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.


February 11, 2008

Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 2/11/08
Stationed in: a military hospital in the U.S.

"Will you please stop kicking me!" I scolded the soldier standing next to me. "I'm going to report you for nurse abuse if you don't!"

He stood there and with a look of "Who me?" on his face. "They'd never believe you. They'd take one look at me and cart you off."

"Yeah, you're right," I said. “But, really now, QUIT KICKING ME!” Giving up, I shared a laugh with the man.

A bilateral leg amputee, he was kicking me with his prosthetic legs and having quite a jolly time. In frustration I kicked him back, which only served to make him laugh harder.

"That didn't hurt a bit."

The sad part is that he does hurt. He and other veterans like him suffer daily with phantom pain, suffer daily with nerve pain and pain that takes over their lives. It becomes all-consuming and never-ending. Life as they knew it ceases to exist. They suffer from pain you cannot take enough medications to make go away. Marriages suffer, families are torn apart, and the mental anguish is indescribable.

I recently sat in a meeting and listened to an OEF veteran talk about dealing with his pain. For three years, after many, many surgeries, an amputation, and ongoing physical therapy, his pain persists. He often wonders if the pain will ever go away, and he admits to fleeting thoughts of suicide. And he is not alone! As I sit here right now at least dozen of my former patients come to mind.

Although it is almost impossible, try and place yourself in this position. Can you even begin to imagine how living with pain every minute of every hour of every day would affect you? What kind of life you would have?

I often hear people make the comment, "I wish there were something I could do." Here's a suggestion: Legislation has been proposed which would give our OIF/OEF veterans better resources, benefits and assistance when it comes to pain and its impact on their lives. You can learn about it by going to the American Pain Foundation's website and clicking on "Military/Veterans and Pain". On this site you will find plenty of ways to assist our wounded warriors. Only when we understand better and take the initiative to make our voices heard will change come about. They need our help!


As usual, I read your articles with admiration of the angel whose ministrations ease the suffering of our service men and women.
One thing; I didn't see anything in the linked web site about spinal cord stimulation or other new generation techniques. Are those availabe in the VA health system? If not, why not?

I emailed both my Senators. Thank you!

My senators too.

I bought "The Sandbox" book and appreciated reading your interactions in the military.

I'm currently recovering from electable foot surgery.

I cannot begin to fathom the pain our soldiers are enduring. Thank you for being there for them.

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