Sam’s medical status: Friday morning the therapist team did a CRS-R (Coma Recovery Scale-Revised) evaluation on Sam. When he first arrived at Palo Alto, they did a CRS scan on him and he was a “2”. Today he was a “9” on the scale. I believe the scale runs from 0 to 23 and there are six sub-scales that are scored—auditory, visual, motor, oromotor, communication and arousal processes. The scale is used to check or monitor the more subtle improvements that occur with a patient that is coming out of a coma. That was all very good news for Erin because she said that all the therapist and doctors involved were very upbeat and excited about Sam’s recent progress since he has been in Palo Alto.
Although Sam still has a long way to go, he’s starting to move around a lot more on his own—just regular fidgeting like moving his left arm or leg just to change positions in the bed. He’s still behind on his right side, but that stands to reason because that is the side of his body that received the bigger wounds in his arm, thigh and calf. Remember, he came very close to having his right leg amputated in his early days in at the Bethesda NNMC.
Next week the therapist want to try to get Sam in a more upright sitting position. Once that is accomplished, they want to get him into a wheelchair and a little more mobile. They will be using some sort of sling device to raise him up and down safely out of the bed.
I’ll be visiting Sam and Erin today, so I’ll be able to give you my personal observation in my next post which should be on Monday.
Sacramento Bee Update: Anita Creamer will be writing an update on Sam in the Scene section of the Bee sometime next week, so keep a look out for that article. I’m not sure the exact date the article will appear but she wanted to get it in early next week.
Our responsibility: One of the realities of the war in Iraq is the tens of thousands of U.S. troops that have been wounded. The web site GlobalSecurity.org puts the total US wounded at 27,004 as of September 27th 2007. Please click on their REFERENCES link to determine how those numbers are estimated as there are many variables involved in the count. In the Vietnam war about 65 percent of the wounded troops were saved. In our current conflict, 90 percent of the troops survive their injuries. Many of these are severe injuries like amputations (which almost happened to Sam’s right leg), traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has been said that brain injuries are quickly becoming the “signature injury of the Iraq war”. More than 4,000 U.S. veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan war have been diagnosed with some type of brain injury, with most coming from either gunshot wounds or IED’s.
July 24th was Sam’s “Alive Day”. This is the day he cheated death—his second birthday so to speak. Because of the incredible job our corpsmen, nurses and doctors are doing, many service men and women are experiencing their “Alive Day” instead of dying in the battlefield.
When we send our young men and women off to war, we need to realize two basic facts: many will never come back and many will come back wounded—and sometimes severely wounded. In the case of PTSD and TBI, the wounded troops may look very normal, but they will have hidden injuries that will last a lifetime.
I’ve made it my policy to maintain a non-political blog, and I want to continue that policy because my focus is on Sam and Erin. But, I also want to continue to publicize all the wonderful organizations that help our military in this time of great need and all the wonderful people we meet a long this journey. I also feel a responsibility to educate people on our wounded troops since that reality is now so much a party of my families life. The press lets us know how many have died (3,727 as of 9/27/2007) due to combat related injuries, but we don’t hear much about the the wounded.
We have a new generation of veterans who are filling our VA hospitals at an alarming rate. It is our responsibility to get to know these brave men and women who’s lives will be forever changed. We have a responsibility to honor these men and women who volunteered to be in the military, knowing full well they would be sent to a combat zone. We have a responsibility to give these wounded hero’s the best possible medical care.
There is an HBO documentary that looks at the lives of ten of these wounded soldiers and marines. The documentary is called Alive Day Memories – Home from Iraq. The soldiers and marines talk about their “alive day” in a very frank, heartfelt manner and how their lives have been permanently changed. I’ll have to be honest with you—the documentary was very difficult for me to watch! The documentary is non-political and allows you to draw your own conclusions about what you see. I think every American should watch this documentary. It is our responsibility to know and to understand in the deepest part of our gut, what these brave men and women are going through for our country. If you look at the bar chart at the GlobalSecurity.org web site, you’ll see that every month about 500-600 wounded are added to the list. Pray for our military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and pray for all these wounded soldiers, marines, sailors and airman—and please, let’s not forget them.