Shannon Mormann


Shannon’s Journey

Shannon Mormann:  My name is Shannon Mormann. My husband has a traumatic brain injury.

Cody Mormann:  I was injured in, in and around Kandahar, Afghanistan. There’s four trucks in our convoy. We hit a six hundred plus pound IED. Well my door blew off and I went out about thirty yards. So I went from probably from here across the street at least. And I smacked my head on a dirt berm. I guess they quick ran over and checked us all out and inaudible, he’s an E5, inaudible, they were both killed. I hate that. Went I hit that dirt berm I lost a tooth. Broke my nose, broke my jaw, had a collapsed lung on my left side. I had like four crushed vertebrae on my back. So bam I was on the berm and then I was out of there. Then I stayed in Kandahar for I think a night. From there, went to Landstuhl, then went to Walter Reed.

Shannon Mormann:  I was notified by via phone call from overseas. They called and stated that my husband was in a blast and they didn’t know his condition. Nobody really knew anything until I got to Walter Reed.

Cody Mormann:  They said it damaged my front lobe I guess and I mean you got to think where I’m sitting in this chair; there was a bomb that went off right next to my feet.

Shannon Mormann:  They had CT scans, they had head scans and they said that he had moderate to severe brain injury.

Cody Mormann:  I lost three weeks of my life at Walter Reed.

Shannon Mormann:  I was terrified. Definitely terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if he was going to recognize me cause at that point he was still under sedation and he wasn’t awake or aware of anything. And then when he would come out of sedation he would just trash. He was in restraints for a while, for about a good week because he would just rip. He had a NG tube in his nose because he wasn’t eating by mouth cause’ he had a broken jaw. He would pull all the tubes out, all of his EKG’s, everything that they would, that he was hooked up to. He was intubated and he would rip his, he ripped his intubation tube out. And they gradually took him off of the sedation meds. 

Cody Mormann:  I woke up and it was weird. I was like what in the, where the hell am I? You know? What am I doing here? And I looked and I was like Shannon what are you doing here? You know? Dad, what are you here for? Oh my god, I said what happened? And my dad right away told me that you got blown up by an IED son. 

Shannon Mormann:  The symptoms that Cody had when he became more aware of what was going on around him was very sluggish. He was kind of very forgetful. He would have to constantly be reminded. 

Cody Mormann:  Thank god my wife was there to help take care of me. And do whatever else it was, you know. I mean she spent a lot of time with me.

Shannon Mormann:  I stayed in a hotel and I would shuttle, carpool back and forth. They had a shuttle there that would take me to the hospital and back.

Cody Mormann:  There would be nights where she’d stay with me. There’d be nights where she wouldn’t.

Shannon Mormann:  You know, if he needed a bath, a bed bath, I would give him a bed bath and brush his teeth. So I was doing everything there you know, by myself when his father had left, when everybody had left. In the first couple of weeks I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep. I just cried and cried and cried. But then I realized if I’m not there to take care of him, who else is going to be there to take of him? So I realized that I needed to start eating to start sleeping. To just, if I needed to take a nap during the day it was okay because the nurses would be there and I’d come back. I guess handling the stress at that point, it was very hard. I, you know, that was one unhealthy thing that I did. I didn’t really talk to anybody about it. Walter Reed was just pretty the initial to piece him back together from what I saw. And it was pretty much just to get him stabilized to send him to the VA rehab to where they would do his PT, OT, speech, get him to walk, get him to talk. 

Cody Mormann:  I couldn’t walk at all until I went to Tampa. They made me walk. They helped me to walk. I was in a wheelchair pretty much the whole time.

Shannon Mormann:  The nurses, the doctors, the physical therapists, occupational therapists, they would all interact. They would get together. And they knew me, they’d see me in the hall and they’d say hey Shannon you know, I was with your husband earlier. He did great or he needs some work on this.

Cody Mormann:  Yeah, she would make me do things like the physical therapist would tell her you know hey you need to get him to do this and that. After a while I got to the point where I could almost walk.

Shannon Mormann:  I could go to his therapies. I could you know, walk with him. And you know, just kind of be there and watch him, watch his progress. They really did a good job on getting him to do what he needed to do for you know, brushing his own teeth, bathing himself, shaving himself, going to the bathroom by himself because he couldn’t do that for the longest time. I didn’t know what to expect because it took so long for him to get kind of independent but I was hopeful once I could see, see the change from being completely dependent upon somebody to being somewhat independent. Once I got to Tampa I stayed at the Fisher House, which was right down the way from the hospital. And they had everything there. Your room was yours. It was like a huge bedroom with a nice gorgeous bathroom in it. It was just refreshing because I was so close. I could come back and go all day long. Cody could come over to the Fisher House usually on the weekends. At night he could come over after all his therapies were done. so maybe about five, six o’clock at night. We’d go over there and I’d make dinner or he’d try to make dinner cause’ he’s the cook in the family. I don’t like to cook so he’d go over there and he’d want to cook dinner. Or we’d order out. And they had a big dining room with tons of tables and we’d sit there and eat dinner like a you know, normal house. While I was in Tampa he had a case, case manager. I believe he was a social worker. His name was Adam. He did everything. He organized all the trips for our family members to come down for free. He would go to all these organizations to get extra money to help with rental cars and he just did everything. He communicated every other day. He was up there, do you need anything? You know, how is everything going? Is there anything I can do? He was awesome. Coming home I think was a relief because we didn’t have to deal with all the, the medical stuff. He could try to come home and get back normal and go to his appointments through his unit, his warriors transition unit here. 

Cody Mormann:  It’s affected me a lot of ways. My TBI has affected me like; my wife says I’m not the same person no more. And I, god I can’t remember anything.

Shannon Mormann:  He walks around in circles. He’ll, he’ll walk a circle in the living room trying to figure out what he’s trying to do. He’ll go into the bedroom, come out here, go into the kitchen and be like what did I, what am I trying to do? You know, and I don’t know because he didn’t tell me before he got up.

Cody Mormann:  Yeah, my short-term memory sucks. So, it’s gotten a lot worse than it has ever has been. 

Shannon Mormann:  He would be doing a task and he would completely forget and start something new without finishing what he had started.

Cody Mormann:  I am not sharp, not the sharpest tool in the shed you know, anymore. I really wasn’t before too much but you know; now I really can’t think too good.

Shannon Mormann:  I just try to be patient. You know, cause’ he would get frustrated.

Cody Mormann:  The Army gave me an iPod Touch for a PDA. Cool, I got an iPod Touch but still, I just can’t remember things. If I don’t put it in that thing and have it on me at all times, I’ll never remember what I’m suppose to do or what appointments I have.

Shannon Mormann:  I just have to remind him you know in the morning to get his cell phone, get his you know iPod with all his appointments in there. Kind of, that’s what I have to help him with.

Cody Mormann:  I can’t sleep no more. From this injury I can’t sleep no more. 

Shannon Mormann:  I don’t get much sleep at night because he’ll wake up and then I’ll, he’ll wake me up and then we’ll both be awake.

Cody Mormann:  My gosh, I have nightmares from time to time. 

Shannon Mormann:  The personality changes that I noticed in him were very short tempered, very agitated. 

Cody Mormann:  My anger just like takes over me sometimes. You know, I can’t, sometimes I just can’t control it. It’s hard.

Shannon Mormann:  We’ll be just sitting here and he’ll get up and you know, drop something, and then he’ll take it, pick it up and throw it across the room.

Cody Mormann:  I stubbed my toe the other night and I slammed a hand on the floor and then I dented this big inaudible, I mean I bashed it on the ground so hard I dented it. I mean I’ve went outside and kicked the fence. It’s like wow, my temper and everything; it’s just out of proportion. My patience is gone. Before hand, before the injury, before it happened, it take a lot to piss me off. It be like a guy poking me in the shoulder for like an hour and then I’d be mad you know. But I didn’t really get mad at nothing. And now it’s like you do that like one or two times and I’m just like you know, I go off on you. I’ll say things to people without even thinking you know. I do things sometimes without even thinking anymore. Just bam, just on instant. You know?

Shannon Mormann:  Coping with it I guess I just, I just say that he’s got an injury and I just try to you know be like it’s okay, don’t worry about it, just leave it alone. Sit down, take a deep breath, or you know, go outside, just cool off. Care giving is just being there. Being by somebody’s side. Helping them, encouraging them, letting them know that you know, you’re there. It was very important to stay organized. You have to stay organized cause’ otherwise it’s just going to get out of control. You know, you’ve got to have a notebook. You got to write things down like the medical terminology. You got to write it down or ask because you’re going to forget. You know, in a week or so you know what did the doctor tell me that he had? I kept all his DVD’s for his radiology’s, for his head CT’s. I just went down to the radiology department, as we were getting ready to leave and asked them if I could have copies. At first I was, I set up his medications in a pillbox to kind of give him you know, an outlook on what to take everyday. I handled all the bills. I put all his bills into my name and paid them off. The financial responsibility is stressful. But you know, that’s part of what you have to do. I mean, you’re helping him. He would do that if he wasn’t injured. So, I’ve become a little more flexible with schedules and become a better multi-tasker. I guess I can do more things at once. Characteristics that would make somebody a good caregiver would be just being patient, being calm, being assertive, being direct. You know, don’t be vague. Stay hopeful. Talk to somebody as it comes. Don’t hold it all in until after and keep it locked in and just be there for him and just realize you know this isn’t the same person. They might need help. The single worst thing that’s happened to me is that I got that phone call that day that you know, your husbands been injured. When’s the last time you talked to him? And right there I knew. That was the worst feeling you know. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to do.

Cody Mormann:  Well emotionally I was thankful that she was there. You know, I knew then and there what kind of a wife I really had. You know, I knew that our marriage was, we’re going to make it. You know, like, cause’ marriage is tough.

Shannon Mormann:  We’ve been married for eight years. We’ve been together since I was fifteen, sixteen years old and you know, just go lucky, free spirited, did whatever we want. We don’t have kids. Our time was ours. You know, travel, he would hunt, and he would fish. And you know, I’d just kind of hang out and go with for the ride and then you know, all of this happened and it kind of put a change on it. You know, kind of had to think more of focus on him versus myself.

Cody Mormann:  It shows that she really does care about me. Our marriage was pretty rocky before I left. You know, took some time to get it back into shape and I think that just made us get even better. 

Shannon Mormann:  Where the stress of what happened, I guess now we’re starting marriage counseling and trying to get over it and talk about it but that’s been one hurdle to get over is because I don’t like to talk about it too much. 

Cody Mormann:  Don’t give up. Cause’, I don’t know, especially, cause’ me and Shannon have been married for eight years now and known each other for eleven. And it’s kind of hard to give up on something like that. Just because I got blown up, I mean.

Shannon Mormann:  Cody’s the same man I married. Yes he is, he’s better than I married. 

Cody Mormann:  The Army is like, since I was like four years old, my grandma could remember, that was all I ever wanted to do. That was going to be my career in life. And I’ve been doing it great for the past five years. I was supposed to retire in the military. Not get TBI and all these injuries and stuff. This shit is hard to deal with. I can’t, I’m having such a hard time and I’ll have to get out of the Army now and I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do with my life. I can’t work anymore you know. Can’t do the jobs that I’ll like to.

Shannon Mormann:  Going over and looking back at what happened, it’s a miracle that you know, we’re still here and we’re together and he’s turned out as well as he has. Everything pretty much now is the same, we just do it in a different way. We go out to the movies, or we go fishing, you know. I just might have to do a little more to help to get things prepared but we can still do everything the same.

Cody Mormann:  I just know I’m going to spend the rest of my life with Shannon and I just hope to hunt and fish the rest of my life happily. 

Shannon Mormann:  Realizing how precious life is, is that it can be taken away in an instant. You know, if he would have been sitting in the passenger seat, it would have been him. Single best things that happened to me since he’s been injured is that he’s here, I can speak to him, I can see him, I can touch him, he’s tangible. And he’s Cody.