Captain Jason

The latest news on the recover of Jason after his injury in Iraq by an IED.


Pictures

Snail Mail:

Cpt. Jason Scott
WRAMC Building 20
Mologne House Hotel #316
6900 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington DC 20307

Phone: 202 577 0092

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas at Walter Reed-Monday

Today was Christmas at Walter Reed (staffing and activities were at weekend levels . The hospital was closed except for patients and their visitors. Saw new families today and hear that the use of IED's is increasing in Afghanistan. Pray for peace and that our soldiers come home safe.

Dow spent the night with Lisa and family at Bernies so I arrived at Jason's room at 8:30 and Jodi arrived shortly after. Jason ate breakfast and we headed toward PT on the 5th floor, weekend schedule. On the way Dow and Lisa and the grandkids caught up with us. Jason too, the PT had brought his son to work today. LJ is 8 so the boys and he had a great time doing the "PT games/exercises" Jason too created for them to keep them busy while he worked with Jason and Clarence his patients for the hour. The Ryan kids each took 10 minutes on the treadmill. Jason received his facial shock treatment for 30 minutes and laid at the side of the bed; weight at his ankle with foot and leg off the bed pulling the hip out of the socket. Dr Todd arrived and had a good visit with all the family.

Then it was back to the room to regroup and using Martha's van pile in and head for the Smithsonian on the Mall. Painful ride for Jason as he cannot bend the right hip. Dow thought it would be much shorter as he had travelled it the night before. We all ate a late lunch together at the Art Museum in front of the waterfall, if you have visited the museum. Jodi and Jason went off to walk the halls of the museum on their own. Later they said they did both buildings. Dow took the boys to the Museum of History for dinosaurs, etc. Lisa and Ellie (4) and I headed for the Museum which houses the First Lady exhibit. Both Lisa and I remembered as being much changed from our earlier visits. Now it has much more history of the lives and activities--politics, campaigns, etc. of the First Ladies, not just dresses in case after case. Ellie said that she liked the red sparkly dress the best (I believe it is Ms. Laura Bush's from the second inaurgural balls.)

At 5 PM we all reconvened at the Art Museum and took Jodi to the Metro stop for her return to FL. We headed N to WR where Ellie and I got out. The boys, Lisa, Jason and Dow headed for Silver Spring, dinner and movie. Lisa was taking the boys to Chronicles of Narnia, don't know what Jason and Dow will see. Ellie and I ate dinner at the mess hall, about a dozen folks beside us. After we went the Mologne house to watch a DVD except 20th century nana couldn't get the hi-tech equipment to work. I decided to do the blog while Ellie explores the room and all the "good stuff." I will be spending the night with Lisa and family at Bernie's while Dow stays at WR to help Jason with his shower tomorrow morning.

Jason had a great day out, was sad to see Jodi leave, and knows tomorrow the schedule will be 8:30 to noon PT and OT; lunch then back again for OT and PT from 1 to 4 PM. Jason will walk when he has a chance. He is uncomfortable to have the kids in PT and OT so I will spend the day will Ellie at Bernie's while Lisa and Dow take the boys out to do DC.

Please continue to pray for Jason's complete healing including: vision, digestive tract, his bald spots, his face breakout, especially that the right hip will become unlocked, that the bone in his left wrist will break free. Blessings on each of you this holiday season.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas at Walter Reed

We started the day by having Dow get Jason from his room and walk with him to Mologne House for breakfast at 9 AM. The room was packed with families and service members. Jason decided he did not like the menu-served by the local Harley-Davidson Family Group, and they looked like Harley owners. The men serving the meal said that they have been doing Christmas and about 5 other events a year for the last 3/4 years. Many groups gave presents to the patients and families and children; multiple presents for everyone, phone cards and motivational books being the most popular. Jason's wallet never arrived from Iraq so I got Jason a new one. I also chose a board game for Jason, turned out to be Monoply. Perfect for Jason and his nephews; James Charles 8 and Jonathan 7 to play between OT and PT. Jason didn't make Christmas breakfast but I think he will probably want to make the next event----Super Bowl Party hosted by Harley owners!

Dow walked Jason back to his room to wait for Jodi to arrive and I stayed behind to eat some breakfast. Jason gave Jodi a pair of diamond earrings for Chrismas and a Cat Lady figure with lots of cats (from the Simpsons); Jodi gave Jason one of those moldable head pillows. Later we would open the stocking gifts gathered by Jody and Lisa in Tampa.

During breakfast, one of the family members I talked with has an ex-soldier son who at age 33 has cancer. They have 4 children and his wife is pregnant. They are living in FL so dad is here and plans to stay for the duration of the chemo treatments being received at the rate of every two weeks for colon and liver cancer. After he left, I spent time with another mother who is divorced and whose son is at WR, believe he was hit by and IED. She was upset and started to cry because of tensions in the family dynamic. She is a lightening rod for the family's anger. I spent a long time listening to her story and offering suppport. I looked at my watch, "Oh, oh" I would be late for liturgy at the hospital. I gave her a hug and dashed arriving at the homily to a full service, I'd say the chapel holds about 50. Chap Thad gave a good homily "We are Christ for others," my kind of theology. Sharing the Sign of Peace at Christmas liturgy in Walter Reed with wounded soldiers and their families touched me deeply.

Then it was on to the Walter Reed Christmas luncheon; beef, chicken, and tilapia; shrimp cocktail, salad bar and desserts. Of course the Piece de Resistance, the chocolate fountains for fondue; still very impressive. We took a bowl of milk chocolate fondue over the protestations of dining hall staff. "No one does that," she told Dow. Dow knew that I had taken a bowl of each flavor at Thanksgiving so he looked at her and calmly filled a bowl for Jason. When I had gotten the fruit earlier, I didn't get the chocolate because at Thanksgiving it hardened on us and I thought, "We'll get it at dessert time," worked better. Rules don't apply if patient comfort is involved. Jason had a great time eating strawberries dipped in the chocolate fondue. Wonderful present for him! Jason told us about a Discovery channel special on Santa Claus. The original St. Nicholas bones exude a perfume at Christmas each year and Jason was fascinated by the phenomen (for non Catholics: Roman Catholics had this tradition during Medival times of cutting your saintly bones up and putting pieces in jars, called relics.) Then another father (retired military) came over and Jason and he argued against a draft; Dow and I argued for one saying "If everyone's children were subject to the draft, I think the country may have a more clarifying discussion before going to war." Just like the "lively discusssions" you probably have around the holiday dining room table in your family. So the dinner was complete! Different circles same discussions.

After dinner we went back to the fifth floor, Jason took a walk, then we hung out in the room discussing gifts and Christmas traditions and receiving visitors, including a group that wants to get Jason involved in kayaking, left a video. The Assistant Sec. of Defense visited with an entourage that included two secret service (not too secret because they really do wear trench coats and those phones in the ear attached by a clear wire), a Navy Captain to take pictures, and other folks in various uniforms. Oh, also the Asst Secretary's wife, "She bakes the best cookies" and they gave Jason a sample. He gave Jason and we a mini-lecture on the value of the Iraq war. The Pentagon coin is cool, it has cut outs. Air Force Col Andrew and his good wife Lisa stopped by to extend their Christmas wishes. She was wearing miniature Christmas light jewelry today. They truly are a very special support system for the soldiers who are amputees. Their good will and cheer always brighten the room with sunshine when they visit.

Jodi and Jason wanted some alone time so we packed up the gifts to take to the Mologne House for storage and a bag of treats for the security men at the gates of WR, two sets of two men with guns, 24/7. We decided the RN station was now unindated, we couldn't see the RN's for all the goodies stacked on the counter and the LTCol of the ward had requested, "Please no more." We figure everyone in the actual Walter Reed Building #2 is now "stuffed like the Christmas goose" but those outside....fair game for the Christmas give away and their need to participate in the mammoth over abundance of calories from chocolate and every variety of cookie made!

Lisa and the Trek to DC:
Our daughter Lisa was to fly with our three grandchildren (ages 8, 7, and 4) to DC this afternoon. However, Mother Nature decided to fog Tampa in. Lisa was to make a stop in Miama before heading North. Of course she arrived late, the door to her DC plane was shut and they would not open the doors! I thought "Humpf" nobody making decisions in this instance has three small children who have been stranded in the airport for the afternoon. The upshot is Lisa and children will be very, very late getting into the airport in DC. Dow will pick them up and take them to where they will be spending the week. He is just going to spend the night and bring them to WR in the morning!

I pray your day brought many good memories for you and yours. Blessings!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Jason Does Silver Spring II

Jason was up and at 'em early, with Jodi joining him early on in the day. In PT Jason received the facial shock treatment, he said that it didn't seem to make as much a difference as the first ones did. They spent the rest of the time trying to open his locked hip. I always notice that he can walk better after PT, but if Jason walks for a long time it becomes more difficult for him as I assume he gets tired.

We got together before noon because the weather was perfect (sunny and 50) and Jason wanted to return to Silver Spring to see a movie with Jodi. Dow and I brought Jason's new wheel chair, one for his size, and we all took off in the van borrowed from Martha and Charles (thanks again) and headed to the show. We first watched Dick and Jane with Jim Carrey (sorta cute, I liked the costumes they wore when robbing places) then we went to a restaraunt where Jason and I selected individual pasta, meat, sauce and toppings. Sorta like ordering a pizza but I loved it--broccoli, artichokes and mushrooms, yummy. Jason had a penne with pesto dressing. After dinner, we wondered over to the bookstore to see if Jason could read a hardback book, the paperbacks are too small in print. We found this page magnifier and Jason could read! Borders also told us to go online to their webpage and they have links to groups that help with reading aids. (after Christmas chore.)

Then Jason decided "I don't want to go back to the hospital." So it was...back to the movies! We all went to see the Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis. One of my favorite stories, although I did walk out during the war scene, just couldn't stay and watch.

Jason and Jodi walked the shopping area holding hands and it was the very best Christmas present ever! What a blessing to see Jason up and out and enjoying his day. All the parents and spouses are saying, "This is the best/worst Christmas ." We are so glad he/she is alive, we never would want to be here. We are glad we are here." One of the parents is a caterer and brought in this wonderful "light buffet" of turkey and ham salads, sausage, cheeses, etc. etc. Everyone was thankful for her generosity, her son has been at WR a month and she drove in from PA today with all this food. She was telling us, "This was something I wanted to do for my daughter in law and family. Now I think I may come back and do this every year on Christmas Eve for the families of Walter Reed." I thought "Truly this is the true meaning of Christmas; a time of compassion to others in need." It was so good to receive. I am very thankful for the goodness of all the people we meet. Truly this love is God's Presence in the world.

Tomorrow we will have breakfast at Mologne House, lunch like Thanksgiving at WR and then stay stuffed for the rest of the day! Lisa and family will arrive late and Dow will pick them up from Reagan National and take them to Bernie's "home base" where they will spend the week.
May your visits with family and friends be a time of love and peace and food and laughter. Know that all of us Jason, Dow and myself send you prayers of blessings, good thoughts and many hugs for your kindness to us.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Jason Does Silver Spring

Jason started the day in PT doing lots of stretches and having a "facial" electrode treatment for his locked jaw. I caught up with Jason in OT, using his electronic prosthesis he was picking off clothespins from a wire rack. Each color of clothespin provided different resistance for Jason's electronic fingers to pick up. He said that the resistance didn't matter as his electronic hand is very strong. Jason also stacked color cones (I believe there is a picture of him in the album) and stacked cans. He could not pick up cans that were "filled" but only empty cans at this point.

After OT we headed back to Jason's room to await the arrival of Lisa Noble, a high school friend from Blacksburg days and Col Martha and Charles who are loaning us their van for Lisa and her family who will be arriving from Tampa on Christmas. Lisa arrived carrying pounds of Christmas cookies made for Jason by her mother and some neat "fun" gifts for Jason and Jodi. After we got the keys to the van and Martha and Charles headed off to Christmas in Minnesota, Jason took his new wheelchair and pad and Dow and he headed off to meet Lisa and I in the second floor lobby. Jason was able to get into the van with an assist from Dow and off we headed to Silver Spring about 2 miles N on Georgia Ave.

We parked the car and left the wheel chair in the van and headed to eat at a restaraunt called, I believe, the Canyon Grill. Jason ordered a chicken quesidilla because it was flat and easier to eat. I had their wonderful potato soup. After his first meal out of WR in 9 weeks, Jason was ready to shop. The Silver Spring shopping area has recently been redeveloped and everything is within walking distance. We walked over to the shopping mall, looks like a renovated office building, and Jason shopped for shoes and gifts. We had a leisurely time window shopping and I think Jason enjoyed this first outing. He wore a long sleeve shirt and carried himself well. Jason was tired and was ready to return about 4:30, about a 3 hour outing. A successful day for Jason. I did not experience Jason as uncomfortable in his surroundings except when we were eating as it is difficult for him with his left wrist problem and his mouth unable to open wide enough to take regular bites. I marvel at Jason's courage and determination to get out and "not have memories but to make memories" as he told me early after his injuries. I think today is only the beginning of his adventures and I am very proud of this young man, my son.

Lisa and Jason and Dow visited for a while after our return to WR, Dr. Wagner and his son stopped by to wish us a "Merry Christmas." I stepped out to see a young couple who may be medvaced to Florida and a brain trauma center there. Michelle does not want to leave until after Christmas, but right now they are scheduled to fly out Christmas Eve. Michelle and her husband are both in the army and Michelle says that she could not ask for better treatment for herself and her husband under these most difficult circumstances.

Let us pray for all the soldiers and their families at Walter Reed and
that soldiers all over the world may return to their homes in peace and safety.

Toilet Saga Continued:
Alas, the toilet still leaks. I will attempt to get it fixed next week.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Request for prayers for sight

Hello to all, Jason got his glasses, two pairs ones for distance work fine. The glasses for reading, however, "It is still blurry." We will go back to optometry over the next few days get Jason's eye rechecked and see if there is any changes in glasses that will help. Please keep Jason's eyesight in your holiday prayers. Also Jason's scar tissue in the left arm surgery scar is beginning to adhere to his tendon. Please pray that this does not continue. Pray that the excess bone forming in his left arm will be "broken loose" by PT and OT and not need surgery. Nice Christmas gifts for Jason to receive.

Jason and Dow spend at least an hour a day on the phone talking to universities etc. Preparing for Jason's future that will include a possible MBA or degree in International Affairs. Today Jason talked to the University of Florida at Gainseville. The staff were very positive toward having Jason apply. Jodi is attending school there, preparing to go to Vetenarian (Sp) School also located there.

I found Jason this morning in PT. Kyla had attached electodes to Jason's face for a "shock treatment." I found it interesting that the electrodes are attached to a small black box about the size of a package of cigarettes. Jason could control the strength of the electric current. Before long his face was twitching, the left more than the right. The treatment lasted for 1/2 hour. Jason said it felt "tingly." Sort of like acupuncture, I thought. Patrice was visiting Jason discussing possibilities for shopping for Jodi for Christmas. We kept looking at Jason's face with its involuntary movements, sorta distracting but fascinating to me. I guess it is polite to watch someone undergoing such a treatment cause you can't talk to someone and not look at him.

For OT, Heidi wanted to move the session to his room in order to practice ADL (activities of daily living) Jason practiced putting on shorts with a gripper, showed Heidi how he could cut meat with the knife given to him by OT and reviewed how to put on a tee shirt. She wants to help Jason learn to put on socks with a sock assist. Jason, sitting on a chair does not have the flexibility to reach with his left hand to his toes. The right hip and buttock injuries keep him from being able to do so.

Alison came to visit Jason and after lunch we headed back to OT where we met Martha and her RN friend from Korea. Martha brought beer and a matching logo tee shirt from Thailand for Jason. This time Heidi was doing massage on Jason's arm to break loose the scar tissue. We couldn't go out to the regular PT because a promotion ceremony was taking place. An Iraqi vet was being promoted to Sargeant. Then we went back to PT for an afternoon of arm exercises to build upper body strength with Kyla. Jason received a Christmas check of $500 from a group by a representative of the VA. That's why we are going shopping tomorrow.

After the exercises, we went back to Jason's room where Dow and Jason completed a very, very long form from vocational rehab. It was one of those "Do you like to work on a team or by yourself?" surveys. It also had questions like, "Would you like to run a cookie factory? or "enter data?" Jason "Heck yes, I'd like to run a cookie factory." When we were talking about jobs Jason said one he thought about would be to manage "a stadium, and it was the one in Tampa" Not any stadium but just that one. I never knew just how much Jason likes football but I am learning.

After completing the survey, Jason and we ate dinner from the mess hall in his room. Jason decided he wanted to walk because now his therapies are from 8:30 to 12 and 1 to 4 and he is loosing his walking time. We did 5 laps around the floor and returned to write a thank you note, organize the varied gifts (including a real gallon paint can filled with candy) that are being delivered to the soldiers by many groups. We listened to Cracker on Jason's IPOD and left at 9 when Jodi called for their regular "evening phone chat." A soldier was crying out in pain last night and kept Jason up for two hours. He had surgery today and arrived back in his room about 8 PM. Do say a pray that he is free from pain, and that both he and Jason will get a quiet night's sleep.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A "Shocking Treatment"

I checked in with Jason early this afternoon and found him in OT. OT was working with Jason and computer feedback. Heidi planned also to work to break open that bone in the left arm. I asked him how things were going and he said "PT is trying something different to get my jaw unlocked." They applied electrodes to his face and shocked the nerves which "actually worked." Jason said he could tell the difference after the treatment. I did not ask if they will continue the treatments. I will be able to stay for with Jason after 48 hours on the antibiotic so I hope to see the treatment sometime soon. Jason reported doing 250 crunches and 10 sets of 10 leg lifts.

Jason's glasses have been ordered: one pair for reading, one pair for long distance. Jason was surprised at the variety of frames offered. I figured it would be "anything you want as long as it is black" as Henry Ford used to say. Folks say the glasses will be here in a few days, others say "It will be weeks." The prescriptions are filled off campus. We'll let you know when they arrive.

For the medical readers: Jason's locked right leg is called "adhesive capitalitis" Thought you would want to know. Don't know what the MD's call his locked jaw.

Some Jason memories of his experiences at WRAMC:
Jason with some fondness (to me in his retelling) likes to talk about his hallucinations which occurred very frequently during his first two weeks at WR (we think either medicine induced or sleep deprivation) One of the things that Jason finds striking about the experience is that "My hallucinations are boring." (Personally, I never expected one to have expectations about one's hallucinations) Anyway according to Jason, R. Stedman in his Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has a scene of broken glass and ink filling up the cracks in the glass. Jason said "I was the ink, moving around and filling up the cracks." Jason had another hallucination where he was on a movie set waiting for the men to put the set up. Jason thinks this one was connected to waiting before surgery.

If you were to visit Jason's room and look on his bulletin board, you will see a group of his close Chicago friends at a Edgewater bar called Hamiltons. This bar is a college hang out for the students from Loyola University-Lakeshore Campus. In the picture the 20 somethings are oviously having a good time with probably 20 plus beer bottles on the table and Jason said there are more "off camera" When Dr. Golarz, Jason's surgeon, first came to the room, he took one look at the picture and said, "Hamilton's" Now the bar background is really rather nondescript. One would have to be very familiar with the bar to take one quick look to identify it. Guess Dr. G escaped his undergrad at Northwestern by heading S into Chicago and Hamilton's. He told Jason, "Don't think less of me as a MD." Jason and he have made a commitment to "quaff a few at Hamiltons" at some time in the future.

Another Dr. G story. When Jason was first told about his poor vision, Dr. Golarz met him after one of Jason's surgeries. "Look at this" he demanded of Jason. "Do you see this?" Dr. Golarz wears an operating hat with "Go Bears" on it in bold lettering. "Do you read this?" putting his head very near Jason's face. "Go Bears" Jason obediently read. "See, you CAN read!" Dr. G said triumphantly.

Good memories for Jason that make me feel happy.
May your holiday time be filled with good memories and may you enjoy making more this year!

The Toilet Saga Continued:
A nice gentleman came by this morning and said, "I think you need a new toilet. I will tell my boss. I think you can buy one for about $60." I agreed with the man and said, "I am sure MHH has spent way more than that in my calling every day and their sending someone to come and look at the toilet and give it a try." Sigh, part of me is saying, "Isn't there a better way to spend my tax dollars?"

Jason and Dow are going to get Mexican carry in and watch a movie this evening. Col Martha has returned from Vietnam and she and I will head to Quixote Center for our Christmas liturgy and pot luck. Blessings everyone,

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

When the team decides "aggressive treatment" patient watch out!

As I wrote yesterday Jason's team decided to increase to "aggressive therapy." The MD's say that "Getting better is Jason's job." (From a mother's viewpoint I have to be honest, "Holy____!" The man arrived here Very Seriously Injured less than 9 weeks ago.) Jason had over 6 hours of therapy today and that is the new regime till he can sit and walk as the Rehab MD's have set the goal. I asked Jason if the therapy hurt, he naturally responded, "YES!!!!" (I know Aunt Barbara, PT person, "no pain no gain.") Jason said they played football-for the left arm, lots of stretches, lots of "leg stuff", lots of "let's rotate your left wrist," "Let's play tongue depressor in your mouth (to stretch jaw, can now only open half an inch or so)." Jason said that after the tongue depressor exercise "My jaw does feel more in line."

A 4 star General Cody from the Chief of Staff came by and gave Jason the expected coin but added something else-a pocket knife. I asked Jason how was the knife, "I don't know how sharp it is until Chris (visiting friend) gets closer to my bed." Jason sounded quite pleased with his remark. So I guess "all day PT/OT" didn't take it all out of him.

Jason recently had sent in an inquiry to the FBI for possible positions. Jason knows he no longer could be considered for an "active agent position" but he had a nice bedside phone call with a representative from the FBI. Today the info arrived about a FBI position of intelligence analyst with a note from the agent saying, "We didn't think we should just send a letter" so along came a nice array of gifts "collected from the office."

Around the hospital:
Dow spent the day fighting with the computer, trying to get his Loyola University class grades completed and filed.

I didn't see Jason much today as my sinus infection required a visit to the MD. It was a beautiful, but quite cold day in DC. As the MD was only less than a half mile I decided to walk. The good social workers at WR had a computer list and a number of MD's showed up at the same address. So off I go and wandered into the lobby and there was sign, "Walk in care" so I took the elevator and "walked in" to a different office than I had planned. Led by the Spirit, I found myself in the office of a woman MD from India who had attended Roman Catholic schools for her 12 years of education. Rekha was completing her work before heading off to New Zealand for her holiday break. Her office was the very bare necessity, no receptionist and she handled calls by her cell phone. She only takes cash, credit or debit card. Her walls are covered with all kinds of art, especially the Hindu representations of the aspects of God as she is beginning to study the Hindu faith because she wants to "know all the world's religions."

We had a delightful one and half hour visit in which Rekha regailed (sp) me with stories from her life (her goal is to visit every country in the world and she has very few left), her family (son and daughter) and her spiritual life. She invited me to come visit her any time I wanted to. (I wonder if we will have tea.) She wanted to know about Jason and said she would come and visit him when she returned from her trip. Such a compassionate doctor, Rekha told me of how she prepares food for one of her AIDS patients when she cooks on Sunday for the week. My body, mind and spirit was lovingly cared for and she included a week's prescription of antibiotics in the visit charge. When I stopped by to say "hi" to Jason on the way to Mologne House; the phone rang and it was Rekha wanting to introduce herself to Jason, promising to come to see him on her return.

Godde is very good and I give thanks for Love of God given
through the hands and words of
we who are all daughters and sons of God.

The Continuing Saga of the Toilet
My intuition was right: "The men came, they saw, the toilet conquered."
They added, subtracted, changed, fought with it in all their ability and it is still leaking.
So tomorrow the saga continues, I will call again....

My Visit With Jason...

My apologies, this blog entry arrives over a week late after returning home from D.C. on Thursday 12/8.

After spending nearly a week with Jason, Dow, and Katy at Walter Reed, I am amazed at Jason’s typical day, which is practically non-stop from the moment he wakes up to when he falls asleep. Between PT, OT, walking around the ward floors to build up his strength, meals, meeting visitors, medical staff visits, phone calls (especially from Jody); I don’t think he has ½ hour of uninterrupted down time.

While I am told there will be flat or down days in Jason’s PT / OT, his rate of progression is simply inspiring. Jason’s positive attitude and work ethic pushes him to walk farther each day and deal with tremendous pain often required to successfully complete his PT.

You cannot walk through the wards and therapy rooms at Walter Reed without realizing the sacrifices that these men and women have made, yet their spirits remain positive and as with Jason, they want to do what needs to be done and get on with their lives. You instantly realize that we can never fully repay them for what they have suffered and lost.

I want to thank Ron C. (parishioner at Holy Trinity) for graciously letting me stay at his home near WR and driving me to the hospital mornings / evenings, and to and from Reagan National. Staying so close to the base made a world of difference on what were long days. I still can’t image what it has been like for Katy and Dow since mid October. Thanks also to Cathy Quinn who has found places to stay for so many of Jason’s family and friends among the Holy Trinity parishioners.

I can’t recall a time in my life where I have experienced such generosity and kindness from so many strangers to Jason, his parents, and to me - proof, that often the most arduous of times brings out the best in all of us.

I hope and pray that Jason and his family experience a happy and peaceful Christmas and for Jason, a 2006 full of personal accomplishment and that he looks forward to pursuing the opportunities available to him after his Army career.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Team Meeting

The big news of the day was the team meeting. Dr. Todd and his supervisor Dr. Belkamp, 2 persons from OT- Larres and Heidi, Jason, Dow, myself and Grizell-Jason's social worker:

1. OT and PT are to be "more aggressive" in their treatment of Jason's injuries especially his locked jaw and locked hip. PT added an extra session to work on his jaw. OT thought that a wheel chair for sitting might help the right hip stretch out versus the cardiac chair that Jason favors now.
2. Team would like Jason to do an overnight at the Mologne House "to find any special needs he might have" and to "get out of the hospital atmosphere" after nine weeks.
3. Jason will not move to Mologne House until he can sit down and get up from the regular height bed and chairs at Mologne. As I will be his "non medical attendant" Jason will have to be able to do these as I cannot lift his 6'4" 200 pounds by myself. The MD projected that Jason should be able to do these within weeks of "intensive therapy" We are now looking at less than a month for him to move to out patient.
4. We are to massage Jason's scars especially those on his left arm.
4. I asked the MD about an ultimate discharge date and "if therapy goes as planned without any glitches" the MD projected a June 2006 discharge from Walter Reed. This date coincides with the earliest estimates of "about 9 months."

Other News around the hospital:
Sometimes Jason can taste food "from far away" is the only way he can explain it. The ability does not stay to taste food, he will be able to taste it one day and not the next. Right now Jason can taste chocolate, the "tangy" of ketchup and could clearly smell the orange aromatherapy from Patrice when I tried it yesterday.

One of the most basic hospital supplies is the pink plastic basin usually used for washing or storing items. In most of the patients' rooms and in Jason's they become "mini-coolers" filled with ice and the drinks of the day including:
1. Various flavors of Gatorade (thanks to Lois and Dan Jason is well stocked)
2. Favorite sodas-include Zero coke and root beer
3. Favorite Florida Naturals includes orange and grape
4. Bottled Water (DC water has serious lead problems)
5. Ensure (protein drink) Jason was good about drinking these early on but I think has now given them up.
6. Milk-chocolate is Jason's favorite right now.

I have come down with a nasty sinus infection. During the meeting the SW told me she had a list of local clinics that take non-military persons. I have to catch her tomorrow as I missed her today. I think WR should have some kind of "MD/RN practicioner" to help family members in my situation. To get a prescription when I first arrived the visit to WR ER cost $184. I do not have a car, don't know DC, and when I am not feeling at all well really don't want to take the Metro or bus to wherever. Over 4700 family members have come to WR in the last two years-that is quite a population and we spend months here or even longer.

Saga of the toilet for all you "chore handy people":
Seems like the last attempted repair did not include washers where needed. We will see what happens when we flush a few times. Don't go away, this saga may not be over yet. :-)

Blessings and Peace and Happiness this Holiday Season to every one of you and your families

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Do I hear carolling?

The Sunday before Christmas and carolling (sp) was filling Jason's room.

After lunch Jason was visited by two sets of carollers.
1. Three women in USO miniskirt and braid decorated uniforms came to see Jason. He was cheered by their friendly manner and polaroid picture now next to Fleetwood Mac's on his bulletin board. The women sang a couple of songs and gave Jason an autographed picture. One of the women with bright red lipstick kissed it, just like the 40's. The group is trying to keep the early traditions of USO entertaining alive. The women said the costume was designed (not ever worn in WWII shows) in memory of the demands of US soldiers during the USO shows in WWII. I guess the women wore longer skirts because the soldiers were always complaining, "I can't see your legs!" I thought the costumes were clever and cute and their voices fresh.

2. A little later the carollers with Maureen as lead from Holy Trinity Parish arrived to give Jason his own private carolling time. And Cookies and candy. We enjoyed the singing. After, I joined them in carolling at the RN station on the Ward so the RN's could enjoy their voices.

A special thanks to all who come to WR to "brighten the soldiers' holiday and their family members." May their goodness be blessed 3 times over.

Jason did PT in the morning with the focus being to free his locked hip.
After PT, the Spodens arrived for a visit and we all walked with Jason to the Mologne House so Jason could "preview the room" prior to the family meeting with the medicals on Monday. It took Jason about 30 minutes to make one trip to the Mologne House and 30 minutes back. It was so good we did because Jason told Dow that "It doesn't look like I imagined it." Not sure what he imagined; it is your basic hotel room big enough to hold two double beds, TV stand, dresser, and a small table.

We returned to the hospital, wished Dan and Lois great holidays as we won't see them again till the 8th and waited for Chris to come from Dan's house. It took some time as bus schedules change on Sundays, like Chicago. Jason and Chris were primed to watch the Bears and finish eating the "Chinese take in" from yesterday. I bought Chris some more Starbucks and power drinks. Dow and I headed out to dinner at a Burmese restaurant for the first time. For dessert we had what they call "cream of wheat cake" Can't describe it except you can feel the cream of wheat texture, and if you are ever offered it, "Don't pass it up!" Sure beats mess hall dining in WR.

Jasonism's
1. Jason had about a two week period of hallucinations on arrival at WR. He was very worried that he had brain damage. To check out his brain he began to spell the hardest words he knew. He tried to spell (I can't spell it)antidisantishamblemtism.......(whatever.) Then Jason told himself "I couldn't spell it BEFORE I got hit." Later on when fully rational again this would be morphed by Jason into "After I got hit, I couldn't speak French" and other variations. You get his drift...

2. You know how every patient has a pet peeve. Jason has come to hate the "tag system" WR employs. They insist that he wear a green plastic band "Fall Risk" to those who can see it under his stocking where they have it on his ankle. Can't wear it on his left arm because it irritates the scars from his operation. So he just pulls them off when the RN realizes that he is not wearing one and gives him a new one. I guess one of them is his bane. She insists he is allergic, Jason admitted he is--to cats. I told him, "Wear one and mark it "allergic to cats" as one never knows when the hospital might be invaded by marauding cats."

What happens on a Sunday evening when I am working on the blog.
"My cup overflows..." actually the toilet is overflowing, not really, it is flooding out the tank through what must be a very huge crack. Ever since we moved into the room, I have been calling and telling Mologne House, "The toilet is leaking, the bathroom floor is wet." Early this week, Dow said a guy stopped by and told him, "It is a tank problem" I asked are we getting a new one? Dow said the guy was noncommittal. Tonight we have a flood. I call the desk, no one shows. We call again, they went to the wrong room. The guy comes up with a plunger and says, "I was told the toilet is plugged." No...., it is flooding the floor when we flush it, which we do to show him and WOW he is on the phone, another guy comes up, "Need a new tank." We have heard this before... So they bring us lots and lots of towels and assure us that someone will be here very early tomorrow. Life in the fast lane at WR

Blessings everyone and in the midst of it all Godde in Her goodness gives us comic relief!

More pictures

I have added 42 pictures that Lisa sent me. They are here. The photo album has also been rearranged. There are now four subalbums off of the main album. These are Early Jason, In Iraq, Oct-Nov 2005, and December 2005.

Because of the rearrangement not all of the pictures are new in the December 2005 album. I am supposed to be getting titles for the new pictures soon. I'll post again when those titles are in place.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Weekend-Saturday

Dow began the day with Jason and discussion of what is needed before he can transition to out patient. In PT, normally on third floor but on weekends on the fifth very near Jason's ward, the PT really worked to unlock Jason's right hip. Jason can sit back on hospital bed by himself only when he raises it almost to the maximum height. He needs two people to help him get up or sit down on the bed when he sets it at normal height. Jason could not sit on the hotel room beds or get up by himself. He has no leverage because of the broken left arm problems and no right arm. Jason's core body is not strong because of his wounding and the wounding of his hips.

After PT we returned to the room and Dow went off to the room to work on his prof projects. Jason and I returned to the room for lunch and to wait for Chris to visit. (They must have had a good night out on DC for Dan's last night before deployment as Chris did not arrive till after 2PM) Chris brought another friend Paul from Chicago and the guys settled in to watch football and to eat all the snacks they hadn't eaten the night before. Knowing they were coming, I had purchased power drinks in black cans with red lettering "Power this, power that." They were happy and drank them immediately. I am sure that the conversation was lively and who knows when they will fall asleep tonight! Dan has an overnight flight, it will be a long one if he can't sleep.

Dow and I went out to eat and on the way back Dow stopped to get the guys Chinese carryin. When Dow got back the guys were set up to eat in the family room which has one of those huge TV screens watching football which makes sense because Jason's room TV is about 12 screen and would be a devil for three guys to watch. The guys couldn't eat all the Chinese so invited one of the male nurses whom Jason likes to join in! CC said that the nurses on his ward were having a shower and he was definitely not going to go. As he only had 2 patients (census is falling as we approach Christmas) CC decided to come visit patients on 58. "That's all for Saturday night in Walter Reed."

Dow and I headed for the apartment where I am working on the blog and he is doing Christmas cards.

Report for Friday/Check on phone numbers

Phone Numbers:
Got a report that some people cannot find Jason's phone number:
Jason is in room 5833, phone is 202 782 9627
Phone for Ward 58 RN station is 202 782 1558
Jason is often out of his room at PT, OT etc.

We will be having a family planning meeting with Jason's team on Monday to discuss discharge to outpatient status. MD, OT, Social Work and the three of us will be present. I will report after that meeting on the possible date for a change of residence for Jason.

Friday;
Jason is now taking showers in the Ward shower area every time he wants one. Dow is helping him with this task. Dow says, "Lots of towels are needed."

Then I caught up with them in PT where Jason was standing on a balance practice wheel about 4" off the ground. When Jason moved it tilted and he had to manuever his body to stand upright. Then Kyla gave him a ball to pull across his body with his left hand, shoulder to hip and continue to remain in balance. Jason did very well.

After PT Jason went to lunch in his room using the new utensils given to him by OT. They are designed for folks having trouble with their grip, like arthritis and folks like Jason with plates in his wrist. He could use them very well especially the knife which he used to cut up his chicken. I was impressed as his left wrist has very little motion because of the plate and the overgrowth of the healing bone.

After lunch Jason added another session of PT on his own. Jason wants to rebuild his shoulders as he lost everything he had built up in Iraq during his 3 weeks of eating very little because of surgery, etc. His PT Kyla was very surprised but happy to see him and they set to work creating exercises for both upper arms to build strength. 3 sets of ten was the norm. I got to move the weight for him. Jason takes frequent walks around the floor a few laps at a time but at the end of the day, they add up.

When we got back Chris and Dan arrived to spend the evening and Dow and I headed out to go to our first movie since coming to WR. We decided on Harry Potter (I've read the books as has Jason) over King Kong because we couldn't see ourselves sitting for three hours then going out to eat. After dinner we headed back to the room and lights out at 10PM.

I pray that your days are filled with good times for the holidays and keep Jason's recovery in your prayers, especially his vision, his hip injuries, and emotional and spiritual healing. Blessings.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Really Thursday

Jason took a shower this morning and headed for PT. A PHD (I think) in PT was with Kyla this morning trying to figure out more exercises for Jason to free his frozen right hip. After lunch Jason and I headed for OT where we met Dr. Todd. Dr. T, Jason, and John shared stories of "stupid sports things we did as kids." They had a great time talking while Jason attempted to work the prosthetic arm by picking up cones. When he oversends signals the hand turns completely around. Jason and John agreed that the arm was working much better after "its tune-up" on Tuesday with Dan from CA.

After his hour OT Jason went back to PT on his own. He and Kyla worked on a set of exercises for strengthening his upper arms-biceps, triceps, etc. So we spent another 40 minutes or so working out. I got to move the weights depending on which ones Jason wanted to lift.

After his second visit to PT Jason returned to his room and within a few moments "zonked out" on the bed. Alison came by for a visit and she and Jason later watched Family Guy together. Steve Taylor stopped by for a visit with Jason and Dow. Steve had seen Jason about three weeks ago and could not believe the change in Jason especially his ability to walk. Dow and Steve went out to dinner and when he returned Jason was happily talking to Jodi for his evening phone visit with her so Dow and I left.

Blessings and hope that you are all amidst preparing for your holiday gatherings.

Wednesday NOT Thursday Correction of Day

Sorry to everyone for the confusion; the blog entry was for Wednesday.
I typed it this morning as I was way too tired to try last night.

Thursday-Very Busy Day

Hello to all,
Thursday was a marathon for Capt Jason, the patient.
Jason and Jodi had private time while Mom and Dad worked on computers in the ward. We waited for the twentysomethings to finish "goodbye" as Jodi had to catch a flight at National. Jodi and Dow left at 9:30, Dow walked her to the Tacoma Park metro station.

In the meantime Jason and I headed to prosthetics to have the "bionic arm" adjusted. The creators of the muscle controlled via electronic/computer chip hand fly in from CA each week. Using a computer, Dan runs a program, red and blue lines representing the signals from Jason's muscles to the hand. Dan "enhances' no I think he said, "magnifies" the muscle movement in Jason's residual arm so that the hand will respond appropriately: open, close and rotate. One of Jason's muscles sent strong signals, the other weaker. Jason's arm swells when it is in the prosthesis. It is very painful for Jason to withdraw it, makes this mom's heart clench. Say a prayer that Jason can leahrn to use the prosthetic arm without pain.

After that experience, Jason and I headed for PT for more painful therapy. "No pain, no gain" has Ms. Fonda used to say really, really applies to PT. Jason's right hip socket has "locked/frozen up" giving him a very noticable limp as he walks. Dr. Todd promised Jason, "You will leave this hospital without a limp." To get there, according to PT Kyla, whom Jason really likes, working together Jason and she must "break free" the hip joint. This is done by Kyla positioning a belt around her hips and locking the belt around Jason's upper right thigh and literally attempting to pull the leg out of his socket. She holds for about 10 seconds and then releases and then tries again. Jason in the meantime is tryiing not to cry and making painful grimaces. I asked, "Do we have something Jason can squeeze? or a piece of leather for his teeth?" Now as I write this I am wondering "Some pain meds possibly prior to PT while this exercise is part of his program, if Jason will take?" After this exercise, Kyla used a small particle board to do leg side to middle exercises with Jason lying down. This is to move the joint to the left/right positions. Kyla said that Jason should be able to move to about 40 degrees while right now movement is much more limited than that. I stood by Jason's side to keep him from rolling off edge of the table.

After PT quick trip to the room for lunch and then back down to the ophthamologist the good MD Michael Garvey, now in his second career he was in Foreign Service. (He looks as young as Jason.) We did not know how long this "check up for glasses" was to take as Dr. Garvey wanted to get Jason in the regular checkup chair and could not do this until Jason was able to sit. We had tried earlier, a couple of weeks ago, but Jason could not make it into his exam chair. So the afternoon passed with eye exam after eye exam, taking photo of Jason's right eye, seeing different surgeons who had seen Jason on his arrival, surgeons who could do possible future surgery to straighten the right eye, exam for reading, etc.

It truly was a marathon and after Jason's morning, I want to you to know, I personally admire Jason's strength, his endurance, his courage. Frequently, Dr. G would ask, "Jason do you want to quit, I know this exam is longer, (later "much longer") than we expected." Jason would say, "No let's do it now so I don't have to come back." Jason did get a prescription for distance and separate reading glasses. Dr. G was surprised at the magnification needed for reading while his distant vision I believe is 20/20. Please continue to pray for the healing of Jason's sight. We did not return to Jason's room till after 5:00 as Jason wanted to "walk off the afternoon of sitting." Jason missed OT but that is how the days go when a soldier is recoverying from the wounds of war.

When we got back Jason was too exhausted to take a shower or to eat. He asked me to please take off his shoes and socks and fell immediately asleep. Dow came in and I left one very exhausted sleeping soldier with his father and I left for Quixote Center and dinner. It is good to be able to go to the Center for it is a Sacred place of peace and spiritual respite for me. I want to thank Ken and Nancy for coming out of their way to provide a ride for me. It was an adventure in driving in DC as we got lost, but everyone I know gets lost. As Nancy said, "I just explore a new part of town."

While I was waiting for them to arrive in the 2nd floor lobby, a senior was sitting alone with her walker, I decided I would speak with her. She is 87, has lymphoma and no family close by. She had arrived at 10:30 this morning and finished with her appointments at 2:30 when she called for the taxi to come and get her. I met her at 6PM and still no taxi. The officer at the info desk had sent her to the 2nd floor because the first is so cold as the doors are continually open and the temperature outside was in the low 30's. I listened to her story and prayed her taxi would arrive. When I left at 6:30 she said she was going back downstairs to check once again. After I returned from Quitoxe I checked with the officer. Yes, she had helped the patient and the taxi arrived shortly after 6:30. "It takes a village to take care of our wise elders." I hope that you can reach out to someone you know who needs a friend this Christmas and throughout the year; especially a senior: a card, a ride, a hello.

When I got back to Mologne House at about 10, I thought I would take a minute to journal as the chapel is closed for renovations. I sat on the second floor balcony alone and the foyer was quiet. Out of the 2nd floor hallway, I see a senior coming, in some distress. "Lord, I pray, my night is not ending quite yet." Iris sees me and we introduce ourselves. She has just arrived, a grandson that she raised is in ICU, just arrived Very Seriously Injured from Iraq. Iris wants to go to see her granson but the shuttle has stopped running. "I can take you if you want to walk" so off we go across campus, about 10 minutes to the "back door" of WR. Up to ICU where she and I stand by his bedside. He hears her voice and responds by moving even though he is heavily sedated. We spend some minutes, say a prayer and the RN encourages her to return to Mologne and rest for the night. The RN assures her that if anything changes in his condition, they will call her room. We walk back and I give Iris my room number and phone and say I am available to help answer questions or to have tea. (I feel "a family veteran" being here 8 weeks)

Blessings on you for your goodness and kindness
to all of us and your continued prayers for Jason's recovery.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Jason attends cooking class

For Pt Jason walked 14 circuits of the third floor. Dow said "we are definitely walking another floor" as one can get tired of the beautiful photographs freely adorning the walls. I am sure you have seen them, landscapes of the azealas, California poppies, etc. I'll try to get the name of the photographer. Dow says he saw the same photos in Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. I swear I have seen some of them at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood. Same decorator?

The big discussion of the day"Would Jason go to see the Beach Boys tonight?" when they appeared courtesy of USO. The first thing I found out"Jason needs a pass" to leave the building! Whoops, this is not a civilian hospital! So had to get the MD to give an order. Then could we get a chair large enough to be comfortable? After having a good go at it because, the ward said "No" you can't have the usual chair Jason uses, I contacted the MD who obviously doesn't outrank the wardmaster so it was up in the air all afternoon. Jason wound up not going because his friend Dan was coming to see him the last time before deployment Thursday to the Middle East, except when Dow and I checked in after the "wonderful concert down memory lane"at nine, Dan was not going to the weekend so....that is how we spent the day. They did serve a very good buffet before the concert--the hugest shrimp I ever saw! and lots of them. The deserts were truly homemade-especially the pumpkin and pecan pies.

Today Jason attended the first cooking class for amputees in OT. However, the size of the class (Dow says about 30) kept Jason from actually making Fajitas, the menu for the day. He and Jodi have been eating the Chinese carry in for all their meals. Jodi has been sorting and collecting and organizing Jason's room. Jason's room at Mologne is starting to overflow with things given him, including today's gifts--hat and a really neat jacket marked "United States Sercret Service" Do you read a potential problem?

We are in the midst of trying to get accommodations and a van for Lisa and family when they visit starting Christmas. We already have a tour of the White House scheduled for Lisa and the kids, thanks to the office of US Representative Jan Shakowsky. Not sure what will be seen or done but having three little ones; 8, 7 and 4 at Walter Reed will make for a very interesting Christmas experience.

As a grass roots activist:
Win one/loose one.
On the ten minute walk between the hospital and Mologne House, two street lights were out. They were on a path at a corner where many soldiers and family members walk after dark and now with snow/slush could be very dangerous and cause falls. I told one of the LtCol's about the problem and no action. So at the family meeting held every Monday at Mologne House I brought the topic up and Voila "the street lights are fixed!" Remember, I come from Chicag0 where we have the wards. I just have to keep figuring out the right channels of communication. I hope you all speak up in your neighborhood meetings.

I wrote about I think my problem with the foot locker locked on the patient's side of the room. I wanted to use to store Jason's "anti drop night boots" and his "leg pumpers" used to fight clots forming in the legs. On Ward 65 we could use it from the patient's side, on 58 we could not. I talked with everyone including Dr. Todd, head of Jason's Rehab team whom I am sure tried his best. Alas, the locker stayed locked. Now Jason has given up the last of these "patient attachments" and lies freely in his bed so I don't have to worry about storing them during the day. Coming from hospice where we do everything to reduce patient and family stress I really have to rate this "no exception" to an arbitrarily applied rule as a great frustrator and increase in anxiety for me. I feel no one on the floor listened to me. "It was a small thing" to the staff but very important to me as a parent of a very seriously wounded soldier. I think hospitals should try to listen to the needs of the family members of wounded soldiers; we are in enough anquish, we don't need arbitrary rules.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Jason Takes a Shower

Hello to all
Jason took his first shower today by himself, not in the room shower but in the bathing area. The aide wanted Jason to use a bath chair but Jason cannot sit by himself and can not get up by himself. Jason said "I'll take a shower by myself!" which he did. Scott his aide only had one anxious moment. Jodi's mom RN had recommended that Jason hold the shampoo with his residual arm and pour into his left hand. The first wash Jason said worked well, but the second time he was all soaped up so his right armpit wouldn't hold the soap so it fell. "Crash" Scott, of course I am sure, had visions of Jason falling in the shower! Jason said he felt so much better having his first shower in almost 8 weeks. He will be able to take a shower whenever he wants from here on out.

In PT time was spent trying to loosen up Jason's right hip (Dow said that Jason was in tears from the workout) and in OT time was spent trying to break up the excess bone in his left arm. After that Jason had to go to the dental lab for the panaramic picture of his jaw trying to get an idea why he cannot open his mouth. So he was gone from his room about 6 hours today. He walked about 11 laps of the floor today, 8 in PT and 3 more before we left the building this evening.

Jason had one visitor today especially for you country music fans Carly Goodwin, left a picture and a CD.

Jodi and Jason had carry out Chinese for dinner then watched the latest version of the "Dukes of Hazzard" Jason's very favorite TV show when he was little. In fact, one day he ran through the house and we watched in amazement as he flung himself at the patio door in the kitchen. KaBam, he almost knocked himself out! "Jason why did you do that?" Seems like the Duke boys had just jumped through the window on the TV show! He was going to give it the "good ole boy" try.

Dow and I spent the dinner hour at Nora (age 2) and Keary and Lisa's home. It was fun to be with a two year old and her proud parents. Thank you so much for your hospitality.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sunday at WR

As you know Sunday is quiet at WR.
Jason tried to go to PT but the room on the 5th floor was way too hot today! So Jason stayed in the hall and did stretches and steps and walked the circuit around the floor. Jason slept in today as PT was not until 10:30.

Jodi arrived about then and I headed off to liturgy with the Catholic community to celebrate Gaudate Sunday or the third Sunday of Advent. I often wondered as a child why we were to rejoice halfway through Advent. This year I do rejoice that Jason is alive and doing well each day. I rejoice in the friendship offered by so many people to Jason and ourselves.

Today was another day of feeding himself and Jason now can hold a gatorade bottle, 4 oz juice box, or styrofoam cup to drink from. Because of his wrist problems Jason cannot use a spoon, he cannot manipulate it. Jason must eat with a fork or with his fingers. His daily breakfast is a bagel which I slather with cream cheese and slice into strips. There has been little improvement in his taste, smell or ability to open his mouth almost 2 months after his injuries.

Jodi and Jason watched football while I went to the mess hall for lunch. There I met another mother whose son was injured about a month ago. Her soldier, her only son, lost both legs to an IED. When Lisa and I met her, the family had just arrived from Germany. Today she told me when the army notified her, the person said something to this effect, "We only send families to Germany if there is a probability that the soldier may die." This really upset her and she still is in anquish about how she was told her son was injured. When she met us that first evening, she was overwhelmed and passed out on the floor in the dining hall. She wound up in the ER. My heart goes out to each family I meet. They are the true heroes of America, loving their children passionately; they teach me how much Godde loves us. For Godde loves us more than the human who loves us the most and these families really, really love one another. They stand with their children in horrible pain and suffering. It brings tears to my eyes, I honor them and ask Godde's blessings upon each of them and their soldiers.

After lunch Jason wanted to watch Best in Show a comedy about dog shows and the people who show dogs. It was fun but I couldn't sell Jason on making microwave popcorn that had come in a Christmas goodie bag given to him. So we laughed and enjoyed the silliness of it all. Before I left for dinner and the apartment we walked with Jason around the floor three more times. So Jason keeps walking and it is so good to see him standing in all his 6' 4."

May you rejoice this Gaudate Sunday in all the blessings and gifts given to you especially the gift of life and your own uniqueness.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sat Jodi arrives

Hi to all,
I have the vaporiser on and thanks to Contact slept from 10 to 6 am, plan to do the same tonight. Jodi arrived at about 10:30 in plenty of time to go to PT on the fifth floor. Jason was not too happy (Jason was hoping for Jason 2 who gives him a good workout) because a new PT was there and she did not do a routine but asked Jason what he wanted. Jason did crunches and lateral stretches to the point that he actually was sweating. Jodi and he walked the halls with me behind with the "back up chair." I don't know if he needs a back up but he reported vertigo while he was exercising on the mat so I thought I had better bring it. I guess he will need another "vertigo treatment." Jason also complained of pain in his right eye so he will see the opthamologist this coming week. Also the dermatologist for his skin-face and breakdown on his elbow.

After we took Jason back to his room, I took Jodi off to where she is staying, with the directors Mary and Diann of WATER (Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual) and their daughter Men whom they adopted from China 4 years ago. Jodi is staying an easy 15 minute walk N on Georgia in their home which is a block or so behind the Center. We took a quick tour of Silver Springs-Hollywood to return films and Whole Foods for a Jamba Juice then headed back to the hospital. Jason was relaxing on the bed watching CNN and complaining the news was "fluff." Donald Rumsfeld visited the ward and saw four patients, Jason was interested in seeing him but Jason wasn't one of the soldiers chosen. I was expecting to see MP#1 who is huge (He was with Ms. Pace and the British Ladies) lurking in the halls and then I would have known where the visitors were. Didn't catch site of anyone so they must have been short visits.
We had purchased sandwiches at Whole Foods so we offered some to Jason who wasn't eating today except a bagel at breakfast and an Ensure. It was about 4PM and Jodi was going to take Jason for another walk. I was too tired by this time and headed back to the apartment. Jodi and Jason would watch a movie later.

As a chaplain:
A lot of patients were discharged over the last couple of days. Today we got a new patient fresh out of surgery. A very, very young soldier just out of basic who slipped on the slush/ice and broke her leg badly. She had run out her cell phone and needed to make a call to her duty officer and didn't know what to do. Jason had the same RN and she told us of the plight of the dead phone so I asked if I could go next door to see if I could be of some help. I took Dow's which I don't know how to operate (you all know me and cellphones). I asked the soldier what she needed and called 411 to get the number of the fort which got me its fire department, then the police department of the post. (You can't use the room phones without a phone card and they take so long to use and my soldier was crying real tears from the pain and being alone. So that is why I used the cell and called 411) She finallly got her duty officer who talked to her. I went and talked to the RN at the desk who said the patient could call her and she would put the phone call through for her. I asked the soldier, "What would you like to eat or drink?" like Jason she had been nauseated from the anesthetic. When Jodi and I went to Whole Foods we got her a Jamba Juice, grapes, baby carrots and Jelly Belly beans ( a dad of another soldier gave a jar of about 2 pounds to Jason). She liked the Jamba Juice and seemed to be feeling better. WR may keep her an extra day because of her pain issue. I will try to see her on Sunday if I can.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Katy has a cold

Hello to all, Dow is in Chicago where I hear it is snowing and planes are "driving through the neighborhood" Here I have come down with an old fashioned cold while trying to keep Jason's room free from germs. So I am keeping my distance from my son, the patient. I asked the RN Lt Col and she said, "Rest, lots of fluids." So sad to say WR hasn't yet found a better way to treat the cold. BTW, while Uncle Bob was visiting we went to a lunch-time lecture on how Dr. Walter Reed and a group of researchers tamed yellow fever in Cuba a hundred years ago. Very interesting but not helpful for my virus. Jason is getting a decubitis on his left elbow now that it is out of the cast. The dermatology MD will make a visit on Monday.

Jason's day started with PT and Kyla having him work the same cones they use to practice in OT. However it was more painful as Kyla kept them out of reach with Jason working his lateral muscles as she moved to his right and left and Jason tried to stack them. They also played catch with a smaller sized football to help Jason's grasp, move the left arm, etc. A friend from Blacksburg days visited the evening before and left scrubs. Jason had not worn long pants since Iraq, so he thought he would give them a try today. The only problem is that he has lost 30 pounds so as Jason and Kyla attempted to walk today, the pants literally would not stay up! They had to go back to the room and get shorts. It did cut the walking time short, so he didn't set a new personal best.

Jason's visitors included a 18th Corp Sgt Major who left Jason a coin. Andrea and Spencer (retired Navy) returned with Captain bars for his uniform and a Navy sweatshirt. They spent OT with Jason while I headed back to the apartment for a rest. Later on while trying to get Jason's dinner ready, I sent the tray spilling onto the floor. Thankfully the medic found an extra dinner because patients had left the hospital, so Jason fed himself dinner Turkey Marsala with noodles using the wonderful bed tray from Lois and Dan. (I took a picture) After dinner another Blacksburg friend who is a teacher in Richmond, stopped by so I headed out to see if I can get some sleep with the help of Contact.

Jason has a question "Does anyone know the names of songs by P. O. D. ?" Jason says he will pay a quarter if you can provide. He has their songs on his IPOD but could not remember them today. They were to visit Jason in his room but we think they came while he was at OT. Tomorrow Jodi comes for the weekend. I will try to stay out of the way and spend time recuperating and drinking OJ.

And as chaplain:
We have been graced to have a baby girl named Gracie visiting with her dad in the room next door. While they have been with us, she took her first steps and was running in her walker gotten by her granddad. Today soldier dad age 25 was transferred by ambulance to a Rehab center in Richmond. We had to say "Goodbye" to Gracie and this wonderful family. A friend of our daughter Lisa had sent her a bottle of water from a shrine called Lourdes in France. I have blessed Jason with this healing water. Sophia prompted me to offer a blessing with the family. They are Lutheran but attended the RC liturgy on Sunday. (I told them, "Luther had it right, you know, especially about married priests." the first time I met them after mass.) I asked if they would like a prayer by bedside, they readily agreed. So his wife and parents, Gracie was with an Aunt, said a prayer and each person blessed this very seriously wounded soldier. We said a prayer and the patient responded to our saying of the Our Father. Graced moments and a goodbye, Jesus is present when two or more are gathered in His name.

As I left, as all too frequently, gurneys were lined up in the lobby to receive soldier patients from Iraq or Afghanistan. I stopped by the chapel as I always do before coming back to the apartment to say a prayer for Jason. I also said a prayer for these soldiers and their families that I am sure are gathering at Walter Reed just as we did 7 weeks ago. May God hold their beloved soldier and them in the palm of God's hand this night. Please remember all the soldiers injured or killed in this war and their families and communities.

Move successful

As you noticed I was successful in moving the blog to the new location.

I have also made a backup copy of the blog here. That will NOT be updated simulataneous with the current location. I plan to make backups once a week and have them show up there.

This blog will be moving

The new address will be http://captjason.blogspot.com (if it is still available). I will do the switch over at midnight EST time December 8th. That will be 0500 UTC on Friday December 9.

If for some reason that address is not available when I do the switch you can find the correct one by going to my blog where I will have Captain Jason in my blogroll about halfway down on the right side. I will also post about it on my blog. That post will stay at the top of my blog for another week. You should also be able to do a google search for "Captain Jason" and find my blog and then the link to new location of this blog from there.

I thought I could leave a forwarding address behind but it doesn't appear that I can do that. Once it moves to the new address the old address become vacant, visitors will receive a "404 Error-Page not found.", and someone else can put up their blog immediately.

I have post-dated this posting so it will stay at the top until that time. Look below for new postings until then.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wednesday/Thursday

Hello to all,
Dow was off to Chicago and Loyola University. Dennis was off to Darien so Thursday is a quiet day. Jason's firsts included: He was up to 10 times around the floor, about 8000 feet give or take a few, so I figure he will be adding up the miles pretty quick. Jason was weighed the first time today and is at 202.7 pounds. He thinks he lost about 30 pounds since being injured.

Other firsts included:
First time to eat left handed with fork-chicken parmeson and noodles.
shave with an electric razor, left handed without a mirror, left only a couple
of very small spots. Did a great job.
Holding a small cup, Jason drank a 16 oz Jamba juice "It feels so good to hold
my own cup."

Jason's hearing is returning: We had to take down the clock as it was ticking too loud and we had to turn off the "leg pumpers" because they make too much noise so he couldn't fall asleep. We turn them back on after he falls asleep. The bed no longer makes the hum (became white noise for Jason) as he is now in the normal hospital bed. With the butt vac gone, when Patrice came to visit she remarked, "It is so quiet in here" and then began to list the "noisemakers" that caused the various hums, now all removed.

The team of medicals wants to hold a family meeting next week to talk over what must be done Jason skill and support-wise so he can go outpatient and move to the Malogne House. I have a feeling by the first of the year, WR wants him to be outpatient. With no surgeries planned at this time, what remains is therapy and Jason can walk over from the Malogne House each day for his morning PT and afternoon OT sessions. Today Patrice and I tried to get Jason out of bed to go to OT. We got him stuck at a funny angle and I yelled "Nurse." I think there is a way to go before I will be comfortable being the "non-medical assistant" with Jason at 6' 4" and over 200 pounds, this momma cannot do much. I worry about his vertigo, etc. If Jason were to fall, there would be nothing I could do; we'd both go down and that would definitely not be a pretty sight. The plan is for Dow to return to work and I to stay at WR until my Family Leave is up and then we would go from there.

For entertainment: Jason got Best of Show and the. I also got a few other movies so Jodi and he can watch movies this weekend to pass the time. Tonight Dan will visit and tell Jason of his visit to the Middle East this past week. With Dow gone, I am doing the moring shift and this morning I couldn't get to sleep after he left at 4:30 so I am going to the room to hopefully get a good night's sleep. Went to the Quixote Center on Wednesday for liturgy, as usual a blessing of peace and lots of good food after! Martha is off to Vietnam, blessings on the journey.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Good News

Dr. Golarz and all his entourage, about 5 surgical interns (like there is room for nothing when they all come together-reminds me of all the MD TV shows) stopped by late in the afternoon and checked Jason's bottom wound, the one that had the infamous "butt vac" and declared; "It is abut the size between knuckles, healing well now; very shallow no need for a skin graft!" YES, really this is the "Good News" according to Dr.G, Go Bears! Go Hamiltons (bar which both Jason and he frequented in Rogers Park (although at different time periods)

Today was visit from your Congresswomen Day (not "men" as Dow kept saying, you know me and inclusive language). For those of us who believe in synchronocity I was amazed at this event. Jason is planning a move to Florida. For the Republican side of the aisle, first came the present congresswoman from Florida of "hanging chad" fame, Ms Katherine Harris who gave Jason a coin, guess Congress is following the Armed Forces on this tradition. Got to admit it looks really cool. Jason did ask her for a job, she replied, "Call me when you are ready." For the Democratic side of the aisle we had a long visit with Rep. Jan Shakowsky from the 9th Congressional District of Illinois which is presently Jason's home district. Jan gave Jason a lap blanket with a picture of the capitol and accompanied Jason to OT where she and her aide watched as Jason manipulated his right hand to pick up cones. What are the chances of visits from two Congresswomen, one from a state where Jason resides, one from a state where he is thinking of moving?

In PT Jason set a new record: 7 laps with no sitting or stopping! later we did another three laps so in total Jason did 10 circuits around the inside of the building today! The Captain is walking! (I think I am prouder than when Jason took his very first steps 28 years ago. These steps are seven weeks after "he rode an IED of war") In OT, Jason showed Rep. Shakowsky how his prosthetic is working feeling sorta bad that it is fixed and he couldn't do the "blender thing."
(Just kidding) Jason spent his time picking up cones from a stack, I was impressed as this was my first time to see him use the "hand prosthetic." Jan too was very impressed with his skill remembering that Jason just received it in working order a week ago.

Visitors today
The Major General of the Army Nursing Corp. She told Jason she has "52% of the world." I believe that her offices are in Hawaii, not a bad place for an office. She gave Jason a coin and Jason said, "All the medical nursing staff was a twitter" today during the visit. She is the Supervisor of every Army RN in the world. A lot of healing energy in one department. (I think of the monument to the military nurses on the Mall here in DC. If you haven't seen it, do the next time you visit. It takes your breath away.)

A group of volunteers named "Brave, Bold and Couragous" brought Jason an overnight bag filled with items that he might need. Also included were tee shirts, toiletry items, and socks. Jason liked the fleece work out clothes the best.

Our last visitors were sent by Holy Trinity and spent time to introduce themselves and went for a walk with Jason, brother and sister Anthony F. Marra from FannieMae and Jenny Marra from Exxon Mobil. Both are lawyers. They offered to help with Jason's care if possible and would like to visit again. Jason said, "Sure" so he has two new friends from Holy Trinity parish.

As CGJung wrote, "Bidden or unbidden God is present" on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and Palastine and the healing wards of Walter Reed. May you remember that God journeys with you through Advent until Jesus comes again in our hearts and in our midst. Many blessings as I think of all of you, your prayers, your good thoughts and your compassion today.

Info from CAUSE

I received the following email today. They are offering to help Jason as well as others:

I don't see a way to include attachments on this blog so I put them on my web site:

http://www.joehuffman.org/Jason/05Causelibrary.pdf
http://www.joehuffman.org/Jason/c-delapplication.pdf


From:
info@cause-usa.org
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 9:15 AM
To: blog@joehuffman.org
Subject: Captain Jason

Joe,

I am a volunteer with Cause, a group that does various and sundry things for soldiers recuperating at Walter Reed (www.cause-usa.org). A colleague sent me an excerpt from Capt. Jason Scott’s blog (see below) regarding access to DVDs etc.

I thought you might be interested to know that Cause has established a digital entertainment library at the Mologne House that has more then 1500 DVDs, video games, and audiobooks, along with the equipment needed to play the games and digital media. We would love to extend borrowing privileges to inpatients in the wards but for now, unless they have a family member or friend willing to fetch and carry items back & forth from the Mologne House for them, we do not have the means to make that wish operational. But if Jason has family members or friends nearby who can pick up things and return them to the Mologne House we would be delighted to open a library account for him and for any other inpatients with a similar support system.

I’m attaching some application info. Additional info on the library can be found at http://www.cause-usa.org/main/home.cfm?Category=C-DEL&Section=Main

If you have any questions, please give me a call. Also, feel free to use your blog to get the word out about the library. We want to make it accessible to as many soldiers as possible…plus, of course, we would welcome donations of new video games and DVDs.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lau
Cause Volunteer
202 965 0693

Below is an interesting read taken from Capt Jason Scott's blog, maybe there is something CAUSE can do to help.

"Frustration of the day:

American Red Cross located in the hospital had told us that each Ward RN station had DVD's for view. Ward 58 has none, said the few they had "went home when the patients went home" Ward 57 who Ross Perot adopted at the beginning of the war supposedly has a cache which they guard like a "dog in a manger!" actually I would say "pitbull in a manger" according to Dow. So alas, no DVD when Jason wants a movie which is his very favorite way to pass the time and always was a great interest of his. So if you have a spare DVD or VHS, I say, "Bring them on" by mail to Ward 58 and let us replenish their stash and Ward 57 can "take a leap (into second place in number of DVD's)."

Taken from: http://www.ltjason.blogspot.com/

A day late/computer ate blog

Good News/ Bad News
Jason had his cast taken of his left arm today.
Good news Jason's arm is healing. Bad news, it is not healing correctly.
The MD's said that in wounds of this kind, often the body's healing process is "tricked" and this time Jason's body is tricked into healing the two bones, as described in Uncle Bob's assessment, as if they are only ONE. That is, the space between the bones is also filling in with new bone growth. The MD's recommended exercises to try to "free" the space (I wasn't present at the explanation). They will keep a watch and further surgery may be necessary to remove this excess healing bone being layed in by Jason's body. At this time Jason cannot turn his wrist "palm up" The OT gave Jason exercises to help with the mobility of his thumb and wrist. Jason has 3 long surgical wounds with prominent stitch marks probably each 1/3 away around his arm. I would say they vary in length from 5 to 10 inches. (I felt queasy when I saw the fresh scars, knowing he may face more surgery. Please pray that Jason's arm heals correctly.

One therapy that I haven't described yet is "What to do for vertigo?" Jason suffers from vertigo caused by the IED bomb blast. Again, I apologize because I am not medical. My understanding is, our inner ear the cochlea has tiny crystals that act like a gyroscope and keep us standing. The bomb blast broke the crystals loose and because they are floating around in Jason's ear he can't balance sometimes. Like when he stood up in the moving elevator and passed out. The therapy exists of rolling Jason's around in a circle while he is lying on a table in a very specific pattern "to float the crystals home." (I took pics, hope to get to web soon.) Imagine the crystals being turned through the cochlea pattern till "they come to rest" The specialist I believe told Jason that new ones will grow. Jason felt really good after the first treatment a week ago and felt okay after the "two circles" today (although watching Jason turn, I was sorta getting dizzy.) Laurie, PT who was helping, said,"Don't worry Jason if you vomit because I have another set of clothes." (the woman knows how to be reassuring :-)) I guess vomiting must be a side effect of the treatment, like when you ride a roller coaster. Jason appeared fine. Let us pray that his vertigo heal without side affects.

In PT Jason set a record, he did 6 circuits round the 3rd floor without an assist. He was rightfully proud of this feat. It was so neat to make the round because staff who know him stopped in the hall and said, "Good job Jason." I got a picture of the DON on the 65th ward. She is a really nice major who had been a birthing nurse and was recently called to active duty by the army. She was with us when Jason had just arrived from Germany and really tried to provide the best quality of nursing care that WR would permit her. The major said, " I knew you were tall, but to see you standing..." Everyone on Ward 58 smile big smiles to see Jason up and walking. All the staff really want him to succeed and play such an important part in his recovery process. Blessings to all the good people and roles they fill in Jason's healing process.

Dow is busy preparing to return to Chicago for some work related meetings fro the 8th to the llth, Jodi will be coming to visit. Let us pray that Jodi does well on her finals this week.

We went to Whole Foods to buy Jason a Jamba Juice but the Jamba juice gift card is not accepted by this WF computer. I know some folks have talked about getting JJ cards for Jason, please don't until WF's gets this problem straightened out. IF you do come to visit, do stop by WF's in Silver Spring and purchase one for Jason, Original size with citrus/sour flavor and a boost of protein. Jason is fun to watch drinking a JJ because he really likes them and will "drink them down in one gulp" However right now he immediately breaks out in double goose bumps by the time he finishes the drink. So I put a sheet on Jason, often add a blanket or turn the heat up to 80 degrees. I think Jason would drink as many as we would bring even if it resulted in a "brain freeze."

Dennis has been a good support for Jason and us; spending time with Jason in OT and PT while we chased the Christmas letter and movies for Jason. One called Aeon Flux, I guess from MTV-late at night. Dow asked theBorders clerk, "for my son". The clerk, young guy in his 20's looked at Dow very funny and asked, "How old?" When Dow replied, "28" the guy said, "cool" and went to help him find it. (it is definitely not a Disney cartoon) The USO brought in a wonderful dinner prepared by restaurants including Shula's which Dennis said is a very good one. We had a pasta, fish cake to die for, a Belgium stew (too peppery for me) a wonderful mixed green salad, variety of deserts, and beef so tender you could cut it with a fork. Very good except it arrived hours late (after 8 PM) because of the snarled traffic from the snowy conditions, 5 inches forcasted. So while we waited, we ate chocalotes for appetisers and Jason did another 2 laps around the floor.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Adventure in Silver Springs

First to Jason's day
PT this morning included:
  1. 8 pound weights on Jason's legs, 5 sets of 12
  2. 100 crunches/situps while on PT table
  3. 60 bridges (buttock tucks)
  4. leg stretches
  5. 2 laps around the floor w/o chair as backup.

Col Martha stopped after PT to wash Jason's hair. She is a wonderful friend and nurse to Jason, one of the angels in his life. Lois and Dan Spoden (more angels) made their Sunday afternoon visit bringing VHS movies including John Wayne, a fresh supply of lime gatorade, a VT tee shirt and a very nice bedside tray to use when Jason gets his cast off, hoping Monday. Other visitors included a Troop of Boy Scouts from Clifton VA bringing goodies. Officers from Ft. Belvoir left Jason his 10th commerative coin. (I will try to take a picture this week so you all can see what the coins look like.) Martha says people put them in a window box frame for display.

This afternoon Jason watched football and cheered for the Bears. His heart had been broken because VT lost to Florida State while his older sister cheered because she graduate from FSU in 19-- and is the biggest fan of Bowden that I know. The charge nurse said it WAS NOT Jason but there is now a sign on all bedroom doors reading, "Please be aware of noise levels during sleeping hours." I will confess that my son, Captain in the US army was cheering rather loudly past 11 PM last night as he tried to encourage his team from his bed here in DC. Jason liberally uses "tanker language" also called "colorful idioms" to encourage the Hokies, allas to no avail.

Okay now on to the adventure in "Kinko-ing"

I wanted to write a Christmas letter for family and friends. Because getting to a printer is like climbing Mt. Everest at WR, we decided to use the "magic wand" I don't know what the computer literate call that little stick you stick into the computer and download whatever and carry in your pocket or as Dennis said, "Women wear as jewelry" I said "Dennis I minister as a hospice team member. We do not wear computer "thing a ma gigs" " So Dow looked up Kinkos on the computer and it gave us map, phone etc. We gaily set out for the 2+ mile walk to Silver Springs to eat lunch and do an "easy chore." Not so fast... Near where we thought the map told us to go, we call and check in with Kinko's who say "You are going the wrong way."

In the Whole Foods where we get the Jason's Jamba Juice Dow says, "I will run this back to WR with the JJ for J while you wander the streets of Silver Springs looking for the elusive Kinko's." Where is a GPS when I need one? (our Prius has one and ministering in home health I would forever be lost without it). This very nice man waiting in line at WF's overhearing us says "This IS the way to Kinkos" (angels are everywhere) and tells us "where to go" which is a very nice thing to do in this instance! Actually, the map we had was right, the employee of Kinko's who was standing in the building (talking to us on the cell) was wrong!

So Dow heads with JJ for J in hand, I wonder/wander through Silver Springs find the Kinko's walk in and it hits me, "Expletive deleted (sorta the words used as Jason watched the Hokies loose) Dow has the magic wand in HIS pocket! I call Jason's room, "Dennis, have Dow email the files to Kinko's when he gets there!!!" As I am talking to Dennis in my quiet subdued voice in the middle of Kinko's, who walks in the door but Dow. Adventure over, fade to black and a very, very long wait to be waited on but that is another story!

Blessings on this 2nd Sunday of Advent,

The Past Week

I spent the last week with Jason relieving Dow and Katy so they could do whatever they need to do. First, I want to give a sincere thank you to Bill and Vira Sisolek for their excellent hospitality, providing me a place to stay while on the visit. Also, thanks to Lisa for arranging all of this.

The week at Walter Reed Medical Center was quite interesting. You see injuries of all sorts that bring to light the cost of any war. Mostly, I saw amputees, as I followed Jason around for his PT and OT, and such therapy is primarily devoted to the amputees at Walter Reed. I have to say I was impressed by the attitude of all the soldiers I met - no anger, no bitterness, just a positive spirit of moving on with their lives, solving the problem at hand, etc. Perhaps out of politeness such feelings are suppressed in a social setting, perhaps they surface later outside the boundaries of Walter Reed. But I never detected such feelings from any of the numerous soldiers I came into contact.

I had a chance to review some of Jason's x-rays. Not all of the exams were available for review as apparently some were taken in Germany and not easily accessible from the Walter Reed viewing station I was at. I was able to look at radiographs of Jason's left forearm, a single frontal view of his pelvis, and a CT scan of his face.

The film of his left forearm showed a shrapnel wound to the distal radius and ulna. The fragment appeared to pierce the soft tissue between the two bones, causing some fragmentation of the edge of the radius and causing an oblique fracture of the ulna. Plates and screws were applied to the radius and ulna for fixation of the bones (so they heal straight and don't move during the healing). I didn't see the acute films (presumably taken in Germany or Iraq) without the plates. I was relieved to see that the actual wrist joint was uninvolved. The very end of the radius was not fractured, so that the joint surface with all the small wrist bones is intact and he shouldn't have any arthritis or problems with movement on a skeletal basis. I believe the distal joint between the radius and ulna (involved in turning your palm up or down) was also uninvolved. My concern over where the shrapnel pierced was that there might be some injury to the median nerve (famous for being involved in carpal tunnel problems with people who are on keyboards a lot). Although it is difficult to know because Jason has a cast on, and so cannot move his fingers and thumb very well on that basis, he does show flexion of the fingers (as much as you can with the cast on), and appears to be able to move his thumb, although there is some stiffness in the thumb. His cast could come off Monday, so we should know more about the status of the function of his fingers (such as gripping the hand, flexing the fingers and thumb, etc.). The plates will probably stay in, unless down the line they cause some irritation. Taking the plates out just means another surgery.

The x-ray of Jason's pelvis showed several shrapnel fragments. I don't know when the x-ray was taken (i.e., before or after some surgery). I saw at least 10 shrapnel fragments extending from right to left. One was of fair size (2 cm if I recal), on the right medial inferior aspect. As there was only one view available, you could not assess the anterior-posterior (front-to-back) position of the fragments. All his pelvic bone, however, looked intact. There were no fractures. In particular, his hip joints looked completely normal. It would have been really valuable to see a CT scan of his pelvis. I'm sure one was done, but probably in Iraq or Germany. Not all shrapnel fragments are removed - it takes too much time to try to find them. And the vast majority sit in soft tissue (e.g., muscle, fat), are very tiny, and don't cause any problem. However, should there arise a problem from a shrapnel fragment, it can certainly come out (surgery). And, many of the fragments I saw could have been removed. I just don't know when the pelvic x-ray was taken and when he had surgery. Unfortunately, I never really got to speak to Jason's surgeon to ask about his pelvic wounds.

Jason's facial CT was impressive. His main injury was to his right maxillary sinus, which sits just underneath the orbital cavity. The CT scan showed extensive fragmentation of the lateral and medial walls of the sinus. There essentially were innumerable tiny "snowflakes" of bone from the injury, with much soft tissue swelling. There were likely very tiny shrapnel particles in the area as well. There were fractures of the floor of the orbit (which is the roof of the maxillary sinus), and I saw a chip fracture off a part of his mandible (probably the coronoid process). This latter fracture likely explains his tenderness in the middle of his right cheek, and is also likely causing pain as he tries to open his mouth (and he can only open his mouth slightly now). This mandibular fracture should heal, and he should be able to open his mouth normally as the fracture heals, but he needs to exercise this to help recover mobility. His temporomandibular joints were completely unaffected on the images I saw, so restriction of movement of his jaw is not due to any injury there. Looking at Jason, I have to say the ENT surgeon did a remarkable job. He basically had to reconstruct Jason's maxilly sinus. The walls of that sinus are extremely thin, and as I said above, were essentially obliterated on the inner and outer sides. I didn't get to speak to the ENT doc who did the surgery, so I can't comment any further.

Jason's right orbit, on the CT scan, seemed indirectly affected from the blast. No shrapnel was seen in the orbit, and the optic nerve looked intact. The floor of the orbit should heal fine. But I was wondering why the loss of vision in his right eye. I can only guess this is do to the compression blast effect on the globe (the eyeball and retina) and optic nerve, causing a shearing force effect, and so disrupting the connections between the receptors in retina and optic nerve. I never got to speak to the opthalmologist, but I did speak to one surgeon who confirmed that shearing injuries to nerves are seen with these blasts (IED's, grenades, etc.). I have no idea if any of these severed connections will reconnect improving Jason's vision in his right eye. His vision in his left eye, however, seemed to me to be good, and I suspect should be normal with corrective glasses.

Medical details aside, I think Jason is definitely getting stronger. I saw this in the brief week I was there. He is very stiff and weak around the right hip, but this is improving. On Saturday, I also saw him knock out several situps (abdominal or stomach crunches). It was like watching a recruit in boot camp. Quite impressive. In fact, a major general involved with recruitment was there watching (he had a son in PT that day who was also injured in Iraq), and was also very impressed. So, I expect Jason will be looking pretty buff here shortly!

All in all, a very interesting week. It is reassuring to know our soldiers get the care they need and have numerous benefits extended to them. I saw numerous families attending to their soldier. Jason's recovery will be long and arduous, but he has the family support and good attitude needed for a successful recovery.