Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Justin Walking!

Justin walked today on his one leg!!! Another very happy day! He was able to walk a few feet with the help of a walker. It will become easier when he has both legs, but for now he is making great progress with the left leg. Watching him walk was a great way to start off the day. Again it was a very happy, and emotional day!

Today has been another jam packed day. Just an example of his day today: Physical Therapy at 8:00 am, Occupational Therapy at 9:00 am, Physical medicine and Rehabilitation doctors appointment at 10:00 am, Meeting with Section leader and Family readiness coordinator at 11:45, Warrior clinic aka Primary Care doctors appointment at 1:00pm/13:00, Safety meeting 3:00 pm/15:00, and formation at 4:00pm/16:00. Justin told me today that he is working harder now then he ever did. Justin has weekly doctors visits with multiple doctors. I know he really enjoys outpatient, but I think he enjoyed when the doctors came to him during inpatient. So far all the doctors are pleased with his progress. Hopefully in two weeks Justin will be cleared for his right leg.

During his meeting with his section leader, Justin told him he wants to go back to school. So Justin should be starting criminal justice classes in January! He may also start working on getting his top secret clearance. Now that Justin is getting better he is able to see all the different job options he has available to him. He really wants to go back to school to get his degree, and it is so nice he can start working on it right here on base.

Here is the video of Justin walking:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

13 weeks and we are finally outpatient!

Today has been exactly 13 weeks since Justin arrived here in Bethesda. It's been an up and down roller coaster, but we can finally say that he is officially outpatient! The last few days here have been extremely busy getting ready for outpatient. Today we went non-stop from appointment to appointment, and tomorrow is a jam packed day again. Justin is making great progress and his doctors couldn't be happier. It is just amazing how much he has been through. 13 weeks ago (tomorrow for us since we didn't get here until the day after him) we walked into seeing him for the first time on a ventilator. Now 13 weeks later he is able to transfer himself and do things he used to before the injury.

Probably the biggest news today besides moving to outpatient is that Justin stood up on a leg for the first time today! The right leg is still not cleared because the skin graft isn't healed. This morning they casted and took the impression of his leg, and at 4 pm today they put Justin on the tilt table and put on his left leg! It was such a happy emotional experience! To see where we started to where we have come is just amazing. We owe so much gratitude to the doctors, nurses, corpsman, Marines, the Marine liasons, friends and our fellow Bethesda wounded warrior families! We also thank our family and friends at home because we couldn't have done this alone.

Now Justin is going to start really working hard. Since he is finally medically healthy he can start really focusing on therapy. There are still going to be some huge challenges ahead, but he has a very positive attiude. Standing in his leg today was such a huge milestone for him. It was also very heavy and added extra pressure to the bottom of his stump. This is something he is going to have to get use to wearing. He is definitely excited to have a leg though. There is a chance he may walk in the parallel bars in therapy tomorrow with the one leg. Hopefully the right leg will be cleared soon so he can beginning walking on his own. The leg he had today is higher than the shortys will be when he is offically cleared for the right leg. We are hoping in the next month or so he will have both legs.

Thank you again for the continued love and support I know I say this all the time, but we really appreciate it. We seriously can't thank or repay everyone for all the support we have received.

Enjoy the pictures!

 Justin and Mike

Justin and Mike with Caitlin the Occupational Therapist 

Friday, November 25, 2011

So much to be Thankful for this year!!

Sorry for the blog hiatus but I went home for a week. I got back here Monday night and it has been busy around here. So I will recap everything that has been going on with Justin!

Nov 14- Nov 21: Justin's skin graft thankfully is looking great and does not need to be redone. He is going to wound care five times a week to make sure it continues to stay on track. Justin has been working very hard at physical therapy and occupational therapy! His hand range of motion is far beyond what the hand surgeon ever dreamed it would be. Justin is transferring by himself and can even push himself in his manual wheelchair (not far distances because his weight bearing status isn't cleared, but he pushes himself around short distances). Monday earlier this week he had his IVC filter removed (aka his bird cage) which was used to catch any blood clots that may have formed and broken off. 

Justin's IVC filter Yes Justin asked for it to be saved so he could see it. Now this is sitting by his bedside in the hospital. 

Justin also got his first real shower this past week! He was so excited and tired of bed baths. For Mr. OCD this made his day that he could have a real shower. He also has been busy cleaning up his hospital room and getting ready to move into building 62. 

Saturday Nov 19th: When I was home I attended the Ontario Reign hockey game and it was military appreciation night. The Ontario Reign decided that they wanted to honor Justin because he was a local military member. During the 1st period intermission the Ontario Reign presented us with a VERY generous check and Stater Bros charities also gave us gift cards. It was so wonderful even though I was nervous accepting the check in front of a filled arena and I started crying on stage. It was a fun filled night watching a great hockey game and celebrating our military. 

Justin and our entire family are so grateful for the generous gift!! Thank you Ontario Reign and Stater Bros charities! Thank you again to Staci, Kathie, Auntie Ann, Auntie Robbie, Eryn, Crystal, and everyone else who is involved in the Justin Fund! Thank you to everyone for the continued prayers and support. We really can't thank you enough. We are so thankful for all of you who take time to read this blog and care about Justin. 

This was Justin's thank you video for Ontario Reign Game! There was also a slide show but I have to work on how I can get it on the blog. 

Nov 22:
Justin spent the day going to therapy and our Auntie Robbie flew back with me to see Justin. So we all spent the day hanging out and showing her around the hospital. 

Nov 23: 
Justin went to therapy in the morning and then we went down to get his liners for his prosthetics. (But his size wasn't in, so he have to wait until Monday). Justin may possibly get fitted for his prosthetics next week (again keeping fingers crossed)! We also spent the day with Auntie Robbie and Cody came up for the long weekend. My moms cousin Jon and his wife Kandi came to visit and we all went out to dinner! We had so much fun laughing and enjoying great company! It was a fun night out for everyone, especially Justin. Then we all went back so Justin could show everyone his new outpatient apartment. 

Nov 24:
This Thanksgiving we spent it here with the Nicholson family! We have so much to be thankful for this year even if its been the worst year on the books. This was the first Thanksgiving in four years we were able to spend it together as a family! Justin has either been deployed, unable to come home, or in boot camp for the last few Thanksgivings. We had a great day watching football and eating amazing food with great company. We are so thankful for our health and that Justin is doing so well! This family likes to look at the glass half full so yesterday was a day to celebrate for the many blessings we have in our life. We know more challenges will be in front of us, but as a family we will get through it. This was a day for us to reflect back and be so thankfully that Justin was with us. We couldn't be more thankfully for this time together. 

We are looking forward to spending the holidays together which has been hit or miss the last few years with Justin being in the military. It was also awesome for Justin and Cody to spend this holiday together because they haven't been together for the last three years since both enlisting 3 months apart. As a family we are definitely looking forward to a New Year! This year has presented many heart aches and challenges but with faith, family love, and friend support we have almost made it through the year(I say this because we still have a month left). It will be different, and a lot more treats laying around since both of our grandmas past away earlier this year (they were both sweet ladies, and I mean that literally and figuratively...they loved their cookies and sweets, but also loved their families and grandchildren more than anything).

We are also thankfully that Echo battery made it home safely yesterday, and just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with their family. Justin and Mike were very excited last night when the guys started calling them. They can't wait to see them when they come visit later next month. 

The other exciting news is that Justin and dad stayed the night in the apartment last night! Everything went well and Justin enjoyed sleeping in a real bed. 

Echo Battery Homecoming Video

Nov 25: 
Today we spend the day moving things over to the apartment. Mom, Cody and I all went to Target so we could stock up the new place for Justin and dad. We are excited they are moving in too! This means dad will start cooking again because they have a full kitchen! We also put up our 4ft. Christmas tree tonight! I can't wait to go out again so I can get a few more things to decorate this place (because I know dad and Justin won't be doing any of that). 

This weekend we will continue to get everything settled over here at the apartment for Justin and dad. We also need to do some shoe shopping (yes that's correct... Justin needs shoes for the prosthetics)! Monday, Justin is scheduled to have pins removed from his left hand and Tuesday he should officially be discharged from the hospital! After 13 weeks to the day of arriving here Justin should be going to outpatient! WAHOOOOOOO!!!!!

Pictures of the new apartment!
Our Christmas Tree!

Justin and Cody hanging out watching TV!

Justin's Bed with the beautiful quilt handmade for Justin (Much better than a hospital bed)

The living room and Cody hanging out!

Where Dad will be working his magic to feed us!

Dad's room (yes Justin got the bigger bed because its easier for him to get in and out)

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy the long weekend with family and friends! From a nice warm sunny day in Bethesda (yes it was warm and sunny today,the rain should be here by sunday night :(

Monday, November 14, 2011

Veterans Day Weekend Recap!

We hope everyone had a good Veterans Day weekend! We had a fun busy weekend here in Maryland.

On Friday we were greeted with visitors on the 4th floor. We met the band Kanas, and they signed autographs and took pictures. Another organization provided lunch which was very nice. (We enjoy not having to eat hospital food) Justin was exhausted from the White House tour on Thursday so he slept most of the afternoon on Friday. Our cousin Cody and his friend Alan had the weekend off so they came up again to spend it with us.

Saturday: The morning started off with a visit from a mom of another Marine from Justin's battery. It was so nice to meet her and her younger son. They spent a few hours meeting with Justin, Mike and our family! She was so sweet to spend the afternoon with us and bring goodies along. Thank you Kenya for visiting! Then the girls running for the Miss America Pageant in January visited, (Oh the boys were in Heaven) followed by tickets to the Notre Dame vs. Maryland game! It was a great game and it was a lot of fun because we were all able to attend. Since there was a lot of us we did not all get to sit together. Justin and dad sat together in one section, and mom, Kathie and another mom from the hospital all sat together. Then the boys and I had seats one section below mom and Kathie. It was a lot of fun, and Justin and dad ended up on the big screen! They also had a very nice tribute to the veterans and service members during halftime and throughout the game!

The hospital really strives on getting the wounded warriors and there families out to events. Now that Justin is feeling better and able to transfer easier we are trying to attend these events. The main reason for the events is to get the guys out of the hospital/outpatient setting and back to attending regular events away from the hospital. They encourage the families to go to get us away from the base. The first two months we did not attend any events because Justin was so critical, now it is nice to enjoy things together as a family. Another important reason for these events is to help the guys attend events where they are in public, but still with other wounded warriors. Even though to some this may seem like a nice family vacation, (and don't get me wrong we are very fortunate to be invited to nice places in the Maryland/DC area) but it is far from it. Emotionally going out in public for the first time put tremendous amounts of stress on these guys. So many people stare at them and kids are making comments to there parents like "mom is that guy sitting on his legs?" or "where are his feet?" These comments are completely natural for children to ask but its still uncomfortable for them. These events help give the guys a sense of normalcy, but also the comfort of having their buddy around "who looks just like them." Therefore we are very blessed to be able to attend events to football games, and White House tours but this doesn't change the situation. At the end of the day we go back to the hospital room and Justin is wiped out exhausted because he used a ton of energy transferring and sitting in his chair.

Sunday: Was a relaxing day and Justin needed catching up from the night before. Kathie spent her last day hanging out with Justin and Cody and Alan had to head back to base early that morning. I was coming down with a cold so spent the whole day in bed on Sunday. Thankfully the body aches and sore throat are gone and just a runny nose is left. (Justin also didn't want me around since I was getting sick) Sunday night we all went out for dinner, which was a nice treat before Kathie left.

Monday: Today Justin had to go back to surgery to have his right leg/skin graft checked and the dressing changed. So far things are looking good and we still don't need a new skin graft. They think it is going to take, but it wont be healed for at least another month. We are just keeping our fingers crossed that this works because Justin will be bummed out if a new skin graft is needed.

Tomorrow Justin is getting back into his physical therapy and occupational therapy routine! We are hoping that maybe by next week he will be moving to outpatient! We are just taking it slow because every-time we get excited we take a few steps back.

Please continue to pray for Echo Battery as they begin to start pulling out of Afghanistan and get to finally make it back home to their loved ones! Please continue to pray for all the other still over there fighting for us!

Good Night from Bethesda Maryland!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 236th Marine Corps Birthday!

Happy 236th Birthday to the Marine Crops! We had a wonderful day here in Maryland/Washington DC celebrating the birthday!

Monday they told Justin they were going to redo parts of his skin graft on his right leg. Wednesday he went in for surgery and they decided to try a different dressing that would stimulate tissue growth. So the skin graft was not done. Now we are just waiting to see if this helps so a skin graft can be avoided. Right now we are not going to outpatient until his leg is healed. Justin is in better spirits because he was really bummed this past weekend when he couldn't go to outpatient.

Tuesday night: We went out for a family dinner. This was the first dinner as a family to a restaurant since before Justin's deployment! It was Justin's second outing and he enjoyed a nice steak dinner. We wanted to feed him a good meal before surgery (which ended up not being exactly what he thought). He did well getting in and out of the car with his manual wheelchair. I think he really enjoyed being out and it was nice for him to sit at a table and eat. 

Wednesday: Since they decided to not redo the skin graft Justin wanted to go to the mall Wednesday night. He wanted to buy a new jacket and a few other things. I think he is becoming more and more comfortable going out in public. After his shopping trip with mom and dad they all went to eat dinner at the food court. It is so nice to see him wanting to go out. Late last night our family friend Kathie came in to visit! We are so excited to see her. 

Thursday: Today is the Marine Crops 236th Birthday! So Happy Birthday to all the Marines! We spent the morning and early afternoon going to the White House for a tour. There were about 30 people (wounded warriors and their families) from the hospital that went on the tour. The buses picked us up and we had a first class treatment. The Pentagon Police escorted us with lights the sirens all the way to the White House. They shut down the freeway to allow us to pass. It was an experience and getting into downtown DC didn't take very long without any traffic. I tried waving to people before pulling into the White House (since everyone was staring at us) but only 1 person waved :(. When we got to the White House we had a nice tour followed by a group photo including President Obama! Yes we were fortunate to meet him twice. He actually stood in between my parents for the group photo. Then he shook everyones hand. He said to our family "that he had just recently signed our photo from Justin receiving his Purple Heart, and we should receive it soon!" It was nice that he remembered us. After the tour and photo we exited through the front door of the White House and they gave us M&Ms to go! The buses were waiting for us on Pennsylvania ave (Which is closed to traffic) and we were escorted back to base. On the way back there was a lot more traffic on the freeway and people pulled over to the left and we passed by everyone on the right. (I am sure people weren't happy that we were cutting through traffic. I did not wave this time because I am sure I would have received a different type of wave back). 

Oh we also met the "First Dog" Bo Obama! Yes the handler brought him up and we were able to pet him and I actually tossed him his toy. He was the softest dog I have ever felt. He was also very well behaved and followed his handler around. 

When we arrived back to the hospital the Commandant and his wife were arriving to give out Purple Hearts. They are just the sweetest people and we enjoy talking to them! The are so genuine and truly care about all the Marine and there families! 

Here are a few pictures from today but we were not allowed to take in any cameras or cell phones inside the White House! 

Pentagon Police

General Amos

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Ups and Downs Continue

We had a wonderful time at the Marine Corps Ball on Friday night! Justin lasted almost the whole time. He had a long day and I was so happy that he did very well. Friday morning started off very busy with physical therapy and occupational therapy. We also received keys to do a trial at the outpatient building (building 62). Justin spend all day in his chair from 9:15-2:30. Then spent all night at the ball. He did great, but was exhausted on Saturday (I was exhausted too because we were running around all day trying to get everything ready). Mom, Justin, and I really enjoyed the evening together! Dad went home for a quick visit, but is returning tomorrow.

So our weekend has been another one step forward a few steps back. We thought Justin was possibly going to outpatient this coming up week. That is why we had the key to do a trial run at the outpatient apartment. Now the skin graft on his leg may need to be redone. This may set him back to staying in the hospital a little bit longer. Justin was really bummed out because he was looking forward to finally going to outpatient. We are not sure exactly what the team has decided, but tomorrow we should have more answers. It is just a bummer because we had a few great days in a row and Justin was doing so well! He has become so independent and when they told him the skin graft may need a revision it really bummed him out. Plus he is not looking forward to going through the pain again. We are hoping for good news tomorrow!

Saturday afternoon the owner of the 49ers came by to visit along with two other former players. They were all very nice and autographed a football and hat for Justin. Plus they let him put on their super bowel rings.  (I was surprised they didn't make a comment about all Justin's Green Bay Packer stuff)! All of them stopping by was a big "pick me up" for Justin because he had just found out the bad news about his skin graft a few hours before.

Today we went over to building 62 because Justin's TV in his room was frozen and needs to be fixed. So we went over and ate lunch at the apartment and watched football. Justin enjoys being over there because it is much more spacious than the hospital room and he is able to transfer to sitting in a recliner chair! We also had a nice visit from family members in town. Moms cousin Tommy Brick and his daughter Bridgette and her husband Jess.

So tomorrow we should have more answers about Justin's skin graft and a better outlook of when he may transfer over to outpatient. In a weeks time he has made tremendous progress and he is so driven to get stronger. On Thursday and Friday were probably the best days Justin has had since the accident. I had so much fun with him and he kept me laughing. He was buzzing up and down the halls in his wheelchair honking as he took corners at high speeds. It was so great to see him happy and having fun!  It was also nice to hear how positive he was when talking to the 49ers players about his injuries.  He told them he had accepted what happened and he was just ready to move on and work towards getting better. It was so awesome to hear. I know he will continue to have his ups and downs, but last Thursday and Friday were definitely his highs!

Good Night from Bestheda!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marine Corps Birthday Ball!

A lot has happened the last few days and I promise to blog all about it tomorrow! (I am so tired from the past few days) For now I wanted to at least post the pictures from the Ball last night. We had an absolute wonderful time. Justin looked so handsome in his dress blues. My mom and I were so honored to be his dates at the ball!

Enjoy the photos and will blog all about the progress Justin has made the last few days tomorrow!

Leaving the hospital and heading to the Ball!

Murphy and Justin

Left to right: Megan (Mike's date), me, Shelby (Murphy's girlfriend), and Anne (Marine sister)

Mary (Mikes mom) and Mom

Family picture minus dad

Mike and Justin (Justin enjoying his first beer since before deployment and yes he received permission that he could have one)

Moms and Sons

Shelby and Murphy

Megan and Mike

With Julie our Marine liaison! 

With our outpatient section leader when we make it to outpatient! 

Mike and I!