Let's see, this week I have been referred to as the Jersey Devil, a pit bull and mama tiger, and it's only Wednesday.
Since I have arrived, I have been threatened with the restraint team, a room on the seventh floor (mental ward) and shackles, but they have never said I had to leave. THAT is a line I will never cross.
The worst part of this is the expansion to my vocabulary. I have learned words and phrases I never throught would be part of my life: decanulation, AKA, BKA, papercut (nickname for BKA), hip disarticulation, PICC, supra pubic, PACU, etc. These words have become part of my every day life.
Anyone can give up. It's the easiest thing in the world. But to hold it together when anyone else would expect you to fold it in and fall apart? That's strength. I am not going to fold. I am here for the long haul. No matter what you throw at me.
Let me tell you a secret to strength. I know I am strong, most of the time. I have my moments. I am not invincible. I had my moments throughout this ordeal when I didn't think I would make it. But strength sometimes is an illusion. It's a mask. If you put on a good enough mask and come across as strong, people will think you are stronger than you are. When you are weak, you put on the mask and smile, drawing on the strength of the others around you who believe that you are just as strong as you were yesterday, and that makes you stronger. Sometimes, it doesn't work. My mask cracked last week. Angela and Dr. West saw those cracks. They tried to get in, but I cannot let down my guard. That's my way of keeping strong. That's what works for me. It might not work for everyone. Find what works for you. Last Thursday was a particularly bad day for me. If it wasn't such a bad day, I might have let them in, but I couldn't. Everyone has their own way of coping. Mine is to put on my big girl panties and just do it. I'm a problem solver, not a wah ah boo hoo kind of female. Whatever works, I guess.
Today was a good day for Derek.
He had a special visitor. General Terry is back from Afghanistan. General Terry is the Commanding General from Fort Drum, Derek's duty station. We had a wonderful visit with General Terry. He talked to Derek about the mission, his injuries, his stay in the hospital, and a lot more.
Some of Derek's friends came from NJ for a visit - Marco, Charlie, Rusty and Marion. High school friends.
We were told that Derek had the perfect profile for adrenal insufficiency due to high potassium, low magnesium, low blood pressure and other abnormalities, so they tested the electrolytes this morning and everything was fine.
Our favorite OT, Sam came and started working with his elbow today. Derek has not moved his elbow in three months! It was painful.
Dr. Borgrad and Dr. Perdue came in together and we got a great picture of them. That will be posted tomorrow since Gen. Terry is on today.
Dr. Bograd promised to work with Derek on decanulation. He has not gotten him off oxygen, yet, but he did get him off the trach! Derek said it felt so great to get that plastic out of his throat! I told him I am going to make a Christmas ornament out of his passy miur valve. Yes, I'm strange like that!
Now a sidebar about the kindness of people. We have come across some heartbreaking stories that make me sit back and wonder what has happened to mankind. But we have also seen some wonderful people that show me that God is alive and well and living in the hearts of man.
Jessica Allen is an angel. A young woman arrived in Bethesda with her boyfriend last week. Her boyfriend is a wounded marine, and this young woman came to be by his side. She couldn't get on orders. The marines would not give her a place to stay. Can you imagine? Well, little miss Jessica sent a strongly worded text and the phones blew up! That young lady is resting easy tonight. No more sleeping in the hospital on those uncomfortable chairs. I would have let her stay with us tonight had the marines not come through today, but they did. Jessica, you are awesome!
Yesterday, I got my hair done. When I left the salon, I walked out and left my kindle sitting on the counter. I didn't notice until I was in Derek's room talking to Derek's outpatient nurse case manager, Lt Col Michael Crumm. I said I would have to go back later in the week to get it. Later that day, Mike walked in with it! Thank you, Mike! You are a doll!
Tom Mautone of the North Caldwell Police Department and my friend Maria Fornaro and doing fund raising for Derek and the family expenses. Sue Kappock from Gould School and Marie Thomas both held bake sales in Derek's honor. So many have sent care packages and I have tried to mention them as they arrive. Dana Brown Ritter makes us home cooked meals.
For everyone who has been showing us special kindness during this nightmare, thank you. You are the reason that we are keeping strong. You are helping us to keep going. Knowing that we have a good support system out there is one of the reasons that we can keep going every day. Knowing that we have support during the worst times makes the good times better.
God bless you all.
Climb to glory. To the top. All the way.