I will never forget the piercing look in her dark eyes upon entering her hospital room. She reminded me of a startled deer.
The woman's name was Loretta. Loretta Lynn Whipple. Seriously, that was her real given name. And she was my patient.
Loretta was a casualty of the ongoing war in Iraq. She had just recently arrived from Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.; all we knew about her was from her medical records that came with her when she arrived.
Loretta lost her arm and leg when a roadside bomb went off. She lost ten of her comrades in the blast. She was the only one who survived. In addition, she got shrapnel in her eyes and there was the distinct possibility of her losing her eyesight.
Understandably, Loretta was a bitter, angry young woman. I felt sorry for her.
I gently told her that I was going to check her vital signs. She said, "Why even bother? I'm not going to get any better; I am a mess. What kind of future do I have??"
"I am sure you have a good one, once you heal from your wounds", I told he as I proceeded o get her morning vital readings. Everything checked out normal. As I worked, I explained what I was doing, so I wouldn't startle her.
I then proceeded to wish her a happy Veteran's Day. Loretta only scowled.
I felt helpless. I didn't know what to say to her. Tears pricked my eyes as I looked at her and sighed.
I am sure there are many other women veterans who are in her position. Too many, I'm afraid.