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.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Today is the day. I am so excited and nervous at the same time. Today we will be one step closer to his new future, yet surgeries always make me nervous. Chris is, as always, cheery and joking despite the phantom pains, which are a bit better today. Excitement builds as we look forward to him coming back with less tubes, making Fred (his IV pole) a bit easier to push around. The Doc came in to let us know his cultures came back negative, meaning no bacteria in the wounds which means they will definitely be closing him today. Brad was the first to go then it would be Chris, so we patiently...oh who am I kidding...we impatiently waited for the anesthetist team to come prep Chris. One because we were so ready to get this started and two because we were worried about Brad. He had had some small (yet painful) set backs and we wanted his surgery to go smoothly. Finally around 1230 they came for Chris. We were thrilled yet concerned about Brad since his surgery took longer than expected. I watched the team as they prepped Chris, working smoothly and somewhat efficiently and before I knew it they had finished and were wheeling him out. Seeing him in that bed brought back memories of when him and I PSCd to Kadena. He was 2 and had a severe ear infection, but because he had no fever and his high threshold for pain he never complained of an ear ache. One day, after only being there two weeks, he had fallen at the daycare provider's. When I brought him home he was slurring his words, completely panicked I rushed him to the ER where they asked me if he had any projectile vomiting. Within seconds after saying no, he proceeded to projectile vomit everywhere. They quickly took us to a room and gave him a once over where they discovered a dark red color behind his ear drum making them think he had internal bleeding. The only way to verify it was with a CAT scan and to prep him for that they would have to put an IV in his arm. My world was torn apart as I stood in the prep room, all by myself, watching my little man in complete confusion of what was going on, stare at me screaming and crying for Mommy as they tried to get an IV in his arm. Tears were streaming down my face as a medtech held me back to keep me from scooping him up in my arms to make it all go away. Luckily it was just a bad ear infection, but the pain on his face that day was forever seared in my memory. That face came rushing back to me now as I walked down the hall by his side. The difference was there was no screaming or crying and he was fully aware of what was going on, but it still didn't stop the tears from building up in the corner of my eyes. I just wanted to scoop him up in my arms and make it all go away. Once again I kissed him on the forehead and watched them as long as I could before they disappeared from view. It was going to take about 3 hours so we got something to eat and waited in his room. At the 3 hour mark I headed towards the dreaded waiting room. This time there was only a 3 families in there with me and Cujo, but as the calls came they quickly dwindled and once again it was just us left in there. Wayne joined us a few minutes later after getting of the phone with his family. The anxiousness began to build in all of us as the minutes ticked by and just like before I finally saw the StL Cards scrub cap come bouncing down the hall. The Doc told us the surgery went pretty much as planned; his wounds looked good and they were able to create a good meaty foundation. I asked to see the pictures of his wounds and he showed them to us. The pictures took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes, once again I wanted to drop to my knees, but I needed to see them for my closure. My mind tried to process what my eyes were looking at, while flashing visions of the pain and horror my baby boy had to endure that night! What a brave, brave young man! We headed to his room to wait, then after an hour I went back to the waiting room for his anesthetist Jay to come out. I was the only one in the room and strangely enough found the emptiness very comforting, it matched the emptiness in my heart so I let the quietness wash over me calming my nerves. Jay never came, but I did get a call letting me know they were taking him back to his room and I met up with them in the hall. He wasn't as out of it as last time, actually this time he was in a lot of pain. To help form the limbs for the prosthetics and to keep the knee flexible they put both of his legs in casts. The left one was loose and didn't cause him much pain but the right was tight and it felt like there was a wrinkle at the end that was really putting pressure on his limb. Several docs came in to look at it and ultimately it was decided to have a cast tech come up and valve the cast to release the pressure a bit but still keep it on to keep the swelling down and the knee straight. I really didn't like that solution largely because I hated seeing him in such pain. But the sensible side of me won out; it was put on in a sterile environment and with the wounds unhealed we didn't want bacteria getting in and the pros at putting on these types of casts were gone and I only wanted the best for him. We all agreed to wait and see how he was in the morning. Once again that face from years ago was looking back at me and my world was being torn apart. Deep in my heart I know there will be many more times ahead where that face will be looking at me. I dread it, I hate that it will come but I am ready for it. I will do anything for my children and bear any pain required to make sure they know they are loved and well taken care of. As I ride the elevator down to the first floor I wonder if there will ever come a time when I am all cried out. On the walk back to the Fisher House I stare up at the night sky and the universe gives me my answer...No, as long as I love my son as much as I do I will never be all cried out.