The Brain Trauma Vets

“We are facing a massive mental health problem as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a country, we have not responded adequately to this problem. Unless we act urgently and wisely, we’ll be dealing with an epidemic of service-related psychological wounds for years to come.”

–Bobby Muller, President Veterans For America

I read a very thoroughly researched document by Conn Hallinan describing traumatic brain injury as it relates to our service men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s fairly long, but briefly hits on all the major areas affecting our brain injured veterans.  The good news is that we are saving so many service members who have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I believe the ratio of deaths versus injuries is 1 to 17 (1 death per 17 injuries) in our current conflict.  In Vietnam it was a 1 to 3 ratio and in World War II it was a 1 to 1 ratio.  The bad news is that as these wars continue on and on with no end in sight, the count of brain injured veterans continues to grow.  Many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who were near IED blast don’t even know they sustained brain injury and the symptoms of their injury may not show up for years.  To read the complete story,  click here.

Sam’s medical status from Sam’s father Eric:

I spent the most uplifting day yesterday with Sam and Erin and am excited to relate the events to you…Sam has been having some seizures which are not all that uncommon with TBI’s.  It was confirmed this week by an EEG which showed some seizure activity in his left frontal lobe. This is the area that controls the speech
process…(not the speech content; for we know that he is totally cognizant of what he wants to say) but the actual mechanical process of delivering the message. It’s a standard operating procedure to give a patient a tranquilizer of sorts (something in the Valium family) after a seizure to relax the area of the brain affected and allow them adequate time for rest. They should become sleepy and at very least a little groggy. Three separate times, the exact opposite has occurred. He became very “awake” and quite chatty. His primary care physician got to witness both a seizure and the episode after, so She and Erin decided upon a test to see if it would happen again. Yesterday at approx 1:30pm they gave him a dose of this medicine and he then went right to physical therapy. He was groggy and even a little weak as he stood in the standing frame, responding slowly to the techs, but as usual to Erin…towards the end of the session, as the meds seem to be absorbed and “kick in”, he seem to become much more animated.

sam and erin trying to look cool_kentfield_8_22_08 By the time he was back in his chair and headed back to his room for speech therapy, he was fully awake. Katie, the speech therapist was so impressed and commented his improvement was at least 50% over her last session with him…His doctor asked to be paged at this time and she arrived and immediately became interested in his apparent progress…She asked Sam a lot of questions, sometimes with Erin’s help; but he answered with his voice! She asked him what year it was and he answered 2005. Oops. She asked him if he knew where he was and at first he said a house, but later changed it to hospital. My brother Greg and my son Donny both called yesterday during this time and got to hear Sam say hello to them on the phone. While I was standing away from Sam and Erin and finishing my conversations, Erin asked who that man was and he said, “My Dad”. She asked him what was he doing here, and he answered without hesitation, “Talking on the phone”. Ha!

Erin called this reaction a paradox…a mysterious outcome, or a result not expected from the stimulus given him. Of course it is…but from where? An accident or a coincidence? That I don’t believe. Erin and I discussed this last week when he first had the seizures and his talkative time right after. We surmised then that the Holy Spirit was at work, stirring him for another great advancement. Don’t get me wrong; I take nothing away from the doctors and all of the medical professionals. I so admire them and absolutely feel they are God’s instruments here on Earth. The love and care they put into their work is just awe invoking to me and I will forever be in their debt. BUT, I also refuse to share God’s credit and glory with the doctors. If it hadn’t been for the seizures, they wouldn’t have given an already sleepy patient tranquilizers; so I dare to hear someone say that God isn’t in control of all of Sam’s care and rehab…Oooh, that sounds kind of mean, but I know this as well as I know anything else…

The infectious disease doctor was in to talk about Sam’s recurring infections. He thinks after much testing and bouts with antibiotics, that Sam may have a very small piece of infected shrapnel in his abdomen somewhere; or the bacteria may be hiding of all places in his prostate…Again, I emphasize that in Jeremiah 32:27 it says; “Behold, I am the Lord, Is anything too difficult for me?” and these problems although severe are nothing for the creator of the universe…Sam said yesterday that he wants 3 children and a 4 bedroom house so I believe on that faith, God will move to protect his prostate. That is my prayer of the week…Will you join me in that?

It is such a joy to visit with Sam and Erin and I always come away with much more than I bring. Erin was jazzed yesterday and highly encouraged, and to see her beaming smile just made my weekend. We laughed, we prayed, we celebrated Sam’s great favor with God and men…They had gotten me a large volume with 3 books by my favorite author for Father’s day, and Sam handed it to me, said Happy Father’s day and hugged me. Tears well up when I think of all of their challenges and they have the love to take the time to honor me…I can only think and say a big thank you to God for the privilege of being this boy’s father…

Until next time, Much Love…



4 Responses to The Brain Trauma Vets

  1. Carol says:

    Eric, Erin, Sam and families
    YES we will join you in prayer for the specific needs mentioned.
    I see GOD all over this report, HE IS and will continue to heal and
    restore Sam. I can only imagine how challenging this journey is for all of you
    but know daily we pray for all of you. Keep looking up, God alway has and still is in the
    miracle working business.

  2. Nicola says:

    I’m so pleased to read the progress Sam has made this past week- way to go Sam!
    It’s amusing to me reading Sam’s reaction to his post seizure medicine- I think my husband had a similar reaction to a sedative he was given. I got the feeling that the medical profession thought I was mad to suggest it, but I really think the sleeping aid helped, and Sam’s reaction somewhat makes me hold even firmer to that belief.
    You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  3. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Oh yeah, this one made me cry. Your posts always have a way of doing that to me! 🙂 Faith and patience – holy cow if they could only bottle that stuff up, so you can take extra doses when you need them! What a gift it must be to see Erin’s beaming smile! Way to go guys! More miles traveled on your journey. God is GOOD – HE is with you all – HE WILL see Sam to full restoration.

    Loved the new pics of Sam too. Sam, even though you have a Yankees hat on, I still think that you’re the greatest 🙂 It’s all about the Red Sox baby!! Tee hee hee.

    Please know and never ever forget that thoughts, prayers, support and load upon load of Angel Hugs are always being sent your way – each and every day. God bless you Sam, Erin, Eric, Tony & Families. Oh and saying extra prayers for a healthy prostrate too.

  4. Lynne says:

    You all give me such faith and hope that all will turn out well with Sam. My oldest son is deployed to Afghanistan right now in harm’s way. I pray his wife and the rest of us will have the strength Erin and Sam’s parents demonstrate every day. if something happens to Gabe. God bless you all and Semper Fi!

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