Thursday, July 28, 2011

Allen: My Hero

I've been meaning to write here since I came back from DC, but life just keeps getting in the way.  I feel like I have missed the entire summer with the boys, so we've been trying to get as much in as we can in the short time we have left before school starts again!  I don't think any of us are ready for that first day, but I guess it will come whether we are ready or not!

I'm so happy to be able to say that Allen is in a great place right now, he's more stable than I've seen him in at least the last three years, if not since his injury in 2007.  It was great being able to spend some much needed time with him while we were in the DC area getting testing and treatment done.  Being able to just focus on him and what he needs and how much work he has put in over the last 11 months was just what we needed.  We definitely missed the boys, but it was really nice being able to just be us for a few weeks, before adding in the responsibilities of parenting and everything that goes along with having a family!

It is very obvious that Allen has put in so much work while he has been away.  I know that it has not been easy for him at all and that he has had to face a lot of things that he had no intention of facing, but he did it and is so much better because of it.  I am constantly in awe of his strength and courage in facing the demons he is so haunted by.  It is amazing to see how much trauma he has faced in his life, but yet he still finds the strength, determination, and courage to go back to those times and relive them in order to get better.  I am so thankful that he wants to be better.  That is probably the key to all of this.  We are so blessed!

With all of this being said, he will by all means still have his struggles.  I'm sure there will be set backs along our life, but he is willing to do what it takes to get better and he NEVER gives up!  I know that the reintegration will not be easy for any of us, but it will be so good to have him home again.  It will be so nice to be able to be together as a family again.  Hopefully this will be the last big separation we all have, but if it isn't I'm confident that we will all be able to do what is necessary in order to keep us all safe and well.

I'm so proud of you Honey!!!  You are a great role model for our boys and a true hero to us all.  Thank you for your service to our great country, and for showing us what it means to be a hero!

Even Now.........Gina

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NICoE Discharge

Today we had our predischarge meeting and received the rest of the results from all of the testing that Allen has underwent the last 3 weeks.  There were not any big surprises for us, although they did change his diagnosis here from mild TBI to a severe.  This did surprise me, but at the same time, it really doesn't change anything with his care.

Tomorrow we will have his final discharge meeting.  While in many ways I am sad to be finished here and I do think we could actually benefit from a few more days of what they offer, it will be good to have it done and be heading back home.  He will undergo one more test in the morning for vestibular, and then head back over to Walter Reed for a follow up with the sleep doctor there.  We will then get a treatment plan, something we've never had since his injury.  I think we are both really excited about that!!

So, some other things that have happened here.  Allen came in with a very extensive medication list, one that all the doctors here were not too thrilled with.  They all, very early on, talked with us about reducing this list.  Well, I am happy to say, through these 3 weeks, he has been taken off of 4 medications completely!!  And, even better than that, they were completely taken away, not replaced with something else!!  He has also had the dosage of one dropped in half, and we are beginning to titrate another one down, with the hopes of getting that dosage greatly decreased.  He did have a couple that the dosage went up on, but we also have hopes of possibly getting off of a couple of other ones.  So, we are both very happy with this part of his plan!!

One of my favorite parts of the process is the ability to try out many different options for helping relieve stress.  We tried one yesterday called heartmath that we both loved!!  I will be blogging about this one in the near future to provide you all with more information on this!

One of the best things for Allen has been the reduction in his pain.  The second day here he received some nerve block injections in his head to reduce his headaches and has not had a headache since!  This is so huge for him.  He also this week had injections in each knee and his knee pain is now greatly reduced.  He did find out that he has a tear in his meniscus in one knee and we will get results for the other knee tomorrow.  Just seeing how much reducing his pain has done for him has been incredible.   He seems like he has taken about 20 years off of his life.

Another thing he had the chance to do that he loved was a range simulator.  He was able to us a service rifle and a 9 mil.  It was actually really good for both of us.  It gave me a lot more confidence in him and his potential to be around fire arms again at some point.  Since we live in the midwest, hunting is such a huge part of our culture.  Every body does it!!  I also had the chance to shoot the 9 mil today and did really well.  I had never shot a hand gun before and my shot group was within the size of a quarter!  (I was told that was excellent!)

For any of you who are struggling with TBI and PTSD, and are still on Active Duty, I highly recommend you check into going to the NICoE.  It is a unique and incredible experience.  We are both so thankful that we were given this opportunity.

Even Now.......Gina

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Yesterday we began our second week here at NiCOE (National Intrepid Center of Excellence), at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center post in Maryland.  This has been an amazing opportunity that I am so glad we have given.  We are definitely doing our best to take full advantage of all it has to offer.

First off, I just want to say that all of the staff here has been amazing.  I love the fact that they are all a team, and communicate with each other daily, about Allen and what he needs.  Another thing that I love is that they consider him a part of the team, not just the patient.  He is considered an intricate, and valuable part of the team with a voice!!  Why isn't all medical care this way??

So far, Allen has had lots of testing and interview type appointments.  He has also though, had the chance to try several types of different therapies.  One of the Occupational Therapists told him today that one of the great and unique things about NiCOE is that there are always alternatives, and alternatives for the alternatives!  They keep searching for things that work with each individual until they find what works.  On the first day, he was trying acupuncture, something he had never tried before.  On the second day, he was given a series of injections in his head to relieve headaches.  The next day he woke up without a headache, the first time in almost 4 years!  If we get nothing else out of this, just that was well worth it!!  Can you imagine what it would be like to be headache free after almost 4 years of a constant headache?  Indescribable!!

I am so excited about the possibilities that this could all lead to.  I see the hope for greater independence for Allen as well the hope for a more productive, stable, and peaceful life.  This would help all of us in so many ways!  Of course, we still have the house thing to figure out, but I have no doubt that will all work out as well!

On a little bit of a different note, being back to together with Allen after not seeing him for 10 months has been wonderful, but also a bit of an adjustment.  In many ways, we've had to figure each other out again.  He's done a lot of changing while in the program in California, and it's been a work in progress figuring out what he can manage on his own, and what he may still need help with.  It's been really awkward at times, which is really awkward in and of itself.  It shouldn't be awkward being with my husband!!  I'm happy to say though, that we are figuring it out and learning to communicate with each other again.  We are beginning to click, and it feels good!!  It makes me really want him to be home again.  Hopefully it won't be much longer before we have a home for us all to be together again as a family!!

Even Now..........Gina