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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Quiet Sunday after Surgery

Dow got up a little after 8 AM and took the early shift with Jason. I assume Dow will have breakfast at the mess hall, get a Washington Post and have a read as Jason told his dad, "Don't come too early tomorrow." I stayed at Mologne for breakfast talked with a family member after. After completion of mass I headed up to Jason's and found his dad reading the paper and Jason talking on the phone to Jodi.

Jason had a calmer night, using the bolis less. His digestive system is now working as is his urinary system. His left hand had been swollen after the surgery as everything was going through it. Today the swelling was reduced. The scar and post operative surgery blisters can be clearly seen on his left arm now. The MD's however are still not allowing solids, "keep resting the surgery sites." Jason has been on liquids since Thursday at 2 PM. Today Jason did 5 complete circuits of the 6th floor. His RN said, "Walk,walk,walk," that is Jason's physical therapy for now.

Jason is still uncomfortable but was willing to get up and down from the bed; but very, very gently. Jason is now on Zantac, anti-acid, he can't tell if being bothered by acid stomach is from not eating, drinking sodas, or juices only. The dilaudid should be removed on Monday and probably the IV also. The MD's don't like the narcotics for longer than three days-limit before addiction. Jason will probably be put on percocet then for pain. The IV antibiotic has been stopped and the saline solution is at a very slow drip, still in "just in case they need it." Remember, if a leakage of the bowel were to happen it would be in this coming couple of days.

Dow went out for pre-made jello and the strongest tasting bouillon he could find. Jason doesn't like the hospital bouillon nor the jello. So he now has "Kool-aide"Jello in red and blue. While Dow was gone, I read a little of the Washington Post to Jason and went to lunch.

I had lunch with the "Guv" a retired military aide to the Family Assistance Office. He likes to visit with families. No one knows his role except to report the needs of family members to Dr. Wagner. He rode the shuttle in with me when I first arrived at WR, I do not think it was a coincidence. We chatted over my six months at WR and my "good times and bad times." He enjoyed the Washington Correspondents' dinner held last night and enjoyed Pres. Bush's spoof of himself with a "twin." We talked about the Closing of Fran O'Brien's (see below) and he said they are trying to find alternatives for the Friday night gathering. We discussed the group of protesters that are disrupting the funerals of gay soldiers with signs that read, "Thank God for IED's" which make me sick to my stomach (as it did Jennifer who is here filming.) The "Guv" said at 6 1/2 months at WR I could now consider myself "one of the Senior moms." A designation I would definitely rather not have.

When I got back Dow, Jason and I watched Casanova which was a lot cuter than its adds. It had a touch of Shakespeare with many switches in identity especially for Casanova. Dow and I took a 2.5 mile walk on the Mologne track, then he headed back to the hospital to watch another movie with Jason. I headed to Silver Spring to eat dinner and bring back some pasta for Dow.

Met with Ken, one of the parent's whose son lost both legs and much of his jaw. Neil's family has been doing "patient care" one month at a time. I became friends with Barbara Neil's mom. I knew that Ken was retired military and a strong supporter. Dow and he would have discussions about the draft. Ken was very much opposed as is Jason. Dow is for a draft and the military.
This morning Ken's tone was very different. "I think that maybe we should have a draft. I think that the Bush's daughters should have been drafted and sent to Iraq." We talked about the lack of visits to Walter Reed by any congressional members including our own states of MN and IL. There are lots of celebrities who visit, you read about them on Jason's blog, but they are NOT the decision makers who are deciding on going to war, supporting the war, or ending the war.

Mark, Captain Spence's friend (Jason's friend) is in Medical ICU here. A very nice surprise, Beth, Gracie's mother, has found Sunni and "both of their husbands are in the same unit of the Army." So Beth has been visiting with Sunni which makes me happy as I have been busy with Jason's surgery. Also both of them are staying at Fischer House, more for families, which makes it nice.

Fran O'Brien's
There has been a wonderful social and emotional support activity for wounded soldiers and their friends and families. I am going to mention the hotel because of the situation. The Hilton has hosted a special "Friday dinner" for families and soldiers and they have been provided the very best steak meal. (Jason had a carry out one night when he first arrived.) This has become one of the very best social supports for families and soldiers. For some reason, the Hilton has decided to close the event. My understanding is that this dinner has taken place in a private space, last Friday about 100 persons attended, soldiers eat free others pay $30. The Hilton is saying "No more private space, you must eat with the regular diners." Now we are talking seriously wounded; amputees, wheelchairs and others out of the hospital for the first time. Everyone involved with the program is devastated.

Let us pray and send good thoughts that Jason will continue to heal without infections. Let us pray for all patients and family members at WR, those who are short term and those who are long term. Today's Washington Post magazine had a special about chaplains that serve in the military, focusing on Iraq. Let us pray for all support persons of soldiers. Let us say a special prayer for Dow who celebrates his 55th birthday with Jason tomorrow.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"The Day After... You Can Call Now"

Reviewing the blog I thought I would share Jason's "blond joke"(connected to the season) with apologies to any blonds reading:

Three blonds die and are at the pearly gates. St. Peter has to ask each a question before she can enter heaven.
To the first, "Can you tell me what Easter is?"
"Easter is the day we dress up in costumes and collect candy door to door."
"Down below you go."

To the second blond, "Can you tell me what Easter is?"
"Easter is when we give each other presents and have a lighted tree."
Exasperated, St Peter says,
"Down below you must go."

Now quite anxious, St Peter with only one blond to go is hoping to get one into heaven. He again must ask, "What is Easter?"
The blond has been listening very hard to the answers given by the first two blonds and understands the consequences if she answers incorrectly.
"Easter is when Jesus comes out of the cave in the morning..."
St. Peter is breathing a sigh of relief...
"and if he sees his shadow, we have 6 more weeks of winter."

"That's the joke from WR, folks."

Dow awoke before 8 AM, got dressed and headed over to the hospital. I stayed behind to "take the morning more leisurely" and to do some chores. Jason had a "okay" night, pain control being the issue. The RN added benadryl by syringe to his IV so that kept the "itches" at bay. Jason continues to use the bolis dilaudid every 8 minutes. When I arrived early afternoon, Jason was watching the NFL draft and explained to me how and what was being done. Jason was waiting for the Chicago Bears and never got to see their choice. When their first round slot, I think 29, came up another NFL team took a player. So Jason was "very disappointed" to say the least.

Jason stayed awake the whole time I was with him, using the bolis as before. Dr. Golarz had given his first after-surgery assignment, "flatulence." If you have had abdominal surgery of any kind, this is the first "goal," it is a sign that the digestive system is slowly getting back to "normal." As of this afternoon, Jason had not achieved the goal. I asked the RN and he said, "This is my specialty gastrointestinal(GI). Everyone takes in air when we talk, breathe, drink, etc. We can either burp or pass gas. This is important because it means the intestines are working normally, pass the gas along and out of the body. Another source is eating because the flora that digest our food for us create gas as by-product." However Jason has only been drinking clear liquids since this morning, he was on NPO since midnight Thursday to 8 AM Saturday. Juices have natural sugars so I hope his "intestinal flora" are now happy doing their thing.

While I was visiting; PT came in for an assessment visit after surgery. PT's assignment was to see if Jason could get up and walk. Jason had the RN unplug the IV so he could walk a little easier. The PT put on the "chest walk belt" and said, "We can go around the room." Jason said, "Let's take a walk in the hall" when the room walk was accomplished with ease. So off Jason, Dow and the PT went for a walk around the complete ward, probably about 100.' The PT was pleased and Jason bushed so the mission was accomplished. Dow added, "Ward today, Silver Spring, tomorrow." I headed out to do my exercise walk around the track. The azaleas are almost gone, but now the trees give me a green canopy. I was the only one on the track, the blue sky above, the temperature warm enough to go with a tee-shirt. Birds singing, squirrels romping about a very nice way to spend an hour.

Update Soldiers:
I went down to have a bagel this morning to see if I could catch-up with any patients and parents. I met a mother and grandmother from the West coast. Their soldier had lost his foot except the heel to a grenade. They had just arrived. They liked my ID pocket that I wear around my neck; holds my license (picture), door key, metro pass. I answered their questions about the family meeting on Mondays and we exchanged rooms and phone numbers. Found out they are in the room next to ours at Mologne.

I spent some time catching up with Mike a father from Michigan. His son arrived in November, seriously injured in the leg. At the time they did a bone implant, I don't know the medical details. Today Mike said, "His leg will be amputated, but not for a year." So for now they bring Josh back, do care and he goes home for 30 days. Sounds as if this is his cycle for the next year. Josh wants to stay in Airborne and if he heals after the amputation; he will be able to return to active duty. Mike says they have another amputee that has returned to active duty which includes parachuting. I wished them both well. Mike says "I put Josh on the plane, then I drive to Port Austin." While home Josh does PT at the local VA center.

As I was returning to Mologne I heard that Gade (about 20 years old I believe) had had his surgery and was sitting with his dad by the reflecting pool. Gade came in the same time as Jason with a head injury and the loss of his right leg. His left arm has no feeling but the nerves seem to be coming back, awareness moving down from his shoulder. Often, the MD's to take pressure off the brain will remove a portion of the skull and so it was with Gade. So this week, Docs filled in the right front quadrant of Gade's head with a "plastic skull" piece under the skin. Gade had I am sure at least 50 to 70 smaller size staples holding his scalp together over his new skull. Inside, they used 24 screws to screw the plastic and Gade's skull together. His right eye was puffy and he said he had strange sounds in his ear but "that was gone now." (I am sure Gade his really happy about not having to wear the "green football helmet" associated with head injuries.)

Dow had walked up to Silver Spring, got some lunch, then picked up a couple of violent films at Jason's request "sorry, mom." Jason also invited Dan over to watch the film with him so Dow and I might go out to dinner, have to see how the evening goes. I left Jason and Dow watching "History of Violence" with Jason leaving the TV "on mute" as he his determined to see the "Bears draft choices." He thinks they probably traded their spot to pick up two or some other variation on a theme. I guess the owners do a lot of "trading," during their 15 minute slots.

We went out to dinner at Whole Foods. Dow had salmon I had side salads and vegetarian lasagna. Dow checked out Jason who was watching movies with Dan. We will see what develops over night.

Please pray for complete healing of Jason's digestive system. Pray that his pain continues to decrease. Enjoy visits with family and friends and the beautiful spring plants and flowers. The peonies are beginning to bloom here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

"Take Down" Surgery Day

Jason is in 6831, Ward 68 General Surgery.
His room phone is 202 782 8891
Jason is in pain and is on a dilaudid pump with an 8 minute lock-out for bolis which he controls with a left hand held button. I requested they bring Jason the right elbow-powered RN call button as his left wrist is still recovering from surgery.

Please no calls Saturday.
I will let you know how Jason is doing Saturday evening.

Jason had a difficult time going to sleep as he had taken the prescription to clean out his bowels. "Every 5 Minutes!"(If you have had to prep for a colonoscopy, I know you can identify with him 100%) He finally turned the TV off at midnight. I passed on to Jason the telephone calls for best wishes for surgery from Martha and Bill and Vira Sisolak, cards, emails and blog entries. Jason's dad should arrive while Jason is in surgery.

One of the things Jason has said, "After this surgery I am going to take as many showers as I want to each day."

Jason was to be at the hospital at 9:30 AM. So he said, "Wake me at 8 AM. I will take a shower and head over." Jason got up a little early and took a shower. Good planning. At 8:15 AM "ring, ring" the phone and it is "Jason, Dr. Golarz for you." One of Dr G's surgeries has cancelled, "Come as quick as you can. You are now scheduled 2nd, not third."

So off to ward 68 to wait a while, down to OR where the anesthetist began to hook up tubes to the left arm. This made me wince as it is not in anyway healed and the broken "post operative blisters" look horrible. Each one looks like Jason has been burned by a cigarette. I thought I had better let the RN's and MD's know because I sure didn't want Jason's stomach looking like his arm. So I asked every medical, "Jason just had surgery and had a reaction to something. What do you think it is and how can we keep it from happening with today's surgery?" The consensus was that it was probably Benzoid, I understand it is a type of glue that is used to keep the serri strips in place. As it follows the incision made sense to me. The consensus was "We don't have to use it." One of the RN's wanted to check the medical record, not sure if she did before surgery. I left Jason at about 10:15 with the operating staff.

Down to the fourth floor OR waiting room, oh so familiar now filled with lots of family members and the Red Cross volunteer at the desk. About noon I decide I should get something to eat as I don't know how long surgery will take. I go down to the mess hall and get carry out plus some juice to drink as I know Jason will be very dehydrated when he gets to his room.

I am eating lunch in the OR waiting room and in pops Dr. Golarz at 12:45 "What did I tell you about time?" Obviously very proud of himself. Dr. G had said 2 hours and I am sure that is what it was, not bad for a chief resident who will be deployed to Iraq soon. Dr. G says, "Everything was right on. Very minimal lesions, we found everything where it should be. Didn't use the silk except for one stitch. Everything went really well. Jason is a healthy young man and had healed very well." Jason's stoma had looked irritated to me. "Don't worry, we cut that off." Ouch, now I know where the pain will come from-an added site. Jason had been cut open along the old scar, the stapled ends of the intestine where cut off and sewn together (the way Dr. G described it like a running stitch), the hole in the fascia was stitched. However, I am not sure how this works the stoma hole is not closed but will heal from the inside?

Doc G reiterated two potential problems, infection and the 1% possiblility of leakage from the intestine. Again he said, "We have to watch closely for the next three to four days." Dr. G left and shortly after Dow arrived from Chicago. He looked tired from the trip and the stress. Jennifer, making the documentary stopped by, she had hoped to catch Jason today, but missed him. She will see Jason next Friday. We spent sometime talking with the spouse of another patient who is retiring from the military and was having some corrective surgery done. He was retired military and we talked about options for his 19 year old son "who wasn't ready for college."

Jason took sometime in recovery as they were trying to bring his pain under control before they let him go up to the floor. I think I called shortly before 4 PM and the RN said, "He's on his way out, you can meet him at the corner." Dow and I headed out and found Jason in the hall. He was out of it but could tell us, "I am in a lot of pain." The RN said, "We are going to go slow," and she slowly rolled Jason to the elevator to the 6th floor. We went to his room, the RN hooked Jason to the pumps and Jason slumbered, woke, gave himself a bolis (a beep tells you what he has done), fell asleep and repeated the cycle as we sat quietly by his bedside.

Dr Golarz and his team of 4 students stopped, reviewed the post-op situation with Jason and said, "Looks like we will need you around here for about 6 weeks to make sure you are healed." Jason wanted a list of "dos and don'ts for PT" for Kyla the PT. Dr. G said he would be glad to create the list, "No lifting is part of the PT regime for a while. It is go easy."

"What do you need from the room?" "My bluetooth headset." "Okay, I can go get that for you," thinking he is in no shape to do anything even talk on the phone. Dow stayed with Jason and I headed to the room. I needed to rest awhile as waiting through a surgery is always stressful and this one in particular as Jason is counting on it so much, "My life is on hold till the colostomy is reversed." Before I got back, the Air Force visited: a mechanic and dispatcher for Air Force One. Dow said that Jason had a good conversation with them. Dow went to get supper while I stayed with Jason. He was really using the bolis, watching the clock for the passage of 8 minutes, and his face began to itch. RN Zack, from 65 was Jason's nurse this evening. I was really glad as he knows Jason well and Jason respects and really likes Zack. The perfect RN for a night of discomfort to come.

Zack got Jason some benedryl for the itch, he thought it was probably caused by the narcotics as Jason said one of the dermatologists proposed on their consult when Jason was first at WR. So Zack gave Jason the benedryl which I hope will also make him drowsy so he can get more than 5 minutes sleep at a time (between bolis). Dow told Jason about his trip out west to see his sisters and Jason and he traded blonde jokes for a couple of rounds. But about 9:30 Jason said, "You can go now." And so we went. The floor seemed very quiet which is good for after surgery rest.

Please keep Jason's pain control in your thoughts and prayers.
Let us pray that he does not get any infections.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Jason Sleeps In/Notes for the Week

Jason spent last evening with Dan, his college/Army friend, "We went to Outbacks" and came back about 10:30. This morning when I woke him, he said, "I really want to sleep longer" rolled over and slept till 10:00. He decided to skip PT/OT and read his latest novel "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" a sci-fi/ about alternative futures. About noon, "Where we going to eat lunch? Then I'll do the pre-op thing" I searched the web for some restaurants but couldn't entice Jason to try something different. He decided "to try the Westfield Mall. We'll see if they have a good restaurant."

The mall is a couple of miles up Georgia in Maryland so we can say, "We went out of state," for lunch. After lunch of Chinese noodles and chicken at the food court, Jason had to have his Starbucks of the day "Carmel light" iced latte. He decided to shop at Pacsun a "surfer type" shop for twentysomethings. Jason said that Jodi likes pirates, zombies and big cats. I found a tee with a skull and flowers on it. It reminded me of New Orleans and Mardi Gras. Jason said, "No Jodi likes the skull from pirates, not flowery skulls." I can't imagine finding clothes with pirate skulls on them except when the next pirate movie comes out. Anyway, Jason found a pair of shorts by "Element:wind, water, fire, earth" I really like the shorts Jason wears. They are surfer length with lots of pockets. They don't make them for women.

Jason also purchased a "find" from one of his favorite brands: Skin (from making leathers for bikers.) Jason had Lisa send him his belt with Skin as the buckle. The brown tee shirt had the company coat of arms "Skin Industries is the Original Lifestyle- Victorious in competition-Celebrated in Video-Glorified Around the World-Founded in the Year 1998 Not Imported. I said, "The shirt will look good with your new khaki colored shorts." "No, too much brown" was the reply.

We headed back to WR where I dropped Jason off at the front lobby to go to his pre-op and to pick up his prescriptions. Jason had to wait again for 2 hours before they pre-opped him. There really is a problem with that process. He stopped for his laxative, 2 bottles of saline phosphate. He said, "That stuff tastes gross: like salt." The Doc said he could have jello and liquids till midnight so I bought him yellow, orange and red jello; hope it lasts him the evening. Jason will have to report into the hospital by 9:30 AM on Friday and the surgery should begin at noon lasting till 2, aftercare probably till 4, so Jason should reach his hospital room by 5 PM.

I thought it is time for Jason to begin to look at the process of Med Board. After he returned from "waiting" I said I would head for dinner in the mess hall. I met Eric and his family having dinner. They will probably return home on Monday. Eric had a complication after this surgery and my heart breaks for him, his family and especially his beautiful daughter Gracie, age one. Beth his wife is looking very stressed with huge purple bags under her eyes.

I had sat down at a table with a soldier who has been here for a year. I asked David about the Med Board process and "God does provide for me" as he is at the end of the process and knows everything from a "soldier's going through the experience." He outlined the steps and what Jason needs to look out for before, during and after. David said that he has not heard of one soldier who has gotten through the process without having the paperwork lost. So...make multiple copies. I wished him well, David plans on returning to Mississippi and applying for a "job with the post office." He will have to drive to a VA facility 1 1/2 hours away from his home. He gave me his cell phone number and said, "Jason has any questions, give me a call." A very nice young man and I wish him well.

Earlier in the day I had spent an hour in the Fitness doing weights and stretches. After dinner I decided to do my 2.5 mile walk around the track. Here I met a young soldier who had been here 18 months. He was listening to his Ipod and zipping around the track on a arm powered 4 wheel bike as he had lost his right leg and had terrible scars on every limb. I just missed him turning the bike over, he said he "took a corner going about 18 miles and hour." He said that he stayed up all night (and I worried about PTSD.) Said when he first arrived he would go for a week at a time without sleep then crash for 24 hours. I thought him very unrealistic as he told me, "I plan to go to college, become a CEO. Don't plan on working hard, just telling other people to work." I was touched by his experiences and his wounding and offered him encouragement in his life's choices. The costs of war are great to body, mind and soul.

It was a perfect evening for a walk and tonight the squirrels were out and about big time. I must have seen at least ten as I walked in the "cool and the peace of the evening."

I have not been able to connect to the web and the blog so happenings from the last couple of days:

Jason received his prosthetic shoulder powered arm from prosthetics this week. I have not seem him wear it yet. While we were out, Jason said, "Wish I had worn my arm, would have helped me." I will take a picture for the blog as it Jason had prosthetics color it, using green food coloring in the carbon fiber as they created it. Jason says, "It is cool" and is proud of it.

I arrived back about 6 PM on Tuesday, unpacked etc. Jason received his evening call from Jodi and I headed down to the restaurant to read the newspaper. While I was there, I was again visited by the little mouse whom I had met earlier and have written about on the blog. He was now a little larger. He scampered around the floor, picked up his dinner and disappeared with his tail straight up in the air as before under the TV. I was happy to see him up and about, smiling I gave thanks to God for these smallest of creatures, living a full life, unseen and unappreciated as fellow beings in our environment. May God bless all of life and may we enjoy and protect such beautiful creatures of the earth; gifts to us.

On Wednesday during PT we met a director Mr. Terry Sanders President of the American Film Foundation (see web page). He has won two osiers, and is a producer who makes documentaries. Mr. Sanders said that he has been making movies for 50 years. The movie will explore and present medicine and health care from the battlefield to recovery. It is being filmed at WR and at Bethesda. The movie will be 100 minutes long and will be shown on PBS. Mr Sanders is also hoping it will be shown in theaters. Jason will be interviewed for the movie. He was being filmed during PT with Kyla. Ms. Jennifer Glos, assoc producer is a friend of Henry one of Jason's friends from Loyola University now in Hollywood and connected to the movie world. Henry told Jennifer about Jason as she was working on the project, Jennifer eyes teared as she told me of reading the blog and Jason's story as she has been touched by his journey.

Jason had PT and decided he would head with me to Silver Spring to eat lunch and see a movie. He had seen two movies by himself on Tuesday. Jason seems more energized and motivated to be up and about knowing he will have the colostomy reversed this week. He headed to Starbucks while I attended counseling and afterwards he and I ate at McGinty's a new Irish pub located by the theater. I had a Ceasar salad with roasted red pepper but skipped the anchovies on top. Jason had a hamburger with blue cheese dressing and the biggest serving of French fries I have ever seen. We headed to the show to see the new Walt Disney "The Wild" which for me was scary. I do not know how Disney can justify the level of in "children's" movies. It says a lot about cultural norms, values and why it is so acceptable as normal and "as the answer" in our personal, political and social lives.

Wednesday evening at Quixote Center, I attended the "goodbye and blessings" liturgy for Martha Turner who is moving this weekend to Minnesota. The circle for liturgy was full and we enjoyed stories of Quixote and Martha "what I remember is that I was lost and couldn't find my way to Quixote" was one of Martha's admissions. Martha and I were both thankful that she had told me about Quixote and what a blessing our association with it has been for both of us. I know that our leaving each other was "until we meet again" not a "Good-bye." We are sisters in faith and walk with the People of God. Martha said, "We will meet at Call to Action, the annual meeting of heretics." We smiled together; it is a blessing to work and pray for peace and justice; our journey of life, our path also known as the Way of Jesus. Martha will try to see Jason one more time before she leaves but it may not be possible as they will follow the moving van and be there when it arrives.

Discussion with nutritionist about surgery aftercare:
I see integrative medical center staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for my care in Chicago. I thought I would call my nutritionist for her input concerning "how to best get Jason's digestive system working after surgery." One of the problems is that pain medications usually constipate people and we assume Jason is no different. Judy's suggestions for Jason include:
  • yogurt to increase active flora in the digestive system
  • Vitamin C, buffered and a good multi-vitamin; fish oil with Omega fats as Jason does not like fish
  • cooked prunes and prune juice
  • at least 8 glasses of water a day, not distilled
  • lots of cooked fruits and cooked vegetables
  • stay away from beef and refined sugars
  • caffeine to stimulate bowel, green tea is best

Let us pray fro the success of Jason's surgery and his complete healing. Let us be thankful for the care our soldiers receive at Walter Reed and good people who document her/history so that the stories will not be lost. For God is a "lover and teller of stories" (Fr. Andrew Greeley and I agree) Let us be thankful for all the creatures in our lives, from squirrels to mice; all are miracles of life and an expression of God. Let us pray for all the families of Walter Reed patients and wounded soldiers that they will know of God's love because we reach out and care for them, holding them tenderly. Blessings on each of you, thank you for being here for Jason.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

FRIDAY for Jason's Surgery; Send Good Thoughts and Prayers

Jason's surgery to reverse his colostomy is re-scheduled for Friday. This is not an unusual surgery, however it normally results in high levels of pain for the day(s) immediately following surgery. This surgery also has the increased potential for infection because it involves the lower bowel. It is difficult for the bowel to return to function normally as it has been "resting for six months." Patients have gone as long as two weeks after surgery before having a bowel movement.

Jason and I met with Dr. Golarz on Wednesday. Dr. G said he had two surgeries prior to Jason on Thursday. He was worried that Jason would not be able to be operated on and would have to prep again for surgery on Friday. Prep for this surgery means laxatives to clean out the bowel and fasting from solids. Dr. G did not want Jason to have to go through the prep more than once.

I asked Dr. G to tell us about the surgery. Dr. G explained that the surgeons in Iraq, after reviewing the severe extent of Jason's buttock wounds and the injury to the sphincter knew that the area would have to be kept clean to heal, thus requiring a colostomy. Dr. G was very happy that Jason had suffered no internal wounds and that the MD's did not have to use mesh in his abdominal area. I gathered that mesh would complicate this surgery, I did not ask for specifics because Jason does not have it. The stoma for the colostomy is formed by creating a opening in the intestine and connecting it to the fascia (outer skin) It is sewn together and heals as one unit as Jason's has done. The intestine is cut and stapled at both ends; the ends a length away from the rectum.

To reverse the colostomy the stoma from the intestine is cut away from the outer skin which has grown together to form the opening, sewn shut and returned to the stomach cavity. The opening in the outer skin also closed during surgery is a site, "that almost always becomes infected." The two inner ends of the of the intestines are unstapled and sewn together. The inner wall of the intestine is sewn together with silk thread "lasts a lifetime" and the outer wall is sewn together with re-absorbable stitches. The MD's will go in through the same incision used to create the colostomy six months ago. The scar is about 6" long starting at the belly button. If there are no complications the surgery should take about 2 hours and the new incision will be stapled closed for healing. Jason will remain in the hospital until he has a normal bowel movement. About 1% of patients have leakage of the intestine after this surgery.

Dow will arrive on Friday during the scheduled surgery and stay till Tuesday. We will celebrate his 55th birthday on Monday, May 1 while he visits Jason in the hospital. A successful and healed "take down" surgery for our son will be the best gift Dow could ever receive.

Please keep Jason's complete and total healing and recovery from this surgery in your thoughts and prayers. Imagine Jason pain free and infection free after this surgery. Pray that his digestive system quickly returns to normal with no complications. Hold Jason with your love and care as you have been faithful these 6 months since his wounding in war.

Let us envision Jason up and about; stretching and doing physical and occupational therapy, working, working out, relaxing, reading and watching movies, going to school, learning and incorporating the lessons life teaches us, helping others, traveling, enjoying life, resting and continue to heal in his mind, body and spirit.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Weekend Away

Jason said, "I had a really good time." No glitches, no problems-health care wise.
  • went to a movie with Jodi
  • stayed up late
  • visited with Jodi's sister
  • visited with Jodi's friends
  • had a little rain but nothing could dampen his spirit about his time away
Jason came back relaxed and enthusiastic. Looking forward to 30 days of convalescence leave after he heals from Thursday's surgery.

I had a great time this weekend away from Walter Reed. My brother Charles and sister Connie joined me at Lisa and Charlie's to attend the First Communion of our grandson Jonathan. Saturday the boys had soccer games in the morning. We stayed home with Ellie and rested up from the short night before. I did not pick Connie up from the airport until close to midnight. We got dressed up to attend the liturgy at Nativity. Lisa was in charge of a reception after; we had cake and lemonade then headed for the party/dinner with extended family from Nativity parish. The families from about 7 communicants gathered together at a community center for the festivities.

The best part is that the parents hire a couple who do children's parties. So after our buffet dinner we had two hours of musical chairs, pass the hula-hoop, a conga line, the hokey pokey, and best fun of all "Who can wrap a friend like a mummy using toilet paper?" Aunt Connie and JC helped wrapped Jonathan and won the acclaim of everyone! He looked just like a mummy.

On Sunday we had a quiet day at home, a BBQ family picnic before Connie left for her home in Livonia, MI. Lisa and I attended the Broadway touring performance of "Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Lisa was hoping for a drama because she is attending a bible study and they are studying Genesis. The music of Frank Lloyd Webber is so fun, the two hour musical seemed a only a few minutes long. Just picture the pharaoh being King-- Elvis. Played by a really good Elvis impersonator. He was "all shook up" over his dream. Joseph had his own cheerleaders.

Monday it was back to school for the three children, Uncle Chuck left for Georgia and Lisa and I began to get the house back in order. I leave for home on Tuesday plenty of time to help Jason prepare for his surgery on Thursday. Tuesday it was up early to clean house. I did feel good helping Lisa clean the floor; I swept she washed the tile floor, the basics of taking care of one's living space. A chore that I have not attended to for 6 plus months. There is something reassuringly normal about cleaning the house; such a contrast with living at MHH on an Army post.

Let us be ever thankful the "average day" and the "normal" of our lives. Let us be thankful for times with family and friends. Let us be thankful for all those who offer hospitality on our journey. Let us be thankful "for vacation trips" whether they be short or of longer duration. Let us hold the faces and experiences with our dearest ones in our hearts and always treasure them immersed in their beauty and the gift of life.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Friday:Miracles and Goodness Abound

A story that begins in January 2006. Deeply tortured by the seriousness of Jason's wounds and the impact of those wounds on his life I head to National Airport to be with Lisa and her scheduled outpatient surgery. Going through security I am "randomly selected" for a total security check including a wanding of self. If you have not gone through this, you stand in the middle of the public security area and are searched. I comply and stretch out my arms, identify with Jesus on the cross, slip into a pool of despair and begin to weep from the center of my soul.

"Why are you doing this? My son has given his life for this country! He is in Walter Reed very seriously injured while you humiliate me. I marched against Vietnam and I have attended a Prayer Peace Vigil every Tuesday since 9/11?" TSA responds, "I am doing my job." I weep as I wait for my plane, I weep as I fly to Tampa for myself, for all those injured and killed in this war and all wars throughout humanity's his/herstory and for the lost direction of my beloved country.

On Tuesday I realized that I had to again cross the security barriers of National. Not only that Jason was to cross security for the first time in 6 months on his first outing from WRAMC. What if I was wanded again and most horrific what if Jason was subjected to "random" security procedures? I had to stand against such humiliation. WRAMC had given us a TSA number to help with security procedures and I had assumed that it was specifically for those in wheel chairs etc. I thought I would try to stop the madness we could confront.

I called the TSA and told them the story of my January "random wanding" I said, "IF I or my son Captain Jason Scott is wanded I WILL call the Washingtom Post immediately, I will call the offices of my Senators from IL immediately" He asked for my flight info and for Jason's flight info saying, "I will help you however know you are subject to standard security measures" I replied, "I understand and do you understand what I will do if Jason or myself is wanded?" He said, "yes" and we hung up. I thought the line in the sand had been drawn very clear and I was prepared to follow through even if it meant I missed my flight.

On Friday morning Jason and I got a call from the TSA telling us that an agent would meet each of us at the doors of National Airport. While we are riding in the taxi heading to National, another call from: TSA, "Mam, We see that you and Jason are on two different planes. We would like to get you both on the same plane." I think, "Oh my God who is doing what to our flights?!" I cry, "NO, NO don't change the flights, Jason wants to go to Orlando to see his girl friend..." the cell phone connection dies. Jason gives me a very quizzical look, "What's that?" I reply "They think somehow we got mixed up in flights, they are trying "to be helpful." I am thinking who and how many folks are involved with our flight plans this morning?

Jason only had an overnight bag so we say, "Goodbye" and he heads inside National. I am going to check in at curb because it is always easier. It is a busy Friday morning, a porter comes over asks me for my ID and goes to the machine, punches in and immediately comes back to me, "I am sorry you cannot check in curbside, we must go inside." Oh, Oh is this the beginning of my "special treatment?" As we are going in to the counter out comes a very well built, twice my size, very tall TSA woman agent, I think, "She definitely would have no trouble in overpowering me. "Good morning mam, I am here to see that you have no trouble getting boarded this morning. I am to escort you to the plane." She was polite and very firm as she stood by me during my skycap's attempts to get my boarding pass from the counter. She tells me, "You have the very best skycap." TSA says, "It will be a minute, the airlines want to say "thank you" for your sacrifice and your son's. Both of you are being upgraded to first class seats." At this point I see Jason working with a TSA agent a line away.

I am saying, "You don't have to do that for me." But my heart is leaping with joy. Jason had gotten a ticket in economy and in the middle of a row. Although the flight is short to Orlando Jason would have been mighty uncomfortable because of his injuries. Now Jason would be in luxury with a seat that is made for his 6'4"! Yes this is how America must treat all of its soldiers who have given so much. Jason has a ex-Marine, now TSA supervisor for his escort who is carrying his bag and calls Jason "Captain Scott." "We take care of our soldiers." This makes me tearful as to have this older gentleman/ex-soldier treat my wounded son with such respect touches my heart deeply. We go through security, the woman agent puts my 800 film through the "drug/explosive checker machine" by hand telling the operator there is no need to open the camera package. I didn't see Jason actually go through the gate, I will have to ask Jason as I think he was told he has so much shrapnel he is not to go through the x-ray gate.

My woman escort leaves me with Jason and his escort on the other side of security. "Come with us to Jason's gate" the supervisor says." Okay since my gate is next to Jason's only an hour and 1/2 later. We chat for a few minutes and TSA says "Sir you can board the plane now. Mam, stay here and I will take you to the Skylounge." Again I am taken aback. The supervisor comes back and he is impressed by the behavior of the US Airway's pilot. A TSA agent has authority for security only to the door of the plane, then responsibility for the plane lies with the pilot and the airline he explains. He was invited onto the plane with Jason and the Captain of the plane took Jason's bag and led him to his seat. TSA said, "I have not seen that before. I have not been invited onto a plane." Again, my heart is touched and my eyes fill with tears of thankfulness for the Goodness of these men. Then he says to me "Come with me to the skylounge where you can relax before you flight."

A lounge has a TV, free coffee, muffins, yogurt etc. It is almost empty at this time of the morning. A woman comes in and I watch as she sits down opposite the room from me. I think I recognize her. She gets out her computer and spends time on her cell phone and laptop. I get up my courage and go over to her, "My name is Katy and are you Joan...Chittister?" Oh my gosh, Sr. Joan looks up and says to me, "You are good, girl, I am Joan." At this point I am speechless, so I say, "Sr Joan I usually see you at a podium way up there...the last time I saw you, it was Dublin." Now if you follow the Vatican II reform movement in the USA you know that Sr. Joan is a Erie Benedictine sister, widely known for her wisdom, has written many books, and regularly appears on TV to present her views and wisdom to the USA audience interested in religious perspectives. She attended the Women's Ordination Worldwide Conference in 2001 over the strong protests of the Vatican. Her monastery voted to support her decision to attend. The decision of her community to support her attending WOW rocked the RCC as her community was the first to openly stand against the oppression and denial of the equality of women by the RCC, Pope Paul II and Card Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict 16.

Joan tells me that she has been to a conference here in DC and is heading home. She asks me "Why are you here?" I tell her, "I am here with my son Jason at WR" and that I would like to show her his pictures. Joan agrees and for a few minutes I tell her about Jason and her eyes continue to tear. I am deeply touched by her compassion for both of us and am highly honored to be in the presence of such a strong feminist, an advocate for peace who has consistently articulated the Gospel reasons against war. Sr. Joan's words have touched the hearts and minds of millions. Sr. Joan, looks at the time, "I must go, I am so glad to have spent this time with you." We give each other a blessing and a promise of prayers. I give her Jason's blog site and my email. I hope to stay in contact with this "spiritual mother for the People of God." You can find more info about Sr. Joan at, her latest writings include Scarred by Trouble, Transformed by Hope; In Search of Belief; and Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men.

I head to the plane and am in First Class. Now the section is basically empty I think maybe 4 out of 20 seats taken. And sitting next to me with plenty of seats available is a LTC Drago from the Special Operations Command, a Strategic Planner who happens to be going home for a visit this weekend. The "coincidence" of his being given a seat next to me in a empty section is too much. I think "I am hemmed in" by this guy. Sigh, what is a peace activist to do? I ask, "Want to see pictures of my son, VSI in Iraq" He is not eager to see them, but I show them anyway and go into detail about each injury. A little later the LT Colonel moves into an empty seat away from me. Did he think I had no reason for my anger? I wonder what he was told about me? I am left in peace without a military escort for the remainder of my flight.

Arriving at the Tampa airport I am met by a man, "with a bald head and a green suit" as he has described himself to me earlier in the day. "I am the head of security at the Tampa Airport." I am impressed with the wasted time of human resources as I have no more security to go through at this point, talk about "overkill escorting." "Sir I don't need an escort, I am here to see my grandchildren. It is okay, my daughter will be coming to get me as she always does." He replies, "We want to take care of our soldiers and their families, if there is any thing I can do?" I assure him I know my way around this airport and shake his hand and my head as I walk away in unbelief. But the First Class was indeed very special and a blessing for which I am very thankful especially for my son.

Truly this was a day of blessings and goodness. I hope your weekend was filled with surprises and many blessings.
Please pray for the successful surgery for Jason on Thursday. Infection is a complication and is a high risk for this colostomy reversal. Please keep Jason's complete healing in your thoughts and prayers. Let us all pray and work for peace. Let us all take care of our wounded soldiers when they come home.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Let's "Talk Over" Phones

As you know from my previous entry, when persons call us from outside the WR system for about the last three weeks, they have not been able to hear us. As usual I have been telling everyone at every opportunity, "Listen up, we have phone problems in 316." My motto is "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" or "If decision makers don't know about a problem, how are they going to resolve it" or my favorite pastime, "How do I slay an unresponsive bureaucratic dragon?" (non-violently and metaphorically, please)

So...As you know I had talked to the Manager of the MHH and he had said, "We're working on it." This morning when I went to get Jason his morning bagel, there manager was standing at the lobby desk with a woman at his side. I thought "Good time for a reminder." I figured it was time for a small dose of public chastisement. "Hello there, hear anything about the phone problem? Still not working from the feedback on weekend calls I got" and for good measure, "You know when General Webster called he was upset that he couldn't hear my son." I have nothing to loose except continuing poor phone service; put it out there, run it up the flag and see if anyone salutes it.

9:30 AM the Facilities Manager at MHH and a representative from Sprint (no identifying name tag-which around here I assume means he's undercover something, after 6 months at WR I don't trust anything I see, hear or read till I verify it) were at my room door saying, "Can we help?" They both declared it was not in the system but in the room's phone. They tinkered, they listened, they called, they answered, took out the phone and took out the line. They got a new phone and got a new line. Took about an hour of two men tinkering and talking a lot. When they were done "transplanting" I was asked to call someone from outside and have them call me. My sister in Michigan obliged, line working just fine.

All of this begs the questions "Why couldn't this have been done when I first let MHH staff know about the phone problems?" Why did the MHH manager tell me "It is a Sprint problem," when it wasn't? I always feel that folks on this post will tell family members anything to "get them out the door." They know most of us leave after a short time enabling the administration to never address problems in the day to day management of the support system of folks under a tremendous amount of emotional and physical stress. For those of us who are "long term residents" it is truly a family member's nightmare.

I was feeling pretty good, we now having a working phone, when poor Jason comes in and relates his "nightmare episode" of the bureaucratic bombastic battles. Jason is leaving on a weekend pass to fly to Orlando Friday morning. Everything that could go wrong within Med Hold went wrong. At Ft. Stewart getting a pass meant going on line, filling out a form, printing and taking it to a CO to sign. Jason said, "Usually 10 minutes max." Here the creation of a bureaucratic process demanded that he speak to numerous persons, fill out numerous forms "when the regular Army has one form and one CO to approve." I strongly recommend the Army needs to create a "problem solving committee of soldier patients of Med Hold" and listen to their experiences and modify the Med Hold administration system. My humble opinion as a soldier patient's mother who in six months of recuperation from very serious injuries has not ever lifted his voice until today.

Later Jason said, "Where we going for dinner?" I said, "You choose something that you're not going to eat in Orlando." He said, "Let's do Lebanese." So off we went to Silver Spring for dinner.
At the end of the meal, Jason said, "I wanted to come because I really wanted to go to Ben and Jerry's for a mint chocolate milkshake." I laughed and said, "I would have chosen Panera's for their bread soup bowl." Jason got his milkshake for a treat before he heads to Florida tomorrow.

Let us pray that Jason has a nice first weekend away from Walter Reed since his arrival.
Let us pray for blessings for Jonathan First Communion this weekend. I will be away till late next Tuesday. Jason and I will travel to Reagan National together early tomorrow; he to Orlando and Jodi, myself to Tampa and a long weekend with grandchildren.

May you have a wonderful spring weekend in sun with family and friends. Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Jason's Surgery Scheduled for April 27

The surgery to reverse Jason's colostomy is scheduled for Thursday April 27. Dr. Golarz has contacted a surgeon well experienced in such "take downs" to be the head surgeon for Jason's surgical team.

Dow is scheduled to be in town from Friday to the following Tuesday, so that is good for Jason will be in the hospital for about a week after the surgery we have been told.

Please keep the success of this very important surgery in your good thoughts and prayers.
Please continue to keep the healing of Jason's left arm in your prayers. It is still swollen and hurting. This is the first time he has had after-surgery pain.

Up and Down Day

Jason had his test (7th floor gastrointestinal) to see if the surgeons would be able "to take down/reverse" his earlier surgery. The tests results were positive for surgery to proceed. So that was an excellent way to start the day! However, in PT when Kyla cut away Jason's bandage from his left arm surgery on Friday, his left arm was every color of the rainbow and continues to be very swollen. Made me uneasy looking at the wound. This was the downer for my day.

One of the persons I got to meet today was Senator Chuck Nagle, a Vietnam Veteran and a Republican from Nebraska who questioned the war in Iraq. I thanked him and want to send him an email. He said he continually works to have the VA system adequately funded to provide care for the vets. Sen. Nagle visited with the patients in PT and OT. He said he tries to visit WR at least once a month. I told him that I was very disappointed that our own IL senators had not visited Jason during his stay at WR.

When I met him about 2 PM as Jason was heading back to PT having missed the morning session because of the testing; he asked me, 'What do you think this is?" It looked like lymph fluid to non-medical me oozing from his surgery wound. I said, "Jason please see Dr. Wickman or Dr. Farber today." The wound has no stitches but is held together with serri strips and everyone has been telling Jason, "Use the wrist as much as possible."

Jason returned to the room about 4 PM after PT and I said,"Did you see the Doc?" "Yes, the bruises are normal, the swelling is normal. The ooze is called 'post-operative blisters." I asked, "What are those?" Jason said that is all the Doc said. Humph... Martha Turner is still doing tests at Walter Reed and said she could meet me at about 5 PM. When Martha arrived I asked Martha to give her opinion of the blisters. Martha said, "Oh yes, I have gotten them every time after surgery. It is an allergic reaction to the tape." I thought, "That is why they call them post op." Earlier Jason had said, "Why don't you two skip going to Quixote and we'll go out to celebrate my upcoming surgery!" Martha said, "YES" and so around 5 PM we headed out to a Chinese Restaurant on Connecticut Ave.

The review of the restaurant on the web said the food was standard Chinese, good. However, that is not why we chose to celebrate there. This restaurant has "United States/Russian history" writ large in its rooms. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, an ABC reporter named Scalia (representing Pres. Kennedy) and a Russian named Fromin (representing Krushev) had their first and last meeting in this restaurant to resolve the crisis! We sat in a booth (I tried to get the waitress to tell us what booth they met in but she did not know). But it was awesome to be able to be in such a place of history. I remember so clearly the black and white photos on TV and wondering "Will the missiles from Cuba be able to hit Michigan where I lived?" I remember very much how fearful I was that we would unleash nuclear weapons on Cuba. I knew the destruction would be enormous and would Russia enter the war and unleash the weapons it had aimed at the USA? If it did, both of our countries would be destroyed and probably the world's environment.

We decided to celebrate with Peking duck for the three of us. It was wonderful and we toasted to the success of Jason's surgery to come and a rich and rewarding life for him. We talked about his leaving WR in time for school this fall if possible and Martha's world travels as RN/PHD extraordinary. Her plans include a potential project with the Army in Afghanistan. Martha will not have your "average retirement." She said it feels really strange when people ask "Where do you work?" I am sure God will keep Martha as busy as she wants to be!

Martha remembered that when she first met Jason how she brought work because she thought he would be asleep. Instead they had great conversation and she got busy doing "nursing things." God has given Jason such a special angel in Martha and we are truly blessed to have her in our lives.

A Note of Mutual Support:
While Jason was having his test this morning, I sat in the waiting room next to an outgoing probably octogenarian woman who said, "I do not know what to say. I want to say thank you for the sacrifice you made for our country." Jason went in for the procedure and she and I spent the time talking. First about her own husband wounded as a paratrooper, his shute did not open during the Korean War. He spent his career in the Foreign Service including a stint in the backwoods of Vietnam during the war. Then I shared Jason's story including sharing a picture of his HO model. Marianne was bright and witty and just the support I needed this morning as we both waited for our patients, her husband was have a colonoscopy.

A woman sitting next to her said she was waiting for her husband who was having the same procedure. We got into a lively discussion about how the MD's definitely do not tell you the "ins and outs" of what it means to prepare for and to undergo a colonoscopy! I couldn't believe we were having this conversation but it was for me an eye opener about how medicine says one thing but in real life practice the Docs do another "Its no big deal" we were all told. Ha! You drink a gallon of stuff until you puke at one end and run at the other. The actual procedure you are "out for" but the prep almost kills you we all very strongly agreed. We supported each other and our family members and I felt lifted in my spirit. What a way the Spirit of Love works, through the sharing of the rough times, we know we are not alone and can face the challenge individually. Blessings on these women and their spouses for the gift they gave me today.

When Jason reappeared, I introduced Marianne and she began to talk about her husband, telling Jason a few things including "and he's really good in bed." We all looked at her and she was smiling! I said, "Jason will have to be sure to tell his girlfriend that retired vets have active, satisfying sex lives!" She also said, "With a mother like yours, you may even be President someday. I know Jason will have a very rewarding life." She has high expectations for Jason just like I do! Blessings for Jason given by a wonderful wise woman. How I hope to be like her as I complete my life.

Jason's Results: Normal Rectal Manometry: Reversal Surgery to be Scheduled

For the Medicals who read this:
Physical Findings:
  • Cutaneous sphincter reflex: Finding: Intact
  • Resting Int/Ex. sphincter tone: Finding: Normal
  • External Sphincter Squeeze Press: Finding: Normal
  • Normal internal and external sphincter tone and relaxation
  • Normal sensation to distension
  • Overall normal study

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Let's Do a Barium Image; Let's Do a Cat Scan Image

Jason and I headed over to WR, first floor radiology for his barium test this morning at 8:30. This test was to create a picture of Jason's innards around the surgery site for the surgeons. We waited for about 45 minutes then Jason went in. While we waited we took turns reading the newspaper and watching CNN. About 10:45 Jason came out with a MD waved, made a hand that said, "Five minutes" and headed out the door. He was back in about 5 minutes and I asked, "What happened?" Jason said they could not get a "readable image" using barium to coat his tissues. They poked, prodded, and tried to create images using the x-ray machine. Jason's bottom was sore.

Finally after an hour and 1/2 of trying, the radiology intern said, "Let's do this with a cat scan." As Jason had signed it was over very quickly once the MD changed procedures.
By this time it was 11 AM so Jason headed to PT and set up an afternoon appointment for himself. Then we went to OT and saw John who reiterated the need for OT to exercise the left wrist to increase its flexibility. Wally is Jason's new OT. Jason and I had a discussion about the best use of Kyla's time. I think Jason should use OT time to really focus on working the left wrist as this is so important for his ability to complete acitivities of daily living, having only one hand that is not his dominant.

Please send good thoughts and prayers that Jason passes his test tomorrow. This one will decide if he can have the surgery to reverse the earlier one. He has the test at 9 PM the instructions say it will take "20 minutes." We will see.

We headed back to the room and I worked on chores and Jason checked online news, email, etc. Jodi called and I left them talking on the phone while I headed to Silver Spring to get my hair cut. It is so beautiful and I love to walk outdoors and the 5 miles is good for me. I shopped at Whole Foods and had my lunch from their salad/deli bar. On the way back, I talked to my daughter Lisa on the phone and I thought, "I have succumbed like the rest of America. Here I am on a spring stroll talking on the cell phone instead of enjoying the moment."

I arrived at the room about 4 expecting it to be empty, but lo and behold, Jason was sound asleep on the bed. "What happened?" "I fell asleep." I found leftovers from yesterday so Jason had eaten lunch, talked to Jodi and then decided it was "nap time." He had done the same thing yesterday and stayed awake till midnight watching Comedy Central last night. Jason slept till 6 PM and then said, "Were are we going to dinner?" He let me chose and I said, "Eggspectations" in Silver Spring. I had two eggs on French toast, Canadian bacon, and homefries as I was craving eggs, not having any in weeks. Jason had chicken and penne pasta wasn't happy with the taste, but I was glad he was tasting! We returned to Mologne House and Jodi called shortly thereafter.

Washington Post: front page article

The Post continues its series on the effects of the Iraqi war. Today's article is entitled: Limbs Lost to Enemy Fire, Women Forge a New Reality. Both women featured in the story were patients at WRAMC. Extensive discussion of the impact of being an amputee and the differences between men and women's response. Eleven women are amputees versus 350 men because of the Iraq war. This is a new combat injury for American citizens to confront and understand their meaning.

Mologne House Telephone system:

For about the last three weeks when we call someone outside of Mologne House or off post, they cannot hear us "too scratchy, too low, etc..." and the reverse is true if they call us, they cannot hear us same problems. Makes the phone useless. Except when I try to report it, everyone at MHH/on post says, "I can hear you just fine." I caught up with the Manager of MHH and he said, "It is Sprint. We have asked for a new "computer board" for the system and they won't supply one." Don't know the excuse from Sprint. So we are using the cell phones which cost us minutes. So...If there is one of you with influence within the Sprint system for the DC area/MHH specifically; give them a call, maybe an email would work better :-), and see if we can give MHH and the US Army a helping hand in resolving this problem ASAP. Thanks from all the frustrated parents/family members/friends and wounded soldiers of MHH.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jason Has Another Radiation Treatment

It was up at regular time for a radiation treatment to Jason's left arm scheduled at 8 AM, first floor WR, Room 1H. It took about an hour and Jason came out with his bandaged arm all marked up like a grid as radiation techs take many measurements to be sure that the radiation is focused at a specific area. Jason's bone removal was necessary for "ulna-radius synostosis (bone fusion)" I asked Dr. Wilson head of radiology about the word and was it heterotopic ossification? He said "It is HO, but a specific kind synostosis means 'bone bridge.'" As we said the shrapnel shattered both bones so the body trying to heal laid down new bone here and there and here, creating about a 3 inch "block of bone" in Jason's lower arm. His fingers are still swollen and looking bruised this morning, the bandage will come off Wednesday. Jason said, "It is very uncomfortable because you lay on a metal table, no padding and cannot move." They measure and measure but the actual treatment is like 30 seconds. Dr. Wilson told me, "This treatment was so much easier to plan than his hip area." He again thanked me for providing him the resin model of Jason's hip HO that was so helpful in their planning the first radiation treatment. Thanks to orthopedics for creating it.

After his radiation treatment, Jason headed to PT and I headed to the Monday morning family accountability meeting at Mologne House. Again the folks were new this morning, the room not as filled as last Monday. I filled out the necessary paperwork, letting them know that I would be gone for my upcoming long weekend. When I returned to the room, there was a phone message from Dr. Golarz telling Jason that he had scheduled tests for this coming Friday. I left a message on Jason's cell but he did not receive it. I thought Jason might be able to chase Docs after PT. So when Jason returned to the room, I told him, "Dr. G wants you to see him today for a consult permission sheet, then he would like you to meet with the gastrointestinal Docs/technicians to schedule your tests this week." (other blog entry for today)

Jason returned to the room about 4 PM after an afternoon session with PT. Kyla and Greg had re-wrapped his arm, including his fingers and told Jason, "You must keep this arm elevated as it is very swollen." (I felt supported as I was telling him the same thing. Jason was compliant and has slept with a pillow under his left arm since the surgery.) Kyla had written "Hi Jodi" on the bandage and Jason had sent a cell phone picture to her. He wouldn't let me take a picture for the blog so you will have to trust me. Jason was exhausted after MD visits, PT in the morning and afternoon. He immediately laid down on the bed, took off his glasses and fell asleep. It is so good that Jason can rest because I know that surgery after surgery; day after day of PT and OT and treatments must stress his mind, body and spirit.

Martha Turner called and wanted to touch base with Jason but missed him in PT. She is at WR undergoing tests before she and Chuck retire to MN at the end of the month. She and Jason missed each other in the hospital. A WRAMC volunteer called wanting to take Jason to a baseball game on Sunday but Jason is not a baseball fan. If I were here I would have gone as it is being played in Camden Yards. I met the OT John Verdoni in the hall as he was collecting paperwork for his exit to civilian life. John said, "Jason has to come to OT, we need to work his left wrist." John also told me that Wally would be Jason's new OT. I passed the messages on to Jason when he returned from the hospital.

I was tired and was lying down when Jason returned from PT about 4 PM. "no sleeping," he said. Then Jason laid down on his bed rolled over and fell asleep till about 7 PM. I never fell asleep. The phone rang, Capt Spence was calling a friend of his in Mosul had been hit by a suicide bomber. Mark should arrive at WR any time, I assume Tuesday as that is when a flight from Landstuhl will arrive. I promised to go to ICU and see if I could find his wife/family as I thought they might have arrived on Sunday but they were not here. We will keep trying to find them.

Jason decided he wanted something to eat. I headed to Whole Foods for pasta for Jason and a tuna sandwich for me. After dinner Jodi called and I headed to WR to find Mark. I did not find him but instead found the family of Eric father of Gracie, if you remember from the blog, we celebrated her first birthday when Jason and Eric were on Ward 58. Eric is here for surgery, he needs to have a pump reinserted after he caught an infection. His family is looking forward to being able to build a home and keep Eric with them. Eric's father quit his job to stay at home to take care of Eric. I told Jason about them and we will try to visit for the week they are at WR. It will be good to see Gracie.

Please pray for Mark and his family, may his healing begin that he will not be a quadlapligic. Please pray for Eric and his family especially Gracie. Please pray that the HO does not return and that the HO growing in Jason's residual arm cease. Let us pray that exercises in PT and OT will provide Jason the ability to turn his wrist 100% and that his gait and step will continue to improve.

Note: as Jason and I were heading out yesterday, traffic on Georgia was being stopped at the gate. Jason said, "Somebody must be visiting WR." The buzz is "The President visited on Easter." I was told his visit was on TV so you might have seen the President, we missed the motorcade. If you can access the Washington Post, the Easter Service at Walter Reed was a story in today's paper. The soldier I attended the service with was interviewed for the article.

Tests Scheduled; Good Thoughts and Prayers Requested

This afternoon, Jason scheduled tests for the reversal of surgery done in Bilad Iraq. If the tests are postive that his lower digestive system has healed, his last (we hope and pray) surgery will be scheduled.
  • Jason will have a barium test done of his lower digestive system on Tuesday at 8:30 AM. This test is to provide the surgeons with information for the actual reversal surgery.
  • Jason will have a pressure test done of his lower disgestive system on Wednesday at 8:30 AM. This test will reveal if his lower disgestive system is healed and working properly.
Please pray for the complete healing of Jason's lower digestive system and that his reversal surgery will be a success.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday

For Easter, it is a beautiful blue sky day in DC with the trees and bushes in full bloom. Yesterday I saw my favorite spring vine wisteria blooming (look like bunches of living grapes; on vines or pruned to be "trees.").

Jason kept the pain pump in overnight. Doc had said that he put extra in so Jason received about 470 cc's of medication over the two days he was wearing the pump. Jason also is taking 2 percocets regularly saying, "my arm does hurt." His hand is having swelling so Jason is trying to keep it elevated on a pillow when he lies down. Jason keeps saying, "My knuckles looks so funny." When he goes to PT on Monday, I am sure they will check his arm. Jason said that the bloc kept his arm paralyzed and fingers numb. As Sunday went on his hand "became more normal feeling." Jason feels the bandage is a "huge_______" and much heavier than expected. It limits the range of motion in his left wrist so Jason cannot tell if there is improvement at this point. The Doc said he would put as much support as thought Jason needed after the surgery, so he must have felt Jason needed "very close to an actual cast."

Friday during surgery prep; the anesthestist had said, "When the pain meds run out from the pain pump, you can easily pull out the tube." Gulp, this morning it was time to bite the bullet, do the deed. I knew I couldn't talk Jason to go to ER to have it removed, I wasn't even going to try. The tube, where it enters Jason's skin tissue is double the width of a human hair-very fine. They wrap coils of this very fine tube around the entrance site, hold it down with the serri strips, (narrow bandage strips) three in this case, then apply what I would call a "glad wrap" sticky patch about 4 inches square to keep it all in place. Now Jason has chest hair and all this sticky stuff is very stuck to the hair. I took scissors because I thought I would be able lift up and to cut the patch away. Jason didn't yell but he pursed his lips so tight my heart got stuck in my throat which made it harder for me to concentrate on finding where the insert site was and to continue to remove the wrap even as I knew it was hurting him. I cut and pulled and cut and pulled until I had about an inch square junk left. I knew I had to be over the site, so trusting I began to pull up and out.

Then my mouth fell open as I pulled out and pulled out tubing (I felt like a magician pulling scarfs out of hat) "Jason, this tube is long!" (another thing the doc didn't tell me to be prepared for!). About 6 inches of tubing was removed from Jason's shoulder (who knows where the "below the elbow nerve" is located.) It is marked every inch or so, so I kept looking for these little blue markers, finally it ended. It was out with hardly a mark in his skin except for some of the sticky patch, I said, "Jason, that will come off in the shower". Of course, I have no idea how long as Jason still has the strips on his bottom from surgery on the 2/28. This stuff sticks! But I am glad the tube is out and I don't ever want to be called on to do it again. Thanks be to God.

Jason felt much better after being "freed from the pain pump." Jason reminded me of when he had his butt vacs removed. He said, "Let's go to a movie" So off we headed to Silver Spring giving Jason his first ride in his new loaner Nissan Pathfinder. We went to see the "Scary Movie 4," Jason warned me it will have "really, really bad writing." The movie did not disappoint us with good writing. As I had not seen numbers 1-3, I really can't compare to 1 and 2 which Jason liked. I thought some of the "gags" were over the top, but that is what I expected, so it met my expectations. But you need to be "movie and TV savvy" as it is a movie spoofing the latest happenings in the media including War of the Worlds, Brokeback Mountain and the Oprah Winfrey show. Jason had to explain the connections to me.

Jason spent the day finishing off his pizza saying, "Don't have much of an appetite." After the movie we stopped off at Whole Foods for a salad and a slice of baked ham for my Easter dinner. When we got back to the room, I ate dinner and Jason and I watched "Groundhog Day" about Punxtawney (hometown of my father Joseph Zatsick) and February 2 with Bill Murray. It was such a beautiful late afternoon I decided to walk my 2.5 miles around the track. The azaleas are in full bloom, the almond blossoms are fading. The ground was covered with squirrels and flocks of male robins looking for dinner. The flicker was back looking so beautiful with his red cap and black chest band. I wept at the beauty of God's creation and what humanity is doing to the earth.

After my walk I decided to phone visit with my sister Tina in Livonia, her son Mike and our cousin Mike who lives next door. They are all doing well and it was good "being with them" by phone. I called my friend Cindy whom I have known since we moved to Blacksburg VA in 1979. Cindy and I worked to start a hospice for the New River Valley. She has suffered a number of losses recently and we shared our stories of grief and the process of healing. We shared our belief in the Communion of Saints and how deceased patients and family members are our saints whom we call upon to "be with us in our time of suffering." I told Cindy of how I pray to all the soldiers I ministered to in my hospice chaplaincy and know these good soldier saints are watching over Jason and helping in his healing. Soldiers from WWII, Korea and Vietnam surround Jason with love. It is so good to have such sisters as Cindy in faith to share and to support.

Easter Sunrise Service at WRAMC
Each year WR has an Easter service in the rose garden across from the original WR hospital, known as Building 1. This year it was the 50th year since Rev. Billy Graham spoke at the service. A newspaper article was flashed on the screen read in 1956 over 10000 folks came to hear Billy. This year (after 9/11 security measures, I am sure. Today I heard it was because President Bush made a visit to the hospital, but I cannot prove that.) I would say about 300 attended the service on a clear blue sky morning but very chilly. I was glad I wore a sweater and coat. This year the Rev David Graham his son and successor gave the homily. His own son is a Army Ranger and is "somewhere in Iraq." I felt connected to him, for David is where I was emotionally and spiritually for all of 2005 "Will Jason come back from Iraq?" and praying that would do so.

The music was fantastic with the Army Chorus and Ricky Skaggs and his wife Sharon White singing "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Somebody's Praying" which brought tears to my eyes. A volunteer at WRAMC Gracie Rosenberger from TN who had both legs amputated in a car accident in 1983 also sang and has a beautiful voice. She could speak directly to the loss of the soldiers, "I know what it's like to pull back the bedsheet and see less of your body and wonder 'Am I going to be a freak? Will people stare? Will people accept me?'"

The Rev. Graham's homily and understanding of the death of Jesus did not agree with my own theology so it was difficult for me "to stay with him." His request for us to have a personal relationship with Jesus (Christianity is the only religion which saves) and that the "Bible was historically correct" jarred my soul. Certainly his prayer for the troops and for the healing of the soldiers here at WR was supportive to those attending.

Katy's Reflection on the Death of Jesus and Resurrection of Jesus
(Rev David's homily made me ponder once again my own understanding of the resurrection event)

Humanity "never fell from grace into sin in the garden." Evolution, supported by evidence found by paleontologists reveals the opposite. Humanity gained consciousness of self and the search for meaning-God through evolution from common ancestors. I call it a 'reverse fall'-up from animal consciousnesss to a human consciousness that experiences life as, "I am an individual identity." The God of Evolution can best be described as Mystery hidden both in the development of human DNA with its consciousness and the ongoing creation of new universes, planets and stars. We know that evolution is always toward complexity and humans, plants and animals continue to evolve. Suffering is inherent in all living systems: trees, plants, birds and animals all get sick, age, get hurt, and ultimately die. One Mystery created and continues to create both life and death: it is our reality and the reality of universes.

Jesus was born, lived and died a Jew. Jesus was killed for political reasons by the religious leaders of his time-just as Jeremiah was thrown down a well to die and Joseph sold into Egyptian slavery. (Just as Joan of Ark died in fire and many other examples of Christian murder of those who challenged the status quo/systems of power) The God of Mystery is not a child abuser. God did not require Jesus to die on the cross "to save us," human sin of desire for power tortured and killed Jesus. What did Jesus do and why do we celebrate his life and resurrection?

Jesus' life overturned the ruling paradigm of human behavior from one of self interest to one he named "the Reign of God." Its hallmarks are physical, emotional and spiritual healing, sacrifice for the other, love for others as one is to love oneself, and reconciliation within the community. We are "not the individuals of consciousness created in us by evolution" but to be fully human are embedded in loving, caring, sharing circles of compassion and altruism. Immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus:

The first Christian communities of Acts 4:32-35:
"The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common...There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need."

This is the Christian paradigm of community and theology as St. Ireanus wrote, "God is the human fully alive." That is who Jesus is, why He rose, and why He lives today. Jesus IS the human fully alive and his Love is our own to live and breathe and in whom we have our being. We are called to live in the Reign of God and to enflesh it as Jesus and the early Christian communities did. In our time and place Compassion is found in all non-violent movements for justice and peace whether in the political, social, earth's environment, or religious life of our communities, nations and the world.

When we choose to enter into the Christian life enfleshing the reign of God in works for justice and peace, we enter into Mystery/God at a new level and resurrection continues: Life, Death and Life restored. I could write more but this is a beginning as I again participate in resurrection; this year especially after Jason's near death. May Jason live a life of resurrection, walking in a garden of delight in life filled with pleasure and rich experiences beyond my prayers for him. Surely, the God who is creating universes will create such a life of blessings for Jason. This is my hope of resurrection Easter 2006.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday: A Day for TV as Jason Recuperates

Jason slept in till 9:30 this morning. Jason had a peaceful night as he did not need to wake me for more percocet. Thanks be to God. Jason woke up to watch the movie "Wild, Wild West" with Will Smith and Kevin Klein. It is hilarious and the perfect "after-surgery" movie in my book. Mad cap, slapstick comedy.

Jason is feeling better this morning, did not want more percocet. Jason decided he wouldn't do the "refill" on his pain pump but let it run out late Saturday. Jason drank juice but didn't want any food. I went downstairs and met Joe having breakfast who offered to check in on Jason while I was away this evening for the Easter Vigil service at Quixote. Joe was very happy because he is now working in the chaplain's office for about 3 days a week "being an altar boy and anything they ask of me." Rose Ann from Quixote gave me some holy water bottles from Lourdes and I will be giving them to Joe to take when he visits Lourdes at the end of April. A group flies wounded soldiers and their spouses to Lourdes.

Jason decided he wanted some KFC strips of some kind. So I headed over and got him Honey BBQ boneless wings. He was able to manipulate the fork well enough today to feed himself. "Yes"

Looks like a movie day for Jason, he just finished watching another about three 20 somethings following their friend's directions to a "treasure" and their adventures in the mountains. After that movie Jason said,"Let's watch Zorro." We began to watch the movie but Jodi called, I hit the pause button and she and Jason talked for an hour. I went to the lobby and called family members to wish them "Happy Easter." When I got back, Jason and I finished Zorro then he said, "I'm hungry for pizza." (again) So I called Pizza Hut and Jamel (the counter manager) recognized me from yesterday. I was very impressed as he must have 100's of customers in for pick-up each day.

When I got back Jason was watching "Top Chef" He said, "I am addicted to this show." He knew all the chefs and is waiting to see who is "top chef." So I think he is like my side of the family. He enjoys talking about the food and watching the challenges that are presented to the contestants.

I packed up his uniform and will take to Lisa's later this week for storage. I think her garage must be close to full with Jason's things including his auto. I wrote "Thank you's" as Jason receives cards and letters of support. Vicky sent him copies of articles from the San Francisco Chronicle presenting the challenges to families and soldiers here at Walter Reed. The series ran the week of March 26. Miles sent him mementos of The Bataan Death March Memorial marathon held in Nevada each year which he participated in.

At 7 I headed to Quixote for celebration of the Easter Vigil. Fr. Bill presided for our circle of about 10. As always we worshiped in the room filled with beautiful art from Nicaragua. I had purchased a lily and hyacinth for Holy Thursday; tonight they were in full-bloom and their fragrance filled the air. Fr. Bill inscribed the Easter candle with the cross and the Alpha and Omega, as he placed the nails, we prayed for all those who suffer:
  • from war throughout the world
  • from diseases and natural disasters
  • from human trafficking and human rights abuses
  • for the earth because of our human degradation of the environment
We blessed the water and then each other asking the Spirit to bless each of our ministries and our lives. We prayed for peace and justice throughout the world that Jesus who died and rose would lead us to a New Earth. We blessed the bread and wine and shared the body and blood of transformation from death to life; ALL are daughters and sons of a Loving God.

Blessings to each of you in this time of new life; may Easter Sunday be a time of friends and family, good food and happy memories for you all. Blessings of Easter be with you all. A special thanks to all who offer support to Jason through cards, letters, emails or your prayers and good thoughts. Thank you for being a circle of healing love for Jason

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday: Jason is Able to Move Wrist 95 Degrees

We were up at 5:15 to head to the hospital for Jason's "early" surgery. We arrived on ward 67 and did the usual undress routine, sat down and waited. Jason was the only one to go to surgery a little after 7 AM. I sat with Jason until he was going to be under and then headed for the very, very familiar waiting room. I waited until 10 and hadn't received a call. I had the Red Cross volunteer call the OR for an update. Jason should be done. "Jason has not yet gone into OR" said the RN. I knew this would be a long, long morning. He had been "bumped from the queue" Jason went into surgery about 10:30 and surgery was completed by noon. They had to put Jason's IV in his left foot and his oxygen monitor got taped to his toe. (This is what happens when you are missing an arm and having surgery on the remaining one.) The MD tried the right foot first but it was no go, no vein available.

As I was watching the anesthetist MD prepare Jason with many monitors and tubes, I looked again at his OR hat, a cap that ties on in back. (Dr. Golarz wears one that says "Go Bears" which he asked Jason to read pushing his head about 4" from his face when Jason was worried about his eyesight upon his arrival.) This one was a little different it was brightly colored and covered in skulls. I had to ask him being a MD preparing persons for surgery... "Your cap is a little different?" He replied, "I am working on changing my image. I am in the Air Force (and get no respect from the army guys was implied by the tone of his voice.) Jason sorta out of it took a look and said, "Cool" and we all laughed with the "Captain working on his image."

After surgery Dr. Farber came to the waiting room to tell me "The surgery went really well. Under anesthesia, I could move his wrist 95% His results are the best I have yet achieved." Jason must start PT on the wrist Monday. It is well bandaged but no cast. Dr. F's only warning "If you see blood in the bandage go to ER."

When we arrived in the anesthesia area, the MD's were preparing a new form of block for Jason's left shoulder. Later throughout the day everyone was impressed as they had not seen them yet. If you have been following the blog, you know that Jason arrived with one of these in each shoulder, put in in Germany. Those were fed by a standard IV pump. The MD wanted us to lobby Congress to get them "into the field in Iraq."

Today Jason's was a portable, called a "stryker" with ability to give a bolis every 20 minutes (programmed). This portable pump gives Jason about 100 cc's of ripovaine every 8 hours. He was to go home with it and I was to pull the needle out on Sunday. "Say what?" I said. Jason did go to Mologne with it however it literally leaves him "handless" as it has frozen all nerves below the elbow. I had to feed him pizza for dinner and Jason did not like it a bit. "I want it out tomorrow (Saturday). I know this is not the right decision for pain control, but it is Jason's to make. Why? Dr. Farber said he had to use the hammer and chisel to remove a 3-4 inch long bridge of bone from between the ulna and radius; 1 1/2 hours of chiseling. I assume an orthopedic surgeon does not request a portable block if percocet and motrin (by mouth) can do the pain control job. I do know the first couple of days after surgery are the most painful.

When we were in the recovery room, who should come by but Dr. Scott Golarz pushing a patient from surgery. Dr G being Jason's very favorite surgeon stopped, "What you doing here?" Jason told him and asked, "How is it going?" Dr G (the one who recognized a Rogers Park bar in Jason's picture, memories of his time at Northwester U), with his arms on Jason's gurney bar lowered his head. "I have to work this Easter and I have to be here at 5:30 to attend the Easter Sunrise service. I am as religious as the next man..." I had to laugh and I wanted to give him a hug for he and the Doctors (and staff) at WR are the very best when it comes to healing the wounds of war. (I have heard what residency programs are like (Dr. G is the chief resident) and here there is no end to the soldiers coming Sunday, Tuesday and Friday.) Smiling, I said to Dr. Golarz, "I'll see you Sunday, have a great Easter." If I were the head of a MD training program...

We put Jason in a wheelchair and he rode the WR shuttle van back to Mologne, first time for the trip in a wheelchair for Jason. With his arm in a sling and a pump hanging from his shoulder, I was not going to try to have Jason walk the trip to Mologne. He was not a happy camper. As soon as Jason got to Mologne, out of the wheel chair he jumped and said, "I will walk to the room." But I was very much relieved that he did not attempt to walk to Mologne; it would have felt like attempting Mt. Everest for me.

What to do now? Jason said, "Let me watch Sin City" a violent film that is definitely not my type. I set him up on the bed to watch his after-surgery movie and decided to take a book outside "in the back yard of Mologne." Today was another beautiful blue sky spring day. The dogwoods and azaleas are in full bloom. Mologne has wonderful benches everywhere. I sat and ate my lunch of salad and just sat and listened to the birds-cardinals, sparrows, fish crows. This beautiful garden area feels like a sanctuary from the suffering of the soldiers and their families and friends.

Nancy the mother I went to Silver Springs with came up. "Want to play Scrabble?" I have not played in years and knew I would not be good at it. Nancy has a portable scrabble board and a very good rule. She plays with her children, now adults and it sounded "cutthroat"except she has a scrabble dictionary. You can look words up to see if what you are thinking works. (Actually it is to find words with your letters.) Nancy said, "The game is to learn new words" and score the points you can. Great rule. I came up with the most creative word except the dictionary didn't tell us what it meant "wahine: noun, plural." If you know, let us know as we spent the rest of the game making comments "What could wahine mean?" The game was interrupted by Jason's movie ending and his wanting Pizza Hut pizza.

Thanks to Nancy and Ken's generous gift, I had wheels to go to the Pizza Hut and make a stop at Hollywood for Zorro and the Weatherman. I delivered Pizza to the Ladies at the table and took Jason's pepperoni 1/2 and my veggie lovers half to the room. After dinner Jodi called and as they talked, I worked on the blog. As it is now going on 10 I don't think there will be a movie for me tonight. Getting up at 5 AM makes a long, long day.

Let us give thanks that Jason's surgery went well. Please keep the healing of this arm in your good thoughts and prayers. Please pray that the bone growth does not return. We did not make it to radiology today, Jason's late surgery threw their schedule off. Please pray for pain control for Jason. He has done so well with pain control till today. Jason just took 2 percocets as he said, "the arm hurts." Please pray that he sleeps well tonight.

Blessings at Easter time. Celebrate the cycles of life; life, death and life anew.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Gifts of Community: A Car for Jason's Use

Jason said he feels better but had a difficult time sleeping last night. He did not get out of bed until 10:15 this morning. Looking at his calendar he did not make the check-up after his hip surgery yesterday-sick in bed. So we will have to reschedule that one. We got a call that General Webster was visiting troops today and Jason was invited to meet with him in the hospital. Jason wound up not being able to visit with him.

I left for my therapy session and Jason said that he would head to PT at 1 PM. Jason had his hour of stretching and strengthening with Kyla. Jason spent an hour's time in radiation oncology with Dr. Wilson who will perform the treatment tomorrow after surgery. It is scheduled for 1 PM. Jason's surgery is now scheduled for the first round 7-8 AM. We have to report at 6 AM to ward 67 for check in. Good friend Martha Turner is completing test at WR tomorrow. She said she would try to catch up with Jason there.

When I returned at about 3 PM, I got a call, "Quick, mom, bring my boxing gloves to Prosthetics, pronto." I rifled through his chest from Iraq and found them and headed for the 3rd floor of WR. Jason was being fitted for his body powered prosthetic. Jason admitted that the muscle/electronic one was "pain in the__" for him. He has worn it a very small amount of time outside of OT. Pray that he is able to learn and manipulate this prosthetic and is comfortable with his new prosthetic. I understand that it should arrive next week.

I asked Dan if they were involved in the DARPA research on the next generation of arms/hands. He said "yes," but couldn't tell me more as it was "classified" I said, "Classified? Jason is a subject in the program." Dan replied with a smile, "Good we need a few guinea pigs!" So I have no idea what they are doing in this research project but obviously more than Jason's "right arm."

The whole idea of the visit for Jason was to begin work on the boxing hand prosthetic. So they were taking measurements up and down Jason's arms. Jason's right arm HO gave him a twinge of phantom pain during the fitting, he said, "I could feel my index finger burn." Dan said, "Where does it hurt on your residual arm?" Jason said that he couldn't find a MD yet to get permission for a kayak and swimming prosthetics.

Late in the afternoon, Jason was talking to Jodi and watching TV. The phone rang and I answered it. Jason's 3rd ID liaison had been trying to reach him all day before surgery tomorrow. The phone system here at Mologne is phoohey, a person calling from the outside cannot hear us, phone line is really statically etc. So...I thought the gentleman on the other end was Sgt. Witson. I told Jason, "Jason Sgt Witson is trying to reach you." "Jodi, just a second I have to answer this call."

"Hello, Sgt?"
"Oh, Sir.. and the conversation continues adamantly"
including General Webster's wanting to know "Why the phone had such poor reception."
Jason gets off the phone, recalls Jodi and says, "My mother set me up, that wasn't the Sgt. It was General Webster (3rd ID commander in Iraq and a two star general)." I thought with you on the phone, the TV on the phone kaput, it was amazing I heard anything. General Webster has visited WR before and was calling Jason to see how he was doing and to wish him well during surgery on Friday. General Webster is a really neat man and Jason respects him and because Jason does, so do I.

I went to Quixote Center for Holy Thursday's liturgy and potluck. Tonight we each took a turn washing another's foot. What does it mean to be servants of the other? "To do as I do?" Nancy and Ken members of our weekly circle gave Jason a gift today. Jason now has a Nissan pathfinder for his use as long as he is in DC. I began to cry when I tried to offer them thanks on Jason's behalf. God is truly present in the Love we share with one another in community.

Saturday and Sunday April 8 and 9 Blog Entries

I had great difficulty in getting the blog written and posted for last Saturday and Sunday. Difficult to connect to the blog on the web. It was finally posted last evening, they are posted in chronological order. So if you want to read about the weekend...

Thanks Joe for sorting and updating the photos, as usual there are more in the mail :-)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Jason Feeling Better but Stomach Still Cramping

I awoke at regular time to hear Jason say, "I'm feeling a little better, but I need to sleep." (sounds like the 24 hour thing. Head of OT said his staff was getting hit by it too) He rolled over and slept to 10 AM. I went down and got Jason a toasted bagel; he was able to eat a 1/2 with cream cheese and 1/2 apple juice. I washed clothes then decided, "I think I will sleep too." So I went back to bed on this cooler, wind-blowing, getting cloudy day in DC.

After I awoke, I talked it over with Jason and thought I would try to catch "the keeper of the consent forms" who is only available at the PM&R clinic on Wednesdays. The forms must be signed and returned by Jason if he is to participate in the Pentagon's research and development of the next generation of prosthetic arms that I have written about before. Until today, neither Jason nor I had been able to ''corner her." So I called first and talked to her to be sure she was there and then headed to the clinic to pick up the forms. Jason signed them and will return them on the next trip to the hospital for PT.

I continued to work on the blogs, Saturday and Sunday are taking me for ever. All of a sudden, Jason said, "Got to go it is almost one." I couldn't believe it was, except we hadn't gotten up to 10. Jason said, "I am going to see, She's the Man" I said, "I would like to come" so we headed out after PT. We ate a light lunch at Whole Foods and went to the show. Both of us enjoyed the play based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: modern setting of soccer competition. After we ate dinner at the Noodle Bowl. Jason headed back to the room, I stopped at safeway to buy my addiction of Starbuck's Mocha Frappuchino coffee.