Journey to meet the Demons
Lost at 40 thousand feet
I awaken to the loud drone of the C-17 Globemaster Cargo Plane. Only a few inches from my face is the black meshy bottom of another NATO stretcher. It is not dark, but he lights are dim. The loud hum of the engines echo through my ears and body a steady drone.
I try and look around but my movement is limited by the straps on the stretcher holding me in place. Looking around I see the Aircraft is configured for Air Medical evacuation. There are Nurses and Medical Staff walking around and 3 tiers of stretchers. A row on either side of the aircraft and one down the middle. We stacked like produce one on top of another, with just enough room in between to not suffocate. I do not remember how high we are stacked. This is what my memory has told me. How much is true and how much is just my brain filling in the blanks, I have no idea.
I still do not know where I am going or even exactly what is going on. Something in the back of my head is telling me what I know but I can’t hear or understand what it is saying. Blacking out again I remain lost in the darkness. Time and awareness has been lost to me.
Suddenly the sound of the engines has changed to a loud roar. The rear hatch is open and the crew are offloading the patients. Suddenly and without word I am picked up and carried off the plane. The sound of the four jet engines echo through my ears even louder, almost painful. Then just as quickly I am inside a building. I have no idea where I am, what is going on or anything. All I have left is on my lap; my laptop, external hard drive and my small pack with a few items of clothes in it and my wallet and Passport.
I am transfered from the bare stretcher onto a proper hospital bed. I am still confused, the world is spinning and I am nauseous. A nurse comes by and explains that I am at Bagram Air force Base in Afghanistan, and that I was waiting for the next flight to Germany. She then gives me some pills to take. I see her near my left arm where my IV is. Then the darkness comes back.
Awake again, I feel as if I am stuck in a whirlpool going around and around. Severely nauseated and ready to lose whatever is left in my stomach, I have no idea how much time has past since I was in Kandahar or even how much has gone past since I was in the Observation Post. I call for the nurse and explain what I am feeling. I am given gravol, and off she goes. Around and around I go. I call some time again. She nodes her head in sympathy and off she goes. A few more laps around the whirlpool and she is back.
This time with Zofram, and injects it into my IV. Within minutes the spinning stops. I can focus again., I ask how long I’ll be here and I’m told she does not know. Opening my laptop I try and start watching various movies. I continuously drift in and out. Especially when the nurse comes near my IV.
One more flight to go
It’s dark outside and cold, the noise is deafening as we are loaded onto the aircraft. There are enough of us though, again we are stacked several high and three rows deep. I am on the starboard side up against the fuselage, on the bottom again. Nothing but a fire blanket for cover. I’m freezing cold, but for some reason I cannot form any words. So I just shiver and drift in/out.
I awaken to my left arm feeling numb and absolutely frozen. I have no idea where or when I am. As my sense clear slightly I can see that my IV has been pulled, my arm is covered in saline and blood. Then a sharp stabbing pain in my abdomen. I need to urinate and quickly. Seeing my movements a Nurse or Medic comes over to see me. She clucks at my arm says they will need to start another. I mention my current need to relieve myself. I am allowed to use the facility on the aircraft to my great relief. Not sure how I got there, or even how I got back. I just remember being able to go.
As soon as I get back I’m stabbed with another IV needle and the fluids start again. I’m given my oral medication (anti-seizure), I refused the Keppra due to side effects. Strangely I black out again. Something is up here I think to myself as the blackness over takes me.
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
I am again assaulted by the sounds of an active military airfield. Then I am struck by a blinding pain in my eyes. We left at night, but it is now full on day time. We have arrived at Ramstein Air Base, the main NATO air hub and location of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre (LRMC). Loaded into an ambulance bus, picture the old tv series MASH. Except this one is white not green and off we go to the hospital. Was it minutes? Hours? I could not say, I keep blacking out and I have no idea what day or time it is. I just know I’m in Germany. The thought of not being where I am supposed to be, on the line with my Troop of Dragoons, sickens my stomach. I am starting to feel like a failure.
I am off loaded from the bus and met by the Canadian Nursing Liason Officer, it’s a whirlwind trip I barely remember it. I’m off for another CAT Scan and an MRI. Then it’s off to see the Neurologist. I reacted to the Keppra and so I am put on Carbamezapine (Tegretol). I am shown my room just outside the hospital and left to my own devices, with orders to report for meals to check in. Let’s count how much of a bad idea this was.
Link to a Journey with Epilepsy Part 1