Sean returned to the Iraqi theater in the beginning of April 2006. Within a few days of returing, he was sick. Sean very rarely gets sick. When he is sick, he pulls himself together and goes to work. In the 12 years we have been married, he has maybe called in sick 2 times. He gets upset with me when I take a sick day (I have no immune system–I catch everything). So when I say Sean was sick, I mean he was very, very sick. He was vomiting and had diarrhea constantly. He went to see the doctor who told him he was dehydrated. They gave him fluid, prescribed Pepto Bismal, and a clear liquid diet for 72 hours. He was miserable and hungry. I can’t imagine the discomfort. Far from home, in the heat of Iraq, no indoor plumbing, just porta-johns. Yuck!
Lots of soldiers get symptoms like these due to poor water supply, improperly prepared food, and changes in eating habits when returing from the states to theater, so this is nothing remarkable. In Sean’s case, the doctors guessed that he was getting sick from eating iceburg lettuce. It was the one source that he ate on a daily basis that could have been washed in questionable water.
Sean made multiple trips to sick call in late April and early May as he was rapidly losing weight, and no relief from the diarrhea. The doctor tried Prilosec to see if there was an ulcer, but that did not help. During this time, Sean dropped almost 40 pounds. He continued to work as much as possible. He did not want to let down his unit.