This is not a regular review of a book. You will find more about Kevin’s biographical story in my Community page. To be frank, I heard of his book on the group Coping with PTSD, on Facebook. I have read the first 100 pages of Kevin’s story in one late evening, I could not put the book down. It was late. I needed a night sleep. So, I have been waiting until I returned to the pages again and continue the story. The first part is really focused on his episode in Poland, where a casualty occurs a long time ago, during a training. He is British, but he has been often deployed in Germany, in the eighties, with his family.
For the short story, Kevin got divorced twice. He had a daughter and a son. His PTSD, after the accident, brought chaos into his family life, as you can imagine. He also attempted more times, and he was not succesful, or he wouldn’t be here to wave his hand, and sharing his storytelling, for sure.
Well, I hope you don’t misunderstand this blog posts, about military life in the aftermath of post-traumatic stress. Despite of not being any military, I try to share the stories that I can relate to. Kevin evoked his struggle, not only for coping with PTSD, and recovery, through counseling, and medicines but also his battling against long-term sentences in prison. In fact, his sense of guilt, and also latest determination, reminded me of my fight against my sentence of being “unfit to my position” at work, in 2016. That occupational medical sentence has decided a huge switch in my mindset and life-style until now.
Guilt, because he felt that he deserved a punishment for his action (it was an accident!), and also for what he had become in his everyday life, with his wives. I, myself, went very close to feeling of attempting to my life, especially, when my job became unstable, and I was assigned short-term missions. Nobody really understood what was going on with me. Human Resources were the less empathetic. They clearly wanted me out. I was unfit for work, my best-friends were letting me down, I was rejected by my boy-friend (screaming did not help with communication), put on one side the kind of career which I could dream of, what else could I do? It goes without saying that those times of hardships pushed my willingness to sort it out.
Tonight, reading Kevin lines, I found myself wondering, if he has ever shared the same feelings than I have had. There is a milestone, in my story, at workplace, when I finally got the validation of my contract on a long-term relationship, in a service where I have been active for three years. Where my manager did not trust me, because of my PTSD (despite my flexibility to work on the weekend days, the service was overcharged, I was setting boundaries, to prevent a burnout, of course, she couldn’t like it), and I am not here to play the blame game. It has never been my purpose. She did not support me when I mostly needed, but I survived. She tested me, and I could prove myself once more, and even better. I could develop my resilience, and thanks to her, I became a champion ;p She has admitted, in the end, that I was a teamplayer, and left me with a positive evaluation. Nevertheless, I arrived at that moment, when I didn’t expect it, and I got confirmed. Validated. Approved. And the very strange sensation that I keep as memory of that moment, it is “You know what? I don’t give a damn”. Of course, because I wanted and needed this job to pay the bills, I just said: “Thank you”.
What is more remarkable in my story, it is that, I did not do anything to feel guilty with. I mean, I have felt guilty for overreacting to ordinary life events. Maybe because of the sick leave. Mainly, because something had broken a day in my life. Why should I feel guilty? What is stigma? What are we really talking about?
After so much writing and speaking, I feel to take a rest with ladies stuff. This post showcases my surroundings, but I host a lady who was my best resource of crochet patterns in 2015, when I felt so bad that knitting and crocheting was my only saviour. Yeah, I am having some holiday vacation, despite this strange lock down 2.0. Staying cosy at home, and I love it!!!!!! I am a laid back lady, except for my mind which is horse riding for adventure all the time. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of French and British fall colors and mood.
I can be a victim of mentality or I can be a warrior with purpose.
Most of times in this region we keep embedded in the gloom, but when the grey lifts, the atmosphere gets magical. During November I notice the sun stays pretty low in the sky even at midday, creating long shadows and a gentle slanting glow across the woodland paths. This low sunlight even manages to make the mud look good.
Badge Tony of The Spark podcast talks to us about being shot in the line of duty, how he is overcoming the mental scars the incident left him with and how he is trying to reach out to others going through their own struggles with PTSD to let them know that they are not alone. Listen to this podcast on our website www.IronWill.us or on your favorite podcast platform.
I opened my eyes. I knew I wasn’t dead, not yet, anyway. The world came into view. For a second, I thought the enemy had stopped firing at us. They hadn’t. We were all deaf from the RPG blast.[i] It had detonated two feet from my face. My left arm was burning. I looked down and saw what was left of it. It was blown off about midforearm. I could see my jagged, splintered bones jutting out from a bloody, scorched, flayed-open stump. I knew I had lost my left hand.
My right hand was killing me. I raised it up in front of my face to get a good look at it. It was blown off at the base of my hand. There were a few uneven bone fragments sticking out where my palm used to be. It looked as if some of the skin that used to be my hand was dangling, shredded to pieces like someone had removed all the bone and flesh from inside. It hung like an empty glove that had gone a few rounds with a garbage disposal. I thought, “Fuck, both of them!”
I wasn’t done assessing the situation, though. I looked down and saw that my left leg was blown wide open, my femur split in half like a jagged, splintered water hose. It pumped out huge amounts of blood with every heartbeat. Imagine a coffee cup full of blood, hot blood. Now imagine that every time your heart beats, you toss about that much blood out of your cup and down your thigh. The coffee cup would fill up again in between heartbeats. I knew I only had so many cups of coffee left in me.
My leg had almost been blown in half. I took one look at the gleaming white bone sticking out of a sea of red, and I knew I was dead if I didn’t stop that bleeding. How was I going to get a tourniquet on my leg and both arms when I didn’t have hands? The fight wasn’t over yet. I knew I needed to use my head.
Trauma sucks. Even for combat veterans. I don’t think anyone would disagree. I do, however, think combat veterans have unique resiliency and fortitude to deal with trauma. Somewhere along the line, I feel America’s perspective changed towards combat-wounded veterans and the trauma we experienced. Where once we were venerated, now we are often pitied. I speak from personal experience. I was no stranger to war on the day that I lost my arms and nearly bled to death, in Fallujah, Iraq. I was injured during my second deployment to Iraq, having taken part in the invasion in 2003 prior to that. There wasn’t much I hadn’t seen or experienced by then.
I remember waking up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) Bethesda Maryland Hospital. I think the ICU staff thought I had sustained a serious head trauma because of my attitude. I was happy. Too happy. It didn’t make sense to them, and I don’t blame them for being confused. Hell, I used to tell my teammates that if I ever lost an arm or a leg, they should go ahead and put me out of my misery.
From the outside looking in, I should have been devastated. Both my hands were blown off completely. My left leg was wrapped in plastic, the tissue of my thigh and shin shredded to oblivion. Skin grafts were in the near future for me. No less than six suction tubes connected me to the wall. I could see my injuries, and I could remember every bit of the sights, sounds, and pain associated with taking a direct hit with an RPG. What a horrible thing for anyone to have to go through. Right? Yes, perhaps, if you allow yourself that perspective. But that’s not my perspective, and perspective is the hallmark of resilience.
I’m very excited to announce that Retired Police Sergeant and Former U.S. Air Force Captain Michael Sugrue will be working on a book chronicling his story of trauma, survival and ultimate recovery. He’s teaming up with well known author and world renowned Psychologist Shauna Springer PhD. Michael Sugrue will be the first author and “Doc Springer” will be second. His hope is to further help his fellow first responders, veterans and active military; many suffering in silence Dr. Shauna Springer is a graduate of Harvard University and is one of the world’s leading experts on PTSD, Trauma, and Moral Injury among veterans. She co-hosts a weekly podcast on these topics in collaboration with MilitaryTimes. Her work has been featured on CNN, VICE, Dr. Oz, NPR, NBC, CBS Radio, Forbes, The Philadelphia Tribune, Washington Post, and Military Times. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today.https://www.docshaunaspringer.com/Shown below are two of Dr. Springer’s latest books!