News: Marine Finds Hope, Recovery With Caregiver
Story by Cpl. Lisette Leyva
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marine veteran Cpl. Richard Stalder, a 23-year-old former machine gunner with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, began suffering from kidney stones and full-body tremors in early 2010. Richard’s mother, Claudia Stalder, or “Momma,” has been his caregiver ever since.
Richard has times where he doesn’t want to be with me. He would rather be with Marines and people his own age. Richard has to have his space and I understand that. But, he also knows he needs help. He says we’re the “dream team” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It happened here. I was driving down the road in a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle doing some training. I couldn’t breathe. I tried to go to the bathroom but was screaming in pain. I knew something was wrong.
I didn’t want Momma to know. I tried to handle everything on my own. I called Momma and told her, ‘Hey, I got this.’ Humph … I didn’t.
I knew he didn’t “have it.”
Richard wasn’t able to stay with his unit; he wasn’t able to deploy with his Marines. Life as he knew it was over. He had a negative attitude and was getting worse. Something inside told me, “You need to go. You need to go help him.” Richard had given up and I wasn’t going to let that happen. He’s mine and I want him well.
One day Momma called and told me … she said… it’s like I cant even say it.
She just told me I needed to pick her up at the airport. After that, she never left my side. I went down a lot of dark roads — my guys left on a deployment and I couldn’t be there. Momma did what she did and kind of brought me back.
She brought him back.
That’s when Richard was put into the Wounded Warrior Regiment. They put him back on track. He started taking his medications and going to his appointments. They got him to focus on something different. When he’s with his fellow wounded warriors, he feels comfortable. Richard says, “Mom, they don’t stare at me and they don’t ask me questions. I’m just normal here.”
I just had to pick him up and tell him everyday, “You are doing this. You are worth it.” I went to see everybody. I asked all the questions. I did everything I could. Because it’s not an injury you can see or easily understand. He had a hard time accepting what was wrong with him.
Richard has had 26 kidney stones. He has chronic pain, faints, has horrible balance and can’t walk for very long. He needs help with anything lower-body related. This year, Richard is competing in his third Marine Corps Trials. He competes for the veteran team in archery, shooting and cycling. Momma has taken on the unofficial role of “Team Mom.”
Wounded Marines are always going to see eye-to-eye because we know what it’s like to be in each other’s shoes or in each other’s chair. Since starting to compete in the Marine Corps Trials, my anxiety has become mellow and my anger is now irrelevant. It’s a nice feeling not having to worry about that stuff in the back of my mind. And Momma has never been a bad cheerleader for any of us.
Around here she isn’t Claudia or Mrs. Stalder or ma’am. She’s Momma. Some of the wounded warriors don’t have someone here to cheer them on or help them through these trials. But when Momma is here, they don’t have to worry about that. She helps make everything better. I’m definitely lucky — I know that. I don’t want to sound like a little kid, but, hey, my mom is here, nothing can get me.
Richard is not 100 percent and he’s not where he was before he got sick, but that’s okay. Each day presents new challenges for him and for me but we work through those.
We’re the “dream team.”
To see more visit the Marines Blog http://marines.dodlive.mil/2014/03/11/marine-finds-hope-recovery-with-caregiver/