As reported by Nancy Jones, Chip’s wife
Nancy started writing her thoughts down when she first learned of Chip’s injury.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
After the shock wore off, I thought it would be good for me to release some of my pent up emotions by writing my thoughts and feelings as much as I can during this upcoming ordeal. I wish I could talk with the kids, but I worry that telling them too much will affect them in school and even disturb their sleep. They have enough to deal with without me adding my stress.
The Jones family life has changed so quickly. We suffered a tremendous shock and, what I feel is a devastating loss, when my husband and my kids father, the head of our family, was injured while on assignment in Afghanistan.
None of us wanted him to go, so it makes me even more mad that this happened. We need Chip here with us. We miss him so much.
At the time of the phone call, 10 hours after the actual injury occurred I received a phone call. (there is a 12.5 hour time difference between AZ and Kabul, Afghanistan). I have had recurring nightmares about a phone call saying there was trouble, so when I heard the man identify himself as being with the US medical team in Afghanistan, my mind flashed back to those bad dreams. I could barely comprehend what the man was saying. I felt my world collapse from under me and I couldn’t even think.
After I hung up the phone and started to sort out what was going on, my emotions came forth and I began to cry uncontrollably. After some time passed, I realized I needed to talk to someone. Instinctively I wanted to call my mom, but I knew the first call needed to be to Chip’s family. His dad, Walter, answered the phone. It was a little after 5 am and I was barely able to speak. Walter tried to ask me questions, but I burst into tears and couldn’t get any answers out. He said he’d come right over.
Walter and Sarah were at the house before 6 a.m. and the kids were still asleep. We sat in the family room and they both helped me control myself and realize they would be there to help. Walter, a former military officer, helped me understand what might be happening at the “war zone” hospital. He thought Chip would be taken there with injured servicemen and treated as a military person. This was both comforting and worrisome because I still don’t know how bad it is. Sarah insisted she and Walter take care of the children so I could go be with Chip. I know that is best, but I feel like I need to be with the kids at this time as well. I’m not sure I really want to go to Afghanistan even if they would allow me to!
At about 9:00 the phone rang again and my heart sank. It was someone from KQTR-TV, the company Chip was working for. They had information about the incident in Afghanistan and wanted to share it with me. I had Walter and Sarah get on the other line so we could all hear what they said.
Chip was being treated at the Combat Medical Unit and they were preparing him for transport to a regular hospital for service men. That would be in Germany. They said there were 4 servicemen, Chip and the reporter (Brad) all injured in that blast, but Chip seemed to get the worst of the injuries. They assured me that Chip would have good medical care and their medical insurance would help with the costs.
Walter asked a few questions more, mostly about the type of vehicle Chip was in and where he was riding and where the IED exploded in relation to the vehicle. All that seemed extra information to me, so I really didn’t pay attention to that part of the conversation.
After that phone call, the kids were waking up and Zach came out to see why Grandpa and Grandma were here. Walter told him to come sit on his knee and he would explain things. Zach loves Grandpa Walter and even at the age of 10 he is quick to sit on Walter’s knee. Walter was terrific in telling Zach about what happened and keeping Zach from worry.
I went back to check on the girls and they were both getting dressed and anxious to visit with Grandma and Grandpa. I knew not to tell them that their dad was hurt, I’d let Walter take care of that. I helped Tina find her socks and the top she wanted to wear and the three of us went out to the family room together.
As expected, both the girls were happy to see Walter and Sarah and never dreamed there was anything wrong. Then Tina, who had come over to sit with me, asked me why my eyes were so red, and that is when I said, “your daddy had an accident”. And Walter added: “Come here you two! Let grandpa tell you what happened. Tina here (he slapped his right knee) and Val here (as he slapped his left knee). I just don’t know how I could manage without them.
Just as he’d done with Zach, Walter calmly explained that the car their daddy was in ran over a devise meant to hurt people. He explained that daddy would be in the hospital for a while, but that the Military way is to get those guys home as soon as possible…
Listening to him with the girls was calming to me as well and I was glad I called them and they came right over.
Sarah was making breakfast and asked if I had talked to my folks. I told her I had called them right after I talked to Walter, but they weren’t early risers, so I only let it ring a few times and hung up. Sarah suggested I go call them again and even invite them over, she’d make extra just in case!
I called my mom and dad and mom answered on the second ring. “Hi Nancy” she said in her ever-cheerful way. “How are you, honey”? And, once again I started to cry. I managed to say, between sobs, “Chip got hurt”. She was quiet for a moment and then I heard her speak to my dad and then back to me and said “we are coming right over!” and hung up.
It wasn’t long enough for me to dry my eyes and blow my nose before I heard my mom and dad greeting Walter and Sarah and of course, the kids. I washed my face real quick and patted my puffy eyes and went out to say hello.
Walter’s take-charge way was welcome today. He managed to keep everyone’s questions at bay while Sarah and my mom fixed breakfast, served everyone, cleaned up the kitchen and even got the kids to clean up their rooms.
I felt in such a daze that I don’t even think I said the proper “thank you”.
It has been a rough morning and I don’t know when they will let me talk to Chip. I can only pray he will be okay and that he is not suffering.
It is so nice that my employer is slow now and they can get the extra help to fill in for me while I deal with this. My boss told me on the phone that everyone in the plant gave at least one day of his or her sick leave to a pool for me. They accumulated 75 days between the vacation and sick time I had and all that was donated. At least during this time that Chip is not working, I can still draw a paycheck. That is almost 4 months!
The kids went off to school and I was left to sit and think. I alternated between good and bad thoughts, cries and dry spells, worry and faith. I called the KQTR office and spoke to Charles, Chip’s boss. Since he had two employees injured in that incident, I thought for sure he would have some information.
Charles sounded happy to speak with me and thanked me for calling. He said that he had been in touch with the Combat Surgical Hospital in Afghanistan and gave me the number he said he uses. He also gave me another number to dial in to charge the call to KQTR. That was nice. He explained to me that Chip would not be able to speak to me because they were keeping him in a “medically induced coma”. That all sounded really bad, since I know a coma is a bad thing. Charles explained that they just wanted to keep Chip quiet to let some of the aches and pain subside so they could move him somewhere a little better for treating his injuries. I asked what the injuries were and he said the report he got was that Chip broke his leg bone, fractured his skull and had some cuts and bruises. Charles said the person he spoke to said Chip would be moved “out” within another day.
I called Walter and told him what I learned and he said moving Chip to another hospital was SOP for the military. He said most of the time the medical area at a war zone is pretty limited and they would want to get Chip to a place where more services were available. He said he was surprised they wouldn’t just fly him home, rather than keep him over there. This made me really worry. Is the care over there OK?
I was so glad when the kids came home and I could divert my attention to them. I think I was more attentive to them today than I have been in months. I just didn’t want them to ask about their father. I kept the conversation on school and the final month before summer break. They are all anxious for the end of the school year. Tina loves her kindergarten class and asks Val constantly what it is like in 1st grade. She will tell her sister something they did in her class and immediately ask “do you do that in 1st grade?” Zach did ask, “have you heard from Dad” to which I responded that they are keeping him sleeping so his injuries will heal faster. They all said they hope he sleeps well and gets better fast and to tell them they love him when I do get to talk to him.
Thursday, April 21
Word came today that Chip was being flown to Germany to be treated at a hospital there; I think they said it is called Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. I had to assume, hope and pray it was a US hospital to serve the injured servicemen and women. Charles from KQTR called me with that good news and said that both the KQTR guys were being moved out of Afghanistan, and he was glad for that. Apparently, Charles thought they were still in danger in the combat hospital there. I’m sure thankful I didn’t know that yesterday or I would have been an even bigger basket case!
Charles said he thought they would be in Germany by noon our time and gave me a phone number and that special long distance code again. He has been so nice during this and told me to call him if I had any questions. It feels good to know they are supporting us through this.I just wish I could talk to Chip, hear his voice, it must be really bad if he can’t talk to me.
Friday April 22
I was able to speak to a nurse in the Germany hospital late last night. There is a 12 and ½ hour time difference, so I had to wait until the kids were in bed to call, just in case they put me through to Chip and we ended up talking for a while. The nurse was responsible for Chip and said he may have surgery scheduled for later today. She said he arrived yesterday and they put him through some tests that I couldn’t remember all the words for. I wish I had a medical dictionary or something. The words are so complex and after I hear 2 or 3 of them they all start to run together and I get so confused.
I want to call again during the day and maybe even ask the nurse to spell things to me and talk slower so I can get it all down. The nurse I talked to was so nice, but she is the day shift and during our day it is their night, so it would certainly be a different nurse.
I just wish I could talk to Chip, hear his voice.
Zach has an after school presentation for his science club, so my day is going to be full from about 2:00 on. Time seems like it drags when I think of Chip and where he is now and how he is but I feel like I’m in a daze most of the time because I’ll look at the clock and hours have passed and I’ve done nothing. I’m really feeling out of it mentally. I know I need to look at the bills and things to make sure everything is paid and there is money in the checking account. I don’t want to as it makes it all so real. Chip’s paycheck is due to be direct deposited on the 30th so I hope there is enough cash in the account, and enough energy in me to cope.
Sunday, April 24
It was a good weekend with the kids and it kept my mind off of Chip and the fact that I still haven’t talked to him. The four of us attended church and felt the warmth and love given by all our church friends. They offered a time of silence to pray for Chip’s healing and family strength. Afterward, the girls and I stayed in the rectory and spoke with friends as they came by. Zach attended his Sunday School class and was refreshed as he returned to the rectory to find us. He talked all the way home about the things the teacher talked about that were exactly what he is going through not knowing what is happening with his dad.
I called the hospital on Saturday around 9pm and hoped to talk to the nurse who helped me last week, but she had the weekend off and some other nurse was working with Chip. She said he woke up today and was breathing well and somewhat alert, my heart soared, it felt like Chip was coming back to me. The nurse didn’t really explain anything more, and she seemed in a hurry to hang up. I really couldn’t tell the kids much about that, so I just told them that Daddy was too tired to talk.
I called again on Sunday night but some other nurse answered and she said she wasn’t too familiar with my husband. She said he was sleeping and looked peaceful when she checked on him about 15 minutes before I called. Hopefully I will get to talk with Chip soon. I’m missing him so much and want to hear him say he is okay.
Wednesday, April 27
I got so frustrated not hearing Chip that I had a few days of crying, felt like I couldn’t think about it any more, I am so worried. I did call Charles and he couldn’t tell me much more than I already knew. Chip is resting and they are keeping him quiet to allow the injuries to heal. I still don’t know what the “injuries” are!
Thursday April 28
I got hold of one of the nurses on Chip’s floor and she said that he had a “fixer” put on his leg on the 24th , and that his temperature was high….something about a possible infection. So, surgery was a few days ago and I hadn’t heard anything about it until after the fact! I sure wish they would communicate a little better. I asked if I could talk to him, but the nurse said he was out of his room for some tests right now. It’s pretty late, so I’m going to try to get some sleep tonight. I’m so frustrated.
Saturday, April 30
Finally! I heard Chip’s voice! I called the hospital and they said he was awake and that they would put the phone call into his room. He sounded really drugged up and I tried to understand his words, but I think the long distance connection was bad. His voice was pretty weak and it sounded like it was hard on him to speak so I only kept him on to tell him how much we all miss him and love him. All he could say to that was “thanks”. He said something about a tube, but I couldn’t really understand that. Poor Chip. I miss him so much, and I have so many more worries and questions after hearing him struggle so much.
Sunday, May 1
I am so thankful for my faith and for the love given by all our church friends. The church had done a fund-raiser to help us with the costs of this ordeal. They presented me with a check for $2 thousand, and I couldn’t stop the tears. The kids stayed close to me as if to be protecting me. It was strange, since they all have their own friends at church, but they just clung to me. I enjoyed it and appreciate the kindness of everyone. This money will really help if I’m able to make the trip over to see Chip.
Wednesday, May 4
Walter has been insisting the doctors in Germany are not working for Chip as hard as they should. Walter seems to think Chip is getting second-rate service because he is not and enlisted man. He says the servicemen are on payroll, so the docs work hard to get them well and back to contributing, or shipped home to be discharged from the service. Since Chip isn’t draining the military budget, they don’t pay as close attention to him.
Yesterday I talked to Chip, I can’t believe it, feels like he has come back to me, but he sounds so weak. It was both wonderful and terrifying to hear his voice, and he told me how many pills he is taking every day! It’s insane. Pills for pain, pills for infection, pills for everything! So many pills…how much is wrong with him?
Friday May 6
The week has gone by so fast. It is almost like I’m living in a fog and missing half of the things that go on each day. The kids finished their last week of school and each one of them had a year end party that parents were encouraged to attend. I went to Val and Tina’s but Zach acted like he was too big for mommy to come visit him! He is being so strong and almost like he is the new man of the house while Chip is away. He’s been taking out the trash and helping with dishes and the other night he even offered to rub my shoulders like Chip always did. Zach has asked what is going on with dad and I promised him I would call over the weekend so all the kids could talk to him. I’ve spoken to him a twice this week, but he still sounds like they are really keeping him sedated. I might call today and talk to the nurse and ask her if he needs to be on all these medicines. I don’t want him to be in pain but maybe if they could cut down on the meds Chip could be a little more alert if I call to have the kids speak to him.
Friday May 14
Chip is doing a little better and the nurse said the doctors agree it would be good for me to visit. I talked to my mom and dad and they want to help pay for my flight and help me with housing so I can go and maybe stay a little while. I think I can make the trip and not dip too much into savings since I do have money from the Church.
Walter and Sarah want to have the kids come stay with them and the kids love that idea. The Jones Ranch is a working ranch and Walter always has donkey and smaller horses the kids can ride. Zach is still acting like he is the man of the house and assured me he would take care of the girls. Tina has been a little funny lately, almost withdrawn. I am afraid the stress is beginning to show through in the children.
Sunday, May 15
We all went to church today and I let my friends know I’d be flying out early next week. Several of our closest friends said they would be happy to get the kids and bring them to church and offered to call and check on them. Rachel is one friend whose kids are the same ages as Zach and Tina, said she would be sure to have Jordan call Zach since they are in the same Sunday School class. I do hope the kids will be able to come to church from time to time at least. Walter and Sarah are active in another church in Tucson, so they would have to give up their roles in the congregation to bring the kids to our church. I’m sure Rachel will follow through; she is a dear. Several of our friends gave me get-well cards to take to Chip.
Tuesday, May 17
I have my airplane tickets, my bags are packed and I have so many cards for Chip that I almost need another bag! I’m taking my computer and my camera so I can send pictures and emails from Germany. My dad is driving me to the airport tomorrow at 4:30 am. It’s going to be a long day!
It’s all becoming so real now, I don’t know how I will react when I see Chip. I am so worried.
Wednesday, May 18
I think I lost a whole day yesterday. The flight was the longest one I’ve ever been on and it seemed like time was going backward. I found a taxi and made it to the hospital by 3pm local time, but when I got to Chip’s room his bed was empty! The nurse said he had a seizure and that they took him down for a brain scan. I thought he was improving and she said this was a recent development! The nurse said he would be back shortly, that he was with the hearing specialist. I knew that his ear was cut badly, but I thought he could hear okay. She just said “they are doing some testing”.
I was so excited to see him, wrap my arms around him, touch him, and feel that he is alive. I sat in his room and finished reading the book I started on the plane. Luckily I brought two books! I was almost a quarter way through my second book when a stretcher entered the room. My heart sank when I saw Chip, the air left my lungs, I began to sweat then got cold…then dizzy. Chip did not look like Chip at all, his ear was swollen and red and looked awful, his lips looked swollen and he had a HUGE contraption on his leg! They said it was an external fixer of some sort to hold the bone in place while it healed. Chip could barely open his eyes to see me! I’m so worried and terrified. He looked terrible.
Friday May 20
I spend about 15 hours a day at the hospital and most of that time is just silence. Chip either sleeps or is in tests. He has been alert enough at times to try to speak, but it seems he is at a loss for words. I think he is trying to think of what to say that it gives him a headache. He says his ears are ringing and he seems to constantly have a headache.
The nurses are nice and one of them brought me some books from home that she has read. She is a sweet girl and enjoys the same kind of books I do, so I gave her the two I brought. She was so appreciative and said it is so hard to find current American books over there. They get them about a year or more after they hit the bookstore in the US.
I’ve emailed the kids, and Chip’s folks and my folks. I hate to tell them how Chip really looks and I won’t send them a picture of him. It would scare the kids! Oh, I wish he’d wake up and talk to me…. I wish he wouldn’t be in that bed.
Sunday May 22
The hospital offers daily devotionals to the families as well as a non-denominational service on Sundays. I attended and was so glad I did. The service included scripture that reminds everyone who is hurting with injured loved ones, that there is much power in prayer and faith. I felt my burden lighten and promised myself I would attend some of the daily sessions, especially when I am feeling really defeated. I just wish Chip would be open to hearing some of the passages. I know they would make sense to him, but he has always said I can attend church services but don’t ever expect him to. Even now when he needs faith most, he would just refuse it.
Monday, May 23
Today was a difficult day, met with his doctors and nurses, and others, I”m not sure what they do, but they are all very kind. So overwhelmed with all the information, not sure what any of it means. I am so scared! Not sure if Chip will ever be the same.
Thursday, May 26
Today was the best day yet. Although Chip was really groggy all day, and he is really not communicating very well with me, what was really sweet was how he responded to me singing a song we used to sing together. He was restless and it seemed like that contraption on his leg was bothering him, and at first I felt really helpless, but then I just starting softly singing:
You are my everything
Nothing your love won’t bring
My life is yours alone
The only love I’ve ever known
Your spirit pulls me through
When nothing else will do
Every night I pray
On bended knee…
I got to “my life is yours alone” and he calmed down and by the time I got to “on bended knee” he was asleep. He looked so peaceful and precious. I stayed and just looked at him; his ear, his shaved head with the hair starting to grow back in, his eyes (the swelling and black and blue is gone now)… He is certainly the love of my life and I want him to get well. I just worry they give him way too much Percocet.
They are giving him Percocet for pain. That makes me worry because I had a friend who started using that for an injury she suffered in a car accident. They hooked her on it in the hospital and she never did get off it totally… I don’t want that to happen to Chip.
Monday May 30
I spent a lot of time this weekend talking to the kids, both sets of parents, Charles from KQTR, and some of our closest friends. Chip can’t communicate very well right now. I feel guilty but I need to hear some familiar voices, gain a little composure. The emails are good but I need to talk. It was good for me to hash over the episodes of the past couple weeks with each call I made. It helped me to put things in better perspective. Walter, as always, was the most helpful. He has definite opinions, but he understands the system a little more than others.
Chip was really sedated all weekend, and one of the nurses said that the leg is hurting him so much that they wanted to keep him sleeping most of the time.
It bothered me a little to hear the girls so critical of me. Tina asked when I was going to come home. She said she wanted to sleep in her own room and not share with Valerie any more. She is such a sweetheart, but she breaks my heart. I miss all of them so very much.
Chip had several treatments this week and I was worried all the movement would cause him to have another bad weekend. So far, so good. He had more brain scans, dental work, some work on his ear and lots of other tests and treatments. He was gone from his bed most of the week.
I guess they had to allow him to wake up a little more so they could communicate with him for the various tests, but he would be so exhausted by the time they brought him back to the room that he would be asleep within minutes. In the little time he stayed awake, he acted like he recognized me, but a stranger in the room would guess we knew each other! It is like he is not the same Chip. I hope he doesn’t have to stay on all the sedating pain meds.
Wednesday June 8
I have been stressed about staying here or going back and it is making me sick. The kids are really acting up and Sarah is such an angel to keep them from being too depressed. Tina just sulks and won’t say much when we talk on the phone. Zach is okay, but his tone is very abrupt when we talk. He sounds like he is 10 going on 15.
My mom has been able to take the kids from time to time to relieve Sarah and Walter. They have gone to the zoo, the desert museum and Old Tucson, but the kids don’t ever say much about the outing. I only know what they do because my mom talks about it. I think the girls are just too young to appreciate all grandma is doing for them.
Being at Chip’s side is not a walk in the park. He sleeps most of the time and when they stop giving him so much pain medication he will wake up but is so groggy when he does that half the time he doesn’t seem to know what to say. I’ll ask him a question and he will look at me like he doesn’t know how to answer me but I know he’s in there. I’m really depressed and I need to decide where I am needed more, here or with the kids.
Friday June 10
I talked to Charles about flying home and he said the other KQTR guy, Scott, is being flown home in a couple days, so I may end up flying home with him. I’m not sure when Chip will be okay to fly, they said something about swelling in his brain that might be bad with changes in pressure in takeoff and landing. I’m going to hope they put me with Scott and his family for the trip home. I’m so confused. I’ve never had to make decisions like this before.
Sunday June 12
I prayed hard on what to do regarding my return to Tucson. It is such a hard decision and I cannot make that call all on my own. I stayed after the service and spoke with the Chaplin. He was very warm and loving and offered to pray with me. It was a good morning.
Tuesday June 14
After much discussion with my parents, my in-laws, the doctors and nurses and of course the kids, I decided to return home with Scott. We leave tomorrow! They allowed Chip to wake up a little so I could say “goodbye”, but I don’t think Chip even cared, but in my heart I know he did. I will be glad to see the kids, I just wish I could tell them more positive things about their daddy.
Wednesday June 15
We flew home today. Everyone (both sets of parents and all 3 kids) met me at the airport. It was so good to see everyone!! I missed the kids so much. Tina seems like she has grown about 5” and Zach acts so mature. Valerie was a bit reserved, but she said she is tired. It was 8pm by the time the plane landed, so we talked while waiting for the bags and then Sarah suggested they drop me and the kids off at the house. They had the kids’ bags in the car, so my mom offered the ride home since they live so much closer to us.
I thanked Sarah and Walter for taking such good care of the kids and reminded them that the doctors said Chip will be ready to go within a week. Everyone is so anxious for Chip to come home!
Secretly, I’m not convinced Chip will be home that soon. He is still sleeping most of the time but they still say things are “looking better” each day. You can’t prove it by me. That big thing on his leg makes it hard for him to roll over and it seems too heavy for him to lift with his own leg strength. He seems really weak and since they don’t have him walking, I don’t know how they think they can build his endurance.
We will see.
Monday, June 20
I called every day and the doctors keep saying they will be sending Chip home, but I wonder if they are going to let him wake up before then! I know they are loading him up with meds, and using pain (Percocet) meds every time he starts to wake up. They never let him wake up long enough for him to tell them how much he hurts, they just pump him full of pain pills and he’s asleep again.
Wednesday, June 22
Today is a week since they said they would be sending Chip home, and if I were a betting person, I’d bet they are wrong in saying he would be ready to go within a week!
I’m sleeping more than normal and I feel so fatigued even after 12 hours of rest. Maybe I’m just not resting well. I haven’t exercised in weeks, and I’m not eating well, so all that combined is probably working on my sleep patterns, that, and of course the jet lag. I have terrible mood swings, I have less patience, especially for the small stuff. I have been short with the kids, shouting at idiot drivers, forgetting things.
Friday June 24
At about 9:30 this morning the phone rang, it was the hospital saying that they would be sending Chip home today! The Davis Monthan medical transport would receive him from Germany, and he would be coming on a medically equipped Air Force plane. They gave me a number to call to find out what time the flight would arrive and told me the flight ID. I will call the base around noon and see what they can tell me. In the meantime, I have lots of calls to make! Chip is COMING HOME!!!
Saturday June 25
Chip arrived at approximately 3:20 pm yesterday, at the D-M (Davis Monthan) air force base in Tucson. They moved him off the plane in a stretcher and directly to a waiting ambulance. I couldn’t wait to see him again, and hold his hand. Luckily, the kids were not aware that the person on the stretcher was their dad! Walter had all 3 kids mesmerized with his stories about the war.
I expected them to transport him to Gila Hospital like they had done with Scott. Scott was much better off than Chip, so I figured that they would have to take him in for further treatment.
We rounded up the kids and piled everyone in Walter’s suburban and headed for Gila Hospital.
When we arrive at the Hospital, the Family Services attendant told us “Mr Jones is just arriving in his room on the west wing of 3.” She also indicated that they usually like to have about 30 minutes alone with the patient to assess his health status, so we should not go to the room until about 4:30 or 5:00.
The kids didn’t eat much lunch, so we all went down to the hospital cafeteria for something to eat. Zach picked out a cheeseburger and both the girls selected the mac-n-cheese. I was glad to see the kids eating. We spent the longest 40 minutes in the cafeteria, but Walter, as usual, kept people entertained with his stories about his military days. He had a minor injury while he was in the service, so he explained to the kids the way some of the injured military men looked.
That “visual” turned out to be well timed! When we got up to Chip’s room, he was dozing. The kids eyes immediately went to the contraption on Chip’s leg and the two little ones couldn’t take their eyes off of it. I tried to explain what I understood about the “outrigger” as the doctor called it. The kids wanted to touch it, but I wouldn’t let them. Daddy didn’t need any more pain and they didn’t need to feel bad if they made him hurt.
Chip opened one eye enough to see he had company and I could see a little twitch of the corner of his mouth. He struggled to open both eyes and see who was there and Tina immediately yelled “welcome home daddy!” and tried to hug his arm that was closest to the edge of the bed. Chip raised up on one elbow and said “hi everybody”. Zach puffed up and said “Hey Dad, We sure missed you!” Chip looked at him and smiled and said, “I’m glad to be back”.
I could tell the trip was really hard on Chip and we shouldn’t stay too long, so I told the kids that Daddy has a little jet lag and we should let him sleep. They, one by one, walked to the head of the bed and said a little something to their Dad and kissed him. His mom was next and then Walter. My folks spoke to him together and then it was my turn. I whispered, “I love you” to him, to which he responded “I love you Nan Nan”. I told him we would see him tomorrow and to rest well, and I think he was asleep before I could finish! I kissed him lightly and we all headed home. It was an emotional day.
Sunday June 26
I wanted the kids to go to church with me, but they were anxious to go see their dad. I made a deal with them that we would just go to the first service, talk to some of our friends and then we could stop at Eegee’s on the way to the hospital. That was a deal and the kids were actually very good in church. The pastor asked about Chip and was pleased to learn he is finally back in Arizona. It’s difficult to talk about but I’m getting used to it. Rachel said she’d bring dinner over tonight around 6 and another friend, Mary said she would drop by on Monday with dinner. Those friends are so dear to know that cooking is the last thing I want to do these first days of Chip being home. Felt like a huge weight came off my shoulders.
At the hospital, Chip was happy to see everyone, but something really strange happened, that worried me a lot. Zach was on one side of the bed and the girls on the other. I was near the foot of the bed. Chip was half sitting, half lying and I thought he had a good view of all of us. He would respond to me and to Zach but ignored the girls. Tina would say something and Chip never looked at her or responded. I could tell the girls were getting really sad, so I looked at Tina and motioned to come to me. They both did and huddled near my side. Chip acted like they had just arrived! I could only hope that my fear of what this might be didn’t show on my face. He asked “ where have you two been?” Tina said “we’ve been right here!” Chip said, “you were hiding weren’t you?” and Valerie said “No daddy, we were over there!” Chip didn’t even look in that direction, but said “OK, come over here” and he patted the bed near Zach. Both girls obeyed and immediately forgave him for ignoring them.
Monday June 27
We went to Eegee’s and then to the hospital yesterday and Chip was a little more alert and even was able to call the kids by name. He mixed up Val and Tina several times, but they just laughed at him and corrected him. I felt encouraged by his effort.
The nurse said that he had just been sitting up for a while before we got there and that if he wanted to, she would help him get into the chair for a little more sitting time. He said “in a little while”, I could tell he tires easily.
Zach was entertaining himself and the girls with Chip’s remote control for the TV, the lights and the intercom. They didn’t know what the one button was until a voice came over the speaker when they pressed it! The nurse said “Yes, Mr. Jones, are you ready to sit again?”, to which the kids started giggling and I said “sorry, the kids pressed that button. Chip is still resting”. She chuckled and said “ok, just buzz me if he needs anything”.
We stayed through lunch and when the kids gobbled down the left-overs from Chip’s nasty lunch meal, I knew I needed to at least take them down to the cafeteria for something to eat. They all wanted to leave to go eat and come back, but then Chip said, “please come back!” So, we decided to stay at the hospital for lunch.
After our lunch we went back up to the room just to find Chip sound asleep! The kids wanted to wake him, but I convinced them to each make him a card with some colored paper the nurse had brought down. They each made a little card and each one propped their card up on Chip’s bed stand. We each gave him a little kiss and said goodbye and left by 2:00.
Wednesday June 29
We had busy couple days! We visited Chip and even got to walk with him! When we arrived on Tuesday, the nurse had him sitting in the chair, so we all sat with him and talked to him. He was a little slow to respond sometimes and would seem confused if the kids would talk too fast. He seemed to understand Zach pretty well, but Zach was being very patient with his dad and kept his questions to simple ones. My heart just breaks to see him struggle like that.
Today, when we got there the nurse had him walking with a walker and he was near the nurse’s station. We walked with him back to his room and watched as the nurse helped him back into bed. It’s so nice to walk beside him again. He still struggles moving the leg with the “outrigger” on it. The kids wanted to touch it and Chip said “go ahead, but be gentle”. The girls must have touched every inch of the contraption, but Zach was a little more interested in the pins that when through Chip’s skin. He asked where the pins were going and since I didn’t really know for sure, we asked the nurse when she came by. They go right into the bone, above and below the fracture and hold the two bones in the right position to allow them to heal back together! It was a great learning experience for the kids and Chip seemed to enjoy the attention and the explanation of the medical device too. It was also great not to answer another question to which I didn’t have an answer.
Thursday June 30
The doctor told us today that they will be moving Chip to a different facility that works better with special patients. They think Chip should be communicating better and feel his walking should be coming along better than it is. Maybe with some better doctors and therapists, Chip will start to return to normal….I can only hope.
Today when I came to see Chip he was in bed and was disoriented. He may have been asleep when I came in, but he said something to me about the freezer and to “put the fish”. I have no idea what that was about… put the fish in the freezer. A little later he said someone was at the door. I think it is that they are overdosing him with pain medication! I’ve told them I don’t think Chip is in that much pain and they insist he is not in pain because he has “Percocet on board”…. I guess that is their lingo for they are keeping him filled up with Percocet. I was not amused and my concern about the pain meds is growing.
Friday July 1
I went over to the hospital early this morning because the said they might be discharging Chip to go to a special rehab place. The doctor came in at 9:00 and said that things are arranged to treat Chip at the “Acacia Rehabilitation Institute”. He said the institute doctors are the best in Southwest Arizona and that they will address Chip’s exact limitations.
I was so excited with this progress, but Chip acted like he didn’t care if they moved him to a new place or not. He has been so negative and he is really depressing me! I hope the new place is a little more up-beat than this one has been.
It took about 3 hours for the nurses to arrive, ready to take Chip to the car. They told me to just pull the car up to the pick-up area and they would wheel him down in a chair.
We got over to Acacia by 2:30 and they were ready and waiting for Chip. They ladies were all very nice and helped move him from the car to the chair and up to the room. Still difficult to see him need that much help. Hope I can do this when he comes home. He is sharing his room with one other man who is about Chip’s age. I don’t know what’s wrong with him yet.
I had called my mom to go over and spend some time with the kids. I told Chip I would let him get settled in his new “digs” and I would run home and maybe bring the kids back later. He told me he would like that and asked me to hurry back. He gave me a hug and a kiss and I told him I’d see him later.
Sunday July 3
We had visited Chip later Friday and then again on Saturday. They wanted to get Chip out of bed in the afternoon on Saturday, so we decided to go and let him do his therapy. We went back over there after Church today. People at church always ask about Chip and I was glad to be able to report the change in his location and that they are making him work a little harder. Feels better to share good news.
When we arrived, Walter and Sarah were there with Chip and Walter said that Chip and he “already took a 2 mile walk”! We all chuckled, but Zach said “Dad, you just walked 2 miles and you’re not even sweaty! Next time, I’ll take you outside!” To that, his dad retorted, “I’d like that if you don’t make me jog with you!”. Zach responded, “No dad, I wouldn’t make you run, but I think we would both die with the heat. It is supposed to be 103° today!”
Since we had a room full, Sarah suggested we go down the hall to a waiting room where we could all sit. She was just down there she said and it was empty. We called the nurse and told her our plan and she suggested we let Chip ride in a chair since he had just walked “miles”! It is nice she can joke with us! We wheeled him down to the room and since he was in a rolling chair we positioned him so we could all gather around him and everyone could talk.
We enjoyed the little family gathering, but by 2:00 the girls were getting pretty fidgety, and Chip was looking pretty tired, so we all decided to say goodbye for now.
Sarah whispered to me that she had a big roast in the crock-pot and asked if I would bring the kids over for an early dinner. Since we hadn’t much lunch, I told her that would be a great idea and after we left Acacia we headed to the Jones’ Ranch.
Monday July 4
Today there are parades and fireworks that the kids want to see and Zach has a party at one of his friends’ houses. It will be a tough day to get all the kid stuff done and still have time for a hospital visit, so I called and talked to Chip on the phone. He said to be sure the kids have fun and he would look for me tomorrow. That sure took the load off my shoulders and allow me to concentrate on being a mom but still feel guilty for not going to see him. The kids had a great day and the fireworks were, as always, a nice closure to an outstanding day. Happy Birthday America!!!
Tuesday July 5
I felt so bad about last night! When we got home from the fireworks it was late and I was exhausted. I must have had a call on my cell phone but with the phone in my purse and the noise, I missed it. It was a nurse at the Acacia facility calling to inform me that Chip had a fall yesterday. He apparently was a bit dizzy but didn’t tell anyone, so when the PT came to work with him and had him out for a walk, he tripped and fell.
I went over to see Chip as soon as I saw the missed call and listened to the voicemail. He was sitting up and immediately I could see the swollen lip! He told me that he tried to catch his fall but ended up hitting his chin on the walker. He had a broken tooth as well as a small cut on his lip, but lots of swelling. Gosh, I feel so bad.
Wednesday July 6
Chip was out for therapy or treatment of some kind when the kids and I came to see him today. We got there around 10:30 and had to just hang around in the family area until they brought him back. The kids got hungry, so I sent Zach with money to buy some lunch for them and asked him to just bring me an apple or orange. I wanted to be nearby if Chip came back to the room.
They wheeled Chip back around noon and he was barely back in his bed when his lunch came. He was not very hungry and couldn’t chew too well due to the dental problem, so I helped myself to the pear that was on his tray.
I was concerned about the kids, so I went out into the hall to see if they were coming back yet. There was no sign of them, so I decided to just wait in the hall for a few minutes and give them a little more time. I was just day dreaming when I heard two of the staff people talking and mentioned Mr. Jones. I perked up, but continued to act like I hadn’t heard anything. One woman was telling a male (in scrubs) that she thought someone (I didn’t understand the name) was negligent in walking Chip. The woman was pretty upset and the man was trying to calm her down. It really made me wonder just what went on the other day when Chip tripped and broke his tooth. Was it someone’s fault? I wonder if the fall could have been prevented…? Now I am angry. They told me this is a good place for him to be, now I wonder.
Friday July 8
Chip’s folks were in today when I came by and Walter had Chip sitting at the table and actually playing yahtzee with him! Chip seemed to not want to use the right hand. It was strange to see him shake dice with his left…he seemed so clumsy. What else is wrong that they haven’t told me about?
While the “boys” played, Sarah and I talked about her kitchen pantry remodel. She had some pictures on her phone and it really looks great! They are making very functional improvements, I really like it. While visiting with Sarah, I could hear Walter reminding Chip of what dice to keep and what to shake again. It seemed like Chip was having a hard time remembering how to play and couldn’t seem to understand not to just keep shaking for the same numbers he had just gotten. I didn’t want to interfere with Walter, he was being so patient with Chip, just like he was talking to one of the kids…
Monday July 11
The weekends really just fly by! Chip’s brother came in from San Francisco for the weekend and we spent much of our time visiting with all the Jones’ at the hospital. Frank, Chip’s brother, kept talking about things the two of them used to do. Chip kept saying “no, I didn’t do that..” But his brother would insist it happened! It was fun to listen to Frank explain things Chip used to do! He made everyone laugh, including Chip! I love it when I start to see a little of the “old Chip” again!
Wednesday July 13
I had hoped to take the kids on a little vacation this summer, but it is not looking good for that. I wish they could have some time on the beach, they really enjoy the water and Zach took surfing lessons last summer and is always talking about getting “back on the board”! I hope I can break it to them gradually so that they feel like it was their decision to stay home with their dad, rather than me making them.
We all stopped in to see Chip after going to the doctor to get Zach’s pre-school physical exam. A clinic in Tucson offered free physicals, so we took advantage of that. Chip was pretty confused when Zach started telling him about the physical. Chip thought Zach was hurt and didn’t seem to understand that you can go to a doctor when you are not hurt! Zach got a little frustrated with his dad and raised his voice a time or two, so I suggested the kids were getting hungry and we should get them home. Chip was sad we couldn’t stay longer, but quickly returned his attention to the TV that had been playing.
Friday July 15
One of Chip’s nurses is from France and had decorated the nurse’s station with French flags. She said it was “France National Day”, like America’s 4th of July, and it is called Bastille day. Zach was most interested in learning more, so I allowed him to hang out with the nurse who showed him the world map and explained a little of the history of France. I like the fact that Zach is interested in history. I think part of his interest is due to how much his dad has travelled. Zach always wanted to know where it was on the map and learned as much about the area as he could.
The girls and I sat with Chip, but he wasn’t too talkative today. He said he had a headache, so we didn’t want to be too noisey. We excused ourselves when Zach came back from his history lesson and Chip looked relieved to be left alone to try to get a little nap.
Sunday July 17
I went (alone) to church today and enjoyed a little time with Rachel and Christine afterward at Starbucks. Rachel had been so kind to us during the time I was in Germany, taking the kids several times to a local waterpark and to the movies. They were both very interested, not in Chip’s state of health, but in MINE! It was nice that someone could see how very difficult this whole thing has been on me. I was able to share feeling and thoughts with them, that I had yet to articulate to myself. I don’t know that they truly understood but at least they allowed me to do a little introspection, and supported me at the same time as centering me. I wish I had taken time to spend with them long before this !
I got home a little after noon and made some lunch before heading to the hospital. When we got there Walter and Sarah were just leaving and said he had a “little seizure” today and he had fallen trying to get out of bed. “Little SEIZURE”? I asked, and Walter responded, “not much longer lasting than last week”. I had not known about a seizure last week, so I was mad! Again I’m left to wonder what other information they are keeping from me. I stayed calm until I said goodbye to them and hello to Chip and then while Zach and the girls spent some time with their dad, I visited the nurse’s station.
The regular weekday nurse was not there, but the weekend crew was, so I pulled Shelley aside to ask what she knew. She said Chip had a seizure that lasted about 4 minutes. He was just sitting in a chair and staring into space, moving his left hand back and forth. When he didn’t respond to Mr. Jones, Mrs. Jones came to get Shelley from the nurse’s station. When Shelley got there she said Chip was still “waving” his hand and staring into space. Just a short time after Shelley entered the room, Chip started to “wake up” and stopped moving his hand. When Shelley asked Chip if he knew what had just happened, Chip said “no” and couldn’t remember what he was doing.
I asked Shelley if this was Chip’s first time to have a seizure and she said this was the first on her watch, but the file indicates it has happened a few times in the past. I thanked her and went back to the room, but Chip was nodding off and the kids were quietly watching a program on the television. I kissed Chip and whispered “I love you” and we left.
I am finding it difficult to sleep tonight. That “secret” they kept from me is really bothering me. I wish the medical staff would tell me things when they happen and not make me find out about them from my father-in-law! I feel like going to the clinic administrator and reporting this! What if this was one of their family members? Would they still keep secrets then?
Monday July 18
Chip was better this morning when I went to see him. He was alert and seemed happy to see me. I asked what he did yesterday (just to see if he remembered anything) and he said he slept most of the day. I felt horrible to do it but I thanked God he didn’t remember. I visited with him until they came to take him for therapy. After he left, I went down to the nurses station to try to learn more about how frequent these episodes have been. The only nurse in the area was Elizabeth and I asked if she could look over the chart and tell me how many times Chip has had a seizure. She said she could do that, but with his condition he could be having many simple partial seizures that are never recorded. I asked if Chip’s seizures were frequent and she responded that he is “typical” of most temporal lobe brain injuries.
I felt like I was getting nowhere. They are not communicating with me and I feel like they are doing things behind my back.
Tuesday July 19
I have such a bad feeling now when I come to see Chip. I feel like I can’t trust anyone. I try to adjust my schedule to arrive after Chip’s therapy is done and that he’s had some time to rest. It is usually around 1:00 and if the kids are along we only stay an hour or two at the max, but when I come alone I may stay until 4 or 4:30. Chip seems to be doing a little better. He’s moving better but still can only put a little weight on his leg. He has had way too much pain medication and I keep telling the nurse that but I think she is deaf to that!
Actually, I am not the only one upset with the service here, Chip has been pretty agitated about it too. He said he fell a few days ago trying to get out of bed because the nurses NEVER respond when he calls for them. I know he wants to do more but they are holding him back. I keep telling him it is okay, he should stay in bed and relax and try to let everything heal.
Wednesday July 20
The kids and I had made some cookies this morning and the girls wanted to take some to their daddy, so we packed a little goodie bag for him and arrived around 11:00. Chip acted very happy to have “GOOD” food and let the girls sit on the edge of the bed while everyone enjoyed a cookie. Chip had some water in a small pitcher, so he shared it with the girls. After a little while the girls attention drifted to the TV. Zach was operating the remote as usual and stopped at an occasional channel to see what was on. The girls both insisted he stop as soon as they recognized “Victorious” on the screen. Chip was complaining of being dizzy and really was struggling to keep with us mentally, so when the kids were engrossed in the program on the TV, I asked him if the nurses had been by much today. He said they had been in early, when he got his breakfast, but they just gave him some medication and said they would be back. “That was around 8:30, good thing I didn’t need anything!”.
The first time anyone came into his room was at 12:20 when the attendant came in to bring Chip’s lunch. We stayed and the kids helped their dad know what to eat and what he should let them have! Chip was happy to let them eat the food and kept saying, the cookies where WAY better than this stuff!
The kids were getting a little fidgety, so I thought it best to get them home and get some lunch. The kids said their “bye byes” and then Zach said “race you to the elevator!”, and they were gone! I said goodbye to Chip and while he hugged me he said “I want to come home with you”. My heart broke again. What are they doing (or not doing) when I’m not here? I want so much to express my concerns to them but my husband is in their care and I just don’t want to make any waves.
Friday July 22
When I arrived today at 1:00, Chip was not in his room. I questioned the nurse and she said he was taken down for an MRI. I asked if he was okay, and she responded that it was just routine.
Chip returned to the room about 30 minutes later and was glad to see me. After getting situated in the bed, we were able to talk in private and I asked him what the MRI was for. He was confused by the initials and I changed the question to be “why did they take you for more tests”? He said they wanted to see what his brain was doing so they put it in a big cylinder. I figured that meant the MRI machine and assumed it was to see why he was having seizures. We talked for about 45 minutes but Chip kept getting confused when I would talk about Rachel or Shelley or or neighbor Dan and Cynthia. He knows all those people, but kept interchanging names and confusing who is who. I excused myself when I realized he was getting frustrated and a little agitated. I told him that I had some errands to run and that I should get going and he said “okay, that’s okay. I have a headache anyway.” We said goodbye and I promised I would bring the kids over tomorrow.
Saturday July 23
The four of us stopped in for a visit around 10:30. Since it is the weekend the treatment schedule is quite different from during the week. Sometimes they come up around 1:00, sometimes not until 3:00. Today, as our luck goes, they showed up about 30 minutes after we arrived. I asked the tech how long he might be away for treatment and the tech responded it may through lunch. He said they were pretty busy and Mr. Jones has to see several therapists before he can come back to the room.
We said goodbye to Chip and stayed in the room for a few minutes to organize his cards and flowers and all the various things people have brought for him. I suggested to the kids that we could just hang around here until their dad gets back, but both the girls said in unison, “it’s boring here, let’s go”. So, I suggested lunch and a matinee, and they all thought that was a great idea. Tina asked “can we go to Chucky Cheese?” and both Val and Zach piped in with an affirmative. I agreed we could go there, since there was one within a mile of the closest movie theater.
At 2:30 we were coming out of the movie and Zach said “are we going back to see dad?” to which I responded, “I would really like to”. Both girls said they wanted to go, so we headed that way.
Chip was sleeping when we arrived and it took the kids about 10 minutes to get him to wake up. He was groggy when he woke up but managed a coherent thought and asked “what did you kids do today?” Tina volunteered a nearly play-by-play of the movie! We slowed her down and told her that her dad didn’t need that detail. And she, just as quickly turned her attention to what Zach was doing.
I asked Chip what kind of “therapy” they did with him today and he hesitated for a moment and then told me about exercises for his shoulder, walking with the walker, some work on moving things around and climbing up a ladder. I asked how he could manage climbing up a ladder and he said “with my fingers”! I think he is a little confused and probably made some of that up. I can’t begin to imagine how confused and frustrated he feels. Hang in there Chip!
I read an article about the troubles in Afghanistan and showed him pictures. I asked if he remembers any of that and he said “no, nothing is familiar”. Then he said “but, my pictures would be better than those”! I chuckled at that… he still has his ego! This is so encouraging. That one statement made me feel so good, I felt re-charged!
We called it a day when Chip’s dinner came. The kids were ready to go and Chip was looking pretty worn out.
Monday July 25
We stopped by to see Chip after church and Sunday school, but he complained the room was spinning, so we only stayed about an hour.
Today I went over by myself and asked him about his dizziness. He just responded “Okay”. What the heck is that supposed to mean?? I chatted with Chip for awhile and then excused myself to “use the ladies room”. I went out in the hall but went to the nurse’s station. I found the regular duty nurse and asked her how long Chip’s dizzy spell lasted. She said he complained about it for about 45 minutes but they gave him “something” to settle him down. I asked what the “something” was and she said “a small dose of valium and some percocet”. I told her I think covering up symptoms is not good medical practice and the normally friendly nurse responded “I will make note of that”.
I don’t care if they think I’m out of line! I really think putting Chip to sleep because he is dizzy is NOT good medicine. I just don’t know who to turn to. My frustration is slowly turning into animosity. That is frightening because I need those people. Chip needs these people.
Wednesday July 27
The nurse came to see me today while I was in visiting and said they are thinking of discharging Chip next week or so. I asked where he would go now and she responded that would be the therapists recommendation.
Chip was feeling pretty good today and we took his walker and went down the hall as far as the nurses station. Our short departure allowed the staff to get in Chip’s room and straighten out his bed and tidy up. We sat down on the way back so Chip could rest his leg. His stamina is not very good yet.
After we got back to the room, Chip wanted to elevate his leg, so I helped him into bed and helped him lift his leg onto the bed. He still needs help lifting his leg, but seems to able to help more himself than he was a few weeks ago. Once he was situated in bed the nurse came in to give him some pills. I asked what he was getting and she rattled off some milligrams of this and that and none of the things were percocet or valium so I was pleased. I stayed another few minutes but before long Chip was snoring!
Friday July 29
The medical staff has been busy with Chip for the last couple days. I thought it was just because I started complaining to them, or maybe Chip had. I could hardly talk with him when we would come visit, because they would be having him do all kinds of things. We went down to the cafeteria for a drink and snack and to let one of the therapists do their tests, but when we got back to the room there was another one there!
The kids were getting impatient, so we said goodbye and went home. I don’t want to disappoint Chip or the kids. Unfortunately I’ve learned that I have to, and that doesn’t feel good at all.
Saturday July 30
I understand why everyone wanted to work with Chip yesterday, they say he is being sent home this weekend if he can show his “independence”. I assured the doctor that I would be around the house all the time, or if I needed to go out I could have my mom or dad come over. The doctor said the protocol is to establish his ability to function fully before they allow him to go home.
We were all really excited and Chip couldn’t stand the thought of waiting another day. He was practicing getting out of bed, sitting in the chair, going to the restroom and even walking out into the hall. I’m sure he is going to pass the tests! He is really motivated. I hope he keeps his spirits up; things will be difficult if he gives up on himself.
Sunday July 31
The kids (and I) expected to see Chip with his bags packed and ready to go when we got there today. He was sitting in a wheelchair and acted a little irritated. I asked him if he’d seen the doctor and he said “No. That’s what I’m waiting for! The nurses say he is due any time…and they have been saying that since 8:30 and it is 11:30 now!”
I’m not surprised. This place is really not too punctual in taking care of patient needs. They are slow in answering the call button and will say “in 30 minutes” and it turns out to be 2 hours. Last week one of the nurses was working on Chip’s walker and said “I’ll be right back and fix that and then you can go for a walk”. She came back about 45 minutes later, with someone from physical therapy and they worked on the walker for a few minutes and then the therapist took it away and brought back another one about an hour later! Good thing Chip didn’t need to use the restroom! Sometimes I wonder if they are here for the paycheck and if they have any respect for their patients.
We stayed until 4pm and the doctor still had not come. I told Chip I thought he wouldn’t be coming home this weekend. Chip seemed really depressed and I just didn’t know how to cheer him up. It is just best for me to walk away when it gets like that because being around him just makes me more depressed!
We were walking out and the therapist who gave Chip the different walker stopped us. He said he would like to ask me some questions, so I suggested we go back to the room and he said “no, we can go right here” and took us to a little waiting area that had a TV in one corner and a desk and three chairs in the other corner. He motioned toward the desk, so I asked Zach if he could find something to watch on TV until I finished. The PT asked me questions about where we lived, if we had any pets, if there were stairs and how many and just about everything except the color of our bedspread! He thanked me for my time and said goodbye.
The kids popped up as soon as I stood up and they were obviously anxious to go! They all have the first day of school tomorrow and I can tell they are all anxious about it!
Monday August 1
I had a call at 7:45 from Chip! He said the doctor was just in and told him the nurses would be in to get him ready to go home! I could tell he was really excited and I was as well, although, truthfully, a little nervous! Hopefully this won’t be another let down.
The kids were up and getting ready for thier first day of school, so I called and asked my mom to come over. She did and said she’d drive them over to the school. She is such a dear and I love her so much. I told her I would be home as soon as possible and should have Chip with me!!!
I got to Chip’s room and he was dressed in the clothes I brought for him yesterday. I brought his Teva™ sandals and a nice Tommy Bahamas™ shirt and he looked pretty sharp! His hair was mostly combed, but you could tell he didn’t take care with that!
I made a remark about how nice he looks as I walked in the room and that served to extinguish a little of his anger with the nursing staff. He expected that they would be right in after the doctor said Chip could go! I tried to make him realize they are probably busy, but this was pretty typical of the service so far, so no surprise!
It was 10:30 by the time the nurses got around to Chip and then things went pretty quickly. Since he was already in the wheelchair, the PT came up to take the walker and some other things out to the car for me. I went down to move the car from the parking area to the front door area where they had a sign “patient loading”. By the time I maneuvered my car into the provided space, Chip and his entourage were just arriving. They helped Chip climb into the passenger’s seat and then the PT loaded the chair, walker and the other equipment into the trunk. All I could think was, what a lot of stuff!
We got home at 11:00 and Walter was waiting in the driveway when we pulled up. He helped Chip out of the car while I got the walker out of the trunk. My dad had come out and he took care of bringing the other things in while Walter and I helped Chip into the house. I hope I can maneuver him myself when I have to.
It was like a homecoming party in the living room and Chip almost tripped as he stepped down the small step into the room. His mom and my mom had decorated the living room with flags, streamers and lots of glittery things.
I could tell that Chip was getting pretty tired. The anticipation and excitement plus just having to maneuver in this new environment had worn him out. To be honest, I feel a bit worn out too.
Sarah and my mom had made some sandwiches while they waited for Chip’s arrival, so they excused themselves to the kitchen to prepare a light lunch. In just a few minutes my mom came back in and said “lunch is ready”! Walter helped Chip over to the step and made sure he managed it alright. I started feeling like Walter was being a little over-protective, but I kept my mouth shut.
Lunch must have really hit the spot for Chip. He couldn’t stop saying how good things were and how much better it was than the last 4 months of food! After lunch, Chip wanted to sit in the recliner and I think he was asleep within a minute of hitting that cushion! Wow, it has been four months.
We tidied up the kitchen and then Walter and Sarah said they would be going. My dad said he’d stay and go get the kids if I wanted and I told him that would be wonderful! Zach asked if he could go over to Jordan’s house (neighbor boy) and I said yes, but asked him to be sure his cell phone was on in case I needed him. He flipped it open to show a full charge and checked the volume and said “good to go! See you later!” and was out the door. The girls turned the channel back to Nickelodeon once they saw their dad was sound asleep and they were absorbed in the program and with the dolls they kept in the family room toy box.
Since everything was quiet for the moment, I decided to check voicemail and found I had 4 calls. Each one was someone needing to schedule some time to work with Chip and wanted me to call them. I did, one by one and had everyone scheduled for a time on Tuesday or Wednesday this week. This is going to be a full time job.
The PT person asked if Chip was okay maneuvering around the house and I told him about his dad helping him so far, but that Walter had gone home. I told him I thought Chip would do okay, but I wondered about going upstairs to bed. The PT asked if there were any bedrooms downstairs and I told him about the guest room/sewing room that is on the first floor. He suggested I have Chip sleep in that bed for tonight and that he would evaluate Chip’s abilities and safety when he comes over tomorrow. I was sure glad I had called him back, I had been dreading having to help Chip up so many steps especially if he was tired.
I spent the next 20 minutes tidying up the sewing room and making it look more like a bedroom. And when I went back out to the family room, all 3 of my “kids” were asleep. The girls on each end of the couch, their dad still motionless in the recliner, and I am exhausted. I can only pray that my body will get used to this pace.
Tuesday August 2
My mom came over to take the kids to school and said she had some errands to run but would pick them up after school and see us then! She’s great.
I had the PT visit scheduled for 9:30 and OT visit in the afternoon at 2. Chip slept in the downstairs bedroom and I tried to fall asleep upstairs, but kept worrying about him, so I took my pillow downstairs and camped on the couch. I tossed and turned all night, and snuck in several times to check on him…each time he seemed sound asleep.
He woke up at 7:30 and I helped him get dressed and I combed his hair! He seems to have trouble brushing his teeth, probably because he is right handed and his hand is sore. I’ll have to ask one of the therapists about that.
He sat at the kitchen counter while I made him some oatmeal and coffee. I put the oatmeal on a placemat in front of him and set a little container of brown sugar and his milk on the side. He started to eat the oatmeal and then said “do we have any brown sugar?” I pointed to the container and he said “Oh, I didn’t see it!”. It was right in front of him! How could he not see it??? I have to remind myself to be more patient, it’s not his fault after all.
Thursday August 4
The last two days seem like we have had a revolving door into our home. The PT and OT came Tuesday and did many of the same tests on Chip. I wish I could have had them come at the same time because he was pretty exhausted Tuesday evening. It was another night of “sleep on the recliner”.. A home care nurse came Wednesday afternoon and did a bunch of the same things they did on Tuesday! No wonder the poor guy is exhausted! I am too, and they all gave me all kinds of things I have to do! I need to get someone to install some grab bars in the shower, and I think Walter or my dad will do that. I need to do that soon, because I’m not too comfortable with Chip in the shower if he gets dizzy or something. If he graduates to sleeping upstairs, we might have to do something to make the tub a little easier for him too.
Friday August 5
One of the therapists has pointed out the problem with Chip not seeing things that are right in front of him! They said he has some visual problems when things are on the right. I tested that a little and she was right! I put his coffee on his right and he didn’t see it. The next time I put his drink on his left and he saw it right away! The occupational therapist said I could just tell him to “turn your head to the right” and that will make turn so he look with his left. I wonder if his right eye is damaged or something more serious. I’ll probably have to get him to an eye doctor soon, I wonder why they didn’t notice that at the hospital?
Sunday August 7
I so wanted Chip to come to church with me today, but he didn’t want to. Everyone there asked about him and told me to give him their best. He only knows some of the names of my church friends, mostly the ones that have been over to the house.
Walter knew this would happen and he called Saturday evening to ask Chip if he’d like to go to breakfast at “Mulligan’s”? That is the cafe at the golf course where Walter goes. Chip wanted to go and it allowed me to take the kids and not worry about him. Walter showed up about 5 minutes before we had to leave, so I made sure Walter understood the right vision thing and some of the tips the OT had given me. I hope someday i can express to Walter just how much help he has been. Chip was anxious to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air I think. He doesn’t realize how hot it might get today! The forecast is 97°, but Walter says the patio at Mulligan’s stays cooler with misters and good air flow. It should be OK but I am still concerned.
The two guys came home around 2:00 and had stayed at Mulligan’s for both breakfast and lunch! Chip was visibly fatigued, and told his dad he was going to go lie down for a short time. Walter said Sarah was probably worried about him, so he’d better get home anyway and the two of them parted. Chip did go take a nap and around 4:00 came out into the family room to see what everyone was doing.
We were playing with the Mr. Potato Head and the girls were having such fun. They said they wanted to build a Potato Head for their dad, and did this one!
Chip took the Mr. Potato Head and started changing his parts around and asking why they made the ear like that and Val said, because “you have the big scar on your ear and it makes it look like two ears!” He asked about the glasses and Tina said “because you don’t always see me when I’m sitting right here (she has learned that he doesn’t see things that are to his left)! You need glasses Daddy!”
He laughed and played with them for a few minutes and then turned it back over to them and came to sit down with me on the couch.
Softly, he asked “am I really that bad?”. I chucked and said “no honey, the girls have a huge imagination!” I have to speak to the girls about not being so childishly honest! Don’t kids say the most honest things sometimes?? And, they mean no harm at all.
Chip said “how about a popsicle?” and both girls nearly jumped out of their seats in joy. Chip likes the cold of the popsicle but the girls love the sweet taste! It was a hit for all 3 of them! It was a hit for me too, I love to see them all happy.
Wednesday August 10
The week has gone by fast! Our days seem so broken up by visiting medical people that you can’t plan anything. Some of them ask the very same question that the last person did and I get tired of saying the same thing over and over. I feel like calling Cactus Health, the place that employs all of them and just telling them to give all their therapists the information and not to ask me again! It really makes them look foolish and does nothing for my confidence in them.
Friday August 12
The week went by so fast and I feel I have not been paying proper attention to my kids! My mom has probably seen them more than I have! I will make it up this weekend, but I have to be a better mother or this guilt will kill me! Right now the only “child” I’m taking care if is the one who should be taking care of himself. The nurse keeps asking if he is taking his medicine and I know she is pushing him to take that percocet before the PT come to make him exercise! I try to watch Chip and see if he is taking that, but I’m not sure which one of the pills is the percocet. There are so many pills he takes!
Sunday August 14
I almost fainted this morning when Chip said he would go to church with us! We had been spending more time with the kids this weekend and paying more attention to them as a family, so I think Chip decided he would keep with the family theme and go with us! The kids were anxious to introduce their friends to their dad and Chip was the center of attention during and after the service. The pastor mentioned him in the service and asked for a moment of silence in prayer for continued healing. Chip said he felt like a warm blanket was put over him! It felt like that for me too. He enjoyed meeting Mary and Rachel and they told him how they have been praying for him for the past several months! It was a great morning and I hope Chip will come with us to church again!
After church we went over to Walter and Sarah’s house to see the remodeled kitchen Sarah has been talking about and Chip got to see the Willys Jeepster his dad has been restoring. The two guys were like kids in a candy shop admiring that car! Walter said to Chip “Want to take a ride with me?” and Chip just looked at me and I nodded and Chip said “Sure thing Dad!” and Walter said to me “can the kids come?”. Needless to say, I didn’t have to coax anyone. That was the thrill of their Sunday! I was grateful to see them all having fun. It takes my mind off all the frustrations for a little while, which is nice.
Wednesday August 17
Chip is doing better with all the home care he is getting. We are starting to get back to doing things as a family now and the kids are starting to behave better. At first, Zach was “testing” us by asking me a question and then, if the answer wasn’t what he wanted, he would ask his dad. Yesterday, after school, Zach asked if he could go hang out with Jordan. I told him “not until you show me your finished homework”. I went to his room about an hour later and he was not there! Not in the study either. I asked Chip if he’d seen Zach and he told me “yeah, I told him he could go to the neighbor kid’s house.”
I called Zach and told him to get right home! He did and in front of his dad, I scolded Zach for asking me and then asking his dad when I told him “NO”. Chip tried to take the heat for Zach, but I held Zach responsible. He knows the house rules even if his dad doesn’t. Zach was grounded for the rest of the week and has to stay home and first do homework and second, do house chores.
Friday August 19
I was at my computer, writing in this journal and Chip asked what I was doing. I told him about the journal and why I had started it. He was very interested and said “maybe it is time for you to share it with me.” I knew he would be curious, so I promised I would read a few entries a night and talk about what I felt during the whole experience.
We read the first few entries that evening after the kids went to bed. Chip was very attentive, and remained very quiet. I worried it might bring some bad memories up. I finished reading the third entry and stopped. I waited a minute and then took his hand and asked if reading that bothers him. He cupped my hand in his and said “no, I want to know what you went through. I know it wasn’t all about me and I want to learn how you managed losing your husband and then getting him back”.
We just held each other and I started softly singing Joe Cocker’s song:
You are so beautiful
You are so beautiful
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
By the second stanza, Chip was singing with me. He is not back to “normal” and I don’t know if he will ever be the “old Chip”, but I love the Chip I have. We are in this together and together we will make it.
I decided tonight that I don’t need to write for my mental health now, I just need to talk to my husband!
This writing has been therapeutic over the past four months and if anyone I know ever has to go through something “alone”, I am going to tell them to do this same thing!