Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Whoops...sorry about the delay in updates! Something about having a toddler makes me not able to sit and write like I used to!

Jason was discharged on Thursday! We totally weren't even expecting to leave until Friday, and I even accounted for maybe staying until Saturday just in case. So Wednesday evening when Jason said "What are they going to do tomorrow? Why do I still need to be here?" And I didn't really have a good answer, we wondered exactly what we would do for the next couple of days. He was already getting stir crazy.

Cooper was safe and sound at our friends house for the night, and if I had known, I would have packed up the car before I left the Fisher House Thursday morning. I got there and waiting for the Dr to round, except it was his resident rounding which was fine. She was super nice, and is probably younger than me. What's that they say about they keep getting younger? I'm starting to feel that way and I can't say I enjoy it much. Anyway, she was very patient with all our questions even when I wanted her to go in to extreme detail about what it looks like in there. I wanted to watch that surgery so bad. He said no. The surgeon, not Jason. Although Jason probably would have objected if he agreed.

We said "So what's the plan now?" She said "Well, do you want to go home today?" We were kind of like deer in headlights like uhhhh I guess? Ever since this has happened, Jason has become very anal about infections and germs, etc. He thinks he pushed himself to hard too fast last time (I tend to disagree, but maybe that makes me callous) and is afraid of doing that again. So I was shocked when he said he wanted to go home that day. She went and got things in order, and started the ball rolling for the day.

Zach, a prosthetist that just moved out here and happens to be working alongside Jason's surgeon, came from Walter Reed. Small world, right? Jason saw him a couple times for adjustments while we were at Walter Reed and his normal prosthetist wasn't available. They kept telling us they'd send Chris over until we realized Chris was the prosthetist and then we requested Zach just because we knew him. Any form of familiarity at this point is very welcome. So, he came in and cut Jason's hard cast off and he was Jason's new best friend after that. He gave us a donner, shrinkers, socks, and a pretty cool clamshell cast that can come off and on as Jason pleases. The nurse put on a really crappy dressing that we knew would not last a week. Good thing we still have a box full of wound care supplies at home. That would be on the to do list when we got home.

The surgeon also came in and removed the drain which Jason was not thrilled about, and gave him prescriptions, and sent him on his way! We ordered lunch and waited quite a while for it since the meds were still kind of making him nauseous. By the time we left the hospital, it was 3pm, and I still had to go to the Fisher House and pack everything up. After we finagled everything in the back so that Jason could stretch out in the back seat, we headed down to pick up Cooper. Except that it was rush hour. Not that this is DC rush hour or anything, but it still took us about an hour vs the 20 minutes it should have. We stopped at Target to fill the prescriptions, and picked up dinner for our friends, and finally made it around dinner time.

By that point, Jason was done sitting in the car. He was still feeling nauseous off and on because of the meds, and sitting in the back seat didn't help him much. As if those friends who watched Cooper pretty much the whole time we were in the hospital hadn't helped enough, they let us stay with them that night because Jason really didn't want to get back in the car. We were still about 50 minutes from home. Jason was hit hard by the narcotics, and was running a low grade fever; every time he took the meds, he broke out in sweats. He still does, so I guess that's his bodies reaction to those drugs.

We left the next morning, had breakfast at Chick-fil-a, and both boys slept the whole drive home. Ever since, Jason has been his old self! He's already going stir crazy not being able to move around as fast or as much, and when we go out, he grumbles every time we have to get the wheelchair out. He says he's having horrible dreams, and the only reason we can think, is because of the narcotics. But, no nerve pains, no phantom pains, and the swelling is very minimal. We've done a couple sponge baths, because with all that sweating, there's no way he'd make it a week with no bath at all!

Next follow up is Thursday, he'll take another x-ray, and hopefully tell Jason he doesn't have to wear the clamshell anymore! Stitches won't come out for another two weeks probably, and he's already not looking forward to that.

Hopefully we can find something to keep him occupied until he's up and walking again, or it's going to be a long 6 weeks!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Post Op day 2

I told Jason this evening, as we were reflecting on the day, "You know, I'm starting to believe in this God thing a little more - even though it sucks that your leg is gone, when it happened was probably perfect timing..."

I mean, can you imagine having a 16 month old and going through what we went through at the same time?! People did it all.the.time. And I don't know how. I spent my days at the hospital, from morning to night, and sometimes over night. I absolutely would not have been able to do that if Cooper had already been born. Yes, we were on the East coast, and we would have had plenty of family help, and would have needed it that much more, but I still cannot imagine. 

Because today, Cooper and I arrived at the hospital a little after 7, and waited for the surgeon to make his rounds. By that time, he was so done, we had to go. There was no stalling, no 'one more kiss', no nothing. It was "Ok, gotta go get him outta here! Love you, see you later!" Oh, and "Happy Anniversary!" So this is what true married with kids life is like, huh? Don't get me wrong, I felt horrible. I hate leaving him here. But I knew I wouldn't really be of any use, and I needed to spend time with my sweet boy. The previous night was horrible for us both - we got back to the Fisher House around 9:15pm, and he had fallen asleep in the car which is horrible for us. Anytime he does that, it's like a power nap for him, and he won't nap afterwards, or go to sleep at night apparently. I nursed him in the room, and put him down in the crib right next to my bed thinking that if he could see me, he'd just lay down and go to sleep. Ha. He stood up and peered over the edge of the crib, reached for my hand and put it to his cheek while sucking his thumb. If the bed was big enough, I would have let him sleep with me but they only had a room with two twins so that wasn't gonna happen. He started babbling, really loud, screaming, laughing, giggling, etc. Mind you, it's now pushing 11pm. There are other people in this house, and I did not want someone knocking on the door because that would have just pushed me over the edge in my overtired state. There was a lot of "please God let him go to sleep. please God give me patience. please God give me patience." I laid him down about 15 separate times like they do on the Supernanny and said "Good night, I love you!" holy cow. I think it was 11:30 before we both finally fell asleep. But it was a night of 'oh please don't let this wake him up' as I tried to readjust as quietly as possible. Then they emptied the dumpster and that was that. 0530, and we were up for the day. For a kid that usually sleeps for 12 hours, I knew he wasn't gonna last long this morning. 

Sure enough, as soon as we got in the car to drive down to our friends house, he was asleep. And that didn't bode well for the afternoon nap, but I went with it. I caught a quick cat nap in the target parking lot until he woke up, too. We spent the afternoon with our very generous friend, and I put him down for a nap around 2. I pried myself out of her house after he was asleep but I really didn't want to leave him again. (TMI alert) Tonight was my first night not nursing him before bed since he's been born. Like, for his entire life, he's always had a night time routine of reading, rocking, nursing, and bed. And tonight he didn't have that, and I wasn't the one putting him to bed. And guess what? He didn't even know the difference. That made my heart hurt a little bit, because he no longer really truly needs me. Someone else could take my place if it came to that. That's a sucky feeling. But, in the grand scheme of things, I am SO grateful to have such a go with the flow baby. He went to sleep with no problems tonight she said, and I only hope he'll sleep in tomorrow morning too for her. Clearly, I'm hanging on! I'm going to have to learn to embrace my growing boy or I'm going to miss out on him! 

So, I left, and went to about five different places to get Jason an anniversary dinner of California Pizza Kitchen and Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. Of course then I hit the afternoon traffic and that was annoying, but here we are. Spending our anniversary in a hospital room watching Friends, eating starbursts and skittles and drinking pepsi like the good ol days. If it weren't for our friends, we wouldn't be able to enjoy this time together, even though it's a sucky time, I at least feel better knowing I'm here with him, supporting him any way I can. We are so grateful for their help...I almost can't even put it in to words. 

As far as his pain goes, he's off all IV pain meds, and it's well controlled with oral meds. We're not sure when they'll take the hard cast off, but we're kind of hoping for tomorrow. He crutched around the halls today (I missed that) and said he felt much better getting up and moving around. He ate a real lunch, and obviously a real dinner which is a huge improvement from yesterday when I could only get him to eat two chicken noodle soup noodles. He's been sitting up in the chair for most of the day too. 

Seriously though, I keep getting deja vu or flashbacks or whatever you want to call them. I just had the thought "Ugh, I'm exhausted...I don't feel like walking back to the room..." Except that there's no walking, it's driving ~8 miles back to the Fisher House and we're in Colorado this time, not Maryland, so I can't go home this weekend, or to the beach either. Bummer. It just feels all too familiar, and almost comfortable...and weird that it feels comfortable. 

I think tomorrow will be another day of pain control, maybe a few more laps in the hallway, and a poop or two since he has nothing else planned. We're hoping to be discharged by Friday, and we're also hoping to get the cast taken off tomorrow or Friday too. 

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers, things seem to be improving a lot faster this go round! 

Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Here we go again...under very different circumstances this time though. Leading up to the surgery, the most common comments from him were "This is just so weird; walking in to surgery perfectly healthy and then I won't be able to walk for 2 months again. I'm so not looking forward to getting put under again either. Ugh."

Once he was admitted, and in bed, he started to calm down a bit. "It's all coming back now. This is all so familiar." The doctors in and out, nurses in and out, anesthesia, plastic surgeon, etc. Except it was kind of new for me since I always missed out on that routine. They used to take him down at 4 and 5 in the morning, looooong before I got there. Most of the time he was already done with surgery by the time I got to his room.

Today, I wasn't allowed in the recovery room (as I type this, he's probably in recovery) so I hope he does ok waking up. We emphasized absolutely no ketamine! Anesthesia offered him a spinal, but he refused. Interestingly, they were going to use the same anesthetic that we use on our c-sections, so I'm very familiar with it and know that it's not as debilitating as I think he thought it would be. He said he just didn't like the feeling of pressure on his spine when they inject stuff. I tried to explain that he wouldn't be numb constantly like he was with the epidural, but that it would offer more pain control. I didn't want to be too pushy though, and he said no multiple times, that he'd rather just wait and see how he feels. As a nurse, I'm always telling patients not to be a hero, to try the pain medication before it gets out of control and you're miserable. There's a very delicate balance between being a nurse and a wife, and I'm still teetering on the edge I think. He used to get so mad at me for interrupting doctors and grilling them with questions. I think now he's gotten used to it, and he's also realized that we are his only advocate. Doctors always say they care, and they do, but in reality, this is just another day at work for them. It's so easy to forget that you're dealing with someones husband, father, son, loved one when you're doing another routine procedure that may not be routine to them. I'm guilty, so I know they are too.

When they (finally) brought him up to the room, it was kind of like deja vu and kind of nostalgic and very surreal. Here we are again I thought. At first glance, he looked exactly the same as when I saw him for the first time at Walter Reed. His leg was big and wrapped, and propped up on pillows. He had that look on his face like "I'm so happy to see you, but they won't believe that I'm in a lot of pain and if you talk to me I'm going to start crying..." Yes, I got all that from a facial expression. So they get him all settled in the room and I ask the PACU nurse how he handled coming out of the anesthesia. She said he had a hard time and was alternating between crying and not breathing enough. This happened before when he came out of surgery and had hallucinations and then they snowed him because he told the nurse his pain was "a hundred and f*cking sixty, what do you think it is?!"

Later he told me they weren't very nice to him down there which broke my heart that I couldn't be down there fighting for him. He said he tried to scratch his eye and they said "What are you doing?! Stop! You need to breathe!" Ok, yes, breathing is important, but you don't have to yell. I assume they were yelling, maybe they were just being loud and stern, but for a guy coming out of anesthesia almost in tears, my guess is yelling won't help your cause. And then he said she told him "Why are you crying?! That will only make it worse!" Oh man if I could have heard her say that. I wish he would have just told her to you-know-what and blame it on the anesthesia.

We're still struggling with the pain issue a little; I know he's in pain, but he'll wake up for about 5 minutes and have a normal conversation with me, and say he's in so much pain and that he's nauseous, but then he goes right back to sleep mid sentence. I just hope it stays controlled overnight because he'll be by himself. I hate having to leave him, but I'm missing my little boy!

We have been absolutely beyond blessed with friends who are so willing to help. Cooper has been with a friend of mine from work since last night and I can't tell you how much of a blessing that has been. Initially, I was planning on just bringing him with me and sucking it up, but after my long ass morning I realized there's no way that's going to work. He'll be with me tonight and a good portion of tomorrow morning and then I think he'll go back to her house for the afternoon.

But to be able to sit here and write this and enjoy the quiet, and not worry about chasing around my never still 16 month old, is such a blessing.

Before I leave him for the night, I hope to get him awake enough to eat something. Room service closes at seven and I don't want him waking up after it's too late and be hungry and not able to get anything. They won't let him order anything until he's able to tolerate crackers and such, but he won't even eat that for me right now. He says he just doesn't feel like eating at all..and goes back to sleep. Ha.

It's just so weird being back in this chair next to his hospital bed. I keep waiting for my mom to come through the door thinking we're back on the east coast or something. I keep forgetting we're really only 45 minutes from home home this time, and that we won't be here for 6 weeks so we better not move in. At this point, it's hard to visualize discharge time though since he's in so much pain and so out of it.

I know it will come. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

on mother's day

Officially, I've had three mother's days...only I didn't know I was a mother yet for the first one. It's just an odd feeling that I still find myself in awe of. The fact that I even get to call myself a mother is amazing. 

I see it every single day I work - women becoming brand new moms at a very young age, or starting over after not having a baby for 5 or 10 years, or becoming a mother for a 4th, 5th, or 6th time. It doesn't usually spark anything awe inspiring in me, but since it's mother's day, I gave it a little more thought. To be given this gift is out of this world amazing. It's so cliche to say that you can't truly understand until you become a mother yourself, but it's the only way I can seem to put it in words. 

Now, I look back to when I was a teenager and horrible. I can't imagine what kind of stress I was putting my poor mother through. Even still, I know I stress her out, and she's always worrying about me. Almost every day, I think about the day that Cooper decides he doesn't need me anymore, or when I'm not the first person he runs to for help or comfort. When he meets someone to marry and brings them home to meet us, and I have to smile and hug him and say "I'm so happy for you!" But I know I'll be thinking about the days I'm living right now. I'll remember living in this house, chasing him around, counting, singing, dancing, and tickling. 

So many people come up to us and ask how old he is. "16 months", I'll say, and they almost always come back with "Ah, I remember that age..." and they look so nostalgic. And right now while I'm living the tantrums and stubbornness and while I'm shaping who he will become, I have such a hard time believing that I will ever miss this stage. 

And then I know there will be a day that he won't stand at the front door and cry when he sees me leave, or when I won't be the only one that can comfort him. 

Shortly after he was born a friend asked "Doesn't it just break your heart to hear him cry like that?" He was 2ish months old at the time, I think. I said "No." Because I will be the first one to tell you it took me a few months to bond with him. Looking back now, I wonder if it was a little bit of post partum depression, or it could have just been our stressful situation, but I know I sound so callus when I say that. Feeding him was painful and not the beautiful picture they make it out to be, and since I had to do it every 2 hours, I was so down on myself for feeling so negative towards him because he didn't do anything wrong. All I had to do was feed my baby and it was miserable to get through every.single.time. 

But now, now when I see him standing at the front door crying out for me as I leave, I can literally feel my heart breaking off in to little tiny pieces. I want to run to him and scoop him up and hug him so tight. I can see the pain and confusion on his face, and I just want to explain that I'll never ever leave him. I can't help but want to fight all his fights for him, and be his ultimate protector, forever. I don't know how I will ever let him go. How will I ever let him make his own mistakes and learn from them. How will I ever not worry about him. 

Sometimes I wonder why people go through this parenting thing at all - it can be so miserable! I have to raise this beautiful boy in to a productive member of society,  pour my heart and soul in to him, and then let him go do everything on his own. Then what?! Holy unnecessary anxiety, Batman. This is still at least 17 years away! Maybe in these next seventeen years I'll figure out the trick to this crazy mess. 

For now, I'll continue to look at him and think "Holy crap, we made him. He is absolutely perfect. I can't believe I grew him!" I absolutely cannot imagine life without him. I have been so blessed. Thank you for making me a mommy, Cooper, you are my pride and joy every single day. 
I love you, I love you, I love you! 

"It's a big world, baby, and you're little for a little while..."

Jason - Month 21

The only new, exciting, scary things happening this past month were surgery preparations. Follow ups, consultations, second opinions, army red tape, etc. Tricare is now managed by United Healthcare and of course, his surgery is falling right in the window of a big grey area where we don't really get an authorization number for the surgery because apparently United is having a hard time issuing anyone authorization numbers for any requests. So we were given a blanket waiver letter and assured his surgery will be covered by insurance. If I've learned one thing from being an army wife, it's trust no one.

We've been on the phone every single day with the surgeons office people who are supposedly in charge of the insurance portion of everything, and they've been awful. They never return my phone calls, and she's never available when we call. I keep telling Jason this is the civilian world, and things are a little different. But, I still have a hard time with the concept of it all. It shouldn't matter if we're military or civilian, if you're in the business of patient satisfaction you should do everything in your power to make sure your patients/customers are happy. These people certainly are not. That feeling makes Jason really uncomfortable about the surgery, which is understandable, but at this point, what are we to do? They didn't get us the pre-op paperwork until two weeks before the surgery, which leaves us scrambling to make last minute appointments for a pre-op history and physical and lab work, and we have to drive back up to Denver for his pre admissions stuff at the hospital. Frustrating. I always try to cluster care when I'm at work. These people certainly don't have that as a priority, and when your patient is active duty and has a 16 month old, sometimes it's hard to just drop everything and drive an hour and a half for stuff we could've had done a while ago. 

I'm hoping I'll be able to stay at the Fisher House in Denver while Jason is inpatient. According to the map, it's about 8 miles from the hospital. And I'm hoping Cooper will adjust ok, and sleep well at night because we're going to be exhausted! He keeps saying "I'm so not excited about this surgery. I just don't want to deal with this again!" But we did get a second opinion (where we also waited an hour and a half to be seen...) and even though we were pissed for having to wait that long, the doctor was really nice, and said he studied under the surgeon doing Jason's surgery. He had nothing but great things to say about him, and said he would definitely do the surgery, that it was a great idea, and Jason was a perfect candidate. So that was encouraging, and makes us feel a lot better about the whole thing. 

Now it's just a matter of preparing everything so that we're (I'm) not running around like crazy people afterwards. Having Cooper will be challenging, and I won't be able to sit at the hospital all day long with him like I used to. I'll feel terrible about that, but I know he used to get annoyed with how late I'd stay there with him because he was so tired. So Cooper and I will take advantage of the staycation and go to the Zoo which is pretty close to the hospital. Hopefully he'll have a play date or two with a friend who lives up there too! I'm just trying to figure out how I'll get over to the hospital early enough in the morning to see the doctor when he rounds. I missed the doctors almost every day when we were at Walter Reed and I can't believe I did that. But then, I was just in "get me through today" mode, and wasn't thinking big picture like I should have been. If it's anything like last time, he'll be doped up on pain meds and won't remember anyone coming in at all. 

Sadie will be boarded for about a week while we get settled back in at home, and then Jason's Dad and his wife will come for a week to help. I'll try to squeeze three shifts in while they're here to help, and hopefully we can schedule his follow up appointments around my working. Same for the rest of his recovery. My parents will be here for about three weeks, and then his mom will come in from England for a week. That should put us at about 5-6 weeks after surgery, and I doubt he'll have his leg that soon, so I'll probably have to work 8 hour shifts until he's back up and walking which is a huge bummer for me because that just means it's that much more often I'll have to get up at the crack ass of dawn for work, but it's certainly not permanent. We'll do it. We've done it before, just in different circumstances. At least we're at home this time, and he can be a little more comfortable. It's less convenient here, he won't be able to use his wheelchair anywhere because they don't make handicapped accessible baby gates, so he'll get really good at using crutches - my only rule is that he doesn't go up or down the stairs on them. 

I think it will be good. He'll be able to be more active, and he'll start to feel better about himself. 

I will try to go back to my one a day updates while he's going through his surgery and recovery. We're not a very religious family, but I never turn down prayers. 

Next time you hear from me, Jason will have a spiffy newly shaped stump and hopefully no infections!