Author Topic: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story  (Read 15035 times)

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Offline GhostofJacK

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Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« on: April 18, 2013, 17:37:31 »
So I am going to share a story about an aspect of the military that is seldom talked about - injuries. We all know it is a fact of the job when we enroll but very few people know what it entails. At the beginning of my injury, I found this to be especially true as it was only then that I realised how rampant the rumor mill was WRT injuries. By sharing this I hope to enlighten new troops or hopeful troops as to what this area of the CF world is like and I hope to encourage others to talk about their experience b/c as much as it may feel to be true, there are others out there who are going through or have gone through the same or similar situation. For others, I hope you gain an insight into our world which few know about. I am leaving out names and certain details for OpSec puposes. You can google a lot of this though if you know how to look for it.

~~~~

So I joined the Forces in Sept 03. 6ft tall and a buck-thirty in weight, I was one of those sterotypical skinny guys trying to head into the infantry. I would say that I did very well on my course but I'll attibute it to being stubborn. Were there times I thought about quitting? Yeah, but who doesn't? Made some great friends going through and my course went to 3PPCLI. In the third, I have wholeheartedly embraced the light infantry doctrine. It may suck a lot of the time as 1VP or 2VP pass us with their LAVs on an Ex, but I can't imagine ever being in one. I love my unit and everything that comes with it - the good and bad.

July 05 I went to Afghanistan as part of Op Archer Roto 0 with B Coy. KAF changed quite a bit in the subsequent years from there as did the general perception of the locals. At that time, Canadians were something new down there as we bombed around in our G-Wagons everywhere. The whole tour was pretty quiet and not a lot happened. By Christmas time, my company only had 2 attacks on us, the latter sending the driver and crew commander back home but in one piece. I don't remember many details on my tour leading up to my HLTA, but it was pretty much the same as Xmas block leave for the guys back home. I got back to theatre on 4 Jan 06 and carried on my tasks like nothing was different. On 15 Jan 06, I awoke like any other day and had to carry out a mission like a mjority of our other missions. On our way back to the PRT (called CNS by then), we stopped at KAF for scoby snacks and lunch on the boardwalk. We had another vehicle added to our convoy for the trip back for they were at KAF all morning for other tasks. Another person was added to my vehicle, bringing the occupancy up to 4 (presumably. I am still foggy on that detail). On our way out to CNS, we passed a billboard for what I assume was for Afghani cellphones. I remember that b/c for 5mon, my car always made jokes about how it advertised that you could call from the cities up to the caves where the Taliban were. This was the last thing that I can clearly piece together as memory.

At that time, and the route we were taking, it would have been a 30min drive home. Pretty standard, nothing crazy. (Now I am retelling based on others' accounts) We were getting in to the city shortly after the noon rushhour so numerous taxis were just inside the golden arches. Again, pretty standard. Amongst the taxis was a vehicle laden with explosives waiting though. My vehicle was the second in the order of march so the first vehicle drove by, indicating that more were soon to follow. As my vehicle  passed, he drove out and rammed into the back quarter of my truck before detonating himself. This sent my jeep '2 stories into the air' and across the road. By the end of it, the driver, crew commander, and other passenger were outside the vehicle on the ground and I was still inside. Our TCCC section member checked on us all, and when he got to me, although my breathing was shallow and raspy, there was a prezel'd M72 on me and in the infantry, we don't play around with ammunition that is damaged. One of our vehicles took to driver immediately to the PRT which was only 700m away as he had severe bleeding from lower limbs. The crew commander and I were evacuated when the QRF arrived and the additional passenger sadly was deceased, becoming the first diplomat killed in a wartime situation since Korea (or something to that effect). Shortly thereafter we were evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre and stay there for a week.

Our families were flown out at that time and met us there. In total, my injuries were a decompressed left lunch, fracture to the C7 vertebrae (which resulted in a cyst forming at the C6 level), shattered right radius and ulna (forearm), broken distal radius (thumb bone near wrist), and my most critical injury, 'diffused axional micro-hemmoraging with a concentrated bleed in my vestibular apparatus and a bleed in my right temporal area'. In english, it means lots of little bleeds all around my brain with a concentrated bleed at my right temple and where my brain and spinal cord meet. This was a result from my head putting a 1" dent into the 2" plexiglass. Due to all my injuries, the put me into an induced coma.

After spending a week in Germany, we were sent to Edmonton and the University of Alberta hospital. I spent a week of being unconscious in the ICU before being moved to the recovery ward and weened off of the drugs. You've probably heard a lot about what people perceive while in a coma or whether they do at all. I will tell you that I had a 2wk-long dream that wasn't one solid dream, but many back to back. This really messed with my perception of reality when I woke up. When you dream, you experience something and then you wake. You assure yourself that what you just experienced was an illusion and you carry on your day. I would dream, and then 'wake up' into another dream, and so on and so on. Also, things that happened to me in real life were transmitted to my dream state. When I really woke up, I had no idea what was real anymore. I honestly thought that yes, my arm was broken, but a vetrinary doctor fixed it for me. I thought I moved to another side of town due to a zombie infestation, that Canada had ceased to exist leaving me and a handful of others to rebuild our nation, and that I helped Air Canada assist with the defection of Russian SU-22 (or SU-27) pilots to Canada. I knew who people were, knew I was in an accident (but didn't understand the scope of it), and apologized profusely to my assisting officer for aiding with a defection like it was some sort of mortal sin.

It was now that certain lingering traits were being observed by my caretakers. Anytime someone visited me, I would tell them the same story of my crazy dreams, even if I told them before b/c I didn't have even the slightest indication that I told this person yet. I could not use utensils so foodtime was interesting as I just pulled my peas to the side of my plate with my lips, but this was due to a very freshly broken hand/arm. My right side was slower than my left so walking around the hospital was a challenge due to a natural rightward curve that would rive me into wall or doorframes. My depth perception was messed up due to a swollen optic nerve which would end up taking 3mon to come down. My balance was virtually not there as it felt a strong breeze could blow me down. My short term memory was shot for quite a few years in a way where I would stop mid sentence b/c I forgot what I literally was just talking about. Finally, I noticed that my speech was slurred and it was hard for me to formulate sentences due to forgetting a word mid-sentence (I knew what I was intending but couldn't figure out the word for the life of me).

Initially, the doctors said that my recovery would be about 2yrs. This was a vast improvement from 'he could be a vegitable for life' as was told to my mother while in Germany. Being that I did not firmly grasp the extent of my injuries, I assured everyone that I would be good to go in 6mon. Every day brought a perceived increase in the rate of my recovery. I would pace in my room just to work on walking. I attempted to use utensils but when no one was looking, I would just shovel it into my mouth with my fingers. Many people came to visit me, some who I had to ask myself 'why the heck they were even there aside from a PR thing' and other close friends even volunteered at the hospital just so they could come visit me more (and be told the same story of how I helped Russian pilots defect every time they were there). I was discharged from the hospital in the last week of February to be an out-petient at Glenrose Rehabilitation Centre. Being that they were full, I got to do physio at the base every morning.

That's how my life went for a month and my doctor allowed me to return to work on half days in about 3wks. That meant a lot to me as I was back with my unit, my family. I didn't recall who most people were except for those who went overseas with me. Sadly, some of my friends went to CSOR without me as I was aiming to go there after tour. I never would attain the physical ability to ever apply for CSOR after that. As the days at work continued, I was (understandably) babied at work. Various MCpls ensured that I didn't lift anything and actually tasked other busy people to assist me in lifting anything more than a few ounces. I ended up taking the sport of 'sitting on the stairs' very seriously much to my dismay. Eventually, I had a talk to the RSM about being useless and being down because of that. He asked where I would like to go and I told him up to the Int shop. I really liked what the IntOps did overseas and slightly considered OTing to the if I didn't get to CSOR. So off I went to the Int shop and worked there for two years.

During that time, I finished with physio therapy as there was nothing left to fix and I was back on full days by mid March. I was promoted that Xmas dinner (which shouldn't have happened while on catagory I was continually told). I really took to the Cbt Int job well and by winter 2007 I was on the first TIOC (Tactical Intelligence Operator's Course) course ran by the Bde. Returning to the unit, my fellow Int section mates were gearing up to go overseas on the fitst OMLT. This made me, a new Cpl, A/IntO. Though the title sounded cool and I got a very convenient parking spot, my duties didn't change. Through giving Int briefs every week and impromptu briefs to the CO/OpsO/DCO/RSM, my speech slur disappear (though others say it was never there) and I really gained a super-memory (like an autistic-memory but I want to stay PC) for facts and correlating things together.

However, home life wasn't great. I developed a sort of insta-rage where I was unable to keep things bottled if they annoyed me and I would fly off the handle in an instant. I used to become enraged at the large families of tourists who walked abreast in the mall at a slow pace - I would rage on them for being slow. My girlfriend had many perceived annoying traits that I couldn't keep quiet about anymore and we frequently got into fights over what I thought was acceptable behavior to friends but she believed wasn't. Even though I proposed to her in a personal attempt to normalise things, in the back of my head I had no intention of carrying through with it. Some may call me a pig for this not, but when everything in your life suddenly gets jostled around and made irregular, all you want to do is start setting it back to a normal way, and to me, becoming engaged was a 'normal' thing to do. We would break up by summer '07 after 3yrs of dating.

This all happened about the same time that my chain of command outright told me that the intelligence function was not in his priorities and essentially took away all sense of purpose from me. That 'normal' life I was trying to have was beginning to be uprooted. I went to work and then went home every day. I met a girl who lived 1000km away from me and I would fly out to be with her every weekend. Most weekends, I would tell my supervisors that I have a neuro-psych test to goto all Thursday and Friday and artbitrarily have an extended weekend. When I found that no one seemed to care whether or not I was at work, that feeling of hopelessness grew. I went into a state of depression where I just wouldn't eat. I would get home and maybe get hungry at 11:30pm. Deciding that was too late, I would push it off until the next morning. Waking up, I would head to work quickly and the cycle would continue. I would essentially eat of the weekends with my girlfriend and then binge eat on Wednesdays to a family meal from TacoBell with 10 tacos and 4 poutines. This lack of nutrition inadvertantly affected my cognitive abilities and healing as well. With my girlfriend, I would throw money at her b/c in my head, I thought it was 'normal' for a boyfriend to dote on his woman, to look out for her, and put up with her no matter what. In the six months of dating her, I ended up $15k in debt but likely spent $20k on just her.

However, towards the end of dating her, she conviced me to leave the army and I believed her. The army didn't care about me (or so I thought) and it was leaving me to my own devices (even though it was I who was excluding me, not the army). I kept in touch with the other survivors from my 'incident' as I called it, and I sent him a *****-email which he sent up higher. Know how, at work, someone leaves their computer unlocked and you email the CDS on their behalf and it is all funny? Well, he knowingly did that b/c Gen. Hillier told us three that if we needed anything, to give him a call and my driver did just that. Now the CDS' office was directly involved with me and that s***storm filtered down to my immediate supervisors who jacked me up. I went to my MO and told him that I breached every point of the UoS and he put my paperwork up for PCAT and a 3B release. I was posted to the Okanagan to be closer to family and more personalised care due to the CMP having a hand in it and I was well on my way to a retirement in BC.

People here on the boards always tell recruits not to quit b/c their boyfriend or girlfriend of a few months threatens to leave b/c he or she can't handle the distance. I was doing the exact same thing but with now 3yrs under my belt. Funny thing was, the week after moving down to be with her, we broke up and I was shaken out of my stupidity. 'What the f*** was I doin?!' I loved the army. Why was I leaving it? Why did I screw up my carreer so badly all for a girl? In the back of my mind, I knew I was also there to get better cognitively so rather than sink into an uber-state of depression from screwing up the best thing in my life (the army), I focussed on my rehab.

-<cont.>-
Waking the dead with the sounds of the wardrums.

It's your choice whether or not you are the player or the pawn in the game of life. Either way, someone else will usually decide the next move you make.

Offline GhostofJacK

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 17:38:04 »
-<cont.>-


My Occupational Therapist (OT) met me at probably the worst period in my life and she helped me out of it. She didn't tackle the huge tasks first, but rather the easy things and in turn, they would support the healing of the major things. I had to learn to not be so angry; I had to learn that not everything is in my control (something I desperately needed IOT have a sense of control on my own life) and I had to be okay with that. Once we curbed my anger, we were working on my fine motor control and manipulating things with my injured hand. We worked on balance through kayaking, cross-country skiing and even having me jump from boulder to boulder around the college parking lot. Then we started to tackle the major issues brought upon with my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It turns out that when you experience a major head injury, your head reverts back to a safe stage in life - that usually being childhood. This explained my 'temper tantrums' like I was a kid again and wanting 'my way'. As I recovered, I went to an adolescent stage, which even took me two more years to get out of in terms of relationships. My two failed ones and all the subsequent ones felt like the end of the world and I was over-engaging similar to the actions of a pre-teen. Without getting into too many details, I did a lot of rash actions for women I hardly knew, and in the end, it cost me an additional $75k in three years.

All this time, I was attempting to show the CF that I really wasn't as messed up as I claimed to have been. There was this caveat I was told that as long as you showed improvement, the CF couldn't write you off, so I tried to prove that. I even went as far as admitting that I lied or inflated most of the statements that put me on PCat and in breach of my UoS. I started to notice a rapid maturation of my personality then; I was acountable for my actions and no longer blamed others or my injury, I no longer wanted people to even indentify me as an injured soldier. I started taking school though deciding on what to take. In the end, I decided on Philosophy. Useless? Perhaps but it (re)taught me how to think and formulate my thoughts into a coherent argument. I started doing things I never thought I would try before including buying a cello like I always wanted to do. I had learned that despite being injured, I needed to stop trying to become the old me again. I needed to understand and embrace that the old me was dead and there was a totally different new me now. The self-realisation of that statement blew my mind and would shape me into who I am now. There was no point trying to be the old me. So I couldn't remember names easily like before, no one can anyways! So I couldn't remember phone numbers or shopping lists off the top of my head. I may drop off mid-sentence b/c I gorget what the topic was and maybe I cannot recall the specific word I want to use in a sentence. That all was fine. Now I knew who I was and what I stood for with no more wishy-washy decision making. Now I had the tools to remember, in detail, the events surrounding a particular moment in time and everything leading up to that. I had an appreciation over the what was really important in life and I could let the unimportant things slide off my shoulder. In all things measured, the new me kicked ***!

I came to a really profound realisation too. Some people may expect me to hate the Afghanis b/c that country took 8yrs of my life but I don't hate them. In fact, I trust many of them with my life. It was just one guy who wronged me. Should I hate that guy then? No in the slightest. My job, by definition, was to kill people like him. His job was to kill me. In the end, he was faster as doing his job than I, and I have to give him credit too b/c it takes some balls to kill yourself in hopes of killing your enemy. To even go further than that, I am happy that it was my vehicle that was hit and not the one in front of me or behind me. Both of those vehicles, should they have been hit, would have affected more families and more people than my vehicle. There was a higher chance of more kids losing their fathers than just my car. Do I think going there was worthwhile? Hell yes! I may not have fired a single bullet at the enemy but I was a part of something bigger. If bringing more education or potable water or safer communities means that one person affected who otherwise wouldn't have received any of that, grows up to maybe cure cancer or unite that region of the world or even have a family of their own who is safe, then it was worth it. All those hours of going to meeting or sitting in that back seat would have been worth it b/c at least one person's life was bettered. These realisation brought me a sort of inner-peace.

So then for my rehab, once this state was reached and my progress was plateauing, I started to work on educating myself - understanding my injuries and simialr injuries, understanding PTSD (I still will claim to this day that due to not being able to remember the incident, I do not have PTSD from that, but many aspects of a TBI mirror those of PTSD). I learned how to support my peers with TBI as I was a part of a brain injury society, and as injured as every person there was, they all taught me something I could used to inprove my own injury. The JPSU was formed and I became a member of that organisation remotely (I was 600km away from my actual unit so we did a lot of phone talk). If only something like the JPSU was around when I first was injured, I could have reduced years off my recovery time. However, everything happens for a reason and I soon was to find out the reason to my string of rather stupid choices.

During to recovering to a high-enough level, the JPSU needed to see how I operated back in a military environment so there was a lot of talk about posting me. Rules state, hoever, that you can't post around a PCat individual so they had to work on getting me to a TCat. In the last few monthes of my time in the Okanagan, I decided to dabble back in the dating scene. To me, it was the last hurdle to my recovery since the social-integration aspect of my brain had failed me quite significantly before. After a few abysmal attempts, I met a girl who, after knowing me for a short period of time but practically living together, agreed to move to Edmonton with me. Once posted out here, she's been that rock, that someone I could hold on to when everything is crazy and seemingly out of control, that person I wish I had in the beginning of my injury. So now when things flare up, like a super-ehadache due to being in West Ed Mall during Christmas and having all those people and noise around me, she is okay with leaving with me even if all our shopping isn't done. She's been that anchor, that lighthouse for me and about a year ago, I propsed to her with full intention of carrying through this time. This summer, she'll become Mrs GhostofJack.

So in all this, what I am trying to get across is that people get injured in the army, it's what we do. However, that doesn't make us different. We still are your brother in arms. Sometimes we come back strong and other times we move on to another stage in life. It doesn't mean we're a 'totally different person'. In our core, we still have that same burning passion to serve our country, just the outside changes for some and other it's the inside. To those of us who have been injured, there is nothing wrong with being hurt or 'messed up' as many of us call it. That realisation that I had to be okay with the new me really changed my outlook on things, but it is something that no doctor, therapy, or technique can do for you. It is something you have to realise on your own. The journey to that realisation may be scary but as alone and afraid as you may feel, someone knows exactly what you are feeling like b/c solider injuries have been the same since the Boer War to Afghanistan. It can be called shellshock or PTSD; a gunshot wound (GSW) or mere flesh wound (MFW). We are all human; we all bleed; we all cry; we all are brave and afraid at some point in life. We all fall down and we all get back up b/c that's what Canadians do. Once I fell and my OT helped me back up by just listening to me mostly. Someday I hope to pay it forward and help someone off the ground.
Waking the dead with the sounds of the wardrums.

It's your choice whether or not you are the player or the pawn in the game of life. Either way, someone else will usually decide the next move you make.

Offline Eye In The Sky

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2013, 18:06:30 »
A remarkable story, GhostofJack.  I was able to put a face to your Army.ca name I believe.

Best wishes on the wedding this summer; it's something else when you find that 'right lady'.

 :cdn:
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Offline GAP

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 18:13:23 »
Quote
A remarkable story, GhostofJack.

 :ditto:
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Offline kratz

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 18:40:44 »
Incredible.

Thank you for sharing.  :salute:
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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 21:14:05 »
Excellent Post.

sticked to ensure those who need/should read this can find it easier.
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Offline army n navy medic

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2013, 21:41:21 »
To those of us still in  the process, thank you.

may me find your strength to carry on.
 :salute: :nod:

Offline BeyondTheNow

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2013, 22:22:18 »
Thank you so much for sharing. Although I cannot personally relate to your struggles, your candor moved me.  All the best for the future, take care.
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Offline GhostofJacK

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2013, 22:56:34 »
A big thing that I found that have me strength to continue on was people believing I had the strength to do so. Yes there were days that I wanted to laze around but the more people believed in me and kept pushing my capabilities, the more I did.

I suppose that army mentality where you push on even when you are exhausted b/c your buddies are coaxing you on even can work in the injury world.
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It's your choice whether or not you are the player or the pawn in the game of life. Either way, someone else will usually decide the next move you make.

Offline FormerHorseGuard

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2013, 23:04:42 »
Thanks for sharing your very personal and disturbing story, great to see a positive start to an ending.
Your words to the wise, of not giving up and turning the bad times around is truly amazing.

Offline Loachman

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2013, 23:26:33 »
I really do not know what to say - certainly nothing adequate comes to mind.

I can only thank you for taking the time to write this - and I doubt that it was either quick or easy - and increasing my knowledge and understanding of what you and so many others have gone through.

I hope that it helps others who are having to deal with the same things, those who will have to in the future, and I hope that it helps you.

Thanks again, and I wish you every success in your future. After all of that, you more than deserve it. Keep pushing.

Offline Canadian.Trucker

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 10:29:39 »
Echoing what others have said I want to thank you for sharing your personal story.  It takes a lot of strength and personal conviction to stand up and share some of your most inner thoughts and feelings to help others through similar situations.

Thank you.
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Offline GhostofJacK

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 10:46:07 »
@Loachman


In all honesty, it wasn't hard to write. I do the abridged version when I talk to schools during Veteran's Week. It used to suck retelling the story, and I even used to omit the embarassing parts of how dumb I truely was back then. No point to dwell on it now as everything I did formed me into who I am now, so I am thankful for it. As for the time, well what I originally allotted 2hrs for in a time estimate turned into 6hrs. That tells me that I have some work on time appreciation before my PLQ this fall.

Although I didn't get back to G2O2 100%-GTG-sir status (G2O3 PCat w/o restrict), I can say w/o a heavy heart that I have plateaued now. That term used to scare me as it meant I wasn't getting any better. Now, it means on a major scale, I'm as recovered as I likely will ever be. Yes, my cardio is horrible and I have yet to break the 30 pushup mark again, but that is not necessarily injury related; my fitness can always improve in a traditional way. Now my improvements come in the form of being a good dad and remembering anytime is a good time to play - even in the middle of Walmart. The thing a lot of people neglect to see is there can always be a silver lining to any situation. You merely have to determine if you have the heart, fortitude and will power to push through the crap to see the light. I used to not always see the light of things, but now I try to on a regular basis. For those young troops in the CF, that is a very good thing to learn early in your career - try to be chipper about any 'crappy go' you have in yoru job b/c it always could be worse.

@Trucker
You say it's strength and I look at what I shared. I don't feel that it was strength. It was sort of like just taking a step and the other foot will follow. To those jumpers out there, it's not strength to jump as they just step out the door and let gravity do the rest; to others they can say 'oh wow, those guys have guts'. I have the same kind of feeling when going over the ledge on a rappel.

This was typed so people could see into an unknown world. Maybe it'll inspire others to share too. I would say that it's pretty much the same for when the guys that suffered from PTSD first came to light. Everyone shunned them, calling the weak or malingering, but now it is an accepted and recognized injury; this is due to a vast majority of people knowing about it now.  For me, when I first woke up in the horspital, on of my first thoughts was not 'what happened?' or 'where am I?'. It was 'Oh s***, I'm gonna lose my job' b/c that is the impression I got from superiors and peers before that - you get hurt and the army kicks you out. Now I hope that when future injured soldiers wake up, their first thought is not that but one where the understand they now have a long road in front of them.
Waking the dead with the sounds of the wardrums.

It's your choice whether or not you are the player or the pawn in the game of life. Either way, someone else will usually decide the next move you make.

Offline Canadian.Trucker

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 11:15:16 »
@Loachman


In all honesty, it wasn't hard to write. I do the abridged version when I talk to schools during Veteran's Week. It used to suck retelling the story, and I even used to omit the embarassing parts of how dumb I truely was back then. No point to dwell on it now as everything I did formed me into who I am now, so I am thankful for it. As for the time, well what I originally allotted 2hrs for in a time estimate turned into 6hrs. That tells me that I have some work on time appreciation before my PLQ this fall.

Although I didn't get back to G2O2 100%-GTG-sir status (G2O3 PCat w/o restrict), I can say w/o a heavy heart that I have plateaued now. That term used to scare me as it meant I wasn't getting any better. Now, it means on a major scale, I'm as recovered as I likely will ever be. Yes, my cardio is horrible and I have yet to break the 30 pushup mark again, but that is not necessarily injury related; my fitness can always improve in a traditional way. Now my improvements come in the form of being a good dad and remembering anytime is a good time to play - even in the middle of Walmart. The thing a lot of people neglect to see is there can always be a silver lining to any situation. You merely have to determine if you have the heart, fortitude and will power to push through the crap to see the light. I used to not always see the light of things, but now I try to on a regular basis. For those young troops in the CF, that is a very good thing to learn early in your career - try to be chipper about any 'crappy go' you have in yoru job b/c it always could be worse.

@Trucker
You say it's strength and I look at what I shared. I don't feel that it was strength. It was sort of like just taking a step and the other foot will follow. To those jumpers out there, it's not strength to jump as they just step out the door and let gravity do the rest; to others they can say 'oh wow, those guys have guts'. I have the same kind of feeling when going over the ledge on a rappel.

This was typed so people could see into an unknown world. Maybe it'll inspire others to share too. I would say that it's pretty much the same for when the guys that suffered from PTSD first came to light. Everyone shunned them, calling the weak or malingering, but now it is an accepted and recognized injury; this is due to a vast majority of people knowing about it now.  For me, when I first woke up in the horspital, on of my first thoughts was not 'what happened?' or 'where am I?'. It was 'Oh s***, I'm gonna lose my job' b/c that is the impression I got from superiors and peers before that - you get hurt and the army kicks you out. Now I hope that when future injured soldiers wake up, their first thought is not that but one where the understand they now have a long road in front of them.
I completely understand what you're saying.  Not to derail your thread or change the topic, but my wife and I recently went through a very difficult time with the loss of our son.  There are similarities to what you're saying about inspiring others and moving forward day by day.  I do believe that it is strength to tell your story and to make it a priority and focus to use what you've gone through to help others.  Not wanting to just sit and let whatever happen happen, but to stand up and continuously push forward to grow, learn and help others through similar situations does show character.  I value and appreciate you opening up yourself in the hope that others can find some solace in what you've gone through and continue to battle.
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"Nevermind, I'll do it myself" - Me

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Offline Strike

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 11:36:31 »
Jack - Thanks for posting this.  Your words are truly inspiring.  For anyone who has undergone any type of major change or trauma in life, be it physical or emotional, it really is important to focus on what can now be instead of what once was.  Thanks for sharing.
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Offline GhostofJacK

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2013, 13:49:15 »
@Trucker
You have my condolences for your loss. I can't even begin to fathom how that would feel. No, it wasn't derailsing cuz you tied it right back into the topic though. Thank you for your appreciation though.

@Strike
Essentially that is what it all about. It took me 2yrs to learn that I cannot change the events of my past and I shouldn't worry about the possibilities of the future - I need to focus on what I can control right now. Now that I type it out, sounds very Buddhist.
Waking the dead with the sounds of the wardrums.

It's your choice whether or not you are the player or the pawn in the game of life. Either way, someone else will usually decide the next move you make.

Offline BeyondTheNow

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2013, 14:16:59 »
...It took me 2yrs to learn that I cannot change the events of my past and I shouldn't worry about the possibilities of the future - I need to focus on what I can control right now...

So incredibly poignant to realize and be reminded of for me right now. Thank you.
"Judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are."~Unknown
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Offline pbi

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2013, 08:51:20 »
Thanks for this. Every Canadian needs to read what you've shared with us. :salute:
The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools. ...

The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out...

Offline GhostofJacK

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2014, 23:19:11 »
Today marks the 8th anniversary of the day I was bombed. I’ve come to not mourn it nor celebrate it; I simply note it. It was a day that has forever changed my life but it is not the only day that has done so. Being sworn into the CAF drastically changed my life as well. Yes, you can be cynical and say that if I never was sworn in then I would have never been bombed. Although logically you would be correct, I would have to say that you couldn’t be any more wrong. Both of those days happened and nothing can change that – they have become an integral part of who I am. Without those days though, I would not be the person you know today.

I look at all of life’s tragedies that way. At that time, the time of the tragedy, I am caught up in the emotions of the moment and cry out “Oh, why me? Why did this have to happen to me?” I look around for something to blame so I can focus my anger and grief. Unfortunately, there is seldom a reason why. There is no grand tapestry of Fate which is woven into the design of our future. I did not draw some imaginary short straw that Life is having me choose from. There is no destiny stating that this sh!t had to happen to me. It simply did. With no rhyme or reason, I am an unfortunate situation.

This sort of thing happens to thousands of people every day – tragedy happens to us all. It is always daunting. It is always scary. It always – will – suck. Eight years ago, it happened to me and it sucked no more or less than it would for any of you if it was you there. Many times it felt like it couldn’t get any worse and then BAM, it would. It felt like there was no one who understood me. At times it felt like there was no hope in hell that it could get any better.

But it did

Somehow, things did get better. Somehow I found the ability to pull myself up, give the squished lemons back to Life and stand on my own feet again. I was able to stick it out just one more day and after that just one more week. Time elapsed and I could hold on for another year to where I am now where I can hold on for another lifetime if that’s what it took.

I did it.

I’ve been there, done that and got quite a few T-shirts out of it. As much as I know down to my very core of how crappy it would be to do it again, I gladly would if it was alongside someone who has not ever had something like this happen. I am not a wide-eyed youngster anymore. I have aged. I am wiser. I have experienced rock-bottom now. However, now I have a family. I have a beautiful wife and a curious son who always is imitating me. If I can’t show him how to drink the lemonade from Life’s lemons, then who will? Who can? That thought terrifies me but also drives me to be the strong dad that all children see their father to be.

As pleased as I am with how my once-rotten-now-grand life is, I know that it wouldn’t be possible without help. If you go through something like that and think you can pull through it on your own, I will tell you right to your face that you are an idiot. I had PF and JB to keep tabs on me as we bumble through the unknown landscape of injury together. I've had my mother take care of me with the same tenderness that you give when serving your child chicken noodle soup while he has the flu. My brothers have never let me forget who I am nor where I came from for all three of us are, and always will be, cut from the same cloth. My occupational therapist was there during the darkest and most confusing time of my life but she forced me to take ownership for what I could from my injury and encourage me to let the rest float away in the winds of change. The help she gave me I cannot put into words. With her I found life. With her I found control. With her I found a family.

My wife has even helped me in ways in which I believe she will never know. With all my flaws and shortcomings she has shown me I can still be loved; that all this mess in my head or body doesn’t banish me to the towers of Notre Dame with the hunchback and that I am on par with the rest of you all. No, I take that back. To her, I am above all others for she chose to marry me AFTER the injury. She didn’t know me from before – she only knew what was left after the tragedy. That speaks volumes about her character. She is who I go to sleep beside at night and who I wake up next to. She now is the one that keeps all things in check for me.

There are many, MANY others who have helped me and will for many days to come. From friends to family, those familiar and unfamiliar, and I can stand here and say without a doubt that without all of them, I would not be here. I am forever grateful that I’ve had all of them in my life and giving me everything from wise words to a warm smile. I hope that someday I’ll be able to bestow unto them the gifts that all of they have given me.

So on this anniversary day, I want to give a message to anyone that is injured in body or mind. Being hurt sucks. There is nothing that will ever adequately illustrate what goes on in your head. Only you can see the horrific painting that injury has put before you and d@mmit, it is a masterful work of art. No where does it say, not even in a DAOD or QR&O, does it declare that your have to be the only one. It does say in the Book of Life that people can’t read minds so you have to be the one who asks. Asking is a scary business though. Will they reject your claims? Will they laugh? Or will they embrace your inner-demons and bodily-sores with the nurturing nature of a mother?

I know what it’s like to be so paralyzed with the fear of finding out that inaction ends up being the only safe alternative. For a long time I was tired of confronting the unknown; not knowing what they day would bring, what the test results would say, how I would react to what is said to me, how I would react around anything. I was so fatigued from venturing into the unknown day after day that I would opt to stay suffering because that was something familiar and I could handle that. I felt guilty to subject a friend to having to listen to my petty worries about crowds or noise or thinking that someone thought about thinking a thought. Yes, I can tell you that at one time, I was an idiot. I would beg of you not to follow my lead because it makes recovery so much longer.

Each and every one of us, at one time, willingly walked into the unknown and we were good at it. Maybe it was letting go of a rope swing and plunging into black water. Maybe it was asking your crush to prom. Maybe it was your day of enrollment. Regardless, you didn’t know what it would be like or how it would end.

I bet you still did it though.

Whether it ended well or not, you took a chance and grew from the outcome. So why not take another chance? Why not step into the unknown again and get help? It will take guts. It will take a little bravery. It will take you pulling up your socks and just stepping out. Took me three years to do it but I did and it was the best thing I could have done. I learned that I was not alone, that people did genuinely care about me if I allowed them to, and that things do get better. It doesn’t even need to be professional help because I know the fear of being labeled as ‘the guy who has to go see the shrink again’. Talk to your chain of command. Go out for a beer with a buddy. Write it down so hundreds of anonymous internet people can read it. Take that chance again and let it be known that YOU exist.

You might see your change as a flaw or a hindrance, but you only see that because it’s not what you are used to. Just because you are not used to something doesn’t make it unacceptable. Maybe you notice changes, maybe you have dreams, or maybe the person who has left is not the person who came back. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong. I could look at a baby picture of you and emphatically proclaim that the person in the picture, through change, is still you. You merely need to understand the rules with your change, be educated on how to control aspects your changes. That sounds an awful lot like growing up and /maturing/ to me.

I know there are a lot of programs out there. There are a lot of people patiently waiting to help you out there. Most importantly, no matter how dark life may seem, there is always so much more out there and it definitely is better. I cannot hand it to you on a silver platter or give it to you with a red and blue pill. You have to look for it. It’s out there for sure. And if what you find doesn’t solve it, keep looking. Ask a fire team partner to help you look, because I can guarantee that what you seek is out there. Like generations of Canadians before you, you have to work to get what you want. Nothing comes free. Half of the enjoyment in something comes from knowing what was put into getting it. For me, it took a lot of work. It took a lot of time. However, in the end, I am proud of what I accomplished.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 08:18:15 by GhostofJacK »
Waking the dead with the sounds of the wardrums.

It's your choice whether or not you are the player or the pawn in the game of life. Either way, someone else will usually decide the next move you make.

Offline Canadian.Trucker

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Re: Wounded Warrior: Personal Story
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2014, 13:11:01 »
You should be proud.  Continue to walk forward with your head held high.  Thank you again for your inspiring words.
Tenacious and Versatile-G & SF

"Nevermind, I'll do it myself" - Me

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
- George Orwell