Sam’s medical status: On Monday the physical therapist put a brace type device on Sam’s right arm that keeps it from turning in. It also spreads out his right hand to keep it stretched out. The only problem with using the device is that Sam is moving his arm by himself now. While he was sleeping Monday night, he must have moved his right arm down towards the open wound on his thigh. Erin saw that he actually cut his wound sometime during the night and even rubbed it a little raw in one place. They took off the device and will think of something else to use to keep his hand in the correct position.
Tuesday the respiratory therapist was in and said they plan to change Sam’s trach tube from an 8 gauge to a 6 gauge when the doctor gives the OK. This will allow more air to pass through Sam’s vocal chords which in turn will get him ready to actually begin talking again. The next step after the 6 gauge trach tube would be inserting a valve in the tube which would allow more air to be inhaled and exhaled through his mouth. The doctor checked Sam’s chest and said there was a big improvement over last week when he checked.
Debbie the physical therapist was in on Wednesday working with Sam and she was so happy to see so much improvement in him. It’s a little harder for Erin to notice the improvements because she is with Sam so much, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that Debbie was so impressed by Sam’s improvements. Sam was moving his left arm better on Wednesday even compared to Monday. They were working on hand signals that Sam could use, like the “thumbs up” signal. He did it a little bit but sort of lost interest after a while. His ball handling skills are still improving though.
Debbie came in around 8:30 a.m. and Sam was still a little sleepy, but by 9:30 a.m. when Erin arrived he was wide awake. He went back to sleep around 4:00 p.m. and Erin is hoping he will wake up later in the evening and then go to sleep around 9:00 p.m. and sleep through the night.
Erin brought out their DVD player today, put headphones on Sam and let him watch his favorite movie which is a Samurai film from Japan. She said he watched the whole thing and didn’t even fall asleep.
A place for families to stay: Today Erin moves into the Fisher House which is just across the street from Sam on the Palo Alto VA Hospital campus. You can actually see the Fisher House from his room in the polytrauma center at the hospital. The Fisher House is a large building with a home-like atmosphere where families of wounded troops can stay for free while their soldier or marine is being treated at the VA hospital. Previously Erin was staying at a hotel about 10 miles south of the hospital in Mountain View.
There are 38 Fisher Houses built with 5 more under construction. Fisher Houses are built on the grounds of most major military and VA medical centers around the world. They are the responsibility of the VA, but are run as non-profit organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Please see their web site for more information and ways to contribute to this worthy cause.
We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.