Monday, November 23, 2009

Day and night

Keeping your child from dying of diabetes is a full-time, round-the-clock job. Can't wake up a single morning and luxuriously head down to an impromptu breakfast without checking that number. Usually it's in range, and that morning shot, and the shots all day long, they don't compete so much with the end-of-the-day (no more shots!) unfairness called diabetes.

It's the worst way to end a day filled with shots, nothing comforting about it.

However, there's something worse than this inconvenient cycle that may end in death, but usually doesn't through a parent's loving care. And that, is the modern predilection of caring for brain injured veterans during and after they leave the hospital-like sanctuaries. Really, there's no such thing as sanctuary when you're a brain injured veteran, just trying to make it rosier to keep you interested.

I've worked with head injured people in my lifetime, I have. An overnight shift intended to earn psychology credits, that left me more gawking at the serious situations of others, than anything close to compassionate. Grown men laying on the floor, well on mats, acting like infants as they regained what nature might have left, if they don't give up, become engulfed by rage, or whatever it is that's going on in their heads.

Prairie Public last night (it's like our local PBS), they featured two grown, handsome, strong men...completely debilitated down to plain nothingness. You should've seen the pre-brain injury pictures of these powerful, capable men. Could've run an entire banking system, had someone enough sense to redirect their paths. Instead, they became heroes.

Brain injured people move slowly. When you see the light in their eyes, if a loved one comes by, especially a wife whose life dreams never actually considered this possible change in her plans. Thrilled to the bone for that connection, increases effortful movement in therapy, a small speck of hope. I can't even imagine the struggle, and the thoughts that cross the minds of these brain injured veterans.

Especially afterwards, when they head back home for their care. It's not just round-the-clock prevention of dying, but also atrophy, and deterioration of every possible sort, the media rarely fills you in on that. Would probably cause too much naturally-rising inborn protest, so in that way I understand.

But, I read on the front page of our Herald today, while waiting to meet with the compassionate nurse who doesn't mind facing death, actually enjoys it. Sixty-nine soldiers from our town, wait, are the National Guard soldiers, can't remember what's been said. They'll head to Fort Hood for a month, and then off to Iraq and Afghanistan.

God only knows what they'll face when they come back.

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