Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jason - Month 16

I always remember the 13th of every month. Partly because it reminds me that I'm another month older, but mostly because it's another month of alive-ness for my husband. So we're sixteen months out from when our lives changed forever, and it feels like it's been five years already.

We had another group Thanksgiving at our house, like we did two years ago. Most of our Army friends have PCS'd away, but a few remain, and it was wonderful to get together with everyone in a pretty low key dinner. Jason cooked the turkey, and did a fabulous job. 

A couple of nights later, we were all asleep and Jason shot up out of nowhere which startled and woke me. Before I could ask him what was wrong or grab his arm, he was on the floor screaming. Apparently he had some sort of dream or nightmare, and he got up to try to walk, and went to step with his right leg which of course has no foot, so 225lbs landed on the nub, which happens to have fairly sharp bone underneath there. It's not made to support that much weight either. Needless to say, the fall woke him, but he couldn't control his pain. I was on the floor next to him within seconds, and my heart was racing. I didn't know what to do for him. We tried ice, but it was way too sensitive and he couldn't have anything touch it. I fed him motrin, and got him back in bed. The next day it was bruised, and obviously sore, but he could still walk which was encouraging. No one pushed him to get an x-ray, and I didn't either for a couple weeks.

In hindsight, I wish I had pushed it. And I wish his nurse case manager had too. There should be a standard of care for lower limb amputees, that if they fall on the residual limb it is an automatic x-ray whether you like it or not. I made him go a couple weeks later when he showed me a fluid filled perfect circle on the edge of his nubby. Thank goodness there was no broken bone. They think maybe there was some scar tissue that was knocked loose and was floating around in there though. 

On a slow day at work, I decided I'd had enough of Jason not getting any prosthetic care. For some reason I had let it go far too long. I don't know if it was being busy with Cooper, work, or just life, but I let that one get away from me, and I definitely shouldn't have. In my defense, he shouldn't have either. It's hard for me to explain to him how important it is that he take care of that leg, because it is much more prone to infection and injury. And if anything happens to it, he won't be able to wear his leg, and there goes walking or driving for who knows how long. It's kind of a big deal. Our house is definitely NOT handicapped accessible, is two stories, and they don't make baby gates with openings wide enough for wheel chairs, that's for sure. But, in his eyes, I'm being too mothering or I'm nagging if I ask/tell him to take care of his leg. "I knowwwww, I've got this under control..." is the answer I usually get. 

Anyway, I googled prosthetists in the area and got quite a few results which is interesting since at the WTU, they told him he'd have to go to Denver for his care. They were "trying" to get him an appointment with the VA in Denver which was going no where. His nurse case manager called, I called, he called, you never got to speak to an actual person, and then they would call us back and say "we'll call you in the next 4 days with an appointment." Four days would come and go and still we wouldn't hear back. I called a few places in the area and one woman talked to me for at least 30 minutes about the process to get him care there, and the processes we'd have to go through. Sounded easy enough which pissed me off that they've waited this long and it could have been done in the area in less than a week. It was 8 months of no prosthetic care! Completely unacceptable. This woman even gave me all of the Tricare insurance codes so that instead of having the initial appointment and then deciding what supplies he might need, and having to put in for approval for all those supplies and then coming back a second time to get them, he could just get it all done the first time. We went, and were there for two hours while they adjusted and measured and figured out a plan of care. They decided the way his scar is healing may require a revision which stresses me out a tad thinking about recovery time. It would only be a couple weeks provided the procedure went well. But the time daddy is out of commission or using his crutches around the house (I hate seeing him come down the stairs on his crutches, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next fall) would be a little stressful with a pre toddler. It is doable, and if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. His scar never healed cleanly, there's one part that kind of folded in on itself, and while all of the skin is closed, there is a big cavern that can open and close when he puts his leg in his socket and it can be painful for him. He also worries about infection there. 

My brother, the connection connoisseur and triathlete met a double amputee who completed two Ironman races at one of his triathlon events. He struck up a conversation, exchanged emails, and he referred us to his leg guy in Denver. Turns out, this guy used to work at Walter Reed, and actually adjusted Jason a couple times while his normal prosthetist was out. So, if all else fails, we can suck up the drive, and go see someone who we know will be great. Small world, though huh!

We opted to stay in Colorado for Christmas, and thank goodness, because we're struggling to budget ourselves with this new (and less!) income. With talk of baby #2 in the near future, budgeting and money is a daily conversation in our house. I can't say I enjoy it much at all. Mom Mom and Pop Pop came out to see us instead, so my mom has kept Jason busy. It was a culture shock for him at first, but now he enjoys all the productivity...or so he says. 

We are planning a beach trip next summer, and I am already looking forward to that after missing it the last two summers, I am more than ready to be down there. More than ready. 

Jason completed his first college class and I am so proud of him! It only took us four years of arguing for him to start. Once he started, he got the bug, and now he's so excited. It was an 8 week class held on post so it was a night class which sucked with my work schedule, but we survived it. It was a preliminary English class since he didn't quite test out of it in the placement test, but he got an A, did all his homework on time, and never slacked or took the easy way out for projects. I am excited for him for next semester because he's signed up for two classes this time, and they're at the actual campus instead. I think he'll feel much better being there, where it's less Army and more regular students. He'll have morning classes twice a week, and I think he'll do great. He's hoping to go to school full time once he gets out of the Army and I'm sure that will be pretty hard, but I think we can make it through :) 

His formal hearing for his VA rating is 5 February where he'll do a video conference and explain to them why he believes he deserves 100% disability rating instead of the 80% they gave him initially. I think I am to go with him and explain how this injury affects our every day life. We're more worried about 15-20 years down the road, and how his body will deteriorate faster and his mobility will decrease much quicker than normal. Hopefully it goes well because that's how we're basing our financial decisions for the future right now. 

This time last year, we were at home and Jason was withdrawing from whatever medication he was still on, but I think it was one of his last ones. I remember him laying in bed all day with fever, chills, and nausea, and convinced he was getting sick. We were sleeping late, napping, and eating a lot of wonderful home cooking anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first baby. Long gone are the days of sleeping late and napping! But we have a wonderful boy in exchange for that. 

This month, we're excited to celebrate our first Christmas in this house, and as a family of three. 
Happy Holidays to you and yours! xoxo

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cooper - 11 Months

Dear Sweet Cooper -

Every day you amaze me. You are a little sponge, and show me something new you've learned almost daily. You can wave bye bye and blow kisses. You kind of know the sign for milk, although your wave bye bye and sign for more look the same as milk. You can clap your hands, and love to dance. At daycare you beeline for the toy bells, and have one in your hand all day long. At home, it's the measuring cups. You've always got one in your hand, even when you're crawling around. You love the sound they make when you bang them on just about everything.

We have been taking a swim class on Saturday mornings, and you love the water! You're almost able to blow bubbles, but still aren't the biggest fan of going under water. You do, however, enjoy drinking your bathwater on purpose! You also like standing in the bathtub and knocking everything off the ledge in to the water.

Night time used to be easy for us, but lately you're showing signs of separation anxiety (at least that's what we think it is). We can't figure out any other reason why sometimes you go right to sleep and stay asleep until the next morning, and other times you don't go right to sleep, and will also wake up crying a couple hours later. I have to go in and pat your back until you stay asleep. There's no method to your madness, and it stresses mommy out! It also makes me extremely grateful that you are, for the most part, a wonderful sleeper. On those late nights that I'm trying to get you back to sleep, I'm thanking the good Lord you didn't make a habit of this. Generally, you know when I have to work the next morning, and those are the nights you like to stay up late!

You play peek-a-boo all the time, and think it's especially funny while you're nursing. You are very ticklish and we can get some very hearty laughs out of you that way. It melts my heart! You are starting to know when you're doing something you're not supposed to. You peer over your shoulder to see if I'm watching, and then start giggling really loud when I start coming towards you to put a stop to your wrongdoings. Setting boundaries for such an active little boy is becoming harder and harder.

You continue to be a favorite at daycare because you're so easy going. You are now the oldest in your class, which makes mommy a little sad. You are growing up so fast!

You eat everything we eat now, and absolutely refuse to be spoon fed unless it's yogurt or applesauce. We have to sneak vegetables in anyway we know how because you will put them in your mouth, and give me a yuck face, and spit them out. You have four teeth on the top, and two on the bottom so far.

You are the light of our lives; mommy and daddy love you so much! Please keep smiling, it's so contagious.

xoxo handsome boy,