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Advice to help my Dad (Doc)

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  • Advice to help my Dad (Doc)

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: <>
    Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 01:23

    Please send this email to anybody you think might be able to help and/or advise me. Thanks! My father, James Chandler Gruenberg, was a surgeon at the 95th Evacuation Hospital in DaNang, Vietnam (my geographical memory is rusty: South? I think so -- sorry!), in or around 1972. I was three. I am now thirty-nine, and Dad is also older. We have had our share of problems, and we have had our share of good times. This past Friday we had a good time: My fiance and I took him to a boat show near where we live (Traverse City, MI). The day was gorgeous. And then a Chinook flew overhead, and he said, \"You never forget that sound.\" No hugs at the end of the visit; he just got in the car and left.

    Why write you? My dad lost his job as a surgeon some years ago (and has \'substituted\' around the country since then), right around the time the Iraq Conflict/War began. I think hearing the news and the noise for the last five years has added to his depression over losing his job, and each year which passes only intensifies the problem. He insists he\'s fine, but he isn\'t. He has cut himself off from every friend he\'s ever had (he and my mother divorced when I was in high school, he remarried when I was in college, and then Mom died right after I graduated from college), minus a very few new ones. He has no obvious interests other than reading, computer bridge, and talking to a very few family members. Why write to you? I wrote to his (undergraduate/Stanford University, CA) college roommate; no answer. I called a doctor friend of his from the Army days who lives here where I live; no answer. I went to his 25th medical school reunion to gather business cards from his friends, and they were wonderful to me. He SAID he called them and nothing came of anything. Somebody he went to Stanford with was appointed head of Boston\'s [public? I forget] hospital system some years ago. I sent him the article and said CALL HIM; don\'t think he ever did, but I admit by that point in time I\'d kind of given up on nudging my dad about life after retirement and getting out and meeting people and learning and developing new interests (all the things he was so good at showing me and my five-years younger brother how to do, and that his dad did during his life and after he retired).

    Is there hope for him, or does he just continue to retreat into his own little world where nobody can reach him and nobody can help him? I know he has to want help, but can\'t I interfere just a little? (My mother was a therapist after the divorce, but I was put in therapy in elementary school because I was trying to kill myself, and then our whole family tried family therapy for about a month when I was in junior high. Dad said \'nothing was wrong with\' him, and stopped going, but he and my mother then went to marital therapy for a few years.) When is enough enough? No, I\'m not obsessed with this, despite the sound of the letter: I stop for long periods of time, then something happens and I go for a bit, then stop again. Please help me help him, if you can. If you think I can\'t, just let me know, and I\'ll stop again -- for a while. Thanks for your time.

    -- Heather

  • #2

    Tell your dad to go to:

    It says for women in Viet Nam, but it was under the 95th Evac info. Maybe getting in touch with some of the women he worked with in-country might help. We have found that when you get with a group that you served with - it's better than any therapy in the world. You have a common bond and that makes it easier to talk. Good luck.


    • #3
      God Bless Your Dad !

      I am not a doctor or expert in any disorders (other than my own). To begin with : God Bless Your Dad ! I was a patient triaged in your dad's hospital right after the TET Offensive in 1968. I am sure your dad was not there at that time as you indicate he was there later. I do recognize the symptoms you are describing and have talked with several medical professionals about the issue as several of my friends have experienced them.

      To begin with, for almost thirty years, I never discussed much about my military experiences as I felt no one would understand or care. During the initial stages of the current Iraq war, I decided to see if the same unit I was in in Viet Nam (101st ABN) was deployed to Iraq and I was going to write a letter to folks in that unit wishing them a safe and welcome return. In accessing a web site, I found all kinds of links associated with my unit and recognized some names. I contacted some of the folks who I found out were trying to locate myself and other folks in our unit. To the point: I went to visit the combat medic who treated me. I had thought he was killed in action as my memory was not accurate. He in turn thought I had not survived as he received no follow up information on the folks he treated and had flown out to the aid stations and forward hospitals in the area. In short, he suffered significant PTSD as a young medic as he never knew if he actually saved a life once someone was med evaced. I only remembered the triage part of being flown to your dad's hospital and was seperated from other folks in my unit that I thought were all dead (although I could not find all of the names on the Viet Nam Veteran's Memorial Wall)

      Your dad did a tremendous job saving lives but possibly suffers from not knowing what happened to the folks he initially treated and stabilized to be flown to other hospitals for further treatment. I currently supervise young emergency medicine professionals (firefighter/paramedics) and they have to know the outcome of their patient treatment or they get very frustrated. Your dad couldn't save everyone and possibly suffers from not knowing what happened to his patients.

      I did not want to get too close to folks and let them know my personal fears in not being able to control all situations but thanks to my current occupation and re contacting some people I served with in RVN, I have learned to deal with it. These are only my un educated, and non professional opinions based on my experience but in talking to doctors and nurses I have found that emergency room doctors and nurses in mass casualty incidents struggle with the outcome of their decisions as to who gets treated during triage and who is let to die due to their injuries based on a lack of time, lack of medical professionals, a lack of treatment space, and little or no rest. God Bless your Dad and I pray he get's better. Tell him welcome home and thanks for what he did for all of us. John