Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Tis the Season....

And, yes; it is. I finished up my Xmas shopping today. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it may be. Given the fact it's Christmas Eve. I got out early, parked in the farthest away spot I could (even though there were others available) & resolved myself to let all shopping-cart-maniacs ahead of me. I was going for the "B Personality" look. A far cry from my typical "A Personality". It was refreshing. I don't know if it worked out because that one guy that was eyeing the same wine glass clips that mean "This is my wine glass" as I was didn't try to rush me for them, or the fact that a 12 year old apologized for being in my way. Doesn't matter. I left the store feeling sane.

Then I went to Waffle House and had a breakfast made complete by Hash Brown's Scattered, Smothered, & Covered. That means shredded Hash Brown on the grill with onions & cheese. If you try to say Scattered, Smothered, & Covered anywhere other than a Waffle House; they don't know what the fuck you're talking about. I always feel sorry for those people. They just don't know good eatin'. As I mentioned in my last post; it's the little things you miss when you live far away from home.

I called home to see if anyone needed anything since I was on my way back. Told Dad there was no traffic at all. Then I realized that I live in a city that is #3 in the nation for gridlock. Of course I would think there's no traffic here. I had made it from my parents house to the mall without any obscene gestures being made by myself or anyone else. Utopia, indeed.


I ran into my best friend at the mall yesterday. He was there with his 5 year old, Jackson. I asked Jackson what he had asked Santa Claus for. He told me, "I asked for a REAL dog". Intriguing. I asked Mike what Jackson meant by that. Apparently, Mike & Tammy have been appeasing Jackson's wish for a dog by claiming that his toy dog is just as good as a real dog. Jackson is a wee bit smarter than all that. Kid's are so cute when they belong to someone else.


Marissa has made even more progress. She was able to sit up in a chair/bed for awhile in the Family Room interacting with everyone. She's still not speaking; but I believe it's just a matter of time. Ted Kennedy came by to visit her & signed her Veteran's Bible. I'm not a Ted Kennedy fan; but I appreciate that he took the time to visit the injured soldiers at Walter Reed. I haven't talked to Sandy (Marissa's Mom) today to get all the details, so I don't know if it was a "Photo Op" visit or not. Most celebrities that visit Walter Reed arrive without an entourage & it usually never shows up in the paper that they were in the area at all. In my experience; Dear Ted never shows up anywhere without an entourage. Even in St. Croix where he owns a house and is a non-tipping asshole the whole time he's there. Oops...did I say that out loud?


Merry Christmas! Hold your loved ones close & let them know how much they mean to you.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Home Sweet Home

I flew home to SC today to spend Christmas with my family. I am so freakin' happy to be here. I wasn't able to come home last year for the holidays because I had just started my present job. The travel was perfect. I showed up for my flight 1 1/2 hours early to see a long line at curb-check. Got through it in about 20 mins. Cursed myself for having worn lace up boots. They're a bitch to take off standing up. And a bitch to put back on because Our Nations' Capital airport only has 6 chairs on the other side of the Security Check. And my able-bodied self was not privy to any of them. Had time to hit Cinnabon & buy a book. Saw on the news this morning that today is the first day that it's OK to travel with scissors & thought about throwing a pair into my carry-on just to see what may happen. Quickly nixed that idea given my past air travel experiences.

My Dad & Sister, Paige, met me at the airport & then it was on to Longhorn's to have a big 'ole slab o' beef done MR & some of the Best Goddamned Sweetened Ice Tea I've ever had. It's funny how you miss the little things. I think our waitress thought I was a freak the way I was sucking it down & she didn't seem to care when my father explained to her that I never get Sweetened Iced Tea where I live. I marked it up to the fact that she's just blissfully ignorant. She's a Local. She's never lived in a land without Sweetened Ice Tea.

Paige's fiance, John, was able to join us for lunch. Very cool, indeed. Only the second time I've seen you, John; but I would suggest a little more PDA. I love to see my father squirm. I may be kidding. (BTW John, Thank You for the props. They do mean a lot to me. I hope I don't disappoint you!)


Marissa has made a lot of progress. She is definitely communicating now. Because of her trach, she can't really speak; but she is mouthing words. That is HUGE. She knows something terrible has happened; but we're not sure that she fully understands. But that's OK for now. The fact that she can process any information at all is such a big step. Physically, she is also doing well. Her surgical team was able to close her amputation site & the big wound on her right leg without having to do any skin grafts. We are hoping that a reconstruction can be done on her lower right leg and it won't have to be amputated. She is going to lose her gall bladder; but that's minor considering. She sat up for 2 hours yesterday & actually held the phone in her good hand to listen to one of her friends speak to her.

Again, Thank You to everyone that has sent me emails regarding Marissa. I feel that I've been a complete slacker with posting; but my Internet availability has been limited. Hopefully, that won't be the case in a couple of weeks. Then you'll be offering me a lot of money to "Just Shut Up, Already!".


I have a lot of stuff I've written about being witness to a much-loved family member going through what happens "After". Much of it is still just too personal to publish right now. Given Marissa's progress; I am confident that she will be completely with us very soon. I have to think of that & what she would be comfortable reading. When she comes to terms and gives her OK; I will publish it.


I didn't write about this when it happened because I didn't think it was appropriate to talk about at the time; but it was very cool. Marissa was flown to Walter Reed on Sunday after Thanksgiving from Germany and was still in pretty bad shape the next weekend. Our family was about 12 strong on that Saturday. Stevie Nicks & Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac came in that day to visit injured soldiers. One of Marissa's doctors told them that they had a young girl that had just come in that was in pretty bad shape & that she had a lot of family there. Nicks & Fleetwood asked if it would be OK to meet with her family before they visited the other soldiers.

They spent about an hour with us in the Family Room. They were so completely awesome; I can't describe. Apparently, they have been visiting injured soldiers & their families at Walter Reed since the war began. Fleetwood Mac is and has been my favorite group since I was 15. Under any other circumstances, I would have been a blubbering idiot fan standing face-to-face with Stevie for the 10 minutes I had her to myself. As it was; she was asking me very pointed questions about Marissa and her condition and how our family was holding up. She told me that if there was anything we needed; to let her know. Mick was just as awesome with his words to us.

They both wrote notes for Marissa for when she can read them. They listened to all of us talk; grieve. Even Marissa's friend from high school who wasn't really sure who Fleetwood Mac was (Sacrilege!).


OK, I have to sleep. Because I really haven't in the last few weeks. And now I'm in my parents house for a few days and it's very condusive to sleeping. Meaning, I'm at home now under Daddy & Mom's watch & nothing can get me here. No monsters in the closet.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Marissa had a very good day today. She was moved from Surgical ICU to Intermediate Care. She's breathing on her own now; so she's not considered Acute Care anymore. Essentially, she moved down the hall. She's made alot of progress since yesterday, but it's very hard to watch. Her head is elevated now, so she can see her legs. She can see that her right leg is in traction. And she can also see that the bottom part of her left leg is gone. She will look at you and then back at her left leg. Back & forth. Back & forth. Like she's saying, "Do you see what I see? What's up with that?" We definitely think that she knows that her leg is missing. You can see the confusion on her face. In the big picture; that's awesome. That she can see & react. For us watching her confusion; it is incredibly heart-wrenching. I'm very happy that she's able to see, process, and respond (at times). But, it just kills me that she is pretty much just trapped inside of her head. She can process some of what is happening to her, but she can't verbalize.

Thanks to all of you that sent me such great thoughts. I am saving all the emails to show Marissa when she is sitting next to me telling me what a crazy bitch I was for ever harboring doubts that she may not be able to talk again.


I am going to give the big picture when I'm able. We just found out what actually happened as far as when & where the explosion happened. Very hard to talk about just now.


It's been ages.....

I have really missed writing. When I first moved; I wasn't writing because I wasn't able to properly steal wireless. I quess I'm just not that savy. Then I wasn't writing because I didn't have the time to sign up for a legal connection. I kept meaning to. Then the worse that could possibly happen; happened. And I found myself needing to write more than ever.

I've started this particular sentence 10 times & I still don't know how to write it. My cousin was a Gunner on a Humvee in Iraq & her Humvee was blown up on Thanksgiving Day. She is the only survivor. The fact that she was the Gunner is what saved her because the Humvee was blown up from underneath & she was thrown off of it. I still can't write about all the details right now because it's just too hard. I still can't wrap my brain around it. Along with the rest of you; I have been watching this war play out for almost 3 years. Marissa is the only member of my family in the military. I haven't talked about her because I thought it would be bad luck. She was due home in January. I've been watching & reading about injured soldiers all this time & here it is in my face. And I can't even begin to describe to you how horrible this is for everyone that loves her. I can't begin to describe her condition other than to say that she is broken. She is a broken person. There are only two major bones in her body that aren't broken. Her left arm. She has lost the bottom part of her left leg & may lose her right from the knee down. Her right arm was broken in several places. Fortunately, she didn't suffer many internal injuries. Her liver was lacerated; but has started healing. Her lungs were badly bruised; but no punctures. She just started breathing on her own the last couple of days. Both shoulders are broken & have been pinned. She opened her eyes about a week ago; but she hasn't started talking. She will follow you around the room with her eyes. She will squeeze your hand; but not always on command. She still has alot of shrapnel in her body; so they can't do an MRI to assess brain damage.

I will write more; but it's just too much right now. Please say a prayer for Marissa.

For people familiar; PFC Marissa Strock @ Walter Reed. You know the drill.

At the risk of sounding cliche; tell everyone you love that you love them.


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