Walking through the halls of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center was an eerie feeling. An American military hospital in German, Landstuhl receives wounded service members straight from the battlefield, triages and stabilizes them to prepare them for the journey home.
Nearly eight years ago, my lifeless body was rolled down these same halls as I was barely clinging to life.
On November 21, 2010 I was injured by a grenade blast in Afghanistan and arrived in at Landstuhl three days later. Here, in ICU Room #4, I unconsciously fought for my life for three days before it was safe to make the journey across the Atlantic to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The room was empty and much smaller than I had imagined. Positioned directly across from the nurse’s station, a preferred location for the most severely injured patients, the room was mostly taken up by the large pieces of life sustaining equipment.
It was surreal to stand in front of the very bed that cradled my lifeless body, soaked in my blood, and the machines that breathed for me when my body couldn’t.
On the bed was packaged medical supplies spread out and meticulously organized waiting for the moment another casualty of war would come barreling through the doors. It was hard to look at those supplies knowing with certainty that they would be ripped open to be used on another brave service member’s body.
After a few humbling minutes of silence, I put my arm around my mom, who had tears in her eyes. And, with smiles on our faces, we turned around and walked out of ICU Room #4 on our own two feet.