Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Celebrating Firsts

When you have a child, you celebrate firsts.  The first words, the first solid food, the first full night's sleep, the first steps.  Having a wounded warrior is very similar.

Krystina and I have been celebrating the little things and all of Derek's firsts since he was injured.  His first words, his first food, the first time he sat up on his own, etc.  He has not yet had his first steps, but he will, and we will be there to cheer him on when he does!

The notable firsts are as follows, and not all are something to celebrate:

First day without legs - 7/23/11 (Derek laughed at this one.)

First smile - 7/30/11 (Day after admission to Bethesda when Krystina told him her mother was going to kick his ass.)

First day off ventilator - 8/4/11 (Only lasted four hours.)

First day off dialysis - 8/18/11 (25 days after injury) (Derek was in acute renal failure after his injury.)

First phantom pain started - 8/20/11 (27 days after injury) (This is actually a good thing because it means the nerves woke up.)

First day in wheelchair - 9/8/11 (47 days after injury) (41 days after admission to WR)

First successful break from ventilator - 9/9/11 (48 days after injury)

First words - 8/4/11 - "I'm sorry this happened" and "Chocolate milkshake."
                     9/9/11 - "Krystina" and "Siobhan"

First food - 9/13/11 (52 days after injury) (Jello during swallow study.)

First trip back to ICU - 9/26/11

First time off trach (decanulated) - 10/26/11 (95 days after injury)

First time off antibiotics - 10/29/11 (98 days after injury)

First time off oxygen - 10/29/11 (98 days after injury)

First night alone - 11/1/11 (101 days after injury) (one-to-one discontinued.)

First shower - 11/4/11 (104 days after injury)

First day in Matc - 11/21/11 (121 days after injury)

First pass - 11/24/11 (124 days after injury)

First pee the normal way - 11/29/11 (127 days after injury)

First time sat up by himself - 12/14/11 (150 days after injury)

First time picked up something with his injured hand - 12/28/11 (164 days after injury)

First time rolled over on his own - 12/30/11 (166 days after injury)

So, like a child again, we are back to celebrating firsts.  There will be plenty of other firsts to celebrate, and like a child, we have traded in the diaper bag for medical supplies.  The last couple of years, we used to simply grab our pocketbooks and run out the door, but now Krystina and I have to make sure the protector is on the PICC, the extra colostomy bags and supplies and urinal are in the backpack, along with a change of clothing, and if we are going on pass, that we have his medication.  Krystina and I make a good team.  We have split up the work between us and it all gets done.   

Today, Derek didn't want to get his ass out of bed and go to the Matc.  I had to be a general and get his nurse and a corpsman to just pick him up and put him in his wheelchair.  I did the same thing yesterday with a shower.  He is moping because Krystina is not here, but it is worse because he is also nervous about surgery on Friday.  It's a double whammy this week, so I have to step it up and kick his ass double time.  Once he got to the Matc, he had an awesome workout and his PT raved about him in her note in the computer.  He picked up a whole bunch of blocks with his injured hand, rolled all over on his own, sat up on his own, transferred in no time flat, and pushed himself up!  It was a great session.

Afterwards, we had a very special visitor!

Bobbie is a beauty! 

So, Matc tomorrow and Thursday and then surgery Friday.  Should be a relatively quiet week besides that.

Good night and God bless.  Climb to glory.  Don't stop until you reach the top.  The view is gorgeous from up there!


  1. Thankful for all the firsts!
    Know that I'm still here praying!
    Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
    Prayer Bears
    My email address

  2. Thank you for posting all the "firsts." Especially with the day count after each. It was a reminder of how long the journey has been. I still remember Soldier Dan's 5:30 a.m. (staeside time) phone call when they returned from the mission on which Derek was injured. I remember how my son's voice sounded as he told us what happened and how concerned he was for his friend. I remember beginning to pray even as the phone call continued and then with my wife once our son had to say goodbye. I remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I thought about Derek's family waitning to hear how he was and for him to reach American soil. It seems like yesterday and at the same time like a hundred years ago. I can only imagine what it feels like for you. I know I've said this before but thank you for allowing us to follow your journey to a "new normal." No, our son was not injured that day, but someone he cared about was. Someone our son fought with and respects. So we feel connected even though we have not yet met in person. And we continue to pray and will continue. God bless you!

  3. Thanks... So glad for all the firsts... These are great! Continuing to pray...