Hey, I Need A New Flash Drive

Even though I may be way over my head here I am going to carry-on anyway.

E, collage, ellouise schoettler
In a conversation about ten days ago a retired and seasoned fireman talked with me about his experience with firemen's PTSD and his ideas about what happens to vets when they return from battle. He explained that he could do this because firemen also experience PTSD and he understands what happens.

In a nutshell he explained that the vets return with mental carrousels - that's the old-days name for a flash drive - filled with miserable images of sights, sounds and experiences embedded in their brains that can be suddenly and inexplicably triggered by harmless sounds and sights which bring on the same fears and terrors in a safe situation that were originally gathered in the midst of life-threatening circumstances.

They are the only ones who see the images - so those around them do not have a clue what's happening.

Fortunate the vet in this fireman's life who has one person standing by who understands.

Jim Schoettler

I was moved by this conversation and wished that Jim were there to talk with the fireman. They could compare notes. When Jim was in the US Air Force during the Vietnam ERA he served as an MD and Psychiatrist and treated airmen shipped home from Vietnam suffering with PTSD before there was a name for it - and little to no respect or understanding from the world at large for the pain and scope of the problem.

At least today there is a name, a diagnosis, treatment and some understanding... and increasing public education about it.

When I was telling my bestest friend Betsy about this conversation she said, "it reminds me of Daffodils."  When I was vague she said, "you remember, I wandered lonely as a cloud".

I got it - Wordsworth - and once again - as I had many times since I met her in the fourth grade, I was amazed at how smart my friend is. The image of the fireman's picture filled carrousel had brought the image of Wordsworth on his couch to her mind.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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