Approximately one year ago this month I went on a little journey to a scenic place in the lovely get-away country of Iraq. Not that the trailer where I had up until that point been calling home was inadequate, but services were needed a bit further north for a few days so I hopped on the helicopter and off I went.
Note to all: never sit in the rear right-hand seat of a helicopter that will fly with the doors open. This is where all of the rotor draft will come in and attempt to drill your eyes out the back of your skull. Just a friendly tidbit. Moving on…
So while puttering around doing whatever it is I do, I was involved in a bit of a motor vehicle accident which ended up rather messy. Luckily, no explosives were involved, despite the erratic driving of the Iraqi vehicle, but a HMMWV, a truck loaded with Iraqi workers, and a frontloader construction vehicle all were involved. Two Iraqis died, and my foot became intricately familiar with the mechanism of a piece of metal in the back of the truck.
I went to the doctor, he poked around and said it was sprained. No X-rays at this facility, better luck elsewhere.
Three months later, another doctor hemmed and hawed and said it may have once been broken, but it was okay now. Good luck with that, it may be sore, sure you can climb a mountain, but it is going to be a bit painful. Have fun!
Three months or so after that (and after the frostbite and gangrene incident which earned me fame and glory in my unit), another doctor said it may not have been broken, but there sure was a lot of tendon damage. I might want to get out of the military, but to do so I would have to give up the Europe assignment and take my chances at Fort Bragg. I opted to try Europe for a bit.
Six months following, a doctor finally submitted the paperwork that says I may need to get out of the Army, because they have no idea what is wrong but they DO know that they should have started physical therapy on it a year ago. Oopsie. Here we go.
Thus begins the arduous process known as the medical evaluation board, or MEB. First, this doctor halfway across the country gave me the go-ahead and sent a piece of paper to some office in the heart of the most confusing hospital I have ever had the misfortune to tour.
Side note: Who, exactly, designed a hospital where the furthest point from anything and everything is the podiatry wing? Did not someone think, “Perhaps these are the people who might have a spot of trouble walking longer distances”? Did someone not think, “Maybe we should at least put signs up that tell people how to navigate this labrynth”? But again, I digress.
So he sends it to that office. I call a local office for the MEB and they tell me to call the one in the other part of the country. I call there. They tell me that they have yet to enter my information into their system (five days after the appointment and the forwarding of the original document) and that it might be loaded in today or tomorrow. No rush. Then it has to get sent to another office where a guy who outranks everyone else has to sign it. I must allow two weeks for his signature to grace that piece of paper. Take your time, Sir. THEN it has to go back to the first office, where they will contact me via an email address that they do not yet have (I could not provide it while on the phone because they had yet to enter me into the system, and writing it down on a sticky note to attach to the piece of paper he was holding in his hand would be out of the question) and will ask if I would like it sent to my part of the country (yes, please) at which point I must allow a bit more time so they can forward it. At that point, and that point only, I may call the office I first called and they will help me schedule a briefing. After the briefing, I can start scheduling the appointments neccessary to get the entire process started.
Right then. In the meantime, the weather in August has yet to be above 72 degrees, nights are getting down closer to the freezing point, it has rained every day for two weeks, and a nest of baby spiders hatched somewhere in my apartment so I spend the better part of most evenings tracking and killing baby spiders.
Pretty soon, they may be looking at an insanity chapter as well…