Sunday, May 29, 2005

Bear With Me On This One...

Chapter One

I tried to commit suicide a week before my 22nd birthday. It was over something stupid, I fell for a guy. He was my world, I was just a convenience. I didn't know what I was thinking. It was 5 o'clock in the morning, I got back in my room three hours earlier. I decided to go out the night before. It was on a week night, the bar was sparsely occupied. I usually drink beer, but that night I was thirsting for hard liquor. So I got myself piss drunk. I drank 13 Long Island Ice Teas.

I can't recall much of what happened that night except throwing up in front of my barracks as soon as I got out of the taxi. The guy on fire guard duty asked me if I needed help going to my room. I declined. I wanted to be alone and spent the next few minutes climbing (almost to a crawl) to the second floor before turning towards the latrines. One of the guys from my company later informed me that he found me lying inside one of the stalls, my head resting behind the bowl. He then helped me, dragged me to my room and onto my bed.

I then woke up by the sound of my alarm blasting. It was a weird feeling, I felt no emotion whatsoever. I found myself going through my routine; washed my face, shaved, brushed my teeth, and donned my uniform. I should have gone on my way and reported for duty but all I did was sit on my bed and look out the window. I glanced at my clock and noticed that I was already an hour late. I must have zoned out. I knew I didn't fall asleep because I was still sitting. I didn't care. It hit me that nothing mattered anymore. It was so quiet. I could see cars coming and going but didn't hear them. My roommates were still asleep, they wouldn't wake up for another two hours for physical training.

I felt sober. I knew what I was doing from the moment I woke up. I was very aware even though I lacked some of my normal senses. I distinctly remember taking two pill bottles, opening them and swallowing all their contents. I couldn't explain why I did it except that it felt right at the time. I didn't even question myself whether I was making a mistake or think about the consequences. For me, it was like a new addition to my routine.

I laid back down to my bed and waited for the sleep to take over me.

I was in a haze when I heard voices around me. I can tell they were that of my roommates and one of my sergeants. I think they were trying to wake me up. I wanted to say that I can hear them, that I was awake but I couldn't. My sergeant was starting to sound really ticked off.

"Specialist Ferdinand, you better fucking wake up! Don't pretend that you're passed out. Just remember who you're dealing with. I said to wake up!" He kept repeating that I was pretending to be asleep and would occasionally shake me violently. Once, he slapped me in the face but I didn't feel any of it. I just knew what was happening around me.

He ordered one of my roommates to open the window then felt myself begin to tremble uncontrollably. Yet inside, I was calm. I then heard my roommate James saying out loud, "Oh my God. He must have taken the pills!", finally seeing the empty bottles lying on the floor. Persistent, my sergeant kept on insisting that I was still pretending. Doubt has crept up in his voice. I assume James must have heard it too since he told my other roommate to call the medics.

I heard the sirens as they were coming. My sergeant was now in hysterics. Suddenly, I felt the presence of others hovering above me and was fully aware of what they were doing to me. After all, I was a combat medic, went through some basic training to perform first aid during war times. I, along with other soldiers, sometimes practiced on each other but most of the time used a life-sized dummy to practice with. In a sense, I became the dummy. They were talking about my pulse rate, how fast and shallow it felt. My pupils were dilated but I didn't see any of them looking at my eyes. I heard my boot laces and belt being cut away, my clothes being torn. They must have started sticking an IV on me as I heard my sergeant gasp and then silenced. The voices of the medics were a bit strained. No doubt trying to remember everything they've learned during their Advanced Individual Training (AIT) on what to do in an emergency situation. They kept encouraging me to hang on. Soothing voices. I wanted to acknowledge them.

As they were carrying me out of my room, I heard my shift leader, Sergeant First Class Crate's voice booming over everything, "This is my soldier and I'll be damned if I leave without seeing him!", after being told that only medics were allowed. She was always looking out for me. I felt glad that she was there. I haven't told her that I knew she held my hand briefly and whispered, "You better live Specialist. Or else!" To which she added, "We'll be praying for you. Come back soon, you here." (It still brings me to tears.)

I started going in and out of consciousness...I heard the driver radio the hospital about my condition...The J-tube being forced to open up my air way...Several times...I passed out the third time they tried.

I woke up when I was being wheeled in the ER. Then a catheter being shoved through my urethra. Afterwards, I felt my body stiffen, the balls of my feet and shoulders touching the table as the rest of my body arched. Next, I heard a male voice hovering above my head running his hand through my hair trying to calm me down. I remember that I started to panic. I had that sudden realization of not being able to move. I wanted to sit up, determined. I could not. I cried. I was pleading through the breathing mask, against the tubes in my throat to please help me. Focusing on his voice, I kept trying to ask him for help but ended up choking and panicking even more. Then total darkness.

To be continued...