If you have not been keeping up with the blog I recommend that you read these stories before this one. 1)“Take the First Step” 2)“Emotional Healing” 3)“Deciding to Overcome” Read. Enjoy (hopefully). Share. Comment.
Besides my occasional visits from Fred the Elf, I had many other interesting things happen to me while I was at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC). At one point I had to have my stomach dressing changed, allowing me to see inside of my stomach. Normally, this would have freaked me out (and been quite painful), but a healthy dose of Morphine made this a fun experience. There was also the problem of going to the bathroom, and I do not mean urinating. I went to the bathroom for the last time on September 24; I was shot on September 25 and finally went to the bathroom again about two weeks later on October 7. After having two weeks of waste build up inside me, I was practically euphoric when it all came out. When I finally relieved myself, it was one of the most relieving experiences of my life, no pun intended.
My wife and I were also faced with a big dilemma while I was at BAMC. My wife Kim is one the smartest and driven persons I know and also fanatically loyal to me. She gave up a lot of things in life to be with me. To make “us” work, she followed me around the country only to have me be gone the majority of the time. She is an incredibly strong women and a large reason why my recovery was so successful. The way Kim dealt with my deployments and time away from home was to make herself incredibly busy. When I was shot she did not intend for me to be home and packed her schedule accordingly. When we arrived at Fort Lewis in 2009, she started working on her second master’s degree (her first degree was in clinical research from Boston University and her second is in nursing from Pacific Lutheran University). Also, before I was shot, she applied for a full-time nursing job that she would be able to do while she finished up school full-time (I told you she likes to be busy, a full time job and a full time masters). She got the job and was supposed to start right after I had been shot. While at BAMC she stated that she was going to turn the job down to take care of me and be with me. My mother, father, my brothers and I tried to convince her to take the job. We said how great of an opportunity it was and how much it would help out the family. Then we laid out a care plan for me. My mother would stay in Texas and become my care advocate and when I was flown back to Fort Lewis, my brother Trevor would come live with us and help us out. After a month, my brother Nolan would switch out with Trevor and help out. It took a long time to convince her, but we finally did.
This left my mother as my care advocate and made for some funny situations. Right before Kim left she noticed a pressure ulcer on my tailbone. This required ointment to be applied on the spot every few hours. When Kim left, my mother inherited this job. Every night before bed she would say, “Kevin I have to put the ointment on your butt.” She also inherited the sponge bath job. One night I jokingly asked her if she thought that she would ever have to do this for her 27-year-old son.
Coincidentally, there were also two other soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group at BAMC. These two soldiers had been injured almost a year before me and were doing rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid (CFI), located next door to BAMC. The two were severely wounded from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). They visited my family and I daily, making sure that we had everything that we needed. Due to their experiences, they were well versed in the situation that I was in and advised me accordingly. These two men served as an inspiration for me during my recovery, not only because of how much they overcame, but also for how much they helped me. My family and I were touched by the kindness they displayed toward us. Their friendship and inspiration extended past the hospital and into rehabilitation. One day I said to one of them, “Thank you for everything you did for my family and I, I will never be able to re-pay you for what you did.” The soldier replied, “I was just helping out a fellow wounded soldier, I guarantee that you will have the same opportunity to help out a fellow wounded soldier.” I took these words to heart and decided that I not only wanted to rehabilitate myself but also help and inspire others in the process. Unfortunately, he was right, there was/is no shortage of wounded soldiers that need/needed help in their recovery. This decision served many purposes and was an integral part of my recovery. Little did I know, by helping out other soldiers, I was helping myself out also. As I delve deeper into my story, I will talk more and more about this topic.