Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And I will see you

(For travel in Asia, go to 11/2008-1/2009 & see link below right; backpacking: Grand Canyon 4-7-2009, Winds 9-12-2008, Maroon Bells 7-21-2008, Bandelier 5-23-2008, Big Bend 3-12-2008)

I was in and out of Dong Ha, the furthest north big base in South Vietnam. This was before Dong Ha was built up. From there we would go to places like Gio Linh and Khe Sanh and out in the hills to the Hill Fights. I’d been in the Hill Fights for several weeks with 1/9 and some of my gear was lost or damaged, like someone had bled all over my flak jacket and it stunk. So one evening I was going through the discarded gear outside the aid station, which consisted of several shacks with sand-bag walls and stretchers with wounded men lined up inside on something like saw horses. I was shuffling around in piles of bloody flak jackets, helmets, web gear, bayonets, ammo and so on and it was dark and misty and evil with the guys inside and the smells and the mud and I felt like a ghost or ghoul or something and was pretty freaked out. I found what I was looking for, though. Photo (above left): Karen people waiting in hallway outside the clinic

So let it go, uh-huh
And so fade away
Let it go, uh-huh
And so fade away
Walk away, walk away
(from Bad, U2)

I worked for several years in home health care – the early days, before it was a business. One of the areas I worked was the Cedar Springs Housing Project and one of my patients there was a man living alone with head and neck (oropharynx) cancer with extensive regional involvement, pronounced lymphadenopathy, and cachexia. He had pain, of course, and he treated it with morphine and Vick’s Vapor Rub. He was very sick. Mostly he crawled from his pallet on the floor by the door to the kitchen and bathroom of his small apartment.

Some of the people I worked with thought he should be put in a nursing home or wherever, “so he could get better care.” He knew better and was committed to staying in his apartment. The only food he could take was liquid and he really like eggnog (Ensure was a rare commodity then). The eggnog was a challenge because it wasn’t Christmas time. So I went on ever-widening quests to find the eggnog and discovered that if you look hard enough, it’s there. Photo (above right): father & daughter

So he stayed home for several months and finally went to Parkland where he died.

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