The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


December 07, 2006

Name: A Nurse
Posting date: 12/7/06
Stationed in: a military hospital
Hometown: Illinois

As the month of December marches on, I sit here and remember past holiday seasons and the fun I had when, joined by other nurses, doctors and technicians, we all played Santa for our Soldiers and Marines. It brought me such joy to see the look on one Soldier's face when I walked in his room with brightly wrapped Christmas presents. He had lost both his legs when an IED exploded under the vehicle he was riding in, and at Christmas time he was bedbound and unable to leave the hospital. He and his wife had two little boys, one nine months old and one three years old. He and I talked about what he wanted to give each of his boys, and what he thought his wife would like, and then I went shopping. On Dec 23rd when I entered his room with the gifts, the look on his face and the gratitude he displayed is something I will not soon forget.

Over and over my coworkers and I were Santa's elves, finding a way for a wounded female Soldier to get a facial and a manicure, getting gift certificates for family members because their wounded Marines and Soldiers wanted them to have a nice dinner out. That was December a year ago. This year is different for me, and I'm letting my coworkers be Santa's elves. I'm tired, and my decision on whether to stay or leave wieghs heavily on me. I miss my Soldiers and Marines who have left the hospital. You come into my life and I let you into my heart. I am happy for you when you recover and move forward with your life, but it also makes me sad never to hear from you again.

I greatly appreciate all the wonderful people who have responded to my posts with incredibly encouraging comments. You will never know how much that means! If I can stay I will, and if I leave it simply means my heart is too broken and I need a little time to fix it.


May God be with you during this upcoming Holiday Season... You are appreciated by the soldiers you cared for and their families... Bless you for the help you have given... Remember, to thine own self be true...

God Bless you and thank you for what you have done. Do what your heart tells you to do.

Sorry about your broken heart. I guess it's the price of service. Thank you for paying that price with such generosity.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the care you've given. If you must leave to heal your heart, please come back when you've healed. You will be even better at what you do then. I want to do what you do and am moving slowly toward that goal. Be well.

I can only say thank you. It is such a totally inadequate thing to say. God bless and keep you safe. I hope that your heart heals and the pain you feel passes. You have truly be an Angel to many. I hope an Angel finds you this Christmas!

The problem with being in pain is that you forget you've healed before this most recent hurt. You need rest and more than a quick hug, but there will always be more injured that will need your care, because they aren't just "meat", you really care and will always hurt because of it. Thank you for being there when they needed you. Bless you and them in their healing.

Dear Nurse - glad that various comments help because you're sure giving more than we are. My thanks as well as others - 'thanks of a grateful nation' doesn't begin to cover it. Perhaps it might be time to take the next step ? Rather than make a decision in crisis, if you don't have to, what have you done for yourself - to renew your spirit and spiritual resevoirs ? No person can live under sustained, emotionally draining strain without relief in the short-run and renewal in the long. At it's simplest take a break, change duties for a while and then consider. You may not want to go back and you'll be missed. But if you break yourself, well...

When Jim Stockdale was in the Hanoi Hilton they all learned that everybody could be broken and it was their comrades who understood and accepted that. And more importantly brought each other to forgive themselves.

remember, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. Maybe you should be your own santa this year and treat yourself. I think you have paid it forward more than once, if you decide to take a break ,it's not like you haven't earned it.


You are not one of Santa's elves, you are one of Heaven's angels. Worth your weight in hope and faith to our wounded and hurting soldiers. Take care of your heart and do what you need to let it heal. Because we all need you. Perhaps a stint in teaching? Or in a less stressful part of the rehab process? Take a break this Christmas and give yourself the gift of time. Take care and keep in touch - we read and we care.

Just remember that every act of kindness that you have performed is pemanently etched in the mind of the recipient. 40 years from now when they sit with their grandchildren and talk of their experiences there - your act of kindness will become a story that brings tears to their eyes.

Good to hear from you again. You, your co-workers, your Soldiers and your Marines are never far from my thoughts, always in my broken heart. We are all together in this. Thank you for your clear voice.

As a fellow nurse, and wife of a Marine, my heart goes out to you. I work in a high stress environment and often feel that my heart can not handle to burden any longer. You are in my thoughts and prayers, may you find peace this holiday season. You have given much of yourself, and it is okay to let someone else take the reins.

Nurse -
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have given so much - your presence has been a gift to many, and your example will be your legacy; don't be afraid to refresh and renew your own spirit. Merry Christmas!

Either way I'm sure we support your decision to stay or leave. I'm sure your kindness to those around you is always appreciated. Merry Christmas

I can't imagine how hard it must be to witness all that chaos everyday. your kindness in this war will be remembered

Girlfriend, you;ve got compassion fatigue. Good for you for standing down to take care of your Self. It is the only thing that will allow you to carry on without becoming completely burned out. This problem is too big for any one person, but we can all help and we all one will be left behind.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference PLAYING SANTA:

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »

Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog



My Photo