Barry: Since his return, Shane has been skiing; the first time he went, he got the novice alpine skier award. He loves to get out and do physical things: He has biked 150 miles, participated in sled hockey and ice hockey, and hasn’t found a physical challenge he won’t face. But he’s not done with surgery and therapy, and his mom, his nurse, will be there with him, as she was when he learned how to read again, or was fitted with his first prosthetics. The current worry is abnormal bone growth, heterotopic ossification, or H-O, which would make using artificial legs a painful experience. When we talked, he was facing yet another operation.
Cindy: So in essence, they’re going to reopen it, and they think there’s a muscle that slipped back in here. So when they reopen, they’re going to shave off – there’s another piece of bone, like a finger, growing out. They’re going to cut that off, shave off any HO, excess bone growth. Try to get that muscle and tendon and pull that up around so that he has some kind of a cushion. Will it be guaranteed? There’s no guarantee.
Barry: No guarantee. But Cindy says her faith in God gives her an extra shot of hope; and having gone through what she’s already endured, she feels like she can survive nearly anything…
AARP Radio Host Mike Cuthbert: You’re listening to a 'Prime Time Radio' special, 'Picking up the Pieces: How Family and Faith Are Healing Veterans Home From War,' reported by Barry Yeoman, of AARP The Magazine. I’m Mike Cuthbert, host of our weekly radio program, 'Prime Time Radio.' You can hear all our radio programs at radioprime.org.
Mike: Here again, investigative reporter Barry Yeoman and 'Picking up the Pieces.'
Barry: San Antonio, Texas, where Shane Parsons and his mother have spent so much time, was also where Ramiro Martinez went to recuperate after a suicide bomber tried to kill him in Afghanistan. Now 50, Ramiro has been in the military since he was 17. He’s seen much of the world, participated in missions he’s still not allowed to discuss, and when he was bombed, he spent the first moments helping administer first aid to the others in his truck.
Once he got to the hospital, Ramiro flat-lined. He still gets a kick out of remembering how he scared the nurses when he moved his leg, which proved he wasn’t quite dead. He doesn’t remember too much after that, until he arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center and saw his wife.
Raimro: She asked me; says, 'Do you know who I am?' I said, 'Yes, I know who you are.' I said, 'You’re my wife.' Says, 'Do you know my name?' I said, 'Yes, you’re Mary Jane Martinez.' And then after that, I asked– I told her– said, 'Why are you asking me that question?' I guess– I said, 'Why?'
And it wasn’t ’til the next day that I saw my mom sitting just the way she is at the end of the bed and I said, 'Mi afita, what are you doing here?' I said, 'Mom, what are you doing here?'
And then she came up to me and says, 'Well, came to make sure that you’re okay.' But it was a big shocker. It was– that my mom’s sitting right there. I think, 'What’s she doing there?'
Barry: Most remarkable to Ramiro was that 81-year-old Francisca Martinez had left her home in the Rio Grande Valley, where she had spent her entire life and raised her 15 children. Ramiro was the seventh. Mary Jane had tried to discourage Francisca from making the trip from San Benito, near the Mexican border, to San Antonio, not knowing what they’d find there. Francisca tells the story.
Francisca: And his wife said, 'I’m not– I don’t want you to come and see him.' And I said, 'I will go. I will go and see him no matter how he is.' I’m kind of brave myself. While I’m old, I have so many children; I have to be brave for my kids. Don’t you think so?