Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Carol Mitchell - Mother of Jeff Mitchell, paws4vets
Here are some pictures from our trip to Fort Stewart . Jeff did great! He talked all the way down there (except the last hour when he got really angry and anxious). By the time we got there, he was getting close to an anxiety attack and wasn’t able to go to the PX as planned. It was weird – like somebody turned off a switch – he went from great to morose in a few minutes. We took CAROLINE back to the hotel and almost immediately, he started to chill out. He and CAROLINE played with her goofy blue ball for several hours ( big mistake – she became fixated with the ball for the rest of our trip). We learned that she can only play with it for a limited time or she becomes obsessed with it. Jeff said that she was SOOOO happy when she had the ball and it made him happy to see her so happy and that’s why he let her have it for so long, but lesson learned – he won’t do that again. She seemed to get angry with him for taking it away and was very difficult to walk ( she pulled him a lot) and she kept going to every place in our rooms that we had hidden the ball and even though he showed her that the ball wasn’t there any more – she could smell it and she kept looking and wasn’t able to focus very well. Even though she seemed to resent Jeff for taking the ball away – she still cuddled and licked him and was very affectionate. Jeff was able to go out to dinner Wednesday night and gutted through it – CAROLINE and JAKE’s presence certainly helped. They behaved perfectly. He had a good night (although CAROLINE was a little more anxious than last time and kept looking for the ball). CAROLINE finally settled down and they slept pretty well. We got up early the next morning and Jeff wasn’t his usual grumpy self (he’s definitely NOT a morning person). He was talkative, alert and almost cheerful! CAROLINE went out and did “better hurry” great! I can’t believe how well she goes on command. We went back to Fort Stewart and played for a while and then went to the PX. Jeff did great! (I seem to say that a lot, but it’s true). He walked all around the store with CORINA (CAROLINE’s sister) who is much easier to manage than CAROLINE at this point. She’s been with Kyria and Terry for a while and is so disciplined and focused. Jeff is really looking forward to the time when CAROLINE is too. Kyria and Terry decided to take CAROLINE up to Charlotte to work with Karen (the head trainer) for a while to get her walking and paying attention better. Hopefully, we will get to go to Charlotte to see her. Jeff did take a shot for migraine right before we went to the PX and it turned out to be great timing. He nipped the migraine in the bud before it really got going and we had a wonderful trip home! He talked the whole 5 hours – I couldn’t believe how open and relaxed he was. He talked about Iraq – told me things he has never shared before about fear and faith. He reiterated that he believes everything happens for a reason and that he is being prepared to use his life experiences to help others. He expressed how lucky he is because he has such remarkable people surrounding him and trying to help him – especially Dennis (his Wounded Warrior advocate at Fort Carson ), Ann, Kevin, Art, Terry, Kyria and everyone at paws4vets. He said he feels very guilty that he has had so much help while the guys at Fort Stewart have been waiting for their med boards for years. So many of the guys he served with are struggling and too many have committed suicide. He also worries about Buf and is so frustrated that he got such a low rating. He still has trouble imagining that he will ever be “normal” and acknowledging his victories, but he is aware that is faulty thinking and is working on that with Kevin and Art. He is connecting with old friends thru Facebook. He asked me if I thought it would be ok for his brother, Rob, to come with us – wow! I told him that it would be huge for Rob to be included. Rob calls me every day and instead of starting out talking about himself – he always asks what kind of a day Jeff is having. One of the blessings of this awful time has been that it seems to have helped Rob grow and mature and become much more sensitive to others. Rob was thrilled when I called him with the news. Healing their relationship will be so good for both of them. Rob is Jeff’s older brother (by three years) and was born with Weaver Syndrome which is a very rare condition resulting in very tall stature (Rob is 7 ft. tall and weighs over 360 lbs) and developmental disabilities. It’s been hard to be Rob’s younger brother.
There are a bunch more pictures on my Facebook page and I hope Jeff will add them to his blog.