Sunday, March 22, 2009

My new too me scoot

Well since I have had this blog most of my posts have been about my job. I strayed a little from this in December when I decided to put down a very personal post about a tragic incident that happened back in 99. Well as the title states "Random Thoughts" I figure I will throw in a little two wheeled blog about a recent day.
Back in March of 2008 I got a call from my friend many of you know as Earl. He had a tone in his voice I recognized as excitement. He had just purchased a 2008 KLR 650 in green. I knew a little about the bikes and had more than once engaged in a conversation with him about what a good bike it would be to have. Well finally after wanting one for about 20 years he had one. When I finally got to see it I was amazed at how large it looked for a dual sport type bike. Anyway as I watch him get more into his adventures with his KLR and his continued "farkling" which is a term used a lot on for modifying your KLR I could not help myself but see what this dang bike was all about. So on Saturday March 7th I found me a 2002 model and picked it up. Kind of a humbling experience when you ask your friend(once again Earl) to ride your new pride and joy home for you because you are working and actually have no motorcycle endorsement. I guess the way I look at it is that I would want no one else to take that first ride on my new cycle. When we get to the house he tells me it must be re-geared because of highway rpm but the best part is he said it rode very well.
So as typical in March around here when you want it to be nice it freakin snows. It took about two more weeks for the weather to be descent enough to hop on and take a ride. So.........for the first time in knowing Earl for the last almost 20 years we got to take a ride together on our own bikes. We had talked about this for years but were never able to make it happen due to the many issues that life throws out there. Not that it was any sort of epic ride by any means but I got to share it with a good friend.
I guess to be honest I just want to tell everyone that I now have a KLR of my own and am absolutely taken by the riding experience and also that I am looking forward to many many rides with Earl. (also my dad who has a HD Road King and said he wants to ride with me but good luck keeping up) HA!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Healing Process (cont)

So as we are in the ambulance speeding to God knows where in Kuwait City I refuse to lay down on a gurney for the trip. I was very uncomfortable at the time and did not want to feel even more so by getting into a bed while moving. Maybe I am stubborn but I refused. When we arrived at the hospital I could see the several other ambulances that had brought others from the crash as well. I was put into a wheelchair and wheeled into the ER and the uncomfortable feelings strengthened as I was being seriously watched by the Kuwaitis. We went to a waiting room and I was there for a while until they got me in for x-rays. After the x-rays I was seen by a Kuwaiti Dr. that had very and I mean very limited english. Not that I expect him to know english it is just frustrating. After a ten minute exam he tells me I have a contusion in my back and sends me away. I get up out of the chair and feel the pain shoot once again but in my head I say it is a bruise and go about my business of trying to find someone to get me to my base and around some people I knew. While walking down the hall I saw a few of the other accident victims and talked to two guys whom I knew had not been injured but were with a Captain who had collapsed. I am able to find a way to get a hold of one of my superiors and to be honest I don't remember much about the next few hours since they handed me some pills from a blister pack and said take every 4 hours. Anyway a few hours later I am at Al-Jaber Air Base and was put in front a Lt. Colonel. The time was somewhere around noon and I was told I needed to call home and talk to my family since the accident was getting ready to hit the news. I told them it was midnight at home and that they would be asleep and not see the accident until later. I was instructed once again to call and I did. When I called and as all you parents know that if you child calls in the middle of the night there is a problem. So my mom answers and I tell her kind of fast and vaguely that I was in an accident and I am ok. I explained I did not know what really happened at the time and that my back was hurt but at least I was alive. I told my mom that I would call my girlfriend the next morning and for her to wait until I did that before she talked to her. Anyway I get a little sleep and call the girlfriend a few hours later which might have been about 10am here in Washington. Finally later that day I get a notice from my Commander that he wanted to see me. I go see the Commander of the base and he talks to me for like ten minutes telling me what a hero I am and that the base is going to do everything they can to help me and the others from the accident. He offers to send me back to NC instead of stay there for the 90 days. I think about it for a few minutes and decide that I would like to be home for the tour. Later that day once again I get called and have to do a debrief meeting with all the other victims and we spent a few hours talking about what we saw and heard on the C-130. It was nice to talk to these people but I was not able to really talk like I wanted to. That did not happen until later when I was able to get through to my friend who is a pilot (Earl). I finally got some relief by being able to explain to him what happened and not speak in lay mans terms about flight terms. Anyway he was the only one as well that I was fully able to tell things to since he was a friend not family that I did not feel i needed to protect from the real situation and how bad it was. ( good friends can never be replaced ) Two days later I am notified that we are going back to the airport to have a small memorial for the deceased Airman and we get to the flight line and are told that our beloved A-10s are going to fly over and do a missing man formation. I am very excited until a Chaplain who is a Colonel comes to the podium where we are getting ready to honor fallen Airman and he says over a loud speaker to go ahead and "just hang out in a loose con flab". At this point I am literally saying "what the fuck"! This is how we are showing respect. It was at that moment I realized that since we were not shot down or that the accident was not caused by an enemy that this was no big deal to the Air Force. So as I am standing there in disbelief I here the distinct sound of the A-10 coming and as a lot of us did I snapped to attention and when the Warthog flew over and the missing man went skyward. ( those that have seen this understand) After the fly over the Colonel says a few words and thanked us for coming. What a sad, sad day. So a few days later I am put on in a truck and driven back to Kuwait City International with an Airman that broke his ankle. I was put in charge of him since I was ranking and when we got dropped off at the airport and walking out onto the tarmac to get on a KC-10 we had to walk right by the wreckage. Imagine a C-130 with no landing gear sitting on pallets and gaping holes in the sides. Not an easy thing to have all those thoughts flood back in such a short time. An image I will retain forever. So after a nightmare 20 hour flight back to Baltimore I end up renting a car to get us home. Felt great to get there but I was in such pain in the next few days I could not even drive to the Dr.
A few months later when Sgt. Bolin got back I spoke to him and he related a story of the crew members who were with the Captain that night. He was told that when the ambulance arrived at the hospital they wheeled the Capt. into the ER and when they got the a room the Dr.s pronounced him dead and walked away. Not once did they attempt to resuscitate him or restore his heart beat. He had only been out of consciousness for about 10 minutes and they spent no time working on him. I come to find out later that a para rescue team had been called from the base to assist us but were called back before they arrived. These crew members who were trained on CPR worked on the Capt for 15 minutes until they were ordered to leave the hospital. Sickening, this just makes me sick to think that happened.
As for the next 6 months I am doing physical therapy and going to a Dr. They give me the ole military pill of 800 Motrins and some Tylenol 3s to help me get by. I spent months asking for an MRI to really find out my issues. I eventually get to see a joint Dr. (can't recall what they are called) and he discovers my sacroiliac joint is dislocated. ( This is a cartilage joint in your pelvis) Some treatment later and I am finally getting some relief.
A few months after my accident I am watching the news when the USS Cole was bombed and a few days later was again watching the news when they showed the honor guard removing the bodies of the dead Navy and Marine guys and lost it. I was so angry that the treatment the people received from the Air Force because it turns out it was pilot error that caused the accident. I will never be able to forgive the Air Force for this. Every soldier deserves the respect due no matter how or why they passed.
So about 6 months later I am up with my time and I get my discharge and head home to Washington. I file for VA Disability and they send me in to finally get the MRI. Turns out I have bad disks at L-4 and 5 and S-1 and 2. Pretty low in my back but still pain full. Why did they not do this months ago? I will never know.
So now here I am about 10 years later and I am living with back pain daily but I am thankfully able to function pretty much normal but still have issues now and then. The thought crosses my mind on a daily basis and the anger over the pilot gets easier to deal with too. I recently met someone who put something out there to me one day when I was telling her how angry I was at the pilot for his error and that he got off almost scott free for killing people. She said I have every right to be angry but something to think about. She said to put myself in his shoes and imagine what he must have to live with and isn't that punishment? I can never thank her enough for giving me that point of view.(Thanks Lisa)
Also to my friend Earl who was always available to talk to about it like a true friend does. An empathetic ear is always nice.