Monday, April 8, 2013

Black Hawk Down

I have been a nurse at a Veterans Hospital for almost four years now. It is hard to believe that it has been that long. I haven't hesitated to say, especially lately, that this job of mine is not an easy one. Most of the time the difficult moments seem to out weigh the rewards. Still, every time I think about leaving this place I hesitate, and there is this scared, sinking, feeling in my stomach that tells me not to go. This overwhelming sense that this is where I am supposed to be right now. 

Last night, Chris and I watched Black Hawk Down and there was this moment at the end where Eric Bana's character says,

"When I get home and people ask me,'Hey, Hoot, why do you do it, man? What are you? Some kind of war junkie? I won't say a goddamn word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand that it's about the men next to you. And that's it. That's all it is."

That hit home for me. I have said that so many times when I talk about our vets. The patients that I take care of are often a messed up lot. They have substance abuse problems, estranged families and multiple diseases as a result of self neglect and risky behavior. Of course some don't, there are some who are amazingly healthy and well adjusted, but sadly those are rare occurrences. Especially now that we are heading into the Vietnam war era of patients. PTSD is a given and many of these guys have some horrible experiences that no one else would understand but the guy in the room next to them. 

One patient told me a while back that he didn't even know what the Vietnam war was really about until a few years ago. His job was to retrieve dead soldiers out of the brush after major battles had occurred. That same guy also had newly diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia that was so bad he later threatened me and told me I was trying to kill him by inserting poison into the air filtration system. 

That was a relatively good day on the job ...just to give you an idea of what I mean by difficult. 

My job is exhausting ...and it wears you down ...and makes you feel powerless a lot.

But when I see movies like Black Hawk Down ...and when I see the 25 year old with half of his skull removed from an IED blast ...that is when I remember why I do this job. I don't always love it but I am always proud of it ...I am proud to fight for the soldier who fought so bravely for the guy next to him. 
I sacrifice a lot of sanity and a lot of myself for this job but I wouldn't have it any other way right now. 
Right now, I am proud to be a VA nurse.


  1. This is an incredible post and while I could not even begin to imagine the stuff you do, I'm hoping to be half the nurse you are one day!

    1. Thank you! That means a lot, I'm sure you will be great if you care genuinely and give it all you got. :)