Friday, July 27, 2012

The slow descent...Part 1

This is my first attempt at "filling in the gaps."

Everything that happened after my first post about the explosion is mostly a blur. But with a few deeply engraved memories thrown in as well.

Tag was less than 2 weeks old so I was running on very little sleep anyways. I feel like I walked around the house like a zombie 24/7 after that first phone call. By Tuesday the phone was ringing off the hook. Medical updates came in on a regular basis. The brigade commander called me numerous times to check on me. I remember being so scared to answer the phone since one tactless employee (our casualty notification person) called and for a few moments caused me to believe G.I. Joe died of wounds or something like that. One evening I got a call from a perky lady who called me by my first name. This was the first time I felt like I could talk on the phone and not have a heart attack! She ended up being our FRG leader and went out of her way to make me feel relaxed. After hearing so many gravely serious voices saying "Is this Mrs G.I. Joe?" I just don't even like to be called by my last name, or ma'am. Either one makes my brain think something bad is coming.

The really great thing about that week was how many people from his company reached out. Every night I was talking and texting with the Commander's wife and she has become such a great source of encouragement for me. Other wives from the unit reached out on facebook and even guys from G.I. Joe's detachment who were busy over there took the time to track me down and show their support. Before they all deployed I wasn't able to meet anyone but just days after he was wounded it became very evident to me that my husband was valued and respected there. That made me so proud.

It took a while for everything to even start sinking in. A few people calling me with updates, including G.I. Joe himself, tried to act like this wasn't a big deal. Even one higher up official was going out of his way to down play it all to me. So I tried to focus on Lucy and also day dreaming about this incredible reunion we'd have. They told me at first that "he is coming home to recover." I pictured going to our city airport, seeing him limping on crutches but still standing tall and proud in his uniform over the crowd. Then they told me a couple days later that he would be going to Walter Reed first for a couple weeks, then home. I had no clue what to expect there but I didn't care. All that mattered was that we would finally be together after that horrific attack on his life.

I was told that he would be flying in to Walter Reed that Friday. By Thursday the stress and whole range of emotions was getting to the kids. That night Tag went on a hunger strike and Lucy cried herself to sleep in my arms. I kept telling them both tomorrow would be better. We just had to make it through that night, and the morning would bring lots of joy.

Well...Friday morning I was really disappointed to get a wake up call from G.I. Joe. If he was calling, then he wasn't on a plane. He was finally stable enough to fly but his medivac flight was cancelled due to weather in Germany. So it would be Saturday. I was beyond disappointed when the Saturday flight was delayed. And the military people calling me kept telling me he had to get checked out by a doctor at Walter Reed first THEN they would call me and say the kids and I had permission to come to his bedside. Um, no. We left Saturday afternoon so that as soon as they called we would already be in town.

My hair was perfect. My clothes were actually pretty cute too considering I was only 2 weeks post pardom at this point. The kids had perfect outfits. I practiced taking deep breaths all day to calm my nerves. We got to Walter Reed when his flight was supposed to land. My knees shook with every step I took as we entered the hospital. It seemed to take forever to get to the main patient admin desk. Then we were told...

the flight was delayed more and he wouldn't be there until late that night. It had been such a long week I had to get the kids to a hotel to sleep and I was so hungry it was getting harder to fight back the dizzy spell coming on. A soldier connected us with a hotel a mile away that the Yellow Ribbon Fund would pay for.

The next morning I finally got a call I was waiting on. G.I. Joe had come out of yet another surgery and the kids and I could see him!!! I was told to go in on my own first so I could get all of my emotions out of the way, then be able to better help Lucy with the situation.

At the front desk I told the soldier who I wanted to see. He directed me to the floor and room number. I shielded my eyes when I got to the wounded warrior floor. The thought of what was there was so over whelming. I looked hard at the floor as I walked down the hall, only peeking up at the room numbers. When I got to his door it was decorated with his name, flags and stickers.  

Oh my gosh, this a BIG deal. He is really hurt.

I saw a nurse go in before me so I slowly pushed the door open. I heard her talking to him.

"There is a First SGT on the phone for you. He needs a written statement from you because there are a lot of accusations going around about..."

Oh no. Oh no. 

Then I saw him.

It wasn't how I pictured it at the airport.

Instead he was lying naked in a hospital bed, covered by handmade quilt, face pale and eyes sunken, and a week of liquid diet gave off a malnourished quality. There were a few "wound vacs" that had tubes pumping blood out of him and his jaw had wire mesh sticking out of it to hold it together until they could place the titanium in it.

He looked up and saw me and looked so confused and startled by what the nurse was saying.

Then I spoke the first words to him face to face...

"Oh my God, Babe! I can explain! I said what you told me to but its such a mess! I'm so sorry!" 

Wait. Wait. That doesn't sound right does it? As you can probably tell I left out something very important. Come back for part 2 and find out how this happened and how it could have been prevented. We will never get that moment back to have a real heartwarming reunion, but had we only known the military protocol on this one certain matter ahead of time it would have saved our families a world of pain and drama.

Waiting to see Daddy!

Not the way we thought they would meet but it was one of the best moments of my life to be able to  hand that little guy over.

She handled the scary hospital stuff like a champ! I was more nervous than she was :)

Tickles make everything better!


Jen said...

The pictures are amazing!

Chantal said...

It's great to hear an update on the whole situation. I can't wait until part two!

Brianna Renee said...

Thank God you had so many people calling and supporting you! My husband's family would be the WORST to call if anything happens to him. I was paranoid about it while he was deployed.

Rhe Christine said...

Thank you for sharing this story with are so brave. Isn't it wonderful how kids are so darn amazing and resilient and the power in their teeny tiny bodies to bring joy.

Stephanie said...

Wow, riveted to your story, girl. Cannot wait to hear the rest.

Fold away shoes said...

All picture are beautiful