I love being in Germany, but this deluxe opportunity comes at a price. A TRAUMATIC price. As much as I want life to be about clothes, travel and shopping - it's clearly NOT, and today was a reminder of the severity of my duties.
I didn't want to post about my job for a multitude of reasons, but TODAY was such an experience that I felt I was filtering myself if I didn't share it. It's a downer, so if you're not in the mood to read this, now is your chance to click away.
Today I was assigned to carry CRITICALLY WOUNDED soldiers from the aircraft onto a bus (essentially a school bus modified to hold canvas stretchers). Once the patients are secured, I ride along with them to the Army hospital which is a BUMPY and HORRIBLE 20-30 minute drive.
When I say they are critically injured, I mean these are the patients that are BARELY HANGING ON. Yes, these are our young soldiers that were in the WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME. Limbs missing, bones snapped, mental trauma - they are a DAILY sight from a vicious and cruel war zone. Its tragic, and no - it's not in the news.
During today's transport I noticed one of the patients had woken up and he looked SCARED TO DEATH. I watched him look at the tubes connected to his arms and try to mentally process the numerous pumps and equipment pieces mounted above his knees. He was ALONE as none of the other staff members seemed to be interested (or maybe they didn't notice, in their defense).
Instinctively I removed my work gloves, and placed my BARE HANDS on his forehead , shoulders and arms to comfort him. He looked relieved and asked if he was in Germany. I talked to him while he SHIFTED IN AND OUT OF CONSCIOUSNESS to distract him from the horrible pain of the bumpy German roads.
Even though his was in a level of pain that I cannot even fathom, he shook my hand and thanked me. He repeated my name several times and said he would never forget me.
I usually don't connect with a patient like this, so this evening has been full of reflection as I look at all of the luxuries I have and take for granted. Health, eyesight, all of my limbs and good friends. Be grateful for what you have because it can quickly slip away.
Disclaimer for the HIPPA freaks: no patient information was disclosed, and the photos included in the posting were from past missions - and not today.