Sunday, May 30, 2010

Special Appearance: David R. Beshears, Author of CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN

As promised in my book review of Climb the Mountain last Friday, I am honored to have the author David R. Beshears make his guest appearance here. David is the father of a soldier who was severely injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast whose name is also David. David will be sharing about his son's journey to recovery, the idea of the community center, and how the book came to be.

Everyone, please help me in welcoming David R. Beshears!


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The Journey
Our journey began back in October, 2007. My wife Sylvia and I spent six weeks at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC, arriving there the day after our son David was flown in from Afghanistan, where his small unit had been training Afghani police units, traveling rural roads in a pair of Humvees. An IED blast had sent the forward vehicle twenty feet in the air. He suffered severe traumatic brain injury, major spinal and numerous other internal injuries.

We spent most of our time at Walter Reed in Surgical ICU. After six weeks, David was stable enough for the polytrauma facility in Palo Alto, California. Thanksgiving week 2007, we left DC and flew cross country, David in a cargo jet medivac an hour behind us.

The next seven months at Palo Alto were filled with dramatic ups and downs as David climbed oh-so-slowly up from the lowest levels of consciousness. It wasn’t until a week before we brought him home that we were told "there is no impediment to David becoming fully conscious"; this was quite an improvement over what we had been told just a few weeks earlier when they were recommending what were essentially warehouses for people in "David’s condition".

In the first two pics, David had opened his eyes, but not really was with us yet. Nonetheless, being awake was a huge step forward. In the third pic, we wheeled him in front of a powered bike machine. The therapists had monitors that could show them if he was doing any of the work, and how much. We were always excited by any signs that he was helping at all.

Bringing David home, we knew we had years of work ahead of us, but there was never any question that our son was going to get whatever it took to make him better. We targeted 100% recovery in spite of being advised that we should be realistic. We had been told again and again “this may be all you’re going to get”, but each time David blew past their expectations. Why then would we ever put a limit on his recovery? We’re going for it all. If in the end we don’t get there, at least we’ll have given David every chance to come fully back to us.

For months we sought out the therapists and facilities and medical expertise that would best help David along the road to recovery. We met dozens of sincere and dedicated people, all working tremendously hard. There is a largely unseen world out there that struggles daily to support those with disabilities. But the resources can be difficult to find, difficult to gain access to once you do find them, and from where we live, a long way to go and a difficult commute.

We work hard to have our son approved for each benefit. We research and identify and jump through all the hoops to get this therapy or that, this equipment or that, sometimes struggling for months to see results. And we feel fortunate at each accomplishment, aware that for our success, there must be so many others who fail.

Despite the success that we have had, David is not recovering as well or as quickly as he might. While we have been able to bring some of what he needs to him, any real expertise that targets TBI and other disabilities is a good distance away, the commute nightmarish. Additionally, the services that are out there are provided from many different entities, each requiring a different approach to access.

The Community Center
So was born the idea of a community center here in the South Sound, where we live; a facility offering those with disabilities everything that we have been working so hard to bring to our son.

I designed the facility around what I felt David, and we as his supporting family, needed. Also, what obstacles had we faced? What pitfalls can we help others avoid? What is out there but difficult to access? What have I not been able to find at all? Finally, what would a really great facility look like, designed exclusively for a person with a disability and his or her family?

Next came the glaring question of how to get such a facility going.

The Book
It was about this same time that a number of people who had been receiving my email updates on David’s status over the previous few years began asking that I bring all those updates together so that they could go back through them.

And so was born the next idea… put all the updates together into a book, wrapped within a narrative, and offer the book as a way to raise funds for the community center. That is how Climb the Mountain came to be, and hopefully how the center will soon come to be.

My heart aches for the day I wheel David through the front doors and into our community center for the first time. I long even more for the day that he stands and walks out those doors on his own.

For more information on our son’s journey: David’s Journey
For info on Climb the Mountain and other titles: Greybeard Publishing

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I also asked if David could share some of the pictures of him and his son, and he has generously done so. I organized them to show the son in the various stages of his life. One of the sets is located above where David shares about his son's recovery and therapy. The ones below give a glimpse of his son's childhood and soldiering days. The first picture is the author on the summit of Mt. Rose.


I climbed Mt. Rose, near Lake Cushman WA, as part of my training to climb Mt. Rainier this July. When I reached the summit, it was clouded over and snowing. Just as I was about to start down, the clouds parted and I had a great view of the lake 4,200 feet below. Several climbers arrived just in time to take my picture.

Left to right: David and his sister Christy with their puppies; David was 4 years old working on a craft project; and David building a dome fort with his dad and his sister.

The pics were taken while David was on his tour in Afghanistan. He wanted for the two of us to write a book about his year in Afghanistan once he came home, as his assignment there was so unique. I’m still hoping.

David received the Purple Heart for his injuries received during his 150th mission. He was receiving the Bronze Star at this same ceremony for his actions during a previous mission. The military had wanted to give these to him earlier, but I insisted they wait until he knew what was going on.

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With deep appreciation to David R. Beshears for sharing the story of his son with us. David, I pray for your son's continuous recovery and improvement.

This post coincides with the Memorial Day weekend and I pray that God be with those families whose loved ones gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. To all the men and women in the military service no matter where they serve, God bless all of you and keep you safe. All Americans will observe the National Moment of Remembrance on Monday, May 31, beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.