Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Boots on the Ground

Tuesday was a long and difficult day. In trying to transition Seth out of the Surgical ICU, the doctors changed his anesthetic. This caused his scary hallucinations to increase and his appetite to be replaced with nausea. He was in a lot of pain, and it was very difficult to get him comfortable. He couldn't tolerate juice any more, which was a great disappointment to him.

By afternoon, they changed the anesthesia, which helped the hallucinations but not the nausea. He was still seeing things but was coherent and calm enough to ask if what he was seeing was real. I told him to trust me, the nurses and the doctors--and he is trying. It is difficult because there are so many nurses and doctors--Seth has often referred to the place as a "freakin' zoo."

The highlight of the day was a visit from his buddy Brian Dilberian who was in Seth's platoon and was injured the same day as Seth. Brian lost both legs and an arm. I met his mom on Monday, and she said Brian had been asking about Seth ever since he came out of sedation. When Brian came by, Seth was feeling good enough to visit. They made us leave the room, so they could swap stories and details that  they don't want moms to hear. Thanks, Brian.

A highlight for me was a visit from Tom and Eleanor Porter (I hope I remembered that). Tom is a double amputee from the Korean War, and he and his wife visit the amputees at Walter Reed every Tuesday and Thursday. Tom is tall and handsome, and it is not easily apparent that he is walking on two prostheses. They brought cookies from the ladies in their congregation and offered to put Seth and me on the prayer roll of their  Lutheran congregation. Seth was not up to meeting them at the time, but I told them I looked forward to seeing them on Thursday. They are the "boots on the ground" answer to prayers.

Today, Wednesday, Seth is surgery again most of the day. The surgery today is perhaps more serious than any of the previous surgeries--they are going to try to screw his pelvis to his spine, which involves, of course, negotiating all kinds of nerves. If all goes well with that aspect, he will wear the external fixator they put in for six months.The surgeons will also be doing all the other usual things: wash out the wounds, try to close wounds, stretch skin and muscle to cover wounds, cut away any infected or diseased tissue, revise the external fixator on his leg and the list goes on.

The surgeons give us very detailed reports of what they will be doing, and Seth now understands it all. He was very anxious last night. To help him take his mind off things, I read him all the letters I brought from home--except for a few that he thought he ought to read himself when he is able. Thank you for those.


  1. Dear Sylvia, Bob and Seth,

    our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. We hope that Seth has a successful recovery with every step of the long road ahead.
    We are contacting friends in D.C., so hopefully you will hear from them soon and they can give you breaks from Walter Reed.
    A package is wending its way to all of you. Use what you can, and anything not useful/helpful feel free to pass along to anyone else in need.

    Love and support from:
    Marni, Jeff, and the boys

  2. It's good to hear that Seth is getting better day by day. I hope the surgery goes well.

  3. Thinking of both of you. Let me know if there are terms or procedures that I can help explain. We get better faster with prayer and the empowerment of knowing what we are going through.

  4. This is Jim Hutchins. I don't know why it marks me as "unknown".

  5. I read this everyday, and think about Seth a lot. We had a lot of good times together when we were younger, and it pains me so much to think that he is going through all of this, especially when he is still so young. But if I know anything about Seth, it's that he never backs down from a challenge. He has a fearless spirit about him, and I know that will help him to face the road ahead.

    As for you Sylvia and Bob, I know that these things can be just as hard on family, just in different ways. I hope you are holding up, and finding comfort as you meet others who have experienced similar injuries and are alive and well. We love you!


  6. My mom is on an LDS Missionary Moms email list where your friend Cindee Colby sent a note about Seth and your situation. I live about 45 minutes from Walter Reed, just over the river in Virginia. If there is anything in particular you need, please let us know, and we will do anything we can to help. You can reach me via email at, or by phone at (435) 760-5892. Please don't hesitate to ask, or just to let us know things you may need (rides, meals, visits, etc.). You have a whole support network of people you don't even know, because of you, and because of your son's service.



  7. I am overwhelmed for you every time I read a post. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you and Seth.

  8. oh Sylvia, I am so sorry. If he's half as tough as his mom he'll pull through, but I cannot find words to express how badly I feel for you both.

  9. Sylvia,

    I want you to know that I have a deep love for you, friend of my childhood. Ever since I tried to take your "tookie" in church that first Sunday we met, you've been a presence in my heart and a great source of wisdom and comfort to me. You are in my thoughts and prayers each day now, and if I could I'd fold you in my arms and let you hear my voice say these things. Consider yourself hugged long and hard. Tell Bob I feel great affection for him too. As I write this, I have a memory of Seth running naked in the park across our street (he'd just shucked his shorts), and you and I chasing him down as he headed for the picnic shelter, his sweet laughter rising through the summer-blue sky to Heaven. Heaven hears both him and you now too, of that I'm certain. And even as I write this, I believe he'll laugh again, and so will you and Bob.

    Give Seth and your other sons my love too.