Kilroy Joins the Army – Part X – Med Quarters

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My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Kilroy tends to write his personal journals with pretty purple prose, so with his permission, I’ll be editing and paraphrasing his journal a bit to make it an easier read, with the help of my other friend and fellow Not Operator author, Michael. I’ll also be adding comments of my own in bold brackets [like this] to provide some extra context when necessary. If there’s large enough demand for it, we will post the full, unedited, version of Kilroy’s journal. To avoid making Kilroy’s experiences one giant wall-o-text, the journal will be broken up into an ongoing series of articles where it makes sense to do so. Plus, with Kilroy still in the Army, the journal is far from complete.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to Kilroy Joins the Army – Part X – Med Quarters.

 

Day 50:

I had my surgery this morning. They’ve put three pins in my left femur and have a plan to get me back on track eventually. At least they ended up not needing to put pins in my right leg.

My day has mostly been spent in a state of narcotic inebriation. I’m in pain – not so much that I can’t deal with it, but I am hurting. Also, knowing the pins are there is discomforting. It’s an unpleasant feeling knowing that you have something extraneous now permanently residing in your body.

I’m determined to return myself to my previous level of mobility and fitness.

Day 51:

Sick quarters remind me of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, except instead of a crazy nurse holding dominion over my life, it is a Drill Sergeant. The worst part of this is knowing that I’ll be stuck here for at least 3 weeks until I get sent home for con leave. [“Con leave” is short for Convalescent Leave, which the Army provides to people who need time for recovery].

I stopped by my company earlier to get my things – a lot of it felt surreal. My progress is on a separate path from theirs now. I’m glad to have made the friends I did, though I have the feeling we’ll lose touch, especially now that we’re no longer on the same track.

My first impression of Med Quarters is its desolation. The people stuck here appear to be miserable and hopeless, ambling about aimlessly and just sleeping to pass the time. There is no energy here – a lack of ambition defines the place.

I hope to escape it as soon as possible, and the only way I can accomplish that is through aggressive healing. I need to concentrate and focus on healing and doing whatever I can into shortening the amount of time spent in this hole.

Day 52:

Today is day two in the hole, or maybe it’s really day one since this will be the first full day I’ll have spent here.

More people have been assigned to my room, making it seem fairly crowded. [At this point there were five people including Kilroy in the room].

The Captain [Kilroy’s Company Commander] wasn’t lying when he told me this place would suck.

I’m curious to know how my friend has managed to deal with this place for so long. [The friend that he’s referring to here was the recruit that tore both of her ACLs swinging in the ropes course early in BCT. (Day 12 in

The sick quarters are arranged linearly along one floor – a hallway full of doorways that lead to rooms with bunks and minimal amenities for approximately four people. It is technically neither a hospital nor a prison but it feels like both.

Everyone here is either sick or injured, but we are treated as prisoners – marched to meals and told when to wake up. Many people here claim it is better than BCT, with all the time during the day to sleep and write letters, but I can’t stand it.

Many of my fellow inmates are on their way out – some being discharged for anxiety and depression, others because their health problems were filed as preexisting conditions that the military doesn’t want to deal with. These people were removed from training during the first few weeks of their BCT cycle, destined perhaps to never complete it.

I seem to be the only case here that doesn’t plan on leaving the Army. I’m still willing to fight to be here.

Day 53:

Day three in the hole.  I feel myself degenerating mentally and it seems like I’m losing my mind.

There is nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to talk about. Days are separated by meals and loss of consciousness.

Silence dominates the times between. My roommate suffers from the kind of sleepy depression that puts him to sleep between meals. It’s a wonder I haven’t turned to the pain pills I’ve been provided as a means of escape. My own moral fortitude dictates that I shouldn’t.

I predict my future journal entries will be pretty sparse, there isn’t much to say about life here; even Reception was better than this.

Day 54:

Today is day four and thankfully there’s been some progress. I have a small list of daily appointments I need to be attending now. Perhaps the worst part is that I’ll be here at least one additional week for physical therapy.

[Later that day, Kilroy continues below].

I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon today and told him I couldn’t stand this place. Thankfully, he gave me a profile that allowed me to rejoin my company with a non-trainer status.

Conveniently the CQ Sergeant had come by to pick someone else up, so I slipped in and escaped with her that way.

My best success for the moment has definitely been securing my release from Med Quarters.

Day 55:

As expected, wandering around as a non-trainer has proven to be a much better experience than Med Quarters.

I caught up to my platoon in the middle of grenade qualifications. I’m disabled by a profile and my injury, so I’ve been forced to stay with the group of non-trainers, which is comprised of two vastly different groups. The non-trainers are split into a group of people who are injured and still want to be here and another group of people who want nothing more than to go home (some of whom are healthy and some are injured or sick).

The days seem less filled now in comparison to how every day used to be in BCT.

Most of the time we do menial chores and wait. The grenades produce a sound like thunder which booms over the hilltop while we try to converse over the noise.

The actual lack of activity has started to bother me as I watch my peers advance, feeling that I’m stagnating and not progressing.

I know I’ll return to be successful, but the day-by-day struggle to heal makes it feel that much further away.

Day 56:

Another day of non-activity. I exist outside the kabuki theater narrative now, looking at the stage as an audience member. It’s a surreal feeling of not belonging.

Being uninvolved places me in a position of disadvantage – I’m stuck without purpose. My medical appointments take me away from my platoon into areas that are not part of the training environment.

My stitches came out today, leaving me with a modicum of paperwork to do in order to have my transfer toward con-leave pushed forward. I may end up leaving here before my peers graduate.

Day 57:

Today was yet another day of lounging around as a non-trainer.

I received another letter from my BCT pen-pal and have something to keep me busy at least.

Today is Buddy Team Live Fire Training – something I’ll sadly be unable to do until I’m fully healed and back in BCT for another round.

 

This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part X – Med Quarters. Next time we’ll pick up where we left off, as Kilroy continues spending time with his unit as a Non-Trainer. Stay tuned for Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XI – Non Trainer Status.

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