Thursday, October 7, 2004

TBI: The Invisible Injury

This is an article everybody should read. I watched "Nightline" last night and it broke my heart.

Marine Lance Cpl. Raymond Warren took shrapnel to his legs, to his stomach, to his arms and to his head, which made the TBI diagnosis easy. He lost much of his memory, and must wear a protective helmet until his skull heals. Warren could neither walk nor talk when he arrived at the Palo Alto facility in July. Now he can do both. But he has dreams of much more. "Get back to running, drive a car, stuff like that," he said. "Just the normal life of Raymond Warren."

The rehabilitation requires months of work with a skilled team. It also requires a great deal of patience. Warren, for example, needed to relearn basic tasks, from brushing his teeth to shaving. A chart reminds him what to do and when to do it.

"The majority of them, they're incontinent, both bowel and bladder, so we have to retrain them when to use the toilet, how to use the toilet," said Alvarez.

Warren is also proud of his service, proud of the Purple Heart he received. But he questions the war that did this to him.

When Warren went home to Los Angeles for a visit, the welcome from his family and girlfriend washed over him like a tonic.

Even so, he still needs 24-hour supervision. In some ways, veterans with traumatic brain injury are like toddlers again, something of a sad irony.

But there are still times when he feels sorry for himself. How does he deal with that? "I just cry."

Please read it.

LCpl. Warren is a typical tough kid Marine grunt. That's good, because he has a hard row to hoe to get back to anything resembling a normal life. Watching him struggle with day-to-day stuff we don't think twice about was heartbreaking for me. I damn near cried. While writing this too.

You can't get this from the article, but you could damn sure see it on TV: The kid was smiling, but his eyes were screaming in pain and bewilderment.

Ray Warren and maybe thousands of other are going to go through shit like that because of a lie. May God damn you to Hell, Bush.

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