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Picking Up the Pieces

Iraq Vets: Radio Transcript

How Family and Faith Are Healing Veterans Home From War.

Cindy: As a mother’s intuition, the morning that I got the phone call when Shane was injured, I had just pulled a– nurse’s usually do 12-hour shifts, and I worked at midnight. So I had just got home at 7:00 a.m. in the morning and got in the shower, and I thought, “Oh, it’s Saturday morning. He’ll probably call this morning.”

I got out of the shower, and the phone rang. I thought, “This is my baby calling,” and this time it wasn’t. It was a strange voice on the other line, and that’s when I got the news that he was severely injured, so, it was rough.

Barry: Within days, Cindy was on a plane to Landstuhl Germany, assuming she was going to watch her son die there. When she first saw Shane, she barely recognized him—his head was swollen, he was attached to so many tubes. But having lived through her husband’s death and seen his incredible reservoirs of strength, she had faith that Shane could tap the same power.

Cindy: I knew he had the strength– This is hard for me. I knew he had the strength because of his dad. So all he did was pray, and I prayed so hard because I’d seen what his dad went through. In my heart, I’ll tell you what changed everything after the third day. It was, 'Please God, why? We’ve been through enough. I know I’m a strong person but why?' And I looked up in the hospital, and there was a beautiful rainbow.

Barry: Cindy saw the rainbow as a message that everything was going to be OK. And slowly, by increments, Shane has progressed, even thought he did lose both of his legs. But it didn’t always seem like things were heading in the right direction, and in the process, there were moments of sheer terror.

Cindy: Then one day I walked in, and he sat up in bed. And this is as time went on, and they’re starting weaning him off the pain medications because he was doing better. And he sat up and said, 'Mom, where have you been?' I said, 'Honey, I’ve been here everyday.'

Shane: I said, 'Where the hell have you been?'

Cindy: He just– He woke up. So during that time though he had some occasions where he had some incidents where he was coming– He was trying to come back; you could tell mental-wise, and being more aware of his surroundings. But he tried to get out of bed one night, and it was true, they found him hanging on the edge of his rail, because he didn’t realize that he didn’t have legs at that point.

It scared everybody because he was yelling, 'Grandma.' And they come in, and he’s hanging off the edge of the bed. How he got out of there nobody knows…

Barry: Shane has worked hard on his rehabilitation, and he continues to improve– Still, the cost has been overwhelming. When Cindy came to stay with Shane in the hospital, her home back in Ohio suffered a water leak, and the mold that grew afterward was so toxic that the house had to be demolished. Her insurance only covered the first $10,000. She also lost her job because her employer couldn’t hold it open any longer, and now, at 51, Cindy Parsons has officially become a dependent of 22-year-old Shane. Instead of working as a hospital nurse, she’s become a private nurse for just one patient, her son.

Cindy: In the nursing field, in medical, we all know that when you have a family member there with a patient, it helps tremendously with their rehabilitation, with their journey along getting better. Just that support, just seeing them and hearing their voice. The touch, even if they’re not to be touched, but just a hand on them, their voice. That tremendously will help a patient get better. It strives them and puts them back in reality, and I think that’s the most important thing. But had I not been there, that would have been so difficult for Shane. The confusion and trying to bring you back to what—with the brain injury—you forget so much. And how do you remember what your past was?

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