Volunteer Becomes Patient

by Karen Grimord on July 2, 2008

The last two days have been very long days.

We are moving the WWMC from the outside connex to an indoor facility.  The facility is set up a little weird with windows and bathrooms, but we might be able to get everything in it.  Yesterday, we only had 14 patients come in on the flight.  We had about half that many come into the WWMC.  Ed, one of the greatest volunteers at the WWMC, and a new woman were working with me.  We were not to move the items until Wednesday, but we decided if there were some items that we could move and not interfere with the service to patients, we would move in on Tuesday.  So Ed and I walked up and down the sidewalk ALL day long taking items to the new location.

Ed left about 4 and I stayed to work a little longer.  By 4:20 I was starting to hurt really good.  It started about 3 days ago, but was tolerable.  On the way to the car I stopped to talk with one of the German guards and he knew right away I was not feeling well.

I told him that I was debating going to the ER.  After a couple more minutes I did go to the ER.  They did a CT scan of my kidneys and blood work.  I am happy to report according to their test my kidneys are doing better.

They thought I had acute pancreatitis.  They ran tests for that and it came back clean. They had me on 10mg of morphine with pain still coming through.  I decided just to go back to Kathi’s and try to sleep it off.  I had the ER call one of the liaisons who had Kathi’s phone number.  By the time Kathi got to the ER, the doctor decided it was best to admit me for a good case of electrolyte, magnesium, potassium depletion and imbalance or something along that line.  I fought with him, but I lost.

After finally being admitted at about 11, I went to sleep.  It was not a great sleep, as I was dreaming and found myself handing off clothes to wounded warriors.  However, none of them would take the clothes from me.  Each time I would open my eyes, I would find my arm out stretched, but of course no one was there to give clothing to.  I mean, I was lying in a hospital bed and it was after midnight.

At 5:00 A.M. I had to get another shot of morphine.  During the morning hospital rush of regular routine things I had blood drawn again.  The male nurse kept coming in asking if I was ok.  I told him I was and he said that I was such a quiet patient.  Most of the time a patient will set off the call button 3 or 4 times during a shift, but they had not heard mine.

I was mad about being admitted.  I did not want to take their time, as they put me on the ward with the wounded warriors.  I was there to help the hospital, not to be a patient.

Anyway, I was discharged this morning at about 11:00 A.M.  I went to the WWMC, as we were to move everything today.  It was already completed except for the folding and stacking of shelves.  So I helped with that.

We have a German company that has joined the LHCP effort and their shipment was delivered today.  We took some of the items over to the Ramstein CASF.   When we arrived back at the WWMC, I continued to work until 4:30 and then went home to Kathi’s house.

There was a detour going home tonight and so of course, of all nights, I got lost.  The Germans must not believe in putting out detour signs past the first one.  A 25 minute trip took me 90 minutes.

With the move going and the patient load being low, I have not had a chance to really talk with anyone for very long.

However, I did meet a young man yesterday who said that while being at LRMC he had an epiphany.  He said that he knew he was young and sometimes acted way younger than his age.  He said since he had been to LRMC and seeing how people treat each other, that he knew he had to grow up.  He had one of the doctors tell him that his mother raised him right.  I asked me if he had told her that yet.  He pulled out a tiny spiral notebook and said ma’am, to tell you the truth I have not yet but I have a note to myself to tell my mom that.  I told him that instead of telling her that the doctor said he was raised right that he should tell his mom that he thinks that he was raised properly and that he knew it was never easy but he now understands what she what had gone through raising him and that he thanks her.  He told me that he thought she would start crying if he told her that.  I asked him if he believed my statement to be true about his mom and his up-bringing.  He said he did and I said then it will not matter if she cried because it would be tears of joy.  He agreed and said that he would call her that night.

Later during the day a man came in to get a black duffel bag.  As we stood there and talked I found out that he was from Huntsville, AL.  We had lots to talk about since my parents live in Huntsville.  It is a VERY small world.  The last man that I met at LRMC who was from the Huntsville area died from his service in Iraq.  Many of you sent sneakers to him or Capt’n Crunch cereal to his friend.

Well, Kathi just woke me up again, so I am going to email this and tomorrow I hope to have more to say.

The last two days I worked 8.5 hours and 4.5 hours.  I would like to thank Callie Waddell for her generous contribution.

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