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It was about midway through the first semester of my Junior year that I started to realize I may have over committed myself. My classes were great, but a writing degree means lots of writing which takes lots of time. I liked getting a little extra pay as a Resident Assistant, but realized I didn’t have the energy to listen to one.more.break-up.story. Let’s face it. I’m not super sensitive and felt like I was letting down the newbie college girls that wanted me to do girlie things with them. Haus was just as swamped so fitting in time together meant meals or studying. Hmmm, actually not sure I ever got studying done with him.
To understand my stress, you have to understand the levels of responsibility in ROTC. Freshmen are minions, Sophomores are fetchers, and Juniors are evaluated for directing the fetchers and minions in simulated combat situations. Seniors evaluate the mayhem while NOT wearing a Kevlar helmet. My junior year was full of evaluations as a “company commander” or “platoon leader”, both in the field and in garrison (every day stuff) that count towards my final ranking and placement in the Army upon graduation. Also required during my junior year was participation in Ranger Challenge. I already gave you the details of what Ranger Challenge was all about so I’ll skip to when Ranger Challenge got the best of me.
Tired. When I arrived at the Eastern Washington University campus in October to compete with my team of ROTC women, my fatigue from an already grueling semester was just catching up with me. Despite my weariness, my grenade tossing and M-16 assembly and dis-assembly went well in the beginning of the competition. Side note, I do distinctly remember farting right next to the evaluator when I heaved my last grenade across the football field. He just barely cracked a smile, but didn’t say a word. At the rope bridge competition (ten women, two telephone poles simulating trees across a ravine, one rope to get across), I was the “far side” which meant running across the field and tying a rope to the telephone pole across from my team, then hauling them each off of the rope as the inched their way across the suspended line.
I had confidently rocked three of the four events and decided at the start of the 10K Ruck run, to dump some of my water out of my canteens to be a little lighter. Sigh… did I mention we were running this 10K as a team with loaded backpacks on black pavement and it was unusually hot that morning? About two miles in I realized I might be a bit dehydrated, three miles to go I started to dry heave, and at the end I was pretty sure I was hallucinating The girl behind me grabbed the back of my ruck as I weaved in formation and literally pushed me to the end..
At the finish line, I must not have been looking so hot as I fumbled through the items in my ruck to show the evaluator I had packed everything necessary. Before I knew it I was in the medic tent watching some inexperienced “medic” soldier try to put an IV in my arm. Might have been the third or fourth try that I went into shock. Shaking uncontrollably one of our ROTC officers yelled for an ambulance and I’m not sure what else happened except me begging the paramedic to please, please, get a vein with that needle.
Long story short, I took my body to a point of complete exhaustion. After I had intravenously ingested five IV bags of fluid in the hospital, my color came back. Almost a heat stroke young lady, the nurse chided me as I got dressed and prepared to go home. My ROTC advisor drove me back to the dorm, helped me up to my floor, and my roommates were given strict instructions to check on me periodically for consciousness. Finally catching a glance of myself in my room mirror, I saw my yellowed skin was blotched and accented by black dark circles under my eyes. Quite the look, I thought, as I fell face down into my bed.
My E.R. trip was just the first of a serious of unfortunate events as I struggled to stay afloat with far too many responsibilities.
To be continued…
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