Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snowing Saturday!!

Last three days of catch up because things have been so busy around here!

Wednesday: This morning Justin had his skin graft bandage changed for the first time since the graft Monday. Lets just say the dressing stuck to the open skin and in the words of Justin "my language was very colorful". He said it was so painful when they took the dressing off. They even gave him extra pain medication, but he said it didn't help. The team changed it very early that morning so only dad was with him. Fortunately, he was not in a lot of pain later that day after the wound care was completed. Justin worked with the occupational therapist in his room but did not go to physical therapy because the back of his leg was still sore from the skin graft. Wednesday was also a nice day because my aunt and uncle came to visit and are staying until Tuesday.

Thursday: Justin went down and visited the MATC gym (The main physical therapy gym). It was good for Justin to see all the guys working out and all the different stages they are in their recovery. We met with the head physical therapist and Justin was able to ask a few questions. Hopefully in a few weeks Justin will be able to start his physical therapy in the MATC. He needs to be a little bit stronger to move from inpatient therapy to the MATC. He also needs to loose all his wound vacs. He is getting there, but having the skin grafts this week set back his therapy progress, but at the same time helped to close everything up and help him move forward.

Justin also went to be fitted for his dress blues uniform for the ball next Friday! We are excited to be able to go with him, and so thankfully he is healthy enough to attend. The Commandant, his wife, and Sergeant Major came to visit today! Justin was finally awake to meet him. Last time he came to visit Justin he was in CCU and on the ventilator. They spent a long time with Justin and our family!

Friday: Justin went down to the PACU (area where patients go before and after surgery. In Justin's case he didn't have to go for surgery to have his wound vacs removed, but he needed to be sedated because its painful.) They removed the last two wound vacs from the right hand and right leg!!!! All of us are very excited, especially Justin! He feels like he is free and has no attachments. He also decided he wanted to discontinue his dilaudid IV PCA (PCA means that Justin can choose to give himself medicine if needed every 10 minutes or whatever the dose is set at). Justin decided he didn't need it anymore and wants to only take oral pain medication. He is now officially not attached to anything. He has come a long way from having multiple chest tubes, central lines, 5 wound vacs, heart leads, arterial lines, ventilators, and anything else I am forgetting. I think he is finally turning a corner in the right direction!!

His occupational therapist also made him a splint for his left hand so he can begin moving his three fingers and doing exercises on his own. This definitely give him something else to focus on during the day and also gives him control over his therapy. Another wonderful surprise that occurred today was our cousin Cody was able to visit for the weekend. Justin and Cody have not seen each other for 3 years and the last time they saw each other was boot camp. (Well Cody came to visit Justin the first week he arrived, but he doesn't remember)

Saturday: It was a nice quite day at the hospital today. There were only a couple of visitors that stopped by and we all just hung out! The guys watched a movie when we made a Target run, and we brought back lunch and all hung out. Then in the early afternoon the snow began to fall. It was really cold outside, but I guess not cold enough because the snow didn't stick to the ground. Cody and I went outside and took a picture in the snow. It was really cool for all of us to see the snow flurries out the window. Especially being from California where we never see snow unless we drive to the mountains. We were all a little jealous though that it was in the high 80s at home. Thankfully the snow has passed because Mom, Auntie Linda, and myself are heading out early tomorrow morning to the Marine Corps Marathon. We are volunteering to help and cheering on all the wounded warriors!

Well its time for me to get some sleep we have to catch the metro across the street from the hospital bright and early in the morning!

Good Night from Bethesda!  

Cody and I among the snow flurries! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Goodbye Trauma Team!

Today Justin was officially released from the trauma team service and is now on the PM&R team (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation). This is great news and it means he is stable enough and can focus on therapy and working towards getting to outpatient (which is probably a still a few months away). Thankfully today Justin wasn't in a lot of pain from the skin grafts, and was actually refusing pain meds. He is working with the doctors because he wants to get off more and more medicine. 

Justin did not go to physical therapy today because his legs/hips are all wrapped up from the surgery yesterday. The occupational therapist did come by and work with his hands! He is making tremendous progress with his hands, especially the right! He is becoming more and more independent. He was also told today if he is feeling up to it he can go to the Marine Corp ball next Friday night Nov. 4th! They ordered his uniforms and mom and I are getting his medals/ribbons tomorrow. The whole family is invited to go and we decided if he wants to go then we will go with him. We will just see what next week holds. We may just go for dinner and come back if thats all he can take. 

Everything else is going great, Justin slept most of the afternoon. I think he was recovering from surgery yesterday. Justin decided he wanted pizza for dinner so we ordered it and hung out in his room watching TV. Overall, today was a great day and thankfully not eventful. It is nice to finally have a quite days, and to finally get off the emotional roller coaster we were riding for almost two months. Today marked exactly 8 weeks that Justin has been here and tomorrow will mark 8 weeks for us. I can't believe in two months how much has changed. We are so blessed and thankful that Justin is here with us alive and making the tremendous progress he is making. There were too many times we were just hoping and praying to make it to the next day. We can finally say we are taking big steps in the right direction!! 

We pray everyone has a wonderful week! Tomorrow Auntie Linda and Uncle Jeff will be in to visit! I know they are looking forward to seeing Justin and vice versa. Auntie Linda came out here the first weekend we arrived in Bethesda. So I know she is very excited to be able to talk to him and see him. 

More good news from Bethesda, Justin's friend Hueston moved to outpatient today! We are excited for him, and all the progress he has made. Mike had his 22 surgery today and had 4 pins removed from his left arm. Everything went well for him! Thankfully all the guys are moving in the right direction and getting stronger daily. 

Good Night from Bethesda!!  

Monday, October 24, 2011

3 day catch up!

We had a wonderful weekend here in Bethesda and the weather was nice!

First off as a family we really want to thank EVERYONE that participated in any way to Justin's Fundraiser on Saturday! A huge THANK YOU to our neighbors John and Donna Vallejo for putting the event together. Also thank you to our family members Auntie Ann, Auntie Robbie, Chris and Uncle Hal for representing our family. Thank you to the City of Rancho Cucamonga including the Mayor for attending and especially to Legends Burgers for allowing the event to be hosted there. We really can't thank everyone enough for everything you all have done for us. Justin has repeatedly told us to thank everyone for him. Like I have said in the past thank you doesn't do justice for how grateful we are.

To recap the last few days:

Saturday: We had a BBQ/Lunch get together with the guys from Justin's unit and their families. This was Justin's first "day pass" to leave the hospital. We stayed on base and had lunch at "The Fisher House" (Fisher House is multiple large houses on base which are similar to a bed and breakfast that house military families visiting the base or in this case staying at the hospital). We spent a couple hours hanging out and eating really good BBQ food! It was a really nice day until we decided to head back and Justin's wheelchair for some reason got stuck in "turtle mode" (literally it had a picture of a turtle instead of a jackrabbit on the screen). My dad and I tried to push it manually, but its really heavy since its an electric wheelchair. So he very slowly (and I mean verrrrrrryyyyyy slowly) crawled back to the hospital until finally dad and Justin fixed it. Thankfully it was right before we climbed up this hill. It was really not funny but dad and I had a good laugh because we were all so frustrated trying to fix it. Justin was just mad and frustrated. Thankfully it is fixed and we figured out the problem. Justin did excellent outside, but he was just very tired and sore from sitting up. It takes a lot out of him to get him ready and transfer into his chair. He isn't strong enough yet to even sit up on his own without help. Continuing with therapy will help build up his strength and core. That night Justin and I hung out and watched the movie Limitless together. He was worn out from the day because the next thing I heard was snoring so I finished the movie while he slept.

Pictured from Left to right: Mike Nicholson, Murphy Hueston, Justin and Travis Green

Sunday: We had another good day yesterday. One of the sergeants wives and her cousin came up to visit. They were so sweet and brought all the guys very nice plants/flowers and cards and stuff to make a Welcome Home Banner. Justin couldn't leave his hospital room and was still worn out from the day before to help. So the rest of us all went back to Mike's room (since he has a two-bedroom apt) on the base because he is in outpatient. It was a lot fun to hang out with the guys and their family members and work on the banner for Echo. After we made it we brought it back for Justin to sign!

Monday: Today Justin had his hopefully LAST MAJOR surgery!! He had skin grafts done on his right hand and right leg. Everything went well and he was feeling good tonight (thank goodness for pain meds). He is probably going to be in more pain tomorrow, but the surgery meds and block they gave him in his leg helped control his pain tonight. We are hoping by either Friday or Monday to loose all the wound vacs. He is finally all closed up and now all the healing can begin. He still has some pins sticking out of his left hand and internal pins that will eventually come out. (but its not a major surgery) Justin was in a good mood tonight and we watched TV and hung out as a family. Its really nice to go back to having family dinners together again. Even if it entails sitting in a hospital room, at least we are all together. We normally all eat dinner with Justin in his room and its really nice that he can now eat whatever he wants.

Only big plans for this week is to control the pain from the skin grafts especially at the donor site where they took the graft from. Hopefully loose the wound vacs and continue with therapy and of course stay healthy! Our Auntie Linda and Uncle Jeff will becoming in on Wednesday and spending the week with us, so we are excited to see them.

Please continue to pray for Echo as they finish up deployment and for all the men and women serving. Please pray for any military men and women and their families that may be joining us here at Bethesda this week. Also for the families of those who passed away this weekend from the war, especially a fellow Marine from San Diego.

Have a blessed and wonderful day tomorrow!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Addition to last post!

I forgot to include this in the last post...

On Wednesday we attended a lunch BBQ hosted by a Marine organization. They had amazing food including some delicious steaks. At the BBQ we had the privilege to meet and hear US Marine Mike Corrado sing this song live. I wanted to share this video with everyone! I have personally seen sone of these guys featured in the video around the hospital. These are true heroes "Still in the Fight".


This is Mike Website if anyone would like to hear more of his songs.

Good Night!

Fall Weather Friday!!

Sorry I haven't blogged the last two days. The days have flown by and when I got back to my room I was exhausted. So to recap the last few days!

Wednesday: Justin went in for dressing changes and wound vac changes. Everything is coming along nicely! We are scheduled for skin grafts on Monday! This should hopefully be the last major surgery. Justin was in a good mood and enjoyed playing on his new Ipad given to him by the Semper Fi organization! He also received a very generous gift of Itunes in the mail from a fellow marine family! I am pretty sure he will not have to buy anything on Itunes for a long time! Thank you so much to the whole family who sent the gift! Wednesday night Justin and I hung out watching Zookeeper and eating popcorn (okay I was the only one eating popcorn). We had a good time hanging out and laughing. Dad went to "Guys night out" and he had a good time! They went to Dave and Busters and they had fun playing games and "drinking free beer". Overall Wednesday was a great day! 

Thursday: Justin had physical therapy and after therapy he went outside for the first time since arriving at Bethesda on August 30th. He enjoyed being in the sunshine even though it was cool and windy outside. Then he cruised around the hospital! Mom and I attended a few meetings at the hospital. We are going to volunteer at the Marine Corps Marathon in DC on Sunday Oct. 30th with the wounded warriors. Justin also received a very nice package from our family friends. Thank you Maliee/Diaz family and Ana, Justin loved  everything. Thank you to another friend who sent him Netfixs. Justin is so happy with his new entertainment. Justin also received his package he ordered from Amazon. He needed new headphones, sun glasses, and hats. So last night he decided to watch Netflixs on his Ipad with his new headphones. I think he was in a happy place! 

Today: Justin went back to the OR today for bandage changes and he lost the wound vac on his left hand! We are down to only 2 wound vacs....Wahoo!!! Justin is doing well today, he is just tired from surgery. I went with Justin's friend Mike and his family to physical therapy today and he walked on both legs! It was so awesome to see him walking around. These guys are so amazing and such an inspiration. You can see their determination even if they are tired and in pain they continue to fight through and continue to work out. These guys do not give up. I can't wait until the day Justin gets up on his new legs. 

Here is a link that has different stories from injured wounded warriors.
Well mom and I are going to pick up dinner. Justin's request Arbys! I will blog again later tonight or tomorrow!

This is Justin last night!! Watching a movie on his Ipad with the new headphones! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Therapy Tuesday!

Today Justin restarted back at physical therapy, after having Friday-Monday off. He did well today, but therapy always wears him out. It was good to see him out of bed, since he didn't get up this weekend. He was restarted on ketamine Friday night after surgery because of pain. Then stopped on Sunday, which left him tired all day Monday and not feeling good. Today he was back to himself and awake most of the day.

Monday not a lot happened. Justin was supposed to have his PICC line placed, but there was a miscommunication so it didn't happen until today. So Monday he spent most of the day sleeping (coming off that post-ketamine sleep). Today was a good day overall! After physical therapy his PICC line was placed and he was so thankful to loose his central line! Tomorrow he is scheduled for dressing changes and hopefully next week skin grafts!

Today mom and I went and visited our friends/new family (as we call them) down on the 3rd floor/ CCU. We really have all become a family. We have met wonderful people here. We are so thankful Justin is finally stable that we can offer words of encouragement to other families whose wounded warriors are still in a very critical phase. It was also great to see our wonderful nurses and doctors on the 3rd floor without having to be there because Justin was sick. We really can't say enough good things about this hospital. For example, tonight one of the nurses from the 3rd floor stopped by after shift just to see how Justin was doing. These nurses, doctors and corpsmen care so much for their patients.

Tonight mom and I went to a "girls night out" dinner hosted by the Semper Fi organization. It was a very nice Italian dinner with about 30 other women. It is really nice to meet other moms, sisters, wives, girlfriends, etc. in the same situation. It was a very nice treat to get off the base and eat some great food with amazing company! Justin's request was pizza so dad brought it and they hung out with Justin's friend Hueston two doors down. Tomorrow night is guys night out and dad is going with Justin's friend Hueston, other dads, and wounded warriors to Dave and Busters. As Justin gets better and stronger and looses wound vacs, nerve catheters, and IVs he will be able to go out for guys night out. It should be a great time for them tomorrow!

To our wonderful hometown of Rancho Cucamonga, and to family and friends we really can't thank you enough for all the support. The word thank you does not even do justice to how blessed we feel. We are so overwhelmed from everyone's generosity. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! (Until I can find a better word that shows how grateful we are).

Good Night from a last sunny day before the rain comes Bethesda, Maryland!!  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Daily Bulletin Article: Spirits of wounded Rancho Cucamonga Marine are bolstered by strong support from family to President Obama

For Marine Cpl. Justin Crabbe, recovering from devastating injuries suffered in Afghanistan is a matter of two steps forward, one disappointing step back.
But when President Barack Obama paid a visit to his Bethesda, Md., hospital this week to give Crabbe, a Los Osos High School graduate, a Purple Heart medal, it was definitely a step forward.
"The president had a nice conversation with him," said Crabbe's mother, Maureen. "Justin was very stoic. It was almost like he was in shock."
Having the commander in chief present you with such a distinguished military honor can be a shocking experience. But the president was just one of many in a large community pulling for Crabbe.
Last week, scores of supporters gathered at a pizzeria fundraiser to help the Crabbe family and other military families dealing with the scars of war. On Saturday, a car show fundraiser will take place at Legends Burgers; the restaurant will donate 15 percent of proceeds to the family. Another fundraiser walk and run is being planned in Arcadia.
"The family is absolutely blown away by the good wishes and prayers," said Justin's aunt Ann Marie Keener. "Everybody is coming out of the woodwork. It's mind-blowing. You forget that kind of stuff until there's a big tragedy; you forget how wonderful people can be."
On Aug. 26, Crabbe, 22, was on foot patrol in Afghanistan looking for improvised explosive devices. He accidentally stepped on one, and the explosion blew off both of his legs.
"When it happened, it was the only time in his life that he wanted to die," Keener said about her nephew's ordeal. "He was on fire. At that moment, all he wanted to do was die."
Crabbe was transferred to Germany before he was flown stateside to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His parents and sister have put their lives in Rancho Cucamonga on hold to be at his side.
"He was on a ventilator for 19 days," his mother said. "We didn't get to talk to him until the 20th day. It was a very long haul, very critical."
It has been a challenging and rocky road to recovery. In addition to losing both of his legs above the knees, Crabbe battled pneumonia, had collapsed lungs and lost several fingers on both hands. Crabbe was scheduled for surgery on Friday to remove his left ring finger.
"It's kind of a roller-coaster ride," Keener said. "He's kind of a medical mess."
Perhaps the scariest development took place last week, nearly six weeks after the explosion. Doctors found a hole in Crabbe's heart with fluid built up around it. He was rushed to the intensive- care unit and nearly died.
"I could have lost him last Wednesday," Maureen Crabbe recalled.
Ten years ago this month, the U.S. entered Afghanistan in a war against al-Qaida and the Taliban. As President Obama begins to pull forces out of Afghanistan, the struggle to start an altered life for wounded soldiers and Marines like Crabbe is just beginning.
About 32,000 American military personnel have been wounded in the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, more than 4,500 soldiers have been killed.
Next Sunday, the Pallares family from Rancho Cucamonga will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of their son, Ronnie Pallares. Like Crabbe, the 19-year-old Pallares had one of the most deadly jobs in Afghanistan - defusing bombs.
Spending every day at the Walter Reed hospital, the Crabbe family has been coming to terms with the toll of war.
"You walk up and down these halls and you realize just how many are wounded," said Maureen Crabbe. "All of these kids are going through the recovery process, and they'll eventually have to transition back to civilian life."
Justin Crabbe's parents, Cliff and Maureen, and his sister Jennifer, 24, live in a hotel about five minutes' walk from Walter Reed.
"He will have his family the entire time," said Maureen Crabbe.
An outdoors guy who loves to hunt and fish, Justin Crabbe is an introvert among strangers and the life of the party when he's among friends.
"He is gentle as the day is long," his aunt said.
In 2008, Crabbe followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Gene Brick, and enlisted in the Marines. Crabbe's dream was to be a firefighter or policeman one day.
Since Obama's visit, Crabbe has had a string of good days. He has transitioned from hospital bed to wheelchair on a number of occasions and exercised his arms. Amazingly, his spirits are high. Walter Reed nurses call Crabbe their favorite patient.
"His thought is, `What's done is done.' We're going to move on," said Maureen Crabbe.
If the love of his family and the well wishes of everyone from the president to neighbors of his Rancho Cucamonga cul-de-sac doesn't save Crabbe, his optimism will.
"He's a little fighter. He's not giving up," Keener said. "He's already excited about what kind of prosthetics he'll get."

The Crabbe family is documenting Justin's progress at

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sleepy Sunday!

Justin slept all day long. He pretty much only woke up to eat today. They discontinued his ketamine which totally knocks him out. So there isn't a whole lot to report from today. Mom and I gave him a nice sponge bath (instead of the bath wipes they normally use). Maybe thats why he slept all afternoon because he was enjoying the pampering. (Just kidding) 

Plan for tomorrow: he will be having a picc line placed (again) and the central line removed (again). Justin is very excited for this and I am being honest! Justin's words to the doctor "Can you please remove this central line, its really starting to piss me off." They may remove the external pins from his left hand, but it was still up in the air as of this afternoon. I think the hand surgeon will decide tomorrow. Justin's next and hopefully last big surgery is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24th. That day they will be doing the skin graft on his right leg and right hand. The downside of the surgery is the pain from the donor site where the skin will be removed. It will feel like road-rash according to the plastic surgeon. We are hoping for a good week and hopefully be making more progress in therapy.  

Here is a quote I came across and thought I would share it. 
"America's fighting men and women sacrifice much to ensure that our great nation stays free. We owe a debt of gratitude to the soldiers that have paid the ultimate price for this cause, as well as for those who are blessed enough to return from the battlefield unscathed." Allen Boyd

We are so blessed to be living in this wonderful nation! Even though unfortunate circumstances have occurred this year I am truly blessed. Walking around this hospital reminds me everyday not to complain because life really isn't that bad. This year has probably been the toughest year on the books. Loosing both grandmas exactly 2 weeks to the day apart and this happening to Justin hasn't been easy. At the same time asking questions of why is this happening doesn't help either. The important part is that we are so blessed to be together as a family right now to get through this time together. God has blessed us in so many ways and being around this hospital makes me want to be a better person! There is so much love and inspiration here along with the true reality that freedom doesn't come free! We ask that in your prayers you continue to pray for Echo 1/12 as they finish up the last month and a half of deployment, and for all the military men and women. Please pray for all the wounded warriors and the families. Especially for the two new military men who arrived tonight. I am not sure I have talked about it in the blog, but three times a week the large ambulance arrives with the wounded warriors from Germany. Three times a week for the last 7 weeks we have been here the ambulance has arrived with wounded warriors who just flew in. It breaks our hearts over and over to see this, but the respect given to these men is like nothing ever seen before.

As the ambulance arrives there are multiple men and women service members waiting outside of the Emergency Room door with gurneys. One by one each branch of service (whether it be Marines, Army, Navy, etc..) will unload its own brother/sister wounded warrior from the ambulance. The wounded warrior is then escorted to their hospital room (whether it be ICU/CCU or the 4th floor) by there fellow service men/women. There is at least 3 people from each branch to escort there fellow wounded warrior. The respect and honor shown is like nothing ever seen before. We were told that this transfer takes place every time they were transferred from Afghanistan to Germany and Germany to Bethesda. Seeing this for the first time really touches the heart and brought tears to our eyes. It was comforting to know that Justin was never alone and was always surrounded by his brothers. 

Lots of love and thankfulness from Bethesda!  God Bless and Good Night! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday in Maryland

Justin's surgery went well yesterday, but he was in a lot of pain after. The surgery lasted a little over 3 hours. The next step is to do a skin graft for the right hand and right leg at the end of next week or the beginning of the following week. Last night he was in a lot of pain and they needed to restart his ketamine, but they are planning on stopping it tonight. Today Justin watched TV and had me upload music to his Iphone. He can't wait for his belonging to arrive from Afghanistan so he can have all his music and movies. I didn't have a huge music selection for his liking (hahaha).

Tomorrow we are hoping Justin's pain is down because he wants to get up in his wheelchair. Hopefully we can go outside since he hasn't been out in almost 7 weeks. Well nothing really new to report today. My dad and I made Justin bacon and eggs for breakfast and I made everyone dinner. In our rooms we have a mini kitchen including a stove top. Its nice to make food instead of eating hospital food, subway or mcdonalds. Hopefully tomorrow we will have good news that Justin's pain is under control and he will be able to get up.

From a nice Fall day in Maryland! God Bless everyone!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Good Day!

Today was a GREAT day! Justin spent over an hour in physical therapy. Then he went downstairs to get a haircut followed by us getting lunch. It was so awesome to see him cruising around the hospital! We are all  so proud of him. Now that he is off the heavy medication he has been awake most of the day and totally coherent. Another exciting part of the day is Justin's friend Mike walked on his prosthetic for the first time today. Yesterday was the first day he stood on it. Next week his other leg will be ready and then he will be walking with both! It was so amazing to see and literally brought tears to my eyes. I know that day for Justin is not far away. While Mike was walking on his leg another friend we have met was also getting on his legs. The amount of happy tears in the room was amazing. These guys have so much determination and it is such an inspiration to see.

Tomorrow Justin is scheduled for surgery. After plenty of discussions with the plastic and hand surgeons Justin has decided to remove the ring finger on his left hand and use the skin to cover his hand. The metacarpal bone is completely missing and the chance of the finger ever functioning as a finger is very unlikely especially since the tendons are gone. This is the safest surgery (especially due to his heart and lung problems). Choosing this option will also eliminate additional surgeries and delaying therapy time. Justin made the decision and we support him. Other options were suggested, but Justin says he just wants to move on and start rehab. Tomorrow's surgery will only last a couple hours compared to the 10-14 hour surgery initially. Justin's spirits are great and we are looking forward to more good days ahead!

Again, we really cannot thank everyone enough for the continued support! This is a long journey, but we are a strong family sticking together. God has blessed us in so many ways and we are so thankful to all be together again!

Good Night and God Bless from a humid, rainy, thunder and lightening Bethesda Maryland!

Here are a few pictures from today and the link of Mike walking for the first time!

 Mike Walking!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rainy Wednesday in Maryland!

I just wanted to repost the address again! Many people have asked so here you go!

Justin had a great morning. He was up in his wheelchair for 1 1/2 hours and spent over an hour in therapy. He is pretty tired this afternoon, but his pain is under control! He enjoyed getting packages from friends today. I sat and read cards to him and he wanted me to tell everyone thank you! We are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel for his hand and leg surgeries. We are hoping only a few more and everything should be closed. Our next step is to figure out why he still has desaturations. They think it is due to the hole in his heart. They are going to begin running more tests. We may have a few more surgeries pertaining to his heart after his wounds are all closed up.

We hope everyone is doing well and thank you for the continued prayers and support!

Bethesda Navy Lodge
C/o Cliff and Maureen Crabbe
Room 221
8901 Rockville Pike Bldg 52
Bethesda MD 20889

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Tuesday in Maryland!

Today was an overall good day. This morning Justin's blood pressure decided to hang out on the low side after surgery. Thankfully throughout the day his vitals improved and he was doing well tonight. Justin had a big decision to make today regarding his hands and we support whatever decision he makes. The big surgery will be scheduled for Thursday or Friday. We are hoping he stays healthy over the next few days for the surgery. Hopefully tomorrow Justin will be in less pain and will be able to get up in his wheelchair for the 3rd time! 

The video is now available for viewing. This video was only meant for you are fellow family and friends who couldn't be with us during the ceremony. Thank you for your continued support during this tough time. Please continue to pray for all the wounded warriors and also for Echo battery as they finish their deployment.

Good night and God Bless!

Video Link:

Video Removed

We are honored to have met President Obama yesterday and Justin is very appreciative to receive his Purple Heart from the Commander and Chief. Although we posted a YouTube video for family and friends we were asked to remove the video. Thank you for your understanding. The real story should be about all the wounded warriors and the amazing hospital staff! As a family we feel that each and every one of these wounded warriors are heros!

Justin's washout surgery went well this morning, but he is in a lot of pain. I will blog tonight about how he is feeling! Thank you to everyone for the continued support.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Purple Heart

Justin received his Purple Heart today from President Barack Obama. He was 1 of 3 honorees who received the award from the President today. Normally the Commandant or Assistant Commandant would present it for the Marines and the same equivalent for the other branches of service. President Obama visits the troops every six months and will present a few of the Purple Hearts when he visits. Justin is one of a small group to receive their purple heart from President Obama.

Today was a very long day and we had to be to the hospital by 5 am. We didn't want to take a chance of getting locked out by the secret service. I will blog tomorrow about the whole experience. As for Justin he will just being going for washouts tomorrow. The hand surgeon and plastic surgeon want to discuss other options for his hands that might decrease the length of the surgery. Justin was not feeling so well this afternoon after the ceremony, but finally started feeling better tonight. We are hoping he gets a good night sleep because he had a very long day.

I know we have not mentioned the full extend of Justin's injuries, but he has given us permission. Justin is a bilateral above the knee amputee. (He is very lucky that both legs are directly above the knee) Justin is missing his right thumb. His left pinky finger, his metacarpal bone to his ring finger, and 1/2 of his middle finger on left hand. Justin may loose the ring finger on the left hand but that is part of the hand flaps dilemma. The explosion also cause pneumonia, and two pulmonary embolisms to his lungs (blood clots). He has also had repeated collapsed lungs and just recently discovered hole in his heart known as ASD. Thankfully his brain is fine and he did not suffer any type of head injury. Initially Justin was fortunate because he didn't have any trauma from the mid thigh up (minus the hands). He now has an abdominal incision because of surgery last week. We were amazed that he didn't have a scratch or bruise  from mid thigh to face when we first saw him.

We wanted to explain the injuries because pictures will be circulating around. Attached below are pictures from today. We will receive the official pictures from the White House staff within a month.

 This is a picture of Justin and two of the guys in his Battery Echo 1/12. Murphy and Mike! They both came to watch Justin's ceremony.
 My parents with Justin right before his Purple Heart ceremony.

 Waiting to present the Purple Heart!

 Justin just hanging out and waiting for the President!

 President Obama and Justin!

 Pinning his Purple Heart!

Back on the 4th Floor!

We made it back to the 4th floor today! We are hoping this will be our permanent residence for the rest of our hospital stay. We are tentatively scheduled for skin flaps/grafts on Tuesday. This would put us back in ICU, but only for 3 days so they can monitor the flaps. They are possibly going to try again because he made a great recovery this weekend and is completely off O2 at the moment.  We are just going to wait and see if it happens. (We are not getting our hopes up again, but we are hoping that 3rd times a charm) Today was a good day, but Justin was tired. I think all the meds are making him lethargic.

Today Justin had a visitor from the Medal of Honor Recipient, Sergeant First Class Petry. He was a very nice guy and spent time talking to Justin and his friend Mike. (Mike was injured in early July and was in Justin's battery) The picture above is from today. Other than that not a lot to report. Justin had a quite day and spent most of it eating or sleeping. Our cousin Kelli spent her last day here with us. We are sad to see her leave but so glad she came! She is heading back to Hawaii in the morning. I will keep everyone updated as the week progresses!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

2 am phone call continued

Wednesday began with a 2 am phone call...

Tuesday night before we left Justin he didn't seem himself. He said his stomach hurt and he really just wanted to use the bathroom. My mom told his nurse to call if he needed anything because she said "something just doesn't seem right with him today." At 2 am the nurse called because Justin's blood pressure dropped to 53/34 with a heart rate of 155. They could not figure out why this was happening. He went through the night getting worse and worse while different treatment options were attempted. He finally went to CT in the morning and it appeared that Justin's bowels were possibly dying. He also had an Echocardiogram of his heart the day before. It showed a small amount of fluid around his heart. The CT also showed his lungs still not looking great. The conclusion finally came that Justin needed an emergency surgery to figure out what was going on in the bowels, and the fluid around his heart needed to be drained.

When I arrived at the hospital around 9 am (Oh because my dad did not want to wake me up) he was very pale and had peri-oral cyanosis (He was turning blue around his mouth). Justin's oxygenation was getting worse and he was starting to get tired from breathing. He body was very cold. He was in bad shape and it all happened very quickly. Around 1 pm they decided they needed to intubate him because he was going to tire out soon and then he was off to surgery.

Before going to surgery we were told he would possibly come back with a colostomy bag, gallbladder may need to be removed, possible colon resection if any bowel died. They also wanted to drain the fluid around the heart.

Thankfully the surgery went well! The little bit of fluid around the heart ended up being A LOT of fluid around his heart. So much he went into Cardiogenic Shock with restrictive cardiomyopathy causing cardiac tamponade. His EKG showed pericarditis. (Pretty much this means his heart couldn't beat normally because all the fluid was squeezing the around the heart. This caused his blood pressure to decrease). Removing the fluid immediately increased his blood pressure and helped correct his vitals. Then they had to open up his abdomen (which couldn't be done with a camera because of the risk of air pressure compressing the vascular system and causing the blood pressure to worsen). Thankfully when they opened his abdomen up there was no dead bowels (just a lot of stool) and his gallbladder was fine, but his liver was very enlarged and swollen. (This was due to the back flow of fluid around his heart) We also found out that Justin has a hole in his heart known as ASD(Atrial septal defect). He has probably had the problem since birth we just never knew about it. Overall, the surgery went better than expected. The surgeons were preparing for the worst, and so were we.

Thankfully the last few days Justin has been doing a lot better. He is still in CCU and most likely will remain there throughout the weekend. The decision to do hand flaps are still up in the air because the plastic surgeons and hand surgeon are not sure if he is stable enough for a 10-14 hour surgery. Tuesday he will go in for routine washouts of his wounds. In surgery they will place him on his side (the position needed for flaps) and see if he can handle it without dropping his oxygenation.

Today he was very tired and slept most of the day. Our cousin Kelli flew in from Hawaii to visit yesterday and Auntie Lori had to go home tonight :(. Justin enjoyed seeing family (even if he slept most of the day on them). As long as Justin continues to do well throughout the weekend and is up to it he may receive his Purple Heart on Monday!

We want to thank Eryn Ogren and Crystal Atwood for putting together the Pizza Fundraiser. Thank you to everyone that supported it! It was so wonderful to hear that the city came together to support Justin. We even received a call from the City of Rancho asking for updates on Justin. Thank you to everyone for supporting Justin and our family through this tough time. We have our good days and bad days and Wednesday was probably one of the worst days. At the same time we are so thankful everything turned out okay this week. Justin is very appreciative of everything and tells us all the time to thank everyone!

We hope everyone has a good weekend and good night from Bethesda!

Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 Car Show: Justin Crabbe Fundraiser {October 22nd}

Shakey's Fundraiser was a HUGE success!

Last night Eryn Ogren and Crystal Atwood hosted a fundraiser for Justin at Shakey's pizza in Rancho Cucamonga. They put a lot of hard work into this event, and it showed. What a wonderful turn out... for a good portion of the evening, the line was out the door and down the sidewalk!

Shakey's said the was by far the biggest turnout for a fundraiser they had seen. There were SCE employees, friends and family members, the City of Rancho Cucamonga police and fire, and fellow Marines. People who knew Justin well, and others who ahd never met him before all together supporting a true hero.

Look at that line!

Thank you all for your support.
It was an amazing evening! ♥

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2 am phone call

Today started with a 2 am phone call from the hospital.

I just wanted to send out a quick note to let everyone know Justin is stable now. He had an emergency surgery today. I will blog tomorrow and explain everything but I am exhausted today and really need to go to sleep. Justin is back on a ventilator but hopefully in the next few days he will be off it. Thank you for all the prayers they really helped.

Good Night from Maryland!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Keeping our fingers crossed!

Today was another day in CCU. Justin is now scheduled for his hand flaps/graft surgery for Friday! The doctors want to make sure he is strong enough so they postponed it. We are all hoping he stays healthy until Friday. The surgery is going to be anywhere from 10-14 hours. We are nervous because it is a long surgery, and he will be on the ventilator again for 24 hours after surgery. Hopefully this will be the last big surgery.

Today was an okay day. Justin wasn't feeling great today. He had an upset stomach. Positive note he did sit up again with physical therapy (4th time in 40 days). He will not be able to get back into his wheelchair until sometime next week. We want him to stay healthy so we are trying not to expose him to anything. Tomorrow he goes back in for washouts so we are praying everything goes well. We can't afford any set backs or his surgery will be off.

Tonight we were given another reminder of how THANKFUL we are. Justin is alive and has no brain injuries. Two additional Army soldiers came into CCU tonight from Germany and both are in very critical conditions. Please pray for these soldiers and their families along with all injured and non-injured service men and women. Walking the halls of Bethesda is a reality check. It is a reminder to be thankful and not to sweat the little things in life. These military men are such a huge inspiration!

Hopefully everyone enjoyed Justin's picture. That was taken on one his best day so far. He still has a long recovery road, but we celebrate the good days. Today he was very uncomfortable and tired. We are hoping in the next few weeks that we will have more good days. More days with his great smile! I wish everyday was like that, but we are just not there yet.

Good night from a warmer day in Bethesda!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finally back up and running!!

To Recap the last 2 weeks:

Wed Sept 21st: Justin was supposed to have his long 12 hour surgery for bilateral hand skin flaps/graft. That morning he woke up with a 104.9 fever which landed him back in the ICU with pneumonia and he was borderline septic. Due to multiple infections, his body had nothing left to fight the second round of pneumonia. Instead of his White Blood Cells being high (which is a normal response to infection) his was extremely low. Which was a cause for concern and he needed multiple blood transfusions again and 10 liters of fluid. He was very puffy looking, but it ultimately did the trick. He finally made it back to the 4th floor during the middle of the week.

Sept 29th: This was the first day Justin test drove his new set of wheels! He was up for an hour!! It was great because he was able to visit all his friends on the 4th floor!

Friday Sept 30th: Justin went in for his routine washout surgery this day. He ended up having to stay in the recovery room for most of the day because his heart rate decided to be sky high AGAIN. He was also having a "Ketamine" drug trip where he told my parents that "Charlie Sheen was in his operating room." Thank goodness Charlie Sheen wasn't really the surgeon because then Justin wouldn't be "winning!!" Thankfully this was a short lived drug trip and he was back to himself right away.

Sat Oct 1st: Justin's friend Mendez came to visit with his dad from New York. He was Justin's roommate in Hawaii, but did not deploy because he was getting out of the Marines. Britt another fellow Marine who was injured in June also came to visit. He is currently at another hospital in Virginia and doing well!

Sun Oct 2nd: Myself, my best friend Steph and my Auntie Lori all flew back together. Justin was in good spirits and happy to see all of us! He even got up in his wheelchair again in the late afternoon. (Bad news the wheelchair wouldn't start... operator error.. So dad had to push) Thank goodness we are all getting a lesson on how to use the chair soon! Justin spent the afternoon watching his Green Bay Packers Beat the Denver Broncos! He was thrilled and in a great mood. Especially since he received a gift from the Packers including a signed football from the team and a picture from Aaron Rodgers. Steph also hooked him up with Angels Gear including a signed Jered Weaver ball and Mike Scioscia picture. Justin was in sports Heaven!

Today: Justin had surgery this morning for routine washouts plus a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). This procedure was to clean out the scar tissue in his lung. Justin didn't tolerate the procedure very well so they were not able to completely remove all the scar tissue without having to open him up. Overall, the surgery was successful to help his right lung completely expand, but he does have two chest tubes now placed in the right lung to drain excess fluid. Justin is back in the ICU to be monitored from todays procedure and his oxygenation initially was low. Now he is on higher oxygen therapy to increase his blood gas levels. Tentatively he is scheduled for his bilateral hand flaps/graft surgery for Wednesday.  We are hoping to remain stable enough for surgery and keep his oxygenation up! 

Thank you for the continued prayers and support!!! Good night from a very cold Maryland (Especially since I left California on Saturday with 98 degree weather and arrived here with 48 degree weather). 

Justin looking much better than a month ago! Cruising in his chair!!