Kevin Kammerdeiner, the story of a Wounded Warrior.

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Kevin Kammerdeiner, the story of a Wounded Warrior.

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:39 am

Private Hotwheels is part of The Grave Diggers, an Army Platoon in Iraq, he was filling a Generator with OIL and it exploded and even though he was wearing the correct equipment he has burns to more than 60% of hs body...please, read this post his mother wrote today...we have Thousands of Wounded Warriors/Veterans, they will be around for 50 years, we must not, ever, forget them...
Matt's desire is to just be normal again. It's tough to be 19 and know you have to have everything done for you, that you have to learn all over again to use the body that, just a few months ago, was in it's best physical condition ever. It is no longer just a physical battle for Matt, but a mental battle as well, and it is overwhelming for him. For now, this is his "new normal," and he has to come to terms with it and push on. I'm certain, in time, he will. PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is very real and is as painful to watch someone go through as the physical trauma we watched grip our son for the first 7 weeks. The ct scan revealed that he has abnormal abdominal fluid and an infected gall bladder. It is probable that Matt will be having surgery to remove his gall bladder soon, but they are going to do a few tests over the next few days. The fever continues, it is not super high, but over 101 all day long, for several days now. The call button issue was resolved tonight by clipping it to his gown and he can press his chin down to activate it. That seems to work ok. I certainly have learned to accept minor pain in my own body as I watch what my son and others here put up with on a daily and sometimes permanent basis. Before Matt is allowed to go to sleep at night, his arms are place in metal (padded) slings (they look more like trays to me), that extend straight out from his body so that he looks like he is in the cross position. (This is to help with stretching his skin as it heals and promotes range of motion.) Then splints are placed over his wrists and hands, usually by then, his fingers are so stiff, that they have to be stretched and worked into the splint form. His feet are both put in a type of support boot and then padded (because of the pressure sores that are developing) and propped so as to help combat the foot drop that was occurring back in ICU. Lying on his back without moving, is his only position. Today is the first day his head has laid on a normal pillow. His scalp was used in the last skin graft and his hair is just starting to grow in, though the pillowcase is already very stained from some small sores and yellow medicine that is used. Matt's assessment of today was that it was not a very good day. The tilt chair proved to be a challenge for him, he continually felt like he was going to pass out, though he did manage to get to the 75 degree position and maintain it for 25 minutes. He vomited at the end and didn't quite make it to the desired 30 minutes.
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Ralph » Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:16 am

It's of course a paradox that with each decade, and each conflict, military medicine saves more men and women than ever. But the tag line is that permanent disability is also present in greater numbers and that translates into an urgent moral and legal imperative to provide lifelong rehabilitation, if necessary, and care for these personnel. And the simple reality is that this administration has shirked its duty to our veterans and the American people by not providing optimum resources for all returning war veterans and especially those who are in the National Guard.
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by piston » Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:02 am

While it is customary to give some credit to the federal government for "taking good care" of our veterans, people don't always appreciate how older veterans, at their regional and national conventions, are constantly involved in pressing the fed to address unresolved issues and directing its attention to negligent government behavior and inadequate policies. I was "briefed" on this question by such a regional representative last week end, a good friend, Vietnam veteran, who spends the bulk of his time on such business travels, away from his wonderful family.
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:05 pm

In a way, Matt is lucky because his injuries are so severe that he receives all the Medical help and attention he needs, the night that his mother describes is his second night out of Intensive Care, after he was taken off the Critical list, but, there are over 30,000 wounded Troops and many are not getting any help, especially with PTSD, the Government would rather let the Oil companies make huge profits and the Mega Rich pay less taxes, if just a fraction of that money went to look after Veterans it would help, there are five other soldiers in the Hospital Unit he is in, they have missing limbs, are blinded and missing huge chunks of their head, or, like Matt badly burned, this kid has made incredible progress in the last seven weeks but as you both say, what about him ten or twenty years from now, will he be forgotten, how many will be homeless, how many will actually still get the Help they deserve for the terrible sacrifice they have made for their country...
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Steinway » Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:17 pm

How incredibly sad to read about this tragic story. This young man has a dreadful future in store and I wonder...

were kids like this put in harm's way for a just cause? Was it our right, our obligation to make Iraq into a democracy, or where there other motivations by the Bush/Cheney group that were less than honest reasons to offer our youngsters up for sacrifice?

I've read and seen so much about the shabby treatment we've offered to our servicemen and women who have been injured, it makes me sick thinking about it.

History will be the judge of this, and the tragedy is that the casualties will suffer the consequences and those whose decisions directly responsible for the agony will go on with their lives, as usual.

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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:42 pm

Cliftwood wrote:How incredibly sad to read about this tragic story. This young man has a dreadful future in store and I wonder...

were kids like this put in harm's way for a just cause? Was it our right, our obligation to make Iraq into a democracy, or where there other motivations by the Bush/Cheney group that were less than honest reasons to offer our youngsters up for sacrifice?

I've read and seen so much about the shabby treatment we've offered to our servicemen and women who have been injured, it makes me sick thinking about it.

History will be the judge of this, and the tragedy is that the casualties will suffer the consequences and those whose decisions directly responsible for the agony will go on with their lives, as usual.
Much as I am against the War, and the questionable reasons for going to War, you can't just go and blame Bush and Co for Matt's injuries, we have an all Volunteer Army, they went to War which is what they were trained to do, and many have been killed or badly injured...I write to Matt's mother almost every day, she posts a journal and I try each day to think up a new way to offer my sympathy, help, support etc...she has been keeping this journal for seven weeks and there have 39,000 hits on Matt's Website, I have never read one word from his parents or any of the many 'Soldiers Angels' that also write to her that indicates she is angry about the War, to question the validity of the cause is wrong, these kids believe in their mission and want to complete it, calling into question the validity of the War is disrespectful to all the soldiers fighting, we cannot say that we do not support them, or their cause, to quote Col. Bob, "You can't blame the War on the Warriors, and you can't blame the Warriors for the War"...

If you want to learn more about Matt here is his website...writing a message of support to his mother gives her something to cherish, but please don't question the reason for her heartbreaking situation...

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/matthewwheeler
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Steinway » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:03 pm

Chalkman..I don't agree that questioning the validity of the Iraq war is disrespectful to the soldiers who are fighting there and doing their duty.

The reasons they are put into harms way is a subject that always be seriously examined and a question every American has a right to know.

I do support every single one of them, God bless them , which is more than got from the Pentagon, including inadequately armored vehicles .

I'm shocked and saddened by how little attention this subject has been pursued by the press.

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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:34 pm

Cliftwood wrote:Chalkman..I don't agree that questioning the validity of the Iraq war is disrespectful to the soldiers who are fighting there and doing their duty.
I struggled with that particular sentence for a long time yesterday, and left it in after much soul searching, maybe if I said, questioning the validity at THIS stage of the War is disrespectful...they have been fighting for five long years, The Surge Worked (i'm sick of reading and writing that particular phrase) I know you support them, I am very sensitive to Matt's injuries, it cuts me up every day when I read his mom's posts, and all the Grunts I talk to, write to, and get letters and blogs from believe in their cause...I hope that makes better sense, after all, I don't give a damn about the Treasure Spent but I sure as Hell care about the Blood that has been Spilled...
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:44 pm

Cliftwood wrote:I do support every single one of them, God bless them , which is more than got from the Pentagon, including inadequately armored vehicles .

I'm shocked and saddened by how little attention this subject has been pursued by the press.
I don't have the time to go into all that now, but I will say that they need new Helmet Linings, New Body Armour, new Rifles and Handguns and new Combat Boots...lets start with the Helmets...this wonderful Doctor and his Father are doing all they can...

http://www.operation-helmet.org/index.html
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Re: This Is pretty depressing UPDATED...

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:31 am

A new warrior was admitted to the ICU over the weekend, his name is Mario, and he has suffered extensive burns on his upper body, especially his face and lost one arm in the conflict. I don't have an update on Kevin or Joel yet.
Matt's mom just posted this, a new soldier with horrific injuries just got here from Iraq, the military does not give out these pieces of information, this is the price in blood of War...
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:33 am

THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2008 11:31 PM, CDT
Matt had a really good day, no fever and a pretty good appetite. Not too much stimulation to frustrate him, and some strengthening of his leg muscles in therapy.
I visited often today with Joel's parents as they waited for him to have his surgery. He was bumped from first to second surgery. Due to mechanical complications, his surgery did not begin until 4:00 pm today. It was a very long day for his parents, for they arrived at the hospital at 6:00 this morning expecting him to go to surgery first and even longer for Joel, for he said often how that he was hungry and thirsty. I don't have a post surgery update for him yet. Kevin was expected to be transfered to the poly trauma unit at the VA hospital in Tampa yesterday, but Fay has delayed his transfer. He will be receiving his titanium skull there. After his treatment is complete in Tampa, he will be back here at BAMC to continue his treatment and rehab.
Matt took his first steps on Wednesday and may not have his Gall Bladder removed...Joel has a major chunk of his skull missing, and I think is also blind, he is geting a titanium skull...pretty amazing what these doctors can do, it reminds me of the six million dollar man...of course more stories are coming out about the low quality of treatment the soldiers with PTSD are getting but at least we can read about progress on these kids who, in any previous War, would have died on the battlefield...Matt and Joel are in good hands...
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by absinthe » Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:38 pm

Just very depressing - along with the way some wounded are still treated here in the UK. I won't say more. I grabbed my soap-box to give a tirade about politicians but decided against.

At least this story affords some encouragement.

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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:22 pm

I have been updating this now and then because this is as real as it gets, we can all imagine what Matt will look like when all is done, not too pretty unfortunately, but, Col. Bob tells me that these kind of Veterans are truly the Salt of the Earth, it is a long slow process but he is at the best Burns Unit the US Military has...as for all the other Vets, we all read about the lack of proper care, and red tape surfaces constantly, i'll occasionally update when there is something worth posting, his mother describes his situation in such detail that you almost feel like you are in the room with him, and his site has had nearly 40,000 hits in seven weeks, people do care about him and the other Vets and we must never, ever forget them...
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News about my Friend Matt...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:59 pm

Matt's Mom is a very Christian Lady who is putting a lot of Faith in God to help her Son recover, here is her entry from tonight, and then the messages she is talking about...
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2008 11:57 PM, CDT
I don't want to discourage anyone from leaving Matt a message, but I can't say I'm too happy about the language used in a few of the recent guestbook entries. This isn't a "myspace" site where anything goes and we are planning on having this bound when Matt's recovery is complete. I can't control how any of you speak, but I will say "Thank You" to all of you that have shown respect here for all that Matt has been through in the way you have expressed your thoughts.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2008 07:02 PM, CDT
DUDE! Wheeler ..I've been tryin to get ahold of you for some time man its been too long and this wasn't the coolest way to find your hillbilly ass....apparently theres like 14 Matt Wheeler's in the Army....
hit me back bro

Brandon Yager brandonygr@yahoo.com

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2008 06:04 PM, CDT
hey bro its bowman. sh*t man its been a little minute. hope ur doin alright. hit me back when u get a chance. take care man. peace

jon bowman thabowman@yahoo.com
memphis, TN
United States

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2008 05:47 PM, CDT
YOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! My brother it has been too long man, I know you hit a rough patch but you will be alright. Your a bad mo********er man and i love you brother... hang in there and email me sometime... ok adrian.p.oneill@gmail.com Let me know how your doing bro!!!

-O'Neill

Adrian O'Neill adrian.p.oneill@gmail.com

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2008 05:11 PM, CDT
Just wanted to say hi buddy. Get better and keep truckin'.

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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2008 11:48 PM, CDT
I understand your concern over the language, but, these sound like soldiers, one found Matt and then contacted his buddies, and so you have four messages within two hours...maybe a male nurse could read them to him, I think he would appreciate knowing they have found him, the Internet is a wonderful thing..best...chalkie

Chalkie Davies chalkie@daviesandstarr.com
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If anybody is interested in checking up on Matt here is a link, a Charity called Caring Bridge supplies free Websites for people who are critically ill, it's not anything to do with the Military, but lots of Soldiers families use it, it can be tough going reading it, but, I think it is worth it, after all we don't get stories like this in the papers and stuff and it's his mom who writes every day...

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/matthewwheeler
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Re: Some Good News about my Soldier Buddy with the Burns...

Post by absinthe » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:54 pm

You know, it's nice to hear of this camaraderie. Here's hoping his recovery continues.

And of course, that the many other wounded who return make a recovery and enjoy the same concern.

:)

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Re: Some Good News about my Soldier Buddy with the Burns...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:42 pm

His Mom changed her post at 1am this morning not that long after I posted my note, I think she understands what soldiers are like now, as more of them posted today...of course it took his buddies ten weeks to find him because the Military makes no announcements about the wounded, Matt's getting better, he took his first step a week or so ago and he is slowly beginning to recover, an Army General stopped by on his way back to Iraq to visit with him and his Website has had nearly 48,000 hits, he's gonna have a tough time but there is light at the end of the tunnel, the support his mom gets from people is truly amazing and she spends every minute possible at his bedside, she's a real trooper (sic)...
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Re: Some News about my Soldier Buddy with the Burns...

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:10 am

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 03, 2008 04:27 PM, CDT
Matt received a neurological exam on his right foot today and it was determined that he has severe nerve damage to one of the main nerves, relating to his inability to raise his foot.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 05, 2008 12:10 AM, CDT
I don't write much these days, for so much of it is on an emotional level that I don't feel Matt would want me to reveal. In many ways, it is as difficult for us now, as it was when we stood by Matt's bedside in ICU. He is faced daily with the devastation of his body. We feel helpless as he tries to come to grips with what has happened to him and what he is left with. Those wonderful insights, like "it's better to focus on what you still have and not what you have lost," don't work for him. We believe he is and will continue to get better, but what 19 year old has enough life experiences to prepare them for anything this traumatic (I know none of us really do)? No words seem to offer comfort to him now, maybe in time, but not now.
I was afraid this time might come, he's woken up after seven weeks in an induced Coma, the sleep/passive/sedating drugs are wearing off, he is much closer to reality now...there was no post yesterday, the first time since he got transferred from Germany ten weeks ago to the ICU at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, where Corlyss was born in fact, now his mother's words say everything...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt...

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:52 am

Please excuse all the Thread Title changes, it's very much an emotional Roller Coaster ride and Corlyss suggested this title, i'll keep everybody updated on his situation, it's a very difficult journey Matt is on, I have never been party to anything like this before, thanks to all who read this thread I truly appreciate it, we are let into the grim part of the War, the part the Media does not cover but that we all should care about...cd
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Re: News about my Friend Matt...

Post by Werner » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:58 am

What can one say, except to wish Matt the strength and endurance in his struggle for a way to deal with his life's challenges?
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Re: News about my Friend Matt...

Post by living_stradivarius » Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:58 pm

Hang tough, Matt. My best wishes to you on your recovery.
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:00 pm

I'm going to merge the two threads on Chalkie's friend Matt. I made it a sticky too so we won't lose sight of it.
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Re: This Is pretty depressing but please, all of you, read this.

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:35 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:I'm going to merge the two threads on Chalkie's friend Matt. I made it a sticky too so we won't lose sight of it.
I'm speechless that Corlyss has done this so i'll post today's thoughts, we are privy to something very special, very sad but still very special...

I write to his mom about four times a week, in fact I won't start work at the studio till I have read the posts or written to her, finally the guys here got fed up so I read them a couple of his mom's posts, that shut them up...Ironically the Army just gave him a laptop, of course his hands are totally bandaged but that's beaurocracy for you...today many people wrote to her offering support and nobody glossed over the reality which is good I think, and she just posted that they got the Internet working in his room so she is reading all the messages of support, I don't think any of us can imagine what she goes thru, she sits in the waiting room all day except when she is allowed to visit him, my guess is that she spends 18 hours a day at the hospital...and his website has had nearly 50,000 hits, isn't that amazing considering almost none of us knew him before all this, I knew him because he's in the Gravediggers Platoon but all these Soldiers Angel's suddenly appeared, I did not know about them before this...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:55 pm

So, they took him to the Gym yesterday, here is what his mom has to say about it...
Matt's trips to the gym are via wheelchair. It is not a session where he is able to mingle with the other warriors, but he is able to see that he is not alone and in time, maybe he will see enough of the same faces that he will start to make a connection. That usually doesn't happen until the warrior is in outpatient status, because his times in the gym vary. Until yesterday, he has been very isolated. I know that without enough detail, it is hard to imagine what this situation really is for Matt. But it is not something that he looks forward to (yet) or takes pleasure in. He did not come back from the gym yesterday, as one might in a normal life, full of energy and pumped from the workout. Every movement is filled with pain and brings on anxiety and frustration at his present limitations. I'm only sharing this in hopes of giving you a more accurate picture. We were able to speak with the Dr. yesterday that did the neurological test on Matt's right leg. Matt has lost the fibular (peroneal) nerve. We were told that this nerve has a poor chance of recovery, with or without surgery. Treatment consists of physical therapy and a custom-made orthotic (foot splint).
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:33 am

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 07, 2008 12:15 AM, CDT
He was weighed again today. He is down 7 lbs. since he was weighed a few weeks ago. He went into the army at 195 (a year ago) and is now down to 145.5, (he is 6 ft. 1").
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:32 am

This day was a good day all day for Matt. He stood for a little, for the first time, while showering today and walked (assisted) further than he has yet. The splint was put on his right leg and he said it made walking easier. He seemed very encouraged.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by absinthe » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:20 pm

The gym might not seem a good idea while Matt is feeling so frustrated but in time he may start to recognise the faces and start talking, make friends hopefully. It's just so difficult to imagine what his world must be like but one always hopes...perhaps time will put space between "then and now". Counsellors who start on about "think forward, think of what's good about now" have no experience of what it's like.

Best wishes to him anyway.

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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:10 pm

absinthe wrote:The gym might not seem a good idea while Matt is feeling so frustrated but in time he may start to recognise the faces and start talking, make friends hopefully. It's just so difficult to imagine what his world must be like but one always hopes...perhaps time will put space between "then and now". Counsellors who start on about "think forward, think of what's good about now" have no experience of what it's like.

Best wishes to him anyway.
He's been in Hospital for nearly three months but had never seen another Soldier, just his parents and his best friend from his schooldays, it is a long and slow road that he is on, and he is probably feeling awkward about what he looks like, his mom does not really give that away even though her posts give a lot of detail, but I think we can all imagine the way he probably looks...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:58 am

Matt's days are as up and down as a Roller Coaster Ride, today he did quite well, i'm not going to post about him every day unless it's something significant, what is truly incredible is this...

His Website has had 52,000 Hits, it's averaging 750 Per Day...I think that is fantastic, all these Americans dotted around the Globe have found him and are checking in on him, and thinking about him, and his mom...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:43 pm

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2008 11:58 PM, CDT
I feel like rambling a little about Matthew coming into being, I hope you'll bear with me. His name means "gift from God." From the moment of conception, I truly felt that this child I was carrying was a gift, (aren't they all!). I was 32 and had been an infertile woman, though we have a lovely daughter that we were blessed to be able to adopt. At age 30, I was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer and had a tube and ovary removed. Imagine my joy at discovering that I was pregnant a year and a half later.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:45 am

This (Brooke Army Medical Center), is a place with many ups and downs, many joys and sorrows, many reminders of the tragedy of war. An American flag flies right outside the front entrance. It is raised and lowered ceremoniously, on a daily basis. It often flies at half mast in honor of a fallen soldier. Today there was a memorial service for former suicide victims of the war. In the halls, elevators and waiting rooms, the families who have become so familiar to one another, meet and greet one another and share their loved ones recent improvements or setbacks. I'm hoping soon to take some pictures here and put them in the photo section.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:21 pm

Some Geat News on Matt...
Matt's Mom wrote:What a difference a day makes. I've thought that several times since being here, but, today was amazing. I would never have thought that going to liquids would be effective so quickly. (The Dr.'s seem to think the weight of the contrast fluid yesterday, since it is heavier than water, may have helped to open that obstructed area.) Matt feels so much better, no stomach pain and nausea at all today. He was interactive, talkative, laughing, smiling, making jokes, more tolerant. WOW! During PT today, he walked again, assisted, for 100 ft. and stood on his own for 7 minutes. He has never stood on his own, for balance has been an issue, he even took 4 steps without support! We left the room in his wheelchair for a stroll through the hospital. We went all over, to the top floor (7th) to look out at the city, to the lower level to go through the cafeteria and see what was available. To the courtyard to sit for a while and outside the front entrance to sit by the flagpole. After going back to his room for his evening meal (soup, yogurt and a smoothie), Matt went back to the cafeteria to sit with his sister and me for our meal. He has never done that! He has never wanted to leave his room before today. Matt told me that this has been his best day yet!
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Madame » Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:25 am

Chalkperson wrote:Some Geat News on Matt...
Matt's Mom wrote:What a difference a day makes. I've thought that several times since being here, but, today was amazing. I would never have thought that going to liquids would be effective so quickly. (The Dr.'s seem to think the weight of the contrast fluid yesterday, since it is heavier than water, may have helped to open that obstructed area.) Matt feels so much better, no stomach pain and nausea at all today. He was interactive, talkative, laughing, smiling, making jokes, more tolerant. WOW! During PT today, he walked again, assisted, for 100 ft. and stood on his own for 7 minutes. He has never stood on his own, for balance has been an issue, he even took 4 steps without support! We left the room in his wheelchair for a stroll through the hospital. We went all over, to the top floor (7th) to look out at the city, to the lower level to go through the cafeteria and see what was available. To the courtyard to sit for a while and outside the front entrance to sit by the flagpole. After going back to his room for his evening meal (soup, yogurt and a smoothie), Matt went back to the cafeteria to sit with his sister and me for our meal. He has never done that! He has never wanted to leave his room before today. Matt told me that this has been his best day yet!
What wonderful news ... I'd have been in tears ...

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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Sep 20, 2008 1:38 pm

Matts Mom wrote:Matt walked (assisted), the length of a football field today. He is no longer at max-assist, now his assist is at moderate, he receives support, with a person on each side. He is steadily gaining ground. His appetite has picked up and the swelling of his stomach area, that has been a constant since the skin graft was put over it, has gone noticeably down in the last 2 days. His grandparents came in today and that seemed to help cheer him up. He is definitely moving forward!
Another Wounded Warrior wrote:You are already walking farther than I can.

Congratulations guy. I know this has been really trying, but now you hurt less, are healing faster, are walking farther, and are becoming (forgive me for saying this) a much more pleasant person to be around.

I know how pain and loss comes out and hurts those around us, but I can see that your family cares about you a lot and they shrug it off if they can just have you alive and well.

Anyway, keep doing what the physical terrorists are asking you to do so those tired old muscles get built up and get really used to the idea of walking again.
What Great News, the discipline the Army taught him is really coming thru...way to go Matt...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Teresa B » Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:19 am

Madame wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Some Geat News on Matt...
Matt's Mom wrote:What a difference a day makes. I've thought that several times since being here, but, today was amazing. I would never have thought that going to liquids would be effective so quickly. (The Dr.'s seem to think the weight of the contrast fluid yesterday, since it is heavier than water, may have helped to open that obstructed area.) Matt feels so much better, no stomach pain and nausea at all today. He was interactive, talkative, laughing, smiling, making jokes, more tolerant. WOW! During PT today, he walked again, assisted, for 100 ft. and stood on his own for 7 minutes. He has never stood on his own, for balance has been an issue, he even took 4 steps without support! We left the room in his wheelchair for a stroll through the hospital. We went all over, to the top floor (7th) to look out at the city, to the lower level to go through the cafeteria and see what was available. To the courtyard to sit for a while and outside the front entrance to sit by the flagpole. After going back to his room for his evening meal (soup, yogurt and a smoothie), Matt went back to the cafeteria to sit with his sister and me for our meal. He has never done that! He has never wanted to leave his room before today. Matt told me that this has been his best day yet!
What wonderful news ... I'd have been in tears ...
I find myself in tears even now...

It's good to know this brave young man is recovering so well. My heart goes out to his mother and family. Not a war injury, but my own son (19 at the time) in 2005 suffered injuries in an auto accident that had him going through much of the same. In three weeks at Tampa General's rehab center (after 4 weeks in the hospital) he went from not being able to walk a step, brush his hair and teeth, bathe or dress himself, to a joyous homecoming. I felt all those emotions as he first stood up with assistance, asked for a sandwich, looked in the mirror and laughed "Gawd, I look awful!"

At the moment my son is in college and plans to become an occupational therapist. If there's anything I could assure Matt's mother, it is that her dear son is so amazingly resilient, he will continue to amaze her with the speed of his recovery.

My best to Matt and his family. Thanks, Chalkie, for keeping us posted.
Teresa
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:54 pm

Teresa B wrote:I find myself in tears even now...
I find myself near that situation a lot, the guys at the studio know and understand me, but I feel so honored to be a part of this, and I thank Corlyss and Lance for making this a Sticky Post...

Now some beautiful words from his mother, who has incredible resolve, patience, caring and a whole lot else...
It's Sunday, September 21st. Three months ago today, Matt's world changed, as did ours. Matt spent a little over 7 weeks cocooned in the ICU ward, most of it encased in a medically induced coma. Because of all that has happened, Matt's body has undergone a complete metamorphosis. Now, almost 6 weeks out of ICU, he is emerging, much like a butterfly from a cocoon, very much changed. His wings are still wet, his destination uncertain, but his future sure.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:52 pm

Teresa B wrote:I find myself in tears even now...

It's good to know this brave young man is recovering so well. My heart goes out to his mother and family. Not a war injury, but my own son (19 at the time) in 2005 suffered injuries in an auto accident that had him going through much of the same. In three weeks at Tampa General's rehab center (after 4 weeks in the hospital) he went from not being able to walk a step, brush his hair and teeth, bathe or dress himself, to a joyous homecoming. I felt all those emotions as he first stood up with assistance, asked for a sandwich, looked in the mirror and laughed "Gawd, I look awful!"

At the moment my son is in college and plans to become an occupational therapist. If there's anything I could assure Matt's mother, it is that her dear son is so amazingly resilient, he will continue to amaze her with the speed of his recovery.

My best to Matt and his family. Thanks, Chalkie, for keeping us posted.
Teresa
I had quite forgotten about your son's accident. Did the experience persuade him to choose that profession? If so, a life changing event either way. Is he thinking of working with vets in particular? There seems to be a lot of need with the war-injured returning alive but damaged. One can be grateful that so many have survived wounds that would have killed even 15 years ago. Emergency medicine makes so many gains in war-time. But society seems always to have adjust to the mixed blessing.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Teresa B » Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:20 pm

Corlyss_D wrote: I had quite forgotten about your son's accident. Did the experience persuade him to choose that profession? If so, a life changing event either way. Is he thinking of working with vets in particular? There seems to be a lot of need with the war-injured returning alive but damaged. One can be grateful that so many have survived wounds that would have killed even 15 years ago. Emergency medicine makes so many gains in war-time. But society seems always to have adjust to the mixed blessing.
Hey, thanks, Corlyss, for reposting that cute pic of Zell! Yes, his experience did persuade him to look at OT as a career. He did a couple months of volunteer work at Tampa General's rehab unit this summer, and I think he's planning to pursue it. I don't know if he has thought as far as working with vets--but it would be a fabulous decision if he does. We have two huge VA hospitals right here in the Tampa Bay area.

Chalkie's young friend's story is all the more poignant because of his bravery. I find things like this emotionally difficult even to read, because it's almost like reliving my own experience to read the eloquent words of people like Matt's mother. Makes me doubly happy for her, though, at his rapid improvement.
I trust he's still as cute? :wink:
Natch--maybe cuter! :)
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:45 pm

I didn't mean to give the impression that I was hijacking the thread to take away from Chalkie's friend Matt. His recovery thus far from such a horrific injury and the psychological damage at such an early age is miraculous. In case folks have not visited Matt's page, here he is a couple of years ago. Hold his image in your minds when you wish him a speedy recovery.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Teresa B » Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:36 pm

Corlyss, I don't want anyone to think I was hijacking it either. I was only relating my own experience because I felt a flood of emotion when I read about this gentle soldier.

Feel free to remove Zell's picture, as he is doing fine now, and it is the equally handsome Matt we are currently keeping in our minds and hearts as we wish him a speedy recovery.

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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:46 pm

Teresa B wrote:Corlyss, I don't want anyone to think I was hijacking it either. I was only relating my own experience because I felt a flood of emotion when I read about this gentle soldier.

Feel free to remove Zell's picture, as he is doing fine now, and it is the equally handsome Matt we are currently keeping in our minds and hearts as we wish him a speedy recovery.

Teresa
Oh, I know you weren't hijacking the tread. I forgot briefly who was the focus here. You were right to relate to Matt's mom's experience. I will remove Zell's picture.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:33 am

I'm pleased to report that Matt is doing really well. His appetite is excellent, and his meals are all staying down, with no stomach discomfort. He is walking assisted, everyday. Maintaining his balance seems to be a big concern for walking alone. His emotional state also seems better today.
Unfortunately along with the good news comes the bad news...
Joel has not been doing well for over a week now. He has been intubated (on a ventilator) since surgery on the 13th. The Dr.'s told his parents they think Joel is giving up, for he is going backwards. They feel he hasn't been doing this poorly since he first got here from Iraq, (over 6 months ago). He was supposed to be headed to Tampa last week, to the poly-trauma center, for further treatment, but that had to be postponed. Please be praying mightily for Joel.
I'm not exactly sure of the extent of Joel's injuries, he may be blinded and/or an amputee, i'm not sure, there is another soldier in the ICU who was just given a titanium skull, there are seven people in the ICU...

PS, The fact that there are only seven people in the ICU is actually very encouraging, it was packed full of people a couple of years ago, we can thank General Petreaus for that reduction...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:24 am

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2008 04:39 AM, CDT

Matt walked 430 ft. today at minimum assist. That means he had someone at his side, at the ready, if he lost his balance, but he did it on his own! He is working on sitting up by himself and standing without assistance. Without ab muscles, that is a bit more challenging, but he is getting it. He has also gained 1-1/2 lbs in 2 days! Learning to walk is only part of his rehab, for he needs to be able to use his hands as well, that is a bit more slow coming because of the compression wraps around his fingers and hands, and the calcium buildup on his elbows, but apparently he will become an outpatient without regaining use of them first. We have been taking most of our meals in the cafeteria together and it is humbling for Matt to have his mom or dad feed him in public. Yesterday, a woman stopped on her way out to offer him her words of encouragement because she had seen us giving Matt his meal. Another man came up to Matt and, with much emotion, thanked Matt for his service to our country and sacrifices he has made. I know when I first got here, I wanted to stop every person in uniform and thank them (and often did!).
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:47 pm

Great news, Chalkie.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:27 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Great news, Chalkie.
Yes, Matt sure has come a long way in the last week or so, his parents must be so proud of him...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:36 am

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2008 08:07 AM, CDT

By now, it's apparent Matt is increasing his distance walking every day. Yesterday, it was over 500 ft. Some of it assisted and some not, as much as he can handle before getting tired.
I realized that if I was going to get a chance to get back to Tampa for a few days, I had better do it before Matt was released as an outpatient, so yesterday I flew home. I may not get the entries in as consistently for the next 5 days, but my husband Jimmy (Matt's dad, you have to clarify that these days), is there with Matt and doing a wonderful job on his own.
One of the first things I did yesterday after returning home, was contact Kevin's mom. I was able to visit with her, Kevin's sister and Kevin. Kevin said "Hi" to me, with prompting! He has not had his titanium skull surgery yet, but with just some stimulation, he has been responding wonderfully! BAMC is a wonderful burn center, but they do not have the training to work with TBI (traumatic brain injuries). Kevin's mom said after just a day of the nurses speaking to him, he began to respond and is now communicating. Though he is not able to read or speak much yet, his responses indicate that he is aware and understanding. He has even played a card game with them. My only encounters with Kevin at BAMC were when he was in the hall, in the big pink cadillac. Yesterday, I witnessed an amazing difference. He was laying in bed, using the remote to change TV channels, shaking his head in response to questions, he gave his mom a hug and kiss when she came in, he laughed with us and even indicated he wanted to use the keyboard on the laptop! As you can imagine, his family is thrilled of the progress so far and very hopeful for his future.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Teresa B » Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:52 pm

I'm so happy to hear the good news on both these young men. This recovery phase has its setbacks and its leaps forward--but every step forward produces a joy unlike any other. My best wishes to them and their families.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:12 am

Matt's Boss wrote:THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2008 01:27 PM, CDT

Matt- It's amazing to read of your progress since the time I saw you in mid-August! Your buddies in B Troop are doing great work in Sab Al Bor and continue to ask about you every time I get out there to visit. We're just under five months out from redeployment and we're looking forward to having you, and all the rest of our wounded and injured, out to Hawaii after we return home to rejoin the team. Your efforts are motivating for all us us. We're incredibly pleased with your progress and your determination to recover. Keep it up Soldier, we're very proud of you!
COL McCaffrey
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:25 pm

Matt's Mom wrote:Being gone for 5 days was difficult. I missed my boys. Matt has really taken off over these past several days. His body is finally getting enough nourishment that his energy is increasing, allowing him to move forward at an excellerated rate. His attitude has drastically changed. He isn't feeling hopeless anymore and is actually realizing that he is going to regain use of his body. It (his body) doesn't look very good right now, but he is coping with that so much better. I began wound care with him today. For the first time, I have seen what he has been seeing for several weeks. If it wasn't for his head being on his body, I wouldn't know it to be my son. But we realize that though he will never look like he used to a few months ago, what we see now is also temporary. There is still much healing yet to be done. He was really moving down the hall today, a 1000 feet! I got to assist for the first time there as well. I have never seen him walk until today. He wears a support belt with loops in it that 2 people have their fingers through. He tripped a few times and we were able to steady him with our grip on the belt. A procedure was done on his right elbow and tomorrow it will be done on his left. This will help increase his range of motion and eventually be able to feed himself.

Joel is improving, he had the ventilator taken out a few days ago, the pneumonia is gone, but he is very silent and still unable to eat.
Kevin's Mom wrote:This is Kevin's mom's latest update on her blog for Kevin: This is going to be a very quick update. Our second to worst fears were confirmed (the worst being infection or rejection of the shunt). The shunt is either malfunctioning or it is very clogged. We are back in ICU and Kevin is having surgery first thing tomorrow morning. They will either replace the shunt completely or they will replace the malfunctioning part if that is possible. The neurosurgeon is wondering if it is a valve on the shunt, but he can't be sure until he goes into Kevin's head. This is the blog address if you would like to follow his progress: http://www.lesliekamm.blogspot.com/
Take the time, if you can, to read Kevin's Mom's Blog, it's different from Matt's Mom, but just as revealing...
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:30 pm

Kevin's Mom on June 2nd wrote:I am going to quickly try to bring everyone up to speed. For those that don't know, here is the announcement I made days ago to my coworkers and friends:

Hi everyone! I first want to thank you all for your kind emails, visits and text messages. I know there has been a lot of speculation as to what really happened so I will give a quick synopsis.

Kevin was in a NATO convoy driving through the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan on May 31. A suicide bomber filled a vehicle with explosives and drove it into my son's Humvee. I do know that there were 4 people in the Humvee. Both my son and his battle buddy survived the blast - the other two did not. Kev was pulled from the wreckage and rushed to a hospital in J-bad. He has since been flown back to Germany and is now on this way to San Antonio, TX to a military burn unit. Here is a rundown of his medical condition:

He initially had internal bleeding, but they cut his stomach open while he was still in Afghanistan and did manage to stop it. The doctors in Germany 're-opened' the cut this morning and verified that the internal bleeding has stopped.

He has burns on 25% of his body - mainly his face, neck and hands. He will need rehab at least on his hands. He is also on a ventilator at this point, but they have begun weaning him off of that. His left ankle is fractured, but the most severe injury is the head wound. He has a lot of staples in his head and the doctor's are unsure of neurological deficits at this point. I have been told that he may be blind, he may be deaf (particularly in his left ear), and he may have problems with speech. We are unsure of this because it's just too soon to tell, but this is what I was told.

On a good front - he is conscious but sedated. His kidneys and heart are fine and he seems to be responding to the doctor's voice. He was able to grasp the doctor's hand and when the doctor told him that we loved him, I was told he shifted in his bed. We don't know if that was because he was responding or if he just needed to squirm, but I am choosing to believe he understood what was being said.
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Re: News about my Friend Matt

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:44 pm

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2008

Update on Kevin

Hi everyone. I wish I could come on here and tell you all good news, but so much of what I had been told has been incorrect.

I hope you all don't mind me just really saying it like it is. This blog is not going to be for the faint-hearted. I need to get it all out and I know that everyone loves us and everyone wants to be in the know. I don't have time to write numerous emails and I definitely can't talk on the phone much, so this is the avenue I have chosen.

So I am so embarrassed to say that when I walked into Kevin's room for the first time - within 30 seconds I literally dropped to the floor. I fainted. It was the most horrifying moment in my life. I really thought I was prepared. I knew his face was burnt. I knew he was on a ventilator. I knew he had goggles on because his ducts were burnt and couldn't keep his eyes moist. I knew he had tons of staples in his head. I even knew he was sedated. But honestly - nothing could ever prepare you for seeing only gauze and tubes and lips that were nearly burnt off. (did you know that lips will completely grow back in about 2 weeks?)

So the docs had to carry me out of the room and I couldn't even go back in until the next day. I have to ask myself "What kind of mother does that?". And God, I feel horrible for even saying this but he looks so bad. 100% of his face has either 2nd or 3rd degree burns. You can't even tell it's my son.

As for Kev...this is just so horrifying. A lot of what we were told just wasn't right so I will get on with what we are really dealing with here.

Let's see...his left ankle is fractured. That has been splinted so far. He did have internal bleeding and they did manage to get that stopped. I am told that only about 20% of his body is burned (don't you find it sad that I can say 'only 20% and be happy about it?). He is on a ventilator, but he should be off of that within the next few days.

So about the burns? They aren't even the issue. Up until now, I have not really told anybody yet, but the situation is much worse than we thought. We are pretty confident that he will breeze through the burns, which is just great. But the issue is his brain. I wasn't aware until yesterday morning that the surgeons in Afghanistan removed a "fair portion" of his brain. The blast destroyed it. We just don't know if he will ever wake up and if he does we don't know what type of lifestyle he will have.

I have to be honest and say that I alternate between shock and hopelessness and shock and hopefulness. The hopefulness is starting to be more often, but every time I start to feel good, the doctors stress how bad it really is with his brain. I know they are trying to prepare me for the worst, but damnit - they just need to back off for a minute.

So that's it for now. I will update later tonight if I can. I have to get showered and go shopping because I didn't realize that burn victims' hospital rooms need to be kept at between 75 and 105 degrees. I thought it would be cold so I brought all 'winter' clothing. Once I put the gown, hat, gloves and mask on - I already have sweat running down my back and I haven't even walked up to him yet. So I need to go and buy 'summer' clothing - which will be appropriate for 97 degree San Antonio, Texas.

Love everyone - and thanks so much for the support!
FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 2008
Day 6 - June 6, 2008

Kevin had a stroke tonight. Well, let me rephrase - we found out tonight that Kevin had a stroke at some point over the past two days. It was really a bad day.

I will start with the fact that Kev was just thrashing and gagging over the ventilator a good part of today. I had to sit and watch while they suctioned him out and the poor guy about comes right off the bed when they do it. I honestly can't imagine the fear he feels, the pain he is in. I must tell him 15 times a day where he is and why he's there (not the whole truth - just that he was in an accident).

So anyway, this afternoon he had a new nurse and she noticed that when he was thrashing he seemed to be turning his arms and hands at a weird angle. She immediately called all the docs and they did a CT Scan. Apparently when you move this way it generally is caused by a certain form of brain damage.

Well, it turns out that Kev had a stroke in the same area of the brain that was already damaged. A neurosurgeon was called in and they did an emergency surgery to remove the fluid that was building up around his brain. That tube will be left attached to the right side of his brain I guess until it's safe to take out. On a good note - I was informed that if Kevin had not had the left part of his skull removed, he would have died. The fluid would have caused his brain to swell and it would have pushed down on the brain stem causing him to die. Thank goodness for those docs in Afghanistan. And thank goodness for the docs here as well.

I also want to quickly say that y'all can't imagine the docs and nurses here. The neurosurgeon actually cried with us tonight. He said to us "I am so proud of you - this is a very severe injury" and then he had to walk away before breaking down. When I went in to see Kev after the surgery (I didn't go the whole way in as he needed to rest - I just needed to see him) I was crying pretty bad and so was Breezy so the nurse stopped what she was doing and just grabbed both of us and held us while we cried. I honestly feel we are in the best place we could possibly be in.
TUESDAY, JUNE 10, 2008
Day 10 - June 10, 2008

Today was a pretty shitty day all around. I found out that Kev slipped into a coma sometime within the last day or so. I noticed that he wasn't responding any longer to them opening his eyes or doing anything at all. I questioned the nurse and she said that's normal when they are in a coma. I asked what that meant and I think she realized that no one had talked to me so she sent for a neurosurgeon to come in. He told me that he had indeed fallen into the coma and well...to be honest...I didn't hear much after that. I will be the first to say that I was extremely upset at the lack of communication. I will also be the first to say that I still feel we are in the best place we could be in. I guess I need to just come out of the fog and start kickin some butt to find out everything that's going on.

That's just so hard to do though because there are just so flippin' many things going on in my head. I am most worried about my son (that's a given), but I also have to worry about money and my job any my bills at home and everything else that people have to think about. And I am almost embarrassed to tell you that the company I work for called me 4 days after the attack and wants the $400 I needed to still pay out during the rest of my year's paychecks for my flex account. Pretty sad, huh? So much for compassion. So much for our soldiers going over and fighting for America to have luxuries in life like cable television. OK, I am not going to go on about this because I honestly love the people I work WITH and although I definitely have anger issues about this - it's not the place to vent it.

At other times of the day I also learned that Kevin has a respiratory infection and a spinal fluid infection. They are medicating him for both and they literally put the meds for the spinal fluid directly into his brain. I just can't imagine this. Horrifying I tell you - but then this whole thing is.

We also learned that Kev does indeed have a fungus from down range growing on his right arm. The cut it all out and went wide and deep to get it all. They do think they did (get it all, I mean), but they need to keep an eye out on that area of his arm for a while.

To bring closure for the other family...Steve passed away today. I think all of us sat in the waiting room and realized that we just don't know if our children will make it through. It's just so sad for his family and for all of the families. That man was doing so well - drinking Pepsi and eating real food and BAM! He gets sick one day and is no longer with us the next. How is anyone supposed to deal with that reality, I ask?

So on a good note - Moe and Tracy are here. They got here today and I wish they didn't have to go back on Thursday. It's just nice having some semblance of normalcy - even if only for a few minutes a day.
So now another Brave Warrior gets to Tell us his Tale, Kevin's Mom's Blog is very, very, real...I hope nobody minds but i'm gonna be posting some of her blog, you just read Day Ten, today is Day 121...
Last edited by Chalkperson on Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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