According to many media sources, 2007 was the bloodiest year during the war in Iraq. On June 17th 2007, I was shot by a sniper on my left thigh. I was 20 years old at the time. The bullet shattered my femur, severed my femoral artery, clipped my sciatic nerve and caused severe muscle atrophy in my left leg. After two blood transfusions and some emergency surgery to stabilize my femur, I arrived at Evans Army Community Hospital at Ft Carson, Colorado. When I met my orthopedic surgeons they told me they would do everything they could to save my leg.
As the surgeons ran down my list of injuries, it seemed to never end. My femur was shattered, I had an infection in my leg, I had plantar fasciitis, and I the nerves in my left foot were damaged. They also informed me of a procedure that I needed that would improve the range of motion in my left ankle. Due to me not being able to walk for an extended period of time all of the muscles in my left leg atrophied (basically shrank until they were barely there).
Doctors told me they wanted to perform a procedure called an Achilles lengthening procedure. This operation would allow for me to walk flat footed and walk without pain in my left foot. However, due to other surgeries that were more important they postponed the procedure.
Fast forward to 2020. I am no longer a 20 year old private in Colorado that was still optimistic about his military career. I'm 33 years old now and I live with PTSD & still deal with physical pain related to my injury I suffered in 2007. I medically retired from the Army in 2013 and I never had the Achilles lengthening procedure that was suggested by the orthopedic surgeons.
As a civilian, I was trying my hardest to get the Achilles lengthening procedure from the Department of Veteran Affairs. However, the Department of Veteran Affairs is a horrible, poorly run installation (A blog about that later). Getting nowhere with them, and having no luck finding an orthopedic surgeon that accepts Tricare/Champ VA I used my private insurance to get the Achilles lengthening procedure. On August 12th 2020, 33 year old David Kendrick had surgery to repair an injury that 20 year old Private Kendrick had in Iraq.
The Physical Recovery
2007 vs 2020
It's only been a couple of days, but I feel like it's 2007 all over again. I'm immobile and can barely do anything for myself. Doctors say they don't want me putting any weight on my left foot for thirty days. I have flashbacks of being in the hospital feeling useless while nurses come in to take care of me. I deal with chronic pain due to my injury, but this feeling is a little too familiar. David Kendrick of 2020 is a lot heavier than Private Kendrick in 2007, but the movements that I make now remind of of those times.
2007 vs 2020
The pain under my arms from the crutches is all too familiar. The same pain, the same useless feeling, and the same isolation that has been forced upon me 13 years after my injury. Back then it hurt too much to be cramped into the drivers seat of a car. 13 years later David Kendrick still feels like he's Private Kendrick in physical therapy walking through the rooms in physical therapy.
2007 vs 2020
In 2007 Private Kendrick couldn't sleep while in the hospital. Nurses would have to come in to take my vitals at all times of the night. I was suffering from nightmares that consisted of me getting shot by my sniper over and over again. I was afraid to sleep because the loud crack of a rifle would be my wake up call. In 2020 David Kendrick cannot sleep with this big heavy boot on my foot. It's way too hard to get to sleep: I have to make sure my foot is elevated, make sure that my boot straps aren't too tight, and hope to God that my Trazodone puts me to sleep and my Prazosin keeps the nightmares away.
2007 vs 2020
Ice & Elevate, Ice & Elevate, Ice & Elevate. In 2007 Private Kendrick had nurses who were there to bring him ice and elevate his bed in the hospital. In 2020 David Kendrick has no one he can rely on for help. With no wife and no children everything is on him. Whenever I feel good and want to move around a little my foot starts to throb. Reminding me that the sniper isn't done watching me suffer. He injured Private Kendrick but he is LOvING every little reminder David gets in 2020 of how he ruined my life.
2007 vs 2020
THE MENTAL RECOVERY
On June 17th 2007 someone shot Private Kendrick in the left thigh, setting up an ambush. I was shot in both legs. August 12th 2020 David Kendrick had an Achilles lengthening procedure to repair a residual injury. For 13 years I have been mentally as well as physically from this injury. Every time I go see the doctor for this injury he smiles. "Look at what I've done to you. I will be with you the rest of your life" David Kendrick.
I can't help but think that there is some guy or gal in Iraq laughing while they think about how they ruined my life. I could have easily been shot in the head, but that wasn't the intention. Injuring me has a longer, more agonizing impact on my life. Private Kendrick was a warrior, he was strong, he was a hero. David Kendrick hates recovering from an injury that wasn't his. He's a civilian now, he wants to enjoy his life to the best of his ability.