Today’s guest blogger is Lance. I met Lance through Twitter and soon realized how nice of a person he is! He is a great encourager of his fellow runners and he has an amazing weight loss story that you can read about on his blog, by clicking here. Lance was a Navy Corpsman for 4 years and has been a nurse for 14 years. He is the first guest blogger to bring us a story about a Wounded Warrior. Trust me, you do not want to miss this story about David. Here is Lance’s story about David, our American Hero.
How could a person live a normal life after being severely burned over most of his body?
How could a person perform daily tasks with only thumbs?
These are just a few of the questions I asked myself before I met David. David is a 25 year old soldier in the Army. A year ago he awoke from a three month coma in Bethesda Naval Hospital. Prior to that he was in Iraq and tragically was near an explosion that nearly killed him.
I met David in the warriors barracks at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas. He was moved to the burn unit at Brook Army medical center for treatment. The burn unit is one of the most advanced burn treatment centers in the world. After nine months as an inpatient, including 13 major surgeries and 19 minor ones,he was discharged. I was seeing David as a home health nurse. He had one open wound on his arm and was unable to perform daily wound care on himself.
I was very nervous to meet him for the 1st time. I was sad at the situation he was in, I was angry that something like this could happen to a young man. When I first saw him it was a bit frightening. His entire body (besides his shins down to his feet) was burned. 3rd degree burn scar tissue covered his entire body. He lost eight fingers and was left with just his thumbs.
However, his personality and enthusiastic attitude made my first visit enjoyable, almost serene. He was happy to be alive, happy to be healing.
I spent 4 months with him. Seeing him Monday through Friday. Over that time period I was able to answer the questions I had asked myself before I ever met him. I saw first hand how he was able to lead a normal life. His daily regiment was very strict. At 9 a.m. he was seen by me. 10 a.m. he went to the Center for the Intrepid. This facility across from his barracks was built using private funds and private contractors and was built for one purpose. To rehabilitate the wounded men and women of the armed forces. His 10 a.m. appointment is for physical therapy. Here he works on his lower body strength. Physical therapy made it possible for him to walk and drive again. At 1 p.m. he goes back for occupational therapy. This was the most important part of his rehab at this point in time. Here he is learning how to do everyday random tasks without any fingers. Getting dressed, eating meals, cleaning himself. Pretty much any mundane action for most people is very taxing for him. He has to completely relearn how to perform everyday tasks.
He once showed me all the gadgets he has to make living easier. A pair of scissors that had flat plates on the end in place of finger loops. He could cut things by using his palms. Opening a bag of cereal or chips would be near impossible without fingers. Now he can open them with relative ease. He has a stick with a curved wire to button his shirts. He can open soda bottles with a plastic vise that makes turning the cap possible. Not to mention his iphone and ipad that are both touch screen. He bragged that he could type an e-mail to his mom in under five minutes using only his thumbs. It takes me longer to type a letter with 10 fingers!
David, and every other person wounded in battle have the best medical treatment available. They also have the best support system. The government has not turned their back,or forgotten about their wounded warriors. He will receive a medical discharge and live the rest of his life with full benefits. He will have a regular pay check, all medical covered (including all future surgeries) and being injured in battle he will have assistance with buying a home. The wound on his arm heeled and he was discharged from our service.
We talk to each other a few times a month. A few months back he told me he bought a house and some land. He was ready to start his new life. Through his determination, diligence, and a great outlook he was living a normal life. I have been a nurse for 14 years, and was a Navy corpsman for four years. The best part of my job is helping those who need it. The 2nd best part is learning from my patients. When I think of David and the adversity he faces daily, how can I ever complain about anything. I forgot my lunch, I didn’t get to the gym, I forgot to Tevo something on T.V all seem silly in the big picture.
If you are interested in contributing a story to the Soldier Story Saturday series, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org If this story or any of the other stories featured in the series have moved you enough to donate to my Wounded Warrior Project fundraiser, please click here to do so. Thank you.