Out of Iraq. . . and Back Again

On June 21, 2006 Sean was medevaced out of Iraq to Landstuhl Hospital on Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The flight was rough and Sean needed to be strapped down and was given pain medication. He had severe nausea and cramping.

The medical barracks are located on base and are approximately 25 miles from the hospital. Every morning soldiers board the bus and ride to the hospital for appointments, tests, and waiting. . . until the bus takes them back to the barracks at night.

Three days into his stay in Germany, Sean had ten different tests done with more on the way. He was assigned a primary care doctor and a case manager. A gastrointestinal doctor and an infectious disease doctor consulted on his case.

Sean says he felt overwhelming guilt for leaving his unit behind. He worried that he had not finished his mission. He wanted to go back and finish his duty, but did not have the strength.

The primary doctor told Sean there was a 14 day window in which they could treat him, or send him home to the states if they were not able to treat him. The consideration was to send him to the states for six months of treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. My husband wanted to know how he could get back to Iraq. He was told to wait for additional test results before they discussed that option.

Now my husband is in a foreign country, alone, on narcotics and barbituates, sick and exhausted, depressed, feeling guilty about leaving his unit, angry that he is sick, anxious about what will happen next, and he sits and waits for the bus. . .

After one week in Germany, the doctor decided to perform a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. The scopes aggravated the pain, and the doctors suspected IBS. Nothing else abnormal was noted.

Twelve days in Germany and Sean writes that he is on the mend. Hallelujah!! The pain is mostly gone and he is able to sleep better. He says he is not rushing things, but is hopeful. Music to a frantic wife’s ears!

Sean spent the 4th of July in Germany and then returned to Camp Anaconda, Iraq. I don’t know how to describe my feelings at this news. A. I was thrilled that the worst was over and he was feeling better. He was sounding like himself again and was optimistic that he would finish his mission and be home in a few months. B. My husband was going back into Iraq. Back to Iraq. Back. Not back to the states, but back there.

On July 10th Sean was released for regular duty. All tests came back negative. There was no explanation for his symptoms. The doctor said there was nothing more he could do, so Sean could go back to work.

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