Silence is my name
What is in a name? My name is not really Silence, but Benjamin Franklin used it as a pseudonym, so can I. I am Silence and I have Multiple Sclerosis. At least doctors John Rose, Mateo Paz Soldan, and many other famous doctors told me so.
I am also a United States Soldier and I am not my body.
My story begins with me collecting intelligence about the Islamic State of Iraq on the border of Iraq and Syria. My mission in Iraq was to be easy. I first flew into Kuwait in the summer of 2010. I remember waking up early one morning in Kuwait to go for a Ruck March around my base. I wanted to finish before the sun came up, but the 80 lbs. bag on my back slowed me down a bit.
When the sun began to come up, I still had about a mile or more to go. I really started to slow down when it got hot. My face was very red, and I wasn’t sweating like my teammates. Something was wrong and my best friend noticed it. We made it back to the barracks finally, and that was when I first noticed my fatigue.
The idea of Kuwait as my fist stop, was to acclimate to the time zone, and weather. Just a thought, but who the heck wants to live in a place that is regularly 120 degrees?
After two painful weeks in Kuwait, it was time to go to my new assignment. I first flew to Mosul, then after a day, I was on a helicopter west to Tal Afar.
My job was to talk to people and answer questions the United States of America wanted to know. Like, What is going to happen when we leave the Iraqis to fend for themselves?
Sounds easy, right? Well, it was at first. I worked my can off everyday, because my wife told me before I left that “the government doesn’t get to take me away from her for a year so I could play video games.” So, I set out to answer the questions and write reports.
Guess what I found out. You probably are thinking, nothing at all, right? Nope, I wrote down just about everything I could to tell our government that The Islamic State of Iraq was beefing up and getting ready to kill everyone that didn’t agree with them.
I worked very hard, and had to defend my reports to many of our nations finest, because what I said did not fit the narrative. I made enemies, but I never backed down. My words were published for the government to see.
We, I say we, because I am a member of a team. We stopped 3 of the worst terrorists in the Nineveh Province and Mosul. It felt great the last week of my deployment, to verify that our nation’s finest brought down my foe with ease.
After my redeployment to the US, I taught others the lessons I learned during my time overseas. The Interrogator course is not easy, and I saw many a tough soldiers cry because of the stress of my job.
Stress is the key word here. I collapsed finally last year, because my body decided to change. I went from running 12 miles with 50 lbs. on my back to not being able to get out of bed relatively quick. It is true, the year before my diagnosis, I suffered from daily headaches, but I managed to still keep up with the very best.
Today, my daily headache is worse than ever before. I have been to every specialist in the field of MS, and now I am trying to figure out why I have a headache everyday. The best MS doctors I could find, tell me, “your headaches are not a secondary result of MS.” Well, maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I am not my body.
The day my neurologist called me after my second MRI, and told me I have MS. I said, “Bring it.”
Well, it has never relented since I said that. I am in a constant state of pain, day after day. My doctors tell me my headaches are different and not MS related, but I have to disagree. They are completely enmeshed. I get hot, my head feels worse.
I don’t know if I am tired because I have had a headache everyday for the last two and a half years, or if it is a symptom of both. Stress always makes it worse.
I am not my body. My body is my shell. I am much more than my shell. I am very religious. I am a Christian. I am not afraid of anyone or anything. Some people ask me, how do I do it? You know, people who knew me before. The answer is quite simple. I don’t have a choice.
Life sometimes throws us a curveball, and we get to choose how we respond. I choose to be happy. I choose freedom to live and live well. This world is about to tear itself apart. The whole world is in chaos, war, fear, or denial.
When you realize your own weakness, you can overcome it. Ralph Waldo Emerson once talked of a wounded oyster. An oyster mends his broken shell with pearl. His strength grew out of his weakness.
It is our trials in life that make us strong. Who you are is your choice. I am Silence, and I choose to live. I may not be the same physically, but I am not my body.
“I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.”
This was what I lived as a Soldier, now God has a new plan for me. I am ever patient, and I will go where The Lord will have me go.
I am Silence