29 Apr 2006:
"Fly Fishing helps soldier heal in body and spirit" article on Eivind in the Billings Gazette HERE.
10 Nov 2005:
I haven't been to your web site in a while, and it looks great! Love the photo of you and your handsome son.
I wrote to Kent Miller, editor of the web site for Army Times, and told him I had kept people updated on Eivind through your site; it was wonderful to have your services, and I sincerely thank you. Also, if you remember the appeal I made through your site for people who wanted to help to contact their senators about putting the nerve blocks on wounded soliders on the planes from Germany: it happened; the docs got permission to insert the blocks before the plane trip, so guys won't have all the extra agony. I am giving your site credit for that, too. I think people must have done it. So, one more kudo for Marty's site!!
There is no progress on the arm, but Eivind is still having daily therapy at Walter Reed, and he is waiting for an internship through Yellow Ribbon Fund. Rangers always need a mission. He has more surgery in January. We are going to visit him and his sister Larissa at Christmas and take the train up to NYC for a couple days.
(If you remember, Larissa is a special federal agent for NCIS and a civilian, but they are rotating her back into Iraq next year to give polygraph tests. What I don't understand is that DOD is sending the civilian polygraphers and putting them at risk of IEDs, etc, yet they are NOT sending CID polygraphers who ARE military. Does that make any sense to you?)
In the meantime, Eivind is fishing with men from Project Healing Waters, and as long as he can fish and tie flies one handed, he is "Good to go!" Things are finally looking up!!!
THANKS AGAIN SO MUCH! Happy holidays.
6 May 2005:
I am so sorry that I dropped the ball on the updates for Eivind. After the excitement of getting him moved to the Mologne House, I had to come back to school and really work hard to learn the names of my 115 students and try to get all their required compositions taught and graded. Uff da!! I am way too old for all this excitement. Three more weeks!
Just so you know, the latest prognosis is not good; scar tissue is extensive under that huge graft, and docs are not holding out much hope for growth of that transplanted nerve. So, elective amputation at the end of the trial year is still looming. Bummer, huh?? I have to admit, though, that our Viking is taking it pretty well, all things considered. He can't do any emailing at all, yet, because some keyboard functions do require more than one hand. He hasn't yet mastered the pencil in the mouth!
He was just promoted to 1st LT and he is the executive officer of Alpha company at Med Hold, Walter Reed. So, besides therapy, he is doing something useful for the Army that uses his skills and talents. The guys in the 82nd have been terrific since they returned from deployment: going to see him and inviting him down to their functions at Fort Bragg; he is still proud to be an airborne Ranger, though a grounded one. He has even had an offer to be an instructor at Fort Benning when he recovers. So, there is light at the end of this tunnel. And still we are SO grateful he survived as intact as he did. Every day when I hear how many soldiers have been killed or wounded, my heart skips a beat. This Mother's Day, I am one grateful mother.
All the best to you,
15 March (11:00 AM Eastern):
I apologize for taking so long to reply. I recently got back from Walter Reed with my new prosthetic (right) eye it looks so amazing. I got to spend alot of time with LT forseth while i was up there. He's doing well... I guess they're done with all the major procedures on his arm so I know he's real happy about that. My leg is still healing but the wound is almost all the way closed already. Now they're starting my paperwork for my discharge so hopefully I will be out in time to start school in the fall. For now though they just have me on a permanent desk job.
I wanted to say to everyone THANK YOU for all the support, unfortunatly there were so many letters and packages I just cant respond to them all, But I loved each and everyone. The support is amazing. When I was down home for leave my town put together a clebration for me! I was picked up in a vintage WWII jeep with a police escort. The mayor came out and gave me an award aswell as the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and fire department. I gave a speech and everything. It feels good to know that when you come home the people of the nation appreciate my services. It was on the news and in the papers. They declared 19 FEB 05 " SGT Jose D. Lopez DAY".
Once again thank you for all the support, and please continue to support my friends and all the other soldiers, sailors, and marines over seas.
Sincearly, SGT Lopez
3 March (8:00 AM Eastern):
SGT Jose Lopez who was Eivind’s gunner and wounded in the same ambush arrived Monday at Walter Reed for his prosthetic eye. He’s doing very well, is in remarkable spirits, and he will be updating his web site soon, especially concerning his recent “SGT Jose Lopez Day” in Winter Garden, Florida. It’s great for Eivind’s morale to have him here.
Eivind’s surgery Tuesday involved moving skin from his right thigh to his arm. From the photos taken by the doctor in the operating room, it looks as if the entire arm from the shoulder to the wrist has been grafted. The arm itself (which only the docs have seen since the injury) is in its regular wraps and splint, but his leg’s very large donor site is not a happy camper. It continues to bleed through the dressing annoying its patient who does not want to be in bed. Next week the real work begins: the arm will be unwrapped requiring some psychological adjustment, and Eivind needs to transition from all the bags on his medicine tree to oral meds that will relieve the pain but still allow aggressive physical therapy. Doctors say that rehab will be “uncomfortable” which is their way of saying PAINful! The elbow mobility and range of motion are concerns; the doctor today said Eivind’s elbow is extremely stiff and will require months of intensive therapy with the final outcome unknown. The doctors are very somber when they discuss the seriousness of all these elbow injuries they are now treating. Also of concern is function of the hand beyond what Eivind can do now: slightly wiggle his thumb and fingers. He still can’t touch his thumb and forefinger together, but is figuring ways to tie his shoes and do the things we all take for granted. Once again, patience is not in the Ranger rucksack, so this former platoon leader is on a new mission to acquire some. Many months of therapy at Walter Reed lie ahead. Date for becoming an outpatient is still
Eivind is beginning to give thought to his future plans: he has some choices because he is fortunate to have varied experiences in his 31 years. Before college he enlisted, was stationed in Germany, served a year-long tour safely in Bosnia as a Bradley gunner and received his honorable discharge as a SGT/E-5. He then went to college in California graduating with a degree in English literature. He thought he might teach some day. While attending college he did both stage work (the lead in “MacBeth)” at school and film and television work in Hollywood to supplement his Montgomery GI Bill. The film work was background with no speaking roles, but he is visible in several films like “Fight Club” and “Godzilla”; he had a background role in “Crossing Jordan,” some sitcoms and did a few commercials. He particularly enjoyed working in movies with military themes. While it was great fun and prompts some amusing anecdotes, he never felt it was his life’s work to pursue; on 9/11 (his date of official honorable discharge) he decided to apply to OCS and become an officer because he felt that young soldiers deserve good leadership. The rest, as they say, is history.
It looks as if there will be many wounded warriors, some still in their teens, who will need care and services for the rest of their lives. So, he is considering options that include staying in Washington, D.C. and working with these veterans. Once again, please remember all the young men and women who serve and especially those who are healing from their injuries.
We can't acknowledge all the wonderful cards and gifts, but please know we appreciate them and share what we receive with many grateful patients, making brighter days for all of us.
12 February (8:00 PM Eastern):
Yesterday's surgery was the placement of a substance called integra over Eivind's arm wounds. Original use was for burn victims, but surgeons use it here over areas like knuckles and elbows to promote growth of a blood supply that will make a tissue bed more likely to accept skin grafts. The use of the wound vacuum pumps also helps make grafts successful. The pumps consist of clear tubing that runs from the dressing into an actual vacuum pump about the size of a briefcase. Draining the wound constantly helps it heal. The pump is heavy and can be carried or affixed to the bottom of Eivind's very crowded medicine tree that carries his other pumps, pain meds and antibiotics. The hand doctors said there will be washings and dressing changes every three days for about two weeks until the area looks ready for the grafting. After the grafts, Eivind will continue to recover in the hospital.
Today Dr. Buckenmaier and his crew replaced the nerve block with a new one at a different site; it continues to provide much needed pain relief without completely "snowing" him. If you want to know more about the wonders of nerve blocks, read
Celebrities, politicians (mostly congressmen and their aides, some with autographed books) and military brass continue to rotate through each day. A few days ago we hosted from sports Dan Marino, Bob Costas, Chris Clark and Chris Collingsworth; then from comedy Caroline Rhea and today our visitor from VH1 was Henry Rollins.
The visitors Eivind enjoys above all others, though, are other wounded soldiers from this war and also those from WWII, Korea and Viet Nam. He is impressed by the young men who represent the Wounded Warrior Project and hopes to be of help to them when he is mobile. People here are working hard to make life better for these brave and injured men.
Thanks to all of you who enjoy these updates. It's my pleasure. Judith Forseth
4 February (9:20 PM Eastern):
Morale boosters dramatically improve a patient’s health and recovery. We thank all of you who have sent cards to us here at Walter Reed and all of you who are following our progress with good wishes and prayers. Please remember that for every wounded soldier like Eivind who knows you support him, there are some other wounded soldiers here who would benefit from your cards and letters addressed to “any wounded soldier on Ward 57.” Other morale boosters include the military allowing families to stay here with the soldiers and also various celebrities making USO tour visits. A big boost yesterday was the appearance of Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider plus several of their actor friends. They were so generous with their time and took pictures with families including Eivind, his sister Larissa and me. Larissa is a civilian DOD employee whose agency has been cooperative in arranging for her to work in the DC area through these initial surgeries. My school and colleagues have shown their support for the troops by allowing me to be where I am needed. Eivind’s dad who was here from Montana in early January is back working and keeping the home fires burning. This recovery is truly a community effort. Another important part of recovery is pain management. Walter Reed is on the cutting edge with the aid of continuous peripheral nerve blocks which target specific areas of pain. Anyone interested is encouraged to read an article in the February, 2005 issue of WIRED titled “The Painful Truth” by Steve Silberman. It is very informative for laymen and shares information that will appear in the New England Journal of Medicine. If you want to help the wounded soldiers, please encourage your Senators and Representatives to fund placement of these nerve block pumps and trained personnel in the field casualty hospitals and on the planes that fly these soldiers from Germany to Walter Reed. The doctors featured in the article and their colleagues here are experts in pain management of these traumatic injuries. Eivind and other patients have excruciating pain in their extremities that is managed with these nerve blocks, but doctors feel that receiving the blocks during initial treatment in field hospitals and during the following long plane ride would make a huge difference in soldiers’ comfort, treatment and total recovery. We are so very grateful both for the block and the doctors and nurses who administer it.
Eivind has more skin grafts scheduled for next week; he says they feel like someone is using a cheese grater on him and that is with the nerve block, so imagine life without it. Some of his tissue is not ready yet for the grafts, so he has to learn patience which is not part of the make up of an infantry platoon leader and Ranger in the 82nd Airborne. This is character building.
Once again, thanks to everyone. Judith Forseth
31 January (5:00 PM Eastern):
Thanks so much. You are doing a great thing for us by keeping Eivind on your web site; it lets people who are interested keep updated without my writing 1000 emails a day which I can't do. So a million thanks!!
(Regimental Commander from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Fort Bragg
presented the purple heart to 2LT Eivind Forseth.)
Eivind has another surgery Tuesday and possibly another skin graft this Friday. Doctors said the nerves grow very slowly, so it could be a year before they know if it has worked. He will be at Walter Reed a long time, it appears. We are meeting many, many fine young wounded warriors. Speaking of wounded warriors, some of them have organized to help families of other wounded soldiers with grants and loans, among other things: that address is www.woundedwarriorproject.org
Thanks to all.
29 January (10:00 PM Eastern):
Update for Eivind's latest surgery: Doctors removed a nerve running the length of his left knee to his ankle, cut it into five pieces and bundled it to replace the severed median nerve for his right arm. The good news is that the nerve was cut closer to the hand than originally assessed, so the shorter distance allows a greater possibility of function in the hand in the future through nerve growth and physical therapy. They grafted skin from his thigh to his arm, leaving still a large portion of muscle and tissue to be covered in surgery next week. If that is successful, a thoracoepigastric flap will not be needed.
Eivind is connected to a wound vacuum and an IV tree with three pumps and four bags, but once in a while feels up to a short wheelchair ride. He is usually exhausted from the medications, pain and procedures, but can joke "I have more slices on me than a Thanksgiving turkey."
The doctors and staff here at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. work wonders!
Eivind and his family truly appreciate all your concern.
26 January (5:45 PM Eastern):
The surgery site still looks good for major surgery on Friday: it will be a long surgery with several teams of doctors. Part of it is moving a nerve from his leg to his arm to replace the severed median nerve that controls finger and thumb movement. The next part involves covering the exposed nerve with muscle and skin from other parts of the body. The doctors may sew his arm to his ribcage for three weeks to produce the skin graft. Evidently this particular procedure is relatively cutting edge, but they have had a couple successful cases here at Walter Reed.
He's feeling very hopeful about the surgery and getting used to the idea that he will be here for many months with yet to be determined results: more surgeries and lots of rehab. I predict that in time he will be the morale officer of this ward as he has been everywhere in his life.
Fortunately his name in Norwegian means "leader and warrior," so those skills were and will be necessary for him in the future. Lots of wounded warriors need some leaders here to help guide them through some rough waters.
Helping them will help him.
We got a huge boost yesterday with a visit from former senator Max Cleland, the Viet Nam vet who lost three limbs to a grenade. What an inspiration he is!!! And a fine, fine gentleman.
Thanks again to everyone.
25 January (6 AM Eastern):
Tomorrow is a washout and if things look good, big nerve transplant on Friday with tendon transfer following month to regain some limited function.
Thanks so much.
22 January (5 PM Eastern):
"This is Sgt. Lopez. First I would like to say thank you for the suppot and I wanted to Write an update just to let everyone know how i'm doing.
I'm doing really well these days. I've been in good spirits since I was wounded. It was rather unfortunate that I lost my right eye when we were attacked but in this case the good outweighs the bad... so i'm just happy to be alive. I also suffered a minor wound to my right thigh, which will heal normally on its own in a few weeks. Once that happens my body will be back to 100%, and I'll be able to get back to going to the gym every day. Thats something I'm really excited for. I've been driving myself around and doing all my own errands since I've been back here at Ft. Bragg. I don't let the fact that I'm short an eye stop me from too much. Doctors say my wounds are healing very nicely and in about 6 weeks they'll fit me for a prosthetic eye. So for now I'm just watching lots of "Friends" which I became addicted to when I was in the hospital in germany...lol. Drawing alot, playing video games, watching movies and relaxing in general.
Once again I'd like to thank you for your support and thank you for your prayers because I believe they saved me. The only thing I ask now is that you pray for my friends who are still overseas. Thank you, Sgt. Lopez"
19 January (Midnight Eastern): From LT Forseth's Mother:
Surgery yesterday was 8 hours long; only a "fake" bone, plates and screws on the right arm. He still has open flesh wounds and unattached nerves covered by surgical sponges and wrappings with a wound vac to drain them.
Today was a nerve block to manage pain. Friday is a surgical wash to prevent infection in the bone. Next week, barring infection, will be possible nerve grafts, and skins grafts, possibly surgically attaching his arm to his rib cage for two weeks while tissue grows. They are looking at moving tendons and some other tissues to allow functions in the right hand.
His spirits were good until he got a high fever tonight, and they are testing for infections and pneumonia. That will dictate all further progress. The arm is still at risk.
His command came from Fort Bragg and presented him with his purple heart today, and Donald Rumsfeld gave him a coin.
His veins keep collapsing making blood draws and fluid intake very difficult, so docs are looking at putting in a pic line. He has edema now in his right leg and an ulcer on his foot. But we realize that there are going to be many peaks and valleys. So, every day is a new day.
Once again, it is still too early for visitors amd phone calls; the daily procedures and pain completely exhaust him.
Thanks to everyone for thinking of him.
18 January (10:00 AM Eastern): From LT Forseth's Mother:
First, thank you to all those people who are concerned for our son, 2LT Eivind O. Forseth. He is proud to be an airborne ranger in the 82nd out of Fort Bragg, and he is very proud to have been a platoon leader entrusted with the lives of other young soldiers in a combat situation. He is so grateful that all survived.
Second, while his condition is certainly serious, he is very aware of how fortunate he is to be alive and to have so far kept his right arm and eye.
Many, many young men here at Walter Reed have not been so fortunate and we see them everywhere on his ward and over at the Malogne House where they live between surgeries and during their rehab.
Today is a very long surgery described by his doctor as "marathon surgery."
He has at least three teams working today. The biggest concern today is to attach plates above and below the elbow, then to work on constructing an elbow out of what is right now "a bag of bones." A contraption sort of like the erector set that is now bolted to his arm will be attached, but the new one will hinge so that later they can begin rehab and keep the arm from stiffening.
Today will consist of plates, hinges and screws--lots of hardware.
The hand will be trickier. He needs some nerves transplanted from his lower right calf. He already has a vein in that arm and hand from his left thigh (27 staples there now) transplanted to save his hand which was done in the field casualty hospital. He has no feeling in that hand and sometimes can't move the fingers, so the hand team will see what needs to done in the future.
Doc says he will need to do one handed push-ups, so it's good thing he's done with Ranger training already.
He needs tissue and flesh for the arm, so either today or during the next few weeks, they will transplant tendons and more skin. They may even attach his arm to his ribs for awhile to get a good skin graft. He was worried about getting into his uniforms, but the docs assured him he isn't going anywhere for a while.
His spirits are good; he is on a lot of pain medication which is good, but Eivind's personality comes shining through in his lucid form. For those of you who have seen his stand up comic routines, you will be glad to know he has not lost his quick wit or timing. Last night we were even treated to some great impersonations, although I have asked him NOT to offend any of his docs until they are through with him!
His flashbacks to the attack are lessening, and he is being encouraged to talk about it as much as he can; one problem is that he never lost consciousness and can remember every sound and sight. He remembers carrying his arm while the medic was yelling "Get out of the kill zone, get out of the kill zone!" and speeding off to the field hospital.
When he is feeling better and can see (his vision is blurry in the right eye, and his personal glasses are in Iraq) I know he will log on to his computer for everyone's messages on this site. He probably can even be encouraged to write something himself, because he will feel compelled to correct anything I may not have gotten quite right in these updates.
At this time, we are asking for no phone calls or visits as surgeries are intense and rest is essential, but during periods of rehab in the next 18 months, he will be more social.
Cards may be sent to his address at Walter Reed.
THANK YOU for all the thoughts and prayers and support.
2LT Eivind O. Forseth Ward 57|
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20307
17 January (4:15 PM Eastern): I talked to Mrs. Forseth, LT Forseth's Mom, and she requests folks do NOT call or visit at this time. Her son is undergoing major surgery and simply isn't up to visits or calls. She will send me a note (probably tomorrow) with an address and instructions for sending get well cards, etc. PLEASE abide by her wishes.
Also talked to SGT Lopez. He is at home in Ft. Bragg (for now). If anyone wishes to send get well cards, please send to:
He will also be sending a note to be posted here soon.
SGT Jose D. Lopez|
D Co., 2/325 AIR
Ft. Bragg, NC 28310
Thanks for your concern, consideration, and support! - Marty
16 January (7:30 PM Eastern): I have spoken to the family of LT Forseth twice and they said they will get back to me if/when they are able or want to. As of now they have not. I'm not going to be a bother to them and take their silence as them wanting to be left alone, at least for now. Please do not take this as an open invitation to 'help' and bother the family. If anything further developes, as always, it will be here. -Marty
16 January (12:30 PM Eastern): For those of you wanting to help LT Forseth and SGT Lopez due to the note by SGT Lambert, PLEASE just watch this space. I'm getting many email requests and other groups are jumping on this and it isn't helping. I am in contact with LT Forseth's family and they will update you all here when they can (soon I hope). -Marty