Saturday, May 23, 2009

Awful Denial

The nightmares have started again. I suppose I should have seen it coming but then again, maybe not. Six 12 hour shifts of caring for the same mortally wounded soldier and his family have clearly taken its toll. Two weeks ago he rolled through our doors with a gun shot wound to the head. The head shot so bad he was leaking brain tissue from the entrance and exit wounds. I know, I saw.

No one survives that kind of wound. Perhaps the biggest tragedy is his brainstem is still fully intact. The tiny part of the brain high up on the neck that controls the body's most primitive functions, breathing and heart beat, were not damaged and so he lives. He lives in a coma, never to wake up, limbs slowly contracting and posturing. His family won't let him go.

No matter how many times the physicians, social workers and nursing staff talk with them they hold on. Each time I speak with them my words become a little more brutal in what I say, "you do understand he had his brains in pieces coming out of his head? His brain is no longer whole, it is in shreds?" and each time they assure me the do understand.

Lat week before I left the hospital for a week's vacation I tried one more time hoping something I say may click and they will understand nothing can be done. It did not, they are too firmly entrenched in denial.

Me, on the other hand, am wrecked. I find the Soldiers and Marines we've withdrawn care on and according to their wishes allowed to die now plague my sleep. I wake up heart pounding after conversations in my dreams with ones who never talked. I've cared for these patients and their families to the best of my ability only now my slumbering mind tells me a different story.

It's Memorial Day Weekend and I don't want to remember.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tweet to Remind

This email is from Bob Woodward, the journalist and author who was injured while embedded with troops in Iraq.

Dear Friends,

We all have people in our lives we consider heroes.

All of us at the Bob Woodruff Foundation would appreciate your support and participation helping raise $1.65M for our heroes returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan by participating in our TweettoRemind campaign. Through the power of the social web, Tweet to Remind campaign aims to raise $1.65 million by Memorial Day, May 25, 2009 to ensure our service members get the help they need as they integrate back into society.

This is a call to action, requesting you write a short blog post or tweet telling us who your hero is on Tuesday, May 12.

After I was severely injured while reporting on location in Iraq, my family and I realized we had a unique opportunity to reach out and help many of our nation's injured heroes. In January 2008, my wife Lee and I started, an organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their families. Our current project is the TweetToRemind campaign, which asks individuals and corporations to donate $5.25 or more in an effort to raise $1.65 million by the end of the Memorial Day weekend.

I have so many heroes in my life who have affected me in so many ways. But after what my family and I went through more than three years ago, my greatest heroes are the doctors, nurses, medics, soldiers, pilots and others who risk their lives on a daily basis to save injured soldiers and bring them back to their communities. They did it for me, and my family and I can never thank them enough.

This is what I ask of you: on Tuesday, May 12 post a simple blog or tweet answering, "Who is your hero?" and asking them to do the same. Please link to your blog post from your Twitter account, a link back to, and the ChipIn widget which you can copy onto your blog.

I hope you find it in your heart to support this effort on May 12 and throughout the campaign which ends on Memorial Day, May 25th.

Thank you in advance for your support.


Bob Woodruff


Friday, May 08, 2009

Nurses Week

It's been an interesting two weeks. I finally made it to the Pentagon Memorial, my friend Troy Steward (of Bouhammer) and his wife Christine were by my side. Wow! Was that ever rough! My story of that visit is posted on The Sandbox blog page titled "Eight Years Later".

This is Nurses Week and two families have given us cards thanking us for what we do. It's so nice to be remembered!

One of the families belonged to a patient who arrived little over a week ago. This was someone so critically wounded he went directly to the OR within an hour of his arrival to us. He was so gravely injured I doubted, even with surgery, that he would survive. I was certain I would return to work the following day to find him brain dead. That we would simply wait until his family arrived, tell them the grim story, let them say their good byes and begin "end of life" care.

Instead, much to my huge surprise this soldier, while still critically injured was able to follow commands appropriately. In the week that has followed I've seen him improve tremendously. He still has a long way to go but watching him get better has sure been an awesome way to celebrate Nurses Week!