I Had to See Him For What He Looked Like Before

Today we were just swamped.  I started the morning taking boxes from store room 4.  It is a mess in there and my mission for this week is to get it straightened out.  I also went to see the patients arriving at LRMC today, first time since I have been here this trip.  We had some of the most worst-off patients since I have arrived here.

A young man was the first to come off, and when he was rolled into the ER entrance, you could only see his feet and head.  The rest of this young man was covered with medical equipment.   He was obviously swollen and unresponsive to those around him who were telling him he was safe in Germany.

The patient that will stick with me today out of the 60-plus patients was a young man who had severe burns, shrapnel, and blisters to his face.  One of the young women who was helping unload the bus turned her face from him.  The liaison that was standing next to me grabbed my arm and just looked at me.  I could not turn away.  I had to see him for what he looked like before.  I had to see through the disfigured face he now owned.  This young man had a mom out there who would never see her young son’s beautiful face any more.  As I looked at him, I had the same feeling that many of them have given me over the years.  I so wished that he knew how much we all cared and respected him.  The more I tried to send him my heart, the more I felt lost.  I worry what will happen to these men and woman in 5 years, 10 years, 25 years.  Will Americans still care about them?  Will it still be the “in thing to do?”  We have to, we can no longer treat our military members like we have in the past,  WE CAN NOT FORGET THEM!

As the more seriously injured were taken off the bus, the second bus arrived with more litter patients.  I noticed that many had the thermal weave blankets covering them.  These are the blankets that we sent all the EMEDS, CSH, and BAS for their winter use.  I noticed many of them had familiar fabric covering the little travel pillows that we also send.  One had the beautiful fleece blanket that left LHCP several months ago with eagles soaring.  You know who you are and please tell your mom I thank her for creating such a beautiful piece of warmth for our wounded.  I had awed over the work done on this blanket when it arrived at LHCP.  I had teased Brian that this one would not make its way to the Middle East.  It had my name on it, but as all items donated to LHCP, it did make its way to the Middle East and I could not have been more proud when I saw it on one of our critical patients today.  We had 8 litter patients all with our blankets and pillows.  Then several more with just our pillows, then several more with the wooly Army blankets covering them.  I watched to see what liaison went to those patients so I can make sure we have support going to the hospital in which those patients came from.

One of the liaisons touched my shoulder and asked if I could help with one of his female patients.  She had no shoes and she needed some before she could leave the ER area for the many tasks ahead of her.  I went inside the ER as they were trying to get her off the litter.  The liaison asked her what size shoe she wore.  She did not reply but looked at him totally lost.  He asked her again what size shoe with the same response.  So I bent down in front of her and said, “Hun, my name is Karen and I am going to bring you some new shoes.  Can you tell me what size you wear?”  She looked me right in the face and connected with what I was asking.  She gave me her shoe size and off I went to get them from the WWMC.  I took them back just as the ambulatory patients were heading in for their accountability briefing.  This is just a quick check to make sure we have the patients expected to arrive here and what unit each one belongs to, so the right liaison has the right patients.

I went back to the WWMC to finish the work I had started earlier.  There was a volunteer who did a great job unloading the boxes that I had brought into the WWMC from the storage room just as the buses were coming in.  She had managed to unpack the 6 or 7 boxes and get all the items on the shelves.  She then left for the day and I went back to get more items just as our daily mail came.  I got all those boxes unpacked and put on shelves.  Please promise me one thing, no matter if you ship through LHCP or directly to units you are supporting, DO NOT put food in with clothing; do not put food in with books; do not put soft food items with canned food items; and do not put food in with toiletries.  The food does not make it safely.

If you belong to DAR, American Legion, K of C, VFW, or any group, please inform those that support the WWMC we do not have ANY need for books.  NONE, ZERO, ZIP, I cannot say it any more clear than that.  We have no need for legal pads of paper or blank greeting cards or stationery.  We have no need at LRMC for sun screen, mouse traps, insect repellent, or mosquito strips.  It is a waste of these great organizations money.

Tonight while sitting in the guest house restaurant, they received a phone call for an American reservation.  The couple arrived a short time later.  They were on vacation here when her husband got very ill.  Since he is retired military, he can be treated at LRMC.  His wife is at her wits end.  I started doing the thing many tell me is my specialty – getting information without coming right out and asking.  She told me that her husband had a lot of tests done today and she was so impressed with the hospital and staff here.  She said they have to go back in the morning for more tests.  Since the gate we go through in the evening to get to the guest house is not the same you can enter in the morning, I asked what time the appointment is.  I will take her and her husband to the hospital so she does not get lost.  I gave her a calling card I had so she can call their adult children and let them know what the doctors say.

Today I worked 9 hours courtesy of Larry Walley.  Thank you for helping make this trip possible!

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