Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 397 - Jun 30, 2009

How do y'all like the new look? I thought it was time to update the blog - at least for a few days (which will probably end up being months as I will be too lazy to change it again, lol).

I think we have kinda fallen into a bit of a funk. Kevin isn't getting up until noon and he really isn't in that great of a mood most of the day. I know it's hard being in this little, tiny room, but we have to hang in there just a few more days.

I believe we are going home on a commercial flight this time. Supposedly it is to be on Friday so keep your fingers crossed that it works out. I am a bit nervous, but will fake it til I make it.

And for tonight, I think I am just going to answer some questions.

First - Pam - we will try to make it to OT tomorrow (today by the time you read this). I really just can't get him roused early enough to do what we need to do before coming over. (not that I am trying too hard - I love the noon wake-up too, lol)

Jessica - no, the docs haven't suggested anything for his scarring. I have been keeping him lubed up with an antibiotic cream, but that's about it.

Also, he didn't get car sick today when we went to dinner so maybe it was just a 'withdrawal' of sorts from all of the pain meds he had been on while in the hospital. He quit taking them once that bolster was off his face and we came back to the Fisher House.

Cathy M - they told me that if Kevin is still 'red' when we come back in Aug that they will fix that then. Not sure what that entails, but I guess we'll see.

Debbie - we were hoping to get Josh and some of the other guys/gals from the 173rd to come to Kev's ceremony. I believe Rigney is coming, but am not sure about anyone else yet.

Ok - I just woke Kevin with my typing so I need to sign off early. Catch y'all tomorrow night...

Day 396 - Jun 29, 2009

We had our post-op check up today and Kevin passed with flying colors! We have been released, so now we play the waiting game for our flight home.

I am really amazed at how well the new skin on his chin matches the rest of his face. And the lower part of his neck is already flush with the rest of his skin. I expect superb results in the end and I am told it will take about 2 months for it to all be healed and any touch-ups will be done in August when we come back for the rest of his surgeries.

Anyway, here are some photos from yesterday that show how much improvement just from the other day. Amazing, huh? This first one is just him outside the Fisher House:

And this one was taken at TGI Fridays. Kevin's whalin' along to the music - something we so rarely get to see.

And now I am going to fold the laundry and then I am going to try to finish watching Slumdog Millionaire. It's been a 3 day event so far and I am still only halfway through it.

PS - Cathy M - that address is correct. I am anxious to see what you have chosen!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 395 - Jun 28, 2009

We finally made it to the outlet mall today. We stopped on the way and ate so that Kev was out of the car some. We only shopped for clothes and shoes for him and he really had a good time at the Zoo York store. It's his favorite skate line of clothing and I think he was in heaven while there, lol. (although it felt like hell because their air conditioner broke a while ago and it was the normal 100 degrees here today)

And here's a funny little thing - last night when I went to the kitchen for my popcorn, I encountered a snake in the hallway on my way back to our room. YIKES! I DO NOT LIKE SNAKES!! I called security to have them come and get it, but I wouldn't let it out of my sight until they got here. It kept getting close to the door of the room and I would have to fling it away with a magazine. Obviously it was just a really small thing, but still...I DO NOT LIKE SNAKES!

Other than that, nothing much happened today. Kevin and I are mad at each other right now because I told him he needs to start either getting up and doing nonsensical stuff himself or he can just forget about the issues. I am getting real tired of getting up just to shut the bathroom door or just to fix the corner of his bed sheet or to shave him at midnight or gosh knows whatever other crazy ideas he gets. I realize OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is a major part of TBI, but frankly - I am too old and tired to get up 40 times every hour to do things that just don't matter (or that can wait until a normal hour). And besides, he is getting well enough now that he can get up and do more on his own, right? Right!

Day 394 - Jun 27, 2009

For some reason Kevin has been getting car sick since this surgery. I don't know if it's the heat here in TX or the motion, but we can't go more than a few minutes in the car. We tried to go to an outlet mall about a half hour away and we didn't get very far before we had to pull over - and not even just anywhere - it had to be somewhere silent (try to find that in the heart of San Antonio!). I did manage to find a gated community and we just pulled in to the gate and turned around and sat in the exit lane. I really didn't know what else to do.

And Kevin actually rolled over tonight. Sounds so dumb, doesn't it? But it was a major feat for him to be able to roll onto his bad side, then to his belly and then back over onto his back. He was just so proud of himself. I personally couldn't figure out what he was doing because it was dark in the room and I couldn't really see him, lol. He was sure making a lot of noise though.

And I had to laugh at Joyce's comment about Chick-fil-A. We have never tried their cheesecake, but Kevin is so hooked on that place. He eats 3 chicken sandwiches at a time and it was what he woke up wanting this morning.

Yesterday he wanted Longhorn Steakhouse (we finally figured it out by him saying "yeehaw", lol), but they don't have those around here - not that I've seen anyway. I told him we'd go there for his birthday next week if we are home in FL.

Hopefully tomorrow I can get some pictures of him because his chin/neck is already starting to look better. The redness is going away some and the swelling is going down. Unfortunately his eye is still very swollen, but I know it's all going to take time.

And now I think I will sneak to the kitchen and make some popcorn - my total weakness!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 393 - Jun 26, 2009

I am not going to write too much tonight. We sorta celebrated a bunch of birthdays today with our FRC Mary and Janet and her family, a friend that we met here way back last year (she has posted here on occasion too). I stuffed a couple of chickens and we had the whole meal done up as it was Janet's birthday last week, mine yesterday and Breezy's next week and Kevin's four days after hers.

We truly had a really nice relaxing day and it was just what the doctor ordered.

So, I really am going to sign off early and continue with an online photo editing course that I signed up for at jessicasprague.com. I have learned so much already and am loving learning how to take mediocre photos and make them 'pop'. Thank goodness for earphones, huh? It's a video tutorial so I can plug them in and Kevin can't hear anything...

Day 392 - Jun 25, 2009

Today ended up being a really good day. Kevin did get his bolsters removed this morning and although it still looks rough - it does look much better than I thought it would. I actually cried when Kevin first smiled at me because I forgot. I totally forgot about that goofy little smile where his lips are actually closed and he kinda has this shitty little grin. How could I have forgotten, I wonder?

His eye is still very swollen, but all in all he really does look great and within a month he will probably really look wonderful. I am just so excited to see he has a real chin and a whole separate neck. I am just so pleased with the doctors that did this surgery.

Here is a photo of what he looks like today:

And here is a photo of the three of us that someone took here at the Fisher House.

Notice we are outside! Kevin was also discharged today - YAY!!

And he ate so much food from Long John Silvers that I was getting sick just watching him, lol.

We have an appt Monday at the Burn Clinic and hopefully they will tell us we can go home. I really want to be there by the 4th - in time for Kevin's birthday on the 6th. We are estimating leaving here on Breezy's birthday - which is the 2nd.

And to answer a question - we will have to come back in either Aug or Sept for one more surgery (maybe 2 in the same week again? not sure) At that time they plan to fix his head, his trach spot and a large indentation below his abdomen. They tell me all of these things are simple and won't require this kind of intrusion. At that time they will also fix any skin discoloration from this surgery.

It's kinda exciting to think we may be almost done with all of this stuff. That would only leave us with therapy and a normal type of schedule will be so welcome!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 391 - Jun 24, 2009

Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow those horrible bolsters get removed and hopefully Kevin will be able to handle the fact that he is going to look pretty bad yet. The doctors are assuming that the inflammation around the bolsters is going to scar and that they will then need to have us come back and repair that sometime down the road - kinda blend his new and old skin together. They mentioned a dremel (gasp!) and that sounds pretty horrible to me.

Other than that, we had a decent day. His moods are way up and down, but I suppose it's all the paid meds. And we are back on a cheesecake kick so he should start putting some weight on again, lol. And tonight Kevin actually ate some chinese food so he is definitely feeling better.

I sure hope we get to go home soon though. We really just want to get back to our own beds and I just want a home cooked meal. But at this point, I guess I'll settle for getting discharged and staying at the Fisher House.

And now I am heading to bed. I have been working on some stuff with Tracy for the Purple Heart ceremony and I am kinda tired. She did remind me to let everyone know that if it happens to rain that day the ceremony will be held at the Community Center in East Brady instead. Hopefully it doesn't rain though!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 390 - Jun 23, 2009

Kevin is doing almost as good as he did yesterday. I think he kinda overdid it then and has been paying for it today. I am happy to report that he did eat a whole piece of cheesecake from you know where so I am sure he got his daily caloric intake. That thing is probably like 7000 calories a slice, lol.

So it looks like I need to cut this short as the noise from me typing is bothering him. I guess I'll update more tomorrow...

Day 389 - Jun 22, 2009

Phew! Kevin is doing so much better today! He is finally just about back to his normal self - joking and laughing and he is even starting to eat more and more. He probably ate/drank about 2000 calories today - YAY!

I am going to just answer a few questions tonight if y'all don't mind.

Lisa - I don't believe the ceremony will need postponed (although this isn't a guarantee). I am told he will still have some redness, but mostly he will look well and feel well by then.

Kathy in IA - The bolster will stay on about 7 days. The minimum is 5, which is tomorrow, but 7 is ultimately best. It just 'holds' the new skin in place so that it has the chance to 'attach' itself to the rest of his skin (at least I am assuming this to be true).

As for the feeding tube - it's a moot point now. He ate quite a bit today and is still on IV fluids so I am no longer worried. It was just like he woke up this morning and decided to have a good day.

Grant G - can you email me your address please? My email is to the right somewhere in that column. And just out of curiosity - where will the skate comp be held? Kevin would love to be there (I'm sure).

Debbie - is Josh coming home on block leave next month? I was told all the guys stationed in Germany were coming home...

Elizabeth - yes our address listed here on the blog is correct. And the Patriot Guard has already been in contact with my friend, Tracy. We miss you too and hope to make it to the family reunion as well.

To everyone that emailed me about sending a copy of the paper down - my sister already took care of it. I believe the copies are already on their way. Thanks to all though!

And now I am going to leave you guys with a photo of Kevin pigging out on chocolate cake with ganache. As you can see - he did at least get out of his room today - YAY!!:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 386 - Jun 21, 2009

They hooked Kevin up to a 24 hour IV drip to keep him nourished. His state of mind seemed a little better today, but he ate less today than the last two days.

He did get up a couple of times and he tried to walk around some, but he really just isn't eating enough to go very far. His muscles are also getting stiff from not being used.

Breezy has been here every day to give me time to get a shower and usually I take a nap of sorts, but today she stayed for a good 6 hours to give me a real break. I went to a movie and just drove around for a while. It was nice to be out in the sun instead of in dark hospital room.

And I want to say that the nursing staff here has been wonderful and they are being so tolerant of me 'living' in the hospital room with Kevin.

And speaking of hospitals, someone anonymously posted a comment that the VA hospital we were in needed to test 10,000 soldiers for Hepatitis due to 'unclean' equipment. I researched this and found it to be many VA hospitals and the one in Tampa wasn't listed - one in Miami was - but not in Tampa. All of the people that needed tested have already been (from what I am gathering) and the results are in.

And today we made the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. You can view the article by clicking here. I think it turned out very nice, although we all know Breezy has been here all along - up until the last month or two. And I have to laugh - if they only knew that the photo on the first page was taken by my 6 year old nephew, lol. Michael was so excited to see his work in print and now is asking for a paycheck, hehe.

And now I am going to end this post with a photo of Kevin right now - with his bolsters on. If you are faint-hearted - I would suggest not looking. I have really debated on whether or not to show this, but you guys have all been along for the ride and I figured it might clear a lot of the questions up on why he's not eating (partially anyway).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 385 - Jun 20, 2009

I am pretty much at the end of my rope. I just can't get Kevin to really eat enough to survive on. Today I told him if he wanted to die I wasn't going to sit around and watch it and I left. He called me within 5 minutes crying and told me he would eat, but he still really hasn't. I did tell him tonight that if the feeding tube goes back in I am going home. We all know I won't, but this is just so damn frustrating. I honestly just don't know what to do. I have tried everything - cheesecake, milkshakes, all of it - everything possible. I can get him to eat a small amount of soup almost every day, but a baby couldn't live on what he's eating, more or less a 6 foot adult.

It's like he has given up and I don't know how to change his mental state.

As for my own mental state - yes, I am probably sliding on the down slope toward depression, but I'm not there yet. I am trying to hold on to the handrails, but if he doesn't change his outlook soon, I can't say what will happen to mine.

I think it's just all the harder because we had come so far and this surgery really wasn't necessary - it was for cosmetic effect only so I am wondering now why we chose to do it. Well, maybe not - he did have to have the neck release so I suppose it was partially necessary, but still...

Damn. Enough Kev - we have come so far in such a short amount of time. Don't give up now...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 384 - Jun 19, 2009

So here's a question for ya - is it no big deal whatsoever to get promoted while in the military? Kevin has apparently been made Corporal, and we inadvertently learned that once we got here. This is actually his third promotion since being wounded and we have never officially been told of any of them. Just like here, someone always comes into his room and calls him (for ex) Cpl Kammerdiener and I always so 'no, he's a specialist (or whatever) and they verify it and then tell me I'm wrong. Maybe it's the military way not to feel pride in moving up the ladder? It just seems strange to me...

But anyway, Kevin still isn't doing really well yet. They have doubled his blood pressure medication and he really just won't eat. They decided to give him the weekend to get back to normal caloric intake or they will put the feeding tube back in. I am so glad that they didn't do it today, but now I really need to get him to eat. So much hinges on it, ya know? They won't remove the catheter until he does because they have to measure input and output to make sure he doesn't dehydrate, he can't stand up because he is too weak, we will be staying in the hospital longer too, and I'm sure it plays a huge part in his vitals being so high. Ugh - I sure wish he understood how important it is!

And believe me - I see how inflamed his face is. I know it has to hurt like hell to swallow, but you have to do what you have to do, right?

Well, I am going to hit the hay. I find I am so bored that I just want to sleep all the time too. Of course, it could be because I am tired, but this just laying around on my cot all day in the hospital is killing me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 383 - Jun 18, 2009

Kevin is suffering a lot tonight. They tell me the surgery went well, but all I see is this huge dressing stitched to his face and now his eye is stitched shut with a bolster (not a ballast, I knew that wasn't right but couldn't think of the right word) too.

They did put a feeding tube in him as well, but it got curled in his stomach and after trying to reposition it a few times, they took it out and will do mild sedation tomorrow and put it back in. In the meantime, he is hooked up to an IV so that he doesn't dehydrate.

And I haven't broken the news to him that these dressings need to stay on for 7 days. Man, he is not going to like that.

I am actually a little worried tonight too because his vitals are through the roof. I have never seen his blood pressure so high and his heart rate is pretty elevated too. They did medicate him for the blood pressure, so hopefully it works and it comes down soon. He also has a mild fever - not quite a hundred, but it still worries me.

And now I am going to call it an early night. My little cot doesn't offer even remotely any form of luxurious sleep, but it's still calling my name.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 382 - Jun 17, 2009

We ended up still staying at the hospital tonight. Kevin's face is very inflamed around the bandage so they kept us here to control any possible problems. We did draw blood and his white count is ok so it doesn't appear to be an infection, but still we just don't know.

Unfortunately, he has been taking a whole lot of pain medication and I assume it will be this way for days yet. We did manage to get him in the shower today, but it didn't seem to really make him feel better and I was hoping it would. He's not really eating much either, but who could with your face that sore?

It's times like this when I just think that life is really so unfair. Here's a 20 year old kid that did something that he felt was right and look how it turned out - in the hospital for a year, loss of nearly half of his brain, broken bones, internal bleeding, and burns that, once healed, require plastic surgery to make him look as close to normal as they can get.

I really just want all of this over with so we can get on with our lives. I know that I am exhausted and I haven't been through half of what Kevin has. Oh well, we have more surgeries to go and many years worth of therapy so I guess I'll do what our friendly "Herd" guy says - wipe the sweat and drive on!

Yep - just wipe the sweat and drive on...although it would be real nice if the rag could dry in between wipes. This one's been soaked for a year already!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 381 - Jun 16, 2009

Not too much to report tonight. I am staying at the hospital again (I imagine I will be here until he gets discharged) so I am still pretty tired. Neither one of us slept much last night as they come in constantly and wake you to change the garbage bags or do the many vitals checks through the night.

They don't have him on the monitors anymore so things should be better though tonight. I hope so anyway.

Other than that, Kevin is doing somewhat better. He has only taken pain meds a few times today and we even got him to eat some. He had two large servings of Broccoli Cheese soup from Panera Bread and quite a bit of ice cream too. Once he started eating you could tell he felt better - even though it is so hard for him to eat. Right now his lower lip is about 3 times the size it normally is and that ballast (is that the right word for the bandage type thing?) is stitched right into his lower lip making it very difficult for him to open his mouth far.

And he did get up and walk around for a bit twice today. That's always a good sign. Maybe tomorrow he will be able to get out of the hospital for a bit. They were going to discharge us today, but he bled some through the night last night so they decided to keep him after all. I can't really see the sense in discharging him tomorrow as we have to be back super early again on Thursday, but maybe he can at least go to the house for dinner. We'll see...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 380 - Jun 15, 2009

Well, according to the docs the surgery went well. They tell us that Kevin's chin looked fantastic before they covered it with all the bandages and whatever else is piled on that thing covering a good portion of his face. One super great thing is that they also did his neck at the same time. They only intended to do his chin, so this is one less reason to have to come back here for more surgery.

They are also talking about doing his eye on Thursday, but I am not so sure about that. Kevin is in a lot of pain and I'm not sure he can handle having this much pain in two different places - one quite sizable. The neck/chin area covers about a 6x4 inch spot. Also, donor sites hurt more than this so we will have that to contend with too.

And now it's lights out for us. I am staying at the hospital with Kev tonight because of the communication barrier, and I actually didn't sleep a wink last night so I am running on empty.

Real quick - Tom - that story was a good read. An all too familiar one, but still a good read. Thanks!

And Tandra - your friends are at the Fisher House in Bethesda, but we are at one of the ones in San Antonio, TX. I wish I could meet with them and console them, but we are half a country away.

And now I am off to bed. I sure hope he feels better tomorrow. And I don't have the heart to tell him he has to go through all of this again on Thursday...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 379 - Jun 14, 2009

It's very hard to find things to do when you can't be outside in the sun. I have to admit that I hate shopping and I am really getting tired of going to Wal-mart or the mall to have somewhere to take Kevin. He's really not the type of guy to go to aquariums and museums and that means we are just so limited.

So today we went to the mall. It turns out the sales clerk rang up all the shorts that didn't fit yesterday and we left all the right sized ones at the store. Grrr.

And I must say Kevin is very grumpy today. I am assuming it's part nerves due to his surgery in the morning and part us being here in this little room. I sure hope he handles being back in the hospital for the duration. This could be really rough.

Well, I am cutting this short to try to get to sleep myself. We have to get up at 4:30 in order for Kevin to have a shower with the special soap before going to the hospital.

Wish us luck!

Day 378 - Jun 13, 2009

We didn't really do much today. We got up and went to the mall because Kevin needed some shorts and a new hat, but that's about it. Stuff like this actually takes a few hours and that about wears us both out, so we just came back to the house and took naps and then ordered a pizza for dinner.

I will say that Kevin went into the fitting room at Pac Sun today and tried all of the shorts on. Big step. He is so particular about how his shorts fit, lol. I will also say that we had to buy the next size up too. I told ya he was putting on some weight, lol.

We did have a little instance where he was really looking his face over and he was not liking what he was seeing. It only lasted maybe 3 minutes and I was able to distract him so it didn't get him down long at all. I hate to see that look of sadness in his eyes...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 377 - Jun 12, 2009

Kevin is doing so much better this time around. We had to go for all the pre-admission testing today and he really did well. He was getting a little antsy near the end, but he still did very well.

He is also handling the Fisher House situation much better as well. It still has to be dark in here, but I am allowed to lay in bed with the computer now instead of having to sit in the bathroom. I still can't talk or have the tv on, but that's ok - I can at least do things on the computer.

I want to finally get around to answering some questions/comments as my email is really piling up.

To the anon poster who asked if I was worried about Kevin flying in regards to the shunt - nope. We have flown three times now to Texas and back with no problems. The cabin pressure is the same on a commercial airliner as it is in a Lear jet so I foresee no problems on that end. The only things I am worried about are the bathroom situation and the noise level. He seems to be able to handle the constant hum of the plane, but he doesn't tolerate 'people' noises very well. He has gotten somewhat better though, so we shall see...

Sue - thanks for telling me about the Injured Soldier Program. I will definitely be calling TSA. I also think it's sad that they didn't even inform you of your son's Purple Heart award ceremony. They did want to do Kevin's while he was in a coma, but I had them wait until he got better. I am so glad I did that.

Jenna - thanks so much for the caregivers information. I sure hope they do something fast. It makes my heart hurt to not have an income and to not have any type of insurance.

Tracey from the Burgh - Yes, Kevin's therapists were all surprised at his progress. The doctors were even more so! I had a nurse come up to me and she told me that there are two guys that keep them all going - keep them knowing that anything is possible - Kevin is one and Ann's son Mark is the other (Ann sometimes posts here).

Brenda, I hear ya' about not drinking before going on our flight. There is no restroom on that Lear jet so I eat and drink NOTHING before flying. They always tell me that I can use a urinal if I really need to go, but there is no privacy. I think I'll pass on that, thank you very much.

Jessica Canham - Kevin is very excited about the surgeries. I don't think I explained what is going to happen, but they are going to cut all of the scar tissue off and put cadaver skin in place for 3 or 4 days. He will have another surgery on Thursday where they will remove the cadaver skin and apply his own donor skin. We are both so excited because he will finally be able to hold his head up and he should stop drooling all over the place. Right now, his lip is so far down his face that he can't hold the drool or any food correctly in his mouth.

And I guess they plan on keeping us here in Texas for 10-14 days after the second surgery.

Chalkie - I sure hope I get to meet you someday. Thanks for the info about the Purple Heart and I don't think Manhattan is THAT far, lol. (The kids and I went there right before Kevin left for Basic Training. We had fun as it was our first vacation in a very long time). PS - how is your wife doing?

Anita (and everyone else that has went through this whole horrible ordeal) - at least we all know that there is someone else out there that understands the absolute terror we have faced. It doesn't make you feel quite so along maybe. I think we all hold fear in our hearts from the day our guys/gals sign on the dotted line. I know I did. And it truly does become tenfold once they deploy, doesn't it? I am so sorry for all the lost and for all the wounded. It's just a sad, sad thing...

Patricia - damn, girl! That post from day 364 was awesome.

Michelle Long - yes, Kevin will be in the Riverfest parade as well. We have him in the very front of the parade just in case he can't handle all of the stimulation. Hope we see you there.

Ok - I have made a HUGE dent in my inbox, so now I am heading to bed...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 376 - Jun 11. 2009

I am so exhausted from traveling all day that I am seriously going to bed as soon as I post this very short post. Kevin is already snoring away and I am so jealous.

So, in lieu of words from me, I am going to post some photos of the Memorial Day Service in honor of Andrew Shields. Andrew's father is in the black shirt and his mother is in the white shirt. I wish I could have been there...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 375 - Jun 10, 2009

I am sorry, but I am going to have to get back to everyone tomorrow night. I still have to pack yet as we are leaving in the morning. I just couldn't get Kevin to go to sleep (he's still actually awake) and it's impossible to get anything done while he is up.

I will say that this has been a very rough day and I sure hope tomorrow is better...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 374 - Jun 9, 2009

We had a decent day today. I did reaffirm that we can't have too long of a therapy day. We had OT and then we had an hour for lunch and then Speech and it was just too much. We just can't do the lunch break between. Kevin actually got mad and stormed out by himself and went to the car after lunch because he did not want to be there anymore. It was really hard to get him to come back in for therapy, but I lied and pulled rank. I told him that he is still active duty and if he needs it - the Captain will come out and kick his butt back inside. He was mad - but he did concede and come back in. Phew. I was scared because let's face it - he is bigger than I am and there is no way that I can force him to do anything he doesn't want to do.

Other than that, not much happened today. I did break down and I purchased airline tickets for our trip back to PA. Man, I sure hope this works out. I did end up going Southwest because if you have to cancel you get a credit toward your next flight. I figure if it gets closer and he just can't do it, I will cancel and we will drive. It was also the only non-stop flight I could find between Tampa and the Burgh and I need this part of the day to be as short as possible.

I will be getting his iPod fixed (yes it's broken already) and he can at least use his earphones if he needs to block out some of the noise. I am assuming that we will board first because of his handicap so I should be able to get us right next to the bathroom so that he doesn't have to try to walk far in-flight.

I have to admit that I am outright scared about this. I think it's because there's just no changing your mind once that plane is in the air. If we were driving and something was wrong, I had control and could make a change.

Well, I just need to keep positive thoughts about this, right?

And now I need to go buy a dress. Darn! I hate shopping!!! I think I will try to do it once we are in TX because I can get Breezy to stay with Kevin for a few hours. Grrr....

And to end this post, I want to take a moment and share some photos of Kevin while in Afghanistan. (I hope nobody minds me posting these):

This first one is of Kevin wearing sun protection on his nose, lol. The young man standing behind Kevin is Andrew. Jodi - have you guys seen this picture?

This next one is just a bunch of the guys/gals goofing off.

And this is Kevin, looking through the window of the turret (I think, lol)

And this last one is of Kev and his buddy "Too Tall":

Tomorrow night I will be sharing some photos of a Memorial Day service that was in honor of Andrew and other fallen members of the military.

Betsy - I would love to show some photos of James if you feel comfortable with it. Please feel free to email me at lesliekamm at live.com if you want. (Clickable link on right.)

Day 373 - Jun 8, 2009

We had a pretty good day today. We had OT and PT and then we went and visited everyone back on the ward. It was so wonderful to see Joel and Maritza and everyone. We really missed them.

And my friend Tracy pretty much planned the Purple Heart ceremony today. Thank goodness! She made a ton of phone calls, found out that there definitely isn't any type of protocol and just put together a schedule. LOVE IT! It's promising to be a very nice event and we are both looking forward to it.

And now I am off to bed. I am going to leave you guys with a couple of photos of Kevin eating brownie batter last night. I actually had him mix a batch up (with a little help) and I caught him sneaking a few spoonfuls. I still can't find my battery charger so these were taken with my phone:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 372 - Jun 7, 2009

I am going to have to skip writing tonight as it's late and we have to get up early tomorrow to get back on our therapy schedule. Kevin and I have been watching TV and time got away from us...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 371 - June 6, 2009

One more day of vaca and then it's back to our crazy life. Man - I so don't want this to end...

We really did nothing again today. We did plan to go to a movie, but Kevin lay down to take a nap and that was it - he didn't want to go. So we took a drive to a fruit stand later in the day and lo and behold - my parents pulled in shortly after us. I know it's stupid, but it was the first time I knew someone while I was somewhere. LOL - I think I'm going nuts. I mean, this is so trivial...

So that's about it. We did scrapbook tonight, which was fun. And we did visit my parents as well. I like it because we rarely take the wheelchair out of the car anymore. He is so much more mobile and it makes everything so much easier. Of course, we will have to for any type of long distance events/errands, but anything short - he can walk.

And I don't think I mentioned that they came yesterday to start digging out the pool. We got a massive storm last night though and the sides all caved in. The workers came back today to try to repair the damage, but I think they gave up after a while. There is probably 3 feet extra of space where there used to be a dirt shell. Oh well, they'll figure it out.

I also want to thank everyone that gave me tips on the Purple Heart Ceremony. I wish I would have known that it was up to me to plan it because I would have done it before now. I am running out of time - especially with us going to Texas in a few days and Kevin having two surgeries in one week. I will not be able to do much once we get there. Oh well, I guess I better quit scrapping (and blogging) and get planning...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 370 - Jun 5, 2009

This being on 'vacation' is kinda nice, lol. We really didn't do much again today. I have been trying to get some kind of acknowledgment of Kevin's Purple Heart Ceremony and I am struggling with it. Our liaison told me to hurry and get her a date and that was nearly two months ago. Now I just need to find out what to do and what the protocol is.

Does anybody out there in the black void know? I have never been to one and I have no idea what needs to be planned and if the Army needs to 'be there' or if just those that I invite need to come. I don't know if the Army has to have any say in it at all or if I can just do what I want.

I was told by a civilian that any of the soldiers from Kevin's unit can come and at the Army's expense - is that true? Most of them are in Germany and I know none of them would be able to afford it if they had to pay for it, but I do feel it would mean so much more to Kev (and the rest of them) if his buddies could come. Does anyone know if this is true?

And is it normal to have a luncheon/dinner afterward? And if so - who foots the bill for it? Me? That would be a little bit hard on my income (haha - what's an income?) and I sure don't think Kevin should have to pay for his own ceremonial dinner.

And can he wear his Class A's? (is that what the formal uniform is called?) Or does he have to wear the camouflage uniform?

I did contact the Sgt that was in charge in Afghanistan and I have asked him to pin the medal on Kevin. He is a great guy and I think he should have the honor being that he was there when the attack occurred.

And I was told that an officer has to 'read' the award so our liaison will be doing that as she is a Captain and Kevin has a good relationship with her.

I also wonder if I should call the local Legion Posts and VFWs? Do they need to be notified?

So many questions - absolutely no one to turn to.

I wish there was some kind of anonymous Army hotline...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 369 - Jun 4, 2009

I am not really going to write much tonight either, but I am going to drop some photos of Kevin from when we were in PA into the post. I finally got around to clearing out my phone. I haven't found my battery charger for my camera though...

Anyway, the first two are of Kevin with Moe's son, Mathew:

This next one is of Kevin with Tracy, her husband Jody and her son, Jessi:

Obviously this one is just Kevin:

And these are the Goodman's:

Kevin and I are watching MIB II and that's why I am not going to write tonight. It's movie night, I guess, as we watched Forrest Gump too...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 368 - Jun 3, 2009

I am pretty tired today (even though I did absolutely nothing - YAY!) so I am going to skip writing tonight. I don't really have anything to report anyway...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 367 - Jun 2, 2009

Kevin is sleeping in his new room tonight. My mom and dad and I put his humongous bed together and we unpacked all of his things. His bed is a California King so it really is quite large and he looks so lost laying in it, lol.

To be honest, we didn't really do anything today. I am taking this week and trying to get the rest of our things unpacked and put away. We hung a few of the pictures up and just organized his bedroom.

And I am so excited to say that they finally began to put in the pool today. I am hoping by the time we get back from Texas it will be completed.

And speaking of Texas, it looks like we will be heading there next Thursdayish. Kevin will be having two surgeries the following week on his chin and lip. I don't really know anything more than that, other than we will be there until roughly July 2 (Breezy's birthday). I was really hoping they would do his eye first, but I guess not.

And that about sums up our day. Tomorrow - we are doing nothing. NOTHING! I want to just veg out and rest. Sure hope it happens...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 366 - June 1, 2009

It really is amazing all of the changes in Kevin since we went back to PA for a vacation. It was almost like watching him remember who he was. Our first drive back to Brady was spent with Kevin pointing and exclaiming about the things he was seeing. When we first got there, he was determined to walk into the grocery store (our first stop) and I just loved watching his face when he would see someone he knew. He walked all around that store, from the front to the very back - including all the coolers - and he was just so darn excited to be there.

I really do think that Kev felt more like himself than he has since he was wounded. I think that he did forget huge chunks of his life and he needed a trip home to remind him. Just seeing him goof around with his friends and try to do an ollie and playing with my nephew Michael and Ronnie's little brother made me almost feel like Kevin was normal - and I'm sure he even felt more normal too.

I will tell you that our ride back to Florida was totally different than our ride to PA too. On the way we listened to the radio maybe 15 minutes in 18 hours and Kevin only watched half a movie. It was utterly silent - just like most of our days were.

On the way back to Florida - we listened to the radio about 3 hours and Kevin was just singing and dancing along to Lady Marmalade and Back in Black and all the other oldies that he chose to listen to. Sometimes he would turn on a hip hop song and he would turn his hat around and do his gangsta moves. It was just such a fun trip and we really did laugh a lot.

Another great thing that happened is that Kev now goes into the Men's Room by himself and I have to say - THANK GOODNESS!! I so hated having to go in there to help him - it was just so embarrassing. (Matter of fact, tonight at Wal-mart, Kevin told me he had to go to the bathroom and then he took off to the front of the store to take care of business. He came back a while later like nothing was out of the ordinary.)

I am also so excited to tell you that we did not get Kevin's wheelchair out of the car the whole two days of our drive home. Not once. He walked everywhere and I was so utterly proud of him.

(I should insert that the reason our trip took so long is because each bathroom stop takes at least 20 - 30 minutes. He is still slow at walking and doing everything he needs to do in the bathroom. I am getting really good at lurking outside (so better than inside) the men's room, lol)

Due to all his progresses, I am hoping that by July he can handle a commercial flight. I know that he can medically, it's just that those flights are so unpredictable (delays, etc) and also so loud. I am very sure we would have to do first class to keep the noise level down, but my other concern is how tiny the bathrooms are. I'm not sure he could do what he needs to do in such tight quarters. It's just not easy for him to bend his legs and move certain ways yet. Oh well, I guess we'll see. Truthfully - I don't think either one of us minded the drive. That Chrysler 300 was sure a smooth ride, lol.

So now we're home and he was in a great mood all day. We had my parents come for dinner and Kevin carried on with them the whole time. I had him do laundry too while me and my folks unpacked all the master suite stuff.

I sure hope all of these changes continue...I really like this happier Kevin...