Captain Jason

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


Snail Mail:

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

Phone: 202 577 0092

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

And Jason Awoke and Said, "Awesome!"

And Jason Awoke and Said, "Awesome!"

Let us flashback through Jason's day of surgery.
The alarm sounded at 4:30 AM even after Jason's evening of celebrating Mardi Gras (I didn't learn about the wine till after the surgery.) I knew this was going to be a long, long day and asked G_d's blessing upon it. Monday night I had told Jason that he was surrounded by the love and good thoughts and many prayers from friends and family throughout the country. I experienced each of you surrounding Jason with your Loving Presence before, during and after surgery. I felt Jason wrapped in love and I was at peace; praying that he too would be at peace before and during this difficult surgery to come.

I woke Jason up, he grumbled. Jason washed, shaved and dressed himself in shorts and tee shirt as he knew he would be putting on a gown when we got to the 6th floor. We walked out into lightly falling snow and as we wound our way across campus, I thought of the flocks of robins that we had seen on Sunday and Monday on the campus. I thought of spring and new life the arrival of the robins tell us is coming and prayed that Jason's surgery would be a "new spring" for him as he has struggled so to sit and walk these past months.

We arrived at the 6th floor admitting area to be greeted by a "woman way too cheerful" for 5:30 AM in the morning. She looked up at Jason, "Come this way sir, I need to get you extra long pajamas." Jason wound up in his own room to change as I needed to help him dress. We sat and waited to be taken down to the 4th floor for OR and Jason read "Peace Kills" (I thought "...whatever relaxes him." He had been reading it Monday night till I said, "Jason, I think we need to turn off the light"-10:30).

Soon "woman way too cheerful" was back wanting to lead us down to the elevator a 1/2 hallway away. She started off at a good pace which disgruntled Jason as he could not keep up with her; he and I trailed behind. "Woman way too cheerful" caught herself when she realized that we were not with the patients at the elevator. Gaily, she cried out, "I am holding the elevator, don't hurry." (I laugh as I type. I think her job should be given to a pleasant introvert. Maybe she overcompensates for the anxieties of pre-op patients and family members. She was even too much for me; an extrovert and a morning person.)

Down we went, and going down today felt like going "to the bowels of the earth" for me. "Woman way too cheerful" handed us over to the OR prep-op RN who immediately recognized Jason as she had been his nurse for his October and November surgeries. Lydia was so glad to see and experience Jason up and walking; she beamed and her happiness for Jason was contagious to me. She said, "You were is such bad shape when you first arrived. Now look at you." I thought, "Lydia, you remember, you remember."

We were taken to a curtained pre-op cubicle filled with the machinery of modern hi-tech medicine. Lydia brought in one guerney which the anesthestist did not like, obviously the machine had given him a hard time before so he requested another. (They all look the same to me.) Lydia returned with an acceptable guerney and Jason climbed on. Jason was asked questions including "I can give you a block (in the right leg) for four or ten hours. Do you have a preference?" Jason replies, "I'll take the ten." I thought, "Good choice Captain." Jason asks about meds to block the after-surgery nausea and vomiting (Thank you Ginger Williams for telling us about them.) MD assures Jason that he will give him the meds via the IV. Jason doesn't like Foley catheter; the MD assures him they will put it in after Jason is under anesthesia.

Jason and the MD's get into a discussion of Iraq, all have been there for a tour. They talk about weapons, the IED and how it injured Jason. The MD talks about seeing a teen get "cut in half" via gunfire by the American soldiers who ordered him to stop running and he didn't. Jason enters into the conversation openly and with energy.

During this conversation the MD is connecting all the leads to the monitors and the IV tubes that Jason will have during surgery. My heart clenches to see my son being prepared for this surgery, only the third time the MD's will have attempted it. He announces, "All your vitals are good. Mom, give your son a kiss goodbye; it is time for him to sleep." I go to the guerney; give my handsome son Jason a kiss goodbye, "I love you, I will see you when you wake up." Jason looks so young, like a young and innocent boy now; not an Army Captain who has been so seriously injured in combat. I imagine Mary beholding the body of her son Jesus; "This is my body, this is my son." (I kept the tears inside, I shed them now.)

I go to the waiting room down the hall, about 5 minutes walking + infinity away. I have been here many times before and it is too familiar to ever forget. Fox News (can't change the station) is broadcasting on the TV overhead and the Red Cross volunteer with coffee have yet to arrive. The room is about 20 x 20 with chairs on all walls, a desk and phone to keep in contact with OR and Recovery. A soda machine stands in the corner. The Washington Post is on a coffee table, "1300 dead in Morgues in Iraq" is the headline. The chairs include the luxury of upholstered rocking chairs, wonderful comfort seating and I take one.

Eight o'clock, Nine O'clock the hours tick by; Dennis calls we agree to meet in the dining room on the third floor. The volunteer arrives and checks our names and that of patients. She will take messages when the OR calls if we are not available or let us talk to the RN's for updates. The room is becoming filled with spouses, friends, and children of patients. I leave to meet Dennis and eat breakfast of eggs and bacon, not knowing what the day will bring. Dennis will sit and work on his computer in the dining hall and I return to the waiting room. Ten o'clock and the volunteer says to me, "Let's call and check on your son's surgery as I leave at 11:00." We call the RN who calls the OR operating staff who do not return her call. She says, "Call back in 10 minutes." I do, the report "Everything is going well, we're in the middle of things." It is now closer to 11, I had hoped for "We're getting ready to close" not "We're in the middle..." so I know Jason has more surgery time ahead.

I call back about 12:30 giving them plenty of time and the report is "They're closing and will let you know when he is in recovery." The words I want to hear. "Yes" it is over now the healing can begin. I had expected to be called for a short visit to Recovery and a visit by the surgeon Dr. Frisch. I never got to recovery.

Dr. Frisch appears at the waiting room door looking for me. He has in his hands the resin model of Jason's heterotopic ossification they used as a guide during surgery (plus xrays). Jason said "I want to keep it" Dr F tells me and hands it to me. Then takes it back and begins to review the surgery with me. "It went extremely well." Dr. Frisch shows me how much of the bone he was able to remove. He tells me that Jason was able to flex the right thigh immediately after the bone removal. He says much of the bone was in the plane of the muscles and should heal well. Dr. Frisch tells me of the delicacy of the surgery as the bone was wrapped around the sciatica encasing it and moving it from its normal path down the leg. "We had to chip away, small piece by piece." Prior to surgery in his office, he had told me they would use an instrument, " small pliers to break away the bone." My question, "Did you have to use the hammer and chisel?" "Yes," was his answer as I looked at the HO connection at the top of the femur that he showed me. I asked if I could give him a hug and he said "Yes" so I did.

Dr. Frisch asked, "Can I burn you a CD of the pictures I took during surgery?" Remember, Jason is going to be written up in medical journals by Dr. Frisch et al. (I thought about Jason and his "no privacy" statement yesterday) "Okay, I am sure that Jason's Dr Uncle Bob would love to see them." (I figure the rest of us would just throw up.) At this point, Dr. Frisch says, "I'll come up to check on Jason a little later" and returns to OR.

I take the model, re-enter the waiting room and hold it up as everyone is looking my way and "curiosity" is writ large on their faces. I explain the model, who Jason is and why the surgery had to be done. Individuals offer support and affirmation for Jason and hope for his healing. They say thanks for sharing and explaining especially as I am the only relative of a soldier patient this morning. I look at the door and a man in a gown is standing there, "Anyone for Scott?" I ask "Jason Scott?" He beckons me to follow, I grab all my stuff, but will have to come back later as I forgot Jason's clothes bag tucked in a corner.

I exit the door and there is Jason in a hospital bed! What a surprise, he is ready to be taken to his room on Ward 57, #5737. He sure moved fast through the recovery room or I had talked a lot longer with Dr. Frisch than I planned. Jason looked very pale and could not talk. His lips were very dry. I said, "It is good to see you." Dennis had joined me a few minutes before so we both accompanied Jason to the ward.

This is a new ward for us, especially for amputees and most of the staff is military. Jason's room is for four beds and another post-op soldier is sharing the space. The RN appears and attempts to take Jason's blood and cannot as he has difficult veins to find. Jason quips from his drug induced sleep, "It's from the cocaine use." I add quickly, "You must get use to his sense of humor." The RN says, "Let's hydrate him and maybe I can find a vein." She also gives Jason a shot of morphine as he has reported his pain level a "Six" out of 10. So we give Jason juice, he falls asleep and I tell Dennis, "I think I will go for lunch (it's now 2:30)" and Dennis will stay as I am fearful that in spite of the meds, Jason will vomit.

I return to find that Jason is sleeping, and that Dr. Golesky has visited for about 5 minutes and is happy about the surgery results as reported by Dennis. I believe he had students and was explaining to them the surgery process and results. Dennis leaves and I sit by Jason's side saying a rosary of thanks and blessings. I had stopped by the third floor and told OT and PT Kyla that Jason was back from surgery and come visit. Kyla enters and we begin retelling the story of the surgery and she is marveling at the model. Kyla cannot believe how Jason was able to move that right leg at all. On the other hand, the good PT says, "I can hardly wait to get my hands on him tomorrow." She wiggles her fingers; I am feeling sorry for my "recovering from major surgery" son and his PT to come. (Aunt Barbara PT I know you know the feeling Kyla is expressing.)

As we are talking Dr. Frisch and his student entourage of four whom I think were all in the OR room during surgery enter. Dr Frisch takes the model, wakes Jason and begins to tell him about the surgery. Dr. F rubs the top, bottom, sides of Jason's right foot and Jason tells him he can feel the touch. On command Jason bends his foot up and down "step on the pedal." (He's checking for nerve damage/control. "Excellent"says Dr. Frisch. Dr. F tells Jason, "As we were cutting away the bone we would stop and flex your thigh" Jason says in response, "Awesome." Jason would repeat it frequently during Dr. Frisch's report. One of the MD's is standing and pulling his leg up to the "normal" position and smiling. Jason says, "I remember when you bent my leg across the other." He gestures with his left arm. Dr. Frisch looks at me, "He was supposed to be asleep when we did that!" I am thinking "It sounds as if they were bending Jason like a pretzel!" Remember he was on his stomach for this surgery.

Dr. Frisch says, "We need you up and walking. PT will start tomorrow." Kyla smiles. "Any questions?" "No" They all leave and the RN enters. She is going to try to take blood again. Again, Jason's veins foil her attempts. She says, "I don't like to do this, but I am going to use the IV line," and so she does and it works. "Thank Goodness" for Jason as his arm is beginning to look like a pin cushion. By now I am getting tired. "Jason Dennis will stay with you, I am very tired. I think I will return to the Mologne and rest." Jason replied, "Wimp" or something of its equal. "Look son, I didn't get a 5 hour morning nap." I gave him a kiss goodbye and goodnight. "Mom, I have a favor. I need my IPOD and headset. The guy in the room really snores." Dennis came with me and returned with the Ipod.

Let us give thanks for medical wonders and good surgeons and all the professionals taking care of Jason. Thanks to Dennis for being here when Jason needs you. Thanks for your many prayers and good thoughts for Jason, they will return to bless you three fold. May Jason and you have a peaceful night of rest and healing. I am thankful that your journey with us.

Post Scripts Monday 2/27/06

I thought I would continue the blog entry for Monday
because I couldn't leave these items out:

1. Jason and Dennis did go to Zola's where salad+entre+dessert are $28. Their combined bill was $150. "Why?" you ask; the remaining dollars being spent on the "Spirit of Bacchus, the nectar of the grape." Dennis is a wine connoisseur and Jason is learning. The two celebrated Mardi Gras together in the New Orleans tradition-food and wine. Jason loved his dessert of flan which included orange rind dipped in dark chocolate. Dennis had baked Alaska.

2. As usual I headed to the "restaurant room" to watch TV while Jason talked to Jodi. I was the only person present, I wasn't eating (I swear) but writing notes very quietly. In my peripheral vision I spy movement: a mouse heading to a morsel dropped by someone on the floor 2 tables away. He/she grabs the morsel I exclaim, "Oh" and she/he skips/jumps, tail held high, like a flash and dashes under the really big screen TV. I thought "AH, Ha, another patron and forbidden food." But cute, really cute. I go back to my writing and again from a different corner of the room comes another mouse. Now field mice are not large, but this little guy/girl must have just left the nest; it could not have been over 2" not counting the tail which was very long. Now this is totally, really over the top, cute. The mouse picks up another morsel and hightails it back to the wall and into....

In the natural beauty and grace of mice,
Our Creator wants to show the wonder of the universe
hidden from most
those who are present
to watch
in wonder and in gratitude
at creatures small but able to lift the spirit.
God calling not to forget
but to join in the Dance of Creation once again,

especially after a really crummy day.

Blessings and may you enjoy "small wonders" tomorrow
where ever you dance.

6 PM in the Roanake Area Channel 7, CBS

Jason is being shown on CBS in the Roanake, New River VAlley this week as part of their series on local soldiers from the Iraq War. The CBS affiliate: WDBJ is airing the series this week during the 6 PM show.

I understand that you can also go to their website and watch a video of the news. I understand that I am seen in the background.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Nothing is done, till the paperwork is done...I think Jason set a record!

And Boy did Jason do pre-op paperwork on another cold, blue sky winter day here at WR. Jason decided to skip breakfast; bad, bad move. We started at the Orthopedics--tomorrow's hip surgery. Jason's appointment was for 8 AM. His liaison from 3rd ID was also waiting. Sgt Brown told us that he had been told he must be present at 7 AM. A sign clearly marked on the wall said "Appointments begin at 7:45." I thought this is not going to be good. Finally Sgt. Brown was called after 8:30 AM and then Jason.

Jason got into the MD by 9 AM and first went over his medical history with an intern; Dr. Frisch came in talked about the surgery. His response to my question, "How do you remove the bone?" "If it is free floating, we part open the muscle and "lift it out." "If it is connected to an existing bone...", and here Dr. F got a little flustered and blushed. At this point, he was wishing I hadn't asked the question and, of course, now so was I. Since I had asked, he felt obliged to answer, "Well, if necessary we use a 'hammer and a chisel' It is sorta like carpentry." This is a direct quote. I didn't ask him to explain further, I figure you all would get the picture... I asked him "Do you stitch muscle?" He answered "No muscle doesn't stitch well." The surgeons lay the opened muscle side by side and scar tissue forms to "reconnect it" was what I got out of his answer.

Dr. Frisch was hopeful that Jason would be up and about in a couple of days, but could not predict timing. He said that most people sleep on their backs and that is helpful after this surgery; it helps keep hematomas from forming in the empty spaces created when Dr. F removes the bone. Jason is telling every one to expect key chain fobs made from his bone. (When he says this, I think "Jason is going to give his friends of piece of his___" That is what popped into my head. I have held my tongue, you can read it or delete it.)

A follow-up procedure that is routinely done is radiation of the sight to keep the HO from reoccuring. Best results are obtained by doing it within 72 hours. Dr. F wanted us to talk to radiation oncology as they were the group at WR to do this treatment. We hadn't planned on it but this was added to our list of "must see."

Next we walked to a different hall in the department and were handed off to the case manager for Dr. Farber who will do the surgery on Jason's left arm HO. The RN took Jason's history to correct his file, entered the data and left the computer on. She left the room and immediately Jason got on her computer and began to answer emails...When the RN returned, somewhat shocked at Cpt Jason's boldness, but recovering quickly said,"Well, all he got to read was his own file!" Jason wouldn't read his own medical file as he tells me about not reading the blog, "I am living it." (A valid point.)

Dr. Farber said, "I am not even thinking about doing this surgery until you are well healed from your hip surgery." As Jason and I both have said and Dr. Farber also stated, "Jason will need his left arm to help himself up after the HO surgery for sure." Dr. Farber also said, "Jason may need a cane for awhile." When he does take out the bone, Dr. Farber said that Jason's ability to twist the wrist would not be 100%. He said the plates are not interfering with the twist of the wrist. Jason will not get a cast as Dr. F does not want to restrict wrist action in any way. The wrist will probably hurt more, but using it will keep the bone from not bridging again. The area will also be radiated as the hip will be.

Dr. Farber also said that he would not take out the two plates during the surgery as Jason has no complaints from their being in place. He might consider removal in a year or more. If the plates are not bothering Jason, Dr. F preferred to leave them in place as any surgery carries risks of infection, etc. I think we are looking at late March or early April for the left arm surgery as Jason is scheduled to have eye surgery on March 16. Of course, all procedures are reschedulable.

After Dr. Farber we were on to blood work and a meeting with the anesthetist we thought. We filled out another medical history. We waited, Jason went for his blood work. He returned. We waited and waited and it was getting through lunch time. I offered to buy lunch, "No its got to be soon." We waited. I finally had it; I told Jason I had to stretch my legs and went out to the desk. I told the clerk that Jason was OIF, we had been waiting 2 hours etc, etc. (We had been told by staff on the floor during Jason's hospital stay that OIF patients are not to wait.) Her only reply to me, "The procedure for pre-op can take 3 hours." As patient advocate, I am "Grring." When I got back to the waiting room a case manager was taking Jason to her office. (I thought "woo," the phone works fast.)

Now get this, we waited for the "anesthetist person" all this time to have the RN case manager tell us, "He doesn't want to meet with you, he will talk to you before surgery tomorrow!" She knew nothing about Jason being scheduled for surgery tomorrow!! She was genuinely surpised when Jason told her. Of course, she had to take Jason's medical history again! Talk about a system being incompetentl and poorly managed! I was really upset on behalf of Jason's comfort (and all other patients subjected to such mismangament.)

It is after 1 PM, it is time to go to radiology. I say "Jason, let us get something to eat." We stop at the Subway on the first floor, same level as radiology, get our sandwiches; Jason is still trying for a repeat of the "whopper meatball" one. We head off through the maze of halls until we get to radiology oncology, fill out another medical history this one focusing on cancer incidence in his family and eat lunch using the chairs in the waiting room as tables. The tech comes out, says "You can keep eating" and interviews us because Jason insists he is not worried about privacy. "I have had more people look at my butt... Jason goes on to list: I have been in the Washington Post, on CBS, in a lecture on humor as a coping skill by the head of psychiatry... Privacy is not an issue." We do go into a private room consent signing.

I don't know if Jason is exhausted but I sure am: a SIX HOUR marathon of paper re-creating the same information and waiting and frustration and wandering the halls of WR. Not the most restful way of relaxing before major surgery and needing to get up at 4:30 AM. We finally return to Mologne about 2:30. Jason says, "I am going to rest." Next I have to drive to Fairfax to return Martha's car and make the return by train. Jason is to have dinner with Dennis this evening as this is "My last real meal before 'hospital food." He and Jason head off to a nice restaurant above the Spy Museum, I think Zola's.

Please hold Jason's surgery in your prayers and good thoughts. Picture him running and walking with ease. Imagine him being able to sit with ease on a chair and into a car. Pray that he will be able to flex his hip 110 degrees and his post op will be pain free and without complications. Pray that all will go well during surgery; for his MD's and all the other medical professionals who will be supporting him during surgery. He mentioned, "needing courage." Let us pray that he experiences the courage and strength that lies within him and let us send him ours and our peace for his spirit and mind and body. For we are one in our care for Jason and ask blessings of his healing and a long and healthy life. Thank you for being on the journey.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Out to the Movies and Dinner before Tuesday Surgery

It was bitter cold this morning, sunny and bright but a cruel icy wind blowing. Jason rested this morning after his morning bagel and cream cheese while Dennis and I attended 11:00 mass at Walter Reed's third floor chapel. Less than ten persons attended, the smallest group since I have gone to the chapel for Sunday liturgy. Lent will begin this week on Wednesday.

We returned to the room and "surfed the web" to find the local movies. Dennis and Jason did not like the choices, but finally decided on "Good Night, Good Luck" a nominee for Best Picture. Dennis had seen the movie but said he was willing to watch it again. I remember watching some of the actual hearings on TV, I would have been 10 in 1953. So off we went to a movie theatre called the Uptown on Connecticut Ave in a neighborhood called Cleveland Park. We parked our cars on a side street and looked for a restaurant near the theatre that we all would enjoy.

Jason decided on a Greek restaurant, named Yannis. Excellent choice. Jason and Dennis immediately ordered the burned cheese "Saganaki." Dennis was disappointed as the cheese was not set on fire at tableside as is done in his favorite Greek restaurant in Chicago. Here the ceiling was only inches above Jason's head, we think we would have a fire hazard deluxe had they lit the cheese by the table. The restaurant sat less than 50 people, a small cozy, brightly lit room with the Greek owners serving the food. I ordered my favorite, lemon rice soup. I was disappointed that it did not have rice, but rice-shaped pasta, first time I tasted it made this way. I forgave the cook for the lemony chicken broth was out of this world. Dennis tried a Greek platter and Jason ordered the gyro. We all loved the bread.

Off we went to the show and I thoroughly enjoyed the time in "McCarthy land" so eerily addressing the issues of our own times. Jason didn't have any comments. I was impressed with the age and dress of the secretaries, the constant smoking, the all white/all men news room. Most importantly I was impressed with the courage of Edward R. Morrow and the President of CBS to address the "commie witch hunt" of Sen. McCarthy. I hope it does win the Oscar for best picture. Dennis apologized because McCarthy is a graduate of his own Alma Mater, Marquette University in Milwaukee WI. After the movie Dennis headed off to visit with friends who live on Capital Hill, Jason to Mologne to rest and I to Whole Foods for food and necessaties for the week.

We watched TV for a while and I headed to watch the Olympics in the "restaurant room" and Jason talked to Jodi. When I came back we both finished with the Closing of the Olympics, almost as enjoyable as the beginning for me and turned off the lights as tomorrow we face a day of "pre-op."

Please keep Jason's surgery in your good thoughts and prayers. Imagine him running and walking easily after the healing is done. Blessings, "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Jason's Day of Rest

It was cold and clear here in DC when I awoke. Jason had asked me to "be quiet" before I left for my Day of Recollection and spiritual direction with Rev. Bill Callahan of Quixote Center. He wanted to rest as we were planning an evening out for dinner and a play when Dennis Morajda our friend arrived from Chicago later in the day.

I returned about 3:30, and Jason prepared to head out to the China Town area of DC at 7th and H streets. Jason took the shirt with the "security tag" attached that we could not remove and we went to the store where he purchased it. As we entered through the security gate, the gate sounded the alarm! Now why didn't it sound when Jason left after he purchased the shirt? The perversity of technology!!! The clerk didn't ask for a receipt or proof that Jason purchased the shirt, he quickly removed the tag. Jason browsed for a few minutes; purchased a long sleeved, 1/2 zipper Underarmour shirt and we left.

This area of DC reminds us of Lincoln Park if you are familiar with Chicago, lots of folks on the street with a nice blend of shops and restaurants. We joined Dennis who was waiting for us and ate at the Matchbox restaurant immediately outside of Chinatown. The restaurant is only 15' wide. and was jam packed with patrons waiting for tables. We joined the cue and waited over 45 minutes for a table pushing our 7 PM date with the box office of the Senaca Theatre located a couple of blocks N. The food was excellent, each of us had a personal pizza (just like the ones we ate in Italy. Cooked in a brick oven) but for Dennis and Jason the best was a platter of 3 miniature hamburgers amid a huge pile of onion strips covered with tempura batter and deep fried. Truly the onion strips "were to die for." We finished dinner with time to spare and wended our way to the theater.

We entered the cafe/theater with the correct address but they said "No such play here, go next door." We went next door to a very narrow hall with steps leading up (red paper snake hanging along the steps up), no one there, no lights on. I tried the next door off the street--no, a band was setting up for their evening performance. Back to the restaurant and a guy with dreadlocks sitting at a table with a computer in front of him. He was the "box office" for the play. Dennis and Jason thought "We are in deep trouble." We had an iced coffee, discussing the situation with another disgruntled patron. She claimed this was a professional theatre and offered excellent plays. She had attended productions before and this had never happened. I thought, "Would be nice if we could find it as the Opening curtain time," was quickly approaching.

All of sudden "Box office guy" shouts, "Everyone here for the play, follow me!" We tell Jason please follow him as Jason needs a chair with space for his right leg stretch. Jason and I are waiting for our iced coffees which they serve in glasses but I think "Okay we will just take the glasses with us." We head next door first one to our left, in we go...the theater is as large as our room at Mologne! Holds 35 folks, we counted them, sitting on kitchen chairs. No place for Jason as the right side of the seating is enclosed by a wall. Jason does sit on the end of the row with his leg outstretched, sigh just as he did at Capitol steps. When I called for the tickets, the person assured me someone would meet us at 7 so Jason could be seated. Sigh...I can't win with theater seating for Jason!

Jason made the choice of the play earlier in the week as we planned for Dennis' visit. The set for The Lime Tree Bower consisted of a table with three chairs and a beer on it. On the wall behind a "Dublin door" with lion head knocker, painted green. The cast three brothers; one a high school student, one a college professor of philosophy and one who worked the pub with "Dad." The play consisted of monologues mostly about sexual exploits of the older brother and teh teen as he tried to become experienced. The development takes a dramatic twist laced with comedy as three brothers "begin to share the story" of the event that changes their lives. It is excellent play; Dennis and I liked the same character, Jason liked the Prof the best. We all agreed that we would recommend the play highly. It was a very nice Saturday evening out.

Please pray for the success of Jason's surgery for heteroptic ossification on Tuesday.

Day of Reflection:
Bill and I reflected on John 4, The Samaritan Woman at the Well. I reflected especially on
  • Living Water
  • We who sow and YHWH who reaps.
  • The woman's mission to the community and mine
  • The personal experience of God within.

It was a special blessing to be able to spend this time with Bill.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Today WAS the Quiet Day

Jason was up early to attend the required Friday Accountability meeting for patient soldiers. It was a beautiful blue day but cold and as the wind began to blow even colder. Jason had PT but no OT. He tried to pick up his glasses on WR's 7th floor but the office was closed. Jason got back about 11:00 and said he was thinking about walking to Silver Spring for a movie and I would drive up later for dinner. He watched an old sci-fi movie on TV, Will Smith starred in the movie that had scenes like Star Wars. Jason said after eating lunch that he was tasting the food today.

I walked over to WR for lunch and was joined by Fr. Rich Spencer a regular visitor when Jason was on the ward. Fr. Rich is an Iraqi vet himself. He told me of his escape from a recent fire. He was working at the hospital a couple of weekends ago. The rectory where he was living literally blew up due to a faulty heating system. Nothing was left. "Thank God" he was on duty and not at home. Fr. Rich lost all personal items including his military uniforms, liturgical vestments and his motorcycle. All he has is his car. I said, "This is like a death experience" for all the tangible memories of his life and ministry are gone. He agreed. Fr. Rich will try to visit Jason in the hospital next week.

I returned to Mologne to find that it was much to cold for Jason to walk to Silver Spring. He rested till I drove him to his movie Running Scared. I stayed to watch the Greaseman and walked out after 5 minutes of really "blue jokes."
I rested awhile and headed to Silver Spring to have dinner with Jason at the Lebanese restaurant. We both enjoyed the hummus with hamburger meat added. Their pita bread is fabulous. Both Jason and I ate hummus until "it was all gone."

We returned to Mologne where Jason and I compared notes; he had been disappointed in the movie especially the deux ex machina ending and I was disappointed at the live "comedy(?)" entertainment. Jason called Jodi and I headed downstairs to the "restaurant dining" room to watch the Olympics-downhill slalom for women and men's bobsled. NBC would provide one of the routines from the Ice Skating Gala; each pair and single program was unique and dramatic in execution. I was breathless at the beauty and grace of these young athletes. Watching lifted my spirits from the earlier disappointments of the day.

I was the only person in the room, wonder if I could have brought some "outside food" with me? I didn't realize that my watched had stopped and arrived at the room "an hour later" than I thought. I helped Jason prepare for bed and "Maybe tomorrow will be brighter."

Blessings everyone and hope you have a good weekend.

Let Us Remember

On the 21st of February I wrote a blog entry that included information about PTSD. Today I checked the comments entered during the week and found one from a grieving mother. She gave a website dedicated to her son Joshua. I include the address here: Let us hold Joshua's family in memory and prayers in the community of Jason's friends on the blog.

You have all read about Jason's good friend, Col. Martha Turner (USAF, retired) in blog entries. She joined her parents in Hawaii in February. Martha's mother is now in ICU suffering from pneumonia and on a respirator. Martha is hoping that her mother will improve so that she might be flown back to Minnesota. Martha plans on staying in Hawaii with her. Please keep Delores and all her family in your prayers.

We Have Been Thrown Out of Better Places Than This...

I expected Thursday would be "quiet and routine," a time to rest before Jason's surgery on Tuesday. "Foolish me," I should have known better after 4 1/2 months; there is no "routine day" at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Accept this as the norm and it captures life as a patient and family member(s) experiencing the challenges of a life-long, beginning October 15, 2005 for us, healing process.

The day started calmly enough, Jason got up; did his morning rituals including bagel and cream cheese which after a month we learned were free to patients at Mologne (no information posted in the restaurant so I had been paying for them), and he went off to PT/OT as normal. Jason checked on his appointments for Monday: two pre-ops, one at 8 AM for heterotopic ossification surgery on Tuesday the 28, and one at 9:30 for the left arm surgery later in March. Jason had been notified that his glasses were in so he also checked on the 7th floor office but found the department employees gone. Jason will have to continue to check to pick up the glasses. When I returned later in the afternoon I found Jason watching Law and Order and becoming increasingly drowsy, easing down the path to sleep land. About 4 PM he "closed the blinds" and took a nap.

Remember that I had written that I felt isolated, the Goodness of the Universe (sometimes called G_d) filled my day with one encounter after another with good women. My day started with a session of counseling at WATER with Diann Neu (Social worker and PHD in Ministry) then on to getting a hair cut.

This haircut appointment became my personal experience of "Barbershop" the movie, but way upscale,not the south side of Chicago, as all the staff and patrons except for me at the salon were African American. I seem to have a propensity to draw out the "talkiness" of beauticians instead of their listening to me confess the details of my life as the stereotype tells us. All of the staff and patrons were rather shocked at my presence-body language and facial expressions, but all recovered and said, "Come on in." I have to admit I look scruffy with black sweatpants, black Columbia jacket and a button that reads, "Imagine Peace, Birth Justice."

When asked "How would you like your hair cut?" I replied, "Short, I am at the bedside of my seriously wounded son in WR." I don't have any interest to talk about "the weather." The stylist was receptive to my self introduction and affirmed who I am and offered prayer support and scripture passages. She honored Jason's life as a soldier and who he is today by saying and doing, "You tell Jason he can do anything with his left hand. Tell him I am going to cut your hair with my left hand (she is right handed)" and so she did.. for the next 1 hour. (Now if you look at the length of my hair and cut, you realize that it should take---max 20 minutes for a trim)

As she cut my hair and shared with me a letter to her daughter a freshwoman at Carnegie Mellon (and all the mother-daughter difficulties they are encountering); she shared how she has applied for a patent on a machine to mix chemicals for hair this month. Another patron asked about Jason and gave her political views on the war and how difficult it was now for her to show an American passport in Europe; she will be going to Brussels next week. She assured me of her prayers and that of her community. Another staff person shared his stories of grief and grief work. Folks dropped by to say "Hi" to the stylist and offer to get her lunch. Patrons hugged the stylist and each other. The stylist asked, "Do you need a hug?" I said, "Sure" and she did. My time in the beauty shop, 1 1/2 hours or so, but who is counting? What a blessing, what a gift from the Goodness of God. What a gift to the American community at large, our African-American community would be if we(white America especially) are willing to share the circles of our lives.

I won't go into the details of my other conversations but I spent most of the day visiting with mothers (and one father) of sons who were injured in Iraq. The common themes of the conversations:
  • How to balance the "want of folks to visit the patient" with the "need of the patient to rest."
  • All are surprised but can understand the need of their patient sons to sleep/take naps. Some are not able to sleep well at night.
  • Some struggle with "Is PT/OT pushing/challenging my son enough?"
  • All struggle with deciding when to "help my son" versus "He has to take the initiative."
I said "Goodbye" to Barbara, her son Neil arrived shortly after Jason and she will be returning to MN and her teaching position on Sunday. Barbara said, "I plan to burn every piece of clothing I wore at WR." She continued, "No one except another mother at WR would understand." One mother talked of her son's completing his 59th surgery; I honor her and his strength, courage and perseverance. She is hoping he will be able to leave WR in a month. We watched the Olympics together. I met Jane as I spent an hour walking around the track behind the Mologne House. I went shopping at Whole Foods with Georgiana to buy "carry in of cajun ribs" for her First LT son Bryan and Cap. Jason which brings me to the headline teaser of the day (I am sure you have been reading breathlessly till now):

Georgiana and I had talked last week of going out with our sons to dinner in Silver Spring. Bryan thought better, he is confined to a wheelchair having been injured in both feet and lower legs. He can't walk till April. So we decided to "bring food in for the guys." I will set the stage for you: Imagine hotel sized rooms and imagine one wheel chair and 4 people trying to eat a meal. Doesn't work neatly, does it? It is impossible to entertain guests in a hotel room when we would like to sit down and eat a nice meal. There is a "restaurant" (read snack bar) off the lobby of the Mologne House, first floor. It does not serve "meals," and it has no wait staff. It has a free continental breakfast of bagels in the morning, hot dogs and pizza are "served for lunch/dinner."

Not only the menu but the room where food is consumed with tables of 4, is used for the weekly:
--Family Accountability meetings; held every Monday morning,
--the USO weekly women's gathering for crafts and support, etc.
--Today it will be used for entertainment from a local radio comedian, titled "Indoor picnic and comedy performance with The Greaseman."
--I attended a presentation by the Wounded Warriors on Financial Planning in the room a couple of weeks ago.

Get my drift---it is an all purpose room as necessitated by programming for the patients and family members who LIVE here (notice I wrote "LIVE here," some for as long as a year). The Mologne House Hotel is a House/or extended care facility/or rehab center, not a Hotel! Some folks may only stay a short while or be moved off campus if recovery permits; but like Jason many soldier patients are looking at 6 months or longer. In Mologne House live patient soldiers with non-medical attendants who are visited by family and friends. The situation with patients and family living at Mologne (war started in 2003, Afghanistan earlier) I think now requires long term solutions. There is a great need for a space to entertain guests which in the American culture always includes food. There are no separate places outside of the "restaurant seating" to entertain visitors.

Now the "Restaurant" has an unwritten rule, "No eating outside food!"(I asume when the snack bar is open for its morning, lunch, and dinner hours.) I have never seen more than 20 people in the eating area at one time. There is no competition by patrons for tables/chairs. In the evening most soldiers are found in the bar partitioned off from the eating space with folding walls.

Jason nor Bryan nor we the mothers wanted a "dinner of pizza" but we sure needed a place to "set out the food we purchased and enjoy it." Georgiana and I assumed that eating in the space described would be okay until we were talking on the way up in the elevator carrying the BBQ ribs, salad, sodas, chips, strawberries and blueberries and chocolate fondu (doesn't that sound like a wonderful meal?). Two soldiers riding with us immediately said, "NO way, the restaurant won't permit outside food." One said, "pull rank and maybe they will let you stay and eat."

Jason is a Captain, so I thought, "Okay, a Captain should do us." Ha, Ha! Getting to the room I warned Jason, "We just found out that we may not be permitted to stay! Will you use your rank to help us?" Jason, looking forward to the ribs said, "I'll give it a try." He knew the system a whole lot better than I, naive civilian mom. We go into the "all purpose area" sit down, put out the food, Bryan in his wheelchair and begin to eat. Almost immediately, the manager shows up with a sergeant. The rule is "No outside food permitted in the restaurant." End of discussion. Jason said, "Show me the printed rule" as Jason's maxim is "If it is not printed, it's made up." The manager becomes befuddled, says he knew we wouldn't respect him (meaning civilian) so he brought the sergeant not knowing Jason outranked him.

This is where civilian meets Army. The sergeant says, "Sir I understand your position, the rule is.... I will report it tomorrow when I report the log." Immediately Jason and Bryan begin to pack. I am filled with anger, what is going on? The place has about 5 other patrons with 95% of the seats empty. I say, "We have no place to entertain and eat a meal. What is a patient and his family to do? Mologne has no space for us! I will let my Congresspeople from Il know of this treatment." Jason says to me in his Captain voice, "You have made your point, let's move." I certainly didn't expect this reaction from the Mologne staff nor the Army. I feel for all the families before us who must have encountered the same intransigence and abuse. I feel blindsided, what trumps the needs of families and patients for social gathering and support?

So we are thrown out of the "restaurant space" and into the cold. Where do we go? There is no other place to eat....except the "Hotel" lobby itself. We set up with two chairs, a lamp table, Bryan in his wheel chair, and I on a long bench along side the front doors to the Hotel. We enjoy the food and drinks. We discuss what just happened.

Here's my understanding from Bryan's and Jason's input. The Army has no structure/positions to manage a hotel for conferences, as the original mission of this building was even though it is located on an Army Post. Therefore the Army contracted with a civilian management group to "run the place as a hotel."

When this occurs Jason and Bryan gave examples of problems from their own base experiences; they expect problems to occur. (and as noted in prior blog entries by me.) Our experience tonight was an example. Jason says, "In the army if you can't show the order, it truly does not exist." The manager was trying to enforce something no soldier would have to obey. However, the sergeant when he told the soldiers "I will report the situation to the commanding officer" translates to "I hear you, don't leave me hanging for not doing my job." Jason and Bryan knew the sergeant was saying he would report the situation as an "event" and his commander would respond to our expressed concerns. Neither Jason nor Bryan wanted to get the sergeant in trouble, that is how the Army system really works protecting one another; so they backed off and moved to protect the sergeant who was being straight with them about the situation.

Possible Solutions by the Army to support families:
1. The Army recognize the "mission of Mologne" has changed and take over the management of Mologne as a "WR health care center/annex."
2. The Army renovate as many as needed "Hotel" rooms to "family spaces" similar those found in any civilian nursing home so families can entertain and support each other.
3. The easiest/low cost solution: Mandate to the present management of Mologne that families can bring in food and sit at the only tables available and eat a meal and support each other.

Do I hear an "Amen" out there?

Sitting and eating in the lobby we had a nice dinner time talking about the plans for the men after they leave the army or stay in (Bryan can't decide yet), their girlfriends, and the attacks that brought them to WR. Jason shared how his unit destroyed the "roadside stops" from which the IED came. His men looked for his arm, couldn't find it, assumed it was destroyed in the fire that destroyed his Humvee. Jason described the Humvee window glass: bulletproof glass, layer of gel to absorb shock, layer of epoxy to set pieces, another sheet of glass. When the IED hit Jason's vehicle; the force blew the whole window which did not break into the side of his head; this fractured his face (12 hours of surgery to repair) and destroyed the vision in his right eye. Jason bragged on his left handed control purchased by Jodi and soon both men were waxing eloquently on the fun of playing Madden (football on the playstation). We said goodbye and returned to our rooms, Jason to wait for his call from Jodi and I to head back to the "restaurant space" to watch the women figure skaters search for the gold.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Snowy Morning and a Whopper of a Meatball Sandwich

We awoke to a snowy morning in DC. Jason said, "It is raining." My response, "I don't care what the weatherman/woman are saying. Go stand in it." First "white rain" I have ever seen. Of course, this being DC...

Jason headed off to PT/OT and I stayed to write yesterday's blog and respond to email. I finally sent off the last two packages to "clean out" the room. I do not know how the items accumulate; the rooms must be "fertile ground for multiplying anything" that is present in them for more than 24 hours.

I caught up with Jason in OT. Jason is working on strengthening his upper body both in PT/OT. He was working out on the wheel, you can see it in photos. He was to use both arms, but was only using his left to spin it around. John was complaining. I said "Jason is a INTP. He will use the system or beat it." Jason will get out as much as he puts into his therapy. Jason knows the rule, "No pain, no gain." I leave it up to Jason but I am sure it frustrates John his OT therapist!

Jason headed back to the room for Jodi's call, I had lunch with two very interesting Veterans. (see note) I then stopped at Subway on the first floor because Jason wanted to order a meatball footlong with American cheese and salt and pepper. This meatball sandwich was like no other Jason will ever see again! The woman put a scoop of 3 meatballs on the sandwich, then she did it again and again and again! I have never seen so many meatballs! I thought, "Will the bread last to the Mologne House?" Jason had trouble getting this lolapaloosa of sandwich into his mouth. Jason was amazed at the sandwich too but he had no trouble in eating the "whole darn thing!" So "one for the hungry patient soldier!" Thanks to the generous meatball sandwich maker whoever you are.

Jason had received a call from the VA saying the test results were in concerning his "career interests." The test is normally given to non-college students in high school or soldiers thinking about careers after the army. "Jason scored high on everything so he basically can do anything he wants to do." The test is Career Occupational Preference System (COPS). In the Potential section 11/14 scales were above 90% with 7 being above 95% of all those who have taken the test. In the Work Values section Jason scored highest in: Investigative, Leadership, Independence, Recognition, Aesthetic, Carefree, Flexibility, and Social dimensions. In the Ability Profile section Jason scored highest in Spatial Relations, Verbal Reasoning, and Word Knowledge. His lowest was in Manual Speed and Dexterity. Missing his right dominant hand and unable to use his left wrist just might limit dexterity ability. :-) We all laughed! What an ability test for Jason to take.

Jeannie's office also provides funds for clothing for job interviews so she will look into appropriate clothing for Jason when the time comes. A gift certificate is given to Brooks Brothers for the soldier to shop. Jeannie also gives out Subway coupons which Jason covets and has no problem taking as many as she will give him. She said Jason would have to come and visit often!

Because Jason does not know if he will be able to start college in the fall (health care issues and Medical Board process)--an important question was "When do educational benefits begin? How long am I eligible?" Jason was much relieved to find that the benefit time begins after he is transferred to the VA and given his rating. The benefits are available for the next 12 years from that point. Jason does not have to start college immediately after leaving WR. This is a great relief for Jason and lightened his worry.

I left Jason at 5PM to go to Quixote Center for the Wednesday evening liturgy and potluck. It is nourishing for my body and soul to be among lifelong peace and justice makers and to share a common meal as the earliest Christian communities lived and worshiped. I experience Jesus' presence in our circle as we worship amongst the many beautiful paintings from the artists of Nicaragua. I have long supported the work of Quixote financially now their circle of worship and fellowship supports me spiritually. It is enough and alleviates my feelings of isolation here in the center of the US's flagship military hospital. It is becoming clearer and clearer that here I am to learn over and over, "Each day God will provide what I need to be the compassionate presence of Jesus to those who suffer the wounds of war." I am thankful for the blesssings of this day.

Note on Two Lunch Partners:
I went to lunch in the hospital cafeteria and met the two most interesting veterans. Both had been wounded in war; one in Vietnam, one in Iraq.
I sat down first with Col. JW Ripley, USMC, retired and found that he grew up in the New River Valley, VA where Jason spent his childhood years. He told me of his career in the military and pulled out a large brass safety pin. On it hung 4 bullet casings taken from his body after being seriously injured in Vietnam. Col Ripley praised the care given by the military health care system including his two liver transplants. The Col's last assignment was to establish a Museum for Marines at Bethseda and he very proud of this accomplishment at the end of his 42 year career as a Marine. He encouraged Jason to be in touch with the Disabled Veterans of America. He felt that they are the most effective advocates for disabled veterans.

After the Colonel left another younger soldier sat down and we began to talk. He had been wounded in Iraq and lost the vision in his left eye. He is hoping to be able to complete his 30 years in the Army. Joe and his wife have adopted 3 daughters from China, the youngest is 5. He is a very proud father especially as one of his daughters has been tested with an IQ of 150. Joe talked about the plight of the children of Iraq. He told of how no one is providing for the children who have lost parents under Sadaam or during this war since 2003. The tensions between Sunni and Shiite split villages and keep the children from receiving care because the elders in the villages decide. He said the US Army liaisons do what they can but it in no way meets the tremendous challenges of the "street kids" (my words). Joe tries to help other soldiers who are also outpatients at WR. He thinks improvements could be made in the administration of health care for the outpatients. I encouraged him to make his concerns known. As an articulate outpatient I hope that the administrators listen to his voice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jason on the "Firing Range"

I attended the required Family Meeting this morning while Jason headed to PT where he said he did so many stretches and worked out on the Total Gym doing squats he didn't want to walk the rest of the day. Johnny Knoxville from MTV's JackAss visited the PT hour. Maybe Jason's reluctance to walk today was his new Playstation 2 and Madden football that he engaged in all afternoon?

I caught up with Jason in OT. To do something different Jason went to the electronic firing range that, believe it or not, is located in WR's parking garage (I assume the military recycled an existing room). The room is about 20' long 15' wide with a screen on one wall. The computer projects targets onto the wall and gives the shooter a score at the end of the round/scenario. The soldiers can shoot a 9 mm or M 16. I am not sure how it works but a red cross would show up on the target. Jason was able to shoot only the 9mm and was joined by another soldier using the M16. Eventually, Jason challenged John the OT to a round and John couldn't resist the challenge. So all three men participated in a scenario that had them going through a training situation checking out buildings in a "town." I don't think John hit anything. Jason is permitted 10 visits to the range so he will probably attend every other day while he waits on his muscle-powered prosthetic arm.

I stopped off at Walt's Deli on the hospital's 3rd floor to buy Jason a turkey, pepperjack cheese, mustard with lettuce and cucumbers on whole wheat for lunch. Sandwich and soft pretzel were under $3. Good buys at the hospital. When I got back to the room Jason had set up the Playstation and was busy playing football. I asked Jason what was on for the afternoon and he said he was tired and wanted "to hang out." I got busy packing and sorting and straightening the room as I wanted it all to be done before Jason goes in for surgery. About 5 PM I told Jason I was heading out to do shopping chores and would pick up dinner for him. (thank you Martha and Chuck for your van)

I returned Jason's video to Hollywood, checked the Majestic and Macaroni Grill hoping to find his reading glasses which he misplaced the day we saw "Hoodwinked." No show so I guess they are truly gone. Not sure when Jason's newly ordered pairs will arrive. I purchased Jason's dinner from the Whole Foods deli: a slice of peppered beef, a slice of pesto turkey and a fried chicken breast and one strawberry Jamba. I returned to Mologne to find Jason beginning to watch the"Constant Gardner," Thanks Spencer. Dow and I had seen it when the movie was released and it is definitely a good "who did what" thriller. So Jason ate dinner and watched his movie while I worked on the blog.
When Jason spent his nightly hour talking to Jodi, I went downstairs to read in the lobby. The restaurant doors were still open so I was able to sit in a very warm room and watch the speedskaters "go for the gold." Our American speed skaters won the bronze and silver medals.

A Reflection:

Earlier on the blog, I had written about the safety inspection that was done by the military using dogs a week or so ago. Today at the family meeting this morning one of the family members complained about the inspection. An officer responded with "Much contraband was seized during the room inspections." Another parent said, "Some folks were arrested." I recommend to you a book entitled "Down Range: to Iraq and Back" by Bridget C. Cantrell, PHD and Chuck Dean. It includes a chapter on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Some Wounds Are Not Visible.

"The very first aspect of PTSD that requires understanding is that it is not a mental illness. It is a normal reaction to the extreme stress encountered during your wartime experiences. manifests itself after returning home." (I am listing) "some of the most primary PTSD responses veterans exhibit as a result of stress...
  • depression
  • alienation
  • anger
  • isolation
  • sleep disturbances
  • psychic or emotional numbing
  • negative self-image
  • problems with intimate relationships
  • difficulty with authority figures
  • flashbacks to danger and combat
  • self-deceiving and self-punishing patterns of behavior such as fear of loosing others and tendency to fits of rage

In order for healing to begin both the veteran and the people closest to them need to understand and accept that this condition (PTSD) is genuine."

Chapter 13 of the book was written by Dr. Michael Wagner, PHD and head of the Family Assistance Center at WR. His chapter is entitled "When a Soldier Goes to War--the Family Goes to War: When a Soldier is Wounded, the Family and Community are also Wounded." I would like to quote extensively as his words capture my experience as a parent here at Walter Reed as I accompany Jason and other parents.

"One thing has become perfectly clear to me--When a warrior goes to war, the family goes to war; when a warrior gets wounded, the family and community gets wounded as well.(Wagner's emphasis) I also believe that every man and woman that goes to war gets wounded in one way or another. I believe that the soul gets wounded in every warrior. And, as souls are connected first through family, each wounded soul affects the rest of the system. Just as we individuals are systems of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts that are interconnected; families are systems, communities are systems, countries are systems, the world is a system. When one part of the us is out of balance our entire system is affected. For example, when we have a sore throat or broken bone, we do not function as well. So it goes with the family, when a soldier is wounded they are wounded as well!(Wagner's emphasis)...

While the family's involvement is critical in the soldier's healing process, it is essential that the community be also involved. ...If the community does not come together with a hand up, the community will pay in the long run in health costs and in dealing with destructive behavior. It is critical that communities come together in the same American spirit of helping our neighbors as in the barn raising efforts of years ago. In the past, when one of our neighbors lost their barn to a fire, the whole community came together to rebuild the burnt barn. Communities must come together to rebuild the lives of those that have served and are serving and for the sacrifices made by them while in the military. As we rebuild each life we rebuild a valuable, contributing member of our community."

I think this contraband and other behaviors of soldier patients at Mologne are connected to PTSD. In my 63 years of living, I have experienced American culture as moving toward becoming totally "individualistic" in life style. Do we deny the root causes of such behavior of our American soldiers as they return from war? Have we lost the communal sharing and responsibility and coming together that Dr. Wagner writes about? Will our wounded veterans challenge us to sacrifice to be present to them on their journey toward healing? Can we leave our self-centeredness behind, our willingness to deny the cost born by our soldiers? Let us as Dr. Wagner writes join with others to "rebuild the barn" of each soldier's life. We each bring gifts to be part of the healing process. We each can play our part to rebuild the tapestry of our soldiers and our communal life.

Let us pray for all soldier patients and their families and friends, here at Mologne House and throughout our country. Let us pray for the staff at WR and all support persons throughout our country as we reach out to our veterans on their journey for healing of body, mind and spirit.

Please keep Jason and his medical staff in your prayers as we prepare for his surgery next Tuesday to remove the excess bone growth from his right buttock and hip area. Please visualize a surgery going successfully and Jason able to flex his hip and walking with ease after it is completed. The other two soldiers that have undergone this surgery were up and walking within a week. We take walking with ease for granted, it is a gift we now ask for Jason.

Blessings of peace and healing to each soldier and to each of you.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Soldier Patient's Day Off

Walter Reed shut down PT/OT to celebrate President's Day.

Jason celebrated President's Day by:
1. Watching 7 hours, yes, 7 shows of Law and Order on TNT starting at about 9 AM when he woke up this morning after his weekend with Jodi. Jason said he had never really watched L and Order before but he watched the show last week and said he enjoyed it.
2 Jason skipped breakfast and lunch.
3. Headed to White Flint Mall at about 3 PM in Bethesda to use some of his Border Gift $. Jason looked and looked but did not purchase anything at Borders. However he did purchase a Playstation 2 game, thanks Great Aunt Theresa, named Civilization IV.
4. Late lunch/early dinner at Bertucci's at the mall. Jason had pasta and meatballs and said that the food was good. Really wonderful hot hard rolls. Jason ate his with olive oil, I used butter which melted and tasted wonderful.
5 Return to Mologne to set up playstation and begin to play the game. Jodi purchased a right hand/left hand control for Jason, Thanks Jodi.

While Jason was watching his marathon TV show; I worked on preparing "Thank you" notes, I hope we haven't missed you. I washed clothes, cleaned out emails, wrote the weekend blog and asked after each L and O show, "Are you ready to do something now?" Coming out of the mall we saw the largest flock of crows in the trees before us that I have seen since the Nile virus came to the states. It was so good to see and hear the familiar "Caw, Caw" May they live long and prosper.

Jodi called Jason at 9 so I headed downstairs to read in the lobby. Earlier in the blog, I had written about a soldier patient who was having trouble with his wife. That night I thought a MP (?) from a nearby room came to intervene. Tonight the soldier speaking very loudly about "not having a wife" was in the lobby of the Mologne House. Almost immediately about 5 men showed up including the MP. These mature males, including one father of a patient soldier, who himself is a Vietnam Vet, took the soldier to the closed restaurant off the lobby. It reminded me of an intervention. I think the soldier may be very depressed. Keep him in your prayers.

"That's all folks" from the fast lane of "Fueler's Day Off" at Walter Reed on a bright, very cold winter day in DC. Keep Jason's upcoming surgery and all his medical professionals in your prayers. Blessings and keep warm.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Saturday and Sunday

I don't have much to report as Jason and Jodi didn't tell Mother much!
They said they "hung around Mologne House mostly." They did go shopping as one of the other mothers saw Jodi and Jason in a mall that a lot of the folks from Mologne shop at. They saw two shows: The Date Movie and Freedom Land. Jason took Jodi to his favorite restaurant, she didn't care for the food but Jason had his huge bowl of soup as usual.

I called at noon on Sunday as Ron was off to help a friend clean her house. Jason answered the phone and said, "We are in Prince George County." Not sure what they were doing there but got back about 4 and then it was time to clean up and prepare to take Jodi to the airport. I am sure that she was happy to be heading back to warm, much warmer Florida! When we got back, Jason said he was tired so I headed off to the nearest Panera Bread in Silver Spring to have bread bowl soup and brought Jason a Chicken Olivada sandwich which he said "It is really good."

Ron and I got up this morning and headed to the Children's Mass at Holy Trinity Parish. Ron likes the priest as homilist and if you know anything about the RC Church, a good homilist is very hard to come by. So...we attended liturgy in a theater that I believe is part of Georgetown's campus. Run by the Jesuits and where the present President of Loyola University Chicago came from (Dow is a professor there). We then had brunch at a wonderful old restaurant where they show a free movie every night at 8PM. It is decorated with Marilyn Monroe photos and it looks like one of those diners made from a train car. Wonderful home made potato fries with onions!

Hope you are all keeping warm in this very cold wintertime.

Friday: Jodi arrives in "Freeze Land"

It is getting really cold outside in DC and colder to come.

Jason's OT got moved because John the OT is now off on Friday doing his prep to move to McHenry County, IL. Jason had PT then headed back to the room to rest as he says he is not able to rest at night because of his hip.

Jason watched I, Robot with Will Smith. We both had seen it before and it is a good sci-fi. Jason also caught up on his email and watching his favorite on the web cartoon with "Homestar" and friends. I packed some things as I was to spend the night with Ron Garabaldi and his animal housemates. Jodi was to arrive at 3 PM at National Airport to spend the weekend with Jason at Mologne. We got the map and found it to be a quick run down 14th Street to #1 and the airport where Jodi arrived on time even with the "active weather" all across the East coast. I left Jodi and Jason planning their evening out with Jason wearing a sweater and his red "Homestar" tee shirt. (Hopefully I will be able to find out what they do on the weekend and report in later.)

In the meantime I headed out to Ron's home that was built in the 1920's by an architect who likes curves. The front of the brick home is shaped like a crescent moon. Its porch was included in a book on the "American Porch." The living room to the left is shaped like a crescent. Ron has done many renovations to the home which has a wonderful renovated kitchen. An original ice box is now a storage cupboard, for instance.

Ron rescues animals and now has:
2 dogs Pablo and Cargo, both good size(German Shepherd) and "know they are lap dogs"
3 cats who stay out of the reach of the "puppy" and
2 parrots; one from Australia a Cockatoo and 23 years old, and one from Africa

Ron had friends for dinner, Chloe and Jason who helped make a wonderful pasta dinner with fresh vegetables. For dessert we had fresh strawberries, with cream and wonderful dark chocolate from the new New Orleans. At dessert time Ron had Amanda, the Cockatoo on his shoulder; she likes to ride on his shoulder every where. I can't quite tell you when but she climbed off Ron's shoulder across the table and UP MY ARM. I was surprised as everyone else was because she has a reputation. She sat on my shoulder while I fed her strawberries for at least 20 minutes. It was fun and a first for me!

Hope you are keeping warm during this Artic cold spell!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

New photos from January

I just uploaded a bunch of pictures from January. You can find them here. The complete collection is here. Click on the picture to get a higher resolution version. Click again to get still higher resolution.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Out to KFC/In with the General

Jason headed out to PT/OT and I stayed in the room. Jason reports that PT/OT were quiet after the visit by CN and Gena yesterday. The weather was absolutely beautiful again today here in DC, blue sky and close to 60 degrees. Jason said he talked to Jodi for an hour sitting outside Mologne. Then he decided he would rest awhile. Jason has been having difficulty sleeping as he says he will turn to the right side and the bone is uncomfortable and wakes him. He fell asleep and slept through the afternoon PT/OT sessions.

I found Jason watching the Olympics: women's curling. He continued a running commentary as neither he nor I understand nor know the sport's terminology. Jason had us both laughing. We agreed they certainly had pretty girls interested in the sport! Sorta like the volleyball girls of summer, but covered up.
We headed for KFC and got carry out because Jason wanted to be at Mologne House to meet 3rd Infantry Division Commander General Webster who had been in Iraq while Jason was serving there. The General spent time with each of the fifteen soldiers who were present and Jason received a coin from him. General Webster told me, "If you break a country, it is yours." (I believe originally said by Colin Powell when he was Sec. of State before the war began.) The General felt the sacrifice of our soldiers would help to build a better country for the Iraqi people. My hope and prayers are for the same.

Today, I took the Metro to Martha and Chuck's to pick up the van so we could use it while she is in Hawaii. I headed to the East Falls Church stop where Chuck picked me up and took me to their home. I petted Olivia their Newfoundland who weighs 90 pounds and thinks she is a lap dog while Chuck googled me a map home and to a local nursing facility.

My sister Judy's mother in law is in a rehab center because she has broken both hips and has had surgery over the last couple of months. Judy and Stan live in Europe and had visited with Jason at Lundstuhl while he was enroute to WR in Germany. Their visit and reports to us were so important as we were so frightened for Jason. Judy and Stan were able to spend the night, met with Jason's team who traveled with him to the US and spent time with Jason who was in a medically induced coma. I wanted to say "Thank you, Judy and Stan" for their kindness to us as Stan has not been able to visit his mother yet. I thought the good Lord provided for me as her facility is located only minutes from Martha's home. I was able to visit with Florence who is doing quite well considering her falls and subsequent surgeries. I met with the social workers and the RN on duty and as Judy and Stan had done for us I was able to send a reassuring email on their efforts to provide care for an ailing one from long distance.

Blessings on each of you as love and care for those in the circles of your life. May your circles of friendship and family sustain and nourish you in peace and joy for all of your lives.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Walker: Texas Ranger Does Walter Reed, Jason does Silver Spring and Second 5 Miles

Jason headed off to PT this morning and I planned to spend a quiet morning on chores. Ah, the best layed plans of mice and moms! Almost immediately I get a call from Jason, I don't make it to the phone to answer it. I know Jason called me so I call his cell, Jason doesn't answer. In a few minutes Jason calls me back, "Come quick, bring a camera, Chuck Norris is coming at nine."

I am sure you all watched Walker because soldiers and staff poured into PT to meet Chuck Norris and his wife Gena. Their entourage arrived about 9:30 AM and spent close to 2 hours talking with patients including Jason. Both were very open, Chuck to my question "Did you ever think you would reach such popularity?" He replied, "No, no way." Both Chuck and his wife were very concerned and and listened intently during their interactions with patients and staff. Chuck asked Jason to tell him the story of his injury and they reviewed together the "fact page." Jason shared that he had enjoyed Delta Force. Of course, everyone wanted pictures with CN and he willing obliged(I'll have some for the blog.)

A couple of notes:
A college student fan of CN started a web page: with "facts." The page has taken on a life of its own, CN was amazed at it. Jason had Kyla make a copy and then had me copy the first two page so CN could autograph which he did. His and Jason's favorite fact is "Chuck Norris has two speeds: walk and kill." Some of mine, "When the boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris" "Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding" "Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door" to give you a taste. There is a way for you to add to the list which now covers pages.

I spent some time talking to CN's wife Gena who was in law enforcement at one part of her life. She has been married to Chuck for 9 years and I believe they have 7 children and 9 grandchildren in their blended family. Chuck is now 65, Jason says, "He looks forty" (kickboxing keeps one young). I want to share that Gena and Chuck have started a non-profit organization called, "Kickstart-Building strong moral character in our youth through the martial arts" is a program "that teaches the martial arts to students in Middle schools to raise their self-esteem and instill the discipline and respect needed for them to overcome any obstacle they may face in achieving their goals in life." You can find more info at, chucks web is I promised Gena that I would put the info on Jason's blog to let you all know of their goal to keep youth from the influence of gangs. If you would like to donate...mention Capt. Jason Scott at Walter Reed. Gena and Chuck we say, "Thanks for being so kind to Jason and all the soldiers you visited at Walter Reed today. May the work of your foundation be successful beyond your dreams."

I headed off to turn in Jason's claim for the DVD's lost in transit from Iraq to Jason and caught up with Jason and John in OT. John has been working Jason through the Activities of Daily Living which Jason must complete to achieve his therapy goals. Today's was very interesting. John poured liquids on the floor and Jason was to clean them up using a squeechie mop. Jason said, "My three favorite food groups: chocolate, ketchup and salsa!" I am sure you can imagine the mess. Jason took his time and did a really good job. In the meantime we talked about John selling his home and moving to Woodstock IL in April when he leaves the Army after 10 years. John had a bidding war on his home in DC, the market is really hot here and it sold in 3 days.

Today was another beautiful sunny, blue sky "springlike" day in DC. I asked Jason, "How about skipping your afternoon OT/PT sessions and take a walk to and back from Silver Spring?" Jason checked the movies and off we went to Silver Spring. We ate at Macaroni Grill (Jason's treat) and headed for the Majestic where we watched "Hoodwinked" (my treat) a very different telling of "Little Red Riding Hood." I think you could take kids of all ages to it. Jason's critique "the animation was not of the best quality." I liked the goat who had "horns for all occasions" reminded me of the prosthetics for the soldier amputees at WR. The "bad guy" will surprise you, it did me. Of course, Jason easily guessed "who done it."

After, Jason headed to Hollywood to see if they had any movies he would like to have. He bought: Transporter 2, Wedding Crashers and Lord of War. In the meantime I headed to Whole Foods for fruit and milk. Jason turned down a Jamba Juice, still full from lunch. We walked back to WR and arrived at Mologne about 6PM just as it was getting dark. Both of us had eaten so much for our late lunch neither of us felt like dinner so Jason took a shower and rested watching TV news and the story of Dick Cheney and the shooting incident.

May you have sunny days with family and friends. Please keep Jason's healing and his upcoming surgeries in your prayers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day at WRAMC

Regular day of PT/OT today for Jason. Up at 7 AM and over to WR at 8:30. Kyla continues to stretch out his right leg/hip and stretch his mouth. Jason's MD wants to see if the dental department can make a splint to wear at night because Jason is finding that each morning his jaw has tightened up.

If you remember, I slammed my leg against the wall a couple of months back while attempting to steady a chair as Jason sat down. Today in PT I asked Kyla if there was anything I could do as periodically the injury hurts me around the knee. She put a wonderful heat pack on it for about 20 minutes and recommended that I do the same twice a day. I am taking Alleve also so hopefully it will heal in time. I can now say, "I attended PT at WR" along with Jason.

Jason left PT at 12 to talk to Jodi and get a sandwich from the deli shop on the 3rd floor of WR. I stayed for PT's Valentine's pot luck with the main dish being huge sub sandwiches from Subway. We ate wonderful homemade salads including a curry chicken with raisins and potatoes. Kyla made this wonderful Scarlet Ribbon cake with red texture and white chocolate icing. We were serenaded by a musician who played a guitar and the harmonica and sang the old favorites. I thought "Will the 20 something soldiers like these?" I asked Chris sitting next to me, he replied, "Sure my dad played these all the time," so I am glad all the generations could enjoy the music.

After it was time for me to engage in the "Great Paper Chase" to switch from Invitational Travel Orders (order that got Dow and I to WR from Chicago) to Non-Medical Assistant. As with all bureaucracies paperwork got lost, items changed, data not entered, etc. I needed to get one form signed by 3 different departments/persons. I needed forms from, I believe, 3 different offices including Jason's MD documenting his need for a non medical assistant in the coming months. The orders must be refiled every 30 days for as long as Jason has need as approved by the Medical team. After going to Casuality Affairs (I think very aptly named) I had to go to the Finance department(different building) where they verified I had not been reimbursed for some of Jan/Feb costs. The soldier assured me that "the check would be deposited in a timely fashion." Casuality Affairs had told us a few weeks back that a new department was being created to handle the payments to we parents/family at WR, can't remember where it is located, but they also talked about a "new computer system." I'll let your reactions take you where they do.

Jason and I watched some of the Westminster Dog Show in NYC before he headed off to his "Great Paper Chase." Jason, with a college degree, had to take a test with the VA to prove that he is capable of handling college level work. Jason said the test was a challenge in that he hadn't done such testing since "8th grade." The test also had many sections, so it took Jason from 2:30 to about 4 PM. He checked the circles as the test was multiple choice, an assistant will finish the circles for Jason so the test can be graded by a computer. Jason then spent some time talking to the Un. of FL Business Program Director of Admissions about his planned entry to the two year MBA this fall. Jason hopes that everything at WR including his medical board review (for retirement from the army)will be completed by the end of August.

I asked Jason if he would like to walk the track outside of Mologne as the day got warmer as the afternoon got later. Jason declined so I left him watching TV and headed for the track for about an hour. It was good to be outside and I fed the squirrels and the first cardinal I have seen on the grounds. I carry peanuts with me on my walks. One of the squirrels was black, not a different species but a gray squirrel, as we learned in Chicago.

As the sun went down, I headed back to the room. I spent some time in the lobby talking to two other patients and their mothers. One has just returned from convalescence leave of 30 days and there is no room at Mologne for them. They will be put up in a local hotel until a room opens at Mologne. Both men were friends in the Airborne and had roomed together before. When they are independent enough, both have leg wounds; they plan to room together at Mologne.

Jason ate part of the subway sandwich I brought from PT's lunch for his dinner and I ate a snack bar and dried fruit and nuts. After we worked on a claim form for items that were stolen after being packed in Iraq to be returned here to Jason. The men at Ft. Stewart tried to find the 300 DVD's that "went missing" but have made no progress. We will turn in the form tomorrow and Jason should have a "check in the mail" in a week. He is sad to see his collection of favorite movies lost. Jason went downstairs to talk to Jodi on the cell phone because I really did want to see the dog show. Thank you Jason.

I hope your Valentine's Day was filled with love, laughter and hope for happiness in this year 2006. It is understood by the world's religions that the Force that undergirds the creation of the universe is Love. May Love be in you, with you, through you, and surround you this day and for all of your life.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jason in St. Petersburg, Tampa paper

The article on Shrapnel wounds from the Washington Post was picked up by the newspaper in Tampa. Lisa reports that Jason's picture is the lead, "bigger than a 5X7" So if you missed the Post article, give it a try. I haven't checked the web so you are on your own. If you have any one in the Tampa area let them know that we would appreciate hard copies of the article.

Thanks, Katy

First Fire Drill and Inspection

The sun is shining today, but it is very cold, just as the weather person predicted!

Jason got up at his usual time, 7 AM and headed for PT at 8:30. Jason and Kyla worked on strengthening his hip muscles and his jaw exercises. Kyla and Jason were discussing a new movie about the Crusades, one of those movies that "bend" history to make a "better story" They wanted to know if people who see these movies and do no further education on the era, accept them as "real history."

Jason returned to Mologne House somewhat after 12 and the "interesting part of Monday" began. This is the first time Mologne has had an inspection since we have stayed here. Jason found it interesting because during his time in Iraq, he was in charge of the barrack inspections for his men. As in Iraq, more than one dog is used to inspect the rooms. One dog sniffing for drugs would go in and come out; one dog for ammunition, guns, etc. would follow (command "Seek.") After the dogs were done sniffing, we were asked to vacate the room so the inspection could occur. Two soldiers went into the room and closed the door behind them to inspect the property. Jason said that was not done in Iraq, a soldier could always stay with his possessions. The MP said they were generally following barrack procedures except they "couldn't force parents/relatives to leave, only ask." We stood in the hall for about 10 minutes for these inspections, the returned to eat lunch only to experience...

In a few minutes the fire alarm went off! We have never done a fire alarm drill since moving into Mologne either. Now by this time Jason was to have left for afternoon OT and he was saying, "Not going to make it." It is cold outside and, of course, that is where we must "rally." The soldier outside said "You can go to the gym if you choose." Jason with his PT shorts on in the middle of eating his Whopper said, "No, I'll wait here." "Here" being about 100' from the building in the sun, but cold, really cold outside. Jason' spends the time talking to Jodi on the cell while she is between classes at U of Florida where it is warm, nice and warm.

People are still coming out of Mologne and a young family is coming in! They have a cart filled with stuff and are holding a baby. Today was supposed to be moving day for their patient soldier. Part of the family couldn't fly out till tomorrow because of the storm so they were attempting to move the patient's things into the room before he actually moves in tomorrow. WR wanted him to move today, but they said "No," smart decision. We talk about life at Mologne, fire drills and amputations as dad had his own arm amputated by an industrial press when he was 18. He is envious of the prosthetics that the soldiers have and would have one if he could. He has had an active work career in construction and remodeling; said he was the only one who could do such work amongst his dad and brothers. He says "I've had a good career and full life with home, mortgage and children." (I love the mortgage part) He hopes that his son will go to college and his son, into physical fitness, has the dream to open a gym. BTW, Jason is still standing in the cold in his shorts talking to Jodi on the phone.

We begin a discussion about "How do leg amputees get out of Mologne during a fire drill?" (Mologne has 4 floors and 274 rooms. First floor has a limited number of rooms available for patients.) There are a number of residents in wheelchairs. Jason and I saw a double leg amputee soldier in his wheel chair as we left our room on the third floor. One of the other soldiers had the kindness and quick thinking to ask, "Do you want me to carry you out?" The soldier replied, "No, I'll take the elevator, but if this was a real fire..." Later, the sergeant who declared an "all clear" to us, said this was an "issue that had to be addressed with the Fire Department (and housing I would think.)" I thought "patients have been living here since the war began..." I remember the night we moved in prior to Jason's coming, I was taken aback because one of the parents that night mentioned this very same thing "What happens in the case of fire?" I could only respond, "Really good question, we will have to wait and see what the answer will be and hope we don't have a fire in the meantime." Maybe this drill was the result of her concern being expressed to the administration.

Jason's left hand is looking freezing cold, his legs are covered in double goose bumps and finally we head back into the room. I finish lunch, now very late, and Jason says, "I'll watch TV, (Discovery and History channels), for a while and head for PT. At 3 PM, he says, "Can't go, I am too tired," flips off the TV and takes a nap which is why I am writing the blog at 3:30 in the afternoon. It is so quiet, I am glad for him that he can rest uninterrupted for a nap. I think the jam packed weekends tire Jason out although he wouldn't have it any other way, so he catches up on his healing rest on Monday. Jason woke up about 6 PM and had a chicken finger dinner from the mess hall.

We worked on "thank you" notes for a while, watched a TV documentary on Iwo Jima by PJ O'Rourke. Jason finds them "interesting" I can't watch the bloodied men and listen to the horrific battles of 60 years ago. While Jason talked to Jodi at 9 PM I took pillows and prayer books and sat out in the hall. The hotel lobby is too cold today with persons going in and out and filled with smoke as the residents smoke outside the doors.

What an interesting slice of life I've never experienced before. Obviously, each floor or section has a MP (?) who is on call. One of the front desk employees passed me by on the way to a door next door to ours on my left. He knocked on the door and said, "I need to talk to so and so. I need to see him." One of the doors to my right opens and out comes this guy, not in uniform but with a phone around his ear, you know the kind. He has bare feet and an attitude. He gives me a look, passes me by and goes to the door and with the employee goes into the room. They come out in a few minutes and return from whence they came. A minute later the patient resident storms out of his room, down the hall and knocks and enters the MP's room. He is muttering about his "wife" quite loudly. He stays in the room, for about 5 minutes comes out speaking derogatorily about his wife and storms back to his own room. Interesting, very interesting...the dynamics of the folks who live in Mologne and the support staff who provide structure and safety for the patient residents.

Blessings on all who reside and work at Mologne. May they have healing and peace of mind, body and spirit. May relationships with family and friends be healed. May you all have a restful night, keep us in your good thoughts and prayers.

Jason and Dad do Chinatown:Sunday 2/12

We had a terrific snow fall on Saturday night. As of this morning, Lois Spoden who attended Jason's dinner and show on Saturday had not heard from her husband Dan. Dan is in charge of snow plowing services in Marshall VA, haven't heard how much snow they measured. The beauty of fresh deep snow is an experience for all, especially some of the soldiers who are from CA and the SW. They are "not used to this stuff." We Midwesterners take it in stride "Ain't nothing, remember the winter of..."

Staying at the Sisolaks, I could look out into their beautifully landscaped back yard with a fountain now forming ice. During breakfast in their dining area, we saw a flock of robins settle in the 6 inch snow at the top of the trees. Vera thought the robins were after the juniper and holly berries as they wend their way North to spring breeding grounds. Personally, if I were a robin, I would still be hanging out in Florida given that Punxatawney Phil on Feb 2 forecasted "6 more weeks of winter and 'here she blows'!"

Jason and Dow decided to explore Chinatown located in central DC. Dow wanted to see Walk the Line, story of Johnnie Cash which we had seen earlier with Martha. They ate at a Chinese restaurant; went to the show and shopped for clothes for Jason. He purchased an underarmour tee to wear to PT and a casual shirt that feels like chamois by Quicksilver. (I just found that it still had its security tag attached, anyone know how to take one off?)

I was visiting a newly opened art exhibit at the Smithsonian with the Sisolaks. We saw Cezanne at Provence. The show by the Impressionist was filled with beautiful landscapes especially of a mountain named Montagne Sainte-Victoire as seen from Les Lauves. He worked with oils but also with watercolor focusing on the green pines that covered the hillsides. He loved to paint outside and to "be in nature every day." Cezanne had diabetes and died before he was 70 but left us his wonderful experiences of the French countryside.

The Sisolaks dropped me off in Chinatown where I met Jason and Dow at a...Local Starbucks (yes, even in Chinatown). We all headed for the Metro, Dow to Reagan-planes were leaving for Chicago after flights were cancelled in the morning. Jason and I rode the Red line Metro to Tacoma then we walked back to WR arriving just about dark at 6 PM. We settled in; Jason talked to Jodi at nine while I read in the lobby. It was lights out at 10:30.

Hope you have had fun experiences with the snow and not any difficulties! Blessings on your winter days.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Jason and Many More

Today is Jason's 29th Birthday.

Jason and Dow headed down to the inner city this afternoon and watched Harrison Ford's new picture-sorry don't know its name but it is about banks, hostage taking his family members, etc. They watched the movie in Union Station's own theater on the first floor.

At 5 PM we met at Aria's a restaurant at the Ronald Reagan Bldg for an Italian dinner with friends: Spodens, Sisolaks, and Turners. After dinner we headed to the very nice theater within the Reagan building for the Capitol Steps, at the end of the show renamed...The Halliburton Steps, the troupe taking its cue from the "naming of everything by corporate America."

We had a good time and hope and pray for Jason a new year of healing and a lifetime of peace and happiness. Blessings if you are traveling this evening or Sunday. Dow may not make it out of DC back to Chicago on Sunday because of the possible 12 inches of snow that is gently falling outside!

Friday: Jason walks his FIRST FIVE MILES

I had spent Thursday night with the Sisolaks so Jason, Dow and I arranged to meet in Silver Spring for a movie and late lunch. Jason had to get up before seven to report for the first time to his mandatory "Friday accountability meeting" in the Old Red Cross building about a 5 minute walk from Mologne House. After Jason spent the morning in PT where Kyla served him a surprise birthday cake. Dow said he thought hey had it out of the regular room because the cake could not have been shared by all, the "room was packed with patients." After Jason decided to "walk to Silver Spring and a movie." I arrived in Silver Spring at noon and headed over to the Majestic 20 to catch up with Dow and Jason for....The Pink Panther with Steve Martin andBeyonce. Jason wanted to do a noon showtime because he knew he was strong enough to walk up and and back to WR but did not want to walk the Georgia sidewalks at dark.

If you like Steve Martin and very physcial comedy (like the Keystone cops) and the Pink Panther series with Peter Sellers, I think you will like this one. We all laughed at different times, but we three all laughed. The best medicine! After we had a late lunch at the Noodles restaurant and took a leisurely stroll back to WR in the pretty cold, sun-filled late afternoon. Adding up the walk to and from Silver Spring, Jason did his first "5 miler" and I am very happy for him!

When we got back to Mologne, Jason said, "I need a nap, give me an hour." Dow and I headed to the Metro and spent an hour in a coffee shop near the Takoma stop to let Jason sleep. Dow headed back to the Mologne and I headed back downtown to watch the beginning ceremony to the XX Olympic Games in Turin. I have become addicted to the opening ceremonies and I experience them as a nation saying, "Look who we are!" The Italian opening was this fan's pleaser. Like Bill said, "It was a Fellini!" And the surprise ending couldn't have been better the magic of...Pavarotti!

As the Washington Post sport page noted this morning (p. 14), "Pavarotti opened his pipes wide for "Nessun Dorma," or "No One Sleeps". His patented aria from Puccini's "Turandot" brought his countrymen to their feet. What a moment. The world's most famous tenor, opening the 20th Winter Games with a power and a passion from deep within. Cliche as it may be, it made you want to stand and applaud and yell "Bravo! Bravo!" long into the cold Turin night, until everyone shuffled out of the stadium. The portly man had sung, and suddenly the majesty of the night was done. It was time for Italy's first Olympiad in nearly half a century to begin. Bravo, indeed."

It was so good for me to see the world's young athletes come together. Hope and energy filled my soul, not only for them but for Jason and we who are proud to be the generation who gave birth to these fine young men and women. Blessings and enjoy the Games.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Off to Forest Glen and OT

This morning, Jason said his hip was hurting last night so "I tossed and turned."

After seeing the model of the bone growth in his right buttock yesterday I certainly can understand the hurting as a point of the growth is directly on the hip area where you can normally feel the pelvic bone. Place your hand there and you will get a feel, from there the bone stretches to Jason's spinal column and beyond. Remember, Jason is 6'+ so his buttock area is wide. The surgery will attempt to remove bone on the right side of the spinal column and to leave the smaller growth on the left. The area will be radiated and Jason will be placed on bone growth inhibiting meds for a period of time. (This elective bone removal surgery is usually not performed in the first year after trauma. However, because it is extensive and is interfering with Jason's ability to sit, flex and walk, the MD's are willing to try. There is no guarantee that the bone growth will not continue.)

Jason headed to PT this morning and worked out on his upper body shoulder muscles. Using a silver therapy ball about 3' tall Jason laid his upper body on the ball and held a weight in his left and Kyla strapped a 5 pound weight to his right upper arm. Jason did these exercises both on his front side and back side. Jason also laid back on the ball and "walked his feet" across the floor. This exercise builds Jason's core strength and accounts for his ability to now get in and out of chairs, the van, etc.

Jason stopped at the deli located on the third floor and picked up a sandwich for lunch. At noon he is to attend OT for an outing. The patients will ride the shuttle to the PX at Forest Glen and for activities there. A great way to introduce Jason to the shuttle and shopping available there. Every activity that OT has the patients engage in has multiple learning goals. OT supports each patient "where they are"and provides challenges they will find in the "real world" after therapy is done at WR. I try to say to Jason, "How might you do this?" "What do you think you can do about...?" How much to give to Jason, how much to help is the question. It is a definite learning experience for me as "non-medical assistant" and Mom.

Jason came back from PT, laid down on the bed said, "Mom wake me up at ll:30" and fell asleep. Jason said the bus will pick him up in the front of Mologne House at noon, so 30 minutes was all he needed to eat and put on long pants as it is really, really cold today. Sunny but feeling like the wind of the February Jason was born in. He was born on a day that was -28 wind chill in Michigan 29 years ago. Jack a good friend from Idaho said, "Good day to be born. Cows always calf out in cold weather." I was sorta taken back by being compared to a cow "calfing out" but Jack was raised on a beef ranch and cows were the reference of choice.

I will spend the afternoon packing to visit our DC friends, the Sisolaks. Dow arrives from Chicago early this evening and will spend the nights with Jason at Mologne during this weekend's visit to celebrate Jason's birthday. On Saturday, we will be going out to dinner at Aria's and to see the show of political satire (Jason's favorite kind of satire) The Capitol Steps Troupe , both located in the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown DC on Pennsylvania Ave. We are looking forward to "this night out on the town" to celebrate this very special birthday.

Jason came back to WR from his outing to Forest Glen very excited for two reasons. First Jason wants his 35mm Canon because he says, "They have the best dark room I have ever seen." Second they have a fantastic framing shop where he can frame anything he would like-photos or art work. I said, "Darn I have some pieces, but they are in Chicago." This is the first time I have seen Jason excited about an activity and I am so glad! Maybe he will become a professional photographer? or a photo artist?

A Note:
Congress passed legislation in the fall that paid out a lump sum to soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan up to $100 K. The Wounded Warrior Project is starting to present a series of workshops about financial planning for the patient soldiers. One of the items most popular purchased by soldiers: A $55K SUV. As the financial planner said, "Not a good decision for a young man in his 20's." He also said from lottery winner studies, within 3 years, well over 50 percent will be broke financially. WWP plans on having a CFP available for the patients each Tuesday for the next couple of months.

Counseling and spiritual direction for Katy:
Today I entered counseling with a Roman Catholic feminist psychotherapist who is part of Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) located in Silver Spring. As a hospice chaplain I know that grief from loss and trauma strikes the pysche hard. The wounding of Jason, especially for me a life long peace activist, challenges the foundation of who I am. I know it is best to "make meaning" within community. So I will be meeting with Diann weekly over the coming period to share feelings, to understand "who I am now" and to seek truth amidst this life changing experience, not only for Jason, but for our family system and the individuals within it.

I have also scheduled a day long retreat with Fr. Bill Callahan of the Quixote Center(Catholic peace and justice center) to seek together "What is God calling me to through this experience?" What does the Gospel say to me at this time? Does this event have meaning at the cosmic level?" or the level of evolution of the personal and collective unconscious? In March I will be attending a 5 day retreat and workshops for chaplains in Columbus Ohio entitled Deep Roots, Wide Reach, Journeying into the Heart of Christ, again going deeper into this lived experience. The cycle of life is life, death, life. Suffering and loss are part of life, every life. It is the choices we make when we experience these that define who we are as human and who we are as Roman Catholic Christians. I invite you to seek emotional and spiritual counseling when you face loss, trauma, or a new experience that challenges you. In doing so I will be a better mother to my son, a wounded hero for his country and who carries the wounds of war. Let us bind up the wounds of war and bring peace by being peace and hope for one another.

Know we are joined together in a community of care and concern for Jason. Blessings on your journey. Honor life and goodness and beauty you meet each day with joy for such gifts freely given to each of us.