Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Derek Made My Year!

Before getting into anything else, Derek made me cry tonight. 

His top notch nurse LTJG Brian Wilson, who is one of my favorites (that list is SO long and includes nurses and his entire doctor staff, although some of them stick out more than others), was talking about his time in the hospital in Kandahar and how these injuries are life changing but not life ending and that as long as he has the most important people in his life, he will be great.

I told Derek that he had his Krystina, the most important person in his life, and that she was standing by his side.  Derek mouthed "and you."  At first I thought I had read his lips correctly, but I was a little shocked, because Derek has always been reserved with his feelings.  He pointed at me with tears in his eyes and mouthed it again.  I said, "and me?"  He nodded.

That little thing just made my year and made up for the lack of sleep and all the stress of the last few weeks.

Also, earlier in the day, I told Derek that Krystina was thrilled that she would have Derek home for her birthday, and that was all she cared about.  Derek looked at me panicked and mouthed "when?"  He still cannot talk because of the trach and vent.

I told him two days, Thursday.  He welled up, and a single tear slid down from the corner of his eye.  He started to mouth, "Mom!  But, Mom!"  I told him that anything he wanted to get her, we could work out later.  I told him that she would not mind getting a late present, because she was getting the best present in the world, Derek home for her birthday.  I also told him we had a purple bow to put on his head because he was her present!

My kudos for the day - Capt Suzanne Morris (day nurse), LTJG Brian Wilson (night nurse), Caryn Birk (another nurse who assisted me when I had a complicated question), Dr. Perdue (came in early to check on Derek and always follows his case so closely), and the new doc on the floor from Walter Reed, whose name I missed today.  There are others I love and are always wonderful, such as Dr. Ugo and all of Derek's team, too.

I went to the hospital yesterday morning at 6:30 a.m. and except for quick trips back to the room for a shower or a quick snack, I didn't leave except to get dinner.  I was called to return to the hospital at 1:30 a.m., stayed all night, napping only for a few minutes between anxiety attacks, and then have been going all day.  Such is life in the CCU.

I have made sure that we go to dinner almost every night, off base, to maintain some semblance of normalcy.  I feel it is important for the kids to have that time together, off base, in a restaurant, just laughing and not sitting in Day Room 1 on the third floor of the CCU.

I've been told that I have to take care of myself.  Not easy for a mother watching her child suffer.  I just want to sit with him, wipe his sweat, suction the secretions, hold his hand, or simply sit in the chair across from him.  But Derek won't always let me.  Sometimes he wants me to just sit and hold his hand, but sometimes he throws me out of the room periodically because he knows I need a break, and because sometimes he just wants to be alone.  Sometimes, one of his siblings will walk in, and before they are there a few minutes, he is pointng at the door.  We get it.  We love it.  He is asserting an independence that shows he is on the mend.

Every time someone comes to visit or says that they want to come to visit, I tell Derek ahead of time, and he tells me whether he wants to see the person or not.  Some of his planned visitors have gotten a shake of the head for "no," and most of them have been told to hold off.  It's not personal.  Derek is very sick and really does not need the stimulation, nor does he want to be seen this sick.  He really just wants to be surrounded by his family - Mom, Kiki, Papa, Krystina, Kellina, Ryan, Michael and Sean, and he even throws us out when he is tired.  Other visitors have come and gone over the last several weeks, and I can see some tire him and some thrill him. 

His army brothers motivate him in such a way that I am hoping and praying more get their asses here soon.
Yesterday, Fr. Anthony and Fr. Ken came down from our parish, Notre Dame in North Caldwell, NJ along with a friend of mine, Mare.  Derek was pleased to see them.  Mare was here more for me, so she only went in and said "hello."  Derek requested Fr. Anthony and Fr. Ken to return after the quick "hello," and asked for a prayer.  They performed the Annointing of the Sick on him, which I hope helps to heal him a lot faster.

Today, on the way to a conference in Baltimore, Paul Holland, Derek's Boy Scout Troop Leader called me and asked if he could stop by.  I asked Derek and he brightened.  Derek has always loved Paul, and the feeling is mutual.  They had a five minute visit, and then Paul was off.

My Dad came to see Derek for the first time today.  I was worried about him because he was so emotional, but he was fine.  He and Derek had a nice chat.  Dad sat in there for a long time asking Capt Morris questions, and she was so patient!  But it made Dad feel SO much better.
Derek didn't seem like himself today.  He was little down.  From talking to him, I think he was a little upset about the situation, his injuries, being stuck in bed, etc.  We'll get him through this.  Krystina and I are a team, and with my sister, Yvette, whom he calls "Kiki," coming down periodically, he will be on the mend soon!

It was another surgery day.  Because he has had problems with his blood pressure, bleeding, etc. the teams cooperated and moved fast.  He had several teams working on him all at once!  What should have been a several hour surgery was less than an hour! 

He had another wash out of his arm today.  Since the legs were closed, the wound vacs were changed and incisions checked.  All of his wounds were checked and swabbed for infection.
Unfortunately, even though Derek's white cell count is down to 9 (I thought it was 6 this morning, but my lack of sleep misheard), he is still fighting the infections and they are a problem.  He spiked a fever overnight to 102, which is a sure sign of some infection fighting his system.  They removed his A-line, central line and dialysis catheter in case they were the source.  The dialysis catheter was not replaced yet and will only be replaced if he needs it.  Given how his BP dropped yesterday during it, they are hoping to avoid it.

I know I am getting some of this wrong because it is so much more complicated, but I trust the team, and I really do not want to put too much detail, because this is Derek's business and I am trying to walk a line between letting people know the struggle of a wounded warrior, the affects on the family, etc. but still maintain his privacy.  Everything that is posted, I believe Derek would not have a problem sharing.  How do I know?  He and I have been down the medical road before, and he was always very open to everyone who would listen to all the details of his surgeries, etc.  If at any time he asks me to stop, I will heed his wishes.  This is all about Derek.

Good night.  It's almost one and I am up at six!  Thank you for the continued prayers and well wishes!  We will get through this.

And one more shout out - Go, Patriot Guard Riders!  Protect our families of fallen heroes from those Westboro Baptist Church idiots!!

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