My wife gets a newsletter every month from the Vietnam Veterans of America Sacramento Valley – Chapter 500. I mentioned in one of my first blogs that my wife is a military bugler and occasionally plays taps at military funerals. She has also played on a few occasions at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in downtown Sacramento for the annual “Reading of the Names” on Memorial Day.
This organization has been very good to my family. In December of last year, my wife and I were invited to their annual Christmas party. At that time, the President of the VVA chapter, Ted Adams and the Executive Director, Mary Lou McNeill presented my wife and me with a check to help cover travel cost to visit Sam and Erin. They also have a section in their newsletter and in their web site with updates on Sam’s medical progress.
I’ve always been so impressed with the people involved in the Sacramento VAA Chapter 500. Both my wife and I were very humbled by their generosity and by their long term commitment to supporting ALL veterans of our military. In their newsletter, there is a motto that really says it all:
Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.
Sam’s medical status: Sam is settling back in at Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital. He is starting to mouth words like he did before getting so sick. He’s also going to be getting a larger dose of bromocriptine, so hopefully he will be progressing quickly in his speech therapy this week. For the most part, Erin can say a word and he will repeat it.
Even though Sam wasn’t up to par last week, He did well in physical therapy. On Thursday he was able to sit at the edge of the therapy bench for 23 seconds without support from anyone. He was also up in his wheel chair from around 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. Both his trunk and neck strength continue to improve.
Either this week or the next, Sam will be getting a Baclofen Pump. This device will hopefully help with the spasticity issues in his right leg. Right now, when he tries to move his leg, it stiffens up. The other benefit to the pump is that it stores and releases prescribed amounts of medicine at a steady level without the patient feeling the roller coaster effect that is common with taking medicine orally.
With the Baclofen Pump and Sam being taken off Claritin, (it was thought that he had allergies, but but they now think it was GERD) he will be off all medicine that has any type of sedating effect.
A few words from Sam’s father Eric who visited them on Thursday:
I’m writing this morning about Erin as I had the pleasure of visiting with them on Thursday and got to watch Erin take care of Sam in person…She gave him a military type haircut which seems simple in itself…(I remember it only taking about 90 seconds back when) Ha! Erin spent at least 30 minutes on Sam’s haircut and not just because she is inexperienced. She is a self admitted perfectionist and challenges herself to do the best job possible. As she cuts, she consults with Sam and asks what he wants and likes even down to how close the clipper head will cut. She is careful to blend it just so that it fades perfectly from one length to another. She takes into consideration the shape of his head and how it will look in 3 days…After she is finished she meticulously cleans all the bits of hair from his head, neck, and back of which there is very little as she has draped him in a hospital gown and towel…She cleans and oils the clipper for the next time…Finally she uses a Neutrogena after shave moisturizing product that soothes the freshly hewn and closely cut parts…Next Sam gets a manicure of sorts to keep any sharp edges from scratching himself. After his grooming he is refreshed, relaxed, and looks great! He feels better too and is ready for speech therapy…He doesn’t say anything to Gayle, his speech therapist, but reads several words and shows he is thinking clearly by answering some deductive reasoning questions…After some encouragement from Erin and I, he answers a question I put to him…”Who loves ya Sam?” He clearly answers, “Dad!”…My day is made and I leave promising to return on Sunday for his next set of words…Erin and I get some very subtle but definite smiles from him this day….
“Keeping the Faith”