My experience with scary lung disease helps me empathize (on a minor level) with EB Sledge’s post war experience

In China Marine, EB Sledge has a few episodes where he realizes that people cannot understand what he has been through. For months on end, he slept in mud, watched his good friends killed on a daily basis and lived in a constant (i.e. hourly) threat of instant death where 90% of the people he went into battle with were killed, some in hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese.  (As much as any book I’ve ever read, With the Old Breed made me feel like I was there). Now, here he is at home, the parades are over and life has moved on, and nobody knows the grind it took on a daily basis to fight the war.  So in essence he is left alone to deal with his feelings…  

My experience was nothing like EB Sledge in its intensity (I don’t know how the marines stayed sane, and many snapped after multiple campaigns).  But I can empathize, since in that first year after getting my scary lung disease under control, I felt so alone.  Here I was, a survivor, but there were no walks or ribbons (many people march for friends in support of breast cancer), no one knew what disease I had or that I was continuing to fight it (and Ankylosing Spondylitis), and everyone was able to continue their lives while I was still trying to get my life back.  It was shocking. Lonely.  Devestating.  (And I experienced only a fraction of a percent of what EB and other combat veterans experienced!).  It wasn’t that people didn’t care, but they had their own lives to lead and how could they possibly know what I was feeling?  Which is why I burst into tears in the doctor’s office that day when he told me how boyant/chipper I seemed despite being through so much, and thank god I did since he sent me to therapy that got my life back on track.  My life will neer be the same, and in some ways it is better while in other ways it is much worse, but at least it is back on track again (and, overall, I am *much* more content and less anxious now than I was pre-illness).  

Anyway, on a minor level I can understand what EB felt when he returned home.  And I continue to look foward to reading about his journey in China Marine.  And I feel soooo much for that man, and the other people who have returned from battle (including our Afghanistan/Iraq veterans).

My experience with scary lung disease helps me empathize (on a minor level) with EB Sledge’s post war experience

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