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, first steps, etc.
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)
First time transferred from the chair to the bed and back again - 1/5/12 (172 days after injury)
First time standing - 1/31/12 (198 days after injury)
FIRST STEPS!!! - 2/9/12 (207 days after injury)
First overnight pass - 2/22/12 (220 days after injury)
First weekend pass - 2/24/12 (222 days after injury)
First night as an outpatient - 2/29/12 (228 days after injury)
So, like a child again, we are back to celebrating firsts.
It is also like having a child again, because you are learning everything all over again. After a warrior is injured, he has to learn to feed himself, walk, write, everything. And you have to be prepared to help him through this.
Your diaper bag from the first childhood is replaced with a medical bag. If he has a colostomy, you need to have all of your colostomy supplies in case something happens. You need the medications and bandages for any wounds. You need a change of clothing. You must always be prepared.
But although this is a trip back to childhood, temporarily, it is not forever. Although life is forever altered, the wounded warrior moves on to learn to do more for himself, except in the case of severe TBI. In that case, it really is like having a child again.
You love him, so you do what you need to do.