Thursday, June 22, 2006

All Things Considered

Yesterday marked the 1st anniversary of me getting my ass splattered all over the lower al-Abarra province. Since then, Lieutenant Colonel (at the time Major) Kareem saw to it that the son of a whore who set off that IED was brought to justice. He took the attack very personally. He is one of the very few people I met in Iraq that I would loved to have hosted here in the US, or even taken my family to visit in a few years. Unfortunately, he was killed by another son of whore later that year.
But other things have happened in this year. I came to truly appreciate and understand the depths of love, and inner strength that my darling wife has. The trauma I suffered physically and emotionally cannot begin to compare with the ordeal she faced in putting me back together again. When she finally smartens up and sees what a rat bastard I am, I’ll miss her.
In this year, I’ve regained a lot of use in my hands, and even some nerve growth—I can feel the transplanted nerve about 1/3 of the way up my left palm. I still have limited movement of my left thumb, and no feeling in my left thumb, forefinger, and index finger. I burned the shit out of them this weekend on the exhaust air from a power drill. Had no idea I’d done it until I say the blisters from my second knuckle up to the tips. On one hand (if you’ll excuse the pun,) it’s good that I can’t feel the burns. On the other hand, if I could feel, I wouldn’t have burned my fingers to begin with. (Joseph Heller, you can kiss my ass.) I can use the four fingers on my right hand normally, but can’t bend my right thumb, and that won’t ever change, the joint is fused. So I’ve got 7 fingers, two of which I can’t feel, and two thumbs, one that I can’t feel or oppose with, and one I can’t bend. Other that that, my legs have generally healed, the skin grafts in my legs and arm have adhered to the muscles beneath then (ouch), but doesn’t hurt too much unless the skin gets pulled (instant pulled muscle). I don’t notice the scars in my face much, (but the shrapnel in my face still pisses me off) my ears still ring, and I still mourn the loss of 50% of the family jewels. Don’t you hate not having a matched set of something? At least the plumbing still works!
All things considered, if I hadn’t been wounded, I’d have never “put the chocolate and peanut butter” together with regards to VALOur-IT. I didn’t do the heavy lifting for the project, that honor belongs to Patti, Beth, Holly, and so many others. I just put tab “A” into slot “B.” I don’t know if it would’ve ever happened if I hadn’t been wounded. 482 (and counting) service members wouldn’t have been helped to regain some semblance of normality.
I’d never have had the opportunity to watch the Steelers beat the piss out of defeat the Seahawks at the Superbowl (Thanks, Patti!) More importantly, I’d never have been able to take Carren there.
I’d have never met the President, the SECDEF, the CJCS, or a whole host of other acronyms.
My life would be very different now if I’d never been wounded. It’d be normal, or relatively so. But I think that through all of the turbulence that we’ve seen this past year, I’m a better husband, father, and soldier for what I’ve experienced. All things considered, a normal life now is what we make of it.