Bone and Flesh Injuries Only

by Karen Grimord on June 22, 2008

Thursday ended a little rough and I thought that Friday would have started better but the first thing I saw after opening my email was the link about Justin.  It should be (orginal link =  https://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid992398979/bclid1028788754/bctid1573187746)

For those of you that do not know the story of Justin, I met him several years ago while working at LRMC.  His mom emailed me after he returned home to say he had a stroke.  As you heard in the video, it was not a stroke, but an infection.  When I returned from LRMC, I went to NC to visit him.  He has been to one of our benefits and he used to call about every two weeks and say “Hey #2, it’s Justin” as if I would not know!  He called me #2 because when his mom could not be at LRMC, I was there and gave him just as hard a time as his mom would have.  He called me when he was able to use his arm again, he called me when his leg braces came off, he called me when he got well enough to drive and he called me when he found out he was going to be a dad.  Then the 2nd attack happened.  I hadn’t heard from him and I tried calling his cell phone several times until I finally just called his mom.  We talked a long time.  She told me he was in the hospital again.  The next week I got the call that he was in Richmond, VA and they didn’t expect him to make it through the night.  Ann, his mom and his dad were flying in but they didn’t know if they would make it in time.  Could I get there to be with him?  Richmond is about 90 minutes away but I have to confess I broke every law of the land and did it in 45 minutes.  Brian and I went back over the weekend and we took turns in ICU with his parents as they managed their son’s care.

Justin left LRMC with bone and flesh injuries only.  To see him as he is now breaks my heart.  When he talked at our benefit he had me in tears talking about our relationship while he was at LRMC and the relationship that followed.  His mom and dad have become my sister and brother and so to see this video Friday morning was just a reminder of the price our troops are willing to pay.  Justin is one of the most fun people I have ever met.  Justin’s mom says she wants no one to feel sorry for him; it is just something that happens.  Let me explain how strong a statement this is coming from her.  Justin is her ONLY biological child.  Justin knew and she knew what could happen.  Justin loved life and the Marine Corp.  I have never heard him or Ann say a bad word about the war or the effort of the US.  The reason this video was done was so that each of us could send it out and maybe find a cause of this virus and a cure.  Justin is not the only victim like this.  She thought if the story was out there maybe someone could help; so please pass this video link to as many people as possible.

We have many visiting surgeons and physicians that come to work at LRMC.  All of them come here with their unique background and expertise in caring for injured patients.  I think the program was to educate both civilian ad military doctors, but one of them last year told me that he thought he learned more than he taught.  I hope one year that one of them will know how to help those like Justin.  The doctor I talked to last year told me that he wishes he could have done more while he was here.  I met two last year while working here. One had former military back ground and one had no military background, but both seemed to be just as impressed with the professionalism, compassion and commitment to our patients.  It is the same thing I have been saying for over 4 years now and I glad to know that even professionals in the medical field feel the same way about the competence of the nurses, doctors, and techs.  I’ve heard them speak this way of the ICU teams to the critical care teams that transported the patients on the buses and aircraft, from the ER staff to the liaisons.  I listened to one surgeon last year say that he could tell that the patients were receiving superior care in theater because of what the wounds looked like when they went in to do surgery.  The civilian doctor told me that he thought the organization of the hospital was amazing and it was as if he was watching a waltz unfold in front of him.  From the time the call comes that “wheels are on the ground,” to the time patients were in for surgery – it all fell together beautifully.  One of the things I hear the most around here is that everyone says “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” to everyone else.  The patients tell me that they don’t hear that in theater often but here they hear it every morning several times.  One told me the other day that he heard it 3 times before he even got inside the hospital.  I think it is our grounding rod.  To tell someone “Good Morning” feels good for both patient and care giver.  It also helps to motivate the entire support team.

We had one group come through on Friday for a tour and one VIP visitor.  I have often heard them say that they leave hear feeling humbled.  One of the men I talked to on Friday said you just can’t help but feel humility because so many of the troops told his group that they just wanted to get back to their units.  He said it did not matter what their injuries were; the only thing they were thinking of was the men and woman they had left behind still fighting.

I think this surprises not only the visiting doctors but also the VIPs.  Many of them say they came to give thanks and support to our troops but they leave here feeling that they are the one that got more out of it than they left with the wounded troops.

Many are surprised at the level of care that LRMC can and does provide.  Many people do not realize that LRMC recently received their Level II status.  It is the only hospital outside the US designated as a Level II trauma center by the American College of Surgeons.  If you look up the requirements for a Level II trauma center, you will see that LRMC has to follow some stringent guidelines and inspections from outside inspection teams to ensure that they are meeting or exceeding the standards set down.  These standards include everything from the tracking of patients, to the documentation of care, to definitive trauma care no matter how severe the injury.

Wounded warriors needing ICU treatment usually stay here three to five days before being transported to the U.S.  Others might stay a little bit longer.  I met the father of one of these kids the other day and he was very impressed with LRMC and all those that were involved with the care of his son.  He just happened to be in Germany on business when his son was injured and was transported to LRMC.  Most of the liaisons care so much that one of them put him up in their quarters so that there was no cost to the family.  His son was involved in the suicide attack that I told you about the other day.

Monday I will be trying to ship some items down range as it looks like there are non-profit organizations using our med bag directions, but sending them directly to LRMC.  LRMC does not use them and they are piling up.  Looks like some organizations may be using our list, but getting the types of supplies and where they go mixed up and sending them all to LRMC.  There are also several other items piling up around here that I am going to try to move out of here next week.  We have some 2×2 and 3×3 afghans that no one will take, so I am going to try to find a home for them.  We have so many calf and tube socks that we have no more storage space for them and it looks like they might have to go to storage.  I have given out two pairs of calf socks in the two weeks I have been here.  The men and woman want ankle socks!  We have enough 2x, 3x and 4x clothing to supply the NFL and the NHL.  It is truly amazing; we just don’t have that many wounded coming through here that are big.

This has been a long email and I have many more to reply to tonight before I can go to bed.  I have been asked to go over the process here at LRMC with my job and what LRMC looks like. I will try to hit that in the next email without going into OPSEC.

Friday I worked 10 hours thanks to the support of Peg Seljeskog of Rapid City, SD.

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