Iwo Gima

Iwo Gima
Marine Corps Marathon

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 29, 2016

Today was an exciting day, in that we (Jason and I) went over to the VA to have an adjustment to the wearable, made. Because the device didn't fit just right it was causing an additional pressure point to an area on Jason's backside, right at the base of the spine (for those with technical understanding, the Coccyx area). Apparently it was causing a great deal of discomfort for Jason as it hit right at a nerve bundle and that is very uncomfortable.

Over the past few days everybody has gone from a bunch of sickies to everybody is on the mend and doing much better. Nobody seems to be running a fever and the coughing has gone down considerably, though it is still around. My hope is that by the end of next week everybody is going to be feeling great and we can get back to our regularly happening fun days. The real blessing is that Linda has been the strong one and avoided getting sick, altogether - I think that was a good decision on her part... ;-). She has been the proverbial "white tornado" and working on about 15 different things all at the same time. Now its going to be her turn to rest.

This coming Friday, she is flying out to Tennessee to a women's retreat, and will all of us doing better now, I think she'll be able to relax a little. Of course I will be having a great time with the girls and by the time Linda returns the girls will be back in school and back to a regular routine. I'm thinking that this weekend Jason and I will be taking the girls to a park, and possibly some other out door type things around here. We found a new park close by, and the girls already like going there. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 27, 2016

Happy Easter! Or I guess I should say, I hope you had a happy Easter. It has been a nice relaxing day for us. We got up a little on the early side, just after 08:00 and everyone was feeling better. Still, they were obviously not feeling their best, but at least better than when we went to bed last night. Jason had a fever of over 100 and Stacy was coughing and dealing with a fever as well. All that plus my on going cough made us decide that we were better off not going to church this time and doing our best to not spread the virus around any more than it already is moving.

As the morning went on, Jason's temp continued to improve and by noon he was back down to normal - or at least normal for him (97.7). Stacy almost stopped coughing and both girls were back to their regular playing in the great room.  We had also invited a couple over (Curtis and Joyce) to help celebrate Easter, and I think it was a very nice visit for all of us. Jason spent most of the day in bed, only getting up a couple of times, and we had a nice lunch of grilled burgers and brots. The girls had a nice egg hunt and it was the first time we had to enjoy the new patio cover.

We did miss going to church and seeing our friends, and Stacy would have liked to have performed in the Easter pageant, so perhaps next year, assuming we all manage to be healthy, the next time around. Thank you, all for the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 26, 2016

It is late on the eve of Easter and the house is pretty quiet. Everyone is in bed now and I will be there soon, also. Jason is not feeling well, and the girls are both sick, and I'm still dealing with a nagging cough, so our Easter is starting to look a little less "Happy" than we had hoped it would be. The worst part being Jason not feeling well.

Linda and I get a little nervous anytime Jason gets a cold and this time he is running a fever that is a little over 100. I'm doing my best to keep him hydrated, and watching what he eats as well as making sure he can get some rest (i.e. the dogs don't become a problem). Stacy was up at Lego Land today, and in my humble opinion, she should not have gone. She was with her mother, and well, we didn't have a great deal of input on whether she went or not. All we know is that when she arrived at the house (2 1/2 hours later than she was supposed to), she was (and still is upon last check) running a fever of her own (101). Jackie is feeling better, though she also has a runny nose and cough.

We were planning on going to church in the morning, and Stacy was supposed to sing in an Easter program that has been planned for several weeks. We're all kind of bummed about it, but it is how things sometimes work out, and there will be other opportunities for her and Jackie to be on stage. I hope that Stacy is up for an egg hunt, later tomorrow, otherwise she is going to be very disappointed.

Linda and I went over to the Brooks Hill country club, where we were invited to have a nice brunch and then watch the Easter Egg hunt (the girls were invited, but they weren't with us most of today). Jason was invited as well, but he stayed in bed, and I'm glad he made the choice. The people were all very friendly and happy to see us, and we even made a couple of new friends. We will continue to build on the friendships we make and as we work to make this our new home.

As for the other challenges that Jason is dealing with... We're supposed to be meeting with the VA to make an adjustment on his wearable device, so that the new wound can heal up. If I don't hear from them on Monday I'll be sure to give them a call. Right now that is about all that there is to report, and Linda and I will continue to be working around the house (Linda has been doing most of the work, actually) and we'll be able to work our way through all the boxes in the garage.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 20, 2016

Today saw Spring come back in season and for  those of us lucky enough to be in the Southern California area, it was a beautiful day. On top of being the beginning of Spring it was also a Lt. Dan Band Concert over at Camp Pendleton, and Jason was a special focus. Actually we were all treated as V.I.P.'s though the real focus was on Jason and what the different funds and foundations have done. The girls both received scholarships for college, and that money will go far in covering the total costs associated. The really nice part was that they are set for an amount that will adjust as time moves on. I think Stacy understood she was receiving a nice gift, but I don't think she fully understands tuition and the costs associated with going to college. Jackie was just having a great time being around so many people who were providing all of us so  much attention.

Jason is doing well and the wounds are continuing to improve, though there is one that seems to have decided to give a little trouble. I am working closely with Rod, from Wound Care, and we believe it won't take too long to get it totally under control. Having the Wearable has been such a great benefit for Jason, as he allowed him to spend a little more time at the concert, and still be relatively comfortable and no additional stress to the rest of his body.

Tomorrow will begin with the girls going to school, and Linda and I will be taking them. Of course Linda will be getting them up and ready, and I will be doing the driving to and from the school. Not really sure how the rest of the day is going to go, other than Jason has an appointment and I'll be going with him.

Tomorrow is a memorable day for Linda and I, as we kind of celebrate it as an anniversary of sorts. It is the day I proposed, 41 years ago. It is also George's 39th birthday. Funny, the 41-year mark doesn't make me feel any older, but George turning 39 does! Oh, well, I am just glad to know that all the boys are doing well and we get to see all of them, from time to time. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016

This week is a bit of a busy week for us, as we all seem to have doctor appointments, and then other appointments for the dogs and I will be heading out with a friend to scope out some amusement areas, to see if they can accommodate Jason. We have been to a couple of  theme parks, and though we were told the rides would be available, when we arrived, we found out otherwise. This time I am going ahead to look, so that Jason doesn't have to make a needless trip.

There was supposed to be another appointment at the end of the week, but it looks like that was a small break in communications, as the doctor called today and spoke with Jason. Even the doctor thought he was meeting with Jason on the 18th, but it turns out he won't be able to meet until April 18th. Actually, the doctor and Jason had a nice chat and there is a good possibility that they will be scheduling a date for surgery in early Fall. I'll keep you posted as we find out more.

The three of us went out to dinner and then a movie, tonight, and saw London is Falling  and it was pretty entertaining. It was an interesting story line and though it was very similar to Gerard Butler's movie about Washington, D.C. it was still worth the ticket (we got in on a discount Tuesday). If you have a desire to see the movie, and can get discounted tickets, then I'd recommend going. There were plenty of explosions and car crashes, as well as plenty of wild shooting.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the doctor to see what he can tell me about my hands. I have some challenges with both of them, and would like to get them to be a bit more functional, without cramping or pain. It even makes typing a little difficult, but I continue to blog. I think we're going to Costco tomorrow as well, and running several errands.  Linda's mom is recovering from heart surgery, where they replaced a valve on March 7th. She is doing better, and possible going home tomorrow. Linda has been in constant communication with her sister who flew in from Utah last Saturday to help with their mom, and we suspect that she will be doing great in a matter of a couple of weeks (months?). Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

March 12, 2016

Happy 5-Alive Day!

Yeah, I know, it was actually five days ago, but the celebration happened today, and it turned out to be a very good and fun time for all - or at least it seemed that way from my perspective. We had planned to see somewhere in the neighborhood of about 100 people there, and it seemed like that was about how many came. The guys doing the bar-be-que had plenty of food there (Thank you, Fire House), and the Fallbrook Brewery  did an excellent job of keeping the drinks flowing. The one big area that was a surprise was how many hot dogs (grilled) went.

We knew there were going to be about 20 kids there, from ages of about 18 months all the way up to around 10 years old. With the number 20 in mind we had 40 hot dogs on hand, and they all went, by the end of the day. Our son, David, helped out by grilling the dogs, so that I could do a little more socializing, and both Linda and I were glad he did.

We had people there from the neighborhood, and people from both the Gary Sinise Foundation as well as the Carrington Charitable Group. Also were many people from Balboa Hospital, different people we have met along the journey to recovery, for Jason, and other people we had just met some where along the way. Linda, Jason and I were kept pretty busy with being social and doing our best to greet everyone, so if anyone was missed I apologize, now. The kids were kept busy with a jumpy house, and it absolutely amazed us that some kids were in it from the very beginning to the very end. I finally had to tell the last few that it was being shut down and they needed to exit. Over all it was a very nice event, and we enjoyed having everyone here.

We are all kind of tired and will probably sleep quite well. With it being the time change day, I'm not sure when we'll wake up, but I'm sure it will be a little later than usual. Jason has already talked about going to church in the morning, so we'll see which service we end up going to. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Friday, March 11, 2016

03/11/2016

Yesterday was a big day for Jason, and tomorrow is another one - though for two different reasons.

We got up at about 04:00 yesterday, to get ready to head out to Balboa Hospital, for an exploratory procedure that the doctors needed to do, in order to determine if a corrective surgery was a possibility. Jason was pretty excited about the procedure, and he was very anxious/nervous about having it done. We needed to be out of the house by 04:45 in order to be at the hospital at the time that was set, 05:45. . . we managed to get out of the house at 05:03, so we were running a little late.

Traffic was heavier than initially anticipated, though it was moving well, and we were able to maintain a good pace, just over 70 mph, for most of the way (right at the speed limit). We arrived at the base a few minutes later than what I had wanted, but still not too bad, and parking wasn't much of an issue, fortunately. It took us another 10 minutes to get up to Check In and Pre-Op and then Jason was checked in and ready to go. As it turns out the planners figure the patients are going to be running a little late so as far as they were concerned Jason was just about right on time.

As usual, when Jason goes in, we had several visitors (medical staff) come by and ask the same questions each time. A couple of the doctors came by a couple of times, and all of them were very friendly. I think it helped that a couple of the nurses remembered Jason from the past and they kept coming in to just chat. Then they finally came at took Jason to the OR.

I took the dogs out and walked around with them for a little while, and that was probably a good thing, especially for Kojak - he had to "go." After about an hour I went back in and stopped in the waiting room and just as I sat down one of the doctors came in and updated me that Jason was doing well and should be out in another hour. I could go up to the 4th floor, where he would finish his recovery, if I wanted to. He also explained what they found. The procedure was exploratory, to determine if some reconstructive surgery was warranted, and as it turned out, it was. In fact what they found was much better than they had anticipated and feel that the surgery should allow Jason to be able to get away from the SP Catheter he has been dealing with for the past fine years. The catheter has been the source of most of the infections he has had to deal with, so this was very positive news for Jason (and the rest of us). We now will be going back in on March 18, to talk with the doctor, to see when it can be done.

We headed back home, and it was just now noon. The rest of the day was going to be some preparation work for the 5-Alive celebration coming on Saturday, and getting some lunch. Since Jason had eaten (I hadn't eaten much either), he was getting hungry. I fixed some burritos and we had a moment to relax and just enjoy the moment. While we were away, Linda had been working on the house and Joselyn had come over to help. There was also a worker from the contractor who built the house, and everybody was busy. Fortunately, when we arrived the contractor was just about finished so he was able to move his truck, and Jason and I were able to park.

Linda has been getting things ready for Saturday, and doing most of the coordinating effort, with me being the heavy lifting guy (I've moved several boxes and pieces of furniture). Planned parking is still an issue and there is one other thing that we need to be concerned about - and that is the weather. It looks like it is going to rain, both today and Saturday, so we're now scrambling to figure out what we will do with 100+ people and no cover or tent. The food and drinks have all been adjusted, but we really don't know if it is all going to work, at this point. Jason is still very positive (and recovered very well from the procedure), so his attitude is simply that what happens is what happens. Don't get me wrong, Jason is still very engaged in the planning and coordinating, also. He just isn't getting worked up about it. .  . he's leaving that to Mom and Dad... ;-)

Tomorrow is going to be a big day, and we're looking forward to it. We have some guests coming from as far away as the East Coast (New York area) and as close as next door. We might end up getting a little wet, but that is okay, we're going to enjoy this celebration of life - besides, we need the rain. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers (especially for this weekend). Take care and stay positive.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 8, 2016

I know there are some of you out there that read this later in the day, and some who read it early in the morning. First, let me thank you, for all the continued support and following Jason in his journey in life. Secondly, I need to let  you know that with Jason making it past the 5-year mark, he has shown that he IS a survivor, and even though there are more surgeries and procedures ahead, he will continue to demonstrate just how strong he is.

My next entry will happen, after this weekend's celebration, unless there is something that I feel needs to be presented earlier. Jason's grandmother, Jess (Linda's mom), is in the hospital right now, having undergone heart surgery (valve replacement). She is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery in a matter of several weeks. We all went up to see her today and Jason, being the devoted grandson that he is, was telling her jokes and making her laugh. He is a true believer in that old adage - "Laughter is the best medicine". We stayed for a couple of hours and then had to come back home to pick up the girls, from school.

We also went to a dinner for Stars For Heros, where Jason spoke, and told them about some of his recovery, and what helped him along the way. The food was good, and we were the front of the line - I guess we picked the right table. The dinner went on after we left, as it was going until after 22:00 (10pm), and that is past the girls' bed time. It was nice getting to catch up with several of the folks there and one of the other injured veterans, Jeff, sat with us, and that allowed Jason and Jeff to do some catching up as well. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

March 6, 2016

This is the second Leap-year since Jason's injuries, and tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of him stepping on the I.E.D. This coming weekend we're planning on a celebration, marking the 5-years of life, after the "bad-guys" tried to kill him, and failed, so I thought I might do a bit a recap of what happened, for those that have not been reading the blog from the beginning, and a little reminder for those that have been.

Jason was on a patrol with five other guys. One of those guys was the squad leader, as well as a good friend of his, "Gunny Rick", and as it turned out, he and Jason were the only two injured in the blast. Jason was thrown several feet up, in the air, and came down hard, which broke both of his hands - though they might have been broken as a result of the blast and the fall back to Earth only caused more damage. Both his hands were also badly burned, with most of the finger nails being burned off. He also sustained a deep gash in his right arm, below the elbow that almost caused him to lose that arm, but fortunately the trauma surgeon said to leave it and give it a chance to repair (which it has done). One of the many amazing things that happened was that Jason was wearing this Timex watch and it sustained the blast and kept on working. He still has it, today.

Jason was wearing all his protective gear, so other than a small cut on his chin, there was virtually no damage to his head and face. There were other injuries to the body, such as his left lung collapsed and other trauma to internal organs, and then the major damage to the lower portion of his body, where he lost both legs and ultimately a portion of his pelvic bone. And, despite all this trauma and injury, he remained awake for almost all of it. He was still directing his team to watch the perimeter and where to be looking for other possible shooters. He remained awake and active until he was put on the helicopter, where the doctor on board, put him out. He remained out until he was brought out of his coma in Bethesda, at the now, Walter Reed Hospital.

I was standing in my kitchen, getting ready to head off to a new job when the phone call came in and my legs nearly gave out, when the Marine on the other end of the phone told me why he was calling. I asked him to stop and immediately went to get Linda, so she could hear the news at the same time I was hearing it. Both of us were in shock. Fortunately we have good friends close by who were able to come over quickly and help us out. The first 48 hours were very critical and soon we were on our way to Bethesda, Maryland where we saw Jason come in and we both stayed with him for the next several months. Linda eventually had to return home, because she had her business going, and though the company held the job open for me, for another month, I told them that I would not be coming back soon.  From that point on our lives took a totally different direction.

Since then, Jason has undergone over 240 surgeries and procedures, and as it turns out, he is not done. In fact he will be undergoing another procedure a little later this week. It is an exploratory type where he won't have to stay in the hospital, over night, but he will be gone for most of the day, and Linda and I will be there for most of that time. Then, after he gets back home, we'll be discussing the final preparations for his 5-year anniversary, and what we will attempt to get done by this weekend.

The funny thing is, we've been doing lots of stuff already, and there still seems like there is much to be done. I have been working on the 2 1/2 acres, clearing weeds and brush, just to provide room for parking. Jason even bought a new "weed mower" to help get this done. I got about half way through and broke it. I will be attempting to fix it over these next couple of days. It has rained a little, and is supposed to rain again tomorrow, and that might make the clean up a little more challenging, but we have learned to just take each day, and do what we can.

The people we have met along the way have been mostly wonderful. Some of them have been more amazing than others, like Gary Sinise (The Gary Sinise Foundation) and Col. John Folsom (Wounded Warrior Family Support). Also, some of the foundations and organizations like EOD Warrior Foundation (Sherry Beck) and Semper Fi (Dawn Van Skike, and June Cartmill), that made the first impacts a little less traumatizing to our family and I know to many others. The medical people have all been solid supporters of Jason, and have all expressed an amazement at how he has been able to do so well and remain so positive. Jason has even been asked to speak with other patients, to attempt to bring up their moods and attitudes. Dr. Malone, was Jason's initial trauma surgeon, that we met in Bethesda. I would have liked to have been able to meet some of the medical team(s) who worked on Jason prior to Bethesda, but that is not likely. After arriving at Balboa Naval Hospital we met others such as Dr. Pao, and Dr. Sheu, and there is also Dr. Salt and Dr. Shumaker. Actually, there are so many that I won't be able to list them all, and now we're coming in to contact with other medical teams at the VA.

Today, I had to take Linda in to the Urgent Care center, at the Scripps Hospital, because she hurt herself, while attempting to help Jason. Jason had dropped a item and she went to pick it up, only she wasn't in a good position to do so.  As a result she pushed herself and apparently cracked a rib or tore a muscle, and now she has to go through the long process of letting it heal. The doctor was pretty confident that she would be feeling better after about six weeks, though that is a long time, when you're on the beginning side of the six weeks.

Tomorrow is supposed to rain, and that means I won't be getting much done on the yard, and on top of that Jason wants to go check out the gym at the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendelton. I am all in favor of him going and working out, and it also gives me a chance to get some specific exercise in, it should be a fun time, and since I won't be able to do much around the yard, a good use of my time. Not sure what else is going to be happening tomorrow, but like I said earlier - - - we take one day at a time. Thank you, for all the continued support and prayers. Take care and stay positive.