Hello to all,
It’s been just over one month since arriving at BAMC in San Antonio, and already Greg has made a considerable amount of progress. Since moving to the new unit, we have been working with the daytime nurses and therapy team to create a daily routine filled with physical therapy, wound care, meals, and time with family. So far, so good. The physical therapists are quite impressed with Greg’s dedication to stretching, basic weight training with his uninjured arm, balance, and pressure control. Day to day we see little changes; from more strength in his right hand, to increased flexibility in his legs. It’s not a lot, but all things considered, the changes we have seen provide hope.
Greg’s wounds are starting to heal. Having removed all of the wires and drip bags attached to outlets, as Greg puts it, he is officially ‘wireless’. The nurses have also taken out nearly all of the stitches in his residual limbs, and are waiting on a few areas that require more time to heal and close. In order to properly fit prosthetics in the future, physical therapy is currently playing a large role in manipulating and strengthening Greg’s legs and realigning his hips. Though Greg still faces high increments of pain each day in his legs and right arm, the quite intolerable pain is the phantom limb pain. In his own words, “it feels like a jack hammer is breaking my legs and feet, where I no longer have legs and feet.” Besides being completely agonizing, I can’t imagine how frustrating and emotionally crushing this must feel. In simple terms, it’s just not fair. Talking with several doctors and other wounded warriors, a few who are further along in the healing process have come in to see Greg, it sounds like phantom pains can stay with a person for quite some time. While there are different treatments that can be done, some amputees say they can still feel their toes, ten years later. The goal, they say, is to be able to control the pain.
Regarding Greg’s arm, we continue to wait on the major player, time. The orthopedic surgeons are looking to see if enough scar tissue will build up to stabilize Greg’s elbow, and allow basic mobility. Once the soft tissue and bone regrow and strengthen, the ortho team will work on reconstructing Greg’s severed ulnar nerve. The external fixator is still on the arm, and will be there for quite some time. We are hoping ortho will remove one of the metal pieces to allow Greg to at least bend his elbow. Time will tell.
We certainly have had our share of difficult days down here, just as we expected we would. Seeing Greg in physical pain or emotional distress is difficult for all of us, and obviously affects Greg the most. Yet the good days outnumber the bad ones. Greg’s determination, perseverance, faith, and love of life remind us all to not only stay strong during moments of struggle or grief, but also to really appreciate life for all it’s worth.
All my best,
Note: Since becoming an outpatient, Greg’s mailing address has changed.