Nov 3, 2011

Stand beside her, and guide her

I've been told that I have really, really high expectations. Not just for other people, but for myself. But I've also been told that I am easily amused, and that I find bountiful joy in the smallest of things.

For instance: I am the type of girl who can't go to a concert without being on the floor or within the first 10 or so rows. I like to feel like I'm in all the action. On the contrary, a zebra hot chocolate can take a cranky Kirbie to an instantly blissful one.

I like to consider myself a person with great expectations, not high ones. Why settle for mediocre when you can live a wonderfully magnificent life?

Just in the past week, my life has been shaken up a tad -- in a good way. I know you're not supposed to take horoscopes seriously, and while nothing will surpass my faith, my reading on AstrologyZone.com has been eerily accurate. For instance: last Friday, October 28th, it said that it would be a day of surprises and would fulfill any hopes or wishes I may have, which would set off a string of good tidings through the rest of the year.  I kind of brushed it off because, well, it's a horoscope. But then something absolutely bizarre/amazing happened on Friday night after tweeting (yes, tweeting) about my parents suggesting I go out in Hollywood and "find my true love." It wasn't anything magical or promising, but it was defintely a divine circumstance. I know I'm an open book half the time but I'm going to leave all that to your imagination for the time being. ;)

Anyway, November's forecast predicted a great day for me on November 2nd, specifically a "romantic day" for any Capricorn. Ok, cool. Whatever. I'm not going to sit and wait for something romantic to happen on November 2nd because some astrologer says it will. However, something absolutely heartwarming happened.

My friend Jessica, who used to work with me, took a great job over at OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). I was sad for her to leave because she is just a ray of sunshine to be around, but I expressed all my happiness for her -- I mean, she's going to work at Oprah's network. Come on! You can't get any better than that.

On Monday, she invited me to a screening of Lisa Ling's "Our America," which focused on the invisible wounds of war, specifically PTSD, and how it affects the men of war and the women who stand by them. I wanted to go mostly because of OWN, but also because I highly respect Lisa Ling and love her work.

Upon arrival, Jessica told me that The Big O was THERE. IN THE FLESH. She couldn't tell me before since it was a surprise, but I pretty much lost my sh*t. All of you who are loyal readers know my love for Oprah. It's not an obsession, but more of a "I want to do everything you've done" kind of thing. Seeing someone I admire in the flesh was enough for me. I wanted to meet her, but then I didn't. One of those things where I'd rather just admire from afar and then, one day, when I have done something with my life, be like, "Hi Oprah, I'm Kirbie," and she'll go, "Yes dear, I know who you are!" (That's how the exchange would go, in my dreams. Obviously.) And then she'll accept my pitch for my TV show and the world will implode.

Anyway, she's just as fabulous in person as she is on TV. I was just heartwarmed by the fact that Jessica knew how much I love Oprah and invited me, knowing I'd get to see her. I mean really, I need a man with that kind of attention to detail.

We watched the documentary after Oprah said a few words (in true Oprah fashion -- she had everyone in the room taking pics on their cell phone), and all I can say is wow. "Our America" comes on OWN on Sundays at 10:00 PM and this Sunday's episode is riveting, eye opening, and upsetting. PTSD is so much more than what we all think it is. I recommend you all watch it, especially with Veteran's Day approaching, however I jotted down some key points I think everyone would be interested to hear:
  • Lisa did a Q&A after the viewing with a vet of the War in Iraq. (Forgive me, I didn't catch his name or titles.) He said that the Vietnam Memorial should be double what it is, because there is a whole other group of men that suffered from PTSD and killed themselves after returning home from war. The same would be for the War of Terror.
  • PTSD isn't just visions of blood and gore. It's feelings associated with anxiousness, stress; shame, guilt, and the feeling that they could have done more.
  • Many vets are on medications to help with the feelings of anxiety, however, the spotlighted vet was very stern in saying that men and women who are numb from medications will not recover or heal from PTSD, ever. He knows some men who are on 14 medications thanks to PTSD.
  • PTSD cannot be cured, but recovery is possible with time and hands-on care.
  • "I love my wife. I would die for her. But I would be damned if I could feel it," said the vet, on suffering from PTSD.
The vet being interviewed by Lisa's story is heartbreaking yet extraordinary. First, I loved that he referred to all of his comrades as his "men." He said it with such heart; you know the bonds he made at war were unbreakable. He was shot, flatlined and managed to live.

It happened like this: his friend was shot by a sniper. The bullet passed through his friend and ricocheted into his own femoral artery. In attempt to help his friend, he didn't realize he had been shot as well, but had called for a medic reporting two casualities. Blood was squirting out of one side of his leg and he said that everything was in slow motion before his friend ended up collapsing to the ground; then sped up rapidly, like everything was in fast forward mode.

The medic that showed up was only 19 years old. He had to decide then and there whose life to save. "Sir," he asked, "who is the second casualty?" The vet responded with "me" before collapsing as well. At that moment, the medic had to decide who lived and who died.

The vet ended up flatlining; most EMT teams stop resusitation after six minutes. They kept going for 15 and managed to revive a faint pulse, saving the vet from his own death.

This story broke my heart into pieces. Imagine being 19 and essentially playing God. The vet reinforced that now that man has to live with the distress of letting another man die, a man who had a wife and three children, because his injury was more detrimental that the other vet's was.

The documentary goes in-depth about veterans and what they're living with. The PTSD helpline receives 400 calls a day, with various men and women threatening suicide at any given point, due to the personal turmoil they live through on a daily basis. Vets not only feel shame, but are constantly preparing for the worst, worried that something terrible is going happen. They feel empty not wielding a gun; not having the sole purpose of proctecting the country. 

One vet (in the documentary) said that everyone that has served has seen something terrible. They've done things they haven't ever wanted to do, or didn't think they could, but did them because they were ordered to. At that moment, after hearing him say that, a lot of things became clear to me. You hear about the war, but you don't really think about what happens over there. Maybe it's because you're naive; perhaps you're scared to think about it. But these men have had to kill others. They have had to make split second decisions that have ended lives or would have taken their own. They've seen their friends, bosses, and brothers die. I can barely think about losing my dogs or an ex-boyfriend, let alone my parents, brother, or anyone I love dearly.

Imagine living with those visions and memories for the rest of your life.

This disorder is only going to get worse, as there are not enough therapists and clinicians to match the amount of men coming home from the war. This documentary is meant to spread the word, to help these veterans receive the help they need. There is a Veterans Wellness Center in Angel Fire, New Mexico, helping men and women who have served and in need of help. It is the center featured throughout the show.

Lisa Ling is, in a few words, a magnificent story teller, as are her producers. This series is thoughtful, unbiased and meant to bring issues to light that might be brushed to the side, and I can say I walked away from the screening with a new-found passion of helping get veterans the assistance and care they need.

Anyway, besides feeling like my life has been bettered from watching the show, I got to see Oprah, a woman I admire deeply.

Maybe one day I'll get to tell her that myself.

Watch "Our America" on Sundays at 10/9 CST. This Sunday, 11/6, will be the debut of "Invisible Wounds of War," which will repeat on Veterans Day.

1 comment:

QuarterLifeLA said...

Kirbie, you are such a sweetheart! Sooo happy you enjoyed it! As soon as I heard about it I thought, "Ooh! I know EXACTLY who I need to invite!"

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