Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Vet story...

Once again I have forgotten to post a video before leaving the house and I'm subject to the iron-fisted rule of the hospital YouTube ban.  So instead I'll tell you a story that happened about 3-4 years ago.

Every once in awhile we get to meet people in this profession that have done amazing things.  One of my patients when I was just out of residency was a WWII vet whose first encounter with me is one I'll never forget.  It all started when I mentioned how interesting his cane was that he came in with.  It had what appeared to be an ivory handle on it, but with a beautiful sheen to it.  Hoping that it wasn't elephant or rhino ivory, I asked him what it was made of.  "A baleen whale's tooth," he replied.  He went on to tell me that when he was picked up from Iwo Jima after the battle was over he'd found these on the beach, a total of seven in all.  He'd made canes from all of them and given three of them to his fellow survivors from his unit.  At this point, I stopped him and said, "Wait, you and three others were the only survivors from your unit?"

Patient: "Yes."

Me:  "How many people were there when you started the battle on the island?"

Patient:  "In my company there were over 200, six platoons."

Me: "And only you and three others walked off the island?"

Patient:  "Yes."

While I took a moment to consider myself in a group of 200+ people and watching 98% of them die horrible deaths, he cleared his throat and said, "And the best thing about these canes is..." In one swift motion, he twisted the top of the cane and drew a sword from it!  Before I could even react, he had it about an inch from my right eye, unwavering.  He held it there for a moment before handing it to me, hilt first.  Not only had he designed the cane, he had smithed the sword himself and had a concealed weapons permit for it.  I was, in a word, impressed.  Ask anyone who has worked in a VA hospital in the last 10 years, they will all tell you:  WWII vets are hard to kill.  It will be a sad day when this breed dies out.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

too true,I've heard some amazing stories working in a nursing home and talking with the residents there.

But sadly there always seems to be another war to replace the veterans for older ones.

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