This is a tough journey. Almost everyday there are steps forward and steps backward, side steps, obstacles and triumphs. I am setting them forth in this raw, unedited account of what it is like to live through one of the worst experiences imaginable. I have not complained to anyone about the position in which i currently find myself. A lot of my personal feelings are still deep down inside. This is the hand that I have been dealt. Honestly, it sucks. Plain and simple. But everyday we find something to make us laugh. Even on the rough days when there is negligence and hurdles, we still find something to make us laugh.
I am not going to stop reporting on what I am seeing. If just one patient's care is better because I spoke up and things were changed, I have been successful. This is not complaining. This is a straight forward account of what I am seeing, first hand, from the war on the homefront. It's tough to watch. It's tough to read. It's easier to go about daily life and ignore what our wounded warriors face after they selflessly put themselves on the line.
Looking around at these warriors breaks my heart but also gives me hope and strength. When I wake up with a pain in my back or neck, it's nothing compared to what they are facing. They give me strength to go on.
The injuries are different on each warrior.... no two are exactly alike. It's like ordering a whopper with your own special mix.... I'll have a double with extra pickles and ketchup, but the next guy has a cheeseburger with no pickles, mustard and mayo, no ketchup. Same with these guys. One is a triple amp with a hip disarticulation and no other signs of injury, but his buddy has two AKA (above the knee amps) and a fractured pelvis. The next guy might have shrapnel in his leg, while the one beside him is fighting such severe infections he has gone septic twice, so the one below the knee he also has feels like nothing. One thing they all have in common... the will to live and to live that life as fully as possible.
Derek met with Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and Dr. Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense today. The fact that these men and their lovely wives came out on a Sunday to visit with the wounded warriors is a tribute to them. We were outside when they arrived, and they came over to us and talked for a while.
Derek told them that prior to this, he used to tell the medic, "Doc, if I lose anything, let me bleed out. Don't save me. but when I woke up in the ICU and asked my mom about my legs and she told me they were gone, my reaction was, "F it" and all I wanted to do was live." Since that time, he has been fighting to live. This is the spirit of the wounded warrior. NOTHING keeps them down.
This kid will walk again. This fight for his life and quality of life, and all that Krystina and I gave up to be here with him and all the fighting for him, this is worth every bit of energy.
Today was a good day. Derek's spirits were up and he joked with us most of the day, except when he put off to drinking his muscle milk once again and I snapped at him. He needs the protein for muscle health and development and wound healing. He has to drink it. I was tired of him puttng it off. We did his OT on his arm, and the range of motion is coming back slowly.
His blood work was a little off, high potassium and high lipids, but the docs were on the potassium problem right away. We will discuss the lipids tomorrow since the results came back after Dr. Cliffords had left for the day. It must not have been too bad or the ASOD would have addressed it.
Dr. Cliffords kept running back into the room with "one more thing." Finally, he said, "I just like coming in to see you guys." He is good.
Dr. Bograd was around this morning and on "the oxygen incident" from yesterday. He is quite pleased with Derek's progress, as are we all!
This past week Derek was decanulated, got off oxygen, had the tube feeds cut in half, started on a regular diet, had the flap taken down, and stopped all antibiotics. I'll take another week like this past one any time, even with the troubles, because this is life and troubles are a part of it. As long as Derek keeps making strides forward, I can handle the battles!
And how awesome is Dana Brown Ritter? She visited with us with her brother Sgt Chris Brown a couple of weeks back. I didn't even know she did this until a friend told me she found it! It's beautiful.
Thank you for all of your continued support and prayers. They are helping. The support keeps up going and the prayers, ... well, we all know what they do!
Climb to glory... all the way... to the top... Don't you stop, Derek! You have an army behind you and the Lord as your rear guard!
P.S. Dr. West, if you happen to be reading this entry, this is for you. The other morning, i got on the elevator in my own little world, not paying attention and pushed the 7th floor. Dr. Cliffords said my subconscious is trying to tell me something. He is probably right.