It is hard for me to fathom that Bryan’s fifth “Alive Day” is today — the day an IED ripped his legs apart and left him with a brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. It is the day he nearly died. We had all our friends and family over for his “Alive Day” party this past weekend. It is great to celebrate his life, his accomplishments and his health. However, I think this is the last celebration. It’s been five years and we have been working so hard to accept our new normal that it is time to move on. In many ways it feels like yesterday that I got the call, notifying me about his injuries. The memories come flooding back of all that we have been through. It hasn’t been an easy road nor will to continue to be. But I feel like we have made progress and are now better equipped to handle nightmares, flashbacks, pain, memory issues, medical appointments, the endless red-tape, and our marriage overall. It has been a huge adjustment but I think we have reached the point of acceptance.
Walter Reed shut down this week and that also brings back a lot of memories. I remember trying to find Ward 57 by myself as I prepared to see Bryan for the first time after he was injured. I was so scared of what I would see when I opened the door to his room. I remember the smells, the faces laying in the hospital beds and the long wait through each of his 15 surgeries. I remember how hard it was to manage the red tape, the appointments, the medicines, and the wound dressings, when I was overly tired and Bryan was in extreme pain. I will never forget how dirty the hospital was. I remember heating water from the sink in the microwave in a large puke bucket and carrying it up and down the hall so I could bathe him. I remember the first time I cried. I hoped to forget the cafeteria food, but that hasn’t happened yet.
It has been an emotional week flooded with memories and some sadness. While things have not been all bad since he was hurt, we haven’t had a normal marriage either. I feel he has prevailed through the worst of it and has finally accepted who he is now. We did get some good news on his toxic embedded shrapnel test-- he isn’t filled with abnormal levels of toxins or uranium. I am still fighting the payment for hyperbaric oxygen therapy and I am hoping this will be resolved soon. There are screws poking out of his heel which we are hoping don’t need to be taken out soon. These kinds of things will always be a part of our life, but that is alright. He is alive and he is here with me. Our marriage has survived and I look forward to more long term plans instead of seeing only the near future. We are blessed.
If you want to read about the day I got the phone call that changed our lives click here.
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From Cheryl Gansner's blog, Wife of a Wounded Soldier. Used with permission. www.wifeofawoundedsoldier.com.