It is late, but I wanted to check in and let everyone know that the young man I sat with before his surgery and afterwards is doing fine. He is 20 and was JUST A LITTLE BIT WORRIED about his surgery. He was shaking so bad when I met him, that it felt like an earthquake on the bench. Anyways, he is good. He has 2 weeks recovery here and I do not know if he will go back to the States or back down range. Total recovery time is 6 to 8 weeks, so I’m hoping he goes back to the States. His unit leaves Iraq in Dec anyway, so no big loss if he is not there. He wanted Burger King today and I brought it up for lunch for him.
It will be a sad day on Thursday when I fly from here. I have met some of the most wonderful and caring people you could ever meet. This has been very rewarding and THE best volunteer work I have EVER done and I have done a lot through the years. Thanks to all of you that have supported the effort while I have been here. When I get home I will start right away on getting everything shipped to OUR guys.
I went by and visited a site where out-patients are billeted. It was interesting to see how they are taken care of there and the support we can provide that area.
I want to tell you about Nick. I met Nick Friday the week before I left. He was at the bus stop and was pale and his hand was shaking. I went and sat next to him and asked if everything was ok. Mind you, Nick looked all of 20 and I found out later he was only 20. He told me in a slight southern drawl that the doctors were going to put a tube down his throat and cut him open and put wire mesh in him. Well, I knew something was not right about the wire mesh part, but I told him everything was going to be ok. I told him that he was at a good hospital and he would be just fine and not to worry. I normally did not ask what was wrong, but I asked him what type of surgery he was having and learned he had a rather bad hernia that had to be fixed ASAP. I also knew that he was not having wire mesh put in. He told me that first they were going to send him back to the States, but it needed to be fixed now and his dad was going to try to come here but that money was an issue. He would just feel better if he had family with him. After talking to him for about ten more minutes, I told him that if he liked, I would meet him before surgery and sit with him. I would also wait for him to come out so that he would have someone there that he knew. He looked up from the ground and said, “You would do that?” I told him that I would and we made arrangements to meet at the ER entrance at 0715 Monday morning. He was not there at 0715 or 0730 or 0745. I got worried that he had jumped on an aircraft back to the States since he was talking about that on Friday to have his surgery stateside. I left ER to find a friend to help me track him down. I went back to ER just in time to get a phone call from pre-op that Nick was up stairs waiting for me. He had taken pain meds the night before and over slept. He had taken a taxi and gotten to the ER when I left to track him down.
When I got upstairs, the nurse that walked me to his room told me that he really thought a lot about me being there for him and was scared that I had left ER and would not be there. When I walked in the room, this young man had a smile of relief on his face. We talked about his family, the weather, the hospital, the war, and the surgery. I told him the best thing was to relax. I told him that when I have surgery, I sing to myself and I have had more than one doctor tell me that I have entertained them in the OR singing the Yellow Submarine or the Itsy Bitsy Polka Dot Bikini. Nick thought that was funny, but I told him to just think of a song he liked and it will relax him. About five minutes later, they came in to take Nick and gave him a large shot of something to relax him. As they took him down the hall, I got the thumbs up over every one’s head.
While he was in surgery, which was to take an hour, I went to the clothing closet and got him a bag of clothes and spent some time down there waiting on other patients. I went up to Nick’s ward about the time he was to be out, but he did not come out of surgery for another 1 ½ hours.
When he did come to the ward, he was still asleep. The nurse said that he was difficult to wake up, so I started talking to him asking him why he was being so difficult, that I had been there waiting on him just as I had said, so he had better open those eyes of his. He opened them and with VERY glassy eyes looked at me and said, “YOU ARE HERE.” I talked to him for about a minute more, then I asked the OR nurses how it went and they said that he was very entertaining. She said that he was singing Mr. Bo Jangles. I just had to laugh. Nick kind of rolled his head toward me and pointed his finger at me and said it was all my fault. The nurse said that he was very relaxed and surgery went well.
After we got him moved to his bed and they got all his vitals and left, I told Nick that I had put up all his clothes and got him new clothing from the clothing closet. I showed him where I had put everything in his closet and he just looked at me and said, “I LOVE YOU.” I had to laugh a little because his eyes were so glassy still. I said, “I love you too Nick, now listen, your wallet is on this shelf.” And he said, “OK, but I really do love you.” I just gave up on telling him were his stuff was and went about calling his parents and his girl friend. It took about 20 minutes to get through to them, but with calls finished, I told Nick bye and said I would stop in to see him before I left for the day. When I went back at the end of the day, he was still sleeping off the surgery and pain meds.
I saw Nick twice a day until I left Germany. He was in lots of pain and was due to stay in Germany for two weeks and then to return to Iraq, even tho his recovery time is six to eight weeks and his unit is due to leave Iraq in early Dec.
The Colonel at the Chaplain’s office heard about Nick and me and called Public Affairs. They called the Stars and Stripes and AFN and both came in to do a news release about us the last day I was in Germany. I was asked WHY a lot. Why did I go with him? Why did I come to Germany? Why did I work 8+ hours a day? I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that out of all the volunteer work that I have done, this has been the most personally gratifying to me. Someone told me that they thought that it was because I got to see the wounded and be with them. I’m not sure that is it. I think it is because the smallest things mean the most to these troops. I put a pair of socks and shoes on a young man whose feet were very bad. I was being very careful not to hurt them. When I looked up he had tears in his eyes. I told him I was very sorry for hurting him and what could I do to help him. He told me he was not in pain. He said that he could not believe that I put socks and shoes on his f****** nasty feet for him and he thanked me. HE THANKED ME!!! He got those feet defending MY freedom and giving the Iraqi people freedom that they have never had before and HE thanked me. Does anyone see something wrong with that picture?
P.S. I have more pictures for the web page as soon as I get caught up around here.