Friday, March 23, 2012

Comings and Goings

 The biggest news of the past week or so is Seth physical therapist Greg's announcement that he has given his two weeks' notice and will be gone as of March 30. We are so sad. I will never forget Greg and Joe, the occupational therapist, visiting Seth in the ICU. I thought, "Physical therapy starting in the ICU? Are they crazy?" Then I was just impressed at the forward-moving and positive thinking this represented. So Greg has been with us since day one, and Seth has seen him almost every day since that day in the ICU. Because he has spent the most time with Seth, he has coordinated some of Seth's care in ways probably not expected of a PT but in ways that have been very beneficial to Seth. Greg always has a smile on his face and a challenge for Seth to  undertake. Greg and his wife are expecting their second child and are moving to be closer to family and where a normal house with a yard does not cost $900K. We will miss him so much.

These photos are of Seth's recent testing at the Gait Lab. His ability to do any of this is a tribute to his physical therapist. He is setting benchmarks of performance and then in a few weeks, he will be tested again to see how he has improved. The researchers and therapists will also provide feedback to him and his new physical therapist on what he and they can do to maximize his efficiency in walking and achieve the most natural gait.

I have decided that perhaps the most difficult aspect of military life, besides facing the enemy and getting blown up, is the coming and going. We are also losing Capt Beckman, who has been Seth's counselor since Ward 57 at the old Walter Reed. Coincidentally, Capt Beckman is being sent to Fort Drum, Seth's original assignment. It is frustrating to lose someone with whom Seth has developed a rapport and relationship. These are not "givens" in any situation. The cliche is that nothing is constant but change, and it's a cliche because it's true.

Seth has pretty much ditched his wheelchair. He walks everywhere now. I enjoy walking beside him instead of running behind or pushing him in the wheelchair. He attends many appointments and other duties without me now, and I'm beginning to feel superfluous--which is a good thing.

The Folks Go Out
Last week the location of the Friday night dinner was the New Zealand Embassy. Seth decided not to go at the last minute—because sometimes you feel like being social and sometimes you don’t, so I invited a fellow NMA Debbie whose son Matt was injured in April, so their one-year mark is fast approaching. It turned out to be a good thing for both of us as there is really nothing more therapeutic than talking to another NMA and mom of an injured soldier. Bob came, too, and he visited with his friend Hugh, whom he met at a Kangoo class (Kangoo is another story entirely, as is Hugh, for that matter).

The evening was a lovely affair, beginning with embassy staff performing the Haka, the traditional Maori greeting. 

 This was followed by dinner of traditional New Zealand fare: lamb, chicken with kiwi and mango chutney, couscous, sweet potatoes and, my favorite, pavlova, a meringue tart filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Amazing. Our hosts were lovely and gracious, as such people always are. The ambassador Michael Moore greeted Debbie and me individually and presented us each with his personal coin to give to our boys. Ambassador Moore, we learned from former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, was formerly the prime minister of New Zealand as well as the former director-general of the World Trade Organization, but when Bob asked him what he did prior to his assignment as ambassador, he modestly replied, "I was in politics." I hope someday to learn to be so gracious. Thanks again to the New Zealand Embassy staff and Aleethia who sponsors these lovely evenings.

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