Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day 206 - Be thankful you are an American *very graphic*

As you guys probably remember, Al's MOS in the National Guard is the same thing that he does in civilian life ---> he's a nurse. At his location, he's not really needed to treat soldiers very much because he is in a relatively 'safe' area - and they let the medics run the clinic primarily - unless somebody is super sick and then they call in a doctor.

One thing that Al has gotten to do while he has been there though is to do several "Medcap" missions. This consists of them getting together humanitarian aid of all kinds, food, medicine, personal care items, ceiling fans, etc. - and then going to a remote, rural location and providing assistance to the Iraqi nationals. He has sent me videos of the missions and they are very hard to watch. They always do something for the children that's fun - like give them toys and coloring books - and watching them fight for a toy that a child here wouldn't give a passing glance is very hard.

Under Saddam's regime, access to medical care was cut off in the rural areas. Hospitals and medical treatment just weren't his priority. Unless you lived in the city - or were a part of the ruling political party - you didn't get to have access to good medical treatment. Add on to this that the Iraqi's were literally being starved to death from U.N. Sanctions while Saddam was building one palace after another - it made for a very sad situation. When we first invaded Iraq and got into the hospitals, it was discovered that the doctors were utilizing medical texts that were 20 and 30 years old. Pathetic.

Every now and again, Al will see something at a Medcap mission that a normal American who hasn't been exposed to the below third world conditions in Iraq really can't fathom. Two weeks ago, at a mission in the Najaf region - a father brought his 15 year old son in for treatment - the boy had a huge tumor on his leg. The flesh was literally coming apart because the tumor was so big. All Al could do was apply pressure - and bandage the leg up as good as possible and send the boy and his father on to the nearest military hospital.

While Al is in Iraq, I signed him up for a group that sends soldiers care packages - I wanted him to be able to get mail from someone other than me. It has been a great resource for him - and he has gotten to be really good friends with the people who have adopted him.

This afternoon (Iraq time) though, he got an email from his "Soldier's Angel" about the Iraqi boy with the tumor . . .

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Jeanne *****
To: Al *****
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005 19:16:08 -0400
Subject:: The Iraqi boy you cared for

Dear Al: It's amazing the people you meet in Soldiers Angels! Anyway, I was on the SA Blog board to catch up with stuff when I saw one e-mail about a medic and her patient. Off line, I sent along the picture you sent to us, she sent it to "her" SA medic, whose name is Rayna, so Marti sent me the copies of her e-mails and you will see mine to her. I hope all is well with you.



I am sorry to have to tell you that it is indeed the young man my medic was treating. I am going to cut and paste a few of her e-mails into this one. That will give you a better idea of what happened when he arrived at their hospital......sometimes life just stinks!!!!
(continued at the bottom)

From: Reyna *****
To: Martha *****
Date: Friday, July 22, 2005 11:27 AM
Subject:: Sad times

Tonight will be a rough night... I have to take care of a dying 15 y/o
boy... He has cancer.. And has a huge tumor the size of a large watermelon on
his leg... The cancer has spread to his lungs... He is in extreme pain and is on
his death bed... I have to watch him all night.. It is horrible... I want to cry
every time I see him.. And now I will sit with him on this hot summer night
praying for god to come get him....

From: Reyna *****
To: Martha *****
Date: Monday July 25, 2005 3:00 PM
Subject:: Allah

Hey... Well my little boy finally passed today... It was very sad... And
the dad thanked me so much for helping... He just stopped breathing very
peacefully... He was in so much pain... The dad knows no English.. So after the
whole thing me and the dad went outside and smoked and I told him that his son
was with Allah... The dad cried so much as did I... They took him home in a
wooden box on top of a taxi.. Nice I know... But we all pitched in and gave him
money for funeral expenses and the taxi....

(In response to the email about Al and the picture)
From: Reyna *****
To: Martha *****
Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 11:33 AM
Subject:: Yes (tears in my eyes)

That is my boy.... I stayed by his side till he took his last breath... We
had him for about a week... He went from sitting up in that picture to great
misery... He is at peace now... The Iraqi in the picture in the white is his
dad... His dad had no idea that his son was going to die we had to tell him that
in our clinic... I dont know if I told you but his dad told the interpreter that
I treated them better than his own mom... His mom gave up taking care of him...

(top email continued)
Well Jeanne, that is what I have received as far as information on the young man!

Sorry to be the bearing (sic) of sad news, although Reyna and I both agreed that he has moved onto a better place free from the pain and misery.

Take care and have a good day!!




Dear Marti:

As hard as it was to read this, I appreciate the information. I have a lump in my throat, gratitude for being in a place where I can take care of my son, and deep pride in both Al and Reyna for trying their best to help him.



My response to Al this morning when I got his email:

I'm really, really sorry baby. I'm glad that you could help take care of him during his last days --- and I hope somehow by us being there - that there will be improved medical access for the next Iraqi boy who has cancer and that he won't have to die.

I love you so much and I wish I was there to give you a big, gigantic bear hug and just hold your hand. But I will put both of them in a savings account for you.

Your M


Stacy said...

Oh my. I have to wipe away all the tears. This is so sad Melinda. We sure have some wonderful soldiers don't we. Hope Al is ok.

Melinda said...

So sad, Melinda. Thank goodness Al was there to get him somewhere that he could spend his final days among people who understood his plight and could hold his hand through the pain.

So awful the health conditions--much less serious, but things like preventive dentistry aren't even TALKED about--and that children can bear the brunt of it.

Such a small world that all these pieces came together to paint the big picture.

{{Hugs}} to Al.

Jenny said...

That really puts life in perspective.

Army Wife said...

A good reminder to go hug my babies, and appreciate having to clean my bathrooms today.

Thank GOd, for giving some people the gift to care for dying children......

Erik Holtan said...

Bless that boy, and Al for caring!

Katy said...

I was so moved. It is sad that the little boy had to go through that, but I am glad to know there were such kind people there to care for him in his final moments.

~*~ Deanne ~*~ said...

This brought tears to my eyes... I am so greatful we live in a country where we have acess to health care the way we do. Please tell your fiance that we are all greatful for him being there and doing everything he does for these people!

Crystal in Iowa said...

Bless your Al and the little boy and his family!