, all over. There was an initial scare that Jason had developed a blood clot in his arm, and that turned out to be just that... a scare and not a real blood clot. He is resting in the ICU right now, and we will be seeing him in his room tomorrow - early we hope.

We want to thank everybody for your prayers as it seems to have really helped. It is thought that with this new "repair" done he will be able to focus even more strongly on P.T. and building his strength.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011

Jason's visit to the PACU was actually shorter than I had anticipated, and that was a good thing. Yesterday, we found out, late in the day, that he was going to be going to the PACU, and therefore he had to be put on the schedule. This meant that he would not be going first, and we thought he would not be headed down until probably 9:30am at the soonest, though we also knew it could still be early. Linda and I got up early and walked over to the hospital (because of the construction parking around here is kind of tough, especially in the morning) and actually got to Jason's room before 7:00am. Jason was still there and we got to have a nice visit with him. About the only thing that wasn't good was his bed, as one of the inflation cells didn't want to work right and it was making him uncomfortable. One of the techs. from the bed manufacturer came out, but that was later in the day and I'm jumping ahead just a bit. While we were talking with Jason (we'd been there about an hour now) the nurse came in and said they were calling for Jason down in the PACU. We all thought, "Cool" he was going down sooner than expected, and Jason was quickly gotten ready and he was out the door.

He was also back out of the PACU relatively quickly, as he was back in his room before 11:00am, so they were able to get the dressing change and exam done much faster than we thought would be the case. Getting back to his bed, the technician showed up and went through a few diagnostics and came up with the same conclusion Jason and I had, and that the bed was broken. Only trouble is he didn't have any replacement parts, or bed, with him. He was able to get the bed back to a fully inflated state and said the replacement would be by tomorrow. Considering Jason's schedule it should be interesting on how they manage a replacement swap out. The bed was comfortable enough for Jason to stay on it tonight, but because it wasn't doing the job it was designed to do (help the wound heal) now, we just wanted to get him on to another bed. The company is doing what it can to get the replacement bed here tomorrow, so I think it will be accomplished by the time Jason is back to his room.

Jason had some visitors later this evening. Some of the patients came by to see him, and one of them was the MGynSgt from Afghanistan. He also happens to be a new patient, and just wanted to come by to see how "Ross" was doing. Linda and I took the visit as an opportunity to leave, so we could be back to our room, as we would like to be up early enough to see Jason before he goes down to the PACU and then the O.R. The difference this time is that it is a scheduled visit, and he will be going to the O.R. He might be leaving as early as 6:30am tomorrow, so we need to get there by 06:00.

Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers. Please ask for strength and guidance for Jason and the doctors.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011

Today Jason got out on his cart and did five laps on the 4th floor, which totally seems appropriate, since he did four laps on the 5th floor. He was feeling pretty good today and we had a pretty good time visiting with all the folks and looking to see who, if any, were the new people on the floor. MGnySgt Todd came by again today, only this time he wasn't in uniform. At first I didn't recognize him, and would have walked right past him, but then took a second glance. He helped with getting Jason back into his bed, after Jason was done with his laps. Because we are oriented in the room a little differently Jason gets out on the other side of the bed, and when he did today it was much easier for him, and it worked the same getting back in.

The orthopedic doctor came by again today, to discuss the procedure on Tuesday and to let Jason know he wanted to have Jason come down to the PACU for a dressing change on Monday (tomorrow). It would allow him to have a better look at his wounds and provide for a full exam prior to the surgery. The Heterotopic Ossification (H.O.) is probably going to be a little more difficult to get taken care of than originally thought. Funny thing is, some of it is actually helping Jason, so they want to leave that in place. Once the initial surgery is completed the doctors will have a much better idea as to if there is going to be a second surgery and if so, when.

Jason had dinner with Mom and Dad today, so we made a run out to Popeye's to get the chicken. More importantly, I had to be sure to get the red beans and rice, as that is the best thing they have (that Jason likes), even better than Taco Bell...sometimes. Actually, as we were leaving to go get the chicken his dinner from the hospital kitchen was showing up, and by the time we got back it was all gone. I guess even he gets hungry sometimes... ;-)

Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers. Please keep the doctors in those prayers as well.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27, 2011

Today was a very interesting day for all of us, and especially Jason. It started out a lot like other Saturdays, and aside from Mom being back, it was pretty much just the same. I got tired of him not having the ability to change the channel of his TV so I went down to the store and bought him a universal remote, and batteries. When we got back to his room (side note: the hurricane hasn't started bothering us yet, at this point) it took me all of maybe two minutes to have it functional (that includes the time it took to open the packages). Jason felt much better once he was able to control the TV, and what he watched. The next thing we want to figure out is how he will be able to play a video (DVD).

Jason wanted to get out on his chair today, so we were able to get everything together and him in to his chair in just a few minutes. Now, you have to understand that the only way Jason is able to get around in his chair, and not have his med-tree follow him around, is to get a "push" of his pain medication, and that typically happens once he's in the chair. Today, after getting in the chair the Ortho doctor came by and wanted to talk with Jason, about the up coming surgery, on Tuesday. At this point, Jason was okay and didn't need the extra meds, so we went back into his room with the doctor. We talked with the doctor about the surgery and the H.O. that the surgery is basically on, that is to happen on Tuesday, and he even brought a model of what has happened over the past several months to Jason's pelvis. It showed this mass of H.O. and he said that Jason has more than anyone else he has ever seen, and he's been doing this for several years. They will be coming back tomorrow to talk about it again, as the medical team wants to be sure to get it right, and insure that Jason is in as good a condition as they can when they're done. Now, this conversation has taken over 15 minutes and Jason still has not received the "push" and he is beginning to feel the discomfort.

We talk to the nurses and say he is ready for the "push" now, so they go off to get the meds, and this takes another 5+ minutes. The nurse comes over and gets the pain med injected and in a few seconds, Jason is feeling much better. We turn to go and the doctor from Infectious Disease shows up. She wants to talk to Jason about all the antibiotic meds he has been taking. The conversation takes another 10 to 15 minutes and the final out come is that Jason no longer has to take any of the antibiotics he has been taking for the past three months. There is no sign of any need, and he is looking healthier than he has in a long time. This is good news, even if it did take up more of his chair time. He has been in his chair now for almost 45 minutes and we have gotten about 20 feet from his room. Jason adjust his new gloves (yeah, I went out and bought some new gloves for him, too) and we're off down the hall.

Jason stops at a couple of different rooms and visits with the guys, and they're only short visits, and by the time he has made it back around the floor he is starting to feel the pain again, and wants to get back into his bed. Literally, as we are about to lift him and get him back into his bed we're told that they want to get him down to have another CT-scan of his pelvis, and they want to do it now. Jason agrees so we head off to another part of the hospital, but not until after another "push" has been given, as Jason was beginning to get uncomfortable. The CT-scan didn't take too long so we were back in his room and he was back in his bed in about 30 minutes. This was a good thing because his dinner was now here, and he was hungry. Linda and I went down to the galley to get some dinner for us, as we were getting hungry as well.

Well, I guess the bottom line is that the morning started out a little slow, and the afternoon made up for it. Thank you, for all your prayers and support and please keep everybody on the east coast in your thoughts and prayers as this hurricane comes on through.

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011

Jason went to the PACU today and they did the wash out and dressing change. Because of the H.O. there was an effort to provide additional padding of the bandages, on the area that is closest to the H.O. It seemed to have helped as Jason wasn't experiencing as much discomfort as he has in the recent past, and his spirits were up a little more, than they have been in the past few days. When he went to the PACU he went down a little later in the morning, so as a result he ended up coming back to his room a little later than typical. It all worked out pretty good though as I had made a Taco Bell run and brought him back some food, and I got to his room about 10 minutes after he did (it usually takes about 10 minutes to get him all set back up when he get back in his room).

After he was done eating his lunch we got him ready and in his chair so that he could head down to P.T. He did almost all of his exercises from within his chair, working on his trunk and arms, and "walking" back and forth in the chair. The "walking" was kind of uncomfortable for him so it was stopped after just a few movements. Because we don't know what this weekend is going to be like, with the hurricane coming, Jason asked to bring the weights back to his room, and that way he can continue to work with them, and it gives him something more to do.

He had a visit from Ray F., an Army Captain who was injured back in 2007. Linda and I have gotten to know Ray and his wife, because of the various places we all tend to go here on the base, and so I asked Ray to come up and see Jason. Ray is a very high energy kinda guy and loves to have conversation, and I think that is something that Jason needs to have sometimes, so it was probably good for both of them. Ray is also being admitted to the 4th floor because he is going to be having surgery again to help with more healing of his wounds. Aside from the medical staff, and family (Linda and I), Ray was the only visitor today.

Well, from that previous paragraph you can tell that Linda is now back out here. She wasn't going to be coming back out originally, but due to some things happening and opportunities coming up she has been able to take another 11 days to be here. If nothing else, I'm happy about it... ;-)

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support. Please ask for protection for all the folks on the East Coast as Irene comes on shore.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 2011 - Only 4 months until Christmas

No, there wasn't anything going on today that would, or should be connected to Christmas, its just that when I saw the "25th" it reminded me that Christmas really isn't that far away, and we've been here a long time. Linda and I arrived on March 9th and spent that evening at a Marriott hotel, and then on the 10th we were brought to Bethesda, National Naval Medical Center as we found out that Jason would soon be on his way back to the U.S. and Jason did arrive on the 11th.

When he got here we were all still pretty much in shock and doing our best to deal with how he was and his injuries. Not until a couple of weeks later did we actually start to think about how he was going to be healing up and for how long. We found that Jason had about the best doctor in the hospital, in our (and many others) opinion, and she was very willing to talk to us about small details about his wounds. When she told us that we needed to be prepared for a marathon and that his healing would be a long period, we thought maybe a few months. Linda and I even had a conversation with Dr. Malone and said she wanted to be sure he was home before Christmas, and well, now you know why I always think of Christmas, anytime the month reaches the 25th.

Anyhow, Jason had a pretty good day today, despite the challenges of the H.O. that are still bothering him. He goes into the PACU tomorrow morning for another dressing change, and they are going to attempt to make him a little more comfortable. They don't want to take him into the O.R. for the H.O. removal until this coming Tuesday, when the H.O. will be ready to be removed. They have been using some of the latest science and computer imaging to determine that Tuesday is the optimum day, and they have even developed a 3-D image of the H.O. Once that is taken care of his pain management and level should come way back down to a much more consistent, comfortable level for Jason, so for right now he and the medical staff are working very closely to keep it under control and he is anxious for Tuesday, but isn't in a rush for it to happen.

He had some visitors, friends of his that are also wounded warriors, and they came and had some pizza with Jason. It was one of those moments when I really wished I'd had my camera ready, but then also recognized that it was probably better that I did not. The taking of pictures can sometimes spoil the sense of the gathering and these guys were all having a good time and enjoying each others company. The other visitor that Jason had today was MstGnySgt Todd, who was really busy today. He works a great deal with the Wounded Warrior people and the warriors themselves, and it does it all on his own time. Jason, as well as all of the other EOD guys, really have a great friend with him.

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support. Please keep all the doctors and other medical staff in your prayers, too, as they work on Jason and all the wounded warriors. Also, please keep the entire East Coast in mind as the weather is coming in with a hurricane, and that can get a little rough sometimes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011

Today was a day of getting used to the new surroundings on the fourth floor (or fourth deck as they call it - Navy hospital still). Apparently the IT folks need to get something corrected, though I don't know what specifically it is, so that the TV's will begin working with a remote. Otherwise the new rooms are pretty good, and the HVAC seems to be working more efficiently now.

Jason was dealing with the pain of the H.O. on his right side, and they will be taking him to the O.R. on Tuesday next week. About the only thing he can do right now is to make sure the he is setting correctly in the bed and work the pain meds to stay ahead of the pain. The PT folks came to his room to allow him to do his exercises and balancing practice from his bed. He did a pretty good job of everything and then he showed them that he was gaining other balance and strength. He would hang from the trapeze bar and hold himself parallel to the bed for a 3 second count, and did this several times. Once he did this with his hands in one position, he rotated them 180 degrees and did it again from the new position.

Visitors come up from his shop, from Camp Lejeune and he was happy to see them all. They didn't get a chance to stay too long, as he was getting started on his PT work as they arrived. I guess I kinda played the "bad-guy" in that I felt it was more important to get the PT work in than to talk to visitors. They said they would come back later, so Jason will still get a chance to talk to all of them.

Not much else going on today, so I'll close with my usual, Thank you, for your prayers and support. We're getting through this, one step at a time. Most of the time the steps are baby-steps, and that's okay... its still progress.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23, 2011 - Hole 'lot'a shaking going on!

Today was a little different for Jason, as he did have to go to the O.R. this morning, and the work done there was more than just a good cleaning. They also applied the a-cell treatment and think that he is doing very well with his progress. If all goes well with this new treatment he won't have to go through another skin graft, and that means he would be just a little more comfortable during his healing progress. He went down at about 8:00 this morning and got back to his room at close to 14:00 (2pm), so you can see he was gone almost 6 hours, twice the time for his PACU visits.

Once he got back to his room he was feeling a little uncomfortable and tender in some areas, but due to the treatment it is understandable. The challenge with this today is that there is a big move, later in the day. This meant that the final packing of his room had to take place and I had to make sure I didn't forget anything. Jason was feeling the affects of his meds so he was falling to sleep frequently. Only thing is that he was also awake enough to continue to give me directions and ask enough question to be sure I wasn't forgetting anything. If there was any question about his ability to think and use his brain, after the explosion, he answered those questions quite well today. There are a couple of things I would have forgotten, had it not been for Jason reminding me to pack them up. It was actually kind of fun working with him.

On top of getting things packed up in his room, there were some meetings going on, right outside his door (close to the nurse's station area), so I went out to get a little information. While I was walking down the hall the floor started to move and the entire building began to sway - it was an earthquake! My first thought was, "wow, this is an earthquake." And just kept on walking back to Jason's room. I didn't think too much about it until several of the other folks around me started showing signs of being nervous or scared. I got back into Jason's room and asked him if he had felt it and he said, "Yeah. Was that an earthquake? I thought someone was playing with my bed." I guess being from California we are a bit more accustomed to ground shaking. Out on the right coast it is big news, and all the news stations were now totally focused on the earthquake in D.C.

Finally, the move to the fourth floor got underway. Everybody had pretty well settled down from the earthquake, and at 19:00 (7pm) the move started. The Lt. Commander (the head nurse) had spent quite a bit of time putting the move schedule together and was able to execute very close to the schedule she had built. When I spoke to her a couple of days ago she had told me that she thought they should be able to get the move completed in about 2 hours. The final bed, the one right after Jason, was place in his room at 21:00 (9pm) and they got the move done in exactly 2 hours. Of course there were things to be done in each room afterwards, but that was a matter of just setting up each of the patients' rooms. Jason's TV remote wasn't functioning properly, and that will be corrected tomorrow, so overall I'd have to give them an 'A' for the move. I spent another hour or so with Jason, and then came back to the Lodge where I felt like I'd had a busy day.

Thank you, for all your continued support and prayers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011

The day began with another visit to the PACU for Jason, and when they brought him back to his room he was still asleep. I guess they used a little more in the way of sedation, to avoid any chance that he might wake up before they were finished. The PACU dressing change went as well as they could have hoped for, and whoever did the bandage wrap this time sure did a nice job. In the past they have always had to use some extra adhesive tape to keep the bandages in place. This time there was still some tape, but only a minimal amount, and it looked much neater this time.

We got to speak with the head of Jason's treatment team and she told us that things are really looking good and that Jason's wounds are healing up more all the time. In fact because of the success of the a-cell treatment there does not look like he will be needing any skin grafts. There are some other small area(s) that will be getting more of the a-cell treatment, and that is a good thing. I (and Jason) would rather see that, than the skin grafts start coming back again. There is also some work that is going to be done on the heterotopic ossification, and possibly have it removed tomorrow.

The big move is scheduled for tomorrow, only instead of early in the morning it will be done a little later in the evening. I'm guessing that part of the reason for this is that if they do it closer to the shift change there will be "extra" hands available to help with the move, and that should make the move go more smoothly. I have been able to remove just about everything that is "personal property" from the room, and will finish it up tomorrow. I left a couple of things there, so we can still use them tomorrow - the TV Trays. The rest of the room looks kind of bare right now, as I've taken down all of the pictures.

Not too many visitors today, though a couple of Navy guys came up from Camp Lejeune to see Jason, and some of the other patients there. When they arrived, Jason had just gotten back from the PACU, so he was still asleep. They said they would come back around later, and when they did Jason was still not fully awake. They did sign the Red Book and left a business card, so Jason can contact them when he needs to (if he needs to?). The rest of the day was spent at PT, reading and resting. PT was set on building his core and balance, as most of his treatments will be with that focus, and I think it challenged him. The reading is his Stephen King novel, and he seems to enjoy it enough that he hasn't been watching too much TV lately, and that is something that makes Dad a little happier.

Thank you, all for your continued prayers, and for all the support you have shown. It has really been appreciated.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21, 2011

Jason went to the PACU early today - well, actually he went twice. The first time they came to get him it was a little before 6:30am and while they were moving him he told them that he didn't think there were any people down at the PACU yet, and that it was just too early. When they got there, there wasn't anyone around, so they took Jason back up. A short while later the trip was made again, and this time there were some folks there, so Jason stayed down and the procedure/dressing change was done.

The dressing change was just that, a clean out of the wound area and new dressings applied to the wound. For the most part he was comfortable, though he is still dealing with H.O. (heterotopic ossification) and will be for a while longer. It is where the body generates a calcium buildup to help compensate for bone loss. It will continue with this until it runs its course and then the doctors can remove it. I don't believe it will have a negative impact on the overall course of his recovery, it is just something Jason is having to deal with right now.

Jason decided to not get out on his cart or in his chair today, and that was okay with me. I think he wants to go outside again, and today was not a good day for that. We had some significant thunderstorms today, and the rain came down pretty hard. That was okay, as we got a chance to talk and he relaxed by playing some video games on his laptop. I still had a few things to move from the room, to get ready for the move on Tuesday, so it all worked out.

MGnySgt Tood came by again today, with another Marine from the Wounded Warrior Battalion. They stayed for a short visit and one of the things that he told Jason, after seeing the SF Giants stuff on the wall was that he got the opportunity to sit down with a few of the SF Giants players last year, during Spring Training. I think Jason kinda liked that idea - I know I did... ;-) They stayed for a short visit and because MGnySgt Tood has been by a few times now, when he left he just said I'll see you guys later. I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up in another day or two.

Thank you, all, again, for the continued support and prayers. Jason is getting better and stronger everyday.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20, 2011 - Nice Day to get out

I got over to see Jason a little later today, but it was still before 8:00am. He was working on his breakfast so we just talked a little, about how he was feeling and was there anything special he wanted to do today. I asked him if he'd like to get outside today, and maybe ride around a little bit. He said sure, since the day was a pretty nice one, we wanted to get going and enjoy some of the weather. We set 10:00am as the time to get out and then a let him finish his breakfast. After breakfast he said he wanted to shave, and try to get himself to a little more presentable level of appearance.

While he was shaving (it is an electric razor) we found out that the Major General for the 1st Marines, from San Diego, was here and the Sergent Major was also with him. Jason said it was a good thing he was shaving, and was actually able to finish before they came in to the room. If nothing else, it made Jason feel a bit more comfortable. The two of them came in and talked with Jason and I for a few minutes and I got a few pictures of them and had them sign the Red Guest Book. They talked about San Diego, and this is good as Jason wants to get out there as soon as we can get there. When they left the room it was getting real close to 10:00am so we started to get ready to go outside.

Jason was in his chair and headed out to the elevator, and he wanted to open the doors and push the buttons this time. He said he is going to have to be able to do these things anyway, so it was probably a good idea for him to get some practice. We headed down stairs and then out of the hospital, and over to the McDonald's behind Mercy Hall. We weren't hungry, we just decided that we needed a target to go for, and it would be good practice going up and down the ramps. I had to help Jason in a couple of spots, but for the most part he got over to McDonald's on his own. Afterward we went next door to the NEX (the little convenience store) and he went inside to just look around. We actually purchased a couple of drinks and went back over to McDonald's to sit and rest... and drink the drinks.

It was now a little after 11:00am so he wanted to give Mom a call and wake her up. I think it was fun for Jason and a nice surprise for Mom. They talked for about 20 minutes and then Jason needed to get back to the hospital. We got back to his room and back in his bed, and Jason didn't have any problems or pain issues the entire time we were out. This is the first time we have been able to be out that long and not have any challenges to deal with, other than the ramps. Next week, sometime the PT folks are talking about taking Jason out to lunch, so this was good practice. I have already told them that they need to target 2 hours or less, and they should be okay. I'm going to be going too, just to make sure Jason is okay (and the free lunch isn't bad either).

The rest of the day was spent visiting with anybody who dropped by and watching a movie. I was also a little involved with doing some more packing of this room, so that we'll be ready next week to move, but most of that will be done tomorrow and Monday, while he is down at the PACU.

Thank you, all for all your support and prayers, and for staying with us for this long journey. I don't know how we would have made it without you all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19, 2011

Jason went to the PACU for his dressing change and they took him down a bit later than originally planned. I understand there were some new patients brought in, and they had to do some quick changes. Please keep these guys in your prayers, as it isn't over yet, and we still have Marines and Soldiers (and Airmen and Sailors) in harms way. As a result of the late start he got back to his room a little later than we thought he would, but that was okay, as I had a couple of errands to take care of, and I was able to get everything done in time to be there when he came back.

There is going to be a big move soon, with all the patients moving from their current location to the new rooms, that have just been completed, and there is some extra activity going on right now. Like with any change, there is some good and some not so good associated with it, but overall I think this will be a good thing for Jason and everyone else. We have been told they will have better IT tools for the doctors and nurses, and being an IT kinda guy, that sounded good to me. Actually I thought some of the stuff they are already using was pretty cool, so I am anxious to see this newer stuff. But I digress - this is supposed to be about Jason, not the hospital.

While in the PACU they said he was making some great strides in how his wounds were healing up, and that they probably won't have to do any more skin grafts. He will be continuing with the dressing changes over the next few days, and then on Tuesday he is scheduled to go in to the O.R. where additional work is to be done, and then we will have another update on his progress.

Jason got out in his chair today, though he didn't make it down to PT today, at least not for any hands on therapy. He did get down to see their new set up and to check out some of the new equipment they will have to use. I guess they had a little celebration today, because along with the visual tour of the place he also got to eat some brownies and chocolate chip cookies. They are all still the same people Jason has been working with, so he doesn't have to get to know anybody new right now. In another week or so Jason will be headed over to another part of the hospital, where there is a new state-of-the-art rehab center being used now. He may get to do some work there before we leave, though we don't know that yet.

Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

Today was a fun day for Jason, even with the issues of that phantom pain coming back every now and again. He got out on his prone cart and did some laps around the 5th floor, and there were several people in the hall ways to make it interesting. He was doing a good imitation of a slalom sledder, going down a trail. Most of the people he went by knew or at least recognized him, and kind of cheered him on. A few of them stopped him to talk with him and I think it made him feel pretty good. There was one of the other patients, another EOD guy, that was in his chair and Jason stopped to talk with him. They talked for only a moment, but it was the social interaction that Jason needed. We kept on going after that and made four rounds of the floor. As it turned out, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Dunford, was also on the floor and Jason came upon him as well (actually a couple of times). He spoke with us for a few minutes and we totally enjoyed speaking with him. Once Jason was done he was ready to head back to his room and get back in bed.

As I have stated in earlier posts, Walter Reed is merging with National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) and there are several more people here now. I think that is a big part of the reason for the move to the 4th floor next week. Jason will still have a private room, only this time it will be by design, as the room he is moving into is designed to be a private room. The staff will be coming down also, so there is a high level of consistency and continuity of treatment and support. This is a good thing for the guys, and especially Jason. He has gotten to know just about all the nurses and corpsmen and he likes how they have treated him, for the most part.

The doctors all came by today and talked with us about how Jason's wounds were looking and answered any questions we have. Jason's wounds are such that there have only been a few other patients to have them. As a result they look at Jason as an opportunity to learn and grow in their skills in treating these more sever wounds and so far we're pretty happy about it for multiple reasons. They themselves are learning and, as I said, they answer any questions we might ask, and it gives both us and them a chance to learn more. Jason has become a very good teacher to any of the new people that come in, and is able to discuss things with those that have been around for a while now. As you can tell, today was a day that was pretty laid back, but also active. Tomorrow Jason goes in to the PACU for a dressing change and we hope to hear what is going to be happening with the next step(s)shortly after he returns to his room.

Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers. Jason is getting stronger all the time, and feeling more confident in his abilities. For example, he showed me that he can literally sit up-right in bed now, without the help of an angled bed (in fact it is easier with the bed being flat). I was very excited about what I saw and expect more good things to come.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17, 2011

Today started a little different for us, as when I got to Jason's room this morning he was already eating his breakfast (french toast), and looking pretty good. We talked for a while and actually worked on some paper work that he has been wanting to get done, and that took us up to almost 9:30am. That's when it dawned on me, I was supposed to call Linda and get her up (I'm her wake-up call). Well, as it turned out, since I was 30 minutes later than usual, she was scrambling to get ready for the day, and didn't have time to talk. I did get to say, "Happy Birthday!", and then that was about the end of that conversation. Jason and I went back to finishing the paper work and that didn't take long, and then the phone rang. It was Linda!

This time we were able to talk with her for a little bit longer and Jason and I sang Happy Birthday. I think that was one of the better birthday presents she was able to get. She then talked with Jason for about the next 10 minutes, then she had to go back to her work.

Jason had to go in for an ultra sound today, that they wanted to do on his liver. We will get the full results on that plus the lab tests they are performing, in about a week. They've noticed the level of some enzymes going up and want to be sure that everything is okay. Because Jason has been on some of the medications he has been on for so long they tend to jump on things a little faster. We ended up seeing several of the doctors associated with this today, and they all wanted to take a look at Jason, and be able to see that he was doing okay.

We also saw the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and that turned into a nice visit. He talked with Jason and me for several minutes, had his picture taken by their official photographer and then gave both of us one of his commemorative coins. Actually, what we talked mostly about was California, where he grew up and where we grew up (both Jason and I). Turns out we know many of the same areas pretty well. Afterward he left and then it dawned on me that I hadn't had him sign our guest registry, and as it happened, Linda was on the phone again with Jason so I took off down the hall with the registry and found him. He was happy to sign the book, and we then said good bye, again.

Originally, Jason was going to be going in to have the dressings changed tomorrow, and now it has been pushed to Friday. I'm taking this as a good sign, and that the doctors are comfortable enough with his progress that they don't need to get him back in right away. An extra day off is good for Jason, as he can now get out on his cart and chair a bit more tomorrow.

Thank you, everyone, for all your support and continued prayers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011

Today was a busy day for Jason, with it starting out with me coming over to finish up the packing of things in his room, so that we'll be ready for the move to the 4th floor next week. We ended up with a bunch of boxes of stuff that he has accumulated over the past 5+ months, and we had it shipped out to California so he won't have to deal with shipping more stuff later on. After the packing was done he wanted to get out on his cart. He is getting more confident in being able to move around, going from his bed to the cart, and that is a big step for him. It shows that he is more confident with his balance, and in his ability to move himself. I think he would have liked to have gotten several laps of the floor, and he did do four laps, but the challenge is that for some reason today was especially busy with people, and they all seemed to want to hang around in the hall ways. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but the hallways did have more people than usual. With more people one tends to get more "opportunity" to socialize and that slows one down when one is out to make laps. (Yeah, Jason is "one" in that last sentence). Anyway, once he was done with that he headed back to his room where he rested a bit, and then ate lunch.

He wanted to rest because he knew he was going to have to get back to his chair and head down to the PT gym, where MJ was waiting for him. Again they wanted to work on his balance as coordination, as well as strengthening of his arms while reaching. He is able to do some "walking" while on the mat, and that was a pretty big thing. He didn't go too far, but it was a first and I'm not sure who was more excited about it, as a few of us were cheering and Jason was smiling. They had him doing some extended arm exercises that were meant to do a few things, such as build a little strength; help with his balance; and development of his confidence while being in an upright position. When he was done he headed back to his room where he got back in bed and slept for a couple of hours.

There weren't too many visitors today, and that's probably a good thing. As much as he was out today, he wouldn't have had a bunch of time to spend with too many visitors. Of course the flip side of that is that while he was out people came by and he wasn't around to see them. Tomorrow is going to be another busy day for Jason, though I don't know if it will be as busy as today. When I did leave his room tonight, he was asleep, and resting well, and he deserved it. A little earlier in the evening he was dealing with some pain issues, and the nurses worked to get it under control, and I also think their efforts contributed to his sleeping so restfully.

Thank you, all for your continued support and for keeping all the Wounded Warriors in your prayers.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011

Jason took a slightly different direction today, and though he still went down to PT, and worked with the therapy folks, he didn't go directly back to his room. Today he went down and visited with a buddy of his, Tim, who was back at NNMC for some follow up surgery. To date, Tim had come by and visited with Jason probably 6 or 7 times, coming in either in his chair or wearing his new legs. Jason wanted to turn it around this time, since Tim can't get out of bed for a couple of days, and Jason can. They talked for about 30 minutes, and then Jason had to get back to his room, as he was starting to hit the "wall" with being away from his meds that long. It was probably the longest period Jason has been out and about, and he made it back to his bed in relatively good condition.

I think the opportunity to go visit with Tim was just the right thing to have happen for Jason, as the folks in PT talked about Jason getting out and doing something off the Naval Base, like go to lunch or something. They said they would coordinate with the doctors, to make sure Jason can be out that long, and the idea seemed like it was something Jason was definitely interested in. While in PT Jason worked more on his balance and again strengthening his core. He worked some on his arms too, so once he was back in his bed he confessed to me that he was a bit tired and his muscles felt like they had just done a good work out.

No other visitors today, other than the medical staff and support staff from the hospital. That's okay, as he did have a long outing from his room today, and that was kind of special.

Thank you, for your continued support and all your prayers. Jason and I have been here for over 5 months now and it feels like we may be coming to the end of our stay here at NNMC (National Naval Medical Center).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14, 2011 - Jason and Dad in Bethesda

Well, Jason had a good visit early this morning, from Mom and Dad. He was scheduled to go to the PACU first thing in the morning and Linda had to catch a plane back home, so we first went over to see Jason. I think he was a little surprised to see us there at 6:00am, and quite frankly I was too. Linda was up late, doing her last bit of packing, so she didn't get as much sleep as she would like, but when I told her it was time to get up she jumped out of bed pretty quickly. We were able to spend about an hour and a half in his room, and then followed him down to the PACU, and spent another 30+ minutest with him there. It was a very nice visit and since Mom was headed back home, to California, I think Jason thought it was probably one of the best visits he has ever had. We had to leave for the air port by a certain time, and it just so happened that the timing couldn't have been any better. Just as they were ready to start working on the wound dressing changes we were needing to get going.

When I got back to Jason's room, a few hours later, he was comfortable and reading a Stephen King novel. I was happy seeing him doing that, as that is a strong indication that he is getting tired of the television, movies and his laptop. While we were talking another visitor came by, another Wounded Warrior, from Iraq action. He is a retired Lt. Col. that goes by the handle "TBI Tim." TBI is for Traumatic Brain Injury, and Tim, was still recovering from his injuries, though it appeared to me that he was getting along very well, and walked with only a slight shift in his normal gate. It was a good visit and he said he would be back, though he didn't know when, just that he would be back and he was keeping an eye on Jason's progress. He said that when the time is right he thought he would be able to help Jason with his recovery.

Not much else going on today, as it was a stormy Sunday here (and still is). Tomorrow there will be some activity at PT, and Jason has already said he wants to get down there in the afternoon, so I need to be sure that I am available. I will be over to see him early in the day, and then probably take a short break later in the morning. Then I'll head back over by noon or so. I would like to sort of set up a schedule, or regular routine, if I can, so that we can "know" what to expect from the days. Jason was happy with this idea.

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support, and for staying with the blog.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 13, 2011

Jason had a little bit of a tough day today, in that there was something going on with his wounds and it was causing him a bit more pain than usual. Usually he is able to control it with his PCA (Patient Controlled Administration) button, and today he needed a little bit extra help from the nursing staff. As a result of the extra meds he was unable to get out on his chair or his cart, so we just hung around his room and just visited with him most of the day.

He had other visitors too. There was a visit from some of the guys (EOD) who knew Jason, and one of them had also been injured in Afghanistan. He was now up and walking around and I think their main reason for visiting was to show Jason that there is the ability to walk after loosing your legs. Of course, they acknowledged that with the injuries the guys are not able to stay up for more than a few hours at a time, but that is still much better than not being able to get up at all. We were able to talk with Jason after the visit and asked Jason about a few things with one of them being what his dreams of the future are. Jason said the one big dream he has is that he will be able to be up and walk again, though he knows it won't be for quite awhile yet. I was very happy to hear him say that, as perviously I didn't know if he thought that way. We also talked about when he would be getting a hand-cranked bike, and he is looking forward to that as well.

The rest of the day we pretty much spent cleaning up and packing up his room, so that it would be ready for the move to the 4th floor. Not really sure when it is supposed to be, though from what I have been told it is coming up well before the end of August. We haven't gone down to take a look at the rooms, but have been told that they are nice, and Jason should enjoy the change. Actually, I think Jason will enjoy just about any change, since he has been here as long as he has. We left Jason a little earlier than usual tonight, as Linda had to pack for her flight home tomorrow. She needs to get back home to take care of some of our personal business and her own day care business.

Thank you, for all your prayers and support and please keep the rest of the family in your prayers and thoughts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

Jason started off with PT early today, and they worked on his core strength and balance again. He is getting better in his ability to move around a bit more, and that is a good thing. He is also showing that he is able to stay out, and away from his bed and disconnected from his meds for a little longer periods of time. The doctor said he was comfortable with Jason being off the medications, hanging on the I.V. poll for as much as 1 1/2 hours, though Jason isn't quite that far along just yet. After his PT workout Jason wanted to get back to his room and into his bed.

Once he was in his bed and hooked back up to the poll, he soon became much more comfortable. With Walter Reed merging with NNMC there are more Army nurses and corpsmen around, and because it is still early in the merge there are a number who are still just learning where everything is. Today Jason had a nurse who was not only looking after him, the nurse was also "mentoring" one of the new Army nurses. If they are all like she is then I would have to say the merger is going to be a good thing. She was very friendly, and Jason enjoyed talking with her.

There were a few visitors today, with one of them being a former Walter Reed patient, who is a double amputee and has gone through almost a year of rehab work. He came walking in on his "new" legs and seemed very comfortable with them. He and Jason talked for about 20 minutes, and then Brian (who is also EOD/Army), the visitor, left. A few moments later Mark came in for a visit. Another former patient who has gone on to rehab. He was injured on his left arm and they were able to save it. He is now able to move his arm and hand almost as if nothing happened. No other visitors, except Mom and Dad, so Jason was able to get a little extra rest, and that was a good thing.

The updates for the remainder of the time here are going to be pretty much like this one (relatively short), unless there is something new to report. Thank you, all for your continued support of Jason, and for praying for him and all the others.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

Jason had a good day today, in that he was able to spend some time with his brother, David and his family, before they were head back off to California. This week's visit was the first time for Jason to meet his nephew Dylan, so it was a special visit for both of them. There was also a quick visit from Team EXTREME, as Jason was headed to his PT appointment. It was unexpected, and they had a dog with them, so in a couple of different ways it was a special visit for Jason. I think he will be getting another dog, just as soon as he can, and that is based on how he reacted to this dog. Of course that probably won't happen for a couple of years, though it will happen. All of the guys from Team EXTREME came out to visit with Jason and to talk with him briefly. They had read this blog, so they knew about his pushups and mentioned it to him, and let him know that now that he set that level he is know expected to do at least that and probably more each time. About the only down thing for today was the fact that David and his family had to leave for California and not sure when they might be able to get back out here.

Like I said, Jason went to PT today, and they worked on his balance and some of his core strengthening exercises. He didn't get to set any new records with pushups or pullups, so we'll all just have to wait until later for that. The PT folks also continued to encourage Jason to keep working to improve his strength and be prepared to do more work each day. So we probably can expect to see more days where Jason is going to be noticing soar muscles.

Thank you, for your continued prayers and support.

August 10, 2011 - Five Months

All, sorry for not putting up a post last night but due to a few other distractions I was kept from the blog, and when I finally did get to it, the wifi was having problems so I finally just went to bed. Anyway, Jason is doing well, and the visit to the PACU was a good one. They cleaned and redressed his wounds and for the most part he was comfortable. The only associated challenge to this was that for some reason a minor error happened with the scheduling and Jason didn't get to go down early, so he had to wait a bit longer than usual. They came in and apologize for the mix up and Jason was his normal gracious self with a "no harm, no foul" attitude.

David and Miriam were able to spend more time with Jason, and Dylan was pretty happy to be able to see Uncle Jason again. Of course Dylan is a pretty active kinda guy so he was all over the room (and 5th floor), talking to everybody and generally having a great time. Everybody who saw him thought he was a treat and so happy. I think it made Jason feel extra good, just to be able to visit with Dylan. It always makes Jason happy when he gets to visit with David, and to have Miriam and Dylan along makes it that much better. The sad part is that they do have to go back home on Thursday.

Not too much in the way of visitors today, and a big part of that was because of how his schedule got thrown a bit out of the normal routine. He did have PT though, and he again demonstrated just how strong he was getting. He is able to lift himself off the bed completely now, using the trapeze, and this is a major step at getting to the point of not needing any help in getting into his chair. Funny thing is that he can do these type lifts in his bed, and he can do pushups pretty well now, but he still has difficulties in doing a more normal pull up. I guess this more associated with his shoulder strength, and that still has to be worked on. We are all feeling proud of Jason and how he is coming along right now, as we know that there are many great things to come.

Thank you, all for your support and prayers, as we continue down this road.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9, 2011

Jason is doing well, and improving all the time. Some times during the day he has to deal with some difficult pain or discomfort, but for the most part he is continuing to heal. There seems to have been a general improvement with his infections, and we were spoken to about possible dates for when they will shut off all his antibiotics. The dates won't be listed here, as there is still some question about what they will be, and I don't want to set anyone's expectations, and then be wrong about it.

Because of some of the problems he was having earlier today he did not get to go down to PT. I think this was a little bit of a disappointment for Jason, as he tends to enjoy going there. Later this evening he was feeling much better and probably could have done his PT then, but all of the trainers were gone. He will be headed down to the PACU tomorrow; they will be doing a dressing change and washout; and, it is possible that they will be making a decision about what the next specific steps will be. I can probably guess, as many of the readers of this blog can probably do, but I am not a big fan of speculation, so I'll keep the thoughts to myself.

Not too much in the way of visitors today, other than medical staff and family, with one notable exception. Tom and Carol Hall came by with some gifts from their church, for Jason and the family, and Tom also told me he made a bunch of cookies for us to enjoy. Unfortunately Jason was asleep when Tom and Carol showed up, but later he woke up and ate some of the cookies, and shared some with his family. I think everybody had a couple... ;-) Jason has to head down to the PACU tomorrow morning, so I'll attempt to get over there before he has to go down, but otherwise I will be visiting with him tomorrow, after he gets back to his room.

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support. Please keep in mind all those folks who are dealing with difficult situations, around the world, as well as those that here at the Naval Hospital, Bethesda.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011

Jason enjoyed the day with his brother David today. I came over early to visit with him, and to a friend of mine, Susan S. She was able to come by early this morning, and Jason was feeling pretty good. There wasn't much going on today, other than a trip down to the PT gym. He said his arms were feeling a little soar from the pushups and wanted to know if he was going to have to be doing that again. I basically told him that it would be his choice - my guess is he will want to do it at least one more time, and probably more.

Going down to the gym, he decided to head that way while on his cart. He is attempting to alternate the days he uses his chair and cart. He wants to get the best results on his arms. When he went to the gym they let him know that he would be using the pull-up bar, and that they wanted to see how many pull-ups he could do. He wasn't feeling too hopeful, for a couple of reasons - 1)it is a different set of muscles than when doing push-ups; 2) he still does not have full range of motion with his shoulders. He did give it is best shot though, and hung from the bar and only a little motion when he attempted to do a pull-up.

Otherwise, not too much today, and he did spend most of it with David. Actually David is the one who went down to the gym with Jason. It was very relaxing knowing that David was with Jason, and Jason had someone with him, who he was comfortable being with. We might get a chance to get Jason out of the hospital tomorrow, though we need to keep the temperature in mind, and not have Jason attempt to head out while it is 100+ outside with 90+% humidity.

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support.

August 7, 2011 - A nice quiet day

Jason had another of his many quiet days today, as he went to the PACU and had another washout done. He is in good spirits and is starting to become a bit more restless in his bed, so I would suspect that he is going to be working even harder on getting his strength back and being able to get out more. Of course "get out" means simply getting out of bed and maybe the occasional trip outside of the hospital, as he still has to beat the rest of those pesky infections. Once THAT has happened, then he is ready to truly "get out" and see the rest of the world.

On a very positive side, David has come back again to spend a few more days with Jason and this time he brought along the rest of his family. It was so great to see Miriam and Dylan (their son). We hadn't seen Dylan since last Christmas, and this is the first time for Jason, and his girls to actually meet him. Bridgette is supposed to be getting back tomorrow and then she can meet him too. When we have more of the family here it feels so much better, and the strength that is generated could power the energy needs of the rest of the country (OK, maybe a little exaggeration, but I think you get the picture).

Not much else to go over today, as for the most part it was a quiet day for Jason and he got some rest. Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support, and please keep all those who serve in your hearts.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 6, 2011

Today was a special day for Jason because we were all able to sit down and enjoy our dinner together, at a table, for the first time in almost a year. It was the first time in 5 months that Jason has eaten anything and not be confined to his bed. The cafeteria has special tables to accommodate wheelchairs so he was able to just wheel himself up to the table and we had the dinner from the hospital galley (a.k.a. cafeteria). We ate salad, soup, and spaghetti and it felt like a nice family dinner. We were almost the only ones in the cafeteria, so we basically had the entire place to ourselves (almost). We did not take any pictures as we just wanted to enjoy this time, besides there really wasn't anyone around to ask to take any pictures.

Jason has a procedure tomorrow morning, so he will be going down to the PACU early in the morning, and then probably back in his room around 11:00. Not sure if I will need to head out to pick him up something for lunch, but I already know I'll need to do it for dinner. The offerings made on the menu selection were not interesting to Jason, and he asked me to get him something else. I'll need to ask him tomorrow, once he is back from the PACU, if lunch needs to be brought in. He is going down to have a dressing change, as well as an assessment of the wounds.

He had a few visitors today. The Arms Outstretched Ministry came by and spent a little visit with Jason, and one of them is a former Marine, and I think he was in his 30's so it was easy for him to relate to Jason. They also brought in lunch for everyone on 5 (and even some from other floors), so they were quite a hit with everyone. Another visitor was the Sargent Major from his unit back in Afghanistan came by. Jason was particularly happy to see him, as they had more common things to talk about. I found him to be a truly caring man, and his wife, whom he brought also, was totally supportive of what he was doing. He was on leave from Afghanistan and headed back in only a matter of a couple weeks, yet he was taking time to come visit Jason and the other Marines. That not only says a great deal about his character, it also says a great deal about his wife and her support. I felt honored to have met them. Jason also had a visit from a warrant officer who Jason didn't know, but had actually met some time in the past. Jason always enjoys Marines coming in, so it was good. Finally, Dave, the cookie guy, came by with one of his daughters and spent some time with Jason. He didn't have any cookies with him this time, however he did bring some fresh berries and that made Linda very happy (Jason doesn't like berries, so he wasn't interested). The only other folks to "visit" with Jason today was family, and the medical staff, and that's okay.

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support, it is very important to us to know that you are all out there, and even more important to let you know we do appreciate it very much.

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 5, 2011 - He gave it his all

Jason had a competition today, against another Marine, of a push-up contest. The other Marine was smaller than Jason, and also a double amputee. We all met down at the PT gym, with Jason showing up just a few minutes ahead of his competition. The rules were pretty loose, and it wasn't really clear on how they were going to start, or even what constituted a push-up. When that was all finally determined they got ready to begin. The rules were simply to do push-ups as well as you can, going up as far as you can and down as far as you can, without touching the base (in this case the work out tables); they were to begin at the same time, and do as many as they could. They both got into position and I said, "Ready...Go!" And they were off. Jason started at a pace of about 1 push-up every second (maybe just a little slower than that). The other Marine was going at a faster pace and by the time he had reached 20 push-ups (yeah, 20) Jason had made it to 14. The other Marine stretched out his arms and just laid down while Jason kept on going. A couple seconds later he asked, "How many does Jason have?" we said 18, 19... and he said, "Oh, crap!" and started doing push-ups again. Everyone was getting excited and we were cheering them both on. Even Stacy, Jason's daughter, was clapping for daddy. The other Marine got to 32 pretty quickly and laid down again, and Jason kept on going, still at the same pace, so when Jason hit 30 the other guy got back up and went to 40, and this time laid down and said, "that's it." Jason didn't show any signs of being tired until he hit 37, then worked to go the rest of the way to 40, and he stopped. It was an amazing demonstration between the two, and since Jason didn't stop for rests I decided he was the winner, though the other guy worked hard too, so you got'a give him credit. Now you have to understand, I was not the anointed official, and I simply decided for myself that Jason had won. Afterwards, the other Marine was put back in his power chair and went back to his room and Jason stayed for more activities. Once he was done, Jason got himself back on to his cart (we helped) and he rolled himself back to his room, by way of a lap of the 5th floor. I thought of it as a victory lap. You could tell that Jason felt pretty good about himself.

With the work that Jason is doing now, with Physical Therapy, and the gym, I am expecting that he will be able to do more of the things that he wants to do, from an independent nature. One of the biggest challenges he has to get past is the weakness in his right hand. He has been working with Orthopedic these past couple of days, and it is suspected that the ulnar nerve, in his right arm may be damaged. Considering what he has been through I wouldn't be surprised. We may not find out much about this until later next week so we just have to wait right now.

Not too much in the way of visitors today, but that may be because he was down at the contest when dignitaries may have come around. It really doesn't matter as we were able to spend a big chunk of the day with him, and he was able to see his two daughters as well. About the only thing that didn't go well today was the food from the hospital's kitchen. Each day they have the patient fill out a menu, identifying what it is they want to eat. The next day, that selection is supposed to be delivered, and for the most part they get it right. This week, however, they seem to be challenged as they have goofed up his meals a few times, and then today we ended up with three trays in his room before the lunch meal was correct. We were told they have some new people and some of them seem to be having difficulty. The alternative (and it is a good one) is that we can go down to the galley and just get the food ourselves, if we want to. We might even go down with Jason and all of us eat a meal while sitting around a table, and Jason said he would like to do that.

Thank you, for all the support and prayers, as Jason is continuing to improve and the infections seem to be going away. Just a little bit longer and he will be ready for his next level of rehabilitation work.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August 4, 2011 - "Drop and give me 20"

Well, the title kind of tells the story today. Jason went to his PT session and they worked on a number of things, with one of the first being push-ups. He was able to do 4, which is more than they thought he would do, and therefore very exciting. Then they told us that there was going to be a little friendly competition between a few of the patients, with Jason being one of the favorites. Tomorrow they will be asking those patients to go down to PT and do as many push-ups as they can, and see who has the best stamina. It is a friendly competition, though you know how Marines are. I'm sure there is going to be one or two of them that want to be sure they do at least one more than anybody else, it should be fun.

Bridgette went to see Jason early this morning, before she had to depart. She will be returning on Monday, so that is something for Jason to look forward to. The girls are staying with us, and that means Jason will get to be with them for a few days here, and that is a good thing. One of the things that Jason has said was that he would like to have a meal, with the girls and us, all sitting around a table. We are going to do our best to accommodate this with going down to the galley tomorrow and either have lunch or dinner with us at a table in the dinning area. I think this will be a wonderful occasion for Jason, and all of us. The doctors told us that he could be in his chair for up to two hours, and that should be plenty of time to do that, and still get to the PT competition.

Other than medical staff and family, Jason didn't have any visitors today, though I don't know if he would have been able to see anyone else. Today was a pretty busy day, and because of it he wanted to sleep as much as he could. I did go down and pick up some food for him (yeah, Taco Bell), and that was good. Besides, I was in the mood for Taco Bell tonight anyway.

Thank you, for your continued support and prayers, and please continue to pray for all those needing healing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August 2, 2011 - A busy day indeed

Today began with a bit of a drizzle outside, and as far as I am concerned, that is a good thing. It seemed like it dropped the temperature down a good 10 degrees, and it was kind of nice walking over to the hospital this morning. I went up and had breakfast with Jason (Linda was tired, so I let her sleep in), and we both just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. We talked about some of the PT work that he has done, as well as what he was going to be doing. He was anxious to get to PT today as I think he is starting to feel much better now and he likes the fact that he is gaining some of his strength back. Linda came in just a little while before we were to be headed down to the gym, so while Jason and I did a few things to get him ready she worked on getting his cart ready. Right now, because Jason still requires some assistance in getting from the bed to the cart, it takes up to 30 minutes before he is ready to head out the room. My guess is that in another 2 weeks we'll have the time cut in half and maybe even more.

Getting down to PT, he again worked on how he would be gaining his balance and working on his core muscles, and he did an excellent job in showing that he is improving all the time, and eager to do more. What really surprised everyone in the PT area was how well Jason was able to do push ups. Now, you have to appreciate that these were not your normal Marine pushups, but they were close enough that we consider them such. His arms are still showing the affects of the IED, as well as the infections that he is fighting, and still demonstrated that he has the strength to do more than the medical staff expected. As you can imagine, we were all happy and proud of what Jason continues to do. While Jason was down at the PT gym, the Assistant Under Secretary of The Navy came by and stopped and spoke with Jason for a minute, and then handed him a coin. It wasn't a long visit as Jason was focused on the work to be done.

Bridgette and the girls were able to come back up for a short while, to visit with Jason, and that made Jason feel real good. I think it made Bridgette feel good too, so we were all happy to have them back. Bridgette is putting in some long hours, working on getting her and Jason's personal things in order, and so when they first arrived we basically left the room, with the girls to provide them with some "alone" time. Linda was feeling pretty good, being able to hold and play with our granddaughters again, and I was too. We finally had to recognize that it had been a long day for them and so we needed to get them to bed, and we all basically said good night to Jason. He has a procedure tomorrow, in the PACU, so Bridgette said she plans on going over to see him very early in the morning. Linda and I will have the girls with us so she can do this. The procedure is a wash out and new dressing, so he should be back in his room before noon.

Thank you, for your continued prayers and support. Jason continues to amaze us all.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011 - A Great Day In PT

Jason had a very good day with activities and visitors. He started off with a visitor from the Pentagon, an Air Force Major General Kelly McKeague, who is the Assitant to the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff. He came by and asked if it was alright to come in to visit with Jason. Jason was his usual self and always welcoming visitors, so he came in. He stayed for about 1/2 an hour and he and Jason really had a good conversation. Of course we had him sign the guest book and we took a couple of pictures, so I suspect that I will have time, over the next couple of days to get some of the recent photos up to the blog.

The other big thing for today was getting out on the cart and heading down to PT to work in their gym. This is good on multiple levels as it allows Jason to simply get out of his room; it allows for him to lay on the cart so that his back is more open; he gets to work his arms as he moves along with the cart; and, he gets to do something new with the folks in PT. They worked on helping him to sit up right, and since this was the first time for Jason it was also a little scary for him. I was there helping and we got done what the goal was, so it was a positive and successful time in the gym. On the way back he stopped and visited with one of the other guys he knows (EOD brother), and this made Jason feel pretty good. He was able to support himself on his elbows while he spoke to him, and this is the first time that he has done this. He remained up for several minutes, then laid back down. I was happy with all that he had done and even more so with the fact that he continues to progress well. We went back to his room, after completing the lap of the floor, and he got back into his bed. It kind of wore him down a bit, but that's okay, he felt good about what he had accomplished.

I went and got Popeye's Chicken for dinner, for him, as he was in the mood for that. One of his former doctors came by and gave him a little gift (a DVD) that we watched tonight. Not sure that I can mention the title right now, so I'll hold on that until tomorrow. It was enjoyable and showed how to triumph over adversity. It also had to do with the ocean, so that was another plus. Linda and I stayed with him for the rest of the evening, and then headed back to the Lodge. He said he wanted to get to sleep a little earlier tonight as he has to get back over to the PT folks earlier tomorrow, and wants to be ready. I think that was a hint for us to be sure we are over there early in the morning... ;-)

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support, and I ask you to continue to pray for all those who are still in harms way, as well as to pray for those who now going through recovery from injuries. Take care...

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1, 2011 - Walter Reed has come to NNMC

Today was a busy day for Jason, and a good day in the PACU. The doctors told us that his wounds are looking better all the time and that his progress is moving in the right direction. They took him down to the PACU early this morning and he was back up in his room before 10:30. They wanted to take a look at the dressings and be sure that all was going well, and it was. He won't have to head back down that way until Thursday, as long as there are no other complications along the way. Linda and I went to see him right at 10:30 this morning, so we arrived at his room, just about the same time he did.

Actually, this morning I decided my foot was feeling pretty good (for those that are not aware I had foot surgery back in December, 2010), so I decided to go for a run. I guess you'd call it a "test run." I didn't go far (less than a mile), as I am way out of shape, though it was far enough to test the foot. Not sure if I'll be running every morning, and I may simply take off every other morning. After the run I came back to the room and cooled down a bit, got Linda up, had breakfast, got dressed and we headed over to see Jason.

Once we arrived we saw he had a room full of people already, all wanting to check on how he was doing and make sure he was comfortable. Some of the doctors who have worked with him were there and they all were saying positive things about Jason and for lack of better description, Jason has achieved sort of a "rock star" status on the hospital wing. Jason was feeling pretty good, probably the best he has ever felt after coming back from the PACU, and indicated that he wanted to get out on his cart. This made the PT folks happy, and they came to help in getting him on to the table. Actually what it did was to place him in a position that allowed him to do some of the other exercises that they wanted him to do. They brought in heavier (4lbs) weights for him to work with and before he got out of the room, they had him doing reps with the dumb bells. The exercises only took a few minutes so he was out moving up and down the halls very nicely, and moving a little faster today. One of the more interesting things that happened was that just prior to moving out of the room we got to speak with one of the new nurses (I don't remember if he said he was an RN or an LPN) from the Walter Reed merger. Now talking to an Army nurse really, in itself, isn't much to speak of; its just that this one was named Ross. No relation, that I am aware of. He was just a very pleasant kind of guy and I guess Jason will have the opportunity to have him as his own nurse.

One of the visitors that came by earlier was from Beverly Young, Congressman Young's wife. She has actually been by before, and has taken an interest in Jason and his family, us. She is an amazingly energetic woman who is determined to make a positive difference in the lives of the wounded warriors. She stayed for a good visit and she and Linda hit it off very well, just as she made sure that I was aware that if there was anything we needed she was available to help. I did ask if she knew of any good deep-dish pizza, and before she left she provided us with a name of a pizzeria we're going to check out. There were other visitors today, such as the Marines from one of the local VFW posts, EOD Wounded Warriors, and The Red Cross volunteers. Otherwise, Jason's social activities were from his ventures out on the cart.

Mom and Dad (Linda and I) spent the day with Jason, and really didn't do much more, other than to work to keep him comfortable and to make sure all his needs were being met. Because of all the activity he had today and the exercise, he was pretty tired. He fell asleep before 9:00pm and we just let him sleep. I would like to thank you, all for your continued support and prayers. We have gotten to know and know of, many different groups of people who want to do what they can to help us, and pray for us, and that is very comforting.