I spent the day with some very special people at the VA Hospital, from administrators to patients. It was an emotional roller coaster kind of day, for me. And I knew it would be, as I was somewhat dreading the trip because I was uncertain of how I would be able to handle it. The patients are the men and women who sacrifice so much to keep our country free and allow us to live a life we choose to live, not have a way of life forced on us. And these are 18-25 year olds, for the most part. These are people who are my kids age. These people are veterans and they are barley legal to buy alcohol. These young men and women are nothing short of amazing.
The Doctors at the VA are phenomenal. They are caring, kind, dedicated and emotionally and spiritually invested in the lives of our young people. The nursing staff is incredible. And I know a thing or two about hospitals, doctors, nurses and the support staff. I was at one hospital so much, the nurses called me "Mel", after the actor Mel Gibson. (People say I look like him, but only when Mel and I are sober). So besides having an understanding the inner workings of a hospital, I can feel the vibe of the place even more so. And this was what I was afraid of, having a million emotions and thoughts fly in and out of my being. There were times I had to compose myself. Several times, actually.
Why? These patients are fighting for their lives––at the very least, fighting to regain some form of normalcy in their lives after being injured in combat. They will never be "normal" again. And that's what we all want when we have an illness, injury or disease. Not just for ourselves, but for those around us––Moms, Dads, Wives, Kids, BFF's and Co-workers. And that's where the definition of "normal" changes. I know. My normal after cancer is waaaay different from my normal before cancer. cancer leaves damage along the way, just as an IED does. It can go off at a moments notice and you're then left to pick-up the pieces––if it doesn't kill you first.
So I was amazed at the positive vibe I got, from the person at the front desk to the Medical Director of Polytrauma, Dr. Shane McNamee. These people were so impressive, hopeful and most of all caring. They made me feel great. They made me understand that what they are doing isn't special, it's the right thing to do. On the way down, I kept wondering why I was feeling so emotional. Now I know why.
I was getting to see angels, without having to leave Earth.