Friday, October 31, 2008

On our way to Germany

I got called this morning that my mom, mother in law and I will be flying to Germany today.  Our flight leaves at 12:45pm and we will arrive in Germany on Saturday at 7:40am.  I will try to keep you updated while I'm there with Rob's condition.  He will be flying back to the states either Sunday or Tuesday.

The first 2 days...

Since I just started this blog, the following entry will be pretty long, so just bear with me. I want to get you caught up with the events that have happened in the past few days. I will update this site as frequently as I can.

Notification: On October 28th, 2008 @ exactly noon, I was sitting on the couch feeding baby Eva when I got a phone call that would change our life forever. It was the Rear Detachment Notification Captain. He informed me that Rob had been injured in Afghanistan. I remember my blood going cold. I truly thought he was joking. In fact, I asked him “Are you serious?” “Yes, I’m serious.” He had me write down a bunch of numbers, but my hand was shaking so bad and my mind was so numb I don’t even remember writing them down. I just wanted to know how bad he was injured. He then told me Rob had been hit by an IED. WHAT?!? That was the last thing I thought would happen. They don’t even have IED’s where he’s at—or at least I thought they didn’t. He then gave me his list of injuries. I just wanted him to quit talking. This couldn’t be happening. I’m not sure if I was in denial or shock but I just wanted him to STOP. I got off the phone and immediately called my friend Ali. She was on her way over already but I told her to get here as quick as she could. I then called my mom. I have never prayed so hard in my life. At this point, I didn’t know much about how Rob was doing. Just that he was in critical condition and at Bagram AirForce Base in Afghanistan. To be honest, I didn’t want to know the extent of Rob’s injuries. I couldn’t deal with knowing. I just needed to process what had happened and focus on getting through the day. Before long, several of my girlfriends were over at the house answering the phones, making arrangements, etc, etc. It absolutely blew my mind how quickly news of Rob spread. Hundreds of people began praying for him. The power of prayer is an amazing thing. I had a friend of ours pick up Julia from school and she took her to play with her kids. I wanted things to calm down around the house before Julia came home. When she did get home, I pulled her into the bedroom and told her that daddy had been hurt but that the doctors were taking very good care of him and that we needed to say lots of prayers for him. I had also decided with my mom that the girls would be going to Nebraska to stay with my sister in law, Angie for awhile. Julia took the news pretty well and was excited to be able to see her cousins. Rob’s commander, LTC Markert, called me a couple of times during the day to give me updates and answer any questions. At about 11:30 pm, he called again. During this conversation, I asked him if one of the doctor’s could call me. He said he would have him call me as soon as he could.

October 29th @ 12:30 am: I received a call from the surgeon. He asked me how much detail I wanted. It was at this point I decided that I needed to know EVERYTHING. My imagination was getting the best of me and I needed to know the facts. He said that Rob arrived at Bagram 4 hours after the attack. Now that may seem like a long time, but where Rob was at, he was way out in the middle of nowhere. The medics who were onsite did an absolutely AMAZING job. They are the reason by husband is alive now and I cannot wait to meet them and tell them how grateful I am for what they did to save his life. They are heros to me. By the time I talked with the surgeon, Rob had already had his 3rd surgery. At this time, Rob had a small amount of bleeding in his brain and his intracranial pressure was slightly elevated but had gone down some. When he was found, his abdomen was filled with fluid and had to be opened up to relieve pressure. In surgery, they looked over his abdomen and did not find any internal injuries at that time. He had some bruising on his lungs and a chest tube had been put in, but his oxygen levels were also looking better. He also told me that when Rob arrived he had tourniquets on both lower extremities. Unfortunately his legs were too mangled to save. He had to have his right leg amputated about a hand’s length below the knee and the left leg right at the knee. When I found this out, I wasn’t too shocked. I knew that an IED doesn’t just leave scratches. He also has a fracture in his left femur head at the hip. He said that his blood pressures had stabilized and his heart rate had come down. He said when he first got to them it was very touch and go for awhile but he was doing much better now. He said that all the soldiers held a huge blood drive for Rob. Later that morning, I was notified that Rob was now listed as in stable condition. That was such terrific news! He was going to be flown to Launstuhl, Germany later that day. LTC Markert told me the soldiers that had seen him the day before and saw him today said he looked 100% better. I was not planning on telling Julia yet the extent of Rob’s injuries, but she is just way too smart. When she found out we were going to be staying at Walter Reed for awhile, she said “That means daddy has an injury.” Julia has had the opportunity to know our friend Ryan who had been through a similar experience and she understands what happens at Walter Reed. So, when I told her that, yes, daddy has had an injury, she asked me “Did daddy’s legs get chopped off?” “Yes, baby. Daddy lost his legs but he is still daddy and he loves you very very much.” She teared up a little bit and then asked if daddy would be able to still wrestle with her. I told her that, yes, he will be able to do all of these things with her but it will take a while. She then said “But, mommy, Eva won’t know daddy.” I said “You mean she won’t know him with his legs?” “Yes, mommy.” “Baby, Eva won’t know any different and daddy will love you both just like he did before.” I told her “You know how Ryan has a metal leg? Well, daddy will have 2 metal legs.” Julia scrunched up her face and said “well, I’ll be painting those legs peach.” My oh my. Out of the mouths of babes! When Julia went to school, I called her teacher and made sure she saw the counselor. They said she did great in school. I also withdrew her since she wouldn’t be here for such a long time. Later that day, Rob’s mom, Barb flew in and also my mom, Bev and sister in law Angie arrived.

October 30th: I got an update this morning that Rob arrived in Germany. He did great on the flight and needed minimal assistance during the flight. He is still in a medically induced coma to help his body recover and keep his intracranial pressure down in his head. The doctor taking care of Rob called me and said he would be going in to surgery again to clean his wounds, check his abdomen and femur fracture. I had heard earlier about something with his hand that I hadn’t heard before. She said that from the blast, Rob lost his finger right above the middle knuckle but that the rest of the hand looked fine. She said she would call me after his surgery to give me an update. I also asked if I could have someone put the phone up to Rob’s ear so I could talk to him. She said after the surgery she would make that a top priority. A few hours later she called me and said that Rob did great during the surgery. His intracranial pressures remained stable throughout the procedure. He is still on a ventilator but said he is having no problems taking in the oxygen and his O2 sats are remaining good. She did say that they did try to take him off his sedation meds and rub his sternum to get him to react to the painful stimuli but he didn’t. However, she is not overly concerned at this time b/c his brain waves are looking good and until he completely wakes up we won’t be able to assess his neuro status. I was told that at one point yesterday, he did get agitated and moved his arms and legs. This is where prayers really need to come. Rob and I had talked before he deployed that he could handle if he lost limbs but he could not handle being a vegetable. As long as Rob is ROB, we can handle and overcome any other obstacles. So, please continue to pray. This is going to be an extremely long road for Rob, but we know how determined he is and he will perservere. God does not give us more than we can handle and I truly believe this. I’m just so grateful that my husband is here. Things could have been SOOO much worse. I was able to call and talk to Rob. Although he is unconscious, I still feel in my heart that he can hear us. I told him that we love him very much and that Julia can’t wait for him to get better so she can wrestle with him and that in no time we will be out on the boat. Barb also spoke with him and said that everyone is praying for him and thinking about him and want him to get better. The outpour of support has been amazing. Rob is going to have red carpet treatment with all the connections our friends have. Thank you so much to everyone for all their help. A couple of people I want to thank personally are Ali, Nancy, and Kim for going above and beyond with making arrangements for us and contacting doctors and getting updates. There are too many others to mention, but please know you have not gone unnoticed. I’m truly amazed at how many people love and care about us. Today was an extremely difficult day b/c I had to watch as my 7 year old and 9 month old board a plane and head to Nebraska. I have never been away from Eva and Julia and I are extremely close. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest, but I did it so that they could be taken care while I took care of Rob. They will have so much love there. It’s so hard juggling this tragedy with having small children. But, right now it’s about getting Rob better so that he can wrestle and play with his little girls that are his absolute life. They will come down in a week or so. I know Rob will need to feel them there. I will play it by ear about when they will stay with us in DC. I will update again when I can. We are waiting on information about when/if we will be heading to Germany. Hopefully we can go tomorrow.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Keeping Everyone updated...

Hello everyone-  This first note is not from Dena, I (Nancy Kules) am just leaving a little note to let you know that Dena will be using this site to keep everyone up to date with the latest info on Rob.  As you can imagine, things are really busy for her right now, but you'll have more news soon.  In the meantime, pray, pray, pray and PLEASE use this site to leave notes for Dena, Rob and family!  Your comments are cherished!!!