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.

DOC CLARA |

March 27, 2009

DOC CLARA
Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 3/27/09
Stationed in: a military hospital in the U.S.
Milblog: From Our Perspective
Email: [email protected]

“You’re back in the U.S.”

“Kay.”

“Can you give me the thumbs up sign with your right thumb? Great! Good job. How about your left?...Thumbs up on the left. What’s your name? Can you tell me your name?”

“Tommy.”

“Awesome, Tommy!  Pleased ta meetcha!”  And so went the greeting and assessment of a patient newly arrived from Germany, as we worked to displace wires and lines from the aerovac team and replace them with ours.

“Okay, Tommy, we’re gonna move you to our bed, this is probably going to hurt, you ready?”

Having survived a high velocity gunshot wound to the head and subsequent surgeries, our patient was amazingly alert and oriented. After repositioning him, a discovery of pink earplugs embedded in his ears was made. Used by the flight crew to muffle the plane’s engine noise, they are frequently still in place when patients arrive.

“Tommy! You got pink earplugs in your ears. What’s up with that?”  I jokingly chided him.

“Pink? That’s fucked up!” came his laughter-provoking response. 

“Hey Tommy, have to draw some blood on ya.”

“Well just don’t do it like the insurgents did, okay?”

My coworkers and I looked at each other and once again laughed at this patient’s sense of humor. We were all delighted to banter with him, a patient who against all odds was doing better than we ever imagined. Back and forth we went, asking, commanding, assessing, caring and joking as we settled him in.

“Ma’am, I’m real sorry I smell bad, but I had no chance to shower these last two months,” was his chagrined, solemn statement.

“Tommy, let me tell ya, I've smelled bad, and trust me when I say, you ain’t it," I assured him, earning a relieved smile and a chuckle.

“What’s your name?” he asked me many minutes later.

“Clara."

“You a doctor?”

“Nope, a nurse."

“Even though you’re not a doctor would you mind if I called you doc?"

“You can call me Clara, it’s really okay," I assured him, a lump forming in my throat at the implication of that particular title. “Just call me Clara,” I told him again, uncomfortable with the honor he was attempting to bestow upon me.

“How about Doc Clara then?” he persisted.

“Ok, done.” Seeing I was not going to win I gave in.

Many times over the following days coworkers and other hospital staff would come to me and say, “Tommy’s asking for Doc Clara, do you have a moment for him?”  And each time if my own patient was stable I would walk across the hall and marvel at the young man with the remarkable will to live and endearing sense of humor and it would make me smile, glad that for once I was looking at a wounded warrior who would survive.

Comments

Wow - that is amazing and goes as a testimate to the attitude and fight our troops have.
thank you so much for sharing this.

Eric

Clara,

Awesome story and great to see you posting again. I always look forward to your posts both here and at "From our perspective", even the heart wrenching ones.

I hope you are well and know that we all support the great, awesome, excellent work you do with our wounded warriors.

Keep up the good work and take care of yourself as well.

THANKS.

Chris

Nice post. Made me cry. Now go out and RUN, Clara. take care of yourself :)

I began working with several veterans with PTSD/TBI and it's wonderful to laugh and cry at the same time. I work with 1 guy who had no apparent sense of humor and in the lobby another vet told him he had a nice collar on (his is from neck surgery) and he looked at the guy and said, "Thanks, I'll loan it to you in a couple months!"
And thank you.

I'm with Tommy on the idea of Doc Clara. Nurses and Physicians Assistants deserve a title of respect just as much as MD's, DO's, PhD's, etc. do.

Clara, or Nurse Clara is fine, actually nothing could be finer. I am glad you have earned a Doc Clara title from one happier soldier, but that is a very personal award, you continue to do great. Thanks.

Dear Clara,
You are prayed for every day that we pray for our soldiers. God bless you and all that you do. You are needed and blessed by God.
Thank you for serving our warriors.
Greg Wemhoff, USN Ret.
ps-One of you walked in and stayed with my brother in Vietnam as he died. Thank you for her, through my tears. You represent her for us.
GW

Great job Clara! America is proud of you! Nurses the unsung Heroes of war, any war.

I really enjoyed reading this post. It is nice to hear that our soldiers are getting great health care from people that care!

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