Update on ARMY ANDY!
(Don't anybody fall in the floor in shock.)
On behalf of my brothers, I'm taking over as the information passer-alonger. Quite honestly, Daniel would like to be the one to send emails and updates but, in his words, "at the end of the day, my brain is mostly mush". So, after the wedding, I had a chance to talk to Daniel and get a very detailed report on all things Andy. I also proposed to Daniel that I would call him more regularly for the expressed purpose of getting information to pass along to family and friends via the blog and emails. Hopefully, this relieves some of the pressure on Daniel and still meets the needs of all those who care about the boys and wish to pray specifically for them.
Daniel made it back from the wedding in good shape. He drove from Tyler to Tampa so he would have his truck for mobility and he was able to stop for the night in Jackson, Miss to see his long-time friend, Brandon Weems for a night. If I have my years straight, Daniel and Brandon have been friends since about the first grade. I could be wrong, but it's been a really long time, so he was thrilled to get to see him.
Andy was really happy with the set-up of the webcast for the wedding and receptions. There were some moments that really made him laugh--especially at the reception when other guests got the chance to send him messages. David, we will all be eternally grateful for what you gave us all by making that possible and successful.
In big headlines: Andy D R O V E a modified truck today. If you know Andy, you have an inkling of what a joy this was for him. Over the moon doesn't begin to describe this accomplishment! He told Daniel this was his best day since he got shot. Mobility has always been a huge part of who Andy is and this is one of the keys to his satisfaction. The truck is modified so that it can be stopped and accelerated with a hand control. It's equipped with a motorized lift that sets him into the driver's seat and deposits his chair into the back of the truck.
Very soon Andy and Daniel will be purchasing a truck for Andy and it will be similarly modified. There's even a Driver Certification Class for him to pass. I can just hear the muttering that's going on about having to pass yet another driving test but what a day that will be!
In other news, Daniel was happy to chat tonight, as he and Andy were just returning from a MOAA dinner. The Military Officers Association of America sponsors a project called Helping Hands for wounded soldiers and their families that includes some really nice dinners and a chance for officers to acquaint and re-acquaint with soldiers who are wounded. Daniel said he and Andy sat across from a 2-star general and they talked quite a bit. It turns out that this General is the logistical command for food and supplies for the ground forces in both Iraq and Afhanistan. Daniel said Andy thanked him for the proficiency with which he got their supplies--especially the food--delivered, from half-way around the globe, no less. The MOAA meal was fantastic according to Daniel--grilled steak, all the right veggies, rolls, and brownie with Blue Bell Ice Cream! and you know how the boys feel about good food. :)
The immediate future for Andrew holds two serious milestones: an outing to a public place and then an overnight stay, hopefully a hotel with a beach view. The first--the outing will involve Andy taking his first field trip with a small entourage of other soldiers and care givers from the hospital. Daniel thinks they may be going to see a movie. This outing will be huge. Andy's sensitive (he'll probably smack me for saying this out loud) to how he's perceived and when he was a 6' 4" soldier entering the room, he was perceived differently than he will be as a man in a wheel chair entering a room. It's a major re-adjustment of his thinking. He has to come to terms with it, just like the rest of us. He will...but the first few times are extremely challenging.
The second is to be an overnight stay away from the hospital. Andy's hoping a beachfront hotel stay can be arranged. Daniel has some persuading to do if he wants to get Andy to actually visit the beach, but true to Daniel's form, he's done the research and found at least one beach that's wheelchair-accessible. We shall see how that works out.
Andy's immediate need is for a place to live when he leaves Tampa. It appears that he will be leaving Tampa on/around November 20. In the next six weeks, Andy and Daniel will be choosing a place for Andy to live for around a year, while Andy's house is being built. Pray for smoothness in the transitions and for ease in finding the temporary place as well as the right piece of land for the house. These are big hairy deals. Andy has expressed his desire to be as independant as possible but complete independence is not going to come very soon. He has also expressed the desire to have 2 things: a comfortable home and a truck he can drive himself. Everything else is icing.
Daniel (and the rest of us) are determined to see that both of these goals are achieved ASAP. Daniel has architectural skills and can design and build the house to Andy's exact specifications. Daniel is up to his ears in research about accessibility right now. At this point it looks like the plan will be to build a 2-family house, similar to a duplex but beefed up. Andy's very specific, accessible home will be on one end, complete with gym and other requirements. The second home will be on the other end for Daniel and the two will be intersected with a garage and common area. (I'm still rooting for a pool in the middle, but that might be coming later.) :)
I know this is getting long, but I do want to pass along one kinda funny story about the brothers Burnett. Yesterday Andy handed Daniel a plastic water bottle. With his right hand. (The right hand is the lesser functioning one.) Andy was being coy about his newest achievement and instead of saying "Dude, look what I can do with my right hand today" he simply said "Daniel, do you want a water?" Daniel, who was distracted, said "No, I'm fine." without looking at him.
Andy would not be deterred--he asked again "Man, have a water." Daniel declined again, much to Andy's irritation. "Well then at least look at the hand trying to give you the water." he said, finally getting his brother's attention.
I can just hear Daniel saying "Oh!" and coming up out of his chair. This new-found ability to grasp and hold onto a water bottle and direct his arm's movement is a major accomplishment. Cheers all around!
With gratefulness for your continued prayers and concern for this long journey,
Sarah, for the family.