Friday, January 6, 2012

A Work in Progress

We are on a long, hard journey.  No one ever said the road of the wounded warrior would be easy.  The problem is, most Americans are oblivious to this journey.  They are oblivious to this part of the very real war that is going on in our world right now and affecting our young men and women every day.  These injuries that they are receiving will continue to affect them for the rest of their lives.  And they not only affect the warrior, they affect their families and friends, as well.

When Derek and I started this journey, I immediately posted in the military moms' pages on facebook, and my friend requests soared.  I could not believe the amount of support and encouragement I received from that community of moms.  I was living the nightmare they all dreaded.  I then met and befriended many wounded warrior wives, mothers and girlfriends, and with them, we have a wonderful support group.  I knew one wounded warrior mom before this, and she was a wealth of information and support for me that very first weekend.

But the first stage of this journey has already taken a lot longer than we ever expected.  Derek was a lot more injured than we could have ever believed.  He fought through it.  He climbed that mountain.  It is still a work in progress, but he is doing it.  His achievements and his list of firsts is getting progressively longer.

I posted on my facebook page yesterday another major first for Derek.  In a few hours, there were 100 likes and over 35 comments.  This support had Derek smiling and so happy.

At the Matc, I asked Kerry and Joe to work with Derek on transferring without using his hand, because for three weeks after the surgery, he will be non-weight bearing on that right hand.  He rocked it.  Then Kerry had the idea to bring Derek back to his room and try to transfer from his chair to his bed.  Derek has a specialty bed for his wounds, and his doctor says he is not quite ready for a regular bed.  This makes transfers a little more difficult.  Really?

Well, he ninja rolled!  Derek was out of that chair and onto the bed and back into the chair again... all by himself!  Woot!  It was awesome!  Kerry and I cheered and screamed and his nurse came running thinking something was wrong.  So, he showed her!  High fives all around.

Dr. N came and talked to us about the plan for surgery on Friday.  We really are impressed with him.

And Bograd is back!  I got my hug.  I now have my three favorite residents in the same hospital!  Although, this new PM&R res is quickly catching up.  We've only known him four days, but he is wonderful.  So attentive.

Yesterday, Derek woke up with a new wrist band.  He told Joe in the Matc that he was a "moderate fail risk."  Joe asked him if there was a test that maybe he was asleep for and that's why he failed!  The band actually says, "moderate FALL risk."  Oh, Derek.

I spent the night with him, because I knew he was anxious over the surgery, and because getting up at 05:00 and rushing to the hosptial to get to PACU at 05:30 just didn't appeal to me.  It was easier to spend the night, even on those horribly uncomfortable chair bed things they give us in the rooms.

Derek's anxiety had been lessened by talking to his doctors.  We had confidence in Dr. N, and Dr. West reminded that he is not as sick this time as he was two months ago when he had his last surgery.  His kidneys are better, his lungs are better, everything is so much better.  He was still concerned about the blood pressure issues, but there was no need, because his body just needed a rest from surgery.  He had no blood pressure issues during the surgery.

Dr. N is pleased with the surgery, so we are too.  There was a 9.5 cm deficit in the ulnar nerve.  They did a nerve graft and a bone graft with cadaver parts.  Over the next six months, we will see how the nerve regenerates and repairs itself in its new tract.  After that, depending on how the hand in functioning, Dr. N will look into tendon transfer for more functionality.  It's a work in progress.

It was a very long surgery, over four hours, and Derek woke up in pain and wiped out from the anesthetic.  He slept all day, and even apologized to me tonight for sleeping all day.  No apologies necessary.

The most aggravating part of the day was a visit from the federal recovery agent.  We have told her before, that if we need her, we will call.  Krystina told her once, Derek told her once, and I told her twice.  Why did she walk in today?  To argue with me once again that she disagrees with my decision about not needing her.  Two visits ago, she walked in unannounced and just sat down.  She explained what she was there to do.  We have a Nurse Case Manager, the WTB, the AW2, etc., all of which does exactly what she said she did.  She asked me if I had done the social security application.  I was filling it out when she walked in.  She asked if the TGLI paperwork had been done.  I told her we had an appointment for that the next day.  She asked about other paperwork and applications..... all done.  And I need her, why?  I've spoken to so many other wounded warriors and none of them have someone like her.  We don't need her.  I've reviewed her paperwork.  It's not necessary, but I told her if I needed anything, I would call her.  She won't quit.

If I was going to call her for anything, I will never do it now after today's visit.  She stood there arguing with me that I needed her.  She said she would just come talk to Derek when I was not there, then.  I told her that Derek wanted me present for all meetings, because his short term memory is not good right now, and he has asked me to handle all paperwork, applications, medical records, etc., and I have the prior records, so if that meeting was going to talk place, I would have to be there.  She said no, she would just talk to Derek.  Does she even listen?  When I told her I was too stressed that day to deal with her because Derek was in surgery, in walked Dr. N with the post-surgery report.  Thank you, God!  I told her she had to leave so I could talk to the doctor.  After she left, he asked me what he walked in on, and I said, "Just some lady who keeps coming back to argue with me that we need her."  She walked back in and said, "I hate to disagree but. . . "  I yelled at her to get out!  She eavesdropped on a private conversation with a doctor!  Where in her delusional brain matter could she ever have thought it okay to interrupt a conversation with a doctor to which she never should have been privvy?  I intend to send an email to her supervisor. 

I spoke with Derek's team afterwards, and they were concerned with her behavior and how she is harassing us when we said "No."  She was asked not to come back until we call her.  'nuff said.  If we miss out on something, that's our problem, not hers.  If she is so concerned that we might be making the wrong decision, she should talk to someone on Derek's behalf and quit harassing us!  One of the doctors wants to be paged if she shows up again and he will take care of her.

I really needed that after the week I had and with Derek in surgery.  But, thank God the surgery was successful and we are progressing.

A major big thank you for the following wonderful people who sent care packages, cards, letters, treats, goodies, etc.  They all arrived today, a wonderful day to keep our mind off of things while waiting for Derek to get out of the OR and then to finally wake up.  Once he is more alert, he will read all of the cards and letters.
     So, thank you so much to: 
                   Erin McGahuey
                   Jodi Brogran and her children, especially Christopher and Megan who donated part of their allowance
                  The students of All Saints Academy, Parsippany
                  Leanne and SSGT Weatherford
                  Stephanie Hadley
                  Jody Harding
                 Girl Scout Troop 20308
                 Wolf Pack 7090, AZ
I hope i didn't miss anyone......

Major kudos today to Dr. Nanos, our wonderful hand surgeon, Dr. Howard for that wonderful flap that closed the hole in the arm back in October and allowed this surgery to proceed today, and Katie our awesome charge nurse who ran down and got me a sandwich when I was ready to faint with hunger but didn't want to leave in case I missed the call that he was out of surgery or the post-op visit with the doc.

Isn't life simply a work in progress?  We create something wonderful and then go on to our next project, to create something else, thus always having a work in project.  Whether this be an arts and crafts project you enjoy, a special project at work, the home improvements of your dreams, raising your children, working out and sculpting your body, writing a novel, or whatever turns the corners of your lips up into a big smile and warms your heart.

Derek is a work in progress.  His arm is in the process of accepting the new nerve and repairing the pathway around it so the nerve can become a part of his body, as well as accepting the new bone graft.  Then he will be back to OT and PT for range of motion, stretching, strengthening, etc.  Bottom line.... we will get him there.  We have realistic expectations for the hand, and we have faith in Dr. Nanos' ability.

Keep going, keep climbing, never give up, never give in.  You will never reach the top if you quit halfway there.  Climb to glory! 

And remember our men and women in the military, serving to protect our way of life, away from family and friends, in harm's way, afraid, lonely, hot, cold, tired, hungry, but never giving up as long as there is one American counting on him/her.  And remember those who were wounded defending this country and our people so that we might live free.  Their lives are forever changed as a result of the love they had for their country and their desire to want to do something more.  Pray for them.  Remember them.  Tell their stories.  Don't let them be forgotten.

God bless you.


  1. Although I'm not the mother of a "wounded" soldier in the same sense as you, I have been in your shoes with my son's lukemia diagnosis. Sean was very ill after his bone marrow transplant and his wife (my SUPER DIL)and I dealt with the Dr's telling us on three different occasions that we should "just make him comfortable until the end". Not on your life! We told them that they didn't know Sean and that they were to continue to do every thing super humanly possible to bring him back. Sean is now Cancer Free and progressing well with recovery to his immune system. God has been on our side as he has been on yours. I'm with you Siobhan. Keep strong.

  2. Know that you're always in my thoughts and prayers.
    Isaiah 41:10, 13 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (13) For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
    Prayer Bears
    My email address

  3. Praying!
    Revelation 3:11-13 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name...
    Prayer Bears
    My email address