Wednesday, November 30, 2011

War Stories


Had a patient today who is a Viet Nam vet, being seen for acute pain radiating down his leg. He mentioned to our nurse that it actually hurt worse than being shot, which was passed along to me to pass along to the radiologist. Unfortunately, there was a delay before the physician could get there, leaving me to keep the patient occupied. Which I'm happy to do, as I don't like sitting in a room waiting with nothing to do when I'm a patient either.

Asking about his pain led to the shooting incident in prior service. After he learned I'd been deployed, I spent the next thirty minutes listening to what it's like policing up the remains of tortured civilians after taking back a VC held village, being one of two men in an LP/OP while a squad of VC try to kill you, attempting to stay conscious while bleeding like a stuck pig so that your buddy has someone to cover his back while he returns fire, and the joys of recovery that takes place over three different nations. Oh, and how a paperwork error can get you sent back to Viet Nam along with a guy who has a very similar name, on the same plane, instead of the plane that was supposed to fly you back to the US for extended recovery therapy.

The amazing thing about this was the good humor and humility in how it was related to me. No bitterness, no self-pity.

I always feel privileged to work with vets.

1 comment:

GardenSERF said...

I've run into people from that age group who have neurological issues (both civilian and mil) ranging from numbness in limbs to Parkinson-like symptoms who never get a formal diagnosis because the specialists can't figure it out. Hard to tell with so much chemical exposure from the farm to the battlefield back in the 50s thru 70s. Symptoms can be gradual over 20 years or happen over only a few weeks before coming on full throttle.

Then there's post-polio syndrome for that age group as well...