Iwo Gima

Iwo Gima
Marine Corps Marathon

Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30, 2011 - End of September

Today was a very important day in the treatment for Jason. He was given a special skin treatment and no skin graft. Now we have to wait a couple of weeks and then we'll know if the treatment took. There is a high degree of confidence that it will, however we are also aware of the alternate plan, if it does not. The doctors and staff here have been very good and supportive of Jason and helping him get through this, so we continue to feel that they are doing the right thing.

With that, all we are doing now is basically waiting. There are some activities we hope to do while we wait, and there is the pending promotion, so we do have things to keep us generally busy. An example of how our joint lives have been, when I left this evening the first thing out of Jason's mouth was, "Are you sure that I don't go to the PACU in the morning?" My response was, "I don't think you do, but I'll go check to make sure." Going for treatment, almost every day has become the "norm" so now we have to get back to the other norm.

Jason had a few visitors today, all from EOD, and it was very enjoyable for him. For whatever reason (I'm guessing training) the entire EOD shop from Okinawa, where Jason spent a good chunk of his EOD career, was here at Bethesda. There were 12-14 EOD techs and officers in his room, all at one time. They all spoke with Jason for several minutes and I had them all sign the Red Book before they left. Then I asked them to take a picture with Jason, and had all of them stand by his bed. Because there are so many of them you really can't tell who some of them are, but I still think it was a good shot. I asked Jason if he remembered some of the guys and he said he didn't know any of them really, and only recognized a couple that came in just prior to him leaving. Even so, they all treated him like a brother.

Tomorrow we're not planning to do much of anything, other than go for a walk if the weather holds. I did the laundry yesterday, so we don't have to worry about that for a few more days. It is probably going to be the most relaxed day Jason has had in several months, and actually with October coming in, that will be our seventh month since we came. The MATC is closed on weekends so I'm going to attempt for Jason to practice his transference from bed to chair and back again. That is, if he wants to and he is comfortable.

Not much else to go over today, as meals were straight from the galley, so no Taco Bell or Popeye's. I am going to ask everyone to continue to hold Jason in your hearts and please continue to pray for him and thank you for your support.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011 - Big Day for Change

Today is a day that we hope saw the final "washout" of Jason's wounds, and going forward we only see some minor dressing change activity after tomorrow. Jason will be going down to the O.R. tomorrow to have the treatment done that we are all hoping will be the way for him to avoid having to get another skin graft. Because it is in the O.R. he will be going down a little earlier than the past few days, so I might miss him when I head over there early in the morning. He has gone as early as 05:15, and I'm just not out of bed and dressed at that time... usually.

One of the other exciting things to happen was that First Sargent Barrett came in to talk to Jason about a number of things, and one of those was let Jason know that he is being promoted to Staff Sargent on Monday, or at least it looks that way. We found out a couple of days ago that Jason had been selected, and that Jason's number is a relatively low number, which means it will be among the first selected for promotion. If they hold true to form, that would mean he would be receiving the new rank the first Monday of October, this next Monday. Jason still has to identify the person who will be pinning his new rank on, and where he would like the ceremony to take place. I talked with him for awhile and he has come up with a short list of folks (3 names) so that in case the first person chosen isn't available he will have an alternative, and a third name as an alternative. I'll be putting in more information as I learn more, so stay tuned. (As a side note... I will not be changing the name of this blog)

Jason also had a doctor's appointment, where they were going to be working on his hand and arm; checking out the ulnar nerve and seeing what they could, to determine what, if anything could be done to help. The initial check up of his hand and arm did show that there was still some nerve connectivity and that is a good thing. They just don't know to what extent there is functionality, and this check up is to help show that. Well, due to some schedule conflicts and errors we are now scheduled to see the doctors on Tuesday next week, and we'll try again. Right after the doctor visit we had to head over to the MATC, where he was told that he had now come to the point in his treatment that he would be shifting to "out patient" care for his PT. He had completed all the therapy that could be done, that was allowed for in-patients.

Jason had a couple of visitors today. Retired Brg. General Tom Jones came by to pay his respects. Actually he has been by a couple of times, and he is a part of the Semper Fi Fund group. He has always been a very positive and upbeat kind of guy, and had demonstrated an honest regard for Jason. There was also a visit from Paul Oostburg Sanz, General Counsel of the Navy, and it wasn't the first time for him to come visit either. It was kind of fun seeing familiar faces and even more so when they recognize us. The only other visitors that came in were the medical staff and we really don't count them as visitors.

One of the last things Jason and I did tonight was watch the movie, 'Limitless', on his laptop. Since we can't play it on the television we use his computer. I was impressed with the movie and story line and was glad that Jason wanted to watch it.

Thank you, all for your continued support and all the prayers that have been coming our way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011

Today was a pretty good day for Jason. He came back from the PACU with a few new areas of discomfort, but that is to be expected from time to time. They had to use some of the Dakin solution today, and only on a couple of areas where there was some colonization noticed. Otherwise he was feeling good.

Almost as soon as he was settled in his room there were some visitors, NYFD (New York Fire Department) members came by and stopped in to see some of the wounded warriors. There were six of them, with two of them being retired. When they found out about the date Jason was supposed to join they were very impressed how it came to pass. They said they come down about every 6 weeks or so, and that the next time they come down they would like to take Jason and I out to dinner. I thanked them, and said I hope we are not here the next time they come down, but if we are we'd be happy to go to dinner with them. They left the room and within a minute, maybe 30 seconds, Marines Helping Marines came in to visit. These are retired former Marines who put on Bar-B-Ques for the wounded warriors, and they have been by before. They didn't stay too long, but it was good to see them.

After the waves of visitors was over Jason and I talked for a few minutes, mostly about Animal Planet (that's what we were watching), then I asked him if he was hungry. He said he could eat, so I went down to the galley and picked up some lunch for the both of us, though it wasn't too heavy. More of a snack than lunch. Right after getting back from the PACU today, they had breakfast brought up to him, so Jason really wasn't that hungry. I was going to do a little running while Jason was at the MATC today so I didn't want to eat too much either.

While we were at the MATC today, taking care of Jason's PT, Pete the chair guy, was able to work on Jason's chair, since Jason was working on the mat today. It will be great when they finally get a seat that is made just for Jason, but that won't happen until after he leaves Bethesda, because they don't want to attempt to do it until after his wounds have healed. Anyway, the chair is a little better now and Jason is happier with how it feels. As I said earlier, I did some running on a tread mill while Jason worked with the therapist, and it my foot/ankle felt pretty good. I got about a mile in and realized how far out of shape I am. For those of you that are not aware, I had surgery on my right foot at the end of last year and I am just now getting back to where I can run on it.

When we got back to the 4th floor, from the MATC, Jason was wanting to get back in to his bed, so he could get some of his pain medication. On the way down the hall we ran in to a group of Army people who had come up to visit with the soldiers who were here. The main person in the group was Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General Peter Chiarelli. Some of you may have heard of him... ;-) Jason did his best to be polite and spoke with him for a few moments, and the General gave him a coin, but Jason really wanted to get back to his bed. I just hope the General didn't think we were being rude as we probably seemed in a hurry - or at least I was.

That was pretty much the end of the excitement for the day. The down side of the chance meeting in the hall was that I didn't get a picture or have him sign the guest book. Perhaps if/when he comes again (and we're here) we'll be able to visit with them properly. Once Jason had his meds again, and he was comfortable he went to sleep to take a nap. He tends to work pretty hard at the MATC and is usually a little tired when he gets back. So I let him just sleep.

Thank you, for all your continued prayers and for all the support you've been sending our way, and for the support that Linda is getting back at home. Many times it is just the little things that mean so much, and we do appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Okay, I took a bit of flak from some folks, about the hat I was wearing on the boat. I'm a SF Giants baseball fan, and not Atlanta Braves. As you can see from the picture, the weather was actually pretty nice and much sunnier than what I expected and I needed a hat. Of course Atlanta didn't do much better than the Giants this year, so I guess it really doesn't matter that much. The SF Giants will be back next year, so I have that to look forward to. Okay, on with the rest of the blog... ;-) Today was a nice day for Jason, as he was able to get down to the PACU a bit earlier than what has happened in the past, and that means he was back a little earlier. I got to his room just a few minutes after 10:00 this morning and Dr. Malone was in there already talking to him (but I didn't miss much). She let us know that things were still progressing nicely and that Friday was still the day for the next big effort to get those wounds closed. The difference this time was that she said they had identified a new product they wanted to use, and if it worked it will allow Jason to avoid the skin grafts that were planned. That would be a very good thing as far as we are concerned. If this new product does not work, all that will happen will be that the skin grafts take place a couple of weeks later than originally planned. Jason was totally on board with this, as he doesn't want to have skin grafts again, if he doesn't need to have them. His PT session went well, and he did the circuit of exercises that the therapists have put together for him. Actually he was able to do some pull downs, on the universal gym that they have, and he was working with 100lbs. He did two reps of 10. The Physical Therapists were surprised at the weight Jason was working with, and very happy. When I set the weight for him they both thought I was asking too much, then he just went to work and got through the routines. I told them that if they had seen him do some of the things I had seen they would not have been so surprised. The only down side was that his right hand, where there is nerve damage, was giving him some trouble once he was done. Both of us ate lunch from the galley today, and it was obvious to both of us that we needed to identify something to change what we were eating. The good news is that we didn't have to eat dinner from the galley tonight as we had been invited over to a spaghetti and meat balls dinner at the Fisher House. One of the other patient's wife loves to cook, and apparently isn't happy unless she prepares a meal for at least a dozen people. Jason and I were happy to help out... ;-) We wanted to get over to the Fisher House a little earlier than we did, and we would have had it not been for a little confusion with getting his meds set up so we could go. Apparently there has been a rule change on the distribution of the meds and we didn't find out about it until we were ready to go. Fortunately we were able to work around it and we still got to dinner in time to eat with everyone else. Jason will be going back down to the PACU, again tomorrow, for a dressing change and washout. This should be one of the last visits down there, as long as everything goes well Friday. With that I am again thanking everyone for all the support and prayers that have been sent our way, and ask that you continue to ask for wisdom and skill for the medical staff, as we approach the end of this portion of the journey.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011 - The one that didn't get away

Today was an awesome and excellent day for Jason and I both. We went fishing with a few other folks, and caught fish. We were fortunate enough to be invited to go along with a small group of out-patients (Jason was the only one still "in-patient") and there were two boats chartered for this event. I guess I was a bit on the anxious side as I woke up at about 4:00 and couldn't go back to sleep. I finally got up and was over to see Jason before 6:00. Actually I would have gotten there sooner, but it seems there has been a change in the parking rules and I had to go to a different garage, and as a result the move from one garage to the other took a few minutes and then I had to walk farther and that took a few more minutes. I wish they would let us know when a change like that is going to happen.

Jason was awake and waiting for me to help him finish getting ready. Most of the medical staff was about as anxious as I was to get Jason out. We were going to be out from about 06:45 to 14:30 (2:30pm), and Jason hadn't been out for that long in the past. The great thing was that his chair has the new seat on it, and though it needs a little work still, it was much better than the previous seat. We rode on the bus, and even though there were a bunch of bumps on the road he wasn't anywhere near bothered as he has been in the past couple of times going out. It was a pretty good drive out to the dock, and I had his meds so that he would remain as close to his schedule as we could, and it all worked out.

About the biggest challenge was getting him down from the dock on to the deck of the boat, and then back again when we were done. The process was pretty simple, though a little scary for Jason. Four of us simply picked up Jason, chair and all, and placed him down on the deck of the boat. When we were finished we did the same thing, on from deck to pier. Getting used to the rolling motion of the boat was a little different, though it didn't take long to become accustomed to the motion. The water wasn't too choppy and the weather was better than we anticipated, and when we arrived at our final fishing spot, the cloud cover broke up and we had blue skies for the rest of the day, while on the water.

While we were fishing, as it happened, I got the first fish on my line. I started to hand the poll to Jason and he refused it, saying, "That's your fish, you land it." Well, actually the fishing started like this; the skipper of the boat got us to our first stop and we put out lines and we just kind of sat there and not even a nibble. Then he took us to the second spot, following the other boat (there were two boats), we again just sat there and only caught a couple nibbles from crabs. The other boat, however, was catching fish right and left, and it was only about 30 meters right in front of us. It was really strange. All the other boats, all around that boat were not catching anything, yet the other boat limited out in a matter of just about an hour. They pulled forward and we pulled in to their spot and then we started catching fish. I ended up catching a total of six fish, with having to through back two of them (one of them being that first catch). Jason caught three and of those he kept two. We were there for a little over an hour and then we also hit our limit.

We just floated around for a few minutes and then sandwiches were broken out and we all ate some of the food. I say some of the food because they expected to have at least twice as many people from Bethesda as there were, so we all had plenty to eat. Then we began heading back in, so we could get back to the hospital. On our trip back to port the deck hand cleaned all the fish and made filets that were packaged up and given to everyone. We had some pictures taken and you can see a couple of them right here, on the blog.

Needless to say, Jason was tired - and so was I. It was probably the best day we have had in a long time.

I'm still kind of tired, so I'm going to sign off now and hit the rack. Thank you, all, for your continued prayers and all the support you've sent our way, it really has made a difference to all of us...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25, 2011 - Sunday Brunch

Jason and I went out to Sunday Brunch, at the Double Tree hotel today. He came back from his PACU visit, where it went pretty much normal, with just a washout and no new issues identified (the way we like it). About an hour after getting back to his room I saw the nursing staff moving pretty quickly to insure we were able to get out. It was great! Initially I thought it was only important to Jason and I to get out, but as the time approached the nurses were doing things without me asking, and making sure we were going to get to the hotel. I've attached a new picture of Jason eating at the table, with a few other folks from Walter Reed/Bethesda (a.k.a. WRNMMCB) and then one waiting for the bus to take us back to the hospital. This was the first time that he had gone for a ride, with the new seat on his chair, and it worked soooo much better than the old one. I think we'll keep it.

Actually, the brunch adventure was a nice prelude to us going out tomorrow, for the fishing trip. I believe we'll be gone for a longer period of time, though the ride was actually what I was most concerned about. He will be in his chair for several hours, and I need to know he will be comfortable. The weather has been getting a little warmer, so that will be good for tomorrow. The temperature is supposed to be up over 75 with cloud cover and no rain.

While we were at Brunch, a couple of visitors came by, so we didn't get to see them, though they did leave a note. It was the Lucases, and Jason was sorry he didn't see them. They always bright up the room and besides they're part of the EOD family, and that always makes Jason happy. Once we got settled back in his room it was getting close to 15:00 (3pm) so Jason just wanted to rest a bit. A couple hours later he sent me off to get Popeyes for dinner and then he took a nap. Because I need to get up early tomorrow I decided to head back to the lodge and told him I'd see him in the morning, and good night.

Thank you, for your continued prayers and support. Jason is improving in ways that we all marvel at, and I'm sure he will continue to do so.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24, 2011

Today was one of those laid back kind of days, where there really wasn't much planned other than the PACU visit. He went down early and was back by 10:00 today, no update other than to say things were looking good, and we're still moving forward. We had a few visitors, one of which was the Governor of Indian, Mitch Daniels, and then also a couple from Patriot Riders. They came by and gave a coin to Jason, and spent a little time with us to thank Jason and let us know that if there was anything we needed they would do what they can to help. Governor Daniels was not what I had expected, as he came in and was very relaxed and spoke to Jason and I like he was almost apologetic for intruding on us. Not sure that makes any sense, but that is how it felt.

Jason got out on his prone cart today and did some laps for the 4th floor, and then decided to stop in on one of the other EOD Marines. SSgt Travis Green, and his wife have been here for a couple of weeks, and it was very good to get a chance to speak with them. Jason and Travis were talking up a storm for almost an hour before Jason started to feel like he needed to get going. I was actually surprised at how long he was able to stay out, though I would guess the chance to visit with a fellow wounded EOD Marine had a great deal to do with it.

Because of the PACU procedure today Jason did not get breakfast, but that was okay, because both lunch and dinner were brought in by volunteer organizations. The food was pretty good, and the change from the standard fare was welcome, especially since he didn't have to go out to fast food to get something different. Shortly after dinner Jason took a bit of a nap, and then a couple hours later I needed to get going since I had to do some laundry, for both Jason and I. I wanted to be sure that Jason had all the clothes he is going to need for Monday, and now I am quite comfortable that that is the case.

Thank you, for your continued prayers and for all the support you continue to send our way.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23, 2011 - Happy Birthday Stacy

Today is Stacy's 3rd birthday, and Jason did get the chance to wish his little girl a happy birthday. She had a nice little conversation with daddy, and it made him feel better than any medication. Jason is so looking forward to the chance to see his girls again, and hopes it isn't too far down the road. Otherwise, Jason had a good day in the PACU and at the MATC, and had a few visitors come by, with some of them being people he knows and others being people he now knows.

At the PACU he went in pretty early, just a few minutes after 07:00, and then he got back to his room just a short while after 10:00; so, he was only gone about three hours. I was back at his room by 10:15 and he was already there, and then a few minutes after that Dr. Malone came by to give us an update. She let us know that the wounds are looking better than they have and we are all feeling pretty positive with how all of this is going. The schedule is to get the grafting done next week, as long as nothing gets in the way, and the way we see it that shouldn't happen. Then the good doctor changed the direction of the conversation a bit and started to ask Jason about what he would like to do, now that he can get out for some short visits. One of the first things that came out was, "go fishing!" Well, as long as the weather is reasonable it looks like we, Jason and I, will be going fishing on Monday. We will be going out on the Chesapeake Bay and seeing what we can do to catch some of the larger fish in those waters. I'm not sure she would admit it, but I think Dr. Malone made a few things happen, so that this would be possible, including rescheduling Jason's PACU schedule.

Speaking of the PACU schedule, Jason will be headed for the PACU in the morning, and be looking at another wash out of his wounds. He is also going to be getting on to his prone cart for a hour or more tomorrow, just to get a little more air time on his back side. There are a few other things that Jason needs to be doing, besides the washouts, to insure a better healing. He has his meds to take on a regular routine; getting his exercise and PT in as often as he can; and, eating the right foods so that he gets adequate nourishment. All of this is aimed at getting him healthier, and helping his wounds to heal. While in the PACU Jason worked on a few more pieces of equipment, with all of them targeted at building his arms and shoulders. I didn't get pictures today, so I'll have to do that next week, when we get back down there again.

Lt. Colonel Tartar came by with a gentleman from the Pentagon, and visited for a few minutes, then he was off to see other Marines. He also said he would be going down to the MATC to catch some of the guys there, and to just get a chance to see it, since he hadn't seen it since it was at Walter Reed. When we got down to the MATC he was there talking with the other EOD Marines and making sure everyone was doing okay. There was another visitor, Phil, from Operation First Response, a group who is dedicated to helping the Marines and other Wounded Warriors, as many of the organizations are. The visit was a nice one and there really seemed to be a good connection with Jason, as he stayed for a good visit and Jason never seemed to get tired. Phil is a former Marine and a Sargent, just as Jason is, and the two of them seemed to have some common ground to discuss things.

Not much more to talk about right now, other than to say that Jason wanted Taco Bell tonight, and I used one of the gift cards he has received to get the food. We relaxed and watched some Kind of the Hill and then called it a night. Thank you, for all your continued prayers and support as we go through this journey.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011

So this is what an autumn day looks like... at least on the eastern side of the U.S. I don't have much to report about it, other than it was over cast and cloudy most of the day and rained for some of it. Funny though, even though it really wasn't very warm out, it was still kind of muggy and humid.

Jason had a good day in the PACU, even though they did have to remove a small amount of tissue from his wounds. Not like they were doing before, this was just a small trimming of some of the skin that wasn't helping the healing. When I saw him in his room he commented on the fact that they had wrapped his bandages a little tighter than yesterday, yet it felt a little better. Then, again, maybe that was what was needed to bring a little additional comfort.

We didn't go to PT today, though we did go "visit" the 3rd floor gym. Both of his PT folks were out today, and when they are gone Jason is not allowed to be down at the MATC - a safety issue. Like I said, we went to the smaller one, and he still was able to get some exercise in, and it made him feel pretty good. After this we went down to Main Street where we picked up the mail and went over to the Red Cross to pick up a couple of items. The Red Cross folks are always wanting to give the wounded warriors things. It would be soap or a shirt; a book to read or nail clippers; they have all kinds of stuff and the guys find it very useful. It was good to get out and just visit with folks, like we were doing. It was a change from the daily routine and I think Jason truly enjoyed himself.

We had visits from a couple of different generals today. BrgGen. Rick Nelson came by and Lt.General Hummer came by. I wanted to remember all the men in the groups, but I left the book at Jason's, so apologies go out to the Sgt. Major and Major who were also there. I did get pictures, and if I get a chance I'll do some more posting so everybody can see all the people that come to see Jason. Also Wounded EOD Warriors came by with a group of five people. Sherri Beck dropped off a loaf of banana-nut bread for Jason and I to share, and it was wonderful. Also Corporal Bromell came by and visited for a short while. There was also the guy who likes to go to the patients' rooms and play guitar for them and then a slew of medical folks who came by, all making sure Jason was comfortable.

Finally tonight Jason and I watched the movie Thor, on his laptop, as we both wanted to see that movie when it came out, but were not able to. I guess the movie is a big reason why this posting is coming so late. All-in-all, today was a very good day for Jason, and so it was for me too. Thank you, for all your prayers and support, we keep taking the days one at a time, and continue to make progress.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011

Jason had a good day today, and we were able to get several things done. But, before I go into that, there is something that I generally don't do, simply because there are just too many to recognize in this blog. These are a group of inspiring folks who have their own challenges, and yet make time to remember Jason. With that, I would like to acknowledge a group of supporters, from the Diamond Learning Center, who have been cheering Jason on for a long time now. A big THANK YOU, goes out to them, and to all the other people who have been continuing to send their support our way.

Jason went to the PACU for a dressing change, and they went back to the wrap style that they had been using previously. Jason and I both felt much better about his moving around and doing PT, and not worrying about the bandages being secure. The results of the wash and change were positive, and it looks like in a matter of days he will be getting a skin graft, as long as there are no build up of bacterial colonization, and right now there appears to be no sign of that happening.

After he got back from the PACU we had some time to just kick back and relax, but honestly it was for very long. The doctors who wanted to work on his right arm (actually both arms, with the right one getting most of the focus) and find out what kind of damage the shrapnel caused to the nerves in that arm and hand. I was quite impressed, as one of the doctors came to get Jason, to insure that he made it to the offices where they worked (because of all the construction there have been many changes in where doctors were and now are located). He wanted to get Jason down by 13:00 (1pm), and we got there just a few minutes late. They were doing all kinds of test and giving him electrical stimulation just to see what the had and arm would do, and established a base line. There are many other tests they want to do, so we will be going back early next week (Monday). I guess some of the test they were doing were considered new and a bit radical, as there were, at one point, three different doctors working on him, with all of us in a 10 X 10 typical doctor's office. Right after this, Jason was scheduled to head over to the MATC (Military Advanced Training Center).

He got to the MATC by 14:20 (2:20pm) and was able to work on a couple of the machines. Jason wasn't able to work on all the equipment that he would normally use because we did arrive later than usual, and he had been already been in his chair for almost 1 1/2 hours. I got some pictures, and you can see them here on the blog, and it shows some of the things he does every day. I will continue to provide some photos, as new things happen, so that everyone can keep up with how well he's doing and just how good he looks. A little after 15:15 (3:15pm) Jason said he needed to get back to the room. He had been out over 2 hours and that with all the activity was beginning to put a bit of a kink in his comfort.

He and I are getting pretty good at doing a transfer from his bed to his chair and then back again, and this really saves a great deal of time when we need to be somewhere. Even though we are getting pretty good at it we need to begin working on the process of Jason moving from the bed to the chair and back again, on his own. My guess is that he will be doing this next week, if not sooner.

Dinner was provided today by one of the groups who come in to the hospital on a regular basis, and for the life of me their name escapes me, so I apologize for the slight. The dinner was great, turkey, corn, cornbread, stuffing, gravy, and a drink, then cookies for a desert. It was very good. I made up a couple of plates for Jason and I and then Jason wanted a second plate. I hadn't seen him eat that much in a long time. Made me feel good... ;-) After dinner we just set back and relaxed, and I guess all the activity kind of wore him out, because he drifted off to sleep, and so did I. I awoke to some activity in the room (they were taking his vital signs again) and figured it was time for me to head back to my room.

Thank you, for all your continued prayers and support. It has been a long trip, and we have a little ways to go.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011 - A turn

Jason went to the O.R. today to get checked out and treated and then to receive skin grafts. That's not what happen. The doctor, who is probably one of the best in the world when it comes to "plastics", said Jason's wounds were not ready for the grafting to be done, and needed to wait until next week; and then probably towards the end of the week. He came in and talked to us and told us why he made the decision that he did, and it was simply that if he had gone ahead with the skin grafts there was a very high probability that the grafts would not have taken, and then we would have had to start all over again. He wants to be sure that the area is ready and will provide the highest probability of success. Starting over again would be an unacceptable "delay" for Jason, as that would mean a much longer time than just another week.

This isn't really a set back, so much as a turn in the road to recovery. It looks like it may be adding another week to Jason's continued healing, while on the other hand, the wounds are looking better today than they did last week, so that is still a positive. Jason and I were talking about what they had done in the O.R., when I first saw him this afternoon (I showed up a little after he got back). He said that they had not done the graft, and he was still very positive about how things were going. As far as he is concerned it is simply another step in the overall process and I can easily support him in that.

When they brought him back to his room they had put wrap and bandage on only half of his wound area, and left a big portion uncovered. The doctor said that they didn't feel there was a need to bandage and wrap everything, even though it did make the bandaging difficult by doing it the way the did. They also put Jason on 5 "chuck" pads, when typically he comes back with two, or sometimes three. That was a little odd, but Jason and I just changed them out, and he was much more comfortable when it was back down to two. Though one aspect of the dressings is that we are going to be extra careful when Jason goes to his PT. With the way he will be moving from bed to chair, or cart, could make it difficult for those bandages to stay in place.

He had a few visitors today, guys who began their own journeys almost a year ago, and didn't even know Jason. They were simply going around to the different rooms and visiting with the wounded warriors who were here now. I was impressed with their positive attitudes and the way they just wanted to give back some of the love and care that they received, so many months ago. All these guys are so strong and positive, and they all seem to accept what has happened to them as a natural part of the job they all signed up to do. I have yet to come across an angry Marine, or anyone from any of the other branches; it helps to keep me going.

God has given Jason a very heavy burden to move through life with, and I believe he is able to do it better than anyone else. Even so, I continue to ask of all to please pray for strength for Jason, and help him with the healing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Setember 19, 2011

Jason had a good day today. The PACU visit was relatively uneventful and he was back in his room before 10:00, wanting something to eat. We didn't do much of anything else until about 1:20pm (13:20) when we started to get ready to head down to the MATC for his daily PT. He did the arm crank for 10 minutes; the rowing machine for 10 min; the rope pull for 5 minutes; and then some arm presses in his chair. Well, by the time he got to the arm presses he only did 1 and was too tired to do much else. I tried the rope pull and only got a few minutes in and decided I'd had enough, I wasn't able to keep up with him.

The real nice thing for today was his chair. Pete, "The wheelchair guy" made some changes to his seat and to the back of the chair. Now, when Jason is sitting in the chair he is much more straight up and down, and his back support is much better. He commented on that when he was doing the exercises. He said that as long as he is comfortable with the chair he was able to do more things, and go longer without any of his pain meds. I was very happy to hear this.

Despite the lack of content in this post, I am kind of tired tonight so I'm going to call it a day. He goes in for surgery tomorrow, and we're hoping that it is the final surgery before leaving here. I guess we'll know if a few days. Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support - we couldn't do this without all the love being sent our way.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18, 2011

There were visitors today, with most of them being Marines. Lt. Col. Tater and his wife came by for a nice visit. Actually they popped in a couple of times, as they ran into another couple of visitors and redirected them over to Jason's room. The second set of visitors were friends of Maj. Steve Lucas and they came by to say hello, and to deliver some cigars - I guess they heard that Jason enjoys an occasional cigar, though it has been over a year since he has had one. We didn't get a chance to speak with any of the doctors today, though that really wasn't much of a surprise. There were several more Marines brought to NNMC and the medical teams were all very busy. It did cause a delay in Jason getting down to the PACU, though he made it there this morning, and was back to his room before 2:00pm.

I still was up early this morning, to go see Jason, thinking he was going to be going in earlier. As a result my initial schedule was tossed out the window, and I simply played it by ear. That's okay, as it is Sunday, and these tend to be easier days than others. The down side is that right now I am tired, so I'm guessing this blog entry is going to have some errors in it - possibly more than usual. We're looking forward to talking with the doctors tomorrow, again after the PACU visit. Just so we can get an update on how things are going and what expectations we need to readjust.

In the past, I have commented on the construction going on at the hospital, and on the Navy base, in general. Over the past several days (maybe a bit more than a week) the construction has come over to the Navy Lodge, where I am staying. They are making some modifications so that there is a real breakfast area, and they will be able to offer a little more. From what I can tell, it is going to look very nice, and should be done in another week or so. The down side is that smell of the glues and other adhesives they are using are strong. I try to walk through there as fast as I can, anytime I need to go there.

Thank you, for your continued support and prayers. Please keep all the Marines in your hearts and ask for wisdom for the doctors who will be working on them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17, 2011 - Ten Years!

Today is Jason's 10 year anniversary with the Marines. He was supposed to join on that infamous day - 9/11/01, but the Twin Towers were hit, and the rest is history. It caused a delay that turned into six days, and even with what has happened, I don't believe he has any regrets for joining the Marines. He has had a couple of conversations with the current Commandant, and even other generals in the Marines, and they all say the same thing, "If you choose to stay in the Marines there will be a place for you." That makes Jason feel pretty good.

He didn't have a trip to the PACU today, and there were no particular problems with anything, other than an interesting turn with the food service. He called in his lunch and had a simple order of grilled ham and cheese, french fries, a cup of soup, a brownie, and a coke. Well, the order that was delivered first was a brownie, a protein shake, and a coke. Then the delivery guy came in and asked if he had gotten his lunch yet, and Jason told him what had happened (I guess a different delivery person brought the first one in). The 2nd delivery guy said he would go get his lunch and bring it right back. He then came back with two trays for Jason, that effectively doubled what Jason ordered. He had two of everything, plus what he had gotten the first time. I sure to hope they get these kinks worked out soon, as I am sure it is frustrating to the workers almost as much as it is to the patients.

This evening Jason and I went out with a group to a crab feed. We only decided to go to this, this afternoon, and the doctors were all in favor of him going. I was given some extra medication (pill form) to help with the pain, and we thought we were all set. Because the weather has started to turn to Fall, Jason even work a light jacket. We worked with the medical staff, and we were able to get out of the room, and down to the transportation right on time, we thought, "hey this is great!"
The first challenge was the ride over - The driver of the shuttle didn't slow down when he came to bumps and out here there are several in the road. They tend to have a negative impact on Jason and his comfort. We thought Jason would be alright though and we went in to have crab, and whatever else they had. Jason lasted for a little more than an hour and even with the medication he said he had to get back so we left a little early. Then that driver does the exact opposite and drives so slow that they bumps aren't too bad, but he doesn't ever speed up, even with the road surface being smooth. By the time we finally got back to the hospital Jason was ready to get in his bed and asked the nurse for an extra hit of his pain meds... It all turned out alright, and the food was good, we just need to make sure we do a better joj coordinating with the drivers.

Thank you, for all your continued support and prayers. Jason will be going back in to the PACU tomorrow, and we are hoping that the results will be positive.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011

Today started with me heading over to see Jason, early, just prior to him going to the PACU. As it turned out, when I got there he was still asleep, so I just let him sleep, as they weren't coming to get him yet. After about 30 minutes I guess I bumped one of the little trays we bought and it was enough noise to wake him up, and we said good morning to each other. Then less than 5 minutes later the nurse came in and said they had called, and he needed to get ready to go down to the PACU. I helped get him ready and walked him out of his room, then told him I'd be back when he got back. Then we sat out in the hall way for about 5 minutes and the transport team showed up. I was actually a little surprised, and also pleased that we didn't have to wait too long, and he was off.

I went and ran a couple of errands and got some breakfast. When I saw that it was after 10:30am I headed back to his room, thinking that he would be there soon. Today was a very nice Fall day (I know, technically late Summer) and it wasn't hot at all, in fact kind of cool. Because of this I didn't mind walking to the hospital again, thinking I had plenty of time. As I arrived at his room, the door was closed, when it is usually open. I looked inside and there were two of his EOD buddies already there talking with him. He had gotten back just a few minutes prior to me getting there. It was a quick day in the PACU, and the doctors were very pleased with how his wounds looked. So much so that they said he would not have to go back in tomorrow, and that his next visit will be Sunday, and then take it from there.

Jason also went down to the MATC (Military Advanced Training Center - now everyone knows what it means) and had a great work out. He did hand cranks, rowing, and rope climb machines, and his arms were very tired when he was done. This was all good, yet the best thing was when he saw GnySgt John Hayes "walking" around the track. When we got here John was in the ICU part of the time that Jason was. He left a few weeks after Jason had arrived, and went to the 5th floor. John was the one that the doctors frequently compared Jason's wounds to, though Jason's are a bit more sever. It does show that there is a very good possibility that Jason will be able to walk, if that is what he wants to do, and the last time we talked about it, he wanted to.

There are some new activities coming up that off the campus/base that Jason said he was interested in going to, so we need to look into it early next week. Because of his schedule, and the schedule of the event we will need to be sure we have all the loose ends tied up, but I think it is a good possibility that he will be able to get out and enjoy things a little more.

Thank you, for your continued prayers of support and for keeping all the others included.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 2011

Today was a busy day for Jason, in that he had non-stop visitors in the morning, people who were both military and non military, who wanted to just stop by and see how he was doing. Actually, it almost got to the point that because of the flow of visitors I almost had to cut it off, so that he would be able to have his lunch before he was to go to PT. Two of the visitors were the specialists who were to work with Jason in building him his customized seat for his chair, and they spent a little bit of time with him, getting to know the different pressure points he was going to need supported, so that he would be comfortable. Prior to this, I didn't realize just how much of a science this has become, it was quite impressive.

His visit down to the MATC today (that's where he had his PT) was particularly good because he got to meet some of the guys down there who were over coming their own challenges, and it allowed Jason to see what was ahead of him. He got a chance to talk with GnySgt John Hayes, the one person who has wounds that Jason can relate to. John is doing great, and he was telling Jason about all the positive things he has to look forward to. It was probably more of a social session today, than PT and that was probably what Jason needed most today. He also got some time to work on his arms, and get some exercise, it just wasn't as much as MJ would have liked to see, though I think she also appreciated the significance of the social needs.

Tomorrow Jason will be headed to the PACU again, and there will be a change of his dressings and I'm guessing a washing out of his wounds. We have to wait to see how things went before we know when the next time will be for him going back in, but I think he will be going in again on Saturday, and probably have Sunday off. At least that's my prediction. Otherwise, not too much going on today other than the rain started up again, and we are supposed to have a few days of it, and it is supposed to start getting cooler over the next few days. I may have to go out and get some long pants again, as I've been living in shorts for the past few months.

Thank you, for all your continued prayers and support. Each day brings us just a little closer to the end of this part of the journey, and we're all anxious to see what will happen in the future.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011

Jason had another uneventful day in the PACU today, and that is good, for a couple of reasons. First, it meant a quick and easy dressing change, and those are always the best kind to have. Secondly, because his wounds were looking particularly good he doesn't have to go back in tomorrow, so he gets a day off from the PACU. Actually there is a third benefit, but it is more for me... I don't have to get up so early to got see him in the morning. I can sleep in until 7:00am... ;-)

There are some interesting challenges that are facing Jason right now, and one of them is clothing. Because of his injuries he will be needing to get some special type clothes made, and today a rep from Under Armor came by, with another gentleman who specializes in prosthetic design. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Jason was to go down to the MATC (some day I'm going to figure out what "MATC" means) for his PT work, and then it was communicated to us that the Under Armor (UA) guy was coming by. MJ decided that it would be best for Jason to just have the PT session in his room, so he wouldn't miss the opportunity to meet. The beauty of working with MJ and Trista (she is the OT specialist working with Jason, and the two of them team up to provide a complete package) is that whatever it is that is going to be worked on that day can be changed quickly and there are plenty of things Jason can do right from his chair or bed.

Well, the session lasted for just over an hour, in Jason's room, and he did have a good workout. We were told the UA guy was going to be there in 30 minutes, so we waited, and waited, and pretty much gave up on the idea that they were coming. I had gotten Jason back in his bed and we were just talking and working with the nurse and corpsman and it was now almost 4:15pm. The UA guy and the prosthetic guy finally showed up and came in to talk with Jason. We weren't going anywhere anyway, so it was okay. Before he left (about 20 minutes later) he said he was going to be designing some garments for Jason, and should have something ready for him in a matter of a couple of days. As for prosthetic devices, the other guy said that he can show Jason some items that will allow him to be able to walk, over time, and that as long as Jason wanted to work for it there is no reason it can't be done. It will also take some time for Jason to get used to working with them, and as far as Jason is concerned, he has plenty of time to do that work of learning to walk again.

Thank you, for your continued prayers and support for Jason and all the medical team here. We have another chunk of time to get through so we are going to need to have the continued strength.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13, 2011

Today was a day that didn't have too much different associated with it, than yesterday, and that was pretty much what I expected. He went down to the PACU this morning, and when he got back to his room he was wearing the wraps around his wounds, like he had before. He was generally comfortable, and he was hungry. Once he was settled in his bed he called the food service and ordered his lunch - well, actually it was his breakfast, since he hadn't eaten anything yet. I waited around for about 15 minutes and then went down to the galley and picked up some lunch for me. Today was particularly good (for me) as they had baked salmon, and it was tasty. Jason isn't a salmon kind of guy, so he had ordered a roast beef sandwich and some chicken tenders.

Just as we had finished eating, Dr. Malone came in and spoke with us, and said that he had another few visits to the PACU, before they would have the bacteria fully under control, as the way they want, and then we will go on to the next step(s). His wounds are continuing to heal up and are looking good, and it is just a matter of time before all this is behind Jason. Then we talked a bit about Jason's rehab and those associated things, like his wheel chair. The seat in the chair is a good seat, but it doesn't always provide the level of comfort that Jason would like to have. Dr. Malone said that some specialists were coming to measure Jason for a new seat, and that it was expected this "new" seat would make things much more comfortable.

We went down to PT today, and that was good. He did a few more exercises and they worked with his arms and shoulders more. I think they are still trying to determine the schedule that Jason will be having for all his PT, with 2 or 3 days a week he is to go to the MATC, and the other days he is to go to the 3rd Floor PT room. I mentioned that he thought his arms were going to be soar from yesterday's workout, well today he said he felt fine - maybe they'll be soar tomorrow. We go to the MATC tomorrow, and he'll probably work on specific muscles again, using the row machine as well as the rope pull. We'll just have to wait and see I guess.

Not much else going on, so please stay tuned for more exciting adventures as Jason travels down this road to recovery. Thank you, all for your prayers and your continued support.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12, 2011

Jason had a very interesting day, and visit to the PACU. When he left this morning I was told I would be called when he came back, and as I was walking out the door to head back over to the hospital, they called. Strange how things work that way some times. When I got to the room, Dr. Malone was there talking with him, and she said that there was a little bit of a set back, with the infection, and that as a result Jason was going to be going in for dressing changes for the next few days, until they got the bacteria all cleaned up. It isn't a big thing, just another delay in Jason getting out of Bethesda, and maybe getting back to California. We just need to take one day at a time, like we have been doing, and keep that positive attitude. Otherwise the procedure this morning went well, and they put the bandages back on, and I think that made Jason more comfortable - I know it made me more comfortable.

Jason was able to get out on the chair today, and we went back down to the MATC, only this time he actually worked with a couple of the machines to get some exercise. We were down there for nearly 90 minutes, and he was okay with that. We even took the long way back to his room, and went through Main Street, where I was able to pick up a couple of the letters sent to him - and one that was actually sent to me (yeah, I get mail sometimes too). When we got back to his room I asked him if he would be willing to try something different, in getting back in his bed and he was open to it. Instead of needing two or three other people, it was just Jason and I, and we were able to do it rather smoothly. I think it surprised both of us about the same, how well it went. There was another Marine at the gym that was showing Jason some of the moves he will be needing to "learn", and it was particularly good because his injuries were almost as significant as Jason's.

After getting back to the room Jason commented that he thought his arms were going to be tired tomorrow, because of the exercises he was doing today. I know it tired him out today, and a short while after getting back in bed he was asleep. I just let him sleep for awhile, while I read, and then one of the nurses came in because it was time for some of his medications. Since he was now awake I suggested that he order his dinner from the galley and then Melisa, from Wounded Warrior Project came in to take our orders for ice cream sundaes. This worked out good, because the ice cream came right after the food showed up. So of course, we ate the sundaes first - priorities...

Jason will be headed back down to the PACU tomorrow, and I suspect it will be another day much like today was. There will be some improvement, though there will be another PACU visit scheduled for Wednesday. After that I don't know what will be happening. Thank you, for all your support and prayers - We ride a roller coaster out here, and we need the continued support.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011 - Ten years later/6 months later

Today is the 10th anniversary of when Jason was supposed to initially join the Marines, and then the attack on the country happened. 9-11, as it is now commonly called, caused all the transportation centers to shut down and therefore Jason was not able to travel down to San Diego and had to delay his joining by 1 week. Then his career as a Marine began. Six months ago he arrived here at Bethesda, and we are still here, recovering from the injuries sustained, while in Afghanistan. One of the first things we talked about was 9-11, and then his being here for six months. It is still amazing that he can remain so up-beat for so long. He truly is a Marine's Marine.

We had a good day today, as we spent it visiting with several visitors; taking a good trip on the prone cart; and, getting a chance to rest when it was needed. I began this with "we" because I was over with Jason early this morning and stayed with him the entire day, except for the run to Popeye's to get him some red-beans and rice for dinner. It was a nice relaxed day that we enjoy anytime we get them.

Actually it started out with both of us eating oatmeal and raisins for breakfast. When I had arrived he had just finished ordering his breakfast so I waited for a few minutes and then went down to the galley and got some breakfast for me. When I got back to Jason's room I sat down and then his breakfast was brought in. I didn't know that he had ordered oatmeal until after it came in. I guess it's just an oatmeal (with raisins) kind of day. We talked awhile and discussed what he wanted to do today - getting out on the prone cart was a big item. We talked about his wounds and how they were coming along and that he was feeling better with less pain today. And, we talked about some of the things he would like to do, like going out on a fishing trip sometime. Later in the morning Linda (Mom) called and she and I talked for a few minutes, then she talked with Jason a few more minutes. We also just watched some TV, and sat back and relaxed for some of the time, then we had lunch.

Lunch was brought in by the Marine Moms group, and like usual they had too many good things. I wanted to take some of everything but the plate wouldn't hold it all. I had one of the nursing staff assist me by him carrying a plate for Jason, and we, again, had almost the same thing for lunch. The difference was that I had some of the chicken chili and he had baked beans, otherwise our plates were the same. When we were done eating I asked him if he would like to start getting ready for the prone cart and Jason said, "Sure." Just about that time Paul Andercyk, GnySgt Rick's fater-in-law, came in. We knew he was coming, just didn't know exactly when he was going to get here.

Paul's visit was an excellent one, as he brought something for Jason, from the golf tournament, and then let me know that shirts can still be ordered (some people have asked me and I didn't know for sure). Paul talked about a fishing trip with Jason, so it fit right in with what we had been discussing earlier. Then, while we were still talking to Paul, another set of visitors came in and presented Jason with an iPad. They are from the group, iPads for Warriors, a non-profit group. They didn't stay long, as they were delivering to the other guys on the ward. Right after they left Lt. Colonel Tartar and his wife came in to visit. They hadn't been here in over a month, so it was good to see them again. They talked with Jason about some of the other EOD techs, and what was going on, and I think it made Jason feel a bit more attached to his old team. Their stay lasted for nearly 30 minutes and then they were off to visit others. Paul enjoyed their being there too, as he was very active in the conversation, though he left shortly after Lt. Colonel Tarter and his wife.

Well, it was getting a bit later in the afternoon now, and I asked Jason if he was still interested in getting out on his cart, and he was. Jason was on the cart and heading down the corridor just as fast as we were able to get him there. He did five laps of the floor and decided that that was enough. Besides his left arm was showing some signs of being tired. The big thing with this time is that he nearly got himself on and off the cart, on his own. All I had to do was place the cart where it needed to be and he did nearly everything else... made me feel good.

Once we were done with that outing it was getting later so we went back into his room; he got back onto his bed; and, he turned on the TV. In about five minutes he was sound asleep. I just let him sleep, while I relaxed and read (something I'm doing my best to do when I get the chance). Jason slept until about 5:45pm and then we talked about dinner. He didn't want to eat from the galley and asked if I could go to Popeye's, and that is where we split on the meals - I didn't want Popeye's. I got a salad that had chicken in it, from the galley. A little later, after we were through eating, David and Miriam called, and I could hear Dylan in the background, and we talked for a short while. Then they talked with Jason. He really enjoys the phone calls from home, and being able to talk to David and Miriam.

That was how our day went today, and tomorrow he goes to the PACU for another procedure. Thank you, all for your prayers and support. Apologies for the type-o's as it is getting late for me and I'm getting sleepy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10, 2011

Six months ago, Linda and I arrived at Bethesda, National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) and we waited for our son Jason to be flown in from Germany. Bridgette was already on the plane with him, as he was being medical evacuated back to the United States, and he was to arrive sometime the following day, though it was expected to be in the afternoon/evening sometime. Actually, Linda and I had arrived the night before, on the 9th, and spent that night in a hotel, and that is why I tell Jason I have only been here one day longer than him, and now, looking back, it has been sometimes a difficult and painful journey and other times very hopeful and positive. There are some visitors who come to the hospital on a regular basis, though their visits are spaced out with a month or more between them. When they see Jason or me their reaction is usually, "Wow! You still here?" Well, yes, we're still here and we will be here until Jason is ready to move on to the next step, and we'll take each day one day at a time, until it is time to go.

Jason didn't go to the PACU today, as it was decided later in the evening last night that they didn't feel he needed to go to the PACU. It looks like he won't be going down until Monday, unless there is another change, late. He is getting better and still doing his best to deal with the challenges of recovery, and we're all here to help him get through this. He was out on his prone cart today, as Dr. Malone has asked him to put more time on his belly. Actually, I think he likes the prone cart better, because of how he lays down with the cart and he can get better speed up, than he can in his chair. Guys and speed - what is it that makes guys want to see how fast they can go (I'm guilty too). Jason made four full laps of the 4th floor and then decided he wanted to get back to his bed. While he was out doing his laps, they made the change out from his old bed to the new one, so it was effectively seamless as far as Jason was concerned, and even had the trapeze had been changed over.

There were some visitors today, with one of them being a former patient/wounded warrior. He is a single amputee, though his other leg was heavily damaged, and he lost some of the use of his right arm. He was just coming through to say hi to anybody that happened to be here, and to talk to them a little about how they got here and what they need to do to get beyond here. There was another group that actually came up to see Tim (Jason's friend), and he had gone up to New York. So, instead they came over to spend some time with Jason, even though they didn't know him. It was nice to see people giving of their time, just because they could. Dave the cookie guy, and his wife came by and dropped off some cookies. They didn't get to visit with Jason, as he was asleep when they came, so they ended up talking to me, outside his room. Otherwise, there were no other visitors, other than the medical staff.

Not much else going on today, we talked and visited and ate our meals, then it was getting late and Jason had fallen asleep, so I told him good night and that I loved him, and let him know I was going back to the Lodge and he went back to sleep. Thank you, all for all your continued support and prayers.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9, 2011 - A visit to the MATC

Today was another good day for Jason, and a day for firsts. He went to the PACU again this morning, and I was there to see him go, just like so many other days, so from that perspective it was no different than other days. When he came back to his room there was something very different this time. In the past he had been bandaged up so much that there was no need for him to wear anything in the way of underwear. Today he had boxers on and there were no bandages. He did have on a couple of pieces of silver material that they use to cover the wounds, and I honestly don't remember the name, other than it starts with an 'M'. Anyway, he said he didn't even know that this had happened until he was almost to the room, when he noticed it felt different and he saw he had the boxers on. Needless to say, he felt different. It was both good and not so good. He has grown accustomed to the bandages, and they provided some extra padding where he is still kind of tender. That had all been removed. On the other hand, he felt generally better without having the bandages wrapped all around him. The doctors wanted to try it out and see if it was something he can be comfortable with, and if so it allows air to get to some of the places that have been so long covered by the bandages. Since he will be going down again tomorrow we will simply have to wait and see what he comes back with this next time.

There were some cartoonists coming in to the hospital to visit the wounded warriors today, one of them being the gentleman who draws B.C. comics(Mason Mastroianni) and another being Jeff Bacon from the Marine Corps Times. I'm afraid I didn't get the full names of the others, other than Paul and Bruce, with both of them drawing caricatures of Jason, as he lay in his bed. Mason and Jeff also gave cartoons to Jason, of the characters they are known for, with little captions written for Jason. It was a nice visit, and they stayed for a short while and talked a little about what Jason had done for his country. They all shook his hand and wished him the best of luck, then went on their way. About 5 minutes later Jason and I looked at each other and said, "The RED BOOK!" I went out the door quickly, but they had gone, so I missed that one.

Jason is going to PT on a daily basis now, and today it was scheduled for him to head down to the larger gym for rehab, so it was more of a visit than any physical activity. It was good getting down there, and we were impressed with all that they had to offer. It was actually four large rooms and a couple of smaller ones, all connected so that there was some enough isolation or privacy if needed, and still the ability to move all around from place to place. The director, "Bo" came and spoke with Jason, and showed him a possible prosthetic that he might consider. What we were told was that she, Bo, had worked with four other guys, with similar injuries as Jason, and two of them decided to go with the prosthetic and two did not. She also talked about some work that M.I.T. was doing to provide some computerization of the ankles, knees and now they are working on the hips, to help make the use of this device feel a little more like walking and not make it so much work for the patient. If that happens then Jason will be able to realize one of his dreams of being able to walk again. She invited us back, and offered an opportunity for Jason to meet one of her other patients, who has injuries similar to Jason, only that he is about a year ahead of Jason in recovery. I think Jason will be interested in speaking with this guy, I know I am.

That was pretty much the day today. The only other thing that is of interest is that the bed is being replaced again. Apparently the breaking mechanism for the wheels is not working properly so they need to replace it. I think this will be the seventh bed for Jason, the company is getting to know Jason, and I think they should consider bring him on their payroll to test their beds... ;-)

Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers. Jason is getting better and stronger every day, but there is still a ways to go, before it is over.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8, 2011 - A night out.

Today was a day that I think Jason will remember for a long while. It started out like so many others, with an early trip down to the PACU, and then back again to his room with new dressings and bandages. The wound is looking better and the doctors are happy with its progress. He wasn't feeling uncomfortable, like he has in the past, and in fact he was feeling pretty good. There were some folks from the Red Cross and from Wounded Warrior Project, and they stopped by to chat for a little while. A couple of them had come over from Walter Reed so they were effectively new... even though one of the ladies told me she was 86 years old (I hope I'm in as good a shape when I'm 86).

We went down to the PT gym on the 3rd floor and got a chance to work with the therapists there, with Cpt. Murphy taking the lead. He is, apparently, there expert on shoulders, arms and hands, and since Jason needs some work in those areas they have asked him to assist. We were both very aware about the trip to the Art Gallery tonight, so both Jason and I kept a good focus on time. It was important to make sure that Jason had time to rest and eat before getting ready to go, and there was only so much time to work with.

Jason ordered his dinner from the "new" room service feature they offer, and I had to take care of a couple of small errands. Because of the weather here (heavy rain) those two small tasks were still small, though now time consuming. I had to hurry back to his room to make sure he was ready in time to get to the transportation that had been set up. The mistake I made was that I didn't plan for bad weather and didn't add any extra travel time to get to the gallery. It all worked out though, as we arrived with plenty of time to view the gallery (Edison Place Gallery) and talk with both Victor, the artist and Michael the writer. Jason also spoke with several of the other guests and they brought him food and drink, and he handed it to me. I was able to take a few pictures and put one of them on this blog already, so look for new ones to be showing up. We were able to go with Tim Brown and his mom, and we all had a good time. Jason and Tim were very popular with everyone and I think they all enjoyed the attention.

We were out for nearly four hours, and while he was out Jason had to take extra medication. I think this is good experience for him, as it seems he is learning how to deal with his pain a little more effectively and how to keep it under control. By the time we had him back in his bed he was ready for the bed and felt a bit worn out. I was worn out too.

Thank you, all for your continued support and all the prayers that you have continued to send our way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 7, 2011 - 6 months ago...

Six months ago Jason was injured in Afghanistan, and at the end of this week, Saturday, September 10, Jason and I will have been here for six months. He has come a long, long way to healing his body, and he has remained in amazingly strong and positive spirits. To think about all that he has gone through, and still be able to make jokes with the doctors and give "pep-talks" to others who are feeling a bit down is nothing short of amazing. We still don't know how long we will be here, we just know that we are getting closer to finally healing up the wounds. With that...

Jason had a good day in the PACU today, and was only there for a couple of hours. They did the wash and new dressings, and from all accounts the wounds are doing what they had hoped they would do. I was able to get over to see him prior to him going down and was back in his room less than 1/2 hour after he had gotten back. I had some errands to take care of this morning and thought I had a full 3 hours to use, but obviously that was not correct. These PACU visits will continue through the week and then possibly on Sunday. Not sure what will happen on Monday, and then on Tuesday he will probably go back into the O.R., though that is not 100%. Because of the nature of his wounds the doctors just don't want to predict.

I went down to the galley and picked up some lunch for Jason and I, and figured I'd make it easy and get us the same thing, except that I had jello and he didn't. They had pasta, chicken and vegetables (among other offerings), and I went for it because it looked good. When we tasted it we found out that it tasted good, too. The only down side was that I didn't get enough pasta for Jason - He really liked it. After lunch we kind of just kicked back and relaxed for a little while, then he had to get ready to head over to PT. Jason wanted to take the prone cart, and that made Dr. Malone happy. She wants to get more air time on his back side, and that doesn't happen in the chair. When we got there they wanted to work on his arms and shoulders, so the prone cart was perfect for the activities. They talked about having another pushup competition just to see if they could get more guys to be involved, so we'll just have to wait to see if it comes to pass.

Not much else going on today, and that was okay. I think Jason is happy with the activity he gets in PT, and not much else is needed. One special item for today was that the model they had talked about getting him, of his H.O., was delivered today. It is an amazing model of just how much and where the H.O. has formed, and it allows for a more clear idea of what was removed. I think it helps Jason (I know it does me) to see just why he feels things differently, in different areas. About the only other thing going on was that I did some laundry tonight. One of those things that's not very exciting, unless it doesn't get done... ;-)

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011 - Happy Anniversary

Today is Jason and Bridgette's 3rd anniversary, and they aren't able to spend it together, due to other issues. Jason was able to give Bridgette a call and they talked for a short while, and I KNOW he is thinking that next year it will be better. He had a good visit to the PACU today, and they did a full dressing change. There was a bit of an issue with the colonization of bacteria on his wounds, the areas that are still open, and that is causing a bit of concern. They are going to be taking Jason in to the PACU on a daily basis now, for the next few days to do a wash and dressing change, and hope that they are able to get rid of the colonization. This is also going to add a few days to his healing road, so we are prepared to do what it takes to get this done.

There were no visitors today, though the USO came by and provided a fantastic lunch. Everybody was talking about it - everybody on the 4th floor that is. There was crab cakes, shrimp, pasta and sausage, salads, sandwiches, even desserts (though we didn't have any dessert this time). This wasn't typical of the donated luncheons, as Clyde's (a local restaurant) really out did themselves. The galley had a very good dinner too, as Jason ordered what he wanted. They brought it to his room, as they have adopted a program like the one that was going on at Walter Reed and I think everybody at the hospital likes the change. The menu is a bit more expanded and the patients all call in their individual orders and it is brought up when they want it. Almost like it was room service in a hotel. If you think this sounds good, don't worry, because it is.... ;-)

Linda went home early this morning. We actually came over very early in the morning and spent a little time with Jason, and then I took Linda to the airport. The traffic wasn't too bad going, though it was a little more congested returning. I did get back before Jason was back from the PACU, so I just relaxed a bit until he came back to his room. After lunch (mentioned above) we went to Physical Therapy (PT), where they put focus on his arms and trunk, and it was good to see Jason working as hard as he was, and also seeing him accomplish what he was able to do. The original goals from PT have been accomplished so it was determined that new ones were to be set. Jason gave a bunch of input on that so the team has new directions to go with Jason, and new vistas to achieve. Tomorrow, or at least later this week, the PT team will be taking him to the Americas Building, to see the new gym, and he will be able to see some of the things he will be able to do, real soon.

No new visitors today, as everyone who came in to see Jason was someone that he has seen multiple times in the past. This is actually a good thing as Jason had a busy day, and any new folks would have probably thought the pace a little fast. I want to thank you all, for your continued prayers and support, as we go down this highway.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5, 2011

Jason said he was feeling a bit "under the weather" today, and Dr. Malone suggested that it was simply a cold from contact with some "bug" while at Benihanas. He didn't have much of a temperature, and all his vitals were right in line with what they should have been, so none of the doctors who came to see him today showed they were concerned about it. Linda and I got over to see him early this morning and he seemed okay, just a bit more tired than usual.

We visited with him for a couple hours then asked if he was interested in getting out on his chair. He said not today, and that he wanted to get out on his prone cart. This was a good decision, as far as I was concerned because I wanted him to get some time in the prone position to allow some of the "air" on his wounds. He hadn't done this in a few days, and it was needed. Jason was able to get on to the cart more easily than he has in the past, and when he was out Jason only did a couple laps of the floor. Typically he will do five or more, so it was obvious that he wasn't feel 100%. Tomorrow Jason goes in for a dressing change, in the PACU, and if it is like the usual, he will be going in early in the morning and then we'll have the rest of the day to do whatever he would like to do. I'm going to see if I can get him to head over to the America's Building, tomorrow, to check out their new rehab center. Of course, the PT folks will probably be coming by and want to do some exercises and that may cause us to have to delay the visit, but that's okay we'll get there one day.

We will be coming over to visit with Jason early tomorrow morning, since he will be going to the PACU and Linda has to fly home tomorrow morning. It will be just Jason and I again, (and the rest of the hospital staff) and we have been able to get along okay in the past. Besides, the medical staff here is pretty good and they help us out a great deal. We like to tell Jason that he has achieved "Rock Star" status, in the hospital and they all want to be able to spend some time with him. He also gets some special visitors as a result, like today an artist came by, , who presented him with a painting that would be considered a collectable. It is a one-of-a-kind original, done specially for Jason. It is the buzzard, bomb and anchor that EOD uses as a symbol. Jason was very pleased with this and wanted to be sure that we treat it with care, especially when the time comes to ship it out.

We left Jason a little earlier than usual tonight, but then we need to get up earlier than usual for tomorrow. Thank you, all for your continued support, and for all your prayers.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 4, 2011 - Bridgette and the girls back home

Jason had a mixed day today. It started out with a good visit from Bridgette and then a little later Linda and I brought the girls over to see him. The girls had spent the night in grandma and grandpa's room. This allowed some extra time for Jason to have Bridgette with him, and we got some extra time with the girls. We were able to go out for a great breakfast with Bridgette and the girls, sponsored by Yellow Ribbon, at the Double Tree Hotel, and then got back to the lodge and Bridgette and the girls headed out for home. While they were here Jason was able to spend a little time with them and talk a little more with Bridgette, about the different challenges going on in their lives. She is dealing with a few things that are keeping her away from Bethesda, and she said she is going to continue to work to get more time to be with Jason. Jason would like to have her here more, and is hopeful that she is able to get everything arranged to make that happen.

After Bridgette and the girls left we went back over to be with Jason. He wasn't feeling all the well, like he had contracted a cold or something, and his pain level was starting to hit some spikes. As a result he was taking a couple extra hits of the pain medication and that in turn causes him to want to sleep more. Now sleep isn't a bad thing, except that it caused him to miss his dinner, so I heated him us some soup (Campbell chicken noodle) and ran down to Taco Bell to get him a couple of burritos. When I had returned he was acting more like his old self so whatever it was that was bothering him seems to have gone away. Even the nurse who was taking care of him commented on the fact that he had not generated much of a fever today, and that he remained remarkably steady.

I began to pull together some of the needed resources for his next outing away from the hospital. They are going to be showing the drawings of him at the Edison Place Gallery, the ones that were done by Victor M. Juhasz. Actually, one of his partners, Michael Fay, is going to be at the Gallery, in Washington, D.C. and I coordinated with him to be able to get Jason to the showing, on Thursday, September 8. Jason is excited to be going and hopes to have a good time. I spoke with some of the folks at the hospital and there might be a few of the other wounded warriors attending as well, since it is open to the public.

Thank you, for the continued support and for all your prayers. God bless you all.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September 3, 2011 - Bridgette and the girls up for a visit

Jason had a bit of a rough morning, as his pain level was elevated for some reason. He was doing his best to get more comfortable, and yet it didn't seem to matter how he positioned himself, he couldn't get comfortable for more than a minute at a time. Finally we worked together and re-situated his pads (often called chuck pads) and the nurse was able to give him a little extra pain medication; then the pain began to go down. On the bright side we were expecting Bridgette and the girls to be coming up, and they could arrive at just about any time. With the Labor Day traffic to deal with Bridgette really didn't know when she would be arriving, only that she left early in the day.

Dr. Malone came by and had a nice discussion with Jason and I, about how he was doing and how he did when we went out to lunch yesterday. His wounds are continuing to improve and she was very happy about how the luncheon turned out and said that it would be perfectly fine to start going out more; and, that Jason should consider doing whatever he wanted to do now. Obviously he had to consider how long he would be out and to make sure that whatever he did, he had medical support with him, just in case. She told him he could go to a museum or go fishing; he could simply tour the sights or go out to lunch again. It really didn't matter and that, "...the sky is the limit." With that Jason said he had no desire to jump out of an air plane... but he did like the idea of possibly going fishing.

David the cookie guy came by, only this time he didn't have cookies, he had fresh fruit and berries. Jason doesn't particularly care for berries, of any kind, and didn't want any of the fruit Dave had brought. That was okay with David. He was there with his youngest daughter and they stayed and visited with Jason for several minutes. They mostly talked about colleges, military jobs, and David's wife's travels. It was a nice visit and as always, Jason was a welcoming host.

I went out and got some Taco Bell for dinner, for Jason, Linda and I. It was nice to just sit back and watch a Skoobie Doo movie while we ate and relaxed. After we finished eating I received a text message from Bridgette that they were finally here and she wanted to know where to come, since Jason's room had changed since the last time she was here. She and the girls were very tired, as they had been on the road for almost 13 hours, because of the bad holiday traffic. It was really good to see them, and it made Jason very happy. Jason had gotten a couple of Teddy Bears for the girls, so when they came in he had little gifts for both of the. Stacy was pretty excited to see Daddy, and then to get a Teddy Bear on top of that was the best thing that could have happened. Jackie was happy to see Daddy too, and to get the bear, but she is only a year old now so she doesn't react the same as Stacy, who will be turning three soon.

Bridgette is dealing with a bunch of stuff, with her job so she said she was only able to stay until tomorrow, and will be leaving too soon. In my opinion, that is WAY too much driving to do in any one weekend, even if Bridgette is young and strong. We talked about when she will be coming back up, though it won't be set until later next week, when she can get with her command. Linda and I would like to see the girls more too, and hope that they can come back up sooner, rather than later. We can see the difference in how they have developed since the last time we saw them, and spent some time with them... kids grow so fast.

Thank you, all for your continued prayers and support. Please keep Bridgette and the girls in your hearts while they travel.

Friday, September 2, 2011

September 2, 2011 - A Day Out On The Town

Today was an exceptional day for Jason, in that his visit to the PACU went well, and the doctors were all very pleased with how his wounds were healing up. There is a small about of colonization on some of the open wound areas, though none of it has shown any signs of turning in to an infection. He went in to the PACU at just after 7:00am and was back before 10:30am, and that is a nice short procedure. Jason will have the entire weekend off from any type treatment or dressing change, and in fact he doesn't have to go back in until next Tuesday. At that time he will be getting a dressing change and we are looking forward to another positive report.

Once he was back from the PACU he had a very quick and easy breakfast of cereal, and then just relaxed for a little while. It was very important that he get some relaxing in as he was to get ready to head out at 1:00pm. Today was a big day because we went out to Benihana's Japanese Steak House for lunch. This was the first time in almost six months that Jason was able to do anything or go anywhere, away from the hospital and the Naval Base. The folks in Physical Therapy made all the arrangements for transportation, and by leaving after 1:30pm (we started to get him ready at 1:00 to be ready to go at 1:30) the restaurant was pretty empty. We had seven people in our party, with two of them in wheelchairs, and the way they had the table set up, it worked perfectly. One of Jason's friends (Tim - he was in the other wheelchair) and his mother were able to come with us.

Jason and I ordered a meal called the "duet" where you can choose from a couple of choices. Everybody else ordered from their standard luncheon menu or had sushi. Because of what Jason and I ordered we were able to have the chef come to our table and prepare our food on the grill, so we got the full "show." On top of that the food was quite tasty, and everybody could tell that Jason was enjoying his lunch. The main concern we had was his pain management and we were out for almost 2 1/2 hours before we started back to the hospital. It was good that we did head back when we did because we got Jason back in to his bed at almost exactly three hours and I don't think he would have been able to stay out much longer without experiencing some serious pain and discomfort.

Jason had a visitor as we arrived back at the hospital. Cprl. Bronell was just getting to the hospital when we got there and just followed us up to his room. We were glad to see her as both Linda and I were tired (we had gotten up very early to make sure everything was ready) so we went back to the Lodge to get a little nap in. Then, after the nap we headed back over to his room and found out that he had had another visitor who left him "several tokens of appreciation" from the U.S Marshal's Office. Actually he was from Florida, and came as a result of a conversation with Congressman Bill Young. We were very impressed to know that he came to meet and talk with Jason, and he didn't even know him. Unlike the California Congressman who doesn't follow up on people from his area. We have no connection with Florida, yet they are showing more support from their congressional office than California. Makes me wonder...

We left Jason a short while ago, where he was watching King of The Hill. We'll be headed back to see him again in the morning, and probably getting out in his chair again. Today was a good day for Jason, and I think it did a great deal to boost his spirits up. Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers, Jason is making the strides forward, and he is going to be doing so much more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1, 2011

Jason had a good day today. I got over to see him early this morning and he was in a good mood, though a little uncomfortable still from the surgery. We talked about what he wanted to do today, and the only two things he listed were to get out in his chair and to head over to Physical Therapy. I asked him if he would like to get out this morning or later this afternoon, and he said it would be closer to 2:00. Then he asked me to head down to PT and make sure they still wanted to work with him this afternoon. I was getting ready to head out when Jason's doctor showed up and I always want to talk with her, to get updates so I delayed going.

Dr. Malone let us know that Jason was doing well and that they would be taking him down to the PACU for a dressing change. She also said that Infectious Disease (I.D.) doctor(s) would be there as well, as they want to check out his wounds to make sure that there was no infection. I asked about the recent blood work that had been done and there were no signs indicating infection, along with good vital signs, and shouldn't that show if there were going to be any infections. She said that all the indicators point to no infection, and the ID doctors just want to take a look to be sure, in case the indicators aren't showing yet. Jason is now on a single antibiotic medicine, and should be coming off that one pretty soon. I guess we'll just have to wait to see what the results are after this next PACU visit.

We were able to get Jason in to his chair a little while after he finished lunch. He actually took a short nap after lunch so he was ready to go afterward. We got to PT and they wanted him doing his exercises from his chair. A short while after we were there, another Orthopedic doctor came in to check out his right hand. We have been a little concerned with how Jason indicates he still has a numbness as well as weakness in that hand. The doctor pointed out a couple of things to help with the rehabbing of the hand, and suggested a brace that should also help. The PT folks were able to get hold of that brace, so we're looking at some new exercises and a brace, over time and his hand should improve.

We got back to his room, as Jason had been in his chair for almost 90 minutes at this point, and I didn't want to see him have any needless pain. By the time he was back in his bed it had been even closer to 2 hours. This was a good test run for tomorrow, as we will probably be looking at close to 2 hours with Jason in his chair, without his PCA to help control the pain. Jason was able to deal without being hooked back up right away and I think that made him pretty happy. He is really looking forward to being at the restaurant, and getting away from the hospital... finally. I will do my best to post some of the pictures as soon as I can, and you'll all have a chance to see how he did.

Please stay tuned for more exciting adventures as Jason continues to heal. Thank you, all for your continued support and prayers.