118 days ago, Krystina, Kellina, Sean and I stood outside the Emergency Room entrance of National Naval Medical Center (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) awaiting the medevac bus. The rest of the family was either en route or coming shortly thereafter. We stood with two other families, three medical teams and various military personnel.
My heart was pounding. My throat was dry. My emotions ran the gamut from terrified, to relieved that he was finally arriving, to heartbroken, to joy at getting to see him, to fear, etc. I did not know what was facing me when that bus pulled up. The news from Germany and the Army medical call center was sketchy. I was told very different things each time I called. All I knew was I had to get my hands and eyes on him and that was minutes away.
That bus pulled up and Derek was the first wounded warrior to come out. I was brought forward to see him. My heart caught in my throat at the sight before me. My strong, brave, healthy boy was lying, unconscious, on a stretcher. He skin was sallow and yellow. His eyes were black and swollen. There was a tube in his mouth helping him breathe. I was brought forward and allowed to place a quick kiss on his forehead.
We rushed through the doors of the Emergency Room and up to the SICU where we spent the next 50 days helping him recover. That was 118 days ago.
Today, we came full circle.
Today, on this day of Thanksgiving, Derek left through those doors in his wheelchair to get on a completely different bus.
Today, his cheeks are a little sunken in from all of the weight he has lost, but his color is rosy. His eyes are bright and full of life. The best part of him is his attitude. He has a never give up way of looking at life that warms everyone around him. His sense of humor has everyone in stitches.
Today, for the first time in four months, Derek was well enough to get a day pass. Since he stopped his PCA last Friday, he was eligible to leave the hospital for a few glorious hours.
The 10th Mountain Division Association offered dinner for wounded warriors and their families at the Omni Shore Hotel in Washington, DC. Being that there were 13 of us, we almost needed an entire bus just for us. Since we were coming from the inpatient side, and everyone else, except one couple, was coming from Building 62 (outpatient), a bus was sent for us to the Emergency Room entrance.
The bus ride was a little rough. The bumps in the road hurt Derek, but he was excited to be out!
The dinner was wonderful. They were some of the best mashed sweet potatoes we have ever had. There were deviled eggs, salad, shrimp, crab, oysters, turkey, mashed potatoes, beef wellington, duck l'orange, veggies, etc.
After a quick dinner, Derek was ready to go. The bus driver gave me his number, and I called him when we were ready so we did not have to wait until the end, when everyone was going back to the hospital. The other couple was ready to leave when we were. Had they not been, they said they would have caught a ride on another bus.
Derek was in his glory playing with his cousins, talking to his brothers and sister, hanging with his uncle, bonding with his papa, being fawned over by his aunt. He stuck to the low phosphorous diet, to a point. I am very strict with his diet, but since it was Thanksgiving, I let him cheat. We will tell them to ignore the labs tomorrow!
Yes, we are loving life now that we have our Derek back. We have a busy weekend planned with the family, and Derek is looking forward to it.
Kellina is making a picture with a quote on it that is so fitting for us right now. It is from a 4 year old girl. It is, "You know, not all dreams come true. But that's okay because we can always make new dreams." So perfect.
Ending the evening watching Jeff Dunham's Controlled Chaos? Priceless. How does he do it?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. To all who are braving the stores for Black Friday.... good luck! Don't get trampled! Or, don't trample any poor old ladies!