The Misfits

This is about our family's journey to a new norm after our son Chris was seriously injured in an IED explosion while deployed to Afghanistan. I chose the title "A Misfit's Mother's Journey" to honor some small way all the amazing young men in his squad, "Martin's Misfits". I owe a debt to these amazing men who worked together to save my son's and his buddy's lives and to the young man who sadly lost his life. This is a debt I can never repay. I hope you will find inspiration in our story and admiration of the young men who understand the consequences and are still willing to risk life and limb in the hope of protecting others.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The first step towards recovery.

I awoke early the next morning, on my own and interestingly enough, well rested. I guess being able to finally see and touch my boy after what seemed like a month instead of just a week, caused my body and mind to truly let go. I didn't sleep long, but I know I slept hard mainly cause Wayne told me I snored loudly. Really I have no idea what he is talking about because I never, ever snore. I quickly grabbed a shower and got dressed. I hated being away from Chris now. Every muscle and nerve in my body was twitching to get back to his room, almost like I didn't believe he was really there. Plus I was in mother bear mode; no one was going to do anything to my boy without me being there to make sure he was getting what he needed and was treated right. Today he was scheduled for another wash out and the first review of his wounds by the ortho team who would be responsible for the eventual closing of his legs. I certainly wasn't going to miss that. Brad's washout was scheduled for the morning and Chris' for the afternoon. After waiting anxiously, yet not really wanting them to come take him away, the anestisia team came in to prep him and get him headed in the right direction towards LaLa land. The anestisist was fantastic, so gentle and caring. Once everything was in place they wheeled his bed to the 2nd floor and towards pre-op. Right before they turned the corner of the pre-op hallway I kissed him on his hair-net cover forehead and told him I loved him. His anestisist touched my arm, looked deeply into my eyes and promised to take good care of him. This comforting gesture brought me to tears. We waited just outside the pre-op hallway so we could meet his surgeon for the first time. A short while later and just when I was beginning to think they forgot about us, I saw a doctor walking down the hall. He reminded me of a taller version of Opie Taylor and to top it off he was wearing a StL Cardinals scrub cap! He couldn't be too bad if he was a Cardinals fan, even if I'm not. He took the time to explain what they would be doing, why they had to do this and what their goal was. Basically there is all kinds of crap in the sands/ground over there that the IED blew up into his legs. They don't want to close him up until the cultures come back negative and these washouts help remove that gunk and bacteria. They were also going to look at his wounds and see what needed to be done to give him a good foundation for his prosthetics. Of course all that scared me, but I knew it had to be done and I felt he was in good hands. It would be a 2-3 hour wait before his procedures would be finished. Thankfuly we had a couple administrative things to finish; taking our minds off the wait. At the 3 hour mark we headed to the waiting room. When we first arrived there were several people in the room, but with each phone call the numbers dwindled. I kept waiting for our phone call and before long we were the only ones left in the room. We were hitting the 3.5-4 hour mark and still no phone call. It was all I could do to keep the bile in my stomach from rising as it got more and more upset. I kept peeking out the door and down the hallway hoping I would see our doc. Finally it paid off, I saw his red StL Cardials cap bouncing up and down as he walked towards us with a slight smile on his face. We got up and met him in the hallway where he told us he had good and bad news. Good news; his wounds looked good and there were no obvious signs of infections in either leg. Bad news; there wasn't enough meaty tissue at the end of the left leg so they had to cut 4 more inches off the bone so it was no longer an at-the-knee amputation. They had to remove about 2 inches off the right, but it was still a below-the-knee amputation. By doing this he would now have a sturdy foundation for his prosthetics. I hated to hear it, but was so happy his right was still a below-the-knee making all the difference in the long run. Knowing he was safe, healthy and recovering caused all the tension to leave my body and suddenly I was really tired and hungry. We got something to eat and headed back to his room to wait for his return. All of a sudden we heard a commotion in the hall. Wayne went out to see what it was because it sounded like Chris. Then I heard Chris say "See that fucking sexy man there? That's my Dad!", very loud and jovial. We all just busted up laughing, whatever drugs they had him on made him quite the character. While he was in surgery the nurses had changed his bed to an air bed, it was better for all his butt and leg wounds. The transfer from the bed he was on to the air bed was quite the endeavor; the trapeze contraption was higher, his IV was now on the left which was the back side of the bed so we needed to get all the machines and stuff through the trapeze bar set-up, the new bed was like a bouncy castle with all the air in it and Chris was still high on drugs. We never laughed so hard. As Chris came down off his high he got a bit more feisty but I think it was a mixture of the coming down of the drugs and the pain rising up. So we worked with the RAS team to get his pain under control. After a fashion Chris finally drifted off to sleep, looking just like my little angel. It was getting late so Wayne and I headed back to the Fisher House and drifted off to sleep ourselves.


  1. Only God can give a mother strength like this. God Speed Chris. You have a remarkable family. Thank you Leigh for your inspiring journey of faith and hope.
    Nancy Kearney

  2. I will be praying for you Leigh and your family. Just 6 years ago I was at the Fisher House and spending 16 hours at the Hospital. I know how much the prayers helped. Reading this put me back to May 2006. God is in control. I will pray that God fills your bucket of strength every day. He didn't fail us, not once, and He will do the same for you.
    GiGi Windsor
    Semper Fi

  3. just remember you are not alone there are people out there who will pray for your son heath and your also.It does amaze me that as mom's of the military we can do anything that is need of us to help our loved ones out firstand make sure they get the best care they need. It brought tears to my eyes and laughter also when I read your story what a amazing son you have please pass on all the hugs from all of us.If he needs card or letters please let me know for I will right to him here is my address 1470 long plains road Buxton,Maine 04093.Iam a mom of 3 but a very proud mom of 2 in the Army in Va. jeanette fernstrom