There’s a new bill that was just referred to the Committee on Veterans Affairs by the Senate on 4/28/2008 called The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 S.2921. There isn’t much information out on the bill as of yet, but it is endorsed by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). The legislation was introduced to the Senate by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here is a summary of the bill:
A bill to require pilot programs on training and certification for family caregiver personal care attendants for veterans and members of the Armed Forces with traumatic brain injury, to require a pilot program on provision of respite care to such veterans and members, and for other purposes.
The bill sounds like a perfect fit for people like Erin. There are so many more wives and family members out there in the same situation. I’ll keep you updated on this legislation.
Sam’s medical status: On Saturday my wife Julie and I went down to Kentfield to visit Sam and Erin. Sam has another bacterial infection which doesn’t seem to be too big of an issue. A little silver lining to this situation is that he’ll have his own room for a while. He’s now in room 118 if you’re thinking about visiting. The rooms are pretty small in this hospital, so now friends and family will have a little bit of elbow room when they visit. He also has to wear a mask when he’s out of the room so you may see some pictures of him with his face covered if he’s out of the room in his wheel chair.
The picture’s that I’m sharing with you today were taken on Saturday. Erin had just shaved Sam’s face. She handed him the brush and told him to brush his hair which he gladly did. I was very surprised at how well he moved it around his head. The only problem he had was moving the brush over to the far left side of his head.
In the other photo, Erin is talking to Sam and asking him to complete her sentences. I was standing about five or six feet away from him and actually heard very clearly some of the words he was saying. Other times, Erin had to get her ear right up next to his mouth to hear him—but, he is still doing so well.
Erin noticed something very interesting during all her question and answer sessions with Sam. It seems he has about a two year gap in his memory. For example he doesn’t remember that they bought a new car a few years back—He still thinks they have their truck. He also didn’t remember being promoted to Sergeant. The most interesting thing…he doesn’t remember how he got hurt. Erin said he thinks he was home when he got in his accident. I guess for now, it’s better that he doesn’t remember what really happened.
On Friday Erin sent me a photo from her cell phone of Sam taking a ride in a motorized wheel-chair. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the photo, but the next time he takes it out for a spin, I’ll have her send me another photo and I’ll post it in the FLICKR strip. This particular wheel chair didn’t have all the neck and back support that his regular wheel chair has, but Erin said he was doing really well keeping his neck and trunk upright. He also did pretty well at moving himself around after Erin gave him instructions. Another step towards independence!
Of course, my favorite part of the day was watching Erin kissing and hugging Sam. He’s pretty good at kissing her and now he can get his right arm around her and give her a really nice hug back. I wish I could bottle up the love these two share with each other. Regardless of Sam’s difficultly in speaking, there is no lack of communication between these two young people.
From Erin as of Tuesday May 6th:
As of today Sam is back in room 129. The bacteria that bought him a private room is gone and a new patient with a different bug came in today, kicking Sam back to his old room. It’s not bad, but he was able to rest a lot better without a roommate.
Sam had a very verbal day today. during his mid-day break, I asked him what he wanted to do and he said,”go to sleep.” I think this was the first phrase he said without repeating after me. I’ve started asking him open-ended questions instead of yes and no, and he’s really stepping it up. I’m able to understand more and more of what he’s saying, and his voice is coming out more and more. He sounds like a frog. he’s so cute.