People ask me why I need Hunter, my service dog. Most people assume it’s military related but that’s not the case for me. My PTSD is what they call, “childhood onset.” I was in the Air Force, to be sure, but only for two years as a second lieutenant, Chaplain Candidate. The only trauma I experienced in the Air Force was when they tried to teach us chaplains how to march in Chaplain School, down in Montgomery, Alabama. Actually, it was terribly funny. The sergeant wasn’t speaking English. At least not the English language I was familiar with! It’s not my fault I didn’t hear “halt!” or “about face!” Imagine it…
I suffered a variety of traumas that led to my PTSD. Here is the first of several that I will share now-and-then. It’s just shy of 500 words – in case you want to know.
Blood on the pavement. Lots of blood on the pavement. I wake up and see boots. They are black and reached up the leg of the policeman. A motorcycle cop. I don’t remember pain. It doesn’t hurt.
Dad told me not to ride my tricycle down the driveway. The driveway emptied out onto a major highway, even though the speed limit for the highway in town was 25. I was four years old and the fun of riding down the driveway seemed at the time to be more fun than it was naughty. I had to make a turn at the bottom of the drive or go straight into the street.
I tried to make the turn but the tricycle fell over on me. I was in the street. I remember looking at my foot. It was trapped in the spokes and I couldn’t free it. Then it all went black. I was dragged about 50 feet down the street underneath the car before the driver stopped. I woke in a puddle of blood. Lots of blood.
Someone picked me up from behind and I briefly passed out. A pickup truck. A red truck and I passed out again.
The room, the emergency room, seemed to be dimly lit to me when I woke again. A doctor with a mask on and gloves approached me with a needle. This time I passed out for a long time.
I was badly injured. From being dragged down the street I had abrasion wounds that covered the left side of my face and my left arm. My left clavicle was broken. I had a serious head injury, probably from when the car initially hit me. I truly was quite fortunate that my neck was not broken.
I woke again in a hospital bed, or rather a crib. I must have been sedated because the first bit of time (days) is a muddled mess in my head. What I do remember is the nurse changing the bandages on my arm. It seemed that every time she removed the old bandage it pulled away fresh new tissue. I remember screaming.
I remember bed baths and changing sheets. It felt good to be clean.
I don’t remember any visitors, although I’m sure my mom came. What I do remember is finding a teddy bear in the crib with me. It was perfect. It was a tan koala bear lying down with its head resting on its front paw. I loved it and remember getting a lot of comfort from it even after I went home.
I did eventually go home. I was able to remove the figure-8 brace from my back used to stabilize my shoulder for short periods of time. I remember mom picking scabs off my face. It felt like I imagine shedding skin would feel for a snake. The head wound was slow to heal and I remember the shoulder brace had to be worn for a long time.