Sunday, January 6, 2013

From The Beginning

I guess in order to explain what I want to accomplish on this blog I need to start from the beginning.

In the middle of March 2012 my husband Jason would leave for his third deployment of his so far in his six years in the Army. His job always made me nervous. He was a combat engineer in the Army which involved route clearance; he and his guys clear roads and routes of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). We had been married almost three years and this would be our second deployment as a couple. The last one was a nightmare for me, twelve months of sleepless nights and constant worrying sitting by the computer waiting for him to get online to chat. But this time I felt better, more prepared, more experienced. It was still gut wrenching to say goodbye to him that early morning, but at least it was familiar.

I was finishing up my first year of physical therapist assistant school at the time. I also had a job as an aide in an outpatient physical therapy clinic, so needless to say I kept pretty busy. The communication with Jason was considerably less than his last two deployments and he himself was very busy. Even though I knew what he was doing everyday, I trusted in The Lord. He was always with Jason and since I couldn't be, it was such a comfort.

On Wednesday May 30, 2012 I was in class like normal. It was early afternoon and I was sitting in lecture taking notes. As I did with the last deployment I had my phone right next to me on vibrate. You never know when your spouse will call or come online. My phone went off and the number was an 877 number. Somehow I knew something wasn't right. I grabbed my phone and ran out of the classroom towards the outside of the building for better reception. I answered it. 

Isn't it amazing how in a second everything can change?

I don't remember exactly what he said, but a man from a call center in Kentucky told me Jason had been seriously wounded by an IED. His left arm sustained deep wounds. His right leg was severely mangled. His left leg was amputated to his hip. He was unconscious and intubated.

It's difficult to describe how I felt. Literally a million emotions, thoughts, and feelings came over me and continued to for weeks. It took three days for Jason to get stable enough to fly to Germany. The doctors were working hard to save his right leg, but before I got to him in Germany they had amputated it as well. Jason was now a bilateral hip disarticulation.

Let me pause for a moment to explain what a hip disarticulation is. It means that Jason had literally no legs at all. He has no femurs, no hip joint. He has everything from his pelvis up (and minus one finger tip) but no legs. It's a rare form of amputation and it accounts for about 2% of the amputee population of America. So far in our journey we have met/known of four other soldiers with this level of amputation.

The decision to take the right leg was a matter of life or death for Jason. He was becoming septic and there was severe tissue lost from his thigh. Even if they were able to stabilize him and keep the leg, it wouldn't be functional and hinder his possibility of being mobile. As I've told many people, I would rather have Jason here with no legs, than not have him here at all.

On June 10 we finally went to Walter Reed. June 17 he was extubated. From the entire time Jason was at Walter Reed he had close to twenty surgeries, including a skin graft on his arm, wound vac exchanges, and cleaning/debridement of his wounds. He had lots of physical and occupational therapy, lots of tests. Through only what I consider to be God's protecting hand, he only suffered a mild concussion and still to this day shows no signs of TBI or PTSD. 

This has all been a long winded way of explaining why I wanted to write this blog. From the beginning of Jason's accident I scoured the Internet for information about the level of his amputation, what to expect as both an injured soldier/spouse of an injured soldier, and so on. However I was disappointed. There was next to nothing about bilateral hip disarticulations and not enough about what to expect. Frustrated, I kept thinking since then I should start a blog.

My goal with this blog to post lessons I've learned from this experience, in hopes that it can help just even one spouse. I also hope that this blog will educate others about amputees and maybe give insight to the lives of those affected by injuries from war.

If you would like to read a more about what Jason went through from the first day of his injury to about a month ago, go to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jasongibson/journal

If you like to read thoughts straight from Jason himself, check out his blog at http://mylifewoundedsoldier.blogspot.com/

Thank you for reading and visiting this blog. I look forward to sharing what we've learning with you. :)

 
 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing Kara! I cant imagine going through what you two have been through in just this short time. I certainly can't imagine getting that dreaded phone call. As a spouse it was instinct to want to ask a bunch of questions, but didn't want to seem nosy so its great that you have this blog to help others understand the struggle, not only for the solider but the wife and family. We will continue to pray for you both and support you from afar. God bless!

    The Borrells

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  2. I saw your site and look forward to reading it when I get some free time to just sit and study your messages. Good for you. I know it will be a real help to you and to others that are facing these same things. Our continued prayers for you and Jason.

    Judith Argabright
    Alkire Road Church of Christ
    Grove City, OH

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  3. You are fine writer, and thank you for posting this. Thank you to your husband for his service. May God bless you and hold you close.

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