No news is good news – we have heard little from the “expert team” other than they are making progress around the theater. The weather has not been in their favor causing more than a few flight delays. It hasn’t been particularly warm either.
Rebecca – (daughter of two good friends) who is socially active and responsible, reads widely and sees below the surface, had the following thought:
Like many people over here, I have been watching and listening to the daily updates from Rep. Giffords’ doctors on her condition and her medical progress. One question has occurred to me. Does the average American realize that while we stand horror-struck at the tragedy in Tucson, Rep. Giffords is enduring what many of our wounded soldiers have and will endure during our military engagements? It seems a little odd to, on the one hand, grasp at every new change in Rep. Giffords’ condition–she opened her eyes! She can move both her hands! It really is wonderful to hear. But, the injured soldier is just that–injured, no details, no appreciation for the long recovery ahead. I wonder if having the detailed public focus on the slow, unsteady, recovery of one prominent person can shed light on just what your medical staff deals with regularly. The only glimpse I have heard is when the media refers to the surgeon attending to Rep. Giffords having experience from military service that aided him in dealing with this case. What we have heard, however, is that her life was probably saved by a staffer who quickly applied pressure to the wound, and medical personnel who moved he quickly to a hospital, where they could, among other things, remove part of the skull to alleviate pressure. I don’t recall hearing anyone talk about the need for an MRI at the Safeway.
The truth is that we see at least one, if not more service members a week whose families would be delighted if the head injury their love one was faciing was as mild as Giffords’. Not the concussion group, but the soldiers getting shot in the head, crushed in vehicle roll-overs or blow up by IEDs.
Neurosurgery is making strides, but you have to have most of a brain in order to have a reasonable quality of life. No one yet has been able to re-grow pieces lost to explosions or bullets. Science may be making progress (like this in rehab) or the unit working with traumatic brain injury at Walter Reed but there is a long, long road ahead for many. It is all too easy to forget about those who have returned home, especially those severly injured.
The signature injury from this war is not concussions, nor is it post combat stress disorder. The signature injury is the hundreds who have lost two limbs, the dozens who have lost three. Their numbers are increasing on a weekly basis.
I am old enough to remember the aftermath of the Viet Nam war. No matter how much everyone “supports the troops,” we have no idea yet of the long term challenges and burdens.