Many of you know that I have recently relocated to a new city. One of the facility contracts we have is a hospital, on the local Army base. Yesterday I was dispatched out to transfer a patient to the other VA Hospital, which from my understanding, is primarily a inpatient psychiatric facility with a few primary care offices.
I arrived on the floor to get report from the nurse to find out that our patient was a 24 year old male, who was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. He returned from the Middle East with both his legs amputated, one just above the knee the other nearly to his hip. He "survived" an explosion, I assumed a buried bomb, landmine, or direct heavy fire. I didn't want to ask. The blast not only took his legs, but shattered his pelvis, which took months of surgeries and physical therapy to "recover" from.
This last November he was discharged under disability. Since then he has been unable to cope with all the fallout of not only his injuries, his new "quality" of life, but PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Think about it, when you survive an explosion, manage to drag your bleeding and disfigured body to cover, just to spend months and months enduring even more torture at the hands of VA "doctors" and "nurses"... you'd have PTSD too. And one hell of a case of it!!!
I gathered up all the forced smiles, professionalism, and pleasantness I could to go in and introduce myself and my partner, and help him onto the stretcher. Lucky for me, it was my partner's turn to ride in back. He's former military. I'm not. I would have no idea what to say. Do you thank him for his sacrifice? Is that like acid in a wound? Do you make small talk about the weather? Do you ask about his wife and kids? Just what do you say to not make him hurt, or make him uncomfortable?
I wanted to just cry FOR him. My sadness for him will ebb away in a while, his sadness will follow him for the rest of his life, barring further suicide attempts. And there will be more, I'm sure of it. At this point who are we to say his suicide attempts are unjustified. We - as cushy and comfortable Americans, sitting at home watching our TIVO'd entertainment, shuffling to our air conditioned jobs, going out with friends, taking vacations, and living a posh life in comparison to how our soldiers are living - stole this man's life... and for what?
I don't even want to get into the political debate on the validity of why this war has drug on and on. All I know is that is has stolen the lives of far too many soldiers. Death or trauma (physical and mental) is too high a price! And for his sacrifice... I FEEL GUILTY. And I don't even support this war. But I DO support these soldiers for the "job" they do. It's even more than a job, really.
Last winter, when I was continuing to establish my Reiki practice, I received a call from an Army Sgt who was searching for alternative healing practices. He didn't specifically mention PTSD, but I could hear the desperation in his voice. Whatever he was utilizing just wasn't working for him. Although I was unable to schedule him around my EMS schedule, I was able to refer him to a colleague. But right then and there I decided that I have to give back. I decided that I would offer my Reiki services to returning military personnel.
I left this soldier my card, neatly tucked into his belongings.
I hope I hear from him.
And on a side note... This VA facility is about the size of Floyd Hospital (for my friends back home) or Atlanta Medical Center (for my Grady Peeps). So that should give you some perspective on how many inpatient (significant case) mental health patients are being cared for here in the surrounding Augusta area. About 95% of those are returning from the Middle East... (sigh)
Thanks y'all - for letting me vent......