- Posted September 23, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Anthony's 2nd Alive Day
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
Today was Anthony’s second Alive Day. And I’m honored to have been part of it.
Who’s Anthony you ask? He’s my cousin-in-law (for lack of a better term), and an Afghanistan Vet.
And an Alive Day? That’s the day a veteran suffered near-fatal battlefield injuries yet managed to survive.
Which takes us back to September 22, 2010 – a day that rocked my family’s world. It forever changed our lives. Made us more humble.
That day I blogged about what I found out: Anthony was severely injured by an IED last night while on an Army patrol in Afghanistan. He lost one leg to the hip and the other to the knee. One hip and one arm are barely holding together. He is in semi-stable condition now awaiting evac to an AFBase Hospital in Kandahar and then once further stabilized onto Germany. His colon has also been injured and he had flat-lined twice… he has a two month old daughter, Scarlett.
When I think back to that day I still have chills. But today Anthony shared a side of the story I’ve never heard -- his side, as he experienced:
Two years ago I took the step that would not only change my family’s, but also my life in a huge way.
The deed is done. I cannot take back that step or the images that are forever etched into my mind from that action.
As soon as my foot touched the ground I remembered being catapulted through the air and trying to brace myself for the impact and then hitting the ground and closing my eyes. I remember vividly thinking how easy it would be to just go to sleep, but before I could Shauna, Cameron, and Scarlett popped into my head and I told myself that I could not do that to them. I could not break the promise that I made to them to return home alive even though I had told myself that I would rather be dead than to be an amputee.
Making that choice I opened my eyes and surveyed the area (from a face on the ground view). Once I realized that I had made the mistake I was so pissed that I started saying the F word because to me I had possibly given away our position …
The medic on board shot me up with something good that helped knock me out for ten days. I died before I got to the operating table and fortunately they were able to bring me back after cracking my chest, stabbing my heart with a needle and massaging it in their hand.
Even though I was still out I still remember the dreams (those crazy dreams) that I had to go through to get back to my family and it was finally the sound of Shauna's voice that brought me back. She was at the hospital everyday. She had to hear them tell her that there was NO brain activity; that they had to start thinking about my quality of life because of how much they had to take [from it]. She had to watch the pain I was in when they took me off meds to try and wake me from my coma and still she sat by my bedside and talked to me. She had to hear that she needed to make a decision to pull the plug.
Every dream that I had was me trying to get back to her.
The last dream I had everything was white (like in the movie the Matrix when they are getting ready to go in). I heard her voice and followed it and suddenly I opened my eyes and there she was looking staring down at me with tears in her eyes, smile on her face, my wedding ring on around the heart necklace that I had given to her. She looked at me no differently than she had when I had legs, she saw me no differently she just looked at me with love and happiness.
It took me ten days from the time I was injured until the time I woke up. Shauna and her father were there the whole time. Even though I was drugged up I still remember what Bill told me.... "God has something big planned for you." I am not sure what it is yet.
I am sure that if you have read all of this that I have bored you enough. I just would like to say that there are wounded with more injuries than I have both physical and non-physical. I am not a hero, I did not pull a kid out of a burning building, I have not taken a bullet for anyone. I am just a wounded warrior trying to accept the hand that we have been dealt, be a great father, and a husband. If it wasn't for my wife, kids, close family, doctors and friends I wouldn't be here. So thank you! Semper Fi!
I'm the daughter of a now-retired Navy dentist. The reality of what war is and what it can do had always been something I never fully "understood" until Anthony's injuries came along. He made the sacrifices you so often hear about on the news become reality.
And today, as I bantered back and forth with Anthony at the National Book Festival in D.C., I can't help but think: God really does have great plans for this man who has, through tragedy, profoundly changed my life.
Here's to our men and women in uniform who proudly serve to protect our great nation.
Here's to Anthony being alive!