Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 30 - June 30, 2008

Another wonderful day!!!

I was told by the docs today that Kevin has 'turned a corner' so to speak. His blood infection is gone. His respiratory infection is barely there - they say he has bacteria in his lungs but so does everyone else in the world. (but we still do have to watch for pneumonia as he can't sit up) and the cerebral fluid is looking great. There is some infection somewhere, but nothing major at this point. His kidneys are just a tad bit better than they were yesterday too. (which reminds me - I have heard rumors about a kidney transplant? I have no idea where that came from, but there has never been any talk of such a thing.)

So Kev's left arm was thrashing around again all day. And for the first time, his left leg was being moved quite a bit as well. Kudos to him because it's in a metal splint and has to be really heavy. Still not really any movement from his right side. Nobody has mentioned paralysis - and he does move his arm on very rare occasions, so I am thinking it is just going to require a lot of rehab.

Also, ALL of Kev's staples were removed today. His abdomen area looks fantastic and his ear is staying in place. I can't see his head because it's all wrapped up yet, but I'm sure it will look great too.

I also want to share that I got a call from one of Kev's best friends who has went through Basic, AIT, Jump School, Germany and Afghanistan with him. Nate was there when the 'incident' happened and we had a long talk about it today. It was hard - for both of us - but I feel that he has become my own and I can't wait to meet him.

Well, another celebratory night! Should we shoot for 4 in a row?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 29 - June 29, 2008

YIPEE!!! I talked to the doc tonight and as far as he can see - the bug is no longer in Kevin's spinal fluid!! I just about hugged the poor guy - I think he was scared to death of me, lol! He did make sure that I understood that Kev's white count is still high so there is still some form of infection there - but the culture came back a big fat negative!!

So now we have to leave him on that medication for 4 more days, but I asked about his kidneys tonight and the nurse told me that his kidney is actually turning around for the better. Mind you there are still 4 days of the meds so anything can change - but let's focus on the good, ok?

So the Pittsburgh Post Gazette did a story on Kev and all of those that are supporting us. Thanks Michael for a story well written. It's always a little scary talking to reporters because you hear all these horror stories - but I seem to have been 'given' all nice journalists. Anyway, here is the link:

A soldier, a mom, a world of friends

Kinda weird seeing your photo in the paper. It's one thing when it's Kevin - he deserves it, but it's another when it's me. Oh - and this photo was taken the day before Kev left for Basic Training, almost a year ago. Not sure how Michael got it, but I am guessing Moe gave it to him (you better run, girly! LOL).

Ok, so to finish up - Kev's left arm was really active today. He brought it all the way up to his face one time and another he almost touched his right shoulder with his 'fingers' (his fingers are actually completely encased in gauze with splints up to his elbows). I was so excited. We didn't have any moments where he responded, but all in all - it was still a great day!

Gonna sign off early tonight. I am feeling a little nauseous. I sure hope I am not getting sick. I won't be able to go in to see Kev (not that I would risk it anyway if I were sick) and that would leave poor Breeze on her own.

Have a good night everyone! And celebrate real loud!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 28 - June 28, 2008

It's been 4 weeks today since our lives changed. 4 horrific weeks.

I wish I could explain to you how we get through these days (so many people have asked), but it's truly impossible. It's almost like you become a robot - you don't allow any feelings to creep in throughout the day - you really just go on auto-pilot. But every once in a while, it happens. You start to realize what has become of your family. Whether it's a song you hear on the piped in music (has anyone ever figured out why hospitals play depressing music sometimes?) or someone calls and just hearing their voice does it or even for absolutely no reason at all it just slams into you. It happened like that last night. I was laying in bed, just ready to drift off to sleep and BAM! I realized once again that the hilarious, sweet, wild n crazy, gaming skateboarder may not ever be seen again. How honestly is a person supposed to deal with that? And I can only imagine what the people in the next room think of me - sobbing every night, usually more than once. Anyway, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent - I just wish it were possible to explain the mind-set it requires to get through the days and even worse - the nights. It's truly like not even living, if that makes any sense at all...

So some seemingly good news - we have some early results of the spinal tap. As an FYI - I want to explain (and hopefully I am understanding correctly) how this works. There is a 'bug' that is causing the meningitis. The spinal fluid is being tested to see if the bug is still present. As of this morning - there is no bug. This does not mean we are in the clear. There has to be no bug(s) in the fluid for a full 72 hours for us to know that the medication has worked. I am guesstimating that about 40 hours had passed when we were given the news. And I do believe that the longer we go without any bugs, the more of a chance that if they do show up - we are still on the road to recovery. I so hope so. The more of these infections we clear up - the better. And we all know that this one is the doozy of all infections. Come on, Kev - you can fight this, bud!

I also got to see Kevin's right hand today. I could not believe how healed it looks! I swear it was like it was almost never even burned! The swelling has gone down immensely and the grafted skin was amazing. And his lips are completely healed. They look baby soft now (probably because they are brand new lips).

Also, the ophthalmologist came in tonight and he said Kev's eyes look super. He told me that he really BELIEVES that Kev will be able to see. He did say that he thinks that Kev will have a blind spot in the lower right corner of his vision. He drew a picture of a person's body and he said that he won't be able to see the one leg and the lower part of a person's arm, but the rest will be visible. Wouldn't that be great? I mean, yeah - it stinks that he is losing part of his vision - but that's fine with me if he just wakes up and can see almost everything else. We can totally live with that!!

Ok, so I am going to get ready to watch some tv, but I want to say something if y'all don't mind. Mostly I write this blog for me and mine. When I think about how many people are reading it (and I really try not to), I truly get a little freaked out, but sometimes I just want to say something and hope that someone hears me. Not to preach or get on any kind of soap box, but I can't even tell you how many times I have heard in my lifetime that the goodness in our society has rapidly declined in the last few decades. I have even thought it myself. But I can honestly tell you that that just isn't the case. For some people it's just a natural to be friendly. I suppose it's tragedy that for some brings a general willingness to be there for others - to help them get through the tough times, to make them smile - even if it's just for a moment, to let them cry on your shoulder or even to just give them strength by posting comments on a blog. No matter what though - I can tell you that I see the good in society. I see complete strangers making quilts for my family. I see family, friends and strangers helping us get by financially. I see wounded soldiers that come up to me and hold my hand and offer their shoulders. I see a hundred cards a week that offer us support and encouragement. I see doctors and nurses that hold you while you cry (and some even cry with us). I see a man that drives from Oregon to Texas each month for one week to volunteer here as he is a burn victim and wants to help other burn victims. I see vets offering to allow me to come to their homes so I can cook a real meal. I see, I see, I see. Every time I turn around - I see.

If anybody that comes to this blog doesn't see the goodness in people - please read the comments posted. If you are unsure how to see them - click the word "comments" below each post. I can say it's been an eye opener for me. And I can only hope that everyone's eyes are opened, not by going through a tragedy like this, but just by being here. And just by opening your eyes to see the goodness that has to be going on around you. I promise - it's there. Just look for it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Day 27 - June 27, 2008

Today was a better day.

We couldn't go in until 1pm to see him and when I walked in he seemed to be alert. He was doing the same thing he did the last time - throwing his arms around and it looked like he was trying to talk this time too. His mouth just kept moving and opening and closing. I had to tell him that he wouldn't be able to talk because his vocal chords needed to heal yet. That may be an issue and it may not be. I just don't know. I know they did tell me that the part of his brain that was removed did cover both speech and motor skills so only time will tell I guess. At this point though - he has a trach in and won't be able to talk with that anyway. (although I do believe they can cap it, but we are nowhere near that point yet).

Anyway this few moments of lucidity (?) lasted about 5 minutes. Breezy was just coming over to the hospital - she stayed behind to do something, which is ok as we take turns anyway - and stupid me took the car keys with me. She called to find out where they were and when I told her what he was doing she took off and literally ran over to the hospital. The poor girl came barreling into his room all red and sweaty but unfortunately she missed it. He had already fallen asleep. I hate that she missed it. It was such a bummer for her.

But he moved around quite a bit today. We are hoping this is a good sign. And she did get to see it the whole rest of the day. I just wish I knew if that was responding or if we were fooling ourselves.

On a bad note, Kev did appear to have two panic attacks today. I would watch his heart rate double and his breaths per minute more than double each time. I am not sure if he is subconsciously remembering what happened or what. Without him being able to talk or do anything yet, we may never know.

We also haven't heard anything about the spinal tap yet. Maybe we will learn something tomorrow. I hope it's coming back negative at this point. I believe it has to be negative for 72 hours for the meningitis to truly be gone, but each day is a plus if it's not showing up.

As to the answer to yesterday's final question - my answer is a much stronger and louder 'yes'. I can and will do this forever. He's one of my babies, after all...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Day 26 - June 26, 2008

Today was actually a pretty crappy day all around for Kevin.

I went in to see him at about 1:00 and the respiratory therapist came in just after I did and was giving him a breathing treatment. I know it's necessary, but the kid couldn't even catch his breath in between coughs. To add to it, physical therapy came in at the same time and started bending his fingers and working his hands so that the grafted skin doesn't become too tight. I understand the need for all of these things. The thing I don't understand is to be doing all of it at the same time. Each thing has to hurt. And mind you - Kev is only given pain meds once a day. So after a few minutes I watched Kev start to shake and shiver violently. And I do mean violently. I also watched his temp go from 38.4 to 39.1 in the span of 5 minutes or so. I was so scared. I thought that this was the end. That he was having some kind of panic attack and he was going to die. I was so incredibly scared.

I called the nurse in and she had everyone leave and we threw a heating blanket on him to stop the shakes. Because he was also being given blood, they had to send a culture to see if he was having a reaction to the transfusion. He wasn't - I honestly think he was just in a lot of pain from having it all go on at once and his body was reacting to it.

I was then shocked that they decided to do the spinal tap a half hour after this happened. I guess the labs showed that it wasn't a reaction to the blood and that his blood was finally thick enough. I am so glad that they got the test done, but poor Kevin. He was really put through the wringer - and at this point, it was only 3pm.

We weren't allowed back in until the 8pm visiting hour so I did go to a very nice dinner with a group of wounded warriors and an organization that came into town to spread some love. (no names but they have posted a comment within the last few days). I have to admit that I had a nice meal at Olive Garden and everyone was so incredibly nice, but I was a little frazzled from what all had been going on with Kev during the day. I can honestly say that I wasn't at my best.

So I went back to the hospital from 8-10 and when the nurse came out to get me, Kevin chose that moment to roll his head to the left. To my knowledge - he has not done that at all in the last 26 days. And as an FYI - he can in no way lay on that side of his head. His skull was removed and he has massive swelling on that side. The nurse and I hurried in to turn him back to his right side and we finally got him wedged correctly. After a few minutes though, I realized that the gauze was dripping on his left side. I asked his nurse and when she came in we worked at changing the gauze. After only a few minutes - the next piece was also soaked and dripping. I think we both realized at that moment that the fluid was coming out of his head. (OK - she probably realized it earlier but was too tactful to mention it to me). She went to call the doc and she came in and saw that it was indeed dripping from the stapled area of his head. She, in turn, called the neurologist and at that point the doc came in and added 3 more staples to the side of his head.

Now let me tell you - that is not something to watch. It killed me to see it because they didn't even give him anything for pain. The poor kid jerked in pain each time she did it. I just sat over on the garbage can and just cried. I kept saying "it's ok, Kev", but inside I really don't think it is. I feel so down tonight. It was just such a horrible day. And I am sitting here trying to cry quietly because my mom is sleeping and I don't want to wake her.

It was also just so hard to be in there today. Most days I honestly can handle it. but today was so hard. Probably because he was just not having a good day. But part of it is because his left eye (remember the right one is stitched shut) was wide open today. I kept thinking he could see me and I would get right down close to him and talk to him like he understood, and then I would move and his pupil wouldn't. I would then realize that he doesn't see me at all.

And of course, this makes me think he may never see me at all. He may never wake up. And I was told yesterday that it's never good for a patient such as Kevin to be put in a nursing home. A NURSING HOME? I hadn't even thought of that. I'm not even sure I can think of it. But seriously - am I strong enough to do this for the rest of my life? Am I strong enough to sit and talk to my son and think he is seeing me and hearing me only to realize that he isn't? Can I honestly do this for years and years if I need to?

I guess I will answer that question with a very weak sounding 'yes'. And maybe tomorrow that 'yes' will be a little bit louder...

Day 26 - June 26, 2008

I don't normally post this early in the day (so make sure you read June 25 if you are logging in for the first time today) but I am just feeling a little bit confused about this spinal tap thing. When the docs talked to us on Sunday they told us that it was important to get it done so that we can see if the meds were working on the meningitis. Yet here it is - Thursday - and the test still isn't done. 4 days later. I guess I just don't get how it can be so important to do it and then shrug it off for 4 days. Is it important or isn't it?

And mind you - I am not yelping about the doctors, I know they are doing a great job - I am truly yelping about the situation. And believe me - I do know they can't do it while his blood is too thin without causing adverse affects, but still - let's get it done! I hate the waiting. I hate not knowing if the meningitis is getting better or not. I hate not knowing if his kidneys are shutting down more. Frankly - I hate not knowing if he is even going to wake up. Actually, I hate all of this. I hate this whole situation. It really sucks that my kid is laying in a hospital room in this condition!

Okay. I need to get my own heart rate down now and calm down. I sure hope anger is part of this process, cause I got my fair share of it sometimes.

Alright. I am done having my little fit. I gotta get moving and get back over to the hospital. Sorry for venting and leaving, but I must get moving.

Oh and to leave you with the thing I tell myself every day to get through all of the anger and the fears, the confusion and the terror? I constantly tell myself - this is the 26th (whatever) day and he is still alive. And I know somewhere deep inside my head that the days don't really matter - but I can truly fool myself into believing they do.

So...this is the 26th day and he is still alive!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 25 - June 25, 2008

I would hazard a guess that it will come as no surprise to anyone that the spinal tap was not done today either. Kev's blood still didn't thicken enough - even with frozen plasma being infused into him. So they have decided to leave him off of the blood thinner overnight and check him at 4am. I think it may actually happen tomorrow. I sure hope so anyway. I am a little concerned about them putting him into the fetal position for it though. I just can't imagine how painful that will be for him. I hope they give him something for pain beforehand...

Kevin now has thrush as well. If I am not mistaken - that is basically a yeast infection located in the mouth and the back of the throat. His poor tongue is white and he has all kind of dried 'stuff' in his mouth and throat. They are medicating him so that he doesn't get it in his stomach. Keep your fingers crossed on this one and also he has another respiratory infection. Keep your fingers crossed on that as well.

Not really much else happened today. It was pretty uneventful.

I was kinda hoping I could sorta ask a favor of everyone? Kevin's birthday is July 6 (Breezy's is July 2 - 4 years and 4 days apart) and I was thinking it would be really nice for him if we could get a few birthday cards sent so that we can read them to him. He might not know on that day (but then again he might!) so would a few of you mind sending a card? You can just send it to him c/o me at my address on the right side of this post. If it's an imposition - don't worry about it. I just thought it might be nice for him.

Ok - I am going to sign off and go watch a movie with my daughter and my nephew. They have been waiting for an hour now for me to finish posting. I am just so slow sometimes.

Take care, everyone!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 24 - June 24, 2008

Today was pretty much the same as yesterday. Again, they couldn't do the spinal tap due to his blood being too thin. They took him off of the thinner earlier tonight, so maybe tomorrow.

Breezy pretty much got the same response when she blew Kev a kiss tonight too. He pulled his head back and she just laughed. I really don't know if he is aware - I don't think so all the time anyway - but if he is, he is going to be mad at us for all the kisses. That's for sure, lol.

And if he is aware - he has got to be so bored. Some days I sit there and struggle with what to say. I have heard Breeze - she just goes on and on - she is so good with him. But I have always been more the quiet one and can't just babble. And it's sad, but when I'm in there sometimes I can't even remember things that we have all done in the past. I can right now. But when I am in there, I just draw a blank sometimes. I did buy Harry Potter to read to him, but the more I was reading about fire and stuff, the more I thought we needed to change books. Just in case he only hears every few words or something. We just don't know.

If any of Kevin's friends have any ideas on something he might want to read, let me know. I know his favs are war stories and things like that, but under the circumstances I think something lighter is best.

Also, the Leader Times in Kittanning did a story on Kevin today. Here is a direct link: Leader Times.

I just want to say that when I read all of these articles/watch the news reports my first thoughts have always been 'Wow. That is so dramatic'. And in the next second I think - 'but I guess our lives have become dramatic'. It's just odd to think that this is all really happening when you are reading about it. It's different when you are living it - it's just the way it is. But reading about it? It really puts it out there. Slaps you in the face, kinda. I guess it goes back to doing what you have to do and not realizing all the time exactly how terrifying the whole situation is. Does this make any sense? I am really struggling to get the right words out tonight because I have a bit of a headache so...

I think on that note - I am going to bed. Love y'all!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 23 - June 23, 2008

The docs didn't end up doing the spinal tap today. They took Kev off the blood thinner at midnight, but his blood was still too thin when they went to do the procedure. So they are planning to do it tomorrow now. They mentioned having to give him a blood 'thickener' beforehand so I guess we will see what tomorrow brings.

On a good note, his kidneys have not gotten any worse overnight. That's a fantastic thing. And the orange stuff he was coughing up is gone (one of his tubes had worked its way up to a place it shouldn't have been) and get this - Kev started moving around a lot tonight. Just like he did the first couple of weeks (YAY KEV!!!!). His head was just moving and he was grimacing and that arm just kept going back to where he wanted it every time I moved it away. He has not moved a wink since the night he responded. I hope he honestly was just taking a little snooze and is starting to come back to us.

So I had to laugh a little bit at him tonight though. I know he didn't really do it purposely, but I told him I was blowing him a kiss because you can't really kiss someone with a mask on and just when I blew it to him his face all curled up and his whole body just shuddered. I told him there was no need to recoil and that I had brushed my teeth. It was just kinda comical cause it really seemed like he was responding to me blowing him a kiss. Ok, so it's not really so funny in writing it - I guess you had to be there ;-)

On a last note - I got a few phone calls from some friends tonight about Tim's wife's blog. Just as an FYI - I had already been aware of it. I am not going to comment on it because I think it's pretty obvious that my blog is about my son and nothing else. Yes, sometimes my feelings are here. But for the most part - all of the feelings are about my son and my daughter and the trials we are going through. Those are the things that are the most important and I am trusting everyone to see this.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 22 - June 22, 2008

My mom and my nephew, Anthony, came today for the week. I am so glad. Much needed because the doctor's visit didn't turn out to be a good one like we had hoped.

So apparently Kev has meningitis. I asked Breezy and neither one of us had heard that word spoken before, so I guess when the technical name was given - it went right over our heads.

Unfortunately, the docs have tried all the antibiotics they have for it, and so far nothing has worked. Kevin is on the last one possible and tomorrow they are planning to do a spinal tap to get a sample of the fluid to see if it is working. We will know if it's not within 24 hours and if it is in 3 days (I think I got that right). Now the downside to this is that this antibiotic is so incredibly strong, it is causing some degree of kidney failure (docs exact words). This is really scaring me. The doc says it's one or the other as they are both as serious as it gets - meningitis or kidney failure. Gonna stick my head in the sand on this one, at least for the night.

Kev also started coughing up orange stuff this afternoon. We know that as of this morning it was the right white/brownish color. The docs are running tests to see what could be the problem.

As for the grafts? Kev needs only 5% of his body grafted yet. Assuming all goes well with the antibiotics, that may be done later this week. I hope so. The sooner it gets done, the sooner we go to Tampa to the brain trauma hospital.

I'm a little worried about Breezy too. She is starting to crack a little. She has so much going on. Her boyfriend, Alan, is leaving for Iraq next month. Tim is here. She misses her friends. She misses her job. She is scared financially. She just misses her life (as I do and I can damn well say that Kev does). All of this - and the terrifying reality of Kevin's situation also. It's just too much for anyone to handle and I can only hold her as she cries, just as she does for me. Keep her in your thoughts, please. She needs strength vibes sent her way.

So I think I am going to wrap this up for the night. I am just tired and want to go to bed early.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 21 - June 21, 2008

I forgot to mention yesterday that when I walked into Kevin's room one time in the afternoon, I pulled up the towel to look at his incision (on his belly) and couldn't believe what I saw. The stapled area was raised about an inch or more into the air and about 4 inches long. I called the nurse, who in turn called the doctor and it turns out that Kev had blood buildup under the incision. The doc came in and opened a small area and blood gushed out everywhere. Thankfully, I was not in the room by the time the doc got there (but poor Breezy was). I really thought that would be the end of it, but I guess not. When we went back in about 3 hours later, it had already built up again.

This morning, they opened his incision and put a drain in to let the blood escape. We have a meeting with the docs in the morning and I am going to see to it that we know where the blood is coming from.

As for the meeting? Breezy is really scared that it's bad because it's on a Sunday morning. I think it's just because they intend to do another skin graft on Monday or Tuesday and no one has discussed it with us yet (learned this from one of the nurses). Keep your fingers crossed, everyone.

Oh, and they had also removed some of the staples from Kev's head yesterday, but they put them back today. Apparently it was seeping fluid. Will find out more on this tomorrow too.

There are going to be lots of questions from me, that's for sure. Will let y'all know what they say tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 20 - June 20, 2008

All day long I thought Kev was awake. His eyelid was open and his pupil just kept moving all over the place. I was excited - yet devastated. I honestly thought he was aware that we were there. And every time I had to leave the room to cool down or just because there was a break in visiting hours, I really kept thinking that Kev was feeling like I was abandoning him. I just thought that he was scared and if he didn't hear mine or Breezy's voice - he would be even more scared. My heart was so heavy every time I left his room. I honestly felt like a horrible parent.

I mean, honestly. Can you imagine waking up and not being able to move your body, talk, maybe not be able to see or hear? You possibly have no idea why you are there...or maybe you do. I'm not actually sure which would be worse. I can't even fathom the fear that any person would feel in this type of situation, no matter what gender or what age. It would have to be terrifying.

So tonight I started crying when I had to leave for the night because his eye was still open and I didn't want him to feel alone and scared. I explained to the nurse what I was feeling and she assured me that he is still in a stage 5 coma and that his pupil is not following anything. I have to admit that I had about a fraction of a second of relief because then Kev didn't feel the abandonment I was worried about, but then it hit me that he really isn't even aware that we are there.

That's pretty friggin hard to deal with. And it's not like I don't already know it. But I guess sometimes I can fool myself into believing that he knows. That he knows I'm rubbing his shoulder, and telling him it's going to be alright, and singing him little songs and reading him a book. That he knows his sister is telling him stories of the things they have done together and reminding him of our family song and telling him about all of the posts and comments on the blog. I just really can put myself in a place where I do believe he knows these things. I suppose it's the only way to deal with a situation like this...

And while I am thinking about it - to you military guys/gals out there? I know that you are all tough men and women. And I can pretty much guarantee that WHEN Kevin wakes up he's gonna smack my hand away and tell me to quit treating him like a baby, but you know what? He's just gonna have to smack my hand away because in times like this - you are all somebody's baby. And mommas always want to take away the hurt - no matter how old you are. So call your mom (or whomever means the most to you) - especially if you are deployed. I promise - it will mean the world to her.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 19 - June 19, 2008

I think I am becoming a nurse. I should first say that I hate the medical field. Have had absolutely no desire to be part of it - even under the best of circumstances. But, life apparently doesn't usually go the way you want it to, so it looks like I am going to become a nurse (of sorts).

You may ask why I started this post the way I did., I stayed in Kev's room when the ophthalmologist stitched his right eye shut again. Y'all should know that I can't even watch someone put a contact lens in without getting physically ill - just the thought of touching an eyeball really makes me sick. But you know what? I did it. I admit that I had to look away when he actually put the stitches through the lid and lower part of his eye, but I still stayed. I watched that 'thread' being pulled and I took care of holding Kev's arm down and suctioning all of the mucus from his trach collar. I also handed supplies and kept telling my son what a great job he was doing. Obviously, he was not put to sleep for this - I suppose because he kinda already is. I was actually kinda proud of myself, but I will tell you that I did start crying smack dab in the middle and the doc had to stop for me to go to the other room and get control of myself. He was really nice about it, but I hate when I do that. I am not real good with showing my emotions - I am just too private - but that's another thing that's apparently going to change. I still cry a lot. A LOT! And I don't seem to care if I am in public or not anymore. It just happens - all the time.

Other than that, it was kinda quiet today. Still no movement from Kev. They did remove some of the staples from his head today though, which is good. And he is breathing really well on his own. We are really happy with that. With everything really. Because a non-eventful day is better than a bad day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 18 - June 18, 2008

I have been saying for a week or more now that I just want Kev to wake up enough to tell me that he is going to be ok and then he can go back to sleep for a little while until some of the pain subsides. I think that's what he did yesterday.

He didn't move at all today. Not at all.

He has been moving around for days, but today - nothing. I was concerned about it, so the neuro docs did do a CT Scan and thankfully (?) it showed no change.

So I think we wore him out last night, and now he just needs to rest. Right? Right!

One great thing though is they kinda removed the ventilator. He still has the trach in his neck, but he is completely breathing on his own now. The trach will be left in place until he is done with all his surgeries so it will probably be there for a little while yet. I am told they can 'cap' it if he wakes so that he can talk.

I could end this post here, but y'all know me - I am using this blog as a journal for Kev to read down the road when he is all better.

That being said, Breezy and I went to breakfast at this little cafe this morning with about 35 members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. I believe there were other Airborne members there too, but it was mostly 173rd. We had a great time. I still can't adjust to there always being a tortilla on every plate in this state, but I will eventually ;-)

There was one guy there that actually starred in the movie Green Beret with John Wayne and he gave us pictures of him and John while it was being filmed back in the 60's. Pretty neat, huh?

They also gave us a Commander's Coin For Excellence. I can't wait for Kevin to see all these awards and coins and things.

Great bunch of guys, I tell ya'! I am hoping to be able to bring Kevin back here someday for breakfast. Way in the future, I know...but still...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 17 - June 17, 2008


Although the docs aren't going to admit this and we know that tomorrow could be a totally different day - Breezy and I firmly believe that Kevin responded to us tonight!!!

We went in to see him about 8:45 or so and I could see his pupils moving under the slit below his goggles. I asked the nurse if we could put them up for a little bit just so we could see his eyes and he allowed us. When I said something, I watched Kev's pupil in his right eye move right to me. DIRECTLY TO ME!! (somewhere along the line - the stitch was removed). I truly believed that he could see me, so I started asking him some questions and told him to raise his arm if he could hear me. So here are our questions and here are his responses:

Kev, can you hear me? Arm came up about 6 inches (I gotta admit I about cried here)

Hon, you have a lot of goop in your eyes to protect them from scratches - but can you see me at all? Arm came right up (I did start crying here)

Kev - are you scared? His arm came up very far! I told him not to be and asked if he understood that he was safe. His arm again came up.

I asked then if he knew where he was. No response. I then explained that he was in Texas and asked if he understood. His arm came up a few inches.

I asked if he remembered Sgt G coming and there was no response. I then told him the Ninja Training story and Breezy asked if he remembered doing that. His arm came way up.

We both asked him then if he knew we loved him and his arm came up so far he almost hit me.

Breezy then told him to raise his arm if he loved us and again - it came up as far as it could.

After that last line, Kev's left eye closed and he stopped responding. We knew he was sleeping so we just left. I also want to say that at one point Breezy was talking and he turned his eye over to her, but we didn't think he could see her because she is too short, so we told him that she was coming to the other side of the bed so she could get on the stool and he could focus on her. His pupils totally followed her to the other side.

Y'all can't imagine how excited we both are tonight!!

Oh, and they did remove the tube from his brain this morning and tomorrow they are talking about making some sort of change to the ventilator. He has mostly been breathing on his own, but when they do wound care I think they sometimes turn it up so that he doesn't have to work so hard.


Ok, now this is going to be kinda hard for me to do, but many people have asked what they can do to help Kevin, Breezy and me. One of the best ways to help is simply letting us know that we have friends to support us. The comments that everyone leaves on this blog have honestly kept us going. We truly could not do this if it weren't for all of you giving us the strength to continue. Also, the great people in East Brady are supporting us by sponsoring a few events in Kevin’s honor. Here is a link to their web site if you are interested in attending any of them. Please don't feel obliged to do so, but any and all efforts are appreciated by all three of us.

Thank you all! And I mean it - thanks to everyone that has left comments! We love to hear from those we know and love and also from those that we don't know, but are here to support us.

So now? Everybody cheer tonight with us! I doubt Breeze and I will sleep a wink we are so excited!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 16 - June 16, 2008

I guess you can say Kev is doing a little better today. The docs did find a blood clot yesterday (which is typical) but they went in today and put a 'filter' in the vein so that it doesn't travel to an area that it shouldn't. Other than that, he has just been sedated and 'sleeping' all day. I know that sleeping isn't the proper word to use, but what do you say?

Good news - they are talking about removing the tube from his brain tomorrow sometime. Now that he is on a blood thinner, they won't put the antibiotics directly into the brain and since they haven't needed to remove any fluid for a couple of days, I guess they feel it's ok to remove it. They did put him on an anti-seizure medication just to play it safe though. Keep your fingers crossed on this - it's not a definite.

We did get a visitor today. Forgive me if I am wrong on the title, but I believe he is Kev's Rear Detachment Commander. His name is Sgt G (no names) and he came all the way from Germany to visit us. We went to breakfast with him this morning (and Daniel's family). He gave me a coin for Kevin from the 173rd for Courage and Strength and he also gave me the Sky Soldier Award for Excellence. I wish I knew the names of these things, but there is also some kind of rectangular pin from NATO to be worn on Kev's Class A's. And although these things all touched me deeply...he and his wife also made a poster with all kinds of pics of Kev in Germany. That meant even more to me. But the thing that truly meant the most? It's the stories! My most favorite one is where everyone had to line up (forgive my military terms ignorance) and Kev came out with this rope wrapped from his shoulder to his waist. G said "Kamm - what is this?!!" and Kev replied "I'm here for Ninja Training, Sir!". That just sounds so like Kevin, lol. That kid was always such a jokester!! I can't even begin to tell you how many times I told him before he left that he would not be able to continue clowning around like that to his superior officers. Looks like he didn't listen, huh?

I found out one thing today. Kev was the gunner up in the turret in the Humvee when the 'incident' happened. I can only bet that that made his day. I can almost feel the excitement he had to have been feeling to have this responsibility. He sure loved being in the Army.

I also learned the names of the two fallen soldiers that were with Kevin in Afghanistan. Please everyone, take a moment of silence to thank both of them for serving us and our country (no names will be given in this blog anymore). May they both rest in peace.

And to their families, should they find their way here? My heart is broken for not only myself, but for both of you. I honestly feel your pain and am here if you need me. I wish I knew what to say, but there are no words adequate enough to soothe your souls.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 15 - June 15, 2008

Lots of feelings in my head and my heart today so if y'all don't want to hear me bitching, this might not be the post to read. I gotta say - because this blog has become so huge, I have tried to leave a lot of my personal feelings out of it, but I can't do it tonight. I am angry and I am scared and I need to vent.

As for being scared - this of course is all about Kev. They took him down for a CT Scan a couple of hours ago because he stopped absorbing any fluids yesterday afternoon. They even stopped his tube feeds. It had been an hour and a half and I called back to be told that they are working on him. They believe that he is working on getting another infection - this one in his heart. Steve just died last week because of infection in his heart and I gotta say - I don't want my son to die. I am so scared right now. I honestly can't imagine living this life without my son in it. I will - but only for my daughter, whom I also love immeasurably. But I don't want to. I want him to get well. I want him to wake up and say "Hi Mom" like he always did when he called.

Kev? If you can hear and Breeze need you here with us. You gotta come through this. Not only for us though - but for everyone who reads this. For all your fellow comrades, for all your friends and for all of your family. Honestly, this world just wouldn't be the same without you in it. And you know what? I know this for a fact! I got a phone call today at the hospital from a soldier with the last name Keith. He had just heard and had to call and tell me that none of the guys would have made it through Basic without you. He said that they could all be having the worst day and you would all go back to the barracks and you would start crackin' your jokes. He had nothing but good things to say about you and it just re-enforced my belief in how special you are. You gotta do this, Kev. You gotta hear my voice!

As for the anger - for those of you that know us personally - y'all will understand. For those of you that don't - you need to know that my kids' father walked out of their lives close to 10 years ago. Not one word from either him or any member of his family in all that time.

So now? All of a sudden - here is Tim acting like he cares. Acting like he knows the man that Kevin has become. Frankly, it pisses me off. I think it is very nervy of him to come here and it's also very nervy of his mother and brother and sisters to think they have any right to see my son. As far as I'm concerned - they all gave up their rights years ago when they ALL turned their backs on my kids.

I have kept my thoughts on this private for two weeks now. I sit in that waiting room with Tim acting like he is freakin' father of the year. That is such bullshit! I can't even go outside and sit with the other mothers because he is there. And Breeze? Can you imagine? Not only does she have to deal with everything going on with Kev - but also with all these confusing emotions about Tim. It's just not right. I wished for years that he would come back and be part of their lives - now I just wish he would leave.

I'm sorry too! I'm sorry that I need to say these words, but I am about at the end of my rope. My personal belief - he doesn't want to be here. But how can he not be? If the community he lives in found out what happened to Kev and found out he didn't come - he would be shunned. I watch him go back in to see Kev and he is in there sometimes only 3 or 4 mins. That's not going in. It takes longer than that to put everything on (gown, hat, gloves etc). You know what he does? He goes into the anteroom and just looks at him. Now isn't that nice? You can't tell me he is here for his son. He's here because it makes him look good.

Just go home, Tim. Just freakin go home!!!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

WTAE Broadcast

Thanks Katie! Here is the broadcast from Channel 4. I was happy that my best friend Moe got to talk to them.

A quick update - Kev's fever was really high when we went back tonight. It was up to 40.1 (celcius). Breeze and I spent close to two hours continuously putting ice compresses on his forehead, neck and under his armpits and we successfully brought it down to 39.3. We sure hope it stays down for the night.

Day 14 - June 14, 2008

It has been 2 weeks today since Kevin was attacked. To be honest, I can't believe it's only been 2 weeks. I feel like I have been living in hell for years already. I was in Kev's room just today thinking how odd it is that this really is happening to us. It's just surreal that I am in TX living on a military base, when a couple of weeks ago I had a good life in PA. It's just unbelievable that things can change just like that - with the snap of your fingers.

I can't stress enough how important it is to let the people you love know it. One thing that my family has always done is say "I love you" at the end of each phone call. It's funny because it was such a habit to say it at the end of phone conversations, that sometimes I would say it to complete strangers when hanging up. I'm sure you could ask the pizza guy or someone from work and they can tell you that they heard me say it, lol. But seriously? Say it! And say it loud. You never know when it's the last time someone is going to hear those words.

So today has not really been a good day. I am a little concerned because Kev is not absorbing any of the fluids in his stomach anymore. I was assured that this does not mean he is in system failure, but I couldn't bring myself to ask if this is the beginning of that process. It was also hard to watch him because every time he swallowed or coughed, brownish fluid came out of the hole in his neck. I just kept cleaning him off because he is coughing and swallowing a lot now.

I also thought his upper lip had grown attached to his teeth, but the nurse and I brushed his teeth and gave him some mouthwash. I think it kinda was dried to it, but we got it 'unstuck'. I had to laugh because he bit down on the foam toothbrush and was not leaving go for nothing. We were screaming 'c'mon Kev - no biting'. He was having none of it though.

His temp is also really high - over 103. I stayed in his room almost 2 hours straight today just putting cold compresses on his forehead. I was soaking the gauze in ice water and was able to bring it down a little bit. I am apparently becoming accustomed to the heat. His room temp today was 84 and with rubber gloves, a hat and a gown on - it's HOT! But I stayed. Breezy came in and finally relieved me though and I have to admit - I was starting to get dizzy.

On a good front - Daniel woke up today! Daniel was the other soldier in the Humvee with Kevin. He is able to whisper and he is responding to Susan's voice (his mom). Yay for Daniel!!

I know that I did an interview with WTAE yesterday too, but I have been unable to locate the video on their website. If I can find it, I will link it as well.

Not sure if I will write more tonight or not. If anything happens, I will. I may just veg out and watch a little TV if I can. I missed it, but I saw that a woman won Top Chef this season! Yay Stephanie!! She deserves it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 13 - June 13, 2008

I think things are finally starting to catch up to me. I am just so exhausted tonight. I hope y'all don't mind, but I am going to keep this one short (or at least that's my intention, but I can get on a roll sometimes)

So Kev went for a CT scan last night and we found out this morning that part of his brain tissue is still dying. The docs can't say anything more about it at this point - only that it is going to take time to see the toll all of this will take on his brain (not to mention the rest of his body). I wish I could say that all of this is really going to be ok, but I guess we just don't know that. I was really 'down' after the neurosurgeon left because he stressed to me exactly how bad this is. But I can't stay down, right? If I do - there's just no sense being here and that's not even a consideration!

One fantastic bit of news is that Kev's face honestly looks great! He didn't have any gauze or goggles or anything on for a long period this afternoon and I just can't believe the difference that two weeks has made. His cheeks are almost completely healed, as are his lips. His eyelids are still pretty burned and so is his chin and the tip of his nose, but the rest of his face looks pretty darn healed to me. I did notice tonight that part of his left ear must have come off because it's stapled rather oddly to the side of his head. I don't know how I missed that before, but it has been covered for the most part. Maybe that's it, huh?

I also finally got to see his hands tonight. I watched the nurse remove all of the wrappings and although he is pretty burned, his hands look great to me too. The grafts on them seem to be doing very well and he even moved a couple of fingers while he was unwrapped. Yay!

Speaking of moving, it was reported to me that Kev was 'rubbing' his belly this morning (probably the staples were itchy) and he also tried to pull out some of the tubes on his face. He still isn't awake, but it's a start as far as I'm concerned. I had to laugh too because I kept moving his right arm away from his body and he kept moving it back (not immediately, but eventually). That's my stubborn son - wants it the way he wants it, lol.

So tonight they have decided to take him off some of the meds - his heart rate, blood pressure and shoot - there's one other one that I just can't think of right now. When I walked in his numbers were really high, but I was able to get everything back to normal by talking to him, with the exception of his heart rate. It was around 130 when I went in and after talking to him for a little bit and continuing to read Harry Potter (the first one so far) to him, his HR went up to 140 so I put the book away and left the room. I think he just needs to rest sometimes.

One extremely nice thing that happened today is that a non-profit organization rented a car for me. I regret that I don't have the name of the organization, but as soon as I do - I will post it. I should say that I am not one that accepts help easily, but having a degenerative (sp) neuromuscular disease makes it hard for me to walk a lot. The hospital is just a tad too far for me to walk from there to the guest house numerous times a day, so this was a wonderful thing for them to do for me. I so thank them.

I also want to thank Ross from KDKA. Ross - I hope I someday get to meet you. You are truly a compassionate and wonderful person. I am not real big on talking to the media and I only did this because Kev's fearlessness deserves to be told, but you made this a simple matter during a very trying time. Kudos to you and your team for an interview well done. For those that aren't local and can't see the news - here is a link. I can't figure out how to directly link it, but it's titled "Clarion Co Soldier Fighting For His Life" on this page:


Ok folks. That about sums it up for today. And although I hate to do it, I would really like to ask everyone to not call me tomorrow morning. I could really use a good sleep-in and although I do understand that everyone just cares and loves us, I really am so tired.

Love you all!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 12 - June 12, 2008

Today started pretty early. I got a phone call first thing from the docs because they wanted to put a tracheostomy in and remove the ventilator from his mouth. (a tracheostomy is the ventilator going through his neck rather than his mouth). I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to see my son's lips (and they are so close to being healed - yay!) and also his teeth and today, after they suctioned him out - I even got to see his tongue come out. It sounds like nothing, but it looked like he was trying it out for the first time and any little movement he makes excites me.

While they were doing the surgery they also took another look at the fungus. They did remove some more of it today and hopefully that will be the last of it. Keep your fingers crossed everyone.

To be honest, nothing much else really happened today. He still isn't awake and although I hate seeing him like this - it is for the best. He would be in so much pain if he were awake and that would just devastate me. I do know that when he does wake (and he will!!) things are going to be really rough, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Before signing off for the night, I do want to thank the reporter from the Butler Eagle. Kim - you did a wonderful job portraying what my son is like. I will admit that I bawled so hard while reading it that it took me quite a while to see it through all the tears, but you really captured who he is and what he is about. Thank you so much for wanting to share his story - he deserves it for putting his life on the line for all of us and for our country.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 11 - June 11, 2008

I just hung up the phone with my Mom and Dad. I honestly can't imagine being in their shoes. Kevin lived with them for a few months when he was having some trouble adjusting to high school, and between my parents and my brother and sisters - we have always been there for each other. My family has been tremendous through all of this. It has been especially hard that my Mom hasn't been able to come down yet. Although I do need her here, she was in the middle of moving and just couldn't come - I totally understand that (and Kev would too!). I also have to say that my dad is a man's man. I can't say that I have ever really seen him cry, but I am pretty darn sure that I heard a few sniffles this past week when I would just break down or give some bad news. To my mom and dad - I love you both so much. And to all the people reading this - call your parents now and tell them you love them too. And if y'all haven't learned it yet - give your kids a huge hug!

As for Kev - today has mostly been a good day. I think I mentioned yesterday that there was a communication breakdown, but I began to rectify that this morning. I did meet with the doctor and we talked for about a half hour. Kevin is in a coma, but I will happily tell you that he started swinging again today when anyone would try to move anything or open his eyes. He hasn't done any of this for days, so I was ecstatic to see this.

I also learned today that he now has an infection in his blood. So let's see...we have a respiratory infection, a spinal fluid infection, an infection in his blood and a fungus. This is all on top of all the other things wrong with him.

BUT - on a great note - 97% of Kev's skin grafts 'took'! We still have a few areas that need taken care of because they can't roll him over onto his belly to do the back area, but if 97% of the original grafts were a success - we are rockin'!!

As for the fungus - I did learn today that it was a non-invasive fungus. Meaning it wasn't eating away at good flesh - it was just on top of his graft. I am told this is a good thing.

Also on a fantastic note - Kev mostly breathed on his own today. He was on the C-pap respirator meaning that he mostly took all of his own breaths and if for some reason he didn't - the ventilator would kick in. At this point we do not plan to remove the ventilator because he still needs more surgeries, but it's a darn good thing for him to be breathing on his own.

I gotta tell you all though...I didn't really understand the C-Pap thing and earlier today he had the hiccups. I can't even begin to explain the fear that I felt when he started jerking off the bed every few seconds.

As for the scariest point of the day? Kev's chest didn't move for about 30 seconds this afternoon and I honestly thought he died. Truly. I ran out of his room with my face white as a ghost thinking I just lost my son and I was just screaming for help. Of course there were no beeps from the machines so the nurse took her time coming in to me. It really was stupid of me to not realize what was going on, but I just have never been medically inclined (although I do believe that is about to change). To be honest, now I am quite embarrassed that I was so dumb, but I thought the respirator quit on us. I mean...hey...machines can just stop and we all know it, right? Right.

Ok, gonna wrap this up for the night. I am sure you have all gathered that this has been a good day. We can only hope tomorrow will be as well.

Real Quick

I just want to seriously thank all of you for all of the support you have shown! The blog has been very therapeutic for me, but the comments and the outward show of love and caring keeps myself and Breezy going every day! We both can't wait for the day that Kev can be sitting here and reading all of the comments left by our friends and family, as well as the complete strangers that have found their way to this site.

I do want to particularly thank the online community of ScrapMuse - they have all been wonderful to us! And the girls at work - couldn't do it without calling y'all and totally breaking down during every phone call!

And to the town of EB? Y'all know that I moved to But. last year, but my home and my heart will always be in EB. Moe and Tracy have been telling me things that y'all are doing and although it's very hard for me to accept any type of help - I thank you all from the bottom of our hearts! You guys rock and I will never forget it!

My little family loves you all!
Leslie, Breezy and Kevin.

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 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.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 9 - June 9, 2008

I received a box today from Germany. I was so thankful to see Kev's wallet and his dog tags. I know it's stupid - but I sat in the waiting room and just cried. Sgt B was also very perturbed because in the box was also Kev's Purple Heart - both the certificate and the medal. B took it so that it could be presented to Kevin correctly - hopefully with him awake enough to understand the ceremony. (BTW, Sgt B is our 173rd Airborne liaison - great guy)

It was kinda a rough day for ICU Burns. I don't think any of us had any good news. We weren't allowed in to see Kev till almost 3 1/2 hours after visiting hours began. We had no idea why and when I walked into his room - I was shocked. Yesterday I was able to see my son; see his face, his torso, his legs. Today he was completely encased in gauze and a white net type material. He looked like a mummy. I was so upset because I didn't understand why they wrapped him like they did - still don't, truthfully. I was told they put some type of burn medication on him and needed the new wrapping to keep it in place. Not seeing it - but that just goes to prove I'm not a doctor.

While I was in there with him, a physical therapist came in and started working on his limbs. He did Kev's left arm and I must have zoned out (do that a lot here) because next thing I knew - he was working on Kev's left leg. When I realized it, I was like "WHOA! Don't do that - that ankle is fractured!!" The jerk pulled out his orders and said - and I quote - "oops". I'm not going to tell you what happened after this because it's just not appropriate, but I will say that it's been recorded in Kev's file.

So when I went back in to see Kev this evening, I was told that they had to do a biopsy of something on one of his hands. The docs are concerned that he may have picked up some sort of fungus down range (down range is slang for Afghanistan I guess). I am trying not to worry about it yet, but it's hard. It could mean losing his fingers or even his hand. And yes - we are still very worried about pneumonia.

As to how bad it was for all of us today...I should first tell you that everyone in the ICU Burns waiting room has become family. We all know or are getting to know everything about each other and we all lean on each other for support. Today, one of our guys will not make it through the night. No names, but he got sick yesterday and they went in to do some type of surgery and he went into cardiac arrest. He has been here close to 3 months. Fought numerous times through numerous surgeries. He is/was 95% burned. At this point, he is on life support only until his father can get here. He is leaving behind a 22 year old wife and 3 children. It's so sad and it's also so scary. Every day I wake up and say "day 8" or "day whatever" and think that each day Kev is still alive he is just that much closer to being totally healed. But is he? Apparently not. I learned today that it honestly doesn't matter how much time has passed, he still may not make it.

Some Pics of Kev

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 8 - June 8, 2008

We still aren't allowed to talk to Kevin. It just kills me when he starts thrashing around and I can't say "It's okay, babe. Mom's here. You're alright"; just those small little sympathetic sounds all mothers make. I just keep rubbing his arm hoping that somehow he feels calmed by it.

I was kinda glad I was in the room at one point tonight though. The nurse was testing certain areas of his body by pinching him just to see if we got a response or not. It was hard watching her try to 'hurt' my baby, but I was pleased to see him respond to pressure on the legs and fingers. Nothing from either set of toes, but I am hoping that it doesn't really mean too much at this point.

I will say this though (and it scares me) - I have yet to see Kev's hands. I do know that the tops of both hands are 3rd degree burns. So tonight was the first night that I could even see the tips of his fingers. I am not sure - but if I saw it right - all of his fingertips on his right hand are black. I am going to stick my head in the sand on this and claim not to know what this probably means. Do you think it will work? I somehow doubt it...

One thing they did do today was reposition Kev's arms. They were starting to swell up considerably from laying at his side for the last 8 days. They are now coming straight out from his body across the sides of the bed. From what I understand, it is very painful to move any of the limbs (even raising his foot an inch) after they have been laying in the same position for too long. Every time they have to switch the 'cushions' they use so that he doesn't get blisters on his heels, he about comes off the bed.

Last, but most definitely not least, our main concern right now is pneumonia. Because Kev has that tube in his brain draining fluid buildup, he can't be agitated in any way. Well, he has foam coming out of his mouth from the ventilator and the nurses are trying not to suction his lungs at all because his numbers go through the roof when they do. It's kinda a catch 22. They can't suction him or it will cause brain activity which could have adverse effects. They also can't let the fluid build up in his lungs, which can also cause adverse effects. This is all just so mentally draining.

Which brings me to some personal mental anguish. I hate this. I hate the fact that my family has to go through this. I have a lot of anger. A lot of fear. A lot of pent up rage. I have moments where I just want to run away from all of this - which makes me feel like an utter failure as a parent. I would never in a million years do it - but it doesn't mean I don't think it once in a while. It's just so hard, ya know? There's my child laying in a hospital bed that really barely resembles the young man that I last laid eyes on. His face is completely burnt. He has tubes coming out of his brain, a bunch of them coming out of his mouth and wires and stuff stuck all over his body. The lower half of his body is either gauzed up where the skin grafts were done, or have some kind of weird layer of something over the skin 'donor' areas. His hands are wrapped all the way up past his elbows, his one eye is stitched shut and there are goggles over both eyes again to keep them moist. He has more than a hundred staples on the left side of his head that resemble a rural road map and his ears are a mess. His stomach is also cut from just below the breast bone to his groin area.

I have to admit that there are times where I kind of zone out and start rubbing his arm and looking out the window and think 'This isn't my kid. It's some stranger. I just work here. It's not happening to us.' And then it hits me - it is my kid. He's not a stranger. I don't work here and it is fucking happening to us.

And don't think I don't realize that my son could be dead. Believe me when I say that I am ever so grateful that he is alive. Two other sets of parents weren't so lucky that day. But I still have to ask - WHY?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

From Stef

Kevin's buddy Daniel was the other survivor in the Humvee with him when this happened. I won't go into detail about Dan as it's their private business, but Dan's fiancee (sp) Stef made this graphic for the boys. It's so peaceful and hopeful and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. As an FYI - Kev is on the left in the black beret.

As for an update on Kev - nothing new since this afternoon. I am hoping we are able to talk to him tomorrow, but we will see.

I just want to take a quick moment and say a public "Thank You" to my daughter. Brianna has been the rock that I have been leaning on. She will be the first one to tell you that she is a baby and that she doesn't handle things well. Well, let me tell you, she has been amazing. When I passed out the first day - she was able to stay in that room and talk to Kev. She always comes in to see him about 20 mins after I do and stays after I leave (until her father goes in). I am incredibly proud of her and it just goes to show what wonderful kids I have. And I can honestly say, that although this is most definitely the worst time in our lives, the three of us are family and families stick together. We tell Kev constantly that we aren't leaving Texas until he is sitting on that plane with us - even though this means that both Breeze and I will probably be losing our jobs. Who cares though, right? It's all about family!

Day 7 - June 7, 2008

We aren't allowed to talk to Kevin today. We can go into his room and rub his shoulder, but we aren't allowed to speak. The docs don't want him to know we are there because they don't want him getting excited or worked up at all with the brain tube in place. It could cause too much pressure for him.

So I just threw a load of laundry in (it's either that or I am going to the hosp naked tomorrow) and figured I would give a quick little update on here.

The orthopedic surgeon was in today and he had planned to do foot/ankle surgery on Kev on Wed, but with the brain tubes in place he is going to wait until the following week. I know he needs to have all these things done but it's all just so fast. I feel so bad for him.

Gonna head back over now. Thanks everyone!

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.

Day 5 - June 5, 2008

Today was a relatively quiet day. Not much happened throughout the day at all, but I was so incredibly happy this evening.

First I will say that they had to do some work on Kev's central lines and tubes and everything and he had a rough morning. Due to this, he again became combative. Although he rarely moves his right arm at all, his left is now tied to the bed. He keeps swinging it around trying to pull his tubes out and stuff and they can't risk it. Personally, this really makes me (and his burn doc) happy. This is truly a showing of Kevin's 'fighter' personality. I still understand that Kev may never wake up - but it's getting harder for me to believe that. I sure hope I am not disappointed.

One thing I did learn tonight is that when either Breezy or I talk to Kev his heart rate goes up. I am sincerely hoping this means he can hear us. Mathew came home from school and was telling Moe about a bunch of kids painting t-shirts that have messages for Kevin. You all will love the fact that when I told Kev that story - his heart rate went from the early eighties up to 93. He always did like attention, lol.

So on to my good news - we left today at 4:30 b/c they had just sedated Kev. His burn doc told me that there is absolutely no possibility that Kev even knows we are there for a couple of hours at least after sedation. So when I went back in at 8pm - I am not shitting you guys - at least 25-30% of Kev's face/head seemed to have healed from the burns. There is a patch under his left eye that looks like it had never been burned. A good portion of his cheeks looked fantastic and there were some spots on his head and forehead that looked healthy too. I just couldn't get over it! And his lips are really looking great too. A couple more days and I bet his lips will be back to near normal - maybe even truly normal.

I just can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. I sure hope it's good. I know I have to be prepared in case it's not - but today has been such an 'upper' that I can't help but feel optimistic.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 4 - June 4, 2008

I woke up today to realize I was just in too much pain to walk to the hospital (it's probably close to a half mile). I know it's because I haven't been sleeping enough to let my own muscles heal nightly, but there's nothing I can do about that. So anyway, I called the hosp at 6am and Kev's nurse was so excited. She said that he had had a great night and they were able to lower his oxygen enough that he was on basically a C-pap level (for like sleep apnea - I may have spelled that wrong). I was actually happy because we thought he might be able to come off the ventilator.

I decided to go to the PX to buy some clothes since we couldn't get in to see him until noon and on the way back from the store, we got the call that Kev needed to go in for emergency surgery. Apparently his stomach wound was coming undone. They were worried that his bowel might be trying to come up through the three layers of his abdomen so they had to go in and fix it. I was petrified. You can't go from being happy that things are looking up - to being devastated because there is always the risk of death from every surgery - not to mention the possible complications of why this is actually happening.

So after a couple of hours Dr M. came out and said that the surgery went well. After coming down off of the fear that the outcome would be horrible, I had to sit through meetings and let me tell ya - your brain can't go up and down emotionally this often and then concentrate during research and study meetings.

After Kevin came back from surgery and the anesthesia started to wear off, the nurse wanted us to try to get Kev to obey commands. He hasn't yet - but we aren't thinking about that. So anyway, I kept telling him to open his eyes and a couple times I really did see his left eyelid flicker. (to be honest - I can't see him being able to open them because they are badly burned and have TONS of goop covering them to keep them wet) So the nurse and I started trying to get him to move his leg. The nurse finally quit trying and I did it one more time. About a minute later - his right leg lifted and moved about an inch. You cannot imagine how elated I was. The nurse saw it happen and he kinda got a little bit nasty and said that that wasn't him following a command - it was reflex. My opinion - fuck that nurse. He said that obeying has to happen immediately. Now I ask - how is a person that is sedated and on all kinds of pain killers supposed to do something immediately? Think about many of us have had too much to drink and try to do something only to struggle to actually get it done? That's right. Let's all say it together - FUCK THAT NURSE! I saw my son move his leg and I had never seen him move his leg not one time before. He did it and I don't care what that dork nurse thought.

Of course though, I was really upset about the nurse saying that stuff. It's only because it's the next day that I can say the hell with what the nurse said.

And I realize this has been a long post - but we aren't done with the day yet. Next we had the ophthalmologist come in and tell me that he needed to take a look at Kev's eyes. He said that from the front, the actual eye looks good, but he needs to go behind. Not only that - he also needs to stitch Kevin's right eye shut. That eyelid and above it have 3rd degree burns. I had noticed that his right eye didn't quite shut the whole way, but with everything else - I looked past it. It turns out that because the eyelid was so badly burned, as it heals it is going to actually pull the lid farther up and it would make it where the muscles would never work to get it to shut up through and after he has his eye skin graft (in about 6 months). So he stitched it shut and from what he said - Kev was really pissed. When the doc was pulling at his eye - Kev kept trying to hit him. Mind you he is not even awake - but we all know Kev's attitude - DON'T MESS WITH ME!

So about his vision - according to the doc - he likened it to a digital camera. He says Kev has all the ability to take the picture. The eye itself looks good. But now we need to find out if his brain can 'download' the picture and actually process it so that Kev can see. We have no idea when we will know if Kev is blind or not. Time will tell, I guess.

This about sums up this day so I am calling it quits here.

Day 3 - June 3, 2008

This note is actually from June 3, 2008

Kevin had his first skin graft today. The doctor must have told me at least 11 times last night that Kevin may not make it through the surgery - but HE DID!! I was told with flying colors, even (yay, Kev!)

I know this is kinda dumb of me, but I honestly didn't have a clue what Kev would look like when he came out of the surgery. I could see from the outer room that his face was all pinkish, but I didn't realize it was blood. Pretty dumb, Leslie. Pretty dumb.

So apparently they took a 'water pik' type of tool and cleaned his face with it. He was all burnt flesh with blood running down his face. You all just can't imagine how horrifying that is.

As an FYI - they did not graft any of his face. They said that if they do, it will alter his appearance and they want to give the face a chance to heal on it's own. They did take skin from his chest and stomach area and grafted it to his legs and his hands. Both legs and hands are 3rd degree burns.

Gonna go. I have 2 more days of events to post but want to keep them all separate.

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!

Shocking News

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.