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.
Monday, November 26, 2012
FlashBack-Our first couple weeks as an out-paitent
The soft light coming through the blinds gently wake me up. As my eyelids flutter open all I see is dreary and drab surroundings. I slept but not well. Not because I shared the bed with Wayne but because the bed was so hard. I understand the need for hospital type beds in the rooms but you would think considering everything these boys have been through and with their injuries the unit would have chosen softer beds. The thought of spending the next 6 months in this room is depressing and I can't imagine what Chris must be thinking. Part of me is sort of glad he is still on his pain killers, maybe it won't sink in as quickly. Wayne finishes packing and the Gunny comes to take him to the airport. Now that Chris is out patient, only one of us can stay. It's been three weeks anyways and one of us needs to get back to the young guns. I wish we could take him but we have no transportation. Not having a car really puts a damper on things. One thing I will have to work on is making sure we can get out and about, but I'm sure that will all come in time. This day and the days to come are filled with doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Our whole day is spent at the hospital so it is good the dorm is on the hospital grounds. While all the walking is good exercise for me and did wonders to build up Chris' arms, it is still so tiring. We met with his primary care doctor, his new physical therapist, his recovery care coordinator, his case manager, took care of things for the Marine Corp, had lab work done, x-rays taken, filled out paperwork, did occupational and physical therapy, had his ears checked, his hearing tested, checked his vision, but more importantly met new friends. It was such a whirlwind and so overwhelming at times, a dream I just couldn't believe I am really living. There is so much to do and think about and so many people to meet who will play a part in his recovery. Throughout it all Chris remained strong and determined. I love his primary care doc cause he is so down to earth and cares so much about these young men. His face lit up with delight when Chris' told him he wanted off the pain meds as quickly as possible and worked to make it happen quickly but without adverse side affects to Chris. At least one hour a day was filled with ab and leg exercises because of PT, but that wasn't enough for him. He has a goal; to be up walking on his legs when his boys returned. To do that he needs to spend extra time at the gym and he does so without hesitation. He knows it will keep him sane, stable and focused and helps shake off the fogginess of the drugs. Oh how he hates the drugs, how they make him feel and how all they make him want to do is sleep, but the phantom pains are so much worse to deal with; definitely a lesser of two evils situation. Though no matter the strong face he puts on, I can see in his eyes the pain, disbelief and frustration he is feeling and is trying to maneuver his way around and through. Every now and then he will open up a little about his feelings, pains and fears. I'm lost as to what to say and what to do. I've never been deployed to the desert, lived in the conditions he has, been in fire fights, seen the things he has and I still have most of my body parts. So the best I can do is let him talk, listen quietly, hug him and let him know he is not alone. As a mother the pain deep within my heart and soul is unbearable and sometimes I wondered if I will be able to navigate my way through this. How do you come to terms with the fact that the son you gave to the Marine Corp as a whole person is given back to you broken and missing pieces and parts. I know there is anger somewhere in my heart, but I don't know if I've buried it or if the fact I am so very thankful that he is alive has over powered it. I choose to think my thankfulness has overpowered it. However, it doesn't take away the feeling I have when I look at his legs. I don't know how to explain it; there is sadness for the hurt he had to and will endure, aching knowing there is nothing I can do to change it or fix it, happiness he is alive and I am here to experience this with him and pride for how strong he is and his positive attitude. I don't know what to feel and which feeling is stronger, it is such a weird, unique mix; one I'm not used to. Every night we carefully unwrap his bright white dressings, removed the yellow, greasy, medicated gauze and closely inspect his legs. His wounds still look angry and red yet are healing nicely, which is good because it is important to catch any problems early on before it becomes something that might hinder his progress. I try to keep my mind focused on something, anything, cause when it's quiet my mind wanders to places where I do not want it to go. The future I had imagined for me, my children and family did not include my son and I sitting in a drab dorm room, a couple thousand miles away from our home, the rest of our family and friends, thoroughly examining the scars of where his legs were remove. One thing of all the many things this experience has taught me so far is; life isn't always what we imagined it to be as we maneuver our way through it. It is messy and is what it is. Our choices and free-will shape its outcome and put consequences in our paths we never thought would be there, but no matter what it will always be what it will be. It's our perception and what we do with what life gives us that makes our life into what we want. I often think of my favorite movie "Under the Tuscan Sun", she was afraid her home would never be full of laughter or children, she wouldn't have people to cook for or have a wedding there. At the end her friend and realtor reminded her of her fears then showed her that everything she wanted to have and have happen there, did; just not exactly as she had envisioned. Bad things happen, we encounter set backs and things may not be exactly what we had hoped for. All those things gives us opportunities to excel, we just have to take them.