PTSD

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“You can’t help him” said the guy stoically, leaning on the fence of the garden. He had a cigarette in one hand, a smart phone in the other – both things I abhor.

“And a good day to you too”, said I, whilst utilizing my government bestowed grace to park on the sidewalk.

Don’t you guys do that though; not the smoking, that’s obvious – I mean parking on sidewalk.

Privilege and responsibility are two sides of one coin, you see. I won’t deny that we, ambucycle or ambulance drivers have certain privileges, four to be exact, but they come with awesome responsibility and even obligation.

Many assume that to drive an ambulance one need only a keen sense of erratic driving, boundless energy and an understanding wife. Untrue. To drive an ambulance one needs a special driving license. To get that prized license, an applicant must take a special course and then pass both written and practical exams.

Once qualified, the driver of an emergency vehicle can do several otherwise unforgivable road sins, but, should an accident occur, G-d forbid, the driver is responsible regardless.

Like I said earlier, an awesome responsibility.

“I mean, thanks for coming, but you might as well leave” continued the unruffled youngster.

“Only He can help now,” he said pointing his cigarette laden finger to the heavens.

And on that day and indeed on many a day since, I utilized my heavenly bestowed common sense, and rushed, through the garden, into the street level apartment, whose door was wide open.

Inside, I beheld the following.

A bare chested, tattoo covered, mid-twenties, shivering in the summer, sitting up in bed, ex special services, drug addict.

But I was wrong and he told me so, through chattering teeth, before I had the chance to press my radio’s transmission button.

“It’s not what it looks like,” he said.

I inched closer.

“I know what you’re thinking, and you’ve got it all wrong.”

“I’m no druggie – never in my life – I’m a soldier.”

Unit #68 walks in behind me and catches this last interjection. Brilliant luck. He too is ex-army, but was honorably discharged and is now married with a handful of kids.

“Which unit and where were you stationed?” asks #68.

IDF jargon follows of which I glean, that he was in the elite “Duvdevan” unit and that he spent time in fun sounding places like Halhul, AlFawqa, Juhazm and Ubeidiya.

#68 figures it out before me, because he’s been there and done that.

“PTSD” he whispers in my ear. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

The patient sways, eyes darting from side to side, and all the while spouting depictions only nightmares are made off. Murky stories of pitch darkness, immense fear, impending doom and indescribable fright.

“Please, please, please help me!” cries our patient again and again, but stoic roommate was right, there was nothing we could do.

We took basic vitals, but t’was for naught. This man’s body was healthy; it’s his mind that was indisposed and that is a science in which I am untrained.

The ambulance came – whisked him away and I thought the story ended there. It didn’t…

Fast forward 6 months.

Same address, alternate season, different patient. On this occasion I learn that the building is a dormitory for a BT Yeshiva, and my patient this time, is a student who collapsed.

He had been jogging, and hadn’t drunk all day.

Diagnosis: Vasovagal Syncope.

Treatment: Fluid Resuscitation.

Conclusion: Drink water – it’s good for you.

But what grabbed my attention on the way out was my previous client, sitting on a swing seat in the garden. He was reading a book, and was a picture of composure and calm. He looked up and recognized me immediately.

“I’m healed,” he said smiling. I hadn’t asked, but certainly wondered.

“No meds whatsoever – just cognitive Emuna Therapy and lots of help from above”

He pointed to the heavens and in his hand a book entitled The Garden of Emuna.

“You should read it,” he said enthusiastically.

I did.

 

Postscript – Also available on Amazon.com