It's Wednesday evening and I am finally back home in Nashville, after 13 hours of driving. I saw Andy before I left this morning and he said he had managed to get some longer periods of sleep last night--a major blessing. He thought he might have slept as long as an hour at the time a couple of times...not consecutive hours...but that's still a big leap from sleeping only minutes at the time for the past 5 days.
There was a bloodclot in his lung discovered yesterday which necessitated a filter to be put in today--a very painful process. Andy had some moments of discouragement but also moments of goodness during visits from other members of his company and regiment that are also receiving care at WR.
Today we are happy to report that their was much ice cream and jello being consumed. Did you know that Andy loves ice cream? Butter pecan to be exact...but in a pinch, vanilla seems to do well too. :)
Daniel was with him today and our parents will arrive in DC tomorrow afternoon. Pray for their smooth and safe travel and their strength as their day of traveling will end at Andy's bedside--and in those moments a whole new world will begin for them. I can not yet put into adequate words how it felt to walk into that surgical ICU room for the first time and to see my brother in his current state. I am fumbling around with a journal so I can remember...but coherency is not my gift at the moment. Seeing him the first time was kinda like having a convulsion and an out-of-body experience all at the same time.
Hours after my arrival, Andy asked me to take a photo of him to show him what he looked like and to post on his myspace. Now that I'm home, I can post it (tomorrow) but I'm going to post it somewhere else and link it here, that way it won't load unless you click on the link. It's pretty intense, and I don't want people who know and love Andy to be caught off guard by the image.
Now that I'm home, I will post updates here with more regularity. Feel free to pass around the blog address...who knew my little love letters blog would go from primarily scrapbook pages to love letters of a different sort? I'm now the self-appointed information officer/public affairs office for all things Andy since I am now at home for a few weeks, away from the hub of activity. I want Daniel and Mom and Dad to be able to focus on taking care of Andy and managing their lives away from home and--quite honestly, I need something tangible to do to be helpful.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Use it at will.
Quite a few people have asked if Andy can receive cards. At this point, we are directing all cards here to me and I will send them in bundles to Daniel. Andy loves photos so feel free to include photos of yourself too. We will see that all cards and photos are prepared so that they can be hung up in his line of sight.
Address for Cards, photos, letters, notes, etc...
c/o Sarah Devendorf
7408 Harness Drive
Nashville TN 37221
I will print all emails...between all of us, we already have a few hundred emails of thoughts and prayers to print for him from people all over the world--most that we know and a few that we don't. Don't underestimate the value of these to us and to Andy.
I realized on my drive home today--down through the most beautiful hills of central Virginia--that my hands no longer smell like Andy and this crazy realization made me sob. I know that must be an odd thing to read about...it's also an odd thing to miss it already. Andy came straight into the hospital in Afghanistan from a combat field, where he'd been on a mission for a few weeks. One of the first coherent things he said to me was "I'm sorry I stink. I haven't had a shower in two weeks." At that point, I could not have cared any less about his smell, not had I really even noticed it and I told him so. Given the severity of his wounds, I'm sure that all the medical personnel around him at every step had far better, more important things to contend with than making sure he smelled nice. And believe me when I say...I did not care how he smelled at that time. At all.
His hands and elbows were still caked with bits of dried blood and dirt (that's probably as close as I'll ever get to Afghani soil). His feet were soldier-ish. His beard was overgrown and his hair matted. His forehead was sweaty and grimey. One of my first tasks was to find a wash cloth and wipe off his forehead. I was grateful to have a task and to find anything that might helphim to feel comforted, even a tiny bit. Given the state of his body, the only place available to touch him at that time without causing pain was the Army-short hair on top of his head. So that's what I did for 3 days--rubbed his hair. Alot.
After repeated washings with a wet cloth, by myself and the nurses, his hair started to look more normal, but my hands were bathed in the smell I came to associate with him--it wasn't bad, it wasn't worth bottling and selling, it was just Andy. :) The smell of Andy on my hands seems like a silly thing to be sentimental about but it's just part of the experience that didn't even register until it wasn't there anymore.
A quick lightweight story...
Andy is a medic for the Army but as my dad has already said to many people, it's not just a profession for Andy. He was an EMT before he even joined the Army. Being a medic is who Andy is wired to be. Never was that more clear to me than on Monday afternoon when one of the doctors was putting in a new a-line (an access point in his forearm). Because of the immobilization unit on his neck and chest, Andy couldn't see what the doctor was doing, so he said to me "take a picture of this so I can see...I've never done one of those.".
Photographing a medical procedure involving blood and very long needles was a completely new thing for me... I don't think it's going to be something I make a habit of. :)
And on a final light and personal note--I (she who does not like to drive at all) drove on the famous (or perhaps infamous) Washington Beltway! Yes, me. And survived.
LBJ in Dallas--check
That stretch in Atlanta that I can't remember the name of--check
and now, the Washington Beltway--check, check...
Next time I'm there I'm going to hunt down Dupont Circle. :)