Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcome to Bethesda!!!

This is the picture a fellow wounded warrior wife sent me yesterday. Please read it carefully. It says if you are not an NMA you are not allowed in during therapy. First an NMA is a non-medical attendant. Second you know what really bothers me, there's not a "thank you for your cooperation" or anything like that. It just says here are our hours and if you are not the patient or NMA, stay in the waiting room.

Well I am an NMA and I have been told to now keep my orders on me at all times. I have been informed that at Bethesda things are going to get a lot more uniform and I need to produce my orders upon demand. But our girls do not have orders, therefore they are not allowed to be with their Dad when he is being seen for his therapies. So what do I do?! Well for weeks now I have been sending Chaz off to his appointments and we only come to the ones where he needs me or when the girls want to see him in action. But that now stops.

I know some of you are thinking well why would you want you children there? Well let me tell you why. For some of the soldiers having their children with them drives them further. I know one guy that told me he works past all of the pain and pushes himself because he wants to heal and move on for his kids. He says having them there keeps him focused. Some soldiers have told me they love having the kids around because they like hearing the laughter of the kids working out with their parents. Many of the soldiers incorporate the kids into their therapies. Chaz likes to have the girls at OT because they play games together. But for PT I only bring the girls in for the big things, like new legs or him taking on a new task. Deryn and Ryann both love helping their Daddy and it's a great way to incorporate them into his healing. But now that all stops.

Remember June 13 when we had to rush back to WRAMC because of his staph infection. Well his Physical Therapist has only put her hands in Chaz's care once or twice since then. She has been so busy with this move she has passed him off to several people. Now let me assure you I am not angry with his therapist at all. To be honest I think we have one of the best there. But she has not really been helping us because she is overly tasked out thanks to this move. So who's there to help Chaz work out, me and the girls. Who gets Chaz the equipment he thinks he needs, me and the girls. The assistant she sends Chaz to is also balancing other patients as well. I have spoken with other people and they are having the same problem. They need someone there to help them at PT because the therapists are too busy right now. But now what if the NMA can't be there that day? What if they are sick?! Well the patient will just have to figure it out.

Why are we stopping this? Do we have a problem with children running amuck in the hospital? I haven't seen it! Did someone complain about the kids just being there? What is the reason? Yes I am going to ask because I want to know why you want to cut my kids off from their father if they want to be with him. Our girls have been though a lot. Their dad was seriously injured. Then their mom left them every other week to take care of him. Now they have had to move to a totally new place, leave their friends and everything behind and they just have to deal with it. Now we have to move to a new hospital and they now cannot be included in their father's care. Well that's just BS and someone needs to produce the answers.

Since January 22, I have encouraged our girls to be a part of their father's healing every step of the way. I did not want any walls between them. They knew what was going on was a big deal, but they also knew everything would be ok. The girls have helped their daddy by helping him put on his legs, Deryn flushed his pic line and gave him his meds. But most importantly they treat him like nothing has changed. Chaz needed that acceptance. He needed the support of his girls. Because we have incorporated them they have handled this all extremely well. But I guess the Navy knows more about how to heal then we do.

When you are healing you are not just healing the physical you have to heal the emotional. These soldiers are blown up they are taken away from their brothers and sister in arms. They have numerous new people on their team and they are just supposed to trust them. You get one NMA, just one, but I don't know about you but I like to have a lot more than one cheerleader in my corner when I am going through something. But now that stops! You can cheer from the sidelines, but you can't see them in the game.

When I was asked again and again, Mrs Allen what can we do for you? You know what I said, get Chaz's guys up here. The last time they saw him, he was being medivacced out, they need to see how amazing Chaz is. There were only 6 of them and the man in charge of the MATC told our LNO that he couldn't bring the guys in. I said oh watch me. I looked that guy in the face and said, "You are an idiot. These guys saved my husband's life, how dare you tell them they can't come see him walk. They are coming in and I dare you to stop us. There is no one in the MATC right now. When it begins to get crowded we'll leave. This is a non-issue, don't make it one." And yes the guys came in. That peer visit was great for all eight of us. I needed those guys there as much as Chaz and the guys needed to be there. To me it was the best thank you card ever. But now those peer visits come to a stop, because they are NMAs.

Our families can no longer visit and see their soldiers in PT/OT because they are not NMAs. What a bunch of crap is that? How can you tell our families that they can come see their wounded warrior walk for the first time? You may be thinking surely they'll allow that. Well as of yesterday, that's a big fat NOPE!

We have a real problem here. We have a ton of people talking but only 5% are listening. Can someone please tell me what was the rush for the BRAC? Bethesda is not ready for us. We don't even have push buttons to open the doors for the guys right now. So the amputees can't fully navigate the hospital without and NMA and oops I have the girls, so what am I supposed to do?! WRAMC was very amputee friendly, Bethesda not so much. So do I put our girls in day care, oh wait we chose to homeschool so that's not an option.

Walls, walls, walls, explain to me why we need all these walls to keep popping up. All we want to do is heal and go home and move on with our lives. But no we get a little peace and calm and boom the military puts up another wall for us to climb over. It is time to tear down those walls and open our ears and listen to our wounded and their families. We know what we need and we will tell you if you ask. We are not all a bunch of 18 year old privates who are totally obvious. Some of us are pretty freaking awesome. I have a great list of those awesome people who want to fix this situation and make it better for others. We are not a bunch of raving psychos we are actually a bunch of well educated, caring people. So how about you listen to us rather than treating us like a bunch of uneducated cattle.


  1. Well put, my friend. I am completely irate at this as well. I too am homeschooling my daughter and I have a 6 month old son, who I am not willing to let some random daycare watch. My kids have been an inspiration for my fiance' as well. And for what they have endured as kids of a wounded WARRIOR, they have the right to see him succeed as well. If it weren't for our children/family and friends, some of these guys wouldn't want to get out of bed. Our soldiers are proud of their accomplishments, and are inspired by not only their fellow comrades in the MATC but, their friends/family and most important children. I too have heard soldiers say how they love to hear children when they are working out. And I have heard others say how they miss their kids and wish they were there. I know that this is a "hospital" and there are rehabs going on, but you are only as strong as your support system. Take that system away and you are setting many folks up for failure. I agree Jess, this is one more wall we must climb, and together we will.

  2. Sometimes it takes going right to the top and skipping all of the layers. Make several copies and then send them to the head of Bethesda for curtesey, but then send the others to Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden since they have taken on the cause of military families and then to Mr. Panetta, Sec of Def. The big thing to remember is to put the cc's at the end so that everyone knows who copies are going to. This accomplishes two things; first it makes it much more likely that the intended recipents actually receive them and they don't get sorted by underlings and second it means you are more likely to get a response since none of them will want the others to think they are ignoring it. You could also add you congress person to the list. You are doing a great job and they shouldn't keep putting wall up and making things more difficult.

  3. I completely agree with Dawn. There is no reason at all to eliminate the motivation from these amazing soldiers. Without the motivation, where would many of them be? You, Jess, have a reputation within WRAMC as a person to make sure things get done, don't slow down now. Send the letter Dawn is talking about, with cc's to Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden. I know it is more to put on your plate, but look at all you have accomplished with Chaz and the girls. This too is another bump in the road and you will maneuver over it and continue on the road to recovery for Chaz, and many other wounded warriors.

  4. Having had my own battles with some of this, let me offer a consideration. There may be a risk to the soldiers doing PT of infection. Equipment is supposed to be wiped down after each patient use, but the more people in the room and the more places "touched", the harder to control possible infection. And infection to a weakened system can be deadly. Many wounded will have multiple possible open wounds and I know you don't want to deal with another infection!

    My daughter-in-law was deprived of NMA status after my son became outpatient. They were told to PCS because of the long rehab time, but were not told that the wife was "expected" to provide NMA type care, but was not considered NMA because they lived there and were married. Just FYI.

  5. What about other soldiers who are in rehab and don't feel so comfortable with other non-medical people around? I mean, they may be really frustrated and actually want to cry a little to relieve their frustration and don't want an audience? I don't think that is very healthy. Just looking at it from another point of view.