Monday, November 19, 2007

Clara's Corner

Many of you know me, many of you don't. My story is easy, I'm a civilian nurse working at a military hospital. Many of the things I write about are related to my job and the patients I care for. Almost all of them reflect my interactions with war wounded troops and their families.

I have posted some of my experiences on Doonesbury's milblog called The Sandbox. Through them, much to my shock, even had a couple of my stories published in a book titled "The Sandbox; Dispatches From Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan". Course I've not been to either place but I take care of those who have so that seemed to qualify me! ;-)

I thought I would "re introduce" myself to those of you. Below is my first post to The Sandbox and it explains a little bit about what I do and why I do it. I hope you enjoy!

I thought of my own experiences as a civilian nurse caring for the war wounded. Idealistic as it may sound, I somehow wanted to help, to do my own "duty" for this country. To me, helping was not only caring for the wounded's physical injuries, it was caring for the emotional ones too.

I will always remember the evening I held a 19-year-old man in my arms while he cried because he had lost both of his legs. I will not forget the twenty-something man who rolled out of surgery so badly injured I was amazed he was still alive, and yet this man still cracked smiles at my off-beat sense of humor and my attempts to take his mind off his pain. I'll remember the woman who I helped calm after a book fell off a counter and the loud bang instantly transported her back to the day of her injury and who, from then on, always looked for me when she came out of the OR because she said she felt safe when I was around. I'll never forget my soldier who lost both legs and an arm, who I later watched get married, downhill ski, and, driving his big truck, head off to college. I'll remember the night I chuckled after one soldier, under the influence of pain medication, asked me to marry him and have his children, and the following day, when he was so worried and apologetic for "being out of line". For as long as I live I will remember the day I ran the Army 10-miler with nine amputees, five of whom I had taken care of.

There were so many times I held their hands, wiped their brows, their tears, and reached down into beds and stretchers to give them the hugs they so badly needed. I sat and listened to their stories of fear and horror because they needed to talk. And because I could do nothing more than listen, I would go home and cry for the ones who could not cry for themselves.

Mixed with the physical and emotional pain I have seen tremendous perseverance, courage, and determination. You have amazed me, you have made me smile, you have made me laugh and you have made me cry. I will always remember my time spent with you. To the many wounded I have cared for, I wish I knew where you ended up, how you are and how life is treating you. I hope and pray all the best for you!

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