In my September 27th blog post, I mentioned the Fisher House that provides a room for Erin to stay on the grounds of the VA hospital in Palo Alto where Sam is being cared for. This organization has been a God-send to Erin and many other families who have wounded warriors in the VA hospital. But when Sam and Erin were at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda Maryland, our family had to fly across the country to see Erin and Sam. But, I am happy to say that during that time frame, no one in Sam or Erin’s family had to pay for their round-trip airline ticket from Sacramento to Bethesda. There are a couple of charitable organizations that coordinate with the military to provide free airfare for the families of wounded warriors. One of those programs, called Hero Miles, is a special program offered through the Fisher House.
There are two categories of eligible recipients:
If you are interested in donating miles from a participating airline, Click here for more information from the Fisher House – Hero Mile web site.
Correction to my last blog: In my last blog post, I mentioned that Navy Corpsman Doc Hanson came to visit Sam and Erin. I also mentioned erroneously that Doc Hanson was the first person to give Sam medical treatment and probably saved his life. It was actually Doc Couhie who treated Sam who was in the second vehicle that was hit by an IED. Doc Hanson was treating the Marines in the first vehicle.
Sam’s medical status:
Monday December 3rd, 2007: Sam didn’t have pink eye as was suspected yesterday; it was more of a sweat gland issue. He still is getting a fever towards the evening hours, but they believe it has to do the the TBI more than anything else. Erin was joking yesterday that every time she leaves the room Sam’s temperature seems to go up. Not sure what to make of that.
Even though Erin said Sam is having pain issues with his backside, the therapist are going to try to get Sam up and out of bed in some form or fashion today. Erin said Sam wants to try to get out of bed, so that is a good sign. He’s still having headache issues in the late afternoon and evening, but I’m sure that is also a part of the TBI fallout.
As part of the TBI protocol in the polytrauma unit at the VA hospital, the therapist have been giving Sam some type of assessment test (Erin doesn’t know the name, but it’s not the GRS or CRS test that I have described in past blog entries) and Erin said Sam is actually scoring at a higher level than can be scored…or giving responses that are more sophisticated than can be scored on the test. I’ll ask Erin to find the actual name of the test.
Erin continues to make more paper cut-outs of various things like fruit and other objects and playing matching games with Sam to ensure his cognitive skills continue to improve. She was just thinking about getting one of those magnetic boards with letters to see if Sam might be able to spell words. The current alphabet board is a little difficult for Sam to use because his right hand gets the shakes pretty bad while he is trying to point to various letters.
Sunday December 2nd, 2007: Sam’s had a fever of around 100 the last two days. He may have pink eye. Working with the alphabet board, Sam spelled out the names “Dad” (his father, Eric, was in the room) and then “Nichols”. Erin (who came up to Sacramento on Saturday for her birthday) asked Sam if he remembered that she was not there yesterday and Sam indicated that he did remember her not being there and also that he remembered that she came to visit him later in the evening when she returned. The reason I mention and continue to mention things like this, is because they are very good signs that he is remembering things from day to day; a very good sign for someone with severe TBI.
Saturday December 1st, 2007: Today Erin took off her Dr. Erin hat and came up to Sacramento to celebrate her birthday with the family.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
– Albert Einstein