By the end of July Sean was seeing the doctor at Camp Anaconda again and trying a new medication for pain. He was dehydrated and the pain made it unbearable to eat. He had been very tired and was working frantically to get the unit ready for demobilization.
The pain, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea were back with a vengeance. He was not able to eat or sleep. When he was not working, he was in the porta-john. The doctor said he may or may not get better if he goes back to Germany but that he could not stay in Iraq with this pain. The commander and doctor decided to send Sean to Germany and then on to WRAMC in the states.
Sean writes, “it is a bittersweet departure. . . sad, happy, scared. . . I don’t know how this will affect my unit, my status within the unit, my career in the military, or my future. . . ” Prophetic words indeed! We had no idea how this would affect his future.
The orders were set for Sean to medevac out on August 4th, but thanks to a COL being on base, it was postponed for three days until August 7th. This particular COL suggested to the commander that Sean should not leave Iraq without being presented with his meritorious service award, complete with ceremony (mostly to honor the COL’s presence). So his trip was postponed and on August 7th there was a ceremony to present Sean with his medal, minus the COL who decided to do something else instead. Nice.
Sean arrived at Landstuhl late in the day on the 7th of August 2006. Back to the barracks, wait for the bus, have multiple tests, wait for the bus. Two days later, Sean was diagnosed with clostridium dificile (c-diff) infection. His doctor began treating him with flagyl, an antibiotic that works by stopping the growth of bacteria and protozoa. The explaination for the infection was that upon discovering the salmonella infection Sean was treated with high-powered antibiotics. C-diff can occur when a person is taking large doses of antibiotics, so therefore, the c-diff developed due to the treatment for salmonella. And like the salmonella went undetected, so did the c-diff which should have shown up in previous tests performed at Landstuhl.
One week later, the doctor’s decision was to continue the flagyl despite the lack of improvment in symptoms. Sean still tested positive for c-diff. At the end of his two-week stay, Sean’s doctor decided to send him to the US for further treatment. Despite the recommedation from his commander to send him to WRAMC and previous conversations with the doctor regarding that possibility, Sean was instead slated to fly to the states via medical aircraft and be treated at a regional military facility.
On the 25th of August he left Germany for the last time and arrived at Andrews Airforce Base. I was overjoyed when he called me from America! At last, he was in the country and I could feel some degree of relief. I wanted to go meet him, drive, fly, run, whatever it took to get next to him. But saner minds prevailed. School was starting for three kids, one of whom was having attendance problems related to separation, and another who was just beginning her life in our household fulltime. We also did not know if Sean was contagious and I certainly had enough going on without bringing illness to the rest of us. So, we waited.
For those of you who think this has been a long and remarkable journey, you’re right, but don’t tune out now, for the story is far from over. There are hurdles coming that I could never have imagined. This now becomes a story of a wife who had to fight to get her husband medical care and get him back home.