I started writing down everything after an incident that happened two days or so after Jason got hurt. When a soldier gets hurt, the spouse or next of kin gets daily phone calls from a call center in Kentucky until they are physically with the soldier. The call center people get reports from where ever the soldier is at and then reads the reports to the spouse. These people are not medically trained (they've admitted that to me) and so if you need clarification, you need to beg them to call the doctors and ask what they mean.
Early on the doctors were trying to save Jason's right leg. I knew there might not be hope for it considering the damage that was done. I received a call from the call center saying that they took his leg. I was devastated. Later on in the day I received a call from Jason's rear detachment and they also gave me a report from down range, but they said Jason still had his leg. I told them what I had heard and they went back to get more information. Rear D came back and said that the leg was gone. Since I needed more clarification I called the call center and demanded to know the straight answer. It turns out that he still had his leg after all.
It was that day that someone suggested that I write down every time the call center called, and I did exactly that. Let me tell you that writing down everything was so helpful in so many ways.
I wrote down the date, time, name of caller, and the general message. When I got to be with Jason I started writing down the same information, except now it was the names of his doctors, surgeons, and the surgeries he had, medications he took. I kept all the information in my infamous binder. I carted that thing with me everywhere. The picture above is me writing in it.
I had to refer to that binder many times. Sometimes it was for Jason. When he was more coherent he wanted to know the timeline of what happened. Instead of trying to recall from memory, I could read from my binder. Sometimes it was for the doctors. Doctors would ask when Jason had a certain procedure, or who did it, or what was done. Although you think they would have this information in his chart (I pray they did and that they were just lazy and didn't want to look it up) I could whip out my binder and tell them.
Also in the binder was plastic holders for business cards. From the moment I got to Germany I was handed business cards every day, from doctors to charity organizations. There were some that were more important than others and I still have all of them today. Every time we would transfer to a new place of care (Germany, Walter Reed, Balboa) the first week was chaotic. Even though I was warned about how many people we would meet, it still didn't prepare me for the amount of craziness that happened. I couldn't keep up with who we met, but at least I had their card. When I would get asked if we met so and so, I could look in the back of my binder and if I had their card I could tell them yes.
If you are not in the beginning stages of hospitalization, I would still recommend going through and writing down as much as you can from memory. All soldiers that get injured have to be medically boarded (med board) and although we have not started the process yet, I feel like having this medical history could be beneficial. Try to remember what surgeries your soldier had, where they were done, and who did it.
It can be time consuming and there were times when I was so tired I didn't want to write. But looking back I am extremely glad that I did. This is why I wanted this tip to be the first post, because I believe that strongly in writing everything. So go out, get a binder and some paper, or a notebook and write!