20 JAN 2007 Get you through the night
One of the best parts about getting home is that I can look back and be thankful for all the wonderful people who helped get me through it all.
I appreciate all that you all did for me with kind messages, care packages, prayers, or even just sharing a laugh or a tear when I needed to. As I've said before, writing here has been my way to clear my mind of the thoughts of mass destruction that would linger after seeing the pain and tragedy that war causes on a personal level.
One of my favorite crutches in Balad was a good movie. It was great to turn down the lights and get transported to a dreamworld of magic for an hour and a half. That was an hour and a half when I forgot the worries of the hospital and I wasn't in Balad anymore. It was something that I could share with buddies from the hospital. M. and I would try to watch the same movies on different continents so we could chat about them. It wasn't the same as sharing a piece of pie and coffee together in a diner after a movie, but it did make me feel like my honey was close to me. I'm indebted to L. from Books for Soldiers for sending us so many movies on our wish list.
One of the greatest privileges of being an officer was the luxury of some private time. It was a huge help in recharging the batteries to have even a few hours alone to just sip hot chocolate, gnaw on jerky, and write some letters alone. I could have gotten by without it, but I'm sure that I would have been a lot more annoying to be around.
Of course I never would have made it without my crew in the hospital. We worked like a Rugby scrum, all leaning in together, holding each other up, and pushing a hell of a lot harder than any of us could have done alone. I especially appreciate the B.A.D.A.S.S. surgeons, past and present, who made for a great team to whom I could tag off care on any patient, no matter how critical, and leave the hospital confident that they would be getting a level of care that was equal, or likely better than I could have given myself. Family dinner with them the nights I could make it made me feel the bond of a band of brothers, which is more powerful than the depressing enormity and banality of war's mechanized cruelty.
It is hard to imagine life at war without the easy access we had to the Internet. Emails to my family in Texas as well as my brothers, sister, and parents always gave me the courage to carry on. The Internet was also a way to try to keep abreast of current events and the global picture of progress in Iraq, or an outside view of the personal tragedies we were witnessing from our vantage here at the hospital. The 'net also provided much needed entertainment in the form of little videos like this one and this one(warning, profanity!!) Through blogging, I got to meet some amazing other bloggers. One in particular I would like to mention is Emergency Emm. Many times her blog brought me humor or indignation, exactly when they were appropriate. It amazes me that someone so young has already figured out when to crush the grapes of life for fine wine and when to crush them for vinegar. I suppose it comes from the extremes of human behavior you see as an EMT.
Also, and I have to mention this for anyone who might have an upcoming deployment, it was essential to do some sort of physical training. There was no other way to keep the mental and physical balanced (or survive the onslaught of cholesterol laden food at the DFACs!) Everyone had a program of some sort that they followed. I did my fencing stretches, lifted, and swam. I ran outside about 75 miles total before the burn pit smog and my borderline cartilege got the best of me. Now the challenge is to keep up good habits at home!
Most of all, what got me through the night was dreams of returning home. To me that home is a United States of America where my children are safe from random violence and constitutionally protected from leaders who try to force their own religious or ideological agenda on the people. It is a place where each citizen has an equal say in our government, and the right to speak out against our leaders' actions is protected. But at the heart of it all, most important were dreams of being warm in the hearth and hearts of M. and my boys again. That promise could have gotten me through far worse than the simple inconveniences I was asked to tolerate in the service of our great nation.