Saturday, November 21, 2009

When You Get The Urge

When you get the urge to, "Do something!" to help United States Service Members, I have a suggestion.

Send your Care Package to:

Col. James R. Griffith
Chaplain U.S. Army
Cheif of Pastoral Services
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
Wounded Warrior Medical Management Center
CMR 402
APO AE 09180

When you think of a Medevac (Medical Evacuation) you may think of Blackhawk helicopters swooping into a live fire zone or a F.O.B. (Forward Operating Base) and whisking away wounded wariors.

That happens all to often but the scene isn't always replete with the thunder and gore of a Hollywood movie.

Also, that may be just the first step.

A MEDEVAC could stem from an illness that the base hospital isn't equiped to diagnose or treat.

What happens then, when the wounds are too severe or the illness is out of the realm of local hands?

The next leg of that MEDEVAC may land at Ramstein Airbase and care continued at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

L.R.M.C. is a huge nine wing hospital with, I imagine, all of the services one could imagine.

One service you might not think about, I didn't, is the Chaplains Closet.

Think about it. You get MEDEVACed with nothing but the clothes and gear on your back. You land in Germany and get treated. Let's say that you are ambulatory. Maybe even out an patient.

Now what? You're stuck in the clothes that you left the field in. It's doubtful that you have shampoo, a toothbrush, socks, clean underwear, clothes, etc.

All you (and everyone within sniffing distance of you) want is a hot shower, clean clothes and a bed.

If you're lucky, HN2 Ramon will lead you to the Chaplains Closet, hand you a small duffell bag and get you set up.

I began to have respiratory trouble the day I arrived in theater. Immediately upon arrival, I hyperventilated. I figured, big deal, nerves, new place, big dose of the unknown, etc, etc, etc.

It happened several more times until I finally lost count after a couple of weeks.

Then I got what we called the Dirt Flu. I think I told you about it. The air is lousy with dust and burning trash and diesel fumes and Jet Fuel fumes and who knows what else.

I began to get shorter and shorter of breath. Another bout of funk settled into my head and lungs. Just laying down closed off my airflow. Even bending over to tie my shoes or fuel an auxilary tank knocked the wind out of me.

The sudden losses of O2 would bring about a state of panic that I'd struggle to keep in check long enough to get a whisp of air into my lungs.

The worst part is waking up in the pitch black of my little bunk space and gasping for air completely disoriented.

Several nights ago I was walking back from dinner, metering my breath with my steps, muttering about MAYBE going to the camp clinic, LATER.

When I came to the right turn that would take me to the pick-up point for my ride to work, I kept walking, straight to the clinic.

A young Doctor asked what was wrong and I gasped, "I can't breath." He took me seriously. Less than five minutes later he said, "Get in the truck, we're going to the hospital."

I say several nights ago because I'm not really sure when it was. It's all kind of blurry.

We went to the ER, Exams, IV, Meds, Xrays, CAT Scans, to a Ward, Vitals checked every four hours, more Meds, Night?, Day?, visitors?, questions, KC-135, flight to Ramstein, L.R.M.C....

Now, it's Sunday morning. I'm in a little hotel in Landstuhl. I have an appointment of sorts for Monday morning. The last Doctor I talked to said that he anticipates pronouncing me "Fit to Fly" but to where and how?

I expect that I'll be on some sort of flight Home Monday or Tuesday.

When I know, you'll know.

Just remember, "When you get the urge..."

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