Sentinels of Freedom

February 26, 2011

sentinels of freedom In so many ways, the young men and women in our military who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are our Sentinels of Freedom…just like the men and women of fighting forces who have gone before them in other wars, they all stand up for all of us and fight for freedom and democracy around the world.  Without these brave warriors, there would be no General Motors, no Exxon, no Thanksgiving meals or no Fourth of July celebrations in the country we call our home, The United States of America.  And because our military medical technology has become so cutting edge, many of these warriors who died on the battlefield in previous wars are now making it home—many with severe injuries.  I would like to introduce you to an organization who understands that it is our responsibility as a nation to embrace these wounded veterans and assist in getting them back on the road to independence.  This organization is called Sentinels of Freedom and the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation.  From their “About Us” section of their website:

We believe it’s not just the governments responsibility to help our wounded and injured troops but each individual and corporation also has to look at their own responsibility in this national issue.

Since the beginning of this nation we have had men and women, young and old willing to stand up and protect our way of life through their selfless service in our Armed Forces.

They have grown up in our communities, gone to our schools, played on our ball fields, attended our churches. When they come home broken and bent we can do more that say ” It’s the governments responsibility”.

Any educated person can draw a direct line to our quality of life and that of those who serve us in our military. Simply put, it is an undeniable fact that without them we would not have a government, corporations, communities or the freedoms we enjoy today.

The VA and Military do an outstanding job but they simply can’t do what we can to assist those who have sacrificed for us when they return home. We bridge that gap.

Erin and Sam were introduced to the Sentinels of Freedom through the Marine Commander of the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, of which Sam is still assigned. I’ve mentioned in previous blog post that we sometimes call Erin, “Dr. Erin”, because she has become so familiar with the doctor and nurse jargon that she can have a conversation with a  neuropsychologist and can translate to the rest of us what they said.  Since Sam’s injuries, Erin has mentioned many times how she has wanted to go into the medical field in order to help veterans like Sam.  I am very proud to say that Erin is now in her second semester (junior year) in the speech pathology and audiology program at Sacramento State University.  She would like to get her bachelor’s degree and also go to grad school and get her master’s in speech pathology.  Erin’s schooling is being sponsored by the Sentinels of Freedom who are paying for her tuition, books and even her rent.  I haven’t seen a more dedicated and motivated student—as can be seen by her 4.0 grade point average from last semester.

2_7_2011_Uncle Sam loves his niece Holly As for Sam, he is very healthy and is still making some small improvements.  There was a little accident in mid January while he was in physical therapy using the standing frame.  The therapist and Erin noticed Sam, who never complains of pain, was indeed making some grimaces like he was hurting while they had him in a standing position.  They asked him to rate his pain, 1 to 10, and he said it was a 9 out of 10!  It turns out that due to low bone density, Sam actually broke a bone in his foot.  He is currently in a boot and taking vitamin D and calcium supplements.  They are also taking him outside to get more sun during the day.  He is working on the tilt table five days a week to help strengthen his bones and also has an appointment in eight weeks to get his foot rechecked at the Mather VA Hospital.

Other significant improvements since my last blog post—Sam’s vision has improved significantly.  He is able to complete more complex vision therapy task.  His concentration in all aspects of his physical, vision and occupational therapy have really improved which has led to greater strides overall in Sam’s physical and mental well being.

A good side affect of the foot breaking incident was that the drug he was taking, Vicodin, which normally can make a person drowsy, actually relaxed his muscles more and allowed him to speak much more clearly and more often.  His doctor is working with prescribing him Adivan which should have the same affect as the Vicodin and allow his throat to relax, making it easier for him to speak.

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Who do we idolize?

July 23, 2009

I happen to be the same age as Michael Jackson, so I grew up listening to the Jackson 5 and to a lesser degree, Michael Jackson as a solo act.  I thought he was a very good singer and dancer, but I never bought any of his records or went to see him in concert.  I only bring him up because it frustrates me to no end seeing how people idolize celebrities as a whole.  There is still nightly news cast about all the controversy surrounding his life and death.  But where is the news about our military as they continue to fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan?  These are the men and woman who have volunteered to put their lives on the line to fight for our country.  They continue to get wounded and many still die on a daily basis.  They don’t have a fancy glove on their hand or do the moon walk.  They only pledge their lives to their country and many give the ultimate sacrifice.   There is usually a small article in the local newspaper or a 30 second blurb on the local news.  Our national and local news media are letting us down.  They spend hours filming Michael Jackson’s hearse as it makes it’s way through bumper to bumper traffic in Los Angeles, but has little to nothing about a soldier who gave his life for our country.  And to the general public– Michael Jackson is much more interesting.

 

sam at kinseys 1st birthday party

Sam’s Medical Status:   A few weeks ago Sam was able to go to the 1st birthday party for Kinsley who is the daughter of Amanda and Brian.  Amanda has been very close friends with both of my daughters for over 20 years and she has been like a daughter to me.  Sam arrived in a wheelchair accessible van and stayed at the party for about four hours.  Kinsley is so good with Sam and loves it when he tickles her feet.  As you can see, she is absolutely gorgeous.

We hope to get Sam out more often as it seems to really stimulate his brain.  When Sam officially gets discharged from the Marines (yes, he is still a Marine assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion out of Camp Pendleton) he will receive a new wheelchair accessible van from the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.  Until then, Erin is being supplied with a van from the Wounded Warrior Project.  She took Sam out for a ride this morning along with one of the therapist from CareMeridian.

Sam was released from Sutter Roseville Hospital yesterday morning after being admitted last Friday with Drug Resistant Pseudomonas in his lungs. His temperature soared to nearly 106 degrees.  He remained in the hospital for five days after being put on IV antibiotics which he will remain on for about two weeks. His temperature went down after a couple days, and he is now feeling much better.  He is happy to be back at CareMeridian where he can be out of his bed and in his wheelchair spending time with Erin and the staff and residents.


IAVA: Stronger Together

July 1, 2009

Help the IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN VETERANS of AMERICA reach 4000 views of their newest recruitment video by July 4th.  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation’s first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans.

Sam’s Medical Status: 

In our last update to the blog, I mentioned that Sam was at Sutter Roseville Emergency.  He was there for 4 days before being released back to CareMeridian in Granite Bay.  He was given a PICC line at the hospital to allow him to receive antibiotics intravenously.  By the time he left the hospital his temperature was back to normal.  He had a few more days where his temperature went up slightly, but nothing that would cause alarm.

There has been a few very nice improvements in Sam’s recovery lately.  Eric mentioned in the last blog post that Sam was sucking on a dum-bum sucker which is very cool.  Last week during therapy, Sam was asked to grab his left leg (he hasn’t had any movement with Granite Bay_6_30_2009either his left hand, arm or leg since getting injured).  Without any encouragement, Sam reached for his left leg using both his right and left arm!  It wasn’t a lot of movement with his left arm, but a significant movement for him.  Later while my wife Julie was with him, he lifted up his left arm again.  Erin told me on the phone last night that he is getting more aware of his left side.  For example, he’s been moving his left arm with his right hand to position it.  His frustration level with his left side not working seems to be increasing…a good sign that he is aware of his disability and his brain is working to get things moving again.

Another really exciting improvement has been with Sam’s short term memory.  Erin is always working on Sam’s memory skills and he is very good at remembering things from 2 years ago and beyond, but not so much with more recent events.  For example, the day after Sam and Erin went to see the new star trek Eric and Wendy_6_30_2009movie, he didn’t remember going.  But—recently Erin asked Sam what big news occurred in my younger daughter’s life and he remembered that she recently told him she was pregnant (Julie and I will be grandparents for the first time!).  He’s also been remembering other big events like his father Eric getting married a few weeks ago to Wendy.  By the way, Eric met Wendy thought this blog.  Wendy is an RN from St. Louis…she came across Sam’s blog one day and started leaving occasional notes.  Eventually Eric started noticing her beautiful faith filled comments and encouragement she was giving Sam and Erin.  They started emailing each other, eventually met, and now are married!  I’m sure there’s more interesting details to the story, so I’ll let Eric make any corrections or additions where needed.

Peace and Love to all,

Tony


Supporting our troops is an action not a slogan

June 13, 2009

tweet_to_remind_300x200Back in November of 2008 I read a heartwarming story in the Sacramento Bee of the homecoming of Army Spc. Trevor Hogue who made it back home to Granite Bay California from the Middle East.  All of Trevor’s family came to the Sacramento Airport to greet him and all were very excited to be there to greet him.  The article mentioned an older gentleman who, out of the blue, came up to thank Trevor for his service to our country.  I remember the article brought tears to my eyes. 

Trevor had just come back from spending 15 months in Baghdad and part of his assignment included driving a Humvee through the most dangerous part of the city.  Although Trevor came back from Iraq uninjured, he witnessed unthinkable horror when half of his platoon was blown up before his very eyes.  On June 11th, Trevor took own his life.  He was 24 years old.  Because Trevor’s death occurred after his discharge, his death is not included in the statistics for those killed in the war in Iraq.  Our hearts and prayers are with the Hogue family.

1.65 million U.S. service members have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11. More than 35,000 service members have been physically wounded. It is estimated that more than 320,000 have sustained traumatic brain injuries and more than 300,000 have psychological wounds.

I don’t know about you, but when I walk down the street, I don’t see our injured service members.  Where is the guy with TBI or the guy with PTSD?  But you know what?…they are out there and they need our support!  Bob Woodruff of ABC’s "World News Tonight" and his wife Lee have taken on the challenge of reminding us that it is our job as American’s to take action in supporting our wounded warriors.  At their website remind.org , the banner reads “Support Our Troops”  is no longer a slogan. It’s an action.  They are trying to raise 1.65 million dollars, a goal which symbolizes 1 dollar for every soldier who has served since 9/11.  Their goal is to raise the money by July 4th Independence Day.  Won’t you TAKE ACTION in supporting our injured service members? 

From Lee Woodruff:
”Remember, no matter what you think about the war, this is about the warrior. It is about showing gratitude to the soldiers who left to serve and need help now that they are home. And it is about how we can come together as citizens, as neighbors, as a community and as a nation. The people who selflessly served are asking for our help, and helping is easier than ever.”

Returning to Normal Life: 

Before you read Eric’s (Sam’s dad) update on Sam, which he emailed to me a few days ago, I wanted to give you some up-to-the-minute news about Sam.  This morning at about 5:45AM we received a text message from Erin saying that Sam was being transported by ambulance from CareMeridian in Granite Bay to Sutter Roseville Emergency because he had a temperature of 105.  It’s about 8PM now and Sam has been admitted to the hospital for observation over the weekend.  He has a UTI that may have gone into his kidneys and possibly a mild case of pneumonia. His temperature was back down to normal about noon, and he seems to be doing well, but please pray for him.  PS:  the hospital staff at Sutter Roseville have been reminded by my wife Julie (over and over again) that they are taking care of a war hero…they have been wonderful to Sam and Julie said they are treating him like gold! 🙂

Tony (Erin’s dad)

Sam_June_2009 Sam’s journey thus far would not have been possible without God working through Erin. I’ve reported her drive and perseverance many times in my updates, and I know you can guess how we all feel about Erin. The love she shows my son is so moving, and motivational. Her desire is that Sam re-enter life, no matter what that looks like right now. Sam got to see his first movie at the local theatre this last Wednesday, accompanied by Erin of course, Donny, & Brandi. A wheel chair van was ordered at the appropriate time, delivered Sam to the theatre, and picked them up after for return to Care Meridian. No sushi bar yet, (one of Sam’s favorites) but that is coming. They saw Star Trek, and Sam seemed to enjoy himself. He didn’t remember the movie a few days later, but that is coming too…Friday he went to Supercuts to visit a friend that has cut his hair, (and the rest of us as well) for many years. See the picture taken last Saturday of his regulation haircut. He’s looking really sharp! One of his next outings will be a trip to my house with his brothers and family in lollypop_sam_june_2009 attendance. He grew up here and it should be very familiar for him. Erin continues to challenge him with conversation, questions, and trivia. She was telling him about the national spelling bee that she had watched, and he asked, "What was the championship word?" Sam has always been an outstanding speller, so Erin asked him to spell some of the words that the top 5 contestants went down spelling. To our amazement he spelled most of them with 100% accuracy. The shot of him getting to eat a dum-dum sucker in conjunction with speech therapy, is very exciting. He hasn’t been able to eat anything except by tube for the last 23 months. Erin said he loved the lollypop and I’m sure that eating will be just around the corner as well.

God Bless you all for your continued prayers on their behalf; for the notes of encouragement, the visits, and the interest in their progress. You are all an inspiration to me and the entire Nichols’ and Neria families…

Much Love,
Eric


Citizen Support for our Troops

April 29, 2009

america supports you

This weekend my wife Julie and I had the pleasure of visiting Sam and Erin at the VA Polytrauma Center in Palo Alto.  They are settling in very nicely at the VA Hospital.  As Eric mentioned in a previous blog, Sam is in a very spacious room that looks out at the Fisher House where Erin is staying.  The Fisher House is also very beautifully decorated and is such a blessing to the families of the wounded troops at the VA hospital.  I’m always so humbled by the organizations who come to the VA hospital to support the troops.  When Sam was in physical therapy a group of Air Force Reservist came in just to visit with Sam for a while and to let him know they appreciate the sacrifice he has made for his country.  Outside the newly completed dayroom at the Polytrauma Center, a group of volunteers from the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church were busy updating the landscaping in the courtyard outside.  Erin went on line and applied to get a specially adapted home built for her and Sam through  Homes for Our Troops and within 15 minutes of sending her application, she received a phone call from one of the volunteers in that organization telling her they received her application and looked forward to working with her. 

Besides keeping you updated on Sam and Erin, I’ve tried to use this blog as a way of highlighting all the wonderful organizations out there who are watching out for our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (many of them being veterans of Korea and Vietnam).  There is a Department of Defense website called America Supports You that list many different ways we can support our troops.  The website list ways to donate to support organizations, phone cards, care packages, help for the wounded, military family support, and on and on.  Please take some time to look over their website.   You may be inspired to donate or even volunteer your time to one of these worthy organizations. 

Beyond Manners & Etiquette: 
Sam and Erin smiling pretty_Palo Alto_4_25_2009 During a recent physical therapy session that Sam was involved in; another young patient with a frontal brain injury, playfully pulled the pony tail of the physical therapist that was administering Sam’s exercise. This young man was child like and meant no disrespect, but I could see the exasperation from the therapist as she gently, but firmly had to rebuke his inappropriate behavior. The young man had the presence of mind to apologize, but left rather rejected just the same. As Erin and I discussed the incident, we began to discuss Sam’s behavior around the therapists. I believe he is humbled by the amount of care that he must be given. At Wednesday’s P.T. session, they were still laughing about Tuesday’s hour of therapy. When Sam is moved from the chair to the mat or standing frame; he leans his head forward and puts his arm around the therapist (like a hug) so he can assist their muscling him into position. Tuesday as his arm came up around this tiny little Asian therapist, his hand became entangled in the short sleeve arm of her scrubs. As Sam tried to free his hand, he began to  tickle her, but since she was bearing a lot of his weight, she couldn’t do anything until he was seated. They laughingly told this story as they were preparing to move him so Sam was listening. The same little therapist was on duty, so Sam made a wide arc with his arm to ensure getting it on her back. He then gave her a little rub on her back to say thanks for all that you do. Erin says that he does that with the female therapists and for the gentlemen, he pats their back with a little more vigor. Even in this condition and state, I am so proud of the fact that he takes the time to aS&E Sitting Up Exercises_4_22_2009appreciate the people that work so diligently for him. Erin and I sat and spoke of him and his impeccable manners. He has always had them. Tony & Julie recognized it since the very first time they met Sam; complimenting him by saying he was a throwback to the 50’s. Sam and his brothers were always very much people oriented and compassionate; but since Sam reached adulthood, he blossomed into something much more. Erin uses the word chivalrous. I am not sure if it was the Marine Corps or something else that spurred that final transformation, but it must be true as so many have commented on it. Sam impressed a friend of mine the first time she had met him. He rose when she entered the room, introduced himself and Erin, and then would not sit down again until she was comfortably seated first. I would love to take credit for this remarkable behavior from all of my sons; but I just can’t in all good conscience. I believe that charisma that they all enjoy is a gift from God and a spirit of hospitality. If you are naturally well liked by all you come in contact with; then how much simpler is it to become the leader of people that we all know that Sam is?

Sam&ErinSpeechTherapy_4_22_2009 I wanted to include a few pictures to show and remind you all of Erin’s active involvement in all of Sam’s therapy. The first pic is of Sam practicing to sit up and to strengthen his lower back and core. Erin sits or lies directly in front of his face for motivation and encouragement. I’ve spoken in the past about her "kissing therapy" which still produces more results than any other. In fact, some teachers have incorporated it into their curriculum. The next picture is of Erin, Sam, and his speech pathologist as they practice swallowing response, word and phrase generation, and the like. If you look hard, you’ll see a watch supplied by his vision therapist. A conventional watch to look at, but it also has two buttons on it that will vocally tell you the time, day of the week, date, month, and year. She was asking Sam what year it was, and instead of answering verbally, he flashed 5 fingers and then 4 more to equal ’09…they are always tickled by his ingenuity. One evening Erin sent me a text to say that after their "good-night prayer", Erin asked Sam if "he was going to be better tomorrow?" He said "Yes", and then she asked "how much better?" His response is priceless to me is he said, "All the way"….Bravo Sam and Erin; That is the kind of faith statement that is going to propel him out of that place on his own 2 good legs. Erin reports that Sam may be suffering from allergies, as he is running a low grade temperature, but NO infection. She also reports that their insurance company has denied the bid to come to Granite Bay which is only 15 minutes from our house. It has to do with the VA and certifications, etc…, but God can easily intervene if that is the best place for Sam. Will you join me in that prayer for this week and that is to have God send him wherever he will have him…

Much love,
Eric


America’s Heroes at Work

August 25, 2008

image The U.S. Labor Department just recently launched a web site called America’s Heroes at Work to help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The web site is a collaborative effort with the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.  These three government agencies are working together in this effort to help veterans with TBI or PTSD transition back into the civilian workforce and local communities.

America’s Heroes at Work provides various resources, including fact sheets, reference guides and training tools to help employers integrate veterans with TBI and PTSD into the workplace.  To read more about this new service click here.

Sam’s medical status:
Courage, Honor, and Commitment are the buzz words belonging to the credo of The United States Marines. They are not idly adhered to; but taken very seriously as a way of life, standards by which they comport themselves, and to be a shining example to the nation. The Marines that practice and live by these words command our respect, our admiration, and even our love. And why not? These words are, and when implemented in the correct fashion, represent gifts from God to men. Scriptures are full of stories of courageous and honorable men and women. I don’t believe any thinking person would disagree that Sam and Erin display an incredible amount of courage and do it very honorably. Today I’d like to give you some observations about commitment that I’ve witnessed over the past year, few months, and just this last Saturday…

sam and frodo_lord of the rings I recently watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and especially “The Return of the King”. As you may remember, Frodo showed an amazing amount of courage and undaunting and incorruptible character in his quest to save the world from the impending evil. BUT, I’m afraid Frodo would have never made it without the love and commitment of his good friend Sam; (Yeah, the name cinched it for me) even evidenced by Sam carrying Frodo up the mountain in his last stretch of the quest. What powerful dedication to his friend and neighbor. What love exhibited on his many months long journey to his companion…Well, I submit to you a real life Lord of the Rings story and that is Sam and Erin.

Sam’s injuries were and are severe. So severe in fact that other people in similar circumstances gave up hope and retreated from the battles that lay ahead. Sam does fight the battles daily. It is an uphill climb, no an up-mountain climb everyday of his recovery. His current challenge is a series of focal seizures that plague and interfere with his rehab time, thereby slowing his progress. The doctors don’t seem overly concerned by this, although any seizure of the brain is serious and must be researched to it’s fullest extent. This finds Sam in the neurology department at the University of San Francisco Medical Center. An excellent hospital with a great reputation for it’s specialty departments. He is monitored with a 24 hour EEG, and is under constant observation by video. The picture is of Sam with several Sam in USF med center for EEG_8_23_08 electrodes literally glued to his head and face. Erin said the epoxy that they use burns a little when applied. He is also under the standard protocol of oxygen while he is there. Erin was reading him some of the questions on the hospital admission forms and one of them went like this. “Have you been hurt physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially by anyone in the past 6 months? Sam replied, Yeah! When Erin asked by whom, he replied, “By that guy!”, referring to the tech that was applying the electrodes. Ha! This is how Sam faces his challenges. With courage, dignity, and a little humor thrown in for good measure. I believe strongly that God has him in San Francisco for a great reason and it can only be a good one. Nothing can separate Sam from God’s love so this hurdle will be like all the others.

Even though Sam confronts all tasks with all the boldness of being a Marine; now he must rely on another (just as Frodo did) and that’s Erin. She is the one who pushes him to excel in his physical therapy, encourages him and reminds him when his memory fails him, and even carries him when he just can’t make the last few steps to a goal. Erin was trying to get Sam to exclaim some faith and asked him who was healing him…He said “You are”…and although she was trying to get Sam to give God the credit, she just didn’t realize how accurate he was. There is no doubt in my mind that Erin’s steadfastness to Sam is a direct pipeline, and tapped into the Lord most High. I’m not even sure a person is capable of that kind of commitment without the strength and power coming for God himself. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. My boys have already pointed out my similarity to Gandolph, The Gray in those movies. For those of you that know me, I’ve been gray for many years. Ha!

Donny visited last week right before Sam went to SF…he had been drinking a Dr Pepper in a plastic bottle and had a little bit left when he got there. He gave Sam the bottle to play with and Sam wanted to drink the remainder of the soda. Donny removed the cap and Sam downed the last few drops. He wanted it all and squeezed the plastic of the bottle to move those last few drops around and get them. The RN on duty was very excited and calculated at least 7 different cognitive moves. She hadn’t seen him in a while and ran to record her observation.

Erin’s commitment to Sam is and will be legendary; and Sam’s commitment to her is also apparent. Erin asked him recently why he works so hard in physical therapy, even when he didn’t feel well? His answer is priceless…”Because I love you so much”!

Much love,
Eric

“I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind, and I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart.”

Sam Gamgee – The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings)


Pentagon to spend $300M for study of TBI and PTSD

August 6, 2008

erin beaver creek wounded warrior project spa weekend_edited-1

Wounded Warrior Project:  The above picture was taken at The Charter Hotel at  Beaver Creek, Colorado.  Erin and 18 other wives of wounded Marines and Soldiers were invited to this weekend get-away by the Wounded Warrior Project.  As with the recent trip Erin took to the Brain Injury Association of American Caregivers Conference in Dallas/Ft Worth, all expenses for this trip were paid by the Wounded Warrior Project.  The picture above is a little small, so if you’re having trouble finding Erin, she is kneeling in the front row, third from the left.

Erin had a wonderful time in Beaver Creek.  She said she was really able to connect with all these girls and wishes she had more time to get to know more of them.  The girls were given facials, massages and participated in group therapy sessions.  When we texted Erin on Friday night, she said she was having a great time at the “pajama bunko” party.  One of the girls is going to start a MySpace page so that all of them can continue to stay connected.

If you are not already contributing to a charity that supports veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Project is a worthy cause.  They, along with the Marine Corps Semper Fi Foundation and Soldier’s Angeles were there waiting for Erin when she and Sam first arrived in Bethesda NNMC and they continue to be there for Sam and Erin and our whole family today.

DoD Research Funds for TBI and PTSD:  Wonderful news in the TBI research world.  The Pentagon is spending $300 million dollars for research related to TBI and PTSD.  This includes research on 20 different medications related to TBI.  When Erin was at the Brain Injury Association of America Caregivers Conference last week, she mentioned that many caregivers of non-military TBI patients we so thankful that the military TBI issues were giving all TBI research much needed publicity.  It’s estimated that 1.4 million Americans suffer from TBI each year—235,000 of those cases are serious enough to require hospital care (based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To read more on this topic, see this article from USA Today.

Sam’s medical status:

Good Evening All,

Erin lent her expertise to the “Wounded Warrior Battalion’s” workshop in Denver this past weekend; so it was Kelley’s and my distinct pleasure to sit and visit with Sam. On Saturday, Kelley took some friends with her that were so excited to be there and pray for Sam. I got the impression they were from a Spanish speaking church and were elated to hear Sam use his voice to talk to Erin by phone. They were blessed, but were a blessing to Sam as well. If we could ask for another prayer this evening; Sam’s Uncle, Rick Hendricks, collapsed at work today and was unresponsive for several hours…We immediately had dozens and dozens of spirit filled believers praying for him and he regained consciousness this evening. Sam in his own voice, “gargled” out this prayer: “Heavenly Father, In Jesus name, we call Rick the healed of God.” They are doing tests tonight to determine the cause of the incident but we are believing the same power that moves Sam along will restore Rick as well.

Sam had a fantastic week full of therapy sessions and tests. He has 3 successive EEG’s and no sign of any seizure activity…He is off of the stronger anti-convulsants and just takes one mild one for now…He doesn’t seem to be displaying severe symptoms of any iSam in PT_Kentfield_08_03_08infections either so it is full steam ahead for progress again. The therapists are jazzed to see him back in the “work mode” as he breaks his own record daily for sitting up unassisted. The first picture is of Sam sitting to rebuild the muscles in his core…After a few minutes, he began to tip sideways and he said, “Oh S_ _t! Ha! Erin and the therapists roared…Can’t get all the Marine out of the boy…Ha! The other picture during Physical Therapy is Erin giving him ample reason to work hard. A kiss for motivation…If you look hard you can see the Anniversary ring that Sam gave Erin for their 5th wedding anniversary. Erin was the envy of the nursing staff and they all wanted to know from Sam where their ring was…Sam was hilarious playing to their requests…The last picture is of Erin throwing some jabs at Sam with Sam & Erin Kissing_Kentfield_8_4_08his night time mitten. It is used to keep him from pulling out essential tubes and such…He is getting very fast with his response time in blocking her…

The last two days he didn’t want the T.V. on at all…he wanted some  reading done for him; and seemed quite content to hear some stories…he listened intently and interacted on several occasions…at one point I looked at him and he seemed to be deep in thought so I asked him what he was thinking about? He threw up his hand as if to say nothing or I don’t know…To be funny, I said while you’re sitting there why don’t you solve world hSam & Erin Boxing_kentfield_8_4_2008unger? Without missing a beat he slowly raised his hand to his chin  and began to stroke it in a very thoughtful way…What a character…Yesterday when I arrived I mentioned that maybe we could call Donny later. In about 30 minutes he initiated a phone call by making glasses with his fingers to indicate “Donny” and then did the phone thing to his ear…Erin says that is big for him to initiate that by himself…today he tried to reach behind himself for the pull chain for the overhead light…I doubt if I could have come any closer…

In a two or three week period here we have many celebrations to enjoy with Sam and Erin. His “alive day” (July 24th); Their 5th wedding anniversary (July 27th); and now Sam’s 24th birthday on August 12th…Last year he turned 23 in a coma in Bethesda Naval Hospital’s intensive care unit. Look where God has led him in just one year…Can you see in your mind where he will be on his 25th b’day? I am stating unequivocally that he will be walking and talking perfectly by then…Let me just say a word about their anniversary…My sister said that if you think you are in touch with your emotions, just try and tell someone how you feel about them with out thinking about it in advance…you stumble, stammer, and usually crash and burn…I talked to Erin about their anniversary and tried to delicately find out how her feelings had either been changed or does she do what she does because their love was so perfect before the accident? She did not stutter or hesitate; she said they were best friends, had become closer before the events of last year, and they both had always put each other needs before their own…As I choked down the lump in my throat; I could see it…just as she described it…100% accurate; borne out by actions and not just words…That is how God works; and He is working through Erin…

Much Love,
Eric