JT's Story Through a Mother's Eyes...  From the Beginning...


John Thomas Doody was born March 7, 1983 in Denver, Colorado.  He was my first and last child.  I used to tease him when he was little saying, “You hear parents say if ‘so and so’ would have been my first child they would have been my last”.  I was kidding of course.  I love JT with all my heart.  He’s been my best friend since the day he was born.
 
His father and I couldn’t get along and divorced when JT was three.  I remarried but JT remained an only child being raised by a single mom, as my husband did little more than bring home a paycheck.  I divorced again when JT was in his teens, determined not to make that mistake again. 
 
JT was enrolled at one of the worst high schools in Colorado.  I let him drop out by making a deal with him.  He passes the GED and starts taking college classes.  He passed with flying colors and started taking college classes. 
 
After 9/11 and a few years of restaurant jobs and college classes, JT decided to become a Marine.  No one in our family was a Marine or ‘very military’ and so the entire experience was new to us.
 
By this time, I had started dating Bryan.  JT went off to boot camp and Bryan and I moved to Idaho Falls, ID.  I wrote to JT every day while he was in boot camp.  I had a calendar of all the training and had studied the crucible so I was writing to JT and telling him what to expect.  JT graduated boot camp on December 15, 2005.  I was never more proud of him.  Bryan, my dad, mom and step-dad and both of my sisters all traveled to San Diego to see JT graduate.  It was an experience none of us ever forgot.
 
After boot camp, JT went back to Colorado for his 30 day leave.  He stayed with my dad in our condo.  On January 16, 2006, the day JT had to leave for SOI, my dad was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  I went to Colorado and helped care for my dad during his last days.  He died on February 24, 2006.
 
Needless to say, my heart was broken.  I loved my dad dearly and he and JT were both away from me.  I grieved terribly.  JT deployed to Iraq on January 29, 2007.  He was on the battlefield and I was a nervous wreck.  JT got to call me on his birthday (March 7, 2007) and said, “Guess what?  I got my combat action ribbon”!   I was stunned.  People were actually shooting at my baby.  JT tried to console me by saying, “Don’t worry mom.  The insurgents just shoot over our heads and then run away”.
 
Two days later as I was getting ready to board a plane in Orange County, Calif, I got the call that would forever alter our lives.  The stranger on the other end of the phone said that my son had been shot multiple times in the leg but was in surgery and was in stable condition.  I had to board the plane not knowing if my son would survive.  By the time the plane landed for a brief layover in Salt Lake City, I received the news that JT was out of surgery and stable.
 
Shortly thereafter, I traveled to San Diego and was there at the Fisher House waiting for my son to arrive.  When he got there it nearly broke my heart.  He was in an ambulance on a gurney, was in great pain and white as a sheet.  Although his wounds were bad, I knew that he would be ok.  Boy was I wrong.  By all appearances, JT seemed to be recovering.  He had to change his life plan of being a police officer because the last bullet had taken out his perennial nerve and he would never be able to run fast enough.  So he enrolled in pre-law and started interning with a San Diego medical malpractice lawyer who became a good friend and mentor.  Once again, Bryan and I had postponed our wedding until JT would be able to walk me down the aisle as I had lost my dad.
 
Ten months after he was shot, I got the second phone call that every parent dreads.  This time, the stranger on the other end of the line said that my son was ‘found unresponsive in his room and was admitted to the emergency department’.  I couldn’t understand what I was hearing.  What happened?  I was due to be in California in a few days anyway and had planned on spending the weekend with JT.  The man on the other end of the line urged me to get to California as quickly as possible.  I was in shock.  I looked into Bryan's eyes and could see how serious this was.
 
I left on the first flight out the next morning.  I had a layover in Denver and so both of my sisters met me at the airport.  I was still in denial but they knew something was dreadfully wrong.  My sister Patty decided to go to San Diego with me and so bought a ticket and boarded the plane with nothing more than her wallet-purse.
 
We were met at the airport by the Colonel of the MCRD and the Chaplain.  Patty almost fainted but I held tough and tried to get to the bottom of what was happening.  When we got to the hospital we were met by a team of about 14 or 15 medical personnel.  The news couldn’t be any worse.  JT had suffered a stroke and then lack of oxygen (anoxic brain injury).  He was on life support, barely clinging to life.  The doctors there kept doing CT scans and MRI’s, telling Patty and I that there was no hope.  JT would either die or be severely brain damaged but was never expected to ‘wake up’.
 
People ask me how I made it through those first few months.  My response is always the same…I didn’t.  God carried me through as He continues to carry us through each and every day.   Bryan and I were married around JT's hospital bed on February 4, 2008 as he was the one guest at my wedding that I would not do without - walking, awake or not.  He was in a vegetative state but at least he was there.  From January until mid February while in San Diego, many family and friends rotated through and were with JT and I providing all the love and support one could possibly have.  To this day, I cherish each and every new relationship JT has brought into our lives.
 
JT’s rehab doctor in San Diego said that if JT were his son, he would get him to Tampa with Dr. Scott.  On February 21, 2008, JT, my sister Sheryl and I were flown across the country in an ambulance jet.  JT was breathing on his own but still barely clinging to life. 
 
He remained in a vegetative state from January to the end of April.  During that time, I knew that JT was still ‘in there’ and was determined to get him back.
 
I’ll never forget the day he said his second ‘first words’.  I had been torturing him with his favorite comedies, ‘South Park’ and ‘Family Guy’.  My mom had just left town but we knew he was on the brink of doing something.  JT was so agitated and restless but had no way of moving his body to communicate with us.  I was sure that he could hear and understand but knew that he couldn’t move his body.  I also didn’t know that he couldn’t see.  I had brought him back to his hospital room and was asking him, “Do you want to watch Family Guy or  South Park?  South Park?"
 
JT said, “No”.  I cried out in excitement and grabbed my camera and filmed the next few words.  I said, “Say mom”.  JT said, “Mom”.  By this time, I was crying and had been joined by all the nurses and other family members up on 5 North (James Haley VA in Tampa – Polytrauma unit).  It was the happiest day of my life.  My son could talk to me again.
 
We're now over a year out from the brain injury.  My husband and I relocated from Idaho Falls to Tampa to take care of JT.  I was adamant that JT be out of the hospital as soon as possible.  A hospital born infection is what almost killed him (endocarditis) and I was not going to lose him again.  We brought him to his new home on December 6, 2008.
 
Bryan has been unable to find employment in his field (Radialogical Engineer) here in Tampa and so will have to go back to Idaho Falls and work at his old job.  He's also still got some work to do on the house to get it sold.  Hopefully, he'll only be there for a short while.
 
Right now, JT still has very little control of his body and his sight is sporadic.  He claims to ‘see all the time’ but when you ask him what he sees, he can’t explain it.  The medical personnel call it ‘cortical blindness’ but I know in my heart that JT will someday see, walk and be somewhat independent. 
 
My job is to help him by using whatever means I can.  I will not give up.  JT needs whatever medical treatment we can get him to bring him all the way back.  Whether it’s stem cell transplant in another country to specialized equipment to help him rebuild his mind.  This is why this site is here.  JT sacrificed his life for his country (you) and we owe it to him to try to get him better.  He is an inspiration to all he meets.  Asked if he would have still joined the Marines if he would have known this was going to happen to him, JT always says, “Yes”.  He would ‘die again’ for his country.
 
Please help me, help JT.  We've set up a PayPal donation link to help us with expenses.  You can donate by clicking the button below:

JT is fighting the battle of his life.  He doesn’t want to give up and remain sightless and paralyzed.  He also believes he will get better and I know God must have a very special plan in mind for us.
 
Thank you and bless you,
 
Chris Ott
-Mother of LCpl. John "JT" Doody"

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Related Links and Articles:

  Brandon News & Tribune
      -February 25, 2009
      -December 24, 2008

 

 
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