Category Archives: invisible wounds

Warrior Games 2015

The greatest athletes in the world are not those with big-name endorsements or their own line of footwear. You don’t see them on the news or critique their performance around the water cooler. The greatest athletes are the strong and resilient men and women of our nation’s armed forces, both active duty and retired, who gathered to compete in the 2015 Warrior Games. These competitors have faced life-altering changes due to injury and illness, yet have refused to be defined by their disabilities or limited by barriers.

Sean spent the month of June training for and competing in the 2015 Warrior Games held in Quantico, VA. He earned a gold medal in tandem cycling, a silver medal in the 400 meter run, and seven bronze medals in various track and field and swimming events.

During the Warrior Games the true value of adaptive sports and competition is evident. The athletes challenge their bodies and minds in ways they didn’t think possible after injury. Running on prosthetic legs, or tethered to a sighted guide, swimming with one or more missing limbs, racing on recumbent or tandem cycle, driving down the basketball court in a wheelchair with a fierce tenacity of a warrior.

For these athletes competition is not about winning, it’s about making huge strides in their personal recovery and refusing to be defeated by life-changing injuries and illnesses. Their spirit and persistence is truly inspirational to witness.

The changes I’ve seen in Sean this past year are incredible. He has improved energy, stamina, and a new outlook on life. When he is training and competing he is not held hostage by pain or depression and anxiety, he is part of a powerful team. For me, the greatest accomplishment is his fight to overcome his physical and mental hurdles to participate in adaptive sporting events. To me, and to our, family that’s worth all the gold medals in the world.

cycling

Sean and pilot Richard Kirby compete in the tandem cycling race (Photo credit SPC Ambraea Johnson)

finish line 2

Team Army sweeps gold, silver, and bronze (Photo credit PFC Anh Siev)

Army visually impaired cycling teams finish together to take the gold, silver and bronze in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico June 21, 2015. (DoD News photo by EJ Hersom)

Army visually impaired cycling teams finish together to take the gold, silver and bronze in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico June 21, 2015. (DoD News photo by EJ Hersom)

cycling podium

Team Army tandem cyclists take the podium (Photo credit SPC Ambraea Johnson)

shotput

Shotput (Photo credit PFC Anh Siev)

800 meter

800 meter run (Photo credit Ronald Wolf)

shotput podium

Visually impaired shotput medalists (Photo credit PFC Sandy Barrientos)

chairmans cup

Team Army wins the Chairmans Cup presented by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Photo credit SGT 1st Class Christophe D. Paul)

DSC_0960

World War II Memorial

Additional Photos:

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2032060/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVCSvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2030726/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVCt_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2030730/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVDBflViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2030752/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVDQvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2028781/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVENPlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2024562/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVEjflViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2020401/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVE3_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2020439/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVFh_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2021157/department-defense-warrior-games-2015#.VZVFpvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2017002/department-defense-warrior-games-2015#.VZVF_vlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2015504/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVGpvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2028327/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVG-vlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1998162/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVHb_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2031098/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVIWvlViko

Videos:

Cycling

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/411225/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZWaFvlViko

Sean appears at approximately 1:30, 2:45, and 3:55

Track and Field

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/412758/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZWVpvlViko

Sean appears at approximately 0:55, 1:35, 2:00, 2:20, and 3:30

Swimming

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/412729/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZWZIflViko

Sean appears at approximately 2:50 and 3:55

DoD Warrior Games 2015

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/412834/department-defense-warrior-games-2015#.VZWXGPlViko

Sean appears at approximately 0:15, 1:27, 1:53, 2:38, and 5:20

Media:

Fort Hood Sentinel

Army takes 9 medals in cycling at DoD Warrior Games

http://www.forthoodsentinel.com/story.php?id=16081

DVIDS–Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

Army cyclists roll their way to the podium

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/167733/army-cyclists-roll-their-way-podium#.VZWZxPlViko

Video: Cycling – U.S. Army Veteran Sean Johnson – 2015 Warrior Games

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/409423/cycling-us-army-veteran-sean-johnson-2015-warrior-games#.VZVAyPlViko

Video: 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games WTC Version

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/409422/2015-department-defense-warrior-games-wtc-version#.VZWT6flViko

For more information on the Warrior Games visit:

http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2015/0615_warriorgames/

https://www.facebook.com/WarriorGames

https://www.facebook.com/ArmyWTC


Tough Pill to Swallow

IMG_6933

 

Look at that mess of pills.  Some are shiny or brightly colored, the white ones come in different sizes.  They all go into Sean’s stomach every day.  That’s right, this is *1* day’s worth of medication.  You would think that with all these pills he’d be feeling pretty darn good every day.  I’ve seen first hand how each pill affects him, and the adverse effects when he does not take them.  I believe that (at least to some degree) they are helping him, and his doctors agree that he’s been more stable than not in the past two years.  Sean himself doesn’t want to make major changes to his medication regimen because he remembers how he felt and acted pre-medications.

2013 was a long year.  Sean had more pain than normal, experienced more periods of depression, contracted a nasty unidentified illness while in Mexico (he didn’t even drink the water) that took months of recovery, was diagnosed with gastroparesis (stomach is too slow to empty), and had more trouble generally accomplishing his goals.  We scaled way back, while still trying to participate in a few events to get ourselves engaged.  The past two months his migraines have been out of control and his pain levels over all have consistently increased.  The pain meds don’t seem to be helping the way they should.  I feel very helpless.  Tomorrow he will be seeing his doctor and I have been reviewing his daily health notes.  It’s sad to see the marked decline since October.  And scary.

I have accepted that we will have good days followed by bad days and that the cycle will continue.  I no longer panic every time he has a difficult day or a new symptom or weird behavior.  But when I see a consistent march downward, it frightens me.  Not because I fear the immediate future, but because no one knows what his health will be a year from now, or five years, or ten.  Is this a sign of what’s to come?

Last night was a particularly bad night.  Incredible pain.  Pain meds were no help.  He was up and down all night long, unsteady on his feet and needing help getting around.  He finally went to sleep around 7 AM this morning.  His poor dog was up all night, too, worrying over him and trying to let me know that his dad wasn’t feeling well.  I am praying they both sleep well tonight.


Who Says There’s Nothing Good on TV?

Extreme Makeover Home Edition–The Hill FamilyActress Glenn Close and the team help build a home for the Hill family.  Allen Hill is a soldier dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Watch the episode online.

Oprah’s Lifeclass: Puppies Behind Bars (as seen in EMHE)

Our America: Invisible Wounds of War with Lisa Ling
premieres Sunday, November 6th at 9 PM central

Our America: Invisible Wounds of War with Lisa Ling sneak preview

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition “Rise and Honor” A Veterans Day Special
Airs 11-11-11 at 7 PM central

Where Soldiers Come From: It Takes a Village to Fight a War

Heather Courtney’s heartfelt documentary about a group of friends in rural America who sign up to go to war is revelatory in its access, insights, and emotional honesty.