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!!!


Nicolas said...

That's wonderful that you got to see him and we agree that he could feel your presence! It sounds like you're being incredibly strong for him! We'll keep checking for updates! ~Chris & Trisha Nicolas

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how difficult this situation is for you and the girls. You are definitely showing great strength. Your words of optimism are keeping me confident that Rob will recover!! It will take time for injuries of this magnitude to heal. Rod is a strong guy, keep your head up! God Bless!

Justin Klein

Paige Tyler said...


You are SO STRONG and courageous. You have so many people who are uplifting you and Rob and I hope you can feel our prayers and thoughts.
Love Paige

The Bender's said...

Oh Dena, we are so glad you were finally able to hold his hand. And there is no doubt Rob knew his rock was beside him finally! We love you girl and Rob - you keep fighting, we love you and prayers are surrounding you every second of every day.

Chaotic Mom said...

I am so glad you are with him. And I'm glad your mom is there with you, too. I've been praying for you day and night, too, Dena. Thank you so much for the updates, and for your friend who helped you get this set up. God be with you guys. I'm glad he is in such good hands, and that you have so much support.

Household6 said...

I am so glad you guys are finally together. I can only imagine how hard this is for you seeing Rob this way. Now he will be trying to tell you that he knows what it's like to be preggars...don't let him get away with it! Hoping that makes you go cry, get it all out, it's very therapeutic!


Faith Jordan said...

Oh, Dena, I just want to take you in my arms and give you all my strength. We never know what life will hand us and how we will deal with it. I believe that with God's help and the love and prayers of ALL your family and friends you and Rob will deal with this like the heroes you are!!! What a strong person you have come to be!! Julia and Eva are lucky to have examples like you and Rob. Stay strong---but be sure to lean on someone when you need to. Love and prayers.
Donna Mentink

Lodmell House said...

I am glad to hear you all made it safely and that you have gotten to see Rob. We are praying!The Lodmell Family

Anonymous said...


You're awesome - I am inspired by how well you are handeling all of this. We are praying constantly for Rob's complete recovery, and for the strength you and and girls need to get through this. I truely admire you!

Julie & James McGahey

Anonymous said...

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty..."
God bless you. I am praying for Rob and your family.
Marcia Schmiedt

Christy and Brian McGarry said...

You are very strong! I know it doesn't feel like it to you but you are amazing! Continued prayers for all of you!

Joyce Winfield said...


Keep leaning on the Lord and you will continue to find inner strength. Our friend in Minnesota said of course he remembers Dena. The full of energy cheerleader. You now are Rob's biggest cheerleader and encourager. And you have so many other cheerleaders right by your side. Doug and I continuously lift you, Rob, Julia and Eva in prayer.

Much love,
Aunt Joyce and Uncle Doug

Jason Pape said...

Dena -

Thank you for taking the time to write about what is happening with Rob. Your strength in doing so is appreciated by so many who know him, and evidently many who only know of him. Despite all that is going on, you take the time to keep us informed...that is truly amazing. Rob is lucky to have you by his side. And I know many who are anxious to be by your side when you two return to the States.

Mary.burnett said...

God bless you all!! Many Mary Kay consultants and directors in Omaha are praying for all of you!!! Warmly, Mary Burnett

Hannah (for the rest of us) said...

You don't know me, but I'm friend of Heather Spencer's. My family is praying for your husband. God is with you.

Anonymous said...

Dena, I´m not sure if you remember me but I was one of Rob´s classmate at IAS. And I just want you to know that I´m praying for Rob and for your family. Please tell Rob that I remember him in a very special way and that I love him very much. And I will continue to pray for you and all your famliy. May God bless you and give you strength.
Love, cindy Lopez

rebeca illescas said...

Dear Dena anda Family,

Just want to let you know that my prayers are with all of you. I can't imagine how hard this moment must be but God will make sure that you and everyone in the family continues being strong. Give my love to Barbara and let me know if there's anything I can do. Love,

Rebeca and Maria Renee Illescas

Nancy said...

Part of being strong means taking time to break down now and then... it's good for you to get a good cry! Cleansing... I know if Rob could, he would reach over and give you a great big hug- just like so many of us would if we were there! We love you.

Looking forward to having you guys on our side of the country pretty soon. We'll be anxiously awaiting your arrival, and our chance to do anything we can to help out.

Get some sleep!!!

Nancy and Ryan

Kim Decker said...

I am so glad that you are finally with Rob, though I know it must be emotionally draining. Keep up the love and support Rob and we're all here to support you. It sounds like you have a pretty positive attitude. At the end of each day it may help you to assess the "big picture." It sounds like Rob made it through one more day of healing and is one day closer to recovery. Time will tell how much recovery will take place, but we are all hoping and praying for the best. He is in the best hands possible!
From your description of the surgery, it sounds like today was a"more good than bad" day. Hang in there tough girl!

Tim and Kim

Anonymous said...

Dena, I just got an email from Joyce explaining what has happened. Please know that you and Rob and the girls are in my thoughts. You just keep on being strong. My love to all of you.


The Sullivan's said...

Oh Dena, We love ya'll so much and are praying everyday for You, Rob, and the girls. I'm so happy you were able to finally see him, and he knows you're there. Stay strong. Love you- Alayna, Ryan, and Gavin

Donna said...


I am truly amazed with your strength. Please know that where ever you are the Dakota family will stand by your side. We will continue to send prayers your way. God Bless!
Donna & JJ Walker

Hutto Haole Wahine said...


thank you for allowing so many to surround you with our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Rob and Dena,
Dena, thank-you for the updates on this blog. It must of taken great courage to write this after your emotionally draining day. I am so glad you had time with Rob. I believe he feels your love, compassion and strength in your voice and touch.
To Barb and Bev, glad you're there for support.
Cathy Bell

Scott said...

Dena -
We heard about you and your family through Nancy, and want you to know that you are in our prayers. What you and Rob have given for the security of our country is amazing and inspirational. You'll be in our thoughts, and we will keep checking for updates.
Lots of prayers
Scott and Kelsey Hayes

Wendell said...

Dena, thank you for keeping us informed...I wish we could be there with you and holding your hand. Know we have you all in our prayes and continued thoughts!!
Uncle Wendell and Aunt Jonell

Michelle said...

Wow, I am amazed at how brave and strong you are right now. I am sure it was both a relief and a shock to see your husband in his condition. I am also so sad that you have been put in this situation.

My Mom has always told me that women can do anything...but sometimes it can be so hard we have to take it a day at a time, or if that's too much... try an hour at a time, when that's too much.... then try to stand it just one more minute. Then there are those moments when a good long cry is the only thing that can help us through. Never feel bad about letting your feelings show because this hasn't just happened to your husband. It has happened to all of you.

We are praying night and day that your husband will find his way back to you, his girls, and his friends. He needs to fly home and be surrounded by people who have been there, and done this to show him and you how to make it back.

We are pulling for you with all our might!!!!

Sarahbeth said...

Dena, we're friends of Heather from Ft. Riley and are reading along and praying along here in Georgia.

Sarah and Jess Curry

Michelle Nelson said...

Dear Dena:

I am so happy that you finally got to see Rob. I know that it means so much for you just to be with him and hold his hand. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you always. Thomas wants me to let you know that Rob is in his thoughts and prayers. As you know, Rob means the world to him.

Love and prayers,

margaret said...


God is an awesome God and if you felt Rob's grip than that is real. Rob is an incredible guy and he WILL recover. And you are an AMAZING wife (I am screaming "AMAZING!!!!") and as much as he is your rock you are his rock. Thanks again for this blog. It means a lot to be able to check it to see how Rob is progressing. Sending you big virtual hugs. Send Rob our love. We'll keep praying and praying and praying.

Love, Margaret

Cheryl Jones said...

So glad that you were able to spend time with Rob today. Please don't worry about crying easily - it's not a sign of weakness, but of a kind and loving heart. Rob knows you, and he wouldn't expect you to make it through this without some tears. It's a real part of dealing with crisis - and it can be a relief to release your emotions. Remember Isaiah 40:31 "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles". God bless you, your family, and all your doctors, nurses, and everyone that's working to bring you back. Thanks for the updates for all those praying for you. Love, Cheryl & Monty

Pam said...

From somewhere, just when you're not sure you can make your way through another moment, strength comes from your family, friends and all the faith, prayers and love that are surrounding you even an ocean away. You, Rob and all of your family continue to be in my thoughts and prayers...

Anonymous said...

I'm so saddened to hear about Rob and I will keep you and your family in my prayers!!
Kim Milius

Michael & Hanna Crowder said...

Dena, I know that today must have been so hard for you. I can only imagine how you're feeling right now. We are so glad that you are together now and that Rob is one step closer to recovery, and knowing that you're by his side will make him that much stronger. You, Rob, and the girls are in our prayers all day long!
Michael and Hanna

krueth said...

I am so glad you were able to see him and talk to him. I will continue to pray for him and the rest of you. Wendy

Rosie said...

Dena: I can only imagine what you and the 2 Moms are going through right now.
You are an amazing person, I truly an honored to say that I am your friend. AND, I know you know that, I am praying for you all. I HOPE to see you back here at Andrews. YOU know where to call, we are here for you.
FH Gang@ Andrews AFB

Anonymous said...

It is good to hear that you have made it to Germany. Being together will help the healing process I am sure. Hang in there, let Rob know that we are all thinking of him and the Yllescas family. Make sure you get some rest as well. You will need it for your sake and for Rob's. Robin and I know a couple of families in the Landstuhl area, so if you guys need anything before you fly back to the States, do not hesitate to ask. We have already spoken to them and they are ready and willing to help you in any way possible. Keep your head up, you guys have a lot of people in your corner.

Robin and Joe Ruzicka

Jaime Pachta said...

Hi Dena,
We continue to keep you and your family in our prayers. I'm sorry you have to go through such a difficult and tragic time. But it looks like many people are lifting you and Rob up in prayer. Thanks for all of your updates. Your little girls have a great role model right now. You are showing them how strong you are and how much you love their daddy. Continue to hang in there and be strong, he feels your presence. Thinking of you...Dan, Jaime, Ashley, Nicolas, and Mitchell

Anonymous said...

My son told me what a strong man your husband is. We are praying for you all and will keep checking daily for updates. Please just ask if you need anything. You are definately strong woman and have an incredible outlook on this. Stay courageous and don't forget to take time for yourself. God bless you and your family.

Jana Sirois

Mark & Marisa's Family Journey said...

We're praying for Rob's recovery...I believe he feels you with him. You are all very strong---I can tell just by reading your posts. God will surely help guide you through this time. In our prayers always~Continue to be SO strong!!!

Anonymous said...

Dena, we are praying for you, Rob, and your girls. You are a very strong and positive person. Thank you for taking the time to keep everyone updated about Rob. You are loved.
-Shannon and Jeremy Bryant

Cristy said...

I just wanted to say that you all are in our daily thoughts and prayers. Our God is awsome and He DOES answers prayer. You and your family are loved dearly.

Cristy Joslin

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how difficult this whole experience has been for you and I am truly amazed at how strong, brave and courageous you are...please stay strong for Rob! You are in our hearts and prayers.

Hang in there must heal for your wife and kids, they need you and you have so much ahead! Stay strong.


Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how difficult this whole experience has been for you and I am truly amazed at how strong, brave and courageous you are...please stay strong for Rob! You are in our hearts and prayers.

Hang in there must heal for your wife and kids, they need you and you have so much ahead! Stay strong.


Anonymous said...

Dena, I studied with Rob in IAS, we only met once so I don´t think you remember me but you are all in our prayers. Please let Rob know we love him and remember him and we´re very concerned about his health. We´re praying for a fast recovery and a big hug from far away for Rob, you and all the Yllescas family. Love, Patty de Leon,

Heather said...

I am so amazed at your strength. You truly are an awesome women to be able to handle all that God has thrown your way. Stay strong we are all praying for you and Rob and rest of the family! God Bless you all!
Heather Sanchez

bletzel said...

I do not know either family, but I do know that GOD is an AWESOME, FAITHFUL, MERCIFUL God who will see Rob through this! :) I believe God can perform miracles and hopefully Rob's full recovery will be one of them! :) My prayers are with you guys and I have forwarded these prayers on to my church Prayer Warriors! May God be with you and give you strength, courage and peace! :) Many blessings, Brenda Etzel (friend of Joey & Ashley Grady)

Anonymous said...

I learned about Rob from Nancy Kules' blog and just wanted you to know there are more thoughts and prayers for your family coming from Scottsdale.

Best to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Dena, it's Becky from nursing school. Jill forwarded this site to me. I am so sorry to hear about the accident. I am definitely praying for Rob, and you and the girls, and will have our church pray tomorrow morning. Thanks for keeping us updated through this site. I am grateful God is giving you the strength you need to make it through this. My heart is with you friend. Love, Becky

Anonymous said...

One of the military moms in our prayer group made us aware of your situation. Know that you are in our prayers and thoughts in the days ahead. You sound increadibly strong. May God continue to give you the strength, comfort and peace to go though this. I forwarded your blog to all my friends and relatives. Know that many people are praying for you.

Anonymous said...


We are praying for you guys. We are thankful that you were able to see Rob and talk to him. Everytime I picture Rob, I see him laughing. He was always ready to cheer me up. I know this is tough. We'll keep praying for you guys.

The Turners

Anonymous said...

I'll be praying for you all. He has been in my thoughts since i've heard. Your so much stronger than I could ever hope to be. If you need anything, i'm here. I know we've not really spoken much, but know that your in my thoughts, and in my prayers. Don't worry about crying, if he's anything like my husband, i'm sure he may even be comforted as well as motivated to be strong for you too. I'm sure that he felt his love right there beside him. Take care and godspeed. lacey carroll

Marianna said...

My heart goes out to you & your family during this horrible time in your lives. I hope your husband can heal & come home soon.

Be strong... I can only imagine how tough it is.


Cindy McGroarty said...

Words can never seem to be enough but our Faith in God is....My husband and I thank you so much for updating everyone during this difficult time....plz let Rob know that his Soldiers are FIGHTING HARDER AND SMARTER....and they will get the job done for Dena and all your family are in our thoughts and prayers constantly....

Holli said...

I know you don't know me but I am still praying for your family. My heart swelled to read your latest post and I know he can feel you there with him. God will work miracles for Rob...I know he will. Keep your chin up and lean on your support when you need it!

Anonymous said...

I am a friend of Christie's and so I don't know you personally, other than you and your family are a part of our military family. Please know that we are praying for you every day. You are amazingly strong and your love for your husband is so evident. I am very pleased to see Fisher House is helping you. I have been, and still am, in the process of raising funds for them in honor of a fallen Marine, the brother of a friend. Just know that you have so many people, many of whom you do not know, praying for your family, lifting you up, asking for God to give you strength and asking him to help Rob. Make no doubt about it, he knows it is you. Having been in a similar situation, they may not remember you were actually holding their hand, but they will remember, even after they wake up, that you were there giving them love. God Bless You!

Emma said...

Dear Dena, Our thoughts are with you and Rob and the girls. I cannot even imagine the waking nightmare you must be living through right now. You are amazingly strong, and I just pray the girls are reunited with their beloved daddy soon. - Emma and Mike Mulvaney

Rosie said...

Dena: THIS is awesome news on this Sunday Morning. GOD IS GOD, and you know people are praying everywhere for you all. I am not sure IF you're getting my messages or not, but I am going to keep writing. Please know we are here for you, I await your updates and everyone's arrival back to DC. Tell your Mom I said HI, and we are all here for her as well. WE loved you all the moment you stepped in our door.
Our prayers are with you and your family.

Rosie said...

Dena & Family: Today was awesome news, Sunday is family day and you are where you need to be today. Your girls are well taken care of I am sure. YOU stay strong and take one day at a time. Tell your Mom I said HI, and we are here for her as well, once you all arrive back in DC you will be surrounded with our love and prayers, we loved you all the day you walked into Fisher House.
OUR prayers are with you and your family.
WE will see you soon.

The Boone Family said...

Our God is an awesome God! I think you are being strong. It's OK to cry, God is there even when all you want to do is cry. He promised that he would never leave us. Keep trusting. You are in our prayers.

The Boones of Bowie, MD

Paddy said...

Dear Dena & Family,

Please tell Rob that we are praying for him at this difficult time for you all.

We are the parents of Emma Mulvaney, Auburn AL.
Kind regards.

Paddy & Deirdre Judge

Anonymous said...

Dear Rob,

First and far most- Our prayers are with you!! - Thank you for serving our country!!

I am a mother of an amputee Vet and can only say that God will take great care of you. My son has been blessed in so many ways; he even found his wife Sandy through Soldierride!! It may be really difficult for you to see the rainbow at this time but you just wait.....picture your family's smiles and this will get you through - you will see....many blessings will be coming your way because many are praying for you.

God Bless you and your family,
Lisa and Kevin

Anonymous said...

We were introduced to your wonderful family through friends. After spending time reading through the blog and all the comments we also wanted you to know that our prayers and thoughts are with you all!

God Bless your family for being strong, brave, and courageous!

Thank you to Rob for everything that you have done for all of us!

Anonymous said...

Dena, I just wanted to let you know that we've posted your blog on the IAS web site and a lot of people have committed to praying for Rob and the family. We are also sharing your situation with family and friends. Lynna (Hardeman) Gotsch

Anonymous said...

We are trusting in the Great Physician to take care of Rob, heal him, and give him a fast and full recovery. With God all things are possible! Michael and Frances Mott, Navy Lakehurst, NJ

Anonymous said...

Praying for Rob, you and your family. Thank you for your service to our country.