This year more than every, I truly understand the meaning of Memorial Day! 9 months ago, many lives were changed forever.
Today and every day, I thank our Service Men and Service Women for sacrificing their safety and lives for the Freedom of our Country.
I hope that each and every one of you that are reading this post today took the time to remember the meaning of this holiday.
Please pray for the families that lost their sons and daughters that awful day on August 26, 2021.
Remember their names:
Sgt. Nicole L. Gee,
Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo,
Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover,
Cpl. Hunter Lopez,
Cpl. Daegan W. Page,
Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez,
Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza,
Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz,
Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum,
Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola,
Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui,
Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak,
Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss.
Kelsee was able to come home for the Holiday Weekend. It's been nice having her home again for a few days, other than our 7 1/2 hour drive home from Chicago due to severe storms.
The weather has been nice at home and we've been able to be outside and enjoy some time with family.
She went to Church with us on Sunday and it went well and it wasn't too overwhelming.
She had been a little nervous about going the past couple of times she was home.
So I'm super happy that she got that part out of the way.
We went car shopping over the weekend as Kelsee is ready to start learning to drive again.
She is ready to get some independency back. It'll take her a while to be able to do it on her own, but eventually she'll get there.
She has to take driving school and learn how to use adaptive hand controls and we are praying she doesn't have to take the written test again (she probably wouldn't pass it...haha...just kidding).
So, we are working to get her in driving school, purchasing a vehicle, and then getting the car adapted. It'll take her awhile before we are able to get everything in line, so everyone can continue to feel safe on the road for several more months at least.
And if anyone was wondering how the government takes care of their wounded veterans....Kelsee gets a 1-time vehicle grant for $22,000.
And if anyone has been out shopping for vehicles lately, you know that you can't buy very many, if any vehicles for $22,000 let alone a vehicle big enough to get her wheelchair in and out of easily.
She isn't looking for an adaptive van or anything like that as she wants a car, but to know that the government only helps 1-time in her life and for so little makes me sad.
Truly, if it weren't for wonderful organizations out there, like SemperFi Fund or Wounded Warriors,
I'm not sure where we'd be today. I'm thankful these organizations exist, but I also don't feel like they should exist.
Our government should step up and support our military and their families.
So if you ever have time to lobby for our military, please take the time to do so.
Last week, Kelsee didn't feel the greatest, however, she pushed and made it to all her therapy sessions. She is getting stronger and stronger every day.
She is working hard on getting things to start activating again and pushing hard to get her body to move. We still love her therapist and she pushes Kelsee hard....which is great!!
Weather is finally getting nice in Chicago so we are going to start getting outside more and get her moving on a hand bike and a racing wheelchair.
She is going to a camp this coming weekend for Injured Military to train them on how to train for a triathlon.....as you may or may not hear of her doing one in the near future.
And Oli is doing great....he is the best service dog and Kelsee is in love.
He has been an awesome addition to her family.
He truly has the cutest, best personality!!
Journal Entry by Stacey Lainhart — May 10, 2022
I'm trying to keep up with posting updated information, but it's difficult to find time. Also, Kelsee's schedule is so routine that I sometimes feel like I'm just writing the same thing over and over. I think I'm going to just make a post on the 26th of every month as an anniversary post for each month since that awful day. Mother's Day was wonderful.....having all my kids together on Mother's Day.
Not that we haven't all been together over the last 8 months, but it's been far and few between except for the holidays. I am so thankful that God decided that horrible day to save Kelsee and allow her to be here with me for Mother's Day.
I am heartbroken for the Gold Star Moms that had to have their first Mother's Day without their child. I pray they were able to find some peace and comfort.
I've met and spoken to a few of the parents and know that their pain is unbearable, so please pray for them.
Kelsee continues to push through therapy and continues to get stronger every day. Her schedule is pretty routine, yet very busy at the same time. The best news to share since the last post is that she finally received her Service Dog, Oli. I think I posted about Oli on FB, but hadn't posted about him on this platform yet. Oli has to be the coolest dog I've ever met. He has the cutest, funniest personality and Kelsee absolutely loves him. He is perfect for her. I've told her that she needs to start some sort of social media page all about Oli....because....well.....everyone would fall in love with him.
John Devine and Jesus from Rescue 22 brought Oli all the way from California on April 14th and spent almost a week with Kelsee and us to ensure that Kelsee was comfortable with Oli and that he would be able to listen to her commands. They quickly became the best of friends and Oli has done great. If Kelsee goes in her room and shuts the door,
Oli literally sits outside the door waits for her.....it's just so cute. He loves to snuggle and loves to be right up in her lap all the time. He has been trained to pick up things for Kelsee if she drops something, pull her up ramps if she can't push herself, push the handicap door button to open the door, open the fridge and grab a bottle of water, and several other things.
He really is super smart. You can learn more about Rescue 22 here Rescue 22 Foundation Veterans Charity Non-Profit Organization. I cannot thank them enough for finding the most perfect dog for Kelsee.
Kelsee was able to come home a few weeks ago to see her younger sister, Kaci, in her school play. It was nice to have her home for a few days, so she could visit with family and friends.
I'll be happy when she is able to come home for good, IF she decides to come home. I know we want to keep her in Chicago at Shirley Ryan as long as possible as the more therapy she can get, the better the outcome.
She is continuing to make progress and get stronger every day. You truly never realize what people in her situation go through every day, unless you live it. Everything is harder than it was before. I know for me, everywhere I go, I'm looking to see if they are wheelchair accessible that way I know if we can go there with Kelsee.
It's been a huge eye opener and I hope this make you think twice when you see someone in a wheelchair. Kelsee is slowing trying to wean herself off any medications that she doesn't feel is benefiting her, so pray she is able to successfully get off all medications at some point.
As I end, I want you to please continue to pray for Kelsee's full recover.
And please pray for the families of the 13 and continue to remember that FREEDOM does not come FREE.
Never forget their names:
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page
Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui
Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss
I'm not sure how it's been a little over 7 months since the suicide blast at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed 11 Marines, 1 Navy Corpsman, 1 Army Soldier and wounded so many others, including Kelsee. These have been the toughest and worst 7 months of our lives. At least several times a day, I still wonder how we are where we are today. How and why this had to happen. Not in a million years would I have ever expected Kelsee to be there in the mix of all of the chaos.
In my mind, she was an intelligence specialist that should have been behind the scenes somewhere on a computer. That's what I wish she would have been doing that awful day. I'm still heartbroken for the families that lost their loved ones. I'm not sure how they make it through each and every day. I know people ask me how we are making it...and all I can say is that you we just have to do it.....we can't give up and we won't give up. We do what we have to do. Kelsee continues to get stronger and stronger every day. She is going to have some serious guns on those arms eventually. She continues to have 2.5 hours of "research", 2 hours of PT, and 1 hour of OT almost every day.
I've had a lot of people ask me what research means. Basically, she is participating in clinical trials and/or new research available to find a cure and/or help for spinal cord injuries. Currently, she gets electrical stimulation....similar to a TENS unit, but at a much higher intensity...and immediately following the stimulation, they work with her from a physical standpoint. I hope she can continue this stimulation as long as possible. She continues to have pool therapy and I pray this continues as long as possible.
Sometimes, it's hard to try to think of things to write about considering her days are pretty much the same every day. I try to only post the positive things just so we can always continue to keep that positive mindset. I continue to be impressed by Kelsee's positive attitude and her willingness to think of her recovery as her current job. I see what she goes through and it's tough....and it makes me sad. But God kept her here on this earth for a reason....and we aren't going to let her give up easily. There is so much more to life than what she is going through right now.
She WILL get through this!! We finally got 1 nice day in Chicago that Glen and I were able to get Kelsee out by the lake and try out her wheelchair's smart drive. It's a device that hooks to the back of her wheelchair and it can go 5 mph. You don't think 5 mph is very fast until it takes off on you. Kelsee had tested it out a little bit at Shirley Ryan and down the hall of the apartment building, but she really hadn't had the opportunity to get outside with it. As we were walking to get to Lakeshore drive to take the trails along the lake, she decided to try it out on the sidewalk....well....needless to say she hadn't quite figured out how to stop it, so Glen and I literally had to run and hold on to it to keep her from being tipped out into the middle of the street.
That was a little scary...ok...a lot scary!!! So she decided to wait to use it to we were in a much safer place to test it out. The weather was perfect that day, the lake was beautiful, and by the end of the day, she had it figured out. NOW....we just need more nice days in Chicago so she can get get use of that "smart drive":). Although the winter has been rough in Chicago, it's going to be beautiful this spring and summer.
Kelsee's best friend, Ava, was finally able to come for a visit. These 2 were inseparable before Kelsee went into the Marines and it's been tough for Ava to get to Chicago because she is currently in nursing school. So, I was so happy when Ava was able to finally come and hang out for a few days. I know it was good for both of them to be together. We had a lot of fun....they had a lot of fun! We ate way too much food that weekend, went to a dinner show, and had a few laughs. OH.....AND....thank God Ava was there that weekend....as I threw Kelsee out of her wheelchair in the middle of the street as we were walking to breakfast one morning.
I hit a little pothole and literally stop her chair and she went flying out. Thankfully, she was ok....however, I felt AWFUL. Definitely, a BAD MOM moment!! I was worried that I hurt her wrist when she went to catch herself and/or hurt her knees or legs. I think the 3 of us were in shock that it happened....almost in slow motion. So thankfully Ava was there to help me get her back up. So we learned a good lesson that day.....she needs to wear her seatbelt. I'm certain, we'll laugh about it one day.
We've definitely become hyper aware and super sensitive to where we can go and what we can do because of wheelchair accessibility. If you are reading this and own a business, please make sure your establishment is ADA accessible. We went to a restaurant yesterday that had handicap parking, yet the ramp was blocked by a parking block, which made no sense at all, so we had to roll her to the other side of the building just to get up the curb. Just stupid!!!
She went through her Neuropsychological testing last week to start the Med Board process. They say it could take up to a year for Kelsee to be medically discharged from the Marines. She'll get the result of that test within the next couple of weeks.
I was even shocked that the Federal Health Care facility that we had to take Kelsee to for this appointment wasn't even very accessible. They had about 30 handicap parking spots in the front row near the building which was great IF they were truly handicap accessible parking. They were not....they were just normal parking spots with a handicap sign.
So we had to pull into a non-parking spot to get her out of the car and then go park. AND, they didn't even have a handicap accessible bathroom that I could locate. It's sad and to be quite honest, unacceptable!! Thank you to everyone that continues to pray for Kelsee and send her cards and words of encouragement. We truly appreciate it!! Please continue to pray for her complete healing!!
And please continue to pray for those that lost their loved ones. Do not forget their names!! Also, check out @nealparrowart on Instagram to see some wonderful paintings he created for Kelsee and of the 13 KIA. He is truly an amazing artist and has a huge heart.