Six years ago today, Scott returned from 13 months in Iraq. Sometimes it's too hard to think about, because if I sit here and think about how I did not lay eyes on him for 8 whole months before he came back for 2 weeks of R&R (Rest and Relaxation) to go back for 5 more months of separation, it makes me want to cry. To me, that's the most absurd thing I've ever heard of--that a married couple would be apart for that long. And then some of them don't even return home, which is a whole other level of sadness for another post.
I wanted to publicly share some of the photos that Lucian Read and Yuri (TIME), professional photographers took while embedded with them. They were the only photographers willing to come out there, and we are so appreciative. Most of what you see in the news is from the Green Zone in Bagdhad, which is well deserved, too, but Michael Fumento www.fumento.com was the only reporter who was willing to come to Ramadi and report on how dangerous it really was. I treasure the words Michael wrote, and the pictures from Lucian and Yuri, because Scott knew what he was doing every day, and he could envision my life, but I had no way to picture what his daily life was like. Some weeks we talked 20 minutes and didn't talk again for 10 days. Some weeks it was 20 minutes every 3-4 days (you were allowed 20 minutes, because the lines were so long). At one point when we thought he was going on a dangerous mission, I made him call me every day before he was supposed to leave. Since I was living in Germany, he was only 2 hours ahead of me, and every morning I expected an e-mail from him. When there were mornings that I didn't have an e-mail, it usually meant 1 of 4 things: there had been a mass casualty, there were soldiers who had been killed, so they cut off communication until families had been notified, or they had a power outage of some sort, or something had happened to Scott. Talk about relief whenever he was able to communicate again. I always felt that sadness no matter what--imagining someone was getting a knock at her door, or I started being jumpy about what if I had a knock at my door. Thankfully he did not go off the post much (an American soldier did not want to step foot off the post--you were automatically a target out there). In Tal-Afar, they were seen as heroes, because they had gotten rid of the 400 terrorists living there who mainly attacked civilians. Ramadi was the hot-bed for Saddam Hussein's loyalists, so as far as they were concerned, we did not need to be there. The concern I had was that once in awhile Scott would be told at the last minute to jump in a vehicle and go along. I never knew when these would be until after he had gotten back safely, but it did cause anxiety when I didn't hear from him. Often he didn't have time to call, because they were so busy taking care of people once they got to Ramadi.
This deployment plays a part in our current situation emotionally--there were times at his previous job and current job where I have felt he wasn't respected. It seemed they forgot that he had been practicing pediatrics before we got here, and that he had spent a year putting traches in soldiers and stabilizing them (adult trauma medicine). Their "clinic" consisted of cardboard boxes holding their supplies, and wooden beds painted white that were hosed off afterward. He had been in the worst situations; together we knew how to handle when things aren't perfect. When you're in these scenarios, you work with what you have, try to come up with ways to be the most efficient, because every second counts, and above all, you serve others. Maybe I shouldn't feel defensive when someone tells him "you, know the 'perfect' job is not out there," in response to our new job, but I do. We know that--better than I think most doctors do. Not because I think we are superior to anyone else, but we certainly know what is not perfection. In the last year of his position in Germany he would be on call for one week and the other pediatrician covered the other week (this was back when they still had to attend C-Section deliveries). There were nights we would get a phone call in the middle of the night--"come quickly, the baby is blue" and he'd jump in the car and race over to the hospital. To put things into perspective, he only works a few hours less now than he did then. We also know how good it can be if administrations and doctors and staff work together. We know of some amazing clinics around the country, and we are so proud of what they've accomplished in helping children and families get the best care they can. We turned down other jobs like that to come here, because we had a dream that Scott could replicate what other cities are doing right here in Waco, together with administrations and colleagues. Now we have learned it is better to join in with people already trying to accomplish this dream. Both hospitals here are good hospitals--but they do not place priority on pediatric care, and that’s their choice to make. We are not leaving because we have an idealistic, unrealistic dream about what the perfect job is for Scott. We are moving, because a) we feel strongly God is leading us to Nashville, and b) this particular job is hard, and the reality became very clear it's not going to change anytime soon. His clinic is wonderful, but he is also doing a hospital job on top of it, and there is not time for both when you are raising a young family, and there are other jobs out there without the added inpatient responsibilities.
I'm not expecting people to remember this deployment; thankfully, it’s definitely in the past. It just hurts when I hear some of the things he has been told, and if we were in a movie, I have a monologue ready J "we know what a less than perfect job is. Scott knows how to work hard, and he's not afraid of it. He's been in situations that were less than desirable, but he did his job to the best of his ability. He has worked outside the walls of a comfortable clinic, treating soldiers and civilians and insurgents who had been blown up by bombs. We are not naive. We know what amazing opportunity is out there, and we know how difficult of a fight it has been here to try to achieve efficient, excellent care for our children." For some reason I feel compelled to explain our side of things--I'm not asking for sympathy, and we are not bitter--but I do think there is a misconception from the administration and maybe a few other physicians about his current situation and why we are leaving. We love his clinic, staff and patients, so it makes it very heartbreaking to go. Now back to the original subject--thanks for letting me put my thoughts out there :) I want to share these pictures, because I think our soldiers are honorable. They bring tears to my eyes, because the photographer caught the emotion and tension of each moment.
|Mass Casualty on its way--notice all the beds outside|
These vehicles would come rolling in fast with their injured
|this makes me cry every time. he just lost his friend and comrade, and the chaplain is with him|
|Scott is in background talking with interpreter|