Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holding the Faith

Well, Rob made it through the night. The dr's had said that he had a 90% chance that he may not make it during the night. You know it's scary when the crash cart is sitting in his room. But today his vitals signs and ICP's (brain pressure) held steady. You can see him moving his eyes behind his eyelids. I truly believe he can hear us so I just continue to talk to him quietly. I told him I hope he understands why I made the decision I did. If I didn't feel he was such the fighter he was, I wouldn't have done it. But Rob is amazing and has fought all the odds and I've got to hold strong that he can overcome this with God's miracles. When they suctioned his trach today he also coughed and moved his shoulders. When they cleaned out his mouth, he clenched down with his mouth (he hates getting his mouth cleaned) and I even saw him move his head and mouth. All this is good, because to me, I feel that his brain stem is working. The nurses don't like him moving much because it increases his ICP's but they only go up for a few seconds and then back down to where they want him to be. I get so scared though. It's such a balancing act with his body. He can absolutely have nothing more catastrophic happen to him--especially while his brain is still healing. I have to believe that Rob will overcome this. I prayed so hard last night during his surgery that if he was not going to have a quality of life, God please just take him home. And God got him through this surgery. I have to belive in that. I have to hold strong. I can't think about any other option because it absolutely breaks my heart. Rob is such an amazing person. He is my hero. He is our children's hero. Before I left to come to the hospital tonight, I heard Julia say her bedtime prayers. She said "God, please heal my daddy so he can wrestle with me." Oh, Lord, please hear my daughter's prayers. They come from the most innocent of children who's passion and love for her father is unwaivering. Lord, please heal my husband. Make him your miracle man. You are the Master Healer. As I kiss my little girls before I put them to bed, I pray that God will bring their daddy back to them. It's all in God's hands now. We just have to pray.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rob made it through the surgery

God is good! Rob made it through the surgery and tolerated it very well. They took off the right part of his skull. Because of the different areas of function in the brain, they went in through the front to minimize damage. The way he was positioned, they were able to see all the way to the bottom of the clot. They said when they took off the bone, his brain bulged out. Once they took the clot out, it shrank back down. However, because of the natural body reflex with all the manipulation, it started swelling again. So they finished what they had to do and closed up the brain with his skin. Because of the swelling, the dr said they did have to take "a small amount of brain off" the top to get it closed. What future reprocutions this will have, we won't know for a long while. They also had to insert a catheter to measure his intracranial pressures. They said this is very hard to do especially when the brain is swollen. The dr was able to do it without any difficulties his very first try! They said when Rob left surgery, his pressures (ICP) in his brain were 20. This is very good news. Down the road, they will replace the missing bone with a titanium plate. They took the clot to be cultured to make sure there was no infection in it but the drs feel there wasn't. They feel this clot happened due to an initial injury from the attack that had healed itself to some degree but left a hole for blood to collect. They did say if Rob did develop another clot in his brain they would not go back to surgery because they wouldn't be able to close it up again. I feel like the drs were very happy with how the surgery turned out. They are brutally honest here and the news they gave was good. Obviously we don't know Rob's outcome cognitively. However, I have faith he will be ok. As hard as it was, I prayed while he was in surgery that if Rob would not have any quality of life, then to please take him home. Rob would not want to live the rest of his life in bed. I feel that God got him through this and He will take him all the way. So we have a lot to pray for. We need to pray his pressures stay low, no more clots develop, his infections go away, his legs continue to heal appropriately, and Rob regains his cognitive status. I WILL NOT give up on my husband. He is the most amazing fighter I've ever met in my life. God has bigger and better plans for him. So, again, pray pray pray.

Pray, Pray, Pray, PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A little while ago I had to make the toughest decision of my life. They found a huge blood clot in the main part of Rob's brain. I could either let it be and let him die a peaceful death or I could choose to do an emergency craniotomy on him. However, he has a huge chance of dying on the operating table and if he makes it, he has a huge chance of no quality of life. Rob told me specifically that he does not want to be a vegetable. However, I cannot believe that God got him this far to let him die now or let him live the rest of his life as a vegetable. The neuro dr said that the majority of the outcomes are not good but he has seen some cases where the person made it through fine. He said we may not know how much damage he's suffered for a year or more. After talking it over with his parents and my mom, we felt that we had to give Rob a fighting chance. I decided to have them do the craniotomy. I mean the odds were not good for him to have survived the IED but he did. So he will survive this and he will be cognitively ok. That's what I've got to have faith in. God is working through the dr's. He knows that Rob has 2 little girls that need him very very much. So all I can ask for right now are more prayers than you've ever prayed before.

Please say prayers

Mom just got back from seeing Rob and she said they are taking him for a CT scan of his head. When I was in there earlier today he was sleeping. His pulse was a lot lower then it had been. It was around 55-60 (which is good). Normally it is 120 or so. Anyways, Julia was also there. At one point his blood pressure got really high and his heartrate stayed low. Then his bp went down. Anyways, when mom was with him he was still sleeping. The dr came in to check is pupils and one of them was not reacting like it had. That's why they are taking him. PLEASE PLEASE PRAY. I'm really worried and am just praying this was a fluke thing. I will update when I know more.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Restful day

I'd have to say Rob had a pretty good day. He had surgery this morning. They did some more washouts on his legs. The right leg looks really good. The left leg had to be opened so they could take off some dead muscle tissue. They said it was not much though and was only a small step back. They will leave that leg open and hooked up to a wound vac until his next surgery on Monday. Then occupational and physical therapy worked with him. They said he has tone in his left arm instead of being flacid like it was a week or so ago. His right arm also has tone but it has what they call clonus. This means that there is a miscommunication between the spinal cord and brain causing the arm to "shake" a little as it is being brought down from being lifted up. He also did some more eye commands for them. He opened his eyes to his name. He was also told to close his eyes tight after they counted to 3 and hold them closed. He did this. However, he didn't do some of the other commands they asked like wrinkle his nose, raise his eyebrows, and follow fingers. So they are trying to work on more consistant responses. I asked them if they thought he was behind or where they expect him to be at this point. Right now they feel that with all the trauma his body has gone through that he is where they expect him to be. They said it will be day by day and the more they work with him, the better idea they will have. After the OT/PT, Rob was pretty exhausted and slept most of the afternoon. I came in and watched the Nebraska football game with him later this afternoon. He watched awhile of it and then would fall asleep for a few minutes. Then he fell into a deep sleep. This was right before Julia came in to see him. She did really well today. She was even holding his hand. I wish he had been awake to see this. Then Arnold Shwartzenegger (I have no idea how to spell that!!) came in. Poor Rob. I tried to wake him up but he was OUT!! So, he was out when President Bush came by and he was sleeping when The Terminator stopped by! I didn't know he was coming so I didn't have my camera but I at least got an autograph so Rob could see it when he wakes up. After he left I continued to watch the football game until visiting hours ended for change of shift. Rob was still sleeping quite soundly. He looked really comfortable and relaxed. He really needed that. They put the cooling blanket back on him this afternoon. His white blood cell count had come down which is really good and they didn't want his body working too hard so they put it on him. I think he felt a lot better. His heartrate and respirations weren't so high and you could tell he was having a good rest. So, I came back to the Fisher House and finished watching the game. Man, I hope Rob woke up to see the end of it because it was SO GOOD!!! We ended up winning at the very end. My brother had taped it so I'm sure Rob will like to watch it when he feels up to it. You know Rob's tired when he falls asleep to a nail-biting Nebraska game! :) Oh, and there is not an Alltel store in the state of Maryland (who knew?). I ended up calling them and having them overnight me a new phone (which the overnight will actually be Monday because of the holiday!). I lost all my phone contacts. Of course my phone had to break NOW!! *sigh* So, is life! :) Hopefully I can get most of the phone numbers again!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. We had a nice dinner at the Fisher House. A family provided us with a wonderful meal. This morning I was told that Rob was opening his mouth some. That's really great because he hasn't done that yet. The other day they loosened the rubberbands in his mouth so he would be able to do this. He didn't do it for me while I was there today but I'm excited he's made this little step. Even if he was able to, he wouldn't be able to speak right now. He has a trach in his neck. Eventually they'll switch it out and put in a different one that has a cap to put on so he can speak. But, he's not there yet. He's still not doing many commands. Right now I think he feels really yucky and doesn't want to do anything. I feel that since he's gotten this fever his progress with his commands has been put on hold. I don't want to push him too much right now. I know when I'm sick, the last thing I want is to have someone in my face telling me to do this or that. But in the next day or so I'm going to start working on it again. I don't want him to get too lazy! :) Rob's still fighting some fevers. They have been able to somewhat control them with icepacks and Tylenol. They took a bunch of cultures of his different fluids and we should get those results within the next 24 hours or so. Some good news is his bili count is down to 2.8!! That's so great. So here is the perfect example of baby steps forward, baby steps back, etc. Julia saw Rob again today and she did great. He looked at her the entire time. I know that it was so great for the both of them! Tomorrow is another surgery for washouts. Hopefully the legs still look good. Unfortunately my cell phone bit the dust today (well, I can still call out and receive calls but the screen is completely dead). So, of all days, I have to go out TOMORROW to buy a new cell phone!!! I'm going to try to do this while Rob is at surgery. Wish me luck. Hopefully I won't get run over by all the crowds out and about!!! I'm excited that the Nebraska football game is on TV tomorrow. I'm going to put it on for Rob and we'll watch it together. He hasn't been able to see a game since last season so hopefully that will boost his spirits some. I'm hoping he feels better tomorrow so he can enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fluid in the lung

Today Rob had another surgery to look at his legs. Well, I got a call early this morning from one of the general doctors. They said that they did a CT scan on Rob's lungs and legs yesterday. They called and told me they found fluid on his left lung and a small amount on his right leg. They were going to put a chest tube in during the surgery. Yesterday Rob's ventilator setting was set to supportive which means Rob was breathing on his own and the ventilator was set up just to support him if needed. By late that night, he was having difficulty breathing. His temp, respirations, and heartrate was up. After the surgery they called me. They said they were really happy with how his legs looked. They said they were healing really well and there was only a small amount of fluid in the right leg that they took out. There was a small spot on the left leg they had to open and left open until his next surgery on Friday. However they feel that didn't set them back any with his progress on the legs. They told me that they got out almost 1 liter of fluid from his left lung. They still have him on the chest tube and will see how much they get out of it in the next couple of days before they decide to pull it. Today when I saw him he was still running a fever and his respirations and heartrate was still increased. Hopefully these will go down soon. He did seem to be breathing easier. I didn't have Julia see Rob today because I knew he didn't feel good. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day for him and she can see him then. Thanksgiving definetly brings on a new meaning for me this year. I'm so thankful that Rob is here with us. I'm thankful that I get to spend Thanksgiving with our girls. Thanksgiving is one of Rob's favorite holidays (July 4th is the other). I feel so bad that he is laying in a hospital bed not able to enjoy it. However, I told him tonight that last year Thanksgiving was not good for me because a few weeks before I had just gotten diagnosed with gestational diabetes and couldn't eat anything and this year he can't eat anything but next year we will have the BEST thanksgiving together with our girls PIGGING OUT!!! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Please keep the prayers coming because he really needs them. We also need to keep praying for all the men and women out there fighting the fight. May God bring them home safely.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

4 weeks ago....

Wow. It's hard to believe it was 4 weeks ago today that the attack happened. The days have just blended into eachother. Steps forward. Steps back. Fear, excitement, anxiety, happiness, tears. So many emotions. On this rollercoaster ride of recovery and emotions is easy to lose sight of the fact that it's ONLY BEEN 4 WEEKS. Today Rob had Occupational Therapy. They said he was pretty tired today. They want to work more on consistancy of eye commands and getting him to shrug his shoulders, squeeze fingers, and track fingers. They said they might try to start planning it so that I am in the room when they do the therapy since I am able to get him to do more things. Also this will help so I know what I can do to help him too. Then this afternoon I got to go to the airport and pick up OUR GIRLS!!!!!! I was SO HAPPY to see them. As soon as Julia saw me, she ran to me and gave me a big hug and kiss. And Eva remembered that I was her momma! It is so great having them here. Julia saw also got to see Rob tonight. At first she was a little scared when we first walked into the ICU. But I talked to her and explained things and she went and stood outside his room. Rob heard her and looked out into the hall so he could see her. At first she didn't say much but it didn't take long and she was gowning up and went into the room. She looked at all the pictures and letters in his room and before long she was talking to Rob. One of the first things she said was "Wow. He has hair! When he left he was bald!!" She's already talking about how she can't wait to see him tomorrow. I think tomorrow will be better for Rob too. I think he felt bad that Julia was scared of him at first. So, hopefully, when he sees how she is tomorrow, it will make a big difference for him. She didn't stay long because it makes the nurses nervous having children there because they worry they will get sick. Then I came back and saw him tonight after I got the girls in bed. They had taken off the cooling blanket because they want his body to start fighting the infection on its own without the aid of the blanket. I could tell he felt absolutely miserable. He was running a 101 fever. They put ice packs between his arms and groin and gave him Tylenol. Poor guy. My heart justs breaks for him. Tomorrow he has another washout surgery. Hopefully this will help get some of those bugs out of there. Please continue to pray. He's not out of the woods yet. Everyday is such a balancing act and it's easy to think he's doing so great but he's still really sick. Yes, he has come so far, but like we've said before: this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Monday, November 24, 2008

No skin grafts today

Well, Rob did not get skin grafts today. I guess the plastic surgeon wants to wait until his bili is down more because he's afraid that they won't take otherwise. So, instead they did some more washouts and did a "purse cinch" method on the fasciotomies for now. What they do is thread the tissue and cinch it up to make it smaller. They will do this little by little so when they do skin graft it, they won't have to do as much. They also said his legs are looking really good. They said the other day, the color around one of them looked a little off but today has pinked up. I'm not sure when his next surgery will be. Also when I was with Rob, the ortho dr came in the room and we were talking. The chaplain was also there. The dr asked if Rob was squeezing hands. I explained to him that only a little but sometimes it's pretty hard-esp when he's shivering. I told him that Rob was doing eye commands for me. The dr asked if I could get him to close his eyes for me because he hadn't seen it. So, I told Rob the dr wanted him to close his eyes tight for a few seconds and he did it!!! :) The dr said that was definetly him doing it. The nurse also told me that Rob's body is doing things that for some people it takes months to do. That's very encouraging. We'll get there. Slowly but surely. The girls will be here tomorrow!! YEAHHH!!! Can you tell I'm excited! :) Also, I know many of you have asked: my family members who were in the car accident are doing pretty good. My one aunt who was hurt the worst broke 2 cervical vertebraes, collarbone, and 3 ribs. She is able to move her extremities and had to be put in a halo for a few months. This will be a long road for her too. So, please keep them in your prayers. The accident could have been so much worse and we are truly blessed that they are all alive.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bili going down, down, down!!

Today there is not alot to report. So, let me give you some updates on his labs. The GREAT news is his bili is now 8.9!! :) A little less than 2 weeks ago it was as high as 32! So, his liver is doing what it needs to do. YEAH PRAYERS!!! His other labs are holding steady. His white blood cell count did go up slightly to 20. The nurse said this is to be expected with his fungal infection and the surgeries he has. He feels that the antibiotics he's on will work but it will take awhile. So let's keep praying that the antibiotics will zap the infections!!!! Rob's been holding steady too. He's been able to tell me the last 2 nights with a blink of his eyes that he is pain so I've been able to notify the nurse so they can increase his pain meds. I'm so glad he can do this now so we aren't just guessing. Hopefully tomorrow's surgery will go smoothly and they are able to get done what they want to do. So, that's another thing to put on the prayer list! Rob's nurses have been doing range of motions on him, which DOES NOT make him happy. But, unfortunately, he's going to have to go through some pain now so that in the long run, he doesn't have any problems. I'm super excited because Tuesday the girls are coming. It will have been almost 4 weeks since I last saw them!!! Unfortunately the time will go by WAY TOO FAST, but they will be back over Christmas break. It's been so hard being away from them. I wish I could forsee a time when they will be with us for good, but unfortunately, I have no idea when that will be. There's just no way I can have them here now. I know that where they are at is the best place for them. They have adjusted really well and are doing great. Barb and my mom have been wonderful for me. Like the great moms they are, they are making sure I'm eating and sleeping. Although at times, I have to admit it's a tough decision which I'd rather do more: eat or sleep!!! I've noticed I've been really tired lately. But, I'm taking advantage of them being here to keep Rob company now because it won't be long when it will just be Rob and I and I will have to make sure I'm well rested!!! I will let you know how the surgery goes tomorrow. He's supposed to be the first case and I'm not sure how long the surgery will take. Thanks again for all the thousands of prayers. We need them!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cooling blanket back on... :(

Just wanted to give an update. Tonight while I was with Rob, his temp went up to 101 so they had to put the cooling blanket back on. I felt so bad for him because it's such a pain (literally) to get it on. They have to roll him back and forth and I know it hurt him. The nurse was very kind though and gave him a big shot of pain medicine before.

Cooling blanket off!

Well, one of the good things that happened today is that Rob was able to get his cooling blanket off. His temps have remained stable the past couple of days. It was a vest that was worn around his back and stomach that's he's had since he got here almost 3 weeks ago!! I'm sure it feels great to him without it on. The bad news is he has a fungal infection in his blood. This infection can be EXTREMELY bad. However, since his kidney funtions are back to normal, they are able to give him a really potent dose of antibiotics to help get it cleared up. So, we need LOTS of prayers for this. His white blood cell count is elevated but the doctor thinks it could be from the surgeries since his temps have been ok. It's hard to tell with all the surgeries he's having. So, hopefully these surgeries will end soon!! Rob's been pretty grumpy today. He absolutely hates having other people caring for him. He's always been the type of person who's been extremely self sufficient. I just keep telling him this is only temporary and he'll be able to do his own things soon. I think the most frustrating part of his recovery will be how slow of a process it will be. But, I explained to him that in the whole aspect of our life, this is only a nano-second. It was cute because today the moms made me leave his room to get lunch. Rob, saw me outside his room talking to the nurse before I left and he was NOT HAPPY that I was leaving. The nurse said "Look. He's even pouting his lips!" So, I reassured Rob that as soon as I finished eating, I'd be RIGHT BACK! :) I have to say, it made me feel pretty good. Anyways, Monday is another surgery for his skin grafts. Let's also pray that this goes well and they can get it all done Monday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Second leg down!!

Today Rob went to surgery bright and early. While he was in surgery, Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith came and saw us. It was great visiting with him. After he left, Col Wesley came. Col Wesley is an amazing person. He was Rob's old Battalion Commander when Rob deployed out of Ft Riley to Iraq from 2005-2006. Rob has the upmost respect for him. It was so WONDERFUL seeing him and spending time with him. I know it will mean so much to Rob. We got word around 2:30 that Rob was out of surgery. The surgery went REALLY well. They only had to take a tiny amount of bone from Rob's right leg to close it up so he still has his knee. This is HUGE for the prosthetics!!!! We're so excited. They also closed up some more on his left leg. On Monday they will skin graft the areas on his thigh that are still open from the fasciotomies. He received 4 liters of fluid and 2 units of blood. They informed us that he was EXTREMELY swollen, but I didn't realize that they REALLY MEANT EXTREMELY SWOLLEN!!! He looked like the Michelin Man. Poor guy. The sclera of his eyes were even swollen. He could hardly blink. I think he was so swollen today because he was still a little swollen from Wednesday's surgery and between that and the fluids he received today, it really caught up with him. But, after a day or so, it goes down. You could tell he was exhausted so we saw him for a few minutes and let him sleep. We will be back tonight. His sister, Jenny, flew in last night so that was nice seeing him with his eyes open. Last time she was here, he was still unconscious. Hopefully, he'll be back to his normal face by the time she leaves so she can really see how much progress he's made. As I was reading the comments, I noticed someone was concerned about what type of bed he has to prevent bed sores. He has wonderful beds. In fact, Rob gets quite annoyed with them at times. You can tell that he absolutely hates the "pulmonary exercises" he receives from it. It makes the bed shake so that his lungs don't get pneumonia. One day Barb and I couldn't help but giggle because Rob was perfectly fine and then that bed started up and he immediately got the "grumpy Rob face." But we tell him it's for his own good. The last thing he needs is a bad case of pneumonia!!! He also gets rotated back and forth on the bed-which also annoys him. It's like when you're riding in a car and fall asleep and your head falls forward and you wake up suddenly. Well, Rob will just have fallen asleep, and his bed turns him on his side, and it jerks him awake. Poor guy. You just can't sleep in a hospital!! His bed also inflates and deflates air so it's constantly taking pressure off his pressure points. Obviously, you can't 100% prevent bed sores but they're being as careful as they can and doing all they can do prevent these. He's also starting PT-I believe within the next couple of days. Someone else has mentioned the wonderful work the Fisher Homes have done for the military! YES YES YES!!! Mr and Mrs Fisher were wonderful people. I don't know what we and so many others in our situations would do without them. If you have time, you should google them and see all the wonderful things they have done. So, again a good day. Obviously Rob was not as responsive but that's to be expected coming out of a 6 hour surgery. We'll just keep praying and praying and praying........

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chuggin right along

Well, today started off has a hard one for me. I was feeling really down and emotional. I went to the hospital to see Rob and brought my laptop. I had downloaded a bunch of songs that reminded me of him and I. I also had a slide show playing with all our pictures. I put it on the bedside table in front of him and turned it on. When the songs started playing, tears began to trickle down his cheeks. He never took his eyes off of me. I couldn't help but cry too. You're mourning the past, present, and unknown of the future. I've never loved my husband more than I did at that exact moment. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind or heart that we will get through this-together. Today Rob was a lot more "aware". He's tracking people in the room. When someone comes in, he looks at them. I think the tracking of the fingers is really hard for him right now because it takes a lot of concentration and he is so tired and, I'm sure, has a pounding headache. When I tell him to look at me, he will. The nurse told me that instead of trying to get him to squeeze my fingers (because this could just be a reflex), to try to get him to do a thumbs up. I asked him to do this and at times you could see he was trying by stiffening up his arm and lifting his whole arm slightly. Tonight he had to get a heparin shot in his stomach to help prevent clots. This is only a small needle but the heparin burns some as it goes in. I was holding his hand and when he got it, he squeezed by hand really hard and lifted up his arm slightly. The doctor came by and said that he is REALLY happy with how Rob is doing. He said today is the first time that Rob has responded to commands from him. He would ask him to open and close his eyes on command and Rob followed all of them! He also said his kidneys are doing what they need to do, his bili continues to go down, his electrolytes (calcium, sodium, etc) are doing much better and today is the first time since this attack happened that Rob went 24 hours without receiving blood because his blood counts have been stable. They also said as of now, the left leg where they closed it looks good. He asked me if I thought I could get him to respond with a one blink for yes and two blink for no to see if he was in pain. With the dr there, I asked Rob if he was in pain and if he was to blink once and twice if not. Rob very intentionally blinked once!!!! The dr said that he had no doubt Rob responded to that command. So, they are going to increase his pain meds some but continue to ask Rob so they can keep him comfortable but not too sedated. I was also telling the dr how Rob moved his arm when I was trying to get him to give me a thumbs up. He said that is how the body works. The bigger muscles will respond before the fine motor muscles. He feels Rob is on the right path. I am SOOO excited!!!!! Also, as I was getting ready to leave Rob tonight, they were taking him to change out his feeding tube so that he can get that nasogastric tube out of his nose! YEAH, no more tubes in the nose. :) So, please continue to pray for this continued progress and for his surgery tomorrow. When they close the legs, they have to take some bone off so that they can get the skin around to cover it. Let's pray that they don't have to take too much bone and he can still keep most of his below the knee. GOD IS GOOD. ALL THE PRAYER WARRIORS ARE OUT IN FULL FORCE!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One leg down!

This morning they took Rob to surgery at 8. They anticipated the surgery lasting around 4-6 hours. So, while Rob was in surgery, our friend Ryan took me out to lunch. It was a nice getaway and we had a good talk. Thanks, Ryan!! My mom and Barb also went out to lunch with our friend Diana. Thanks, Diana! Later, General Brown came and visited with us. He is a friend of the parents of some really good friends of Rob's and mine. It was so nice talking to him and helped pass the time while we waited. We got word around 4:30 that Rob was finally out of surgery and back in his room. The doctor said they were able to close his left leg amputation. They are going to take him back to surgery on Friday to do the right leg. I was surprised they did the left leg first since it was the hardest. But he said they wanted to do the hardest one first. They said they have to keep a close eye on it so it does not show signs of infection. If it does show signs of infection, then they will have to open that leg back up on Friday. So lets pray everything heals accordingly! They didn't close the fasciotomy (that's a slit in his thigh that was made in Afghanistan to let all the pressure out) on his left thigh. It's hooked up to wound vacs. This will need skin grafts. I think they may try to do this also on Friday. So, like I said, on Friday they're hoping to close his right leg amputation and also close the fasciotomy on his left outer thigh and right inner thigh using skin grafts. The good news is that his body tolerated the 8 hour surgery well so that he can go back for this other long surgery on Friday. (WHEW! Friday's going to be a busy day for him!) He did receive 4 units of blood and 6 liters of fluid so he was pretty swollen afterwards. When I saw him, he opened his eyes a couple of times but he's pretty exhausted. We didn't stay long so that he could sleep and we'll come back tonight. So, here's what we need to really pray for: his liver, no infections, and his brain. We all know the power of prayer is doing miraculous things!!!!! Also, I keep forgetting to ask this: To all fellow Rangers out there-if any of you are close to a store that has Ranger things and you're wondering what you can send Rob, can you please pick him something up? In the rush to pack and leave our house, I forgot to pack his Ranger t-shirt. I know he'd love any Ranger stuff. Thanks so much!!! You can just send it to the address listed on the right of the blog and I'll make sure he gets it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Little by little

Tomorrow the doctors are taking Rob back to surgery. However, this time they are planning on trying to close up his leg wounds on both legs!! From what I understand, they are also going to try to close the area on the side of his left thigh where they had to do a fasciotomy. They will do this by taking a thin layer of Rob's skin from a different area of his body (probably somewhere on his thigh), mesh it, and apply it to the area to make a skin graft. Like I mentioned before, it would be so great if they are able to close up the wounds because it would decrease infection and all the surgeries Rob has to go through. Also, the dr told us that for some "unknown reason" Rob's bilirubin count has come down (meaning his jaundice is getting better). Mom, Barb, and I all said at the same time: "We know why-the power of prayer!" We've all been praying for his liver to start working properly and it looks like it's starting to do that. Last week his bili count was 32 and today it was 20. The normal count is less than 2, but we're going in the right direction!!! Little by little, right? Let's just keep praying for this to continue!!! Today in the room with Rob, you can tell he is trying SO HARD. He's just so exhausted he can hardly keep his eyes open. But, if he starts to close his eyes and you say "Rob!", he'll open them again. Obviously I don't do this a lot b/c I want him to sleep, but sometimes it's good so that he can work on staying awake a little longer each time. The exciting thing is that today I was able to actually get him to track my finger. He was able to track it to one side before he fell asleep again. It just took a lot of work getting him to focus on my finger and then track it. But I was so happy that he did. Of course only Barb and I saw this. The staff is never around when Rob does things for us. But, we know Rob and we know he'll start doing this more in time. Again, little by little. On another note, my mom and Barb have decided they can take up new jobs here at the hospital. Barb as the head of housekeeping and mom as the cook. Barb runs around following all the workers making sure everything is "up to standard". The vacuum guy has even started finding her to show her that he is vacuuming. I'm sure for those who know Barb, this comes as no surprise. Rob definetly got his OCD with cleanliness from her!! My mom has been making her awesome cinnamon rolls and passing them around to all the hospital staff. Pan after pan. Once she gets going, there's no stopping her. For those who know my mom, this also comes as no surprise. There's nothing like having my mom here to make sure I'm eating and my mother in law to make sure my floors and clothes are clean!! Boy, I'm going to really miss them when they're gone! Rob and I are definetly getting the TLC we both need!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another surgery update

Rob is out of surgery. Everything went well. They cleaned his leg wounds and debrised some dead tissue/skin from his legs. Before the surgery, there was talk of putting the wound vacs back on but they decided not to do it and continue with the wet to dry dressing changes for now. The plan for Wednesday is to take him back to surgery and try to close some of the skin around his right leg. That would be great if they can do this. Anytime they can close wounds it decreases the risk of infection. Unfortunately he did have to receive another 2 units of blood during surgery. The doctor said his body isn't doing a great job of clotting off the blood so it's unrealistic for him not to lose any during the surgery. I just continue to pray that the transfusions will decrease so that his liver can start working appropriately. I felt so bad for Rob today because they have him on a cooling blanket to keep his fevers down. Well, today, he was shivering like crazy. For those of you who know Rob, you know he HATES the cold!! If there was any thought he was in hell, I'm sure he nixed that idea because it's too darn cold!!! :) Anyways, he would squeeze our hands a few times but it's hard to say if that was a cognitive thing or just a reaction from the shivering. However, we've decided that he's playing possum with the doctors. He won't open his eyes or squeeze their hands when they ask him too! So, I had a little "discussion" with him. I told him that the doctors don't believe me when I tell them you're doing it for me and that his tubes won't come out until he does it for them when they ask. So, I asked him to squeeze my hand. He didn't. So, I said "Rob, remember what I said about not playing possum?" Ever so lightly, he squeezed my hand. Again, not sure if he intentionally did this but I'd like to think my little talk with him helped. :) Also, the nurse had to draw blood from his arm. Normally they can do this with the arterial line they have placed but the doctors needed a culture directly out of his vein. So, the nurse explained to him that she was going to have to poke him with a needle. By gum, he moved his arm up slightly like he was saying "Don't even think about it." AHHH, gotta love my husband. He's definitely in there, stubborn as ever. Again, I want to thank each and every one of you for all the prayers, comments, cards, mail, gifts, etc that we have received. I know there is no way I could personally write a thank you card to each of you (almost 30,000 reading......) but please know it is all deeply appreciated!!!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Further update

Ok, first of all I want everyone to know that I got word that my aunts and uncles will be fine. A few of them have several broken bones but they will all be ok. GOD IS GOOD!!!!! Thank you for the prayers. Also, I just got back from being with Rob. The dr said that when they did the scope, they did not find any blockages. The gall stone is still there but it is not what's causing the problem. She feels that, again, it's from all the blood Rob has received and his liver is just trying to adjust to it. She said at this time there is no permanent damage to the liver, it's just slow. She also said they did a full body CT scan on him. He has no active bleeding. His head CT also showed no active bleeding or new spots and the swelling has decreased. She feels that of course they want to keep Rob medicated so he isn't having pain but that alot of that medicine along with the old sedation medicine is "sitting" in the liver making him more tired and sedated. She feels that once the liver kicks in and starts metabolizing all these meds out that we might start seeing Rob respond more. That's really good news. The dr's are so careful not to give false hope but at least she's being optimistic!! I showed Rob pictures of the girls and today it looked like he was looking back and forth at each of them in the picture. Every little thing counts!!!!


First of all, Rob is out of surgery. We have not got a chance to see him yet because they are currently doing a CT scan on him. So, I don't have any updates on him yet. However, this morning when we were waiting in the waiting room, my mom got a terrible phone call. My 2 uncles and their wives were in a horrible car accident this morning in Kansas City. One of my uncles was ejected and my 2 aunts are still unconscious. PLEASE PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM!!!! I asked mom if God was testing us. She said it isn't God-it's the devil. In a time like this all you can do is pray, but your faith sure gets shaken. How much more can one person take? God is the the miraculous HEALER and I just have to know that Rob and them are in His hands.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another quick update

I just got back from being with Rob. The dr told me that they found a stone in his gall bladder. He says the stone was not there when they had opened him up and looked at it before but with all the blood he's received, it's not uncommon for him to get a stone. Anyways, they also noticed some inflammation from the tubes coming off the liver. This could be from the stone putting pressure on it. So, tomorrow they are going to do a scope on him and try to get all the "back junk" out of the liver. This will help with his jaundice, urine, and platelets. They will do this by either making a slit in the muscle for it to drain or by putting in a stent. At this point they are not worried about taking the stone out of the gallbladder. He said later on when Rob is able if he wants to have an elective gallbladder removal, that's fine but this is not the time for it now! So please pray that they will be able to clear that up tomorrow morning when they do the scope. THANKS!!!

Another Day Down

Well, I don't really have much to report today. The doctor said that Rob's body has pretty much "optimized"-meaning everything is going pretty well. The only thing that is not quite right is his liver. He is still pretty jaundice. They did an ultrasound of his gallbladder and liver to make sure there wasn't a block somewhere. They've seen the inside of Rob's stomach and said the ducts do not look blocked to them, but they wanted to do an ultrasound to double check. They're thinking that it's probably from all the blood he's received. To date, he's had 140+ units of blood. That's approximately 14 adults supply of blood. His left leg was also pretty weapy but the ortho dr's looked at it and were able to stop it by applying nitrate to it. The doctor said that now the only thing Rob needs to do is "wake up". Yes, his eyes are open, but he needs to respond to commands. Rob had his eyes open today and I could tell that he was really torked. I would be talking to him and if he didn't like what I had to say, he'd look away and refuse to look at me. I know this has to be extremely scary for him. Everytime we're in the room, we explain that all the tubes are just temporary. That one day we will be on the boat wakeboarding again. My heart breaks for him because I know Rob and I know that he absolutely hates being in the bed like this. So, the cheerleader in me kept telling him that he WILL be fine and he just has to keep working on responding to commands. He is a fighter--he is a RANGER. I told him that he finished Ranger school when he didn't think he could go on anymore, and he can use that fight in him to get through this. I told him that he has 2 little girls that are waiting to have daddy back and that we will be able to continue all our future plans (like buying an RV and following the girls around when they go to college so that we can keep them in our view at ALL times!!) At times, I've just got to use humor. Because if I don't laugh, I'll cry. I absolutely don't take for granted the baby steps Rob is making. Because if you look back to 2 1/2 weeks ago to where he is now, it's remarkable. Patience just was never my virtue. So, I continue to pray and pray and PRAY. God has a perfect plan and I just have to have FAITH that he WILL bring OUR ROB back to us. So, I'm on my way to go see Rob again tonight. One more day done and closer to complete recovery.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A good day

Today was a really good day. Barb took the early morning shift and went and saw Rob. When she got back, she said that Rob was looking at her and tracking her. I was so excited to hear this. I ran over and saw him and I couldn't believe it. He actually LOOKED INTO MY EYES!!!! I could feel that he was actually THERE. His eye movements are still slow. So, if I would move away from him, he didn't track me but he would close his eyes and when he opened them, he'd adjusted them to be looking at me again! He was awake most of the morning. His eyes were also fully open versus only half open yesterday. I could tell that he was tired but he just kept looking at me. I was holding his hand and he'd start falling asleep. I would move my hand to readjust and he would open his eyes and look at me to make sure I was still there. It absolutely melted my heart. I kept telling him how much I love him and that everything is going to be alright. I explained to him that he had a tube in his throat and nose but that was all temporary and not to be afraid. I also explained to him again that all his soldiers are good and nobody else was hurt. I showed him a picture of the girls and he would look at it for a while and then look away. It's hard for me to know how close to hold the picture and I'm not sure if he was able to see it well. He even tried to readjust his head as if trying to make it more comfortable. When I came back after lunch, he was pretty tired and slept most of the afternoon. I just sat in his room, held his hand, and read a book. When he would wake up, I talked to him some more and played the videos of the girls again for him. But he was so tired and was having trouble staying awake. I told him that I would be right here and just sleep. Again, I saw him readjust his head and he even moved his shoulders around. I'm sure his body is also sore from laying in bed so long so I tried to massage his shoulders, arms and fingers. I would scratch lightly on his arms. I gave him goosebumps so I'm sure it felt good to him! :) Then the nurse needed to check his pupils with a pen light. He asked Rob to open his eyes. He didn't. So I said "Rob, can you please open your eyes? The nurse needs to check your pupils." So, he opened them!!! You could tell he absolutely hated the light shining in his eyes and was trying to close his eyelids tight. The nurse said that a few days ago his pupils were pretty sluggish in reacting but that they are reacting great now. He still isn't squeezing my hands on command but in time I feel this will happen. His body and brain have gone through so much and for him to be responding like this, I feel it's pretty positive. I mean yesterday I was so disheartened because he had an empty blank stare and today he's looking into my eyes! I know that this whole experience will bring many rollercoaster days but I'm so glad today was a good one! On another note, his legs are still weaping some but so far they have been able to reinforce them. I just keep praying that they'll hold their own so he won't have to go back to surgery until Monday. Also, I forgot to mention yesterday that they removed most of the rubberbands on his teeth. He still has one on each side of the mouth but from what the nurse told me, these are moveable bands so once he's able, he'll be able to talk with them. Just continue to pray that Rob continues to move in a positive direction. Every little step is a leap into our future!! Again, thanks for all the comments. I read every one of them, sometimes more than once. It is so therapeutic for me and means more than you'll ever know. I look forward to the day when Rob will be reading them himself.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unexpected surgery

This morning I was getting ready to go to the hospital to see Rob when I got a phone call from ICU. They said that Rob had had quite a bit of bleeding from his lower extremities and they were taking him to emergency surgery. I gave my consent for surgery over the phone so they could take him right away. When he was out, I went over to see him. I guess what happened is last night around 11pm, the night nurse noticed a small amount of bleeding from his right leg. She called the dr and they reinforced the dressing. Then this morning, they noticed more bleeding from that leg. All of a sudden, his blood pressure started to drop really low. They looked at his left leg and he had a large amount of blood coming from it. They suctioned out the blood and gave him some fluids to replace the volume he lost. He also received 2 units of blood. He lost a total of about 600ml's of blood. At first they were concerned he had an arterial bleed but when they got back to surgery they decided that it was from the wound vacuums. Apparently, the vacuums weren't strong enough to support the amount of wound he has. So they took him off the vacuums and hooked him up to a different kind. The nice thing about the first vacuums is that it is very good about preventing infections. So, they will be monitoring him very closely for any signs of infections. Hopefully if all goes well with the wounds, he won't have to return to surgery until Monday. That would be a nice break. The dr told me that prior to this last surgery, he is really happy with the progress Rob is making. Even after the surgery, he was alot more awake today. He's still off his sedation medicine and had his eyes open quite a bit. However, he still has a blank stare. I just pray that this is part of the healing process and he will become more responsive and alert in time. The night nurse told me that when she worked last night and was giving him a bath, he had his eyes open the entire time-approximately 20 minutes. She talked to him the entire time and showed him pictures of Julia and Eva that are on the door. The nursing staff has been really great and I know they really care about him. Please, please keep praying. I've been told that this waiting period is the hardest. I believe it. The unknown is so scary.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another surgery down

Today was a pretty good day for Rob. This morning before surgery, Barb and Otto were in with Rob and they told me that Rob opened his eyes for a few seconds for them a couple of times. When I was in the room he barely opened them and then closed them again. Then the neuro dr came in and evaluated him. He did a few tests and was really optimistic about the results. Rob still isn't opening his eyes to commands but when the dr opened them for him and turned his head from side to side, his eyes would move back to the center. They weren't fixed in one position which is really good. He also shined a light in his eyes and his pupils reacted appropriately. At one point, it looked like his eyes followed the light off to the side but when he tried it on the other side, he didn't do it. So it's hard to say if that was just a fluke or if he did it purposefully. Also when he touched his corneas with the tip of a q-tip, he blinked his eyes which shows he has a corneal reflex. The dr did tell me he has another test he could do to evaluate more of the brainstem activity but it could cause some pain on Rob. He would put ice cold water down his ears and he should have a reflex to it. However, the dr said it is an optional test and he feels he would pass it so it was completely up to me if I wanted him to do this test. I opted not to. I don't want to cause anymore pain on Rob and he's reacting well to the other tests. While Rob was at surgery, mom, Barb, a friend of Barb's (Diana) and I were invited to the Fisher House at Andrews AirForce Base for a tea. Rob and I stayed there a couple times last year when I was having procedures done at Walter Reed. We got to know the ladies that work there really well and have kept in touch with them. The niece of the Fishers was there so they invited us to meet them. We had a nice time seeing the ladies again and meeting some other nice people. It was good to get away and get our minds off of things for awhile. When we got back, we got a call that Rob was out of surgery. The surgery went extremely well. They washed his wounds but I noticed they did not place the new feeding tube. I didn't get a chance to ask the dr about this but I'm guessing it's because the tube they are going to use has not arrived yet. He received 2 units of blood in surgery only because he usually loses 1 unit with the washouts. However, when they got his blood count back after surgery, his blood levels were just the same as they were before he left so that was great news. His vital signs also look really good. The nurse had shaved him so he looked extremely handsome!!! :) Now we just have to get someone to give him a haircut! His swelling has really gone down and his leg wounds look really good. Tonight when I was sitting with him, he opened his eyes several times. He only opened them about halfway but he kept them open for approximately 15-20 seconds. He's not on any sedation medicine right now so I'm hoping this will give him the opportunity to start waking up more. Overall I feel today went really well. So many days I wake up saying "This is going to be a GREAT day!" and then I leave the hospital at night with a heavy heart. His progress is so slow that you don't realize how much he's gotten better until a couple of days later. Now more than ever I'm realizing that this is going to be a really long road. But the thing that I keep saying to myself over and over is "the best things come to those who wait." God knows when Rob's body will be ready for him to wake up. I'm excited because I'm having the girls come down for Thanksgiving. I'm hoping Rob will be in a place in his healing where he will be able to see them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

As it does for many of you, Veteran's Day takes on a different tune for me this year. Living the military life and being around military families constantly, it's easy to forget the danger and sacrifice the military endure. We live our lives day in and day out and chalk it up as "This is my husband's job." What you don't take into account (and maybe this is a coping mechanism) is that when they are on foreign soil, there are people out there who hate America and what we stand for. It's not until something like this affects our family directly do you truly realize how amazing and selfless our military men and women are. Rob would often tell me, "This is just my job. I chose to do this." This is true. He felt very strong about his reasons for being deployed. But, if it weren't for Rob and all those other men and women, I would not be able to so freely write about our experiences on this blog site. So, THANK YOU to all those serving and who have served. It makes me so proud. Now, on to updates about Rob. Early this morning they took him off his sedation medicine. They called it a "sedation vacation" (clever, huh?). He was still pretty knocked out most of the day. I tried so hard to get him to wake up. At one point I told him "Rob, you may be stubborn, but I can be more stubborn than you and I WILL wake you up." So, we'll see who wins this battle!!!! When they were cleaning him up, the nurse told me that he did open his eyes for a few seconds for her. As always, his body is really slow with metabolizing out the meds so it's going to take him a little longer to get the sedation medicine out. It's so frustrating because by tomorrow he'll probably be a little more alert and then he goes off to surgery again. His surgery tomorrow consists of washing out the wounds and replacing his current feeding tube with a different kind that also has a NG suction attached. This way he can get rid of the NG tube that's currently in his nose. YEAH! Also today they took out the other chest tube so he's getting closer to fewer and fewer tubes attached to him. The doctor I spoke with today said that his creatine level is high. A lot of this has to do with all that muscle breakdown going through his kidneys. She did say he is in "acute kidney failure." However, he does not meet the criteria for dialysis because his body is getting rid of fluid appropriately, it's just slow at doing it. So that's good news. His urine output is also at a decent level. After all his body has gone through I think he's doing pretty darn good. The doctor agreed! He also may have some pneumonia. It looked like the secretions they got out of his trach suction were pretty thick so they are doing tests for that. He has been on antibiotics so hopefully if he does have it, it's not too severe and they can get it cleared up quickly. It's pretty hard to avoid this with him being bedridden and getting so much fluid. But, pneumonia is the last thing he needs on top of everything else. They also found what they call the "war bug" in some of his sputum and leg wounds which they are also treating with antibiotics. It's just going to take a lot of time and tweaking to get his body running efficiently and back to it's old self. I'm going to go back to the hospital tonight to see him. Hopefully he'll be a little more responsive. I mean, seriously, he'd never let me sleep in on the weekends, so I'm not going to let him continue to sleep away.......Keep the prayers coming!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rob receives his Purple Heart

Yesterday, Rob's surgery went really well. They were able to finally close his abdomen. They also put the feeding tube in his belly and washed out his wounds. Today before Rob received his Purple Heart, the neuro dr came in and did an exam on Rob. He is again sedated so not responding. Although he was sedated, the dr felt Rob is moving in the right direction. It just remains a waiting game. I asked him about his MRI results. He said that he did see some brain damage in the middle part of his brain which may affect his speech. Again, in time, we will tell. When I asked him about the superficial vs deep bruises, he said he didn't really understand what the other dr meant when he was telling us that. Again, the other dr doesn't read MRI's so he's not familiar with the tests. He said superficial wounds on the brain affect thinking but he didn't really see this. Overall he was pretty optimistic from what I felt. Of course I am concerned about the speech issue, but hopefully, this will not be the case. Rob is young and the brain can heal itself tremendously. Then as Rob received his Purple Heart, it was a completely bittersweet moment. So many emotions ran through me. I was desperately trying to wake him up. I felt like getting sick. Although this award is an honor, it's one I wish my husband NEVER had to receive. I feel so bad that we wasn't awake for it. President Bush was the person who awarded it to him. When he walked into the room, he gave me a huge hug. He had tears in his eyes and told me he was so sorry. He just kept hugging me. He told me that Rob WILL wake up and when he does, he will meet Rob in person again. I got his business card from his personal assistant so that I can call him when Rob is ready to meet him. He awarded him the Purple Heart and then we stepped out of the room and out of our gowns and mask so we could speak more to him. He signed a 1st Infantry baseball cap Rob had. I know it will mean so much to him. He told me a story about a soldier 2 years ago who lost both of his legs. He told the soldier that when he is up and able, to give him a call and he wants to go running with him. Well, about 18 months later, the soldier called President Bush and they went running on the White House lawn. I told him that when Rob's ready and able maybe he can go wakeboarding with us! He laughed and said "I'm too old to wakeboard." Regardless of what people think politically, President Bush was extremely upset about Rob. Rob's recovery is not about politics, it is about my husband fighting to make a full recovery so he can come home to be with his wife and 2 daughters. That being said, I'm extremely proud of my husband and what he stands for. As always, I'll update soon.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Unofficial" MRI report

Ok, I know you are all on the edge of your seats awaiting news about the MRI. We will NOT have an official report until tomorrow when the MRI doctor comes in to read it, however, Rob's doctor gave me his "unofficial" results. When he looked at it, he said that he only saw the initial injuries and nothing new (that HE sees) has formed. His initial injuries were a spot on the top and back of his head. To him, it looks like these injuries are superficial and not deep. Again, this is not the official news but extremely uplifting to us!!!!! When I get the official report, I'll pass it on. I also have some more really exciting news. I went to see Rob early this morning and he was opening his eyes!!! Now, he was not looking at me and was not focused on anything, but he had them open and was blinking. He was not squeezing hands but that's ok. I can only imagine how hard it is for him to coordinate all these different things. The girls made a video for him and I played it for him today. He was able to hear Eva say "da da da da da da" and Julia talking and singing to him. I know he heard it and I'm sure it made a big difference to him hearing his little angels. Rob is currently in surgery. The doctors said the surgery may take awhile because they are going to work on closing his abdomen. They are going to place a feeding tube directly into his belly versus his nose. One less tube in his nose--YEAH!!! They are also going to do the usual washouts of wounds. When he comes out of surgery, the doctor said he will be sedated. He'll be on a different type of sedation. The one he's been on is really nice for head injury patients because they can turn it on and turn it off quickly. But it contains a lot of fat and is not good for him to be on too long. So, they are going to put him on a different kind. Although it's frustrating to have him sedated when he's finally responding, I also know it does it body extremely good to get the much needed healing while he's asleep. He is supposed to get one of his chest tubes out today and the other out possibly tomorrow. The doctor told me today that Rob is no longer in the "acute" phase. His body medically is doing great. The only thing that is still a little out of whack are his kidneys. His creatinine levels are a little high. But with all the muscle breakdown, that is to be expected. He's still jaundice but I'm hoping that this will decrease in time as his liver begins to metabolize more effectively. God is doing amazing things for my husband. He is hearing all our prayers. Rob will need the continued prayers to continue on the path of recovery. It is an extremely long road with many ups and downs but as long as we have God on our side, we will get through it together.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Quick Update

I just got back from seeing Rob tonight. They are are taking him to do his MRI now. Please say a LOT of prayers that the MRI will turn out good. This is a big indicator of his neuro status. We should know the results in the morning. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Surgery Update

Rob's surgery went really well yesterday. The doctors said that they didn't have to do the mini dialysis because his sodium level had dropped down to where they wanted it on it's own. The surgery was about 8 1/2 hours but most of that was due to them finally being able to pin his hip. I'm glad they were able to do that. We'll see how it does but in time he may need a hip replacement. He will be having another surgery tomorrow for some more washings and they are hoping to close his abdomen. Today he was on sedation medicine all day. They did this because of the long surgery yesterday. It was frustrating not seeing him grab hands or do any reactions since he had been doing so well yesterday, but I also knew it was good because he needed to get some good rest. However, something I didn't know when I wrote last yesterday was the doctor told me when he suctioned his trach yesterday, Rob opened his eyes!!! That's so great. So, although today it feels like it was one baby step forward and 3 big ones back, he's still progressing positively. I just got back from dinner with some friends of ours from Ft. Riley, the Spencers. He was one of Rob's old company commanders. It was good seeing them again and talking about the good times with Rob. Hopefully the next time I go out to eat with them, Rob will be with us. I also wanted to mention another website. Yesterday my mom was searching sites under Rob's name and came across a site for a soldier named Hunter. He was injured in Baghdad in May. He experienced a lot of facial trauma and may be blind. He will be turning 21 in a few days. He is alert but very depressed. Please visit his site and give him encouraging words. It absolutely breaks my heart. He needs to feel God's presence. His website his I am going to see Rob again this evening. I will update again tomorrow. Please keep the prayers coming.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Still in surgery

We just got back to the hospital and Rob is still in surgery. When we left around 12:30 this afternoon, they were just getting ready to take him. Whether or not he went back shortly after that, I'm not sure, but I'm kind of surprised he's still there. They said he will be done shortly. Today they were going to again do washouts. They were also planning on pinning his hip. I'll update tomorrow the results of the surgery. Last night I was in with Rob. I was holding his hand and after a while, I told him I was getting tired and was going to leave and go back to the Fisher House to sleep. As I was moving my hand, he grabbed it really hard and his blood pressure went up! I told him, "Ok, I'll stay!!" Then I guess during the night, he had a spike in his fever and blood pressure. They wondered if it had to do with pain. They gave him some pain medicine and his blood pressure went down. So, they are thinking he was in pain. Which is a good sign that he's feeling pain! Then today, I went into his room and hooked up a radio and put Rush Limbaugh on for him. It's his favorite and I know he appreciates getting caught up on the news! :) Anyways, a couple of times he held on to my hand REALLY hard. In fact, he grabbed my hand so hard that I was able to lift up my hand with him still holding on to it. I asked him to try to let go of it and he did!!! I am extremely confident that this was consciously done on his part. The nurse even saw it and said "He never does that for me!" Then she put a pen light in his eyes and he was really blinking against it--the nurse said that's a really good sign. So, today was another good day. It's so hard not to get too excited and hopeful, but I truly feel he's making good progress. Let's keep hoping and praying for this continued progress.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Baby steps

This morning, right before I woke up, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was sitting next to Rob in his ICU room and all of a sudden, he opened his eyes and turned them toward me. Then he lifted up his head. The dream fastforwarded and other people were in the room and he lifted up his left arm and scratched the back of his head. I was so happy that I had had that dream because I feel that was God talking to me. When I got to the hospital, I told the rest of Rob's family my dream. His brother, Chris, said that his wife had the same dream. She isn't here and hasn't seen Rob and she was able to describe how he looked almost to a T. She also dreamt that he had woken up! A while later, I went in to see Rob. I was holding his hand and all of a sudden, he gripped it really hard! My heart about jumped out of my chest. I told the nurse this. She said the key is to see if he does this and then you ask him to let go, he does. She said that way you know he's following commands. Of course I was trying to get him to squeeze my hand again, but he wouldn't. A while later, I was holding his hand and I went to readjust my hand and he grabbed it tighter again! I told him "Rob try to let go of my hand." Ever so slowly, he did. Now, I don't know if that was intentional or not, but I'll believe it was. Of course, Rob wouldn't do it for the nurse when she asked him too!!! He knows who is wife is. Again, this is baby steps, but it's a huge jump in hope for us. Around 11, the nurse said that she would like to give Rob some alone time. His blood pressure had increased and they wanted to make sure it was due to the company and not pain. When we got back, they had taken off his c-collar and removed the bolt from his head. His intracranial pressures had remained stable and he no longer needed the monitor in his brain. It is SOOO good to finally be able to see his whole face. However, it does make it more difficult at times because it just looks like he's sleeping and it's frustrating not being able to wake him up. The nurses said his blood pressure was still a little high but he had been resting quietly for awhile so they aren't sure if it's because he's in pain or not. They don't want to give him too much pain medicine at this point because they don't want to oversedate him. He is on morphine still though. The doctor was pretty happy with how today went. He said the chest tube on his left side may get to come out tomorrow since it's not draining much. His sodium level is still a little high but they are giving him some fluids to decrease this. He has surgery tomorrow for some more washouts and during it, the anesthesiologist is able to do more while Rob's under and so he may get something that's like a mini dialysis to hopefully balance out his levels. He also said that he saw Rob react more than he has before. When they were clearing out his trach, he would cough. Again, baby steps, but HUGE. There's still a LOT of praying to do. This is how I look at it. By all accounts, Rob should not be alive. The doctors are amazed that he made it this far. So, God would not get him through all of this, just to let him lay in a coma the rest of his life. He knows Rob is an amazing person and He has a bigger plan for him. When all you can do is wait and pray, FAITH comes in to play. Also, I got an email from somebody and they recommended I give Rob's blood type so people can help in that way by donating. Although you may not be able to directly donate to Rob (this is extremely hard to do) you can donate blood in honor of Rob. He is 0+ and I know that blood type is much needed. As I've said before, he's required 100+units of blood so far. Without people who have given their time and blood, Rob would not be here. Monday Rob is going to receive his purple heart. It would be so great if he would be awake for this. Again, many many thanks for all the prayers and comments. I know God is hearing each and every one and he is working on healing Rob's body so he can come home to his wife and 2 beautiful children.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another update

A few more updates today...Overall, Rob's doing OK but definetly not out of the woods. He's become jaundice but the doctors feel it's from all the blood products he's received. To date, he's received over 100 units of blood. His urine output has also increased which is good but it is really dark. The doctor is very confident it is from muscle breakdown which is not uncommon in a situation like this. His lungs are not producing much output anymore so the chest tubes may be able to be taken out within the next few days. His temps have remained stable with the use of a cooling blanket. The blanket causes the shivering action so it's hard to tell if Rob is shivering or moving sometimes. The doctor did tell me tonight that if he does happen to wake up, he will mildly sedate him for 2 reasons: 1) he doesn't want him to pull out tubes and 2) to take the "edge" off. He said this will only be intermittant and not cause him to go into a deep sleep again. At this time the doctor doesn't believe he is septic although he said he would be shocked if he didn't have some sort of an infection in his legs from all the debris in the field. It takes a few days for blood cultures to come back on that. They may or may not do the MRI tonight. The doctor said he would like to have Rob take it easy for awhile since it was pretty hard on his body from flying for so long. So, rIght now we're just waiting. That's the hardest part. I wish I could have a snapshot of a year from now so I can see where we'll be. But, as so many of you have written and reminded me, "God is in control and anything can be done through Him." Ryan and Nancy Kules stopped by and I was able to talk to them about things which really helped. It's so nice to have someone so close to you that's gone through the same thing. They were even so kind as to bring me some much belated cheesecake (thanks, Nancy!!!). Then today Ryan took me out to lunch and again we spoke. He said it perfectly "it's almost a blessing and a curse to know someone who's gone through this." It's so easy to compare Ryan's recovery to Rob's but every person is different and every person recovers differently. Only time will tell, but I have faith that everything will turn out ok. I know many of you would like an address as to where I'm staying. I don't have one right now but as soon as I get the chance, I will get a PO box and put it on the blog site. I'll update again soon.

We've arrived at Bethesda

Yesterday we flew from Germany to the states. Rob did fairly well on the flight. His temps continue to be high. The highest it got during the flight was 103.4. They were able to cool him off with IV bags put in ice and then put between his arms and legs. They also hung an American flag on the wall beside him. That meant a lot. Once we got to Andrews Air Force Base, there was a bus ambulance that transported us to Bethesda. I swear I aged during that trip. Rush hour traffic and a bus flying down the road with sirens and lights...... Once we arrived, we were met by Rob's 2 sisters, brother, and brother in law. We got settled into our room at the Fisher House and then met with the team of doctors in ICU. She asked me what I already knew about Rob's injuries. I listed them from head to toe. She looked surprised and asked if I was a nurse. Anyways, she said that the thing that concerned her was why Rob has not woken up or responded. However, I told her about the time he was moving his eyelids and shoulders and also how his pulse and heartrate go up when we're in the room. She said she had not been told that information and was happy to hear it. Plus, my thinking is this. He's been so drugged up and his body has gone through SO MUCH, just give the poor man some time. He was also getting ready to go back to surgery. I guess his temps had reached 104 at one point which was concerning to them. We were able to see him before they took him to surgery. As soon as his sister Natalie talked to him, his blood pressure skyrocketed. He started really moving his eyes. We were all really happy to see that. This morning I went back and saw him. I've decided that I also have good days and bad days. There's only so many days I can be strong. Today was not one of them. It absolutely broke my heart to see him laying there. I'm still expecting this to be a really bad dream. I couldn't stay in the room long and left to come back here to the Fisher House. I'll go back over soon, I just need some time to cry alone. He is my soulmate and my heart continues to get ripped out everytime I walk into the room. His brother, Chris, and mom are with him now. They are going to be doing an ECG and MRI to check the status of his brain. I'm glad they're doing this b/c we'll get a better idea about what's going on in there, but I'm also scared to death. They were also worried yesterday that he had sepsis since his temps were so high. They have him on a cooling blanket right now and took some blood cultures. As far as I know, his cultures were ok in Germany. Let's pray they're ok here too. Rob is definetly not out of the woods. Please pray and pray and pray, I feel so helpless right now that the only I feel I can do IS PRAY. I also want to tell you all how humbled I am about how many people have checked this blog, wrote comments, donated money, offered prayers and support. I cannot possibly thank you all personally but please know it means more to us than we can ever tell you. THANK YOU.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Update from Nancy

I don't think Dena will mind- I wanted to give you guys an update based on the information I'm getting from a variety of sources.

Looks like Rob was stable enough for the flight today. All three ladies (Dena, Rob's Mom, and Dena's Mom) were able to join him on the plane for transport back to the states. This is great news and makes coordinating so much easier on this end!

They are due to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base today around 4:30pm EST, and will travel from there to Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

I'm sure Dena will be on later to give more specifics, I just wanted to share what I've learned at this point since I know so many people are anxiously awaiting news!

Keep the prayers and comments coming- you guys are the best! The support for the Yllescas family has been amazing and I know they are feeling it!


P.S. Just a thought- Since this entry was from me vs. Dena, I was thinking if you'd like to comment, maybe your message can be specifically to Rob this time. That way, Dena can print them out and read them to him when she gets a chance... :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

On our way to the states tomorrow????

I just got back from visiting Rob. He made it out of surgery great. They did have to take a little more off of each leg but they knew they were going to have to do that sometime in the future anyway. The doctors said it really wasn't much. Some of his thigh muscle in his left leg was also necrotic so they had to take some of that out, too, but they said he still had PLENTY of muscle. That's the good thing about Rob--he's extremely muscular! They also did have to take off the tip of his middle finger on the right hand due to loss of blood supply. They weren't able to pin Rob's hip b/c they didn't want him to lose too much blood with his possible flight back to the states tomorrow. His abdomen still looks really good. No problems with his bowels. His lactic acid levels decreased to 3.5 which is also really good news. We're still fighting the fevers but hopefully those will decrease in time. Rob also had a special visitor today. One of his old ROTC instructors, now LTC Danner, lives in the area and he and his wife came by and saw Rob. Even though Rob was not awake, I really think he felt him there and it will mean a lot to him later on to know that he was there. Also, one of the soldiers Rob was on a MITT team with during OIF 3, Sgt Shakespear, is also in the area and saw Rob yesterday. He recalled stories about Rob that made us laugh. My favorite is he referred to Rob as "Captain America" because he was always so gung ho! I have to say that name fits him well. To have people who Rob has been with during his military career come by and visit will mean the world to him. This evening as I was sitting with him, I busied myself with cleaning his fingers and fingernails and washing out his mouth. Being the clean freak he is, I'm sure he appreciated it. I just had to make myself feel useful! We are on schedule to fly tomorrow pending any problems. Again, Barb, my mom, and myself will all be on the flight with him. I'm anxious for him to get back to the states so we can really get this recovery rolling!!!!! Again, thank you so much for all the comments!

3rd day with Rob

As of last night, Rob's lactic acid level had decreased some but today, they went up a little more. In surgery yesterday, they didn't really see anything of concern. They did scrape off a little dead tissue from his lower extremities but his abdomen looked good. Sometimes they're worried that his bowels could become necrotic, but thankfully, his look good. Yesterday we were also struggling to keep his temperatures down. He's been running temps between 99-102. When I saw him today, his temps were remaining stable between 99-100. He is currently in another surgery right now. Almost daily they take him back and wash out his wounds to make sure there is no debris left in them. They were also going to revise the amputation in this right ring finger and try to shape the bone better. They also said the middle finger on the same hand is looking a little gray so they may have to take the tip of that off, too. Today they are also going to try to pin that hip that is fractured. It depends on how his pressures do. The thing that is so discouraging is that they have to keep him sedated. They don't want him too agitated because that can affect his healing process. So yesterday evening, he slept and didn't make anymore movements. Today was also the same. Even though people have told me this is going to be a very long, SLOW process, it's still hard to wrap yourself around that. I just want him to wake up, jump out of bed, throw his legs on, and go about his way. But, I know it's not that simple. My heart absolutely aches for him. I feel completely helpless. He is torn up all the way from his head down to his legs. I wish I could take the pain and hurt away. Even if he would just wake up and I could talk to him would make me feel better. It was one week ago yesterday when I last spoke to him. If only I knew..... It's amazing how much you cherish such a simple phone call. Today it's 4 months since he deployed. Never ever did I think I'd be here. I know Rob and I will get through this, it's just that we're going to have to travel down a very difficult, emotional road to get there. Whenever I see Rob, I always tell him that his soldiers are fine. No one else was hurt. Because even though he's going through this, if he had to choose between himself or one of his soldiers in this position, he would be exactly where he's at. Rob is an amazing person. The people that care about Rob are to infinity. You don't realize until a tragedy like this happens, how many people Rob has left impressions on. More than ever, I'm truly honored to be his wife. Please, please keep praying. I'll update again after surgery and if they're still planning on flying him tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Second day with Rob

I just came from being with Rob. I have a few updates. First of all, Rob looks so much better than he did yesterday. His face was not nearly as swollen. He also had a smaller c-collar on so I could actually see his face better. It was so good to get a better look at that handsome face. He has stitches on his left eyebrow and stitches on his chin right below his lower lip. Besides that, his face looks great. Also, he was scheduled to fly to the states today. We had our bags on the bird (me, Barb, and my mom are able to fly with Rob) and the flight team in the room. However, we knew there was a chance that he may not go today. Yesterday his lactic acid level was high. They wanted to monitor him during the night and redraw the lab today. When they got the results, the levels had risen some more. They would like the levels to be less than 2 and his today was 6.5. They are not for sure what is causing this so they are taking him back to surgery today. Basically, something inside of him is not getting perfused adequately. If this goes on untreated, it could become life threatening. So, they are going to go in and look in his abdomen and leg wounds again to see if there is a possible infection or perfusion problem and take care of it as needed. The next flight to the states will be on Tuesday. So, depending on how he does between now and then will determine if we fly Tuesday. The other update is really quite exciting. They told us this morning that he had been quiet during the night and did not move. However, when I walked into the room and started talking to him, you could see his eyes moving behind his lids and he started moving his shoulders!!!! I couldn't believe it! I talked to him about the girls and he would move them even more. He even had tears coming from his eyes when Barb and I spoke to him. I asked him to squeeze my fingers and he would ever so slightly. The neuro dr came in and examined him and said that with everything he's been through, things are just going to take time. I told him to try to open his eyes. You could see him moving his shoulders up and down like he was trying to get them to open. You can only imagine how heavy is eyes are. They did have to sedate him a little when they thought we were flying, so he did go back to sleep for awhile. But right before we left him so he could go to surgery, I started rubbing his cheeks and forehead with my fingers and he again fluttered his eyes and moved his shoulders! This is such exciting news. I know it's baby steps but anything positive like this is HIGHLY encouraging! So, please keep praying that they will find what's causing his levels to be high and be able to fix the problem and that his neuro status continues to improve. God is good and He will provide. I will update again after surgery.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Seeing Rob for the first time.

Well, today was an emotionally draining day. I spent about 4 hours with Rob. I had mentally prepared myself for how Rob would look with his injuries but was not prepared with how swollen he would be. Had it not been for his hair, I would not have recognized him. During surgery they said his intracranial pressures had gotten a little high and that's why his face was so swollen but that he looks 100% better than before the surgery. He had a c-collar on. They don't think he has a spinal injury but cannot completely clear him since his shoulders are so large and he's hard to position correctly. The collar is just for preventative measures until they are 100% positive. He also had his tracheotomy placed and was hooked up to the ventilator. During surgery his jaw was "wired" using rubberbands. These will stay in place for a minimum of 6 weeks. I looked under his sheets and his poor abdomen was so bruised it was almost black and he looked like he was 9 months pregnant. His thighs and arms were also swollen. During the surgery they also decided to wait with the femur fracture since too much time had passed and said that sometime in the future he would probably need a hip replacement since a strong hip is so important for the prosthetics. Although he was unconscious, I held his hand and Barb, my mom and I told him stories about the girls and how much love, support and prayers he was receiving from family, friends and perfect strangers. After a while, mom and Barb left to go buy Rob some clothes. He was given money for this but it was only good while we were in Germany so I had them do it so he'd have nice clothes to wear while he was rehabilitating. When they were gone, I read him the letters Julia had written to him. I have to also admit that at times I broke down and cried to him. I mean, this was his LAST deployment and he had gone through 2 previous ones without any injuries. It's just so unfair. I apologized for not being strong but told him I knew he understood since he knows I tend to cry easily! It's just so hard seeing this strong man whom you rely on as the rock to be in such devastating conditions. I sat there kissing his hand and telling him how much I love him and how much he means to so many people. I did find out during the nurses report that they had taken him off most of his sedation medications. This bothered me a bit since he hadn't moved for me but I also know it can take your body a very long time to recover from such injuries and this is his body's way of healing. I'm sure it was in my head, but at some points when I was holding his hand, it felt like he was holding it tighter. I truly feel like he sensed our presence. I also spoke with the anesthesiologist and he told me that he has personally seen Rob flutter his eyes. At this point, I want to hold on to ANY tiny piece that can lead to an improvement in his cognitive status. As far as when he's flying to the states, he is scheduled to go tomorrow but he is having some issues with his blood pressure being a little low and signs of a possible small infection starting. They are changing some antiobiotics and will monitor him during the night and will decide in the morning if he is leaving tomorrow or Tuesday. Either way, I only want to do what is BEST for Rob. Although today has been a tough day, I truly believe God is an awesome God and has the power to do anything. With all the prayers coming our way, I know Rob is rwapped in His arms. I will try to update again soon depending on when we fly. Keep checking the blog and posting comments. They mean so much!!!

We have arrived in Germany

We arrived in Germany and made our way to Landstuhl. We are staying at the Fisher House located right across from the hospital. We met with the 1st ID liason, Sgt Schroeder who took us to where Rob is in the ICU. We were put in the waiting room and Dr Gram came in and spoke with us. Rob is currently in surgery. At that time, he had been in surgery about 1 1/2 hours and will probably be there for a couple more hours. Here are the updates we were given about him: during the blast, he suffered a jaw fracture. In order to repair this, they have to wire his jaw. Since he had been on a breathing tube, they removed that and placed a trachea so that his jaw could be wired. They were also going to again, wash his wounds and assess his fractured femur. At this point in time, they don't know what they are going to do about the fracture and will be deciding a mode of action sometime in the near future. As far as his neuro status, a couple of hopeful things is that anesthesia said that when he has been in surgery, and they were stitching him up, his blood pressure and heart rate would rise, which is a good indication. Obviously we don't want Rob to be in pain, but any reaction to pain is a good sign. Also, when his eyelids are lifted up by the doctors, he does flinch them. Besides that, there really aren't a lot of updates. I'm just anxious to see him. As soon as he gets out of surgery, the doctor is going to call the liason and he will come get us. I want Rob to know we are here for him. Although he is still unconsious, I truly believe he'll feel our presence. Rob is a strong guy and he will get through this. We all will. We just need to continue to be on our knees in prayer. I know I mentioned this before, but our main focus is getting ROB back. We can deal with anything else. So, PRAY PRAY PRAY. I am so stunned at how many people have already checked this site. I want to thank you for that and for the comments that have been written. It truly means so much to hear from all of you. God has truly blessed us to be surrounded and uplifted by so many wonderful people. Please continue to write comments because even though it may seem small to you, it means the world to us. I will write again after I've seen Rob.