by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
I am a Veteran of the United States Air Force. I was a communication specialist in the mid-1980s stationed in Europe. My husband says I’m his favorite Cold War spy, and considering the nature of my job, I guess that’s what I was. I never think of my contribution as being noble. I was just a kid back then, so I’m always surprised when people say “Thank you for your service.”
As a Veteran, the Marion V.A. Medical Center takes care of my healthcare needs. I’ve had no complaints. I cringe at the national news stories of mistakes made with Veterans healthcare at other facilities because I know it makes our local folks look bad. I have also wondered why the positive experiences never get any press. Today, I get to rectify that.
On Wednesday, March 13th I was taken to the V.A.’s emergency room. I had excruciating abdominal pain, along with fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. Between the pain and the fear, I could not stop shaking. It was a hectic day at their ER, but Dr. McClallen and his team (Faith Priddy, RN, and Tiffiny Sweet, RN) moved heaven and earth to soothe me, get me in a bed, and find some answers.
It ended up being a Gangrenous Appendix. As bad as that sounds, it feels worse when it’s inside you. My surgery was performed at the V.A. by a team led by Dr. Sooriash. He got it out before it ruptured, but due to complications, it could not be removed laparoscopically. I was told I would have to spend the next few days in the hospital for recovery and IV antibiotics. It was a miracle my appendix didn’t burst, but they told me the seriousness of the situation. I knew I was in for a battle. I didn’t realize how bad it would be.
My days in the hospital are a blur of pain, sickness, and more nausea. Nausea from the medication was nearly as severe as the appendix. I did not know I could be that sick and still be alive. I lost all of my ability to do anything for myself and had to rely entirely on the nursing staff at the V.A. For someone who is used to being in the care-giving position, this was extraordinarily humbling.
When you find yourself so sick you can’t find your own derriere with a road-map, let alone tend to it, you don’t want to be cared for by people collecting a paycheck. You want caregivers who are there because it is their passion and calling. I was blessed to be the recipient of a nursing staff who took care of me because it is their passion. I was at my absolute worse, yet I received their very best. They all said to me, “Thank you for your service,” with such sincerity I knew they meant it and were serving me from their heart.
I received hundreds of mercies at the hands of this staff. The ones that made the biggest impression on me are Night shift RN’s Jessie Zarnoth and Jill Hefner. Their CNA’s were Legacy Reese and Amy Cheers. Day shift standouts were Kristina Simulis, RN and her CNA Mandy Nickens. There is no way I can ever thank these women enough. They tended to all my physical needs, but also my emotional needs. I was sick and needed hope. They helped me find it. They were the hands and feet of Jesus, and I felt His love through them. They even encouraged my husband to bring Molly, (aka CCM’s Therapy Dog) to aid in my recovery. For those of you who know me, you know that was exactly what I needed.
I am not here to invalidate the horrific experiences other Veterans have received across the country. What I am here to say is an enormous thank you to the staff we have at the Marion V.A. Medical Center. Even the janitorial staff and the people who delivered my food trays were amazingly kind, and they thanked me for my service. Once again, not like it was scripted, but like they meant it.
So to all of you who work at the Marion V.A. Medical Center, I would like to say, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You For Your Service! You went above, and beyond the call of duty for me, so I know you are serving other Veterans with the same enthusiasm. You are all heroes in my book.