Tuesday, August 09, 2005


This is the 5th part of the story the 1970 tank accident that I began on July 26 and continued on July 28, 29, & 31.

“And what did you do in Italy?”

The recovery room nurse was talking to a doctor. They were sharing stories of their madcap vacations. I was in no mood to eavesdrop. I was tired, hungry, and in pain.

After the wire sutures had been placed in my leg, I was transfered onto another damned wobbly gurney and rolled into the recovery room. My leg throbbed with pain: the local anesthetic never did kick in fully. Even though the nurse and doctor were less than twenty feet from me, I couldn’t get their attention.

I also couldn’t rest. The ceiling lights were the brightest I have ever encountered other than the million plus candle-power searchlight on Backache, the M60A1 Patton tank whose steel hand grenade box had cut this 11-inch wound in my left leg. I would close my eyes—and the light was still there. I would pull sheet over my face—and the light was still there. It was irritating and spoiled any chance of sleep.

Not only were my eyes under attack from those ceiling lights, but my ears were, too, from the moaning and howling of the guy in the bed next to me. He had had an operation on his legs for varicose veins. He was evidently in great pain—obviously more pain than me. And like me, the newly-tanned-from-their-vacations doctor and nurse were more interested in discussing their leaves that responding to us two soldiers who were in pain.

Besides my eyes and ears being assaulted, I was also hungry—very hungry! At that point in this misadventure I had no idea what time it was or how long it had been since I had breakfasted. I did not even know if it were day or night. I did know that my stomach was shrieking for food.

The doctor finally finished telling the story of his trip to Italy and the nurse her story of her leave somewhere on the Mediterranean coast. She came to the side of my bed and handed me two pills in a small paper cup along with a cup of water in the same size paper cup.

“Take these,” she said.

“I’m hungry,” I said

“The kitchen is closed,” she said.

I took the pills. I don’t know what they were, but when I awakened several hours later, the guy wailing from the varicose vain operation was no longer in the bed beside me. A couple of male orderlies were sliding me onto another bloody gurney, and I was wheeled to the officers’ ward of the hospital.

“I’m hungry,” I said to the ward nurse.

“We didn’t know you were coming,” she said. “So we didn’t order a breakfast for you.”

Again I said, “I’m hungry.”

And the nurse handed me two pills in a small paper cup along with a cup of water in the same size paper cup.

“What the hell,” I thought, “with dope like this, who needs food?”

Yes, the story will continue.

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