In the ER, next to an Iraq war veteran

August 1, 2009

I depart from my "normal" posts tonight, in that this post is not about a dream or an OBE. Instead, it is about spending this evening with a friend in the ER (she seems to be okay), and hearing a very sad story in the room next to us about a veteran of the current Iraq war (or the U.S. invasion/occupation of Iraq, whatever the politically correct term is).

The name of the war doesn't matter to this veteran, who is suffering from some form of post traumatic stress. As I overheard part of his story (which wasn't hard, because it was a little loud at times), many thoughts came to my mind. One thought was the sadness I feel for this person, whose life has been changed forever. I don't want to say too much about this person's condition, but I did hear that this was night his first night in the ER, and he was having a panic attack when I first heard him. I don't know what his condition was before the war, but I wonder if he had a happy, "normal" life before going there, and what his life will be like for the foreseeable future.

Between his situation and the situation I was in, I also thought about how life can turn on a dime. (I know that's a cliche, but it's a very accurate cliche.) It must be very hard to work in an ER, but I will say, it's also very hard to go into an ER, especially with a friend who is very sick.

This one encounter also makes this war much more real for me. Of course I hear about it on the news all the time, and I think "it's right", or "it's wrong", but then when you're face to face with someone's life being in chaos because of it, you realize how much it affects every individual involved. I haven't felt this way since ~1991, when I was living in Alabama, living in a hotel, and washing my clothes in a laundromat with many women whose husbands were in the first Iraq war.

Getting back to this war veteran, I also wondered about whether meditation -- the clearing of the mind -- could help him. I'm not talking about Buddhist philosophy here, just plain clear-your-mind meditation. I know that right now this man needs medication and therapy, but I wonder if meditation can also help in the long term.

As I think about my own experiences;I do believe meditation can help. At a minimum I think it can help him to relax a little more. And if can stick with it and clear his mind more, I have to believe that will be beneficial.

I feel very sad for him. I wish I could write here that I was strong enough to walk over to him and give him my name and number so he can call me any time, but I didn't do that. I could make up a lot of reasons why I didn't do this, but I'd just be covering for my own $#% weaknesses, and I don't want to lie to you or me.

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