Surgery In the Army: My Chance to Rediscover Writing

In 2007, after jacking my back up in an Army related incident, I was prescribed a round of surgery that’s usually reserved for middle-aged asphalt workers. Keeping in mind the wonderful track record of the military medical system, you can imagine how excited I was to have my back chopped open by an Army doc. But as it turns out, crippling back pain is a fairly good motivator so I elected to let them have at me with the hope that I’d wake up with all my appendages.

The surgery went as well as it could, but I was left with thirty days of convalescent leave to spend splayed out on the couch. That might not sound like such a bad deal to you, but when you’re used to working nearly twelve hours a day it can be a little difficult to adjust to doing that much nothing. My wife suggested that I read a few books on my off time, and seeing as I hadn’t read a book for fun in way too long I decided to follow her advice. So on the first day of my leave, before she went to work, she left me the first two books in a series by some British lady that chronicled the adventures of a kid named¬†Harry Potter.

I cannot tell you how incredibly awesome my wife is for doing that.

I was hooked from chapter one and blew through the first two books in two days. By the end of the week I was almost through the entire series, but more importantly I started to remember how much I loved reading and writing. I spent my college years reading nothing but accounting standards and business textbooks then after graduation I went straight into the military. Go ahead and take a guess at how much creativity is emphasized in the United States Army.

After I finished Harry Potter I started writing again–one of my favorite things to do as a kid. The stories I wrote were horrible–some of the worst in the history of bad stories, I’d guess–but they did lead to some good ones later on that have since been published.¬†It’s strange to say, but that month was probably one of the best time of my entire life despite being unable to dress or bathe on my own. I think about it like this: without getting my back cut open by doctors with questionable credentials I might never have started writing again. And honestly, I can’t think of anything more sad than that.

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