Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quit Kicking Me!

"Will you PLEASE stop kicking me!!" I harped at the soldier standing next to me. "I'm going to report you for nurse abuse if you don't!" I sharply chided him. He simply stood there and with a look of "who me?" on his face responded, "they'd never believe you, they'd take one look at me and cart YOU off". "Yeah, you're right" I said, “but, really now, QUIT KICKING ME!” then giving up, shared a laugh with this particular man. A bilateral leg amputee, he was kicking me with his prosthetic legs and having quite a jolly time. In frustration I kicked him back, which only served to make him laugh harder and tell me "that didn't hurt a bit".

The sad part is that he does hurt. He and other veterans like him suffer daily with phantom pain, suffer daily with nerve pain and pain that takes over their lives. It becomes all consuming and never-ending, life as they knew it ceases to exist. They suffer from pain you cannot take enough medications to make go away. Marriages suffer, families are torn apart, and the mental anguish is inexplicable.

I recently sat in a meeting and listened to an OEF veteran talk about dealing with his pain. For 3 years after many, many surgeries, an amputation and ongoing physical therapy his pain persists. He often wonders if the pain will ever go away and he admits to fleeting thoughts of suicide. And he is not alone! I sit here right now and at least dozen of my former patients come to mind.

Although it is almost impossible, try and place yourself in his position. Can you even begin to imagine how living with pain every minute of every hour of every day would affect you? What kind of life you would have?

People always make comments "I wish there were something I could do". If you are truly serious in wanting to help I have this suggestion. Currently there is legislation proposed to give our OIF/OEF veterans better resources, benefits and assistance when it comes to pain and it's impact on their lives. You can learn about them by going to the American Pain Foundation's website and clicking on Military/Veterans and Pain. I urge you to go to this site and review everything on these pages. Here you will find plenty of ways to assist our wounded warriors. Only when we understand better and take the initiative to make our voices heard will change come about. They need your help and here is your way! We challenge you, don't let us down!


MaryAnn said...

Hi Clara,

By coincidence, I just posted this yesterday

Have you heard anything about it?

Best from Germany.

Clara Hart said...

Yep! Know all about it, we've been using it for years. It works well for some people but not for all. There needs to be much more done and that is the issue I am trying to address.

MaryAnn said...

That's good to hear. The article made it sound new and experimental. Wish it helped more people better.