Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Day I almost died

It is easy to pinpoint the point in time when I almost died as well become clear after a bit of narrative. I had been flown to Ft Sill, OK from Reno, NV to take part in an exercise wherein we would simulate a real mobilization for war and then travel to Korea (Cold Rea- remember it is south of Siberia) As part of the exercise, we got some shots, and then we went to the lawyers, JAGs(judge advocate general) to update our will (or in my case to make a will), I had just had a bunch of shots. Being the ranger that I am, I didn't want to talk about the discomfort in my arm, but it was becoming more and more compellling. I asked one of the soldiers if they could get my an aspirin. She said that shewould check one of the offices. She came back and said that the office was closed so I should just go back to where I had the shots. They remembered me because I usually am very talkative and friendly and they told me to sit down and they took my blood pressure with a smile. However, after taking my blood pressure, the fellow had a fearful look in his eyes. He told me to lie down, I did feel progressively worse. They checked my pressure again and I saw a more fearful look. they called for the ambulance and I was still laughing and joking until I stepped outside and felt like vomitting. I made it to the hospital and as I walked in I saw a girl with her back to me and I said, Hi Katie (my daughter) wondering how she had gotten the word so fast to meet me at the hospital from Seattle, Wa. She turned around and it wasn't Katie which I couldn't understand. I continued to joke around with the nurses and staff. I was starting to feel pain in every joint- the balls of my feet, my ankles, knees, lower back, neck, head. But I was still making jokes. They took my blood pressure again and suddenly I was surrounded by nurses and I had 4 IVs put in me (I found out later that my Blood Pressure was 80/40) I saw visions of my son Gabe and it seemed that he was standing next to me. The doctor came up to me and I thought it was someone I knew in high school and I said, "Hi brother, good to see you." Still making jokes. The doc looked down at me and said, How do you feel? Ready to make a joke, I suddenly realized that I couldn't answer. My first aid training was kicking in except I was on the receiving end. It suddenly dawned on me that he was trying to keep me aware and I wasn't aware. I did something internally to reroute my circuits so I could respond and I whimpered, "I'm ok" All the jokes were gone now replaced by a serious concern. I was suffering more and more until I got a shot or something in my IV and it took and wonderfully the pain was dissapating. They asked me what was comfortable and it felt good to have a pillow under my knees, They wheeled my into Intensive Care and I had all sorts of monitors on. To comfort me, the TV was tuned to CNN which non-stop was covering the siege of Waco featuring phone calls with David Koresh!! (I think another channel might have been better!!) About a day later, someone from my military came in and said, "you aren't going to Korea." I nodded-being in no condition to argue. But as my strength came back, I said I want to go to Korea and they had me sign a statement words to the effect that I understand I am going to Korea and I am ready. Physically, it probably wasn't the best idea to go. I was constipated and then came down with bronchitis. I remember trying to walk up stairs and it wasn't pretty. Gradually, I regained my strength and I am glad I went because it really was an interesting experience to go to Korea. Itaewan (a section of Seoul) caters to tourists, but I went off the beaten path to some club and there I was doing disco with all these Koreans around me cherring me on. They were real friendly, even offered me cocaine which I politely refused. After narrowly surviving death, here was someone trying to kill me slowly. I did tempt death by eating in the Korea mess hall. Each night one officer would eat with the Koreans and sample their food. It was ok to me (Rangers can eat anything.) The three star Korean General said I looked like one of his in-laws so it was very friendly. I even learned Arirang http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arirang, http://kreah-craze.com/arirang-lyrics-singer-sg-wannabe/ www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FlXH9CGnvw which I sang with my new Korean brothers at the end of our tour. Again, there was a chance to die since the Korean officers seemed determined to drink themselves and anyone else to physical collapse. I managed to avoid being made to drink to excess since I usually have no fear to perform and some assume I needed liquid courage. One of our Jewish officers to reciprocate sang, Hava Nigilah http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hava_Nagila and www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFtv5qe5o3c
which I knew how to sing since I had studied Hebrew at the U of Washington. Our last event was to visit Seoul's fortress http://english.seoul.go.kr/today/news/newsclip/1230150_3675.html and http://i.pbase.com/g6/96/408296/2/75477189.eUwJGuHk.jpg and we went on a shopping trip. I wasn't really interested, so I and one of the sergeants waited outside laughing about the "old folks" doing their shopping.

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