Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Flitting Like a Hummingbird on Crack

Today was a big day at Walter Reed Bethesda.  Krystina and I spent the night to ensure that we did not get locked out.  Because everything was hush hush, we could not be sure that it wouldn't be tough getting in.  It turns out, we could have waited until the morning, but we had fun last night, so it was worth it, and Derek had a tough night, so I was glad I was there.
Derek had difficulty breathing during the night and required an emergency visit from the respiratory therapist.  They gave him two breathing treatments overnight, and scheduled one for during the day.  The problem was that with the "special visitor," it might interfere with the breathing treatment.  Our wonderful charge nurse, Angela, made sure to get the RT cleared and had her come an hour early to ensure that the treatment occured.

At 0030, one of the lovely, bratty little corpsman was trying to show me pressure points.  He failed.  He told me to put him in a headlock.  He tried to get me off of him.  He tapped out, but I didn't let go.  The charge nurse hid behind Derek's curtain and wouldn't look.  Derek's nurse was behind Derek's bed.  Derek was out cold, sound asleep, and we were quiet, so we didn't disturb him.  He tried to sweep me out and we went down hard.  I didn't let go.  Siobhan 1, Corpsman 0.  We have fun.

Derek's white count was 8.7, which is great, but Dr. Fiske of infectious disease is concerned because a closer look at the CT scan revealed that one of the abscesses is actually larger than it was before.  The others are smaller and not of any concern, but they are going to talk to the trauma team about what to do about the larger one.  This sent Derek into a tailspin, because he is terrified of losing his hip.

Derek asked me, "Mom, are we going to beat this?"  Of course we are.  Team Derek is on the case.  Team Derek does not lose.  Never give up, never give in.  Climb to glory, Soldier.

This morning the pomp began.  Spit and shine.  The hospital never looked so good!  Our vending machines were removed!  We want them back, and we want them actually filled this time.

We were visited by Stan Kohler (sp?), a Navy Chaplain with the White House.  He asked me about how I felt the merger was going.  I had alot to say about that.  Having been here before the invasion from Walter Reed, I am in a position of experiencing National Naval and the new Walter Reed, whereas others can give their experiences of having come over from the old Walter Reed to Walter Reed Bethesda. 
But having seen the integration first hand, and not from the merged standpoint, I saw how the Navy accepted the Army onto their turf. I've heard others who were at the old Walter Reed explain how they felt the Navy pushed families out and the Army was more welcoming.  My experience was a little different.  I felt more welcomed by the Navy staff and less welcomed by the Army staff, at first.  Now I feel welcomed by all.  This really is an instance of inlaws and outlaws and everyone learning to get along during the growing pains stage.  I feel it is getting better.

Chaplain Kohler asked if there was anything that I felt that would make this integration better.  Having met with Laura and Brittany from Operation Ward 57 yesterday, I had my answer handy.  Volunteer organizations are ready, willing and able to help these guys, but they are being denied access while the integration is progressing and the hospital is getting accredited.  Meanwhile, the guys are going without the volunteer organizations that do so much for their morale.  Get them back.  Now.  He said he would work on it.  We will see.  I will follow up.

Derek was visited by Jeffrey Kueter, the White House physician.

We were scanned by a metal detector and our names checked on a list.

Secret service came in and searched the room.

A bomb sniffing dog went by.  He was so hyper!

All civilian contract nurses and staff were locked in the staff lounge.

Derek's one-to-one corpsman was sent on a patient transfer to PACU and told he couldn't return, until they called and said he was assigned to a one-to-one and was essential on the floor!

Military nurses and corpsman were brought in, but they had to wait in the supply closet.

Patient care was definitely NOT at the forefront today.  Given Derek's level of care needed, I had to keep calling in his temporary nurse.  He almost missed an antibiotic because the computers were shut down, but LT Blaise got on just in time and pulled up the antibiotic.  With seven different antibiotics, one has to be running at all times.

Derek's schedule of Lobanox (blood thinner so he doesn't get clots) was screwed up as a result.  He is now five hours behind.  It was more convenient for the busy nurses to give him his medications all together than on a different schedule.  I am sure he will end up missing a dose as a result, and that is not good given the flap.

Patient care should be paramount.  There has to be an easier way.  Maybe I can figure something out when I am working on patient advocacy.......

Anyway, our door was kept closed for hours.  We were six people shut into a small room to await a visit.  Derek, Krystina, Michael, Sean, Kieran and I sat for a couple of hours, interrupted only occasionally by LT Blaise when he came in to give Derek his antibiotic or fix an IV.  Major Reyes checked on us to see if we needed help and LT Blaise came in periodically, and I called out when the antibiotic started that beep beep song it loves so much.

After a few hours, the door opened and we were advised we were next.

I was adjusting something on Derek's bed when a booming voice thundered out, "Derek!" and in walked Barack Obama.  He presented Derek with his coin and shook his hand.

Politics aside.  This is not a poltical blog, and I am not using this as an avenue to voice my political beliefs.  I use my facebook for that purpose.  This is an avenue to express what is going on during my son's recovery from life altering and still life threatening wounds in theater.  Any comments in the guestbook please refrain from any political commentary.  If you want to make a political comment, send me an email or go to my facebook.

I could have said a lot to Mr. Obama today.  I refrained.  This was neither the time nor the place.  Ever since I was little girl I have wanted to meet our current president and have a frank discussion about the country.  I really wanted to say a lot today, but I held my tongue.

Mr. Obama asked us who we were, and I made the introductions.  When I introduced myself, he said, "Mom gets a big hug."  Okay then.  I introduced my son Michael, and he said, "Mike, you're still in high school."  To which Michael responded, "No, sir, I just finished four years in the Navy."  I introduced him to Mike's friend Kieran, to Sean, and to Derek's angel, Krystina.

He came around to Derek, and we all posed for a photo.  The photographer did not stop snapping that camera, which I understand is how it is whenever any president visits.  That is disappointing to me.  This felt like a photo op and not a visit.  I wish the presidents would come and actually meet with the guys that they are sending into war and not just pose for photos.  Since I cannot personally comment about Bush, because I was not there, and can only repeat what I was told, I really can only comment about my experience today.  I wish Mr. Obama had asked Derek what happened.  I tried to direct the conversation to what had happened to Derek, but he dominated the room.  I understand he was rushed and had a lot of rooms to visit, but these kids have given so much and a few minutes asking Derek about his experiences would have meant so much.  He flitted around like a hummingbird on crack.

He asked us if the care was acceptable, to which I replied that it was very good.  He chatted with Sean and Derek a few minutes, and Derek told him that Krystina and I dropped everything to be there for him for the last 73 days.  He said I deserved another hug for that.  Krystina got one, too.

He was very nice.  He was very hyper and seemed a little nervous, but he was pleasant.  In trying to watch what I said and not say what was really on my mind, I held my tongue and just let it happen.  My kids were proud of me for actually keeping quiet.  See, I can keep quiet.

Bottom line, Derek felt good and that is all that matters to me.  He got his coin.  He says when he goes into a bar and he and his guys present their coins, he wins and they have to buy him drinks.  He lay there singing, "I got a coin!  I got a coin!  You didn't!  I got a coin!"  I told him I would go chase him down and get my own coin if he didn't stop.  He told me he would kill himself if I did that by chewing off his tongue, and then he tried it, with his missing teeth - he gummed his tongue.  It was hysterical.

The corpsman was cleaning Derek this evening and he told him he had to "step it up" because yesterday's did such a good job. 

Besides getting his darn coin, the highlight of Derek's day was when Dan Kidwell walked in the door.  Dan is one of Derek's army brothers from 2-87, B-Co.  He came here straight from the airport, in uniform.
After visiting Derek, he went on to visit some of the other guys on the ward.  Will is down the hall and seemed a little down.  When he saw Dan walk in the room, he lit up.  Made me smile.

So, PACU tomorrow for a dressing change.  The doctors didn't come up and get the consents, and we do not know what case he is, so I will be at the hospital in 4.5 hours in case he is first case.

Good night!  God bless!

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