Thursday, November 02, 2006
Better late than neverIt's been a rough week. I had every intention of jumping into the Army's effort on behalf of Project Valour-IT with both feet.
And then I got the text message while I was at church on Sunday. Our friend had been injured.
There was mention of a broken leg and injuries to his hand.
He was being prepped for evacuation to Germany.
And then there was silence.
He's ok. Thank goodness. No word on the long term prognosis with regard to his injuries but he's alive and that is THE most important thing. But his recovery may take a while. And while he's recovering, he may need some help. Which is where Project Valour-IT comes in.
Here is the bulk of the post that I made for the Project Valour-IT fundraiser last year. It still holds true today.
One of the things that MacGyver and I have talked about it how we would handle things should he be injured in the line of duty. It's not a pretty conversation - things like that never are. But I am not a fan of surprises so I'd rather discuss this now, before he deploys.
Those of you who know MacGyver know what type of person he is. He is a very "hands on" type of person. He works a LOT with his hands. He is a mechanic by nature - at the age of 2, he took apart a transistor radio while he sat in his crib. Our 2 car garage is full of his projects - the BMW 2002 that he is restoring, the Yamaha YSR 50cc motorcycle that is his labor of love, the oddball projects that he always seems to have more of than time - and his tools. His hands are strong. Not necessarily big - small, in fact, for someone who is almost six feet tall. But they are powerful hands with scars that show where he has been and what he has done. Each scar has a story. There are the scars that have come from working on our cars (we don't own new cars...). There are the scars that have come from working on helicopters. There are the scars that have come from who-knows-where. It's not uncommon for MacGyver to come in and be bleeding and not know how he got hurt.
We've talked about the different injuries that can be sustained in combat and the one injury that worries him most is the loss of his hands or the loss of the use of his hands. He can deal with spinal cord injuries, shrapnel injuries, leg injuries. But to take his hands away from him would mean taking life away from him. He's a strong man but it would take every ounce of strength he has (and then some) to overcome that.
When CPT Z was injured, it really illustrated how big a challenege it is to function without the use of one's hands. They do SO MUCH over the course of a day - things you don't even THINK about. Here is just a small sampling of the things I did with my hands this past weekend :
rubbed sleep from my eyes
brushed my teeth
washed my hair and body
buttoned the button on my shorts
brushed and dried my hair
typed e-mails to friends and family
typed a blog entry
chatted on IM
made a few phone calls
put on my makeup
fixed my children waffles for breakfast
brushed my daugther's hair and teeth
tied her shoes
opened my purse
buckled my children in their car seats
started the car
cleaned the laceration on Little Man's toe
bandaged Little Man's toe (three times)
wiped tears from Little Man's face
And the list goes on and on. How many of those things - little things, really - could I have NOT done had I not had the use of my hands?
Think about not being able to do those things AND not being able to be in contact with friends and family across the globe. Let's face it...most of us are (or were) military families and very few of us live close to friends and family. So the phone and the internet are incredibly important to us. Imagine how important those things would become if you were trapped - literally - in a hospital bed on the East Coast...thousands of miles from anyone you know...with a debilitating injury and no way to speak with family and friends without the help of another person.
How helpless and frustrated would you feel?
Tie your hands behind your back for a moment and then try to interact with the world.
Not easy is it. And you're not injured. You're not hurt, scared, or alone in a place you don't know.
There are 4 days left in this fundraiser. Sgt. Hook had a good point - if everyone who reads my blog (I average about 80-100 hits per day) were to donate just a couple of bucks - say $5 - that would just about raise enough money to purchase one fully-loaded laptop computer with software. Five bucks. That's not even lunch money anymore. It's a latte at Starbucks.
The next person that needs that computer could be MacGyver. Or someone close to you. Five bucks is nothing compared to the freedom and independence and healing that computer would provide.
This year, everything hits a little closer to home. Like text messages during church. I don't know if Eric will need the help of Project Valour-IT but if he does, it is because of people like you that he will get what he needs.
Please give. Give until it hurts. THEY did.
My comment (origninally added at he blog, but got so lenghthy I decided to re-post it here)
Let Macgyver (and your friend) know that it really isn't the end of the world, it's a setback. I love working with my hands, and do lot of projecs too... everything from brewing beer to refinishing furniture. It takes longer, and I have to take my time and actually watch what I am doing, instead of working by feel, and I think my playstation days ended a long time ago, but the hard thing to get through my head was that it wasn't the end of the world. You have tyo adapt, and the fixes are neither immediate or easy.
Things that used to be easy, or even so simple I didn't consider them, are now often insurmountable (like buttoning a cuff or collar.) I was once completely unable to bathe myself, my hands were so sensitive I couldn't hold the poofy soap things. Hell, at one oint, I couldn't even wipe myself. Luckily, I was unable to kill myself, too.
It wasn't luck, it was love thsat saved me though. Carren and my Mom spent months picking up the pieces, putting me back together, and pushing me to do the little things that make up a normal day.
Don't get me wrong, I wanted to do things, but everything was so hard I had no idea where to start... They stuck by me and kept me focused. Valour-IT was a start, of course. As swelling went down and "angry" nerves calmed, I slowly regained strength and flexibility. I re-learned how to do things like get dressed in something other than sweats, and (the matterhorn of challenges) tie my kid's shoes. (It still takes a while.)
It's been 17 months now, and I am so far from where I was on 22 June 05 that it's hard to believe it was only a year and a half.
The surgeons and nurses at the Army Medical Centers are geniuses, as are the occupational and physical therapists--all the kings horses and all the king's men, as it were.
I never planned on any of this. I'd never have considered it, given it a second thought, except maybe to think "wow, better him than me." This was never part of my career path, not the way I envisioned my personal or professional life. As I look to the future, I see a lot of changes... I'm probably never going to tech the boy to throw a fastball properly, and never start that second career as a brain surgeon. Okay, so that was a long shot to begin with.
Things get better. Even if my injuries had been worse, things would've eventually gotten better. I doubt things will ever be the way they were (unless I sprout some nerves and bones--damn you, BushMcHalliburton, why can't we do more stem sell research?) but then again, it'll never be last Thursday again either. Plans change, life changes. Sure, when the movie we wanted to see isn't showing, we see someting else. Not hard, really. When something requires not only a conscious decision to do something else, but long, determined action(s) to make them happen (some of which fail, miserably) it is much harder to see the point in trying, and continuing. You continue anyway, making adjustments as you go, because the cost of quitting is too high--wallowing in self pity, failing to continue enjoying life, in effect, you were killed when you were wounded, you just took longer to die. (Wow, sounds like current our President's Iraq policy vs. Kerry, Murtha, Pelosi, and the rest of those cowards.)
Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? Well, the good news is that, although life is a zero-sum game, I'm still living, still healing, still able to do things. I'll be here when my son pins on his bars, and when my daughter pins on hers. I'll be here to give her away, to whichever brave soul measures up to my standards. I'll even be around when Carren and I decide to sit outside nekkid in separate bathtubs and watch the sunset -- what's up with those cialis commercials, anyway? If he's taking stiffy meds, why aren't they in the same tub?
Plus, you get drugs. Lots of drugs.
Finally, if Macgyver hurts his hand(s) I'll deliver his Valour-IT laptop in person. And remind him, it could be worse, imagine losing a nut or two.
Recovery is a long, hard process (speaking of cialis). Remind your friend that if it was easy, we wouldn't call it rehab, we'd call it the Air Force. Life has a funny way of coming at you. As long as you have people who love you, and people to love, it's worth living.