October 20, 2015


“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight—it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

Carol writes:    We are coming up on the end of a 3-month stay in San Antonio.  Several times we have been told by residents here that San Antonio weather is really perfect 9 months of the year.  As fate would have it, our 3-month stay in San Antonio wasn’t included in any part of the delightful 9.  The intense heat with temps over 100 for days on end, accompanied by high humidity, presented a challenge for us former dry-air mountain folk…but the purpose of our visit wasn’t a vacation…

The sole reason for our long stay in San Antonio was to help our daughter get through the initial recovery stages after cartilage transplant surgery on her knee. 


For the first 5 weeks after surgery, we were quite the “cozy” threesome in the RV.  Our “responsible adult” days were filled with the typical chores of a caretaker—meal preparation, laundry, shopping, cleaning, TV entertainment, and transportation.  Megan’s much more difficult day included 8-10 hours each day with her knee in a passive motion machine, mixed in with challenging twice a day rehab at the state-of-the-art “Center for the Intrepid” where she underwent a recovery protocol that was NOT designed for the faint of heart!

This impressive 3-story facility was originally built as an extremity rehabilitation center for the many thousands of wounded warriors that flowed into Fort Sam Houston at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Fort Sam doctors and physical therapists became experts at limb salvage, in addition to the design, training and use of prosthetic limbs.  Even from our nonexpert point of view, it was obvious that the technology of the prosthetics that we saw was quite advanced.  However, what was even more impressive was the bravery and determination exhibited by the many amputees we encountered on a daily basis.
By the end of the 5th postoperative week, all three of us were ready for more private space…and freedom from the group routine!  Megan had reached the point in her recovery that she was able to function in a room of her own in a hotel across the street from rehab.  With a little smile on my face, I will always remember one of our first steps at normalcy the day after Megan moved to the hotel—a family visit to a Starbucks OUTSIDE the gate.  At that point, small things sure meant a lot!

During one of Megan’s rehab sessions, I was able to take an hour-long  genealogy class in the support center for wounded soldiers and their families, where I got started for the first time on a genealogy history of both sides of my family, mostly through the use of ancestry.com.  I can think of few better ways to get to really know yourself than to take a peak way back into ancestral history.  Later, I will have more to say on that subject, but so far it’s been quite an interesting journey…

In the last few weeks, Megan has reached several important goals in her recovery, and with each achievement has come more opportunity to feel “normal” again.  

Once she was freed from the monotony of most waking hours with her knee in a passive motion machine, she was able to enjoy a night out at the movies with us.  

We saw “The Martian” at a movie/dinner theater.  Neat…they bring you a meal during the movie!  It was an exciting yarn and very thought provoking…

This week the three of us finally got to visit the Alamo--respected and hallowed ground in Texas history. 

And while we were in the neighborhood, we finished up the afternoon with lunch along the River Walk.

As we say goodbye to San Antonio and Fort Sam Houston, we realize that we have so much to be thankful for:

  • The ability to come together as a family and find a way to get through a challenging time
  • The talented surgeon (and his team of nurses) who performed complex orthopedic surgery on our daughter
  • The devoted physical therapists who assisted in state-of-the-art rehab at the Center for the Intrepid
  • The campground personnel who “worked” the schedule to accommodate our 3-month stay
  • The Warrior & Family Support Center, where we were able to relax in a homey atmosphere, use the computer lab, plus enjoy several catered meals courtesy of local community businesses
  • All the folks we encountered in many daily activities at Fort Sam Houston
  • And lastly, all the selfless men and women who train in the medical field and serve in every branch of the military at Fort Sam.  The nightly bugle call as the flag was lowered at the end of the day at the hospital reminded us that the long tradition of military medical service to our country is alive and well at Fort Sam Houston.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”  Anthony Brandt

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