05:00 mornings suck. Just saying. On the ward, first case moves to PACU around 05:30. Which means I need to be there by then. In the ICU, there is not PACU because the patient goes straight to the OR and back again, but on the ward, he must go to PACU before and after the OR, hence the early start. Since I insist on having a chat with the anesthesiologists and other docs, I have to be there.
This morning the anesthesiologist had a student with her (WRNMMCB is a teaching hospital) and she was getting information from me. She turned to her student and said that it helps having the significant other with the patient because they are a wealth of information. If that wasn't so creepy and disgusting because he is my SON, I might have felt complimented.
I sat with Derek until they took him back. Surgery went great. They washed out the arm and replaced the antibiotic beads. They will do the flap on Monday and we will be back in the CCU/SICU for three days. Wound vacs were changed, the skin graft was checked and determined to have taken well. The wounds on his backside were left alone because they placed A-cell on Monday and they wanted to leave it alone for a couple of days to let it work. Dr. Bograd and Dr. Perdue think it will do the job.
When Krystina and I returned to the PACU after his surgery, I was discussing Derek and his response to different medications with the nurse and she asked me if I was nurse because I was well versed in the medications and reactions. I have learned a lot, but I could never get my head around all of this enough to do what they do. They are simply amazing to me. They keep their cool in situations when my heart still pounds. As Derek vomited so intensively the other day, I felt my pulse race and rushed to get the basin, but the nurse calmly went about getting the basin in place and sunctioning his trach to make sure he didn't aspirate. I could never do what they do.
After we left PACU, we saw Dr. Perdue walking down the hall and rushed to greet him. Capt Perdue is one of my favorite people in that hospital. In the beginning when he was bringing us nothing but bad news, my sister said "chicken man was going on the grill." No way. Not any more. But it was funny that Krystina said Dr. Perdue seems to have "taken Derek under his wing."
Infectious disease said we are on the countdown to getting rid of all of the antibiotics..... could it be? Can we hope? No more ugly yellow gowns? Can Derek finally play with Sgt Archie? White count is down to 9.8, so it just might be! He is sweating like a champ, so he is definitely fighting something!
Today was a super busy day.
PACU with Derek at 05:30. Back to shower. Got back to the hospital and picked up mail downstairs. Ran up in time for doggies and donuts, the weekly Red Cross family event where they serve coffee and donuts and the service dogs attend, especially Sgt Archie, but before we could walk in the door, got called to PACU because Derek was out of OR.
Got up to the floor and visited with Sgt Archie for a few minutes before the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders arrived (pictured with Derek and Alan Kruchkoff of the Adopt-A-Soldier-Platoon). Derek said they were naked. He was glad they had to put on the yellow gowns. He said he does not like it when women objectify themselves. Just his opinion. He was happier when he heard that some of them are studying to be doctors and therapists and that they have full-time jobs, and that they are not just cheerleaders. He hated to think that they just parade around half naked. Derek is very old fashioned in a lot of his thinking.
Then it was post-OR time with Derek for a few minutes before running out to lunch so Derek could rest. We went to lunch with four members of the Adopt-A-Soldier-Platoon (Alan and Kimberly included!). We were joined by a Lt Col who was a wealth of information.
While we were out, Sam from OT came by, some doctors visited, and a member of the VA came by (he is supposed to return tomorrow at 08:30). This is why I do not like leaving during the day, but every once in a while I do need a break.
Derek is having a little battle with Sam right now. His "happy button" is on a little black arm. When he went septic, he swelled up and could not work the PCA (patient controlled analgesic). They built him a device that attached it to the bed so he could just hit it. Sam thinks he could handle the button on his own now without the arm. I agree. I have tried convincing him over the last couple of days to let her take the arm and attach the button to the bed by the clip. He said we will negotiate tomorrow.
After lunch, there were more doctors, RT, even more doctors, (I took care of that flow of information problem, didn't I?), a meeting with the head of 4-central, 4-west and an enlisted gentlemen about the RT situation from Saturday night (yes, I filed a complaint), etc.
Dr. West came by and chatted with Derek. I gave him this blog. Ut oh. Now he has access to my inner real thoughts. I don't know if that was such a good idea. If he was threatening the restraints before.... Dr. West, if you are reading this this, please be kind. mmm, k? It's only temporary insanity. Yes, I know. Temporary?
But there is a corpsman on the floor who is willing to help Dr. West if he shows up with the restraint team. He wants to put the gloves on me! Brian Allen is his name. We were talking about drinking and odd names of drinks. Don't ask how THAT came up. But I said I can handle any shot, except that one called peanut butter and jelly, but I'm a lightweight because three shots and I'm done. He made the comment that size does matter (meaning my weight). With that another corpsman walked by and got the wrong idea. Seriously? He thought we were talking about something else! I'm starting to have fun on this floor.
The best part of today is human kindness.
Derek said he realizes that the glass is half full and he has so much more available to him now than he had before. But then he also said he had to lose his legs to have all these cool things happen to him.
For example, Phil Simms and Inside the NFL (or something like that) invited Derek to have lunch with them, and Phil Simms invited Derek to watch a Giants game in the broadcast booth with him!
Derek received a call from Chuck Lidell, one of his heroes. He has been invited to attend a UFC fight as his guest.
Tom Mautone of the North Caldwell Police Department with the help of my brother-in-law, Brian Maglio of the Roseland Police Department are setting up a pasta dinner fund raiser for Derek on October 16th at the North Caldwell Fire Department. The North Caldwell Police Department set up the Friends for Derek McConnell fund for Derek and family expenses that might arise as a result of this event,
Tom has been close to our family since my children were small. He watched my children grow up. When Derek was a rebellious teenager, Derek went to Tom. Tom talked him down many times. When Derek was arrested at school, Tom was the arresting officer and he was the one to talk Mom down.
And Brian. What can I possible say about Brian? Married to my sister, father to my awesome nephews, an all around great guy. Took my daughter to her Father-Daughter Dinner Dances when she didn't have a father to take her. Brian has just always been there.
Brian is doing the Tough Mudder competition this year in Derek's name. His friend Bill and his group from the Mahwah Police Department are going to do it in Derek's honor and get shirts made with Derek's name on it. We told Derek about it, and he wants one of the shirts. I have to remember to ask if I can get one.
The Little Vikings Football Team is selling shirts with "Never Give Up, Never Give In, PFC Derek McConnell" on the back at the football games and donating the proceeds to Derek and family expenses. They are also taking up a collection at the home games.
Brian called today and told me that someone donated Derek a van. A Town and Country van outfitted for a wheelchair. It is in very good condition and is perfect for him once he is able to get home for a few days. He can get his wheelchair on board and get out and about! A woman was looking to give it away because her mother had passed away. She chose Derek out of the stories she had heard. This is just what he needs right now.
Contributions have poured into the Friends for Derek McConnell fund.
I am not one to ask for help. As a single mom for so many years, shopping at bargain stores, living with my mother because I couldn't afford a place of my own, etc., I never asked for hand outs. I did it on my own, except for living with my mother. That's family. That's different. Family sticks together.
People have come out of the woodwork to help. Those who truly care about Derek, even strangers who have good hearts have come forward and shown how much God has influenced them to help this kid.
People are sending care packages, cards, donations, etc. Some have been returned to them, and I do not know why. I checked downstairs today and the liason office said that sometimes the dock does that and they do not understand it. There have been packages put aside and misplaced, but they are getting through them all. Hopefully, they will all find their way to us.
God works in mysterious ways. I don't know what God had planned or why this happened. I have heard people ask "why me?" I have heard people say "why my son?" I don't recall doing that during this time, but I might have. I have had a strained relationship with God over the years, but that is just the way it is. I have my faith, and I have my beliefs. I know where I stand, and God knows my heart.
I truly believe that God has great plans for this kid. He could have died so many times in his short life but he didn't. I don't understand why he has had to suffer so much, but there has to be a reason. Derek has accepted it, so I won't question it.
This is very humbling to me. All of this is. Seeing my son go through all of this is very humbling to me. But most of all, hearing him say that he has so many options and that he will take advantage of them and make the best of his life is truly inspiring.