Thursday, December 4, 2014

Caregiver Stories #2- The Military Family- Tammy Kalp

Paul's recovery after his motorcycle accident on September 15, 2012, has been one that Lifetime movies of the week are made of.

Paul's injuries included breaking everything on the left side of his body,losing the use of the right side of his body, puncturing his right lung, and most importantly suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

I specifically remember a phone conversation Dr. Geffe was having with Paul's family discussing the prognosis for Paul.  He stated that he felt Paul had some things on his side, he was "relatively young"strong and healthy.  But he predicted Paul would most likely land in a nursing home and "may" be able to feed himself.

It was time for the family to decide if Paul would want to live like this for the rest of his life or forge ahead with the rehabilitation for a hopeful better recovery
I posted on Facebook  that  those individuals who would like to pay their last respects to Paul should visit tomorrow. Thankfully I did!!!  The next morning 35 troops from the base showed up at  9:00 am to "pay their respects."  Instead, they inspired Paul to fight for his life.

Chris, one of the first troops to visit with Paul, later told me that he punched Paul in his broken leg and said, "You stubborn son of a bitch you'd better wake up!"  He felt Paul's glare on him, boogied on out of the room, and encouraged the rest of the troops to further inspire Paul.  For the rest of the morning pairs funneled in talking to their "brother", Paul, telling him it was time to show what he was made of, to fight to come back to us and prove the doctors wrong.

That day was such an amazing roller coaster ride.

I remember emotional moments of people crying uncontrollably, Becky rushing at me that Paul was asking for me, and the valiant voice of Paul's nurse to Dr. Geffe that Paul was indeed responsive. I remember the smile on the neurological doctor's face when he said, "You're going to get 85-95% of Paul back!" I remember his daughter Katie dancing around knowing she was right, her dad was going to make it.  I remember telling the troops we were getting him back but needed their help to do it.

Some did, I had the support of many in the journey.  When Paul began to become more cognitively aware, some would converse with him via Skype.  When he came home from the hospital, people could not wait to see him again.  He was isolated for so long from his everyday family that they needed to be reunited.  People would visit, invited us to functions, and we would visit them as well.  It was awesome to see the love and support his military family had for their"brother."

Then, everyday life took over.  Those "brothers" that promised to help me and would not let me do this alone slowly disappeared.  The "brothers" that promised to spend time with him never followed through.  Some simply moved away.  Some contacted me for an update and discovered our struggle only to promise to help yet turned the other cheek.  These "brothers" that you would think, after literally crying over him, would follow through on their word did not.

As his caregiver, I have lost contact with many of my friends, some supported us and were very willing to include us in their regular activities, yet most have faded away.

Eventually his "military family" faded away and we are in our own seclusion.  I say we have been "voted off the island";  We are our on our own little island working through this recovery process. People do not visit, call, text, or Skype this man they called their "brother."  Why? Not sure.  Our friend Brenda thinks they feel awkward around him.   In my opinion, these "brothers" inspired Paul to fight for his life-   He needed them that day and continues to need them..  The inspiration Paul gets when he sees someone from his "military family" is incredible;  He walks a bit taller, speaks a bit clearer, and shows signs of my old guy.

With Veterans Day just passed,  I cannot help but miss Paul's military family for him.  I believe that not only should we honor our vets, but the military family should take time to reflect and reach out to each other.  Reconnect with one another.  These are the brothers you trust with your life.  They all are important to you one way or another.  They still need your love and support.

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