Iwo Gima

Iwo Gima
Marine Corps Marathon

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30, 2016

Well, another month has just about gone by and, I don't  know about you, but it sure seemed like it was a fast month. We managed to get several things done, for Jason, and we still have several more to accomplish, and I'm sure we'll always have somethings to do. The team from Cal Poly came out this morning to gather more information and do some measuring. They took SEVERAL pictures of his chair and even made a 3-D computer model of the chair and of Jason. Apparently Microsoft donated an X-Box 3-D imaging device for this project - - - I thought it was pretty cool to watch how it is used. They said they might even make an action figure of Jason with the model, though I think they were just kidding when they said it.

After the Cal Poly team left (they were here for almost 2-hours) I was able to get a couple of things done, small things, and then Joselyn and her son Bobby came by. Jason had asked them to come over and they helped him with a couple of tasks he wanted to get done. Bobby and Jason have several similarities, and they get along very well. They talked for hours while they were here and Jason even got up to visit in his chair. Fortunately he didn't stay up too long, but it was noticeable that he was tired by the time they went home. Even Joselyn made the comment that he looked a little tired. Of course Jason said he wasn't, and he just relaxed and watched a little TV after they left. I fixed him his dinner and in a matter of 30 minutes or so he was sound asleep.

I managed to get a short bike ride in, and look forward to getting a schedule together that allows me a regular amount of time to get out and ride. I really miss going for those longer rides and just enjoy being out side. I'm guessing, and as long as the weather permits, I will be riding more by Spring. It is important for Linda and I to stay as healthy as we can, so that we can help Jason and the girls continue to grow and improve.

Linda will be coming home tomorrow, from Salt Lake City. She has been up there visiting with her sister Lisa, and Lisa's husband Michael. They went out and played in the snow and Linda told me that they all went tubing, for the first time. I can imagine that they all had a great time and probably all got very wet and cold (funny how that happens when you play in the snow). Obviously they made it back to the house okay, because Linda called me and told me all about it. I'm anxious to see the pictures and to learn more about this adventure. I am very happy that Linda was able to go as I know it sure made Linda happy. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 27, 2015

It is late, but I still wanted to get at least a short posting out.

Linda left this morning, after taking the girls to school, for Utah. She is visiting her sister and her husband, in Tooela, Utah (its just out side Salt Lake City). Apparently they have some snow up there and the two of them plan to go play in the snow... at least some. It was a little crazy this morning, as Linda had to finish packing, while still finding time to get up and take care of the girls, AND get them to school on time - which she did. Jason had some errands he wanted to take care of also, and he went to the DMV to get the tags for the truck figured out, so about 10:30 this morning I was at the house all by myself. Well, I was on a conference call most of the morning and really didn't do much to help, until later in the day (I fixed lunch and dinner).

Not until later this evening did Linda finally get up to Utah, as she had a stopover in Phoenix, so it was a longer travel time than when we all flew to Colorado. When she called home we could hear all the craziness going on, in the background, and it sounded like it was going to be a good stay. Linda and I talked a little later and she said even their dogs seemed to have remembered her, from the last visit.

Jason and I had a simply lunch and dinner, and we even watched a movie, Black Mass, together. I thought it was a good movie, and from what I am aware of, it was a pretty accurate depiction of the Whitey Bulger story. I thought Johnny Depp did a very good job of being the main character. I am, however, glad that just Jason and I saw it, as Linda really doesn't like those kinds of movies - too much violence.

Things are still going well with the new device, and we expect to see continued progress as Jason continues to use it. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 24, 2015

We are headed home tomorrow, with Linda and Jason flying out via an ambulance flight and I will be flying commercial again. I'm glad that Linda is able to fly with Jason, as it is an experience I think she has earned, and Jason likes having at least one of us with him, and the trip back to San Diego and finally home is going up to Fallbrook and Jason's home. I will be following a few hours later and I hope to be back in the house before 22:00 (10pm).

Today we got out for a breakfast, at I-Hop, and then we went shopping for a couple of small items that we needed. When we were all done and headed back to the hotel, Jason had been up in his new Ride Design seat, or Wearable, as Linda likes to call it, for about 3-hours, and he was feeling uncomfortable. To the point of not wanting to be up any longer. The good news is that it appears to be helping with the healing, and progress. The not so good news is that his ability to be up in his chair is still not much more than it was before. Our guess is that because he has been sitting improperly for so long (about four years) that it is going to take some time for his body to get back to the way it should be, so the time in his chair will grown longer and then he can do more. One of the first things we're going to be doing, after we get back, is getting with his primary doctor and discussing some of the discomfort issues and basically asking if they would like to take a look with an MRI, or something, and see if there is something we're just not aware of, right now. In this case we can work with either the Naval Hospital at Balboa or the VA Hospital in La Jolla. I'll be providing more updates, as we get them.

We have met some great people out here and made some new friends. What has been done for Jason is nothing short of fantastic. What the future holds for Jason is still unknown but we sure do feel much more positive with this new step. We know that over time (a couple years?) Jason will be coming back for another device, or perhaps just an adjustment to this first device. New and even more advanced things are being developed all the time, and we now know that Aspen/Ride Design is in a position to be a part of that future. As we continue to go through the recovery it is only a matter of time before Jason is back doing things we only dream about now.

The only thing we need to get by right now is the weather. There was supposed to be 5+ inches of snow dropped, and that didn't happen. What I understand is that it might happen over night and into the morning. If that happens transportation could be impacted and we may have to adjust our travel. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive

Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22, 2016

We had a pretty nice day today, beginning with a quick drive over to Aspen/Ride Design, where they wanted to do the final exam of Jason and the wearable prosthetic. We have worked primarily with Eric and today was no different. Joe, one of the owners and Noel, another of the technicians there also worked with us a few times and Joe was the one who gave us a tour of the business, prior to our leaving. The person we always saw first, going in to the building was Debbie, and she definitely has the right personality for being up front. She has the energy and personality that they want to have the customers come into contact with first. There is one other person who seems to also be quite knowledgeable about the company, Dawn, and we all got to know her as well. They all, working together, make you feel like you're apart of their family, and very comfortable.

Anyway, Jason went in and everything looked good, with only a couple of minor adjustments before we were just about done. The changes were made and then we took off for lunch. Eric wanted Jason to get out for a couple hours, to check on this "final" fit. We came back and had a great conversation with everybody. We then had the tour and finally we departed the building. Linda made a couple of new FB friends, and they got to know us pretty well over the week. All of this would not have been able to happen if it had not been for the VA getting the right people together and providing Jason with a means of getting out here. Also, we received help from the SemperFi Fund and from EOD Warrior Foundation, to help pay for hotel and transportation, while being out here.

Jason will be flying home on an ambulance flight, just like the flight he came out on, and Linda will be flying back with him. I will be traveling commercial, as the plane just isn't big enough for all of us to ride in, and to get a larger plane would cost considerably more. All of the flight preparations were made today, and on Monday we will be headed out. Of course, on Monday we check in with the folks at Aspen/Ride Design, just to make sure there is nothing wrong and then I will take them to the first airport stop, so they can get the ambulance. After that I drive up to Denver International and catch my flight. They will get home before me, but at least we all get home on the same day... Monday. Then on Tuesday I have to get back to work, early in the am.

Tomorrow we will be heading out to see Garden of The Gods and then the Air Force Academy, just so we can do some touristy things, and to give Jason a chance to be in the wearable for a little more time. Actually, this is why we check in on Monday, just in case something shows up. On Sunday we may not do too much, as I understand it is supposed to snow - - a bunch. I may just kick back and take in the football game. I understand the Broncos, a local team here, is playing... ;-) Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Januarry 21, 2016

Today started out a little differently than the past few days, in that we did not head over to Aspen/Ride Design to continue with the fitting of Jason's new wearable seating system. The way they work is that they custom build a seating solution for the patient, or client and then over the course of a few days there are some fine tuning efforts until the patient and wearable fit each other perfectly. We were originally told that we should not expect to see that until Friday, so we were very happy to see that we had all day today for Jason to be up and around in his.

We were up a little later than we had been getting up, since we didn't have to go to their offices, and it allowed us a little more relaxed time as a family. We went to a late breakfast, and then we decided to head over to a local theater to catch a movie. Jason was wanting to see the new Start Wars VII movie, The Force Awakens and Linda and I wanted to see it as well. We found a theater that reminded us, a little, of the Vine in Livermore, just a little nicer. The best part was that they had seating set up for wheelchair viewing that allowed us to watch from a center location, rather than on the sides, as most theaters have. The fact that it is Thursday, and a matinee probably had some impact on why there weren't many people there, something about having to go to work, and school.

Jason was up for close to 5 1/2 hours today, before he laid back down. The typical length of time he has been able to stay up, over these past several weeks, is more like 2 to 3 hours, max. Later, this evening Jason went to take his shower, and I did the dressing change, and I'm happy to report that he looked pretty good, and not at all like I would expect for being up for more than 5 hours. We're all very hopeful that this is going to help greatly, and be a solid next step for Jason's healing. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 20, 2016

We have been here for a few days now and the first iteration of the prosthetic seat, for Jason is complete. They are actually a little ahead of schedule, and that is a good thing. This is going to allow us almost an entire day for Jason to experience the Ride Design creation, and see if we can continue being ahead of the curve. We're looking at possibly going to a movie tomorrow, or perhaps do some of the touristy things, like go to a park - - - of course the park would make the dogs happy, but I'm not too sure about how I'm going to enjoy the cold. Colorado is January - I guess it snows around here. One of the things we are planning on doing, right now, is to have dinner with a friend of ours. It is someone I used to work with, back when I worked at Sun Microsystems. We haven't seen each other in over 10 years, so we'll have some catching up to do.

Otherwise, we're all doing well. I am so glad that Linda was allowed to come on this trip. She has made my life a lot easier, as well as its just nice to have her here. We've been able to sit down and go through some different things we've been putting off, because now we actually have the time to sit down and focus a discussion without multiple interruptions. It is also giving Linda some time to just sit back and relax a little. The down side is that we all miss the girls, and look forward to getting back home next week. Thank you, all for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18, 2016

I guess I should start this entry from Saturday (16th), as Linda and I stayed up quite late getting all the packing done and making sure we had everything. Actually, I went to bed and got a couple hours sleep more than Linda. She didn't feel comfortable going to bed, knowing they were going to come by at 05:30, Sunday morning. I woke up at about 02:00 and helped Jason get a quick shower in and helped Linda with a few last minute things. It was now about 03:00 so we went and laid down, and Linda fell asleep. I think I must have dozed off too, but I remember rolling over and looking at the clock and thinking, well, its time to get up, as it was now 04:30. We took a shower, to fully wake up and got dressed, then went in to make sure Jason was up and ready (he was), and by 05:40 they were pulling in to the driveway.

I flew commercial, on United and Linda and Jason flew on the ambulance flight. When I arrived at Denver International I quickly was in the rental van and headed over to Signature (the flight company where they flew into) to pick up the rest of the family. Well, I wasn't aware that the Signature they flew into, and the one I was at were two totally different locations. They were about 50 miles away, and I didn't know the address. I asked the guys at Denver Signature about the location and they provided me with a hand drawn map. This was great except that the direction they provided were wrong, and I ended up about 20 miles beyond where I needed to go. I had been in communications with Linda for the past couple of hours, so they weren't totally wondering where I was, but it was beginning to wear on all of us.

I finally did manage to find the correct Signature and soon picked up Linda and Jason, along with all the luggage and we headed to the hotel. Fortunately the hotel wasn't too far away, and in about 45 minutes we were checking into our rooms. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but we were pretty worn down and tired by now and hungry. We managed to find a nice restaurant, that is close by and a couple that we know, Jim and Harriet, drove over to have dinner with us. It was good visiting with them and doing a little catching up. Jim and I worked at National Semiconductor back in the early 1980s, so we've known each other for several years. After dinner we walked back to the hotel (yeah, its in the same parking lot) and shortly afterward we were all in bed.

This morning we went over to Aspen/Ride Design and met the people we were going to be working with. It was good getting to know them, and understanding some of their collective background. We asked some questions and we became a little more knowledgeable about what they planned to do. As it turned out, the took an impression of Jason, and have already begun working on the prosthetic he will be getting. Tomorrow we will be going back for what they called "a long day" and Jason can possibly reverie the initial seat (prosthetic). The seat will be designed to help Jason sit up straighter, make his ride a little more comfortable, provide some relief from the pressure of sitting up, allow the wounds to receive more blood circulation AND allow him to get out a little more and do more.

This has been a quick synopsis of what we went through these last couple of days, and though it may not sound like much, it has been very busy, and we're looking forward to a little more down time. We might even get a chance to do some exploring and touristy things. Actually, that is kind of what they want us to do this coming weekend. They want Jason to spend some time in the new seat and let them know how it feels. As long as everything goes well, we'll be back, on our way home, on Monday. If not, Linda and Jason may need to stay another day or two. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Monday, January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016

Okay, time for some updates... The truck has been picked up (today) and taken back to the shop to be worked on. Initially it was something that could be adjusted right here, in the garage, and we were hoping that it would end up being that way. Oh, well, at least it is going to be corrected and we hope that it will be ready in a day or two. Jason hasn't driven his truck in a few weeks now and I'm sure he is anxiously waiting for them to get it fixed, right this time.

We have a new house guest - Yolanda, Jason's God-mother. We have been friends with Steve and Yolanda for almost 40 years (yes, longer than Jason has been around), and we have and probably always will, have a great relationship with them. Yolanda did come down to visit a little with Jason and spend some time with him, but the real reason is so that she and Linda can get out and do a little "girl-time" together. Both of them need to get out and just spend some time together. Steve, Yolanda's husband, will be coming down in a few days and the two of them will head back up to the SF Bay Area this weekend. I'm particularly glad to see Yolanda because I could tell that Linda needed to get out with an old friend for a few hours, and this works out great.

We will be headed out to Colorado this Sunday, and be there for 8 days. There is a little still to be determined, about the trip, but the days are effectively set. The reason for the trip is so that Jason can go work with one of the vendors that supports the VA, and works with the guys who have to stay in wheelchairs, at least most of the time. They have a target of creating a seating solution for Jason that should help to allow him a little more mobility, and quite frankly, I'm pretty excited to see what they have to offer. Jason, on the other hand, is interested in what they have to offer, but is holding back his excitement until something is delivered. He has been promised things in the past with many of them not happening.

There is also progress with the team at Cal Poly, and their effort to develop a suspension system that is supposed to help relieve some of the pressure off Jason's wounds. If they can get this to become a reality (and it does look very promising), their solution, plus the new seat should be exactly what Jason is needing to complete his healing. We're in communication with them, and have had a number of video conferencing meetings, as well as a face-to-face a few months ago. Please keep these guys in your prayers and ask God to provide them with the wisdom needed to get this done.

Having said all that, about Jason's healing, the good news is that there has been some good progress over these past several weeks, and he is looking better all the time. We still go through dressing changes on a daily basis, and it has just about become a "normal" daily activity for the both of us. I am going to be so glad when they are no longer needed. Possibly by the end of February or in early March - - - and that brings me to another subject. Jason's Five-Alive anniversary!

We are going to be celebrating Jason being alive and surviving for five years after the injuries in March. We're probably going to be going with March 12, since it is a Saturday, and we hope to have a bunch of people come to help celebrate. I'll be reaching out to some of the folks in Bethesda, as well as here in San Diego, and I hope I am providing them with enough time to plan for a trip. If not we'll still have fun, just not as much. Anyway, if you'd like to make it to Jason's survival party, do your best to let us know, and I'll get an official invitation out to you. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January 6, 2016

The joys of technology. Some of it is absolutely wonderful and some is quite frustrating - - - Just ask Jason. Jason has a truck that has been specially modified so that he can drive it. Those modifications allow him to sit in his chair and operate all the controls with his hands, and from what I've seen (and I've been on many rides with him) he does a pretty good job of getting around. The challenge is that those same modifications frequently need to be worked on, so that his driving experience is as good as it can be.

His truck went in to the shop last Friday, to get the lift mechanism fixed. They were not able to get it back yesterday until after the house dedication for Nick Kimmel had already begun. As a result I took him in the van, dropped him off, and came back to the house because I had to get back to my job (I work out of the house, on a laptop). As it tuned out, the truck arrived at just about the same time I got back to the house, and I followed it up the driveway.

When work was over I was able to go back and pick up Jason, to get him back home. While there I took a little time to say, "Hello!" to a few of the folks there. I then took Jason back home and he was pleased to see his truck sitting in the driveway. Jason didn't have anywhere to go, and wanted to get back down, since he had been up for nearly 3 1/2 hours, so he would get a chance to drive it later - probably tomorrow. Well, "tomorrow" came (today) and Jason had a medical appointment. He was planning on driving his truck and everything was fine up to the point of getting back into the truck. The lift only brought him up to ALMOST high enough, and therefore he could not get in behind the steering wheel. There is actually a little more to it than just that, but this give you an idea of what he was going through this morning. Bottom line is that Linda had to drive him to his appointment, and he called the folks at Ability Center and they are supposed to be coming back out tomorrow to adjust the lift, so that the seat will go high enough. The challenge is that this is relatively new technology, and even though it is a pain sometimes, without it, Jason's life would be much more restrictive. Also the appointment went well, and Linda did an excellent job of driving the van in the heavy rain. It was almost like she was driving her old van (also a Ford, just a much larger one).

It continues to rain, and combined with the earthquake, early this morning, it had the potential to be an exciting day. The thing is, we need the rain, so we're all happy about that, and this is California, so nobody gets too excited over an earthquake, until it gets up to about 6+ magnitude - today's earthquake was only 4.8 magnitude. The rain is supposed to go the rest of the week, and then it might slow down a little. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Monday, January 4, 2016

January 4, 2016

Wow! First Monday of the new year - that's pretty cool.

Also what's cool is that Linda drove Jason to his doctor appointment today. She drove the van, as Jason's truck is still not repaired (they said it should be done tomorrow sometime - we'll see), and then after the appointment, drove him home. Personally, I was very happy for this, as it allows me to focus more on my new job (okay, I've been working almost 6-months now, but I still feel new). I also think it helps Linda to feel more involved with Jason's treatment and progress.

Speaking of progress, Jason is doing well, and after the dressing change (and shower) the remaining wound is looking pretty good. In fact it is continuing to close up and that is a very good thing. Most of the credit goes directly to Jason, as he spends most of his days in bed, and he maintains a solid positive attitude.

We're expecting a bunch of rain tonight, and actually for the next few days. The timing is a little unfortunate, in that Nick Kimmel, one of Jason's friends, has a new home/house dedication ceremony and the rain is going to be bothersome. Fortunately, one of the out buildings on Nick's property is a large work shop that is now going to be where we'll all be sitting for the ceremony. Linda was over at Nick's house today, helping with setting up the interior for tomorrow's event. I think, if they have any more homes/houses dedicated in this area, she'll be a part of the event.

We are happy to get the rain, though. I guess it could rain for the next couple of weeks, and there would still be a need for more water. This is supposed to be a "wet" year, so I'm ready. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

January 2, 2015

New Year's Day, January 1, and today were both kind of laid back. We stayed home yesterday, though I did get out for a short bike ride (very short, as it was less than 5 miles). With the terrain around here it is going to take me a few weeks before I will be able to get any ride in, of significant size.

Jason has been watching the Myth Busters Marathon, for the past couple of days. Some of the things they do are quite amazing, and on top of that it is very entertaining. With Jason staying in bed about 98% of the time, maybe a little variance but I think it is pretty close, he really hasn't been able to get out to do much. He would probably be out more, if his truck worked, but that won't be happening until later next week (I hope). The truck has been down for a few weeks now, and mostly it is because of schedule coordination, and then last week they were short handed. My guess is that with the holidays behind us we can get back to a more regular schedule.

Linda will be going over to Wounded Warrior, Sgt. Nick Kimmel's house, and she will be involved with some of the final set up and preparation of the house for dedication. She will be working with a couple of the other Blue Star Mothers and Chris from the Gary Sinise Foundation (not sure who else will be there), as they work to make the house look its best. They are going to be dedicating the house to Sgt Kimmel on Tuesday, right here in Fallbrook, next week. At this point, Jason is planning on going to the dedication, and I'll be doing the driving. The reality is that things happen, and we can never be 100% sure what we're doing, until we're doing it. Anyway, it should be a fun time, and especially for Nick, and his family. Thank you, for all your continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Friday, January 1, 2016

December 31, 2015

Happy New Year! To all my friends and family, who have continued to check in with the blog - it is much appreciated.

A quick update - Jason is doing well (right now he's taking a nap) and looking forward to the coming year. We will be headed to Colorado, next month, to get a new seating system for his chair and then a team at Cal Poly is engineering a "suspension" system that should provide him a much more comfortable positioning, in that same chair. Both items are being built with the idea of providing him with better healing, as well as more comfort.

The girls continue to grow, and I do sincerely apologize for not posting more photos on the blog, of the girls, and I'll do my best to get more out next year. I hope everyone has had a wonderful year, and this next one is even better. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.