Monday, August 18, 2014

From Ashes Rise The Phoneix.

My friend Jessica and her wounded warrior Flip have been through it. He hasn't even reach his second Alive Day and has racked up more surgeries at Walter Reed than anyone except the guy who's been there about four years. So Jess gets on with life, gets a job working for The Yellow Ribbon Fund helping caregivers, becomes a Dole Fellow for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and overall just really starts doing amazing things for the community. Unlike me, who kind of spent months indoors and then got pregnant and now I just stress about everything all the time. So Jess is actually kind of awesome.

Her husband is pretty awesome, too. He's a triple who most recently walked a mile on his legs with knees. He is one of very few enlisted soldiers to have earned a position at West Point, actually becoming Captain America. He is an incredible solider and leader. He and Jess met at West Point, and while she transferred to another school, they stayed together and married after graduation and commissioning. A real American love story.

I know loss. I know what it's like to rebuild your whole life, and how weird it can make you feel about your life before injury. You might get kind of possessive about whatever choices you have left to make, and the things you have left to prove that it existed. So instead of taking the furnished apartment home, or sticking around the hospital housing for as long as possible, Jess and Flip searched high and low for a great rental so they could get their things and their dogs back. I think they are the only other couple I know besides us who did this. You just want whatever normal life you can get, even if you have build it from the ground up.

So it is just completely unfathomable to me that after they get into their rental, modify it, build a fence for their dogs, buy the best adjustable cooling memory foam bed so they both can get some sleep, fill the house with fans to keep it cool because amputees' bodies don't regulate heat well, fill the kitchen with all the things one could need and want to cook again, to have a real vanity for all the fun make up- all this little stuff you don't even think about- that it could just be gone in a few minutes.

Jess and Flip's home burned down the other night. Yesterday Jessica called and asked for a ride out to the house and lunch, which I was happy to oblige (she is the BEST lunch date ever, anyway, so I was happy to have an excuse to sip wine over sushi). I just can't get over how the house is totally destroyed. All the things they bought to make life easier. All the things they brought in from "before" injury took over. Jess said I could take some pictures and share them, so here they are:
 We pulled up to the house to find that someone had left a little reminder.
 The front porch area.
 The bedroom.
 The entrance inside the house.
 I actually can't even tell you where this was in the house.
 Flip's custom wheelchair with power assist wheels. This costs more than most cars.
 The custom electric wheelchair. Even if a lot of this will work, the smell will never leave.
 Soggy insulation everywhere.
 It's always a relief to find a shower or tub that will hold a full sized shower bench.
Headed upstairs from the front entrance.
 More bathroom. I didn't know what damage smoke and water could do on its own.
 Flip and Jess's custom memory foam, cool gel, adjustable base king sized bed. Sleep is hard to come by for the rest of your life as an amputee and caregiver, and anything that helps feels like a god-send. I can't imagine having to swallow purchasing another one of these.
 The garage leading into the house area.
 Upstairs, outside.
 I think this was a ceiling somewhere.
 While the kitchen wasn't burned, the water and smoke has destroyed everything.
 Just from the fire.
 Jess is a cook. She loves it. This whole set of cast iron is now contaminated and can't be used again.
 The landing to the upstairs.

While the donations and outreach has already surpassed any expectations, they still need us. They have at least one whole car to purchase, and might have to pay for some adaptive equipment because of program restrictions (no one is being "mean", you just only get so many adaptations in a period). They already started over once, and knowing what that is like I can not even imagine doing it again.


  1. Saw this on the news last night after reading your blog. Wish I could do more for them, but I know every little bit will help. Please pass along my wishes to them, and a hearty Beat Army from this USNA grad :)

  2. Oh Kat, this is terrible. I am saddened to read this.