‘I am too stubborn to die’

Here is the link to Washington Post but I will also post the article underneath. Thank you for your time and I hope by writing this article I can give you something in return.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/06/05/im-too-stubborn-to-die-one-marines-proud-painful-recovery-after-losing-his-legs-in-combat/

Marine Cpl. Michael Egan displays his Purple Heart, awarded for injuries sustained in Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Michael Egan)

It was as though I was watching myself die from afar, witnessing my own life slip away from me. I looked at my Marines as they knelt around me, hitting and screaming for me to wake up, crying out for my life. All I wanted was to comfort them in what I imagined were my last moments.

I had so much to say: I wanted them to know everything would be okay and that I was no longer in pain, but the strength to speak escaped me. I was proud of them and they needed to know they had done everything possible to save me, and if I was to die it was not by their hand. They needed to hear that I would see them all again. But as what little strength I had faded, as the darkness began to surround me, I was sure that death was inevitable.

Our foot patrol began May 27, 2012, at 3 a.m., early enough to conceal us from the Taliban. The night provided us a major tactical advantage, and we took full advantage of it. Moving quietly, I could hear the faint sound of a metal detector beeping at the front of our patrol as a Marine searched for improvised explosive devices. Upon reaching our destination, we waited for the sun to rise. The area, a small village in Kajaki, Afghanistan, included a series of choke points and mud compounds that concealed us from a distance, but the threat of an IED became much greater.

The sun broke the horizon and we began our movement, slowly and methodically. The village’s silence concerned us. No kids ran in the streets, no elderly were in their compounds and there were very few livestock – a telltale sign of a nearby IED or pending ambush.

My next step changed my life forever.

I remember being thrown airborne for what felt like an eternity. Time slowed, yet my mind raced, and as I landed headfirst, a haze of confusion washed over me. I felt no pain and could see nothing for a short time. I thought I was blind. As the dust settled, I asked myself if everyone was okay, or if someone had been wounded. As I wondered why I was laying in a crater filled with sand and uplifted rocks, I noticed a red mist settling around me. It was blood from an injury, although I did not yet realize it was mine.

Egan in Afghanistan sometime in 2012.

Egan in Afghanistan in 2012.

After seeing my arm, I knew pain would come next. It felt as though I was standing in a fire, and excruciating pain washed over me as I tried to roll over to see my wounds. I felt so helpless in that moment. I was blind, deaf and in such agony, all while losing my voice to call for help. With every bit of strength I had left in me, I tried to stand, possibly because the thoughts of a dying man are full of clouded judgment, or maybe it was my last effort to defy what had happened. Somehow, I knelt on my right leg; as I swung around to brace with my left, I found my voice.

The pain was unbearable as my severed femur dug into the soil. I collapsed in agony and lost consciousness, yet I was still able to hear my brothers as they rushed to my side while screaming for my corpsman. As they rolled me over, I tried to look down at my legs, but my Marines stopped me. I did not need to see my legs, though, for as I looked at their faces, I saw the horrible sights they were bearing witness to — a man lying in pieces, only part of who they once knew.

As more blood left my body, I felt my grasp on life weakening. It’s the feeling of inevitable sleep, yet, more than anything, you do not want to sleep because you know there is no waking up. Lying there, I realized my own arrogance had blinded me from the fear of death. All Marines feel this way to some extent, because if we fear death, we put ourselves and more importantly the men to our left and right in danger. Fear has no place in war.

My Marines applied tourniquets below each hip, yet I focused on the squelch of my radio as my lieutenant called for my medical evacuation. The pain was stripping me of both my courage and strength. I cried out for morphine to my Navy corpsman, Petty Officer 3rd Class Chase Speed, because it felt as though I was constantly being torn apart. As the Morphine set in, I felt the pain slipping away, and with it, more of my grasp on life. Every word I spoke from then on sounded as if it was the last from a dying man.

I begged those around me to not let the remainder of my squad see my wounds. I wanted my Marines to remember me as I was and not as a mangled body. Once I was stripped of my gear, I was lifted onto a stretcher. It was then that I saw something I will never be able to forget, and I felt an emptiness that haunts me to this day.

Looking down, I saw the shredded remnants of what were once my legs. They were peppered with wounds from nails and screws, purposefully placed with the explosives. I looked over at my foot, which was still mostly intact, and stared at it intently with disgust. As a cold chill set in my body, I saw parts of me strewn across the walls, the ground, my men and myself. I could not bear the sight of it all, and it was then that I slipped away, witnessing my fight with death, succumbing to an unfamiliar darkness.

Suddenly, I was back, though. Life somehow was breathed back into me, and fear washed over me. Another IED had exploded, and I felt sand and rock brush against my body. Because I was too weak to protect my men, one of my worst fears had just come true. I began to hear unrecognizable screams, because no man screams like we did that day. As I yelled for answers, begging to know which one of my men had been injured, I instantly felt like a failure. Our entire deployment, not one of my Marines had been injured, yet here we are, less then a month before returning home and what I had been trying to prevent all along had just happened. Over the radio, I heard that it was my Afghan interpreter. He was one of the best I’d had the pleasure of working with during my deployment. He had become more than that, though. He had become my friend through several life-threatening encounters together.

As my last command as a leader of Marines, I called for my assistant squad leader, Lance Cpl. John Smolke, who was to take control of the squad in my absence. He rushed to my side as I grabbed him, pulled him close and spoke my last request with a heavy heart:

“Bring them home.”

As Lance Cpl. Smolke looked back at me, the faint sounds of a Chinook helicopter echoed from a distance. My men, still in sight, gave me the strength to keep my eyes open. I wanted to see that they were safe for as long as I could. Alongside the fear, I felt pride for having served with them, even though I had no strength to tell them. As the helicopter landed, they lifted both stretchers and sprinted to the helicopter. I looked up at their faces and saw their pain, not from fatigue but from what had just transpired. I knew that nothing said would comfort them, only seeing me live would. As they raised me into the helicopter, into the hands of Air Force medics, I took one last glance at my brothers and determined my fate with a promise.

“My fight is far from over, and I will see you all again in this life, not the next,” I said.

As the helicopter banked away, my men slowly drifted from sight. With nothing but the sounds of the helicopter’s rotors and the medics at work, I closed my eyes and repeated my pledge over and over again in my head.

Through more than 30 surgeries with five different medical teams, I beat the odds. I would not let the enemy win because I am too stubborn to die. I underwent bilateral above-the-knee amputations, lost sensation and 40 percent of the muscle mass in my left arm, needed more than 200 stitches to close all of my wounds, and sustained countless fractures to my pelvis and a traumatic brain injury. With my will to fight, though, I determined my fate.

Egan, right, in the hospital with Gen. Joseph Dunford in summer 2012.

Egan in the hospital with Gen. Joseph Dunford in summer 2012.

I firmly believe I had no right to tell Lance Cpl. Smolke to bring my Marines home because no matter how hard we try in combat, loss of life cannot always be prevented. I lived by those words wherever my brothers and I went in Afghanistan, but I had no right to put them on the shoulders of a fellow Marine. As a man of his word, though, he did, and I am thankful for that every day.

I paid a price in order to live. I lived to see my brothers come home and I lived to undergo physical therapy, allowing me to walk again with the assistance of prosthetics. I trained and completed a hand-cycling race from Paris to London over six days, covering a total of 450 miles – a race that began exactly one year after I was injured. I’ve run, I’ve surfed, I’ve done triathlons, and I’m now a certified personal trainer. But, harder than accomplishing any of these physical feats is telling this story.

Now, two years after suffering my injuries, this is my life and it is one I will continue to fight for. By coming so close to death, I have learned that every time I fall in life I have countless reasons to get back up. My life has forever been changed by the wounds of war, but wounds heal, revealing an important lesson. Every step we take in life has a purpose, even the steps that cost us something we thought we couldn’t live without.

 

Taking a Life

There is nothing poetic about taking a life. Therefore if you begin to read this article seeking a happy ending, there isn’t one.

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato

It can turn the best people with great morals into someone full of sorrow and regret. Everyone wants to encourage us by saying, “You did what you had to do to survive.” No one can fully comprehend what it is to take a life, I can say that because I don’t even fully comprehend it, and if I did I wouldn’t be struggling as much as I am now. There is a reason why some service members turn to drinking, drugs and even suicide. We took something that doesn’t belong to us and we don’t know how to repay it back or make things right.

When I went back to my unit’s ball right after they got back from deployment, they gave me an award in front of my company. I received the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V  for instructing my squad to execute an ambush on 6 taliban middle aged males.

I set up my squad into a concealed position about 350 – 400M out. With my Designated Marksman, a handful of M4/M16 rifles, one of my team leader with a 240 (Heavy Machine Gun) along side myself with a M32 (6 round revolving 40MM grenade launcher). The ambush commenced once the first round from my M32 impacted because I can fire it without giving away our position, and right then is as memory I will never shake. The same memory that enveloped my mind when receiving an award for unleashing death with a pull of a trigger. I watched a man thrown into the air with the first of 5 rounds I had launched, seeing his leg immediately separated from his body. After the ambush was over we celebrated, because we gained the upper hand on an enemy that fights cowardly from a far. We were successful, and had achieved what we sought out to do.

If you would ask me if I would do it again, my answer will always undoubtedly be yes. Why? If I didn’t what could be the repercussions of not acting. They could have injured other Marines in my unit or planted I.E.D.’s in the ground. We could have saved American lives by ending the enemy’s. These are things I tell myself to reassure that I made the right decision. This is a memory I never want to remember but can’t forget. One of the many recurring nightmares I have is replaying this moment, there is only one thing that is different.

I want you to put yourself into my shoes for a second to try to help you better comprehend what it’s like to take a life.

As you sit there waiting to receive the green light from your commanding officer to go through with the ambush, you are observing the enemies every move. Your hearts racing because in a matter of seconds you know that lives could end. Once they give you the go ahead you sight in your scope, give a quick game plan to your squad and put your finger on the trigger. Now imagine that, your finger on a trigger. With the 5 lb. resistance to pull the trigger back is the only thing separating 6 lives from ending, not just by your hand but by the hands of the other Marines in your squad who are anxiously waiting to fire at your signal. In that moment you have to make the conscious decision to actively take lives.

Some may say I didn’t pull that trigger. That I was just following orders, but their wrong. I pulled that trigger, I made that decision to let fly 5 rounds with the impact radius of a hand grenade (5m kill radius, 15M casualty radius). I could have disobeyed that order or never have called it in the first place. This was day 2 of our second helo mission of several in Afghanistan. It was the beginning of many deaths to follow, friend and foe.

When I have this nightmare the only thing that is different is when I pulled that trigger and I watched that man die, it wasn’t then enemy I hit, it was me. I celebrate the moment of losing my legs by my own hand. Why? Guilt, regret, sorrow, confusion, anger, sadness, and many more reasons for a question that has no right answer.

This is a part of my life that I live with and carry in my mind every day. Emotional baggage that I take where ever I go. The only combat occurrence I have shared with anyone so far other than the people who were there when it happened.

I’m only telling you this to help you better understand, and the next time you try to comfort a service member in need you don’t tell them “You did what you had to do to survive.” Prove to us that we did it for a greater purpose. That by ensuring the safety of freedom through our acts in war, could somehow have something good come from it.

Addressing Suicide in the Military

This is a topic close to me because I’ve had close friends and brothers of mine who have attempted it, succeeded in it and one I personally had to step in to prevent. They will never be named but I truly believe that suicide is too frequent of an occurrence, especially in the military. War can twist the minds of the most decent of men, good people who did brave acts at war only to make it home broken and beaten down to the point of taking their own life.

Some loved ones are left confused with no clue to why it happened, and they most likely never will. The ones who are left behind, family,  friends, wives, husbands and some even children. My heart truly goes out to them because more times then not the ones left behind are put into the dark mindset of the ones who took their own life. This is because they want to try to understand the reasoning behind it, but there is no rational reason behind it.

Good men are committing suicide and some of us are left with the thoughts of “What could have I done to prevent this?” That is the worst and hardest question to ask yourself. There are signs you will realize that stick out to you only till after the fact of someone committing suicide. Whether it be joking about suicide, giving things away, reckless behavior, increased alcohol consumption or substance abuse, withdrawal from family and friends, uncontrollable anger, dramatic changes in personality, changing of a will, making comments about life not worth living and many more. You want to know the scariest thing about all that is? I can almost guarantee half of those topics are experienced 9 times out of 10 by military members coming back from a combat deployment.

The mindset of a service member is dramatically changed just over the course of a few months. To help some of you to understand is picture yourself leaving the US. Going into the worst parts of the Middle East where the taliban would gladly take their own life to take yours. Every step you take could be on an I.E.D.. Getting in gun fights on a daily basis. Your fellow service members getting injured or dying in combat. Watching and killing the enemy is a celebratory event. Sitting on a helicopter watching RPG’s fly past through a window . Then, if your lucky, getting a month or longer phone call to family back home, and having to lie to them so they are comforted by the thought that your ok.

Traveling back home in a matter of days from that and face your family. It’s like being in shock, a deer in a headlight. Feeling the need to mask your depression because letting it out to your family would only make them confused and upset. Holding it in and letting it build up to the point that you become angry and hateful. Feeling on edge everywhere you go and still unable to accept the fact that your safe even though your in the US, out in public or even sometimes at home. These are some of the things we experience and need to be understood so that there is a way for fellow service members and family to reach out and help.

 

Do we, referring to service members as a whole, want you to come straight up to us and say, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”. Even if they were do you think they would tell you straight out when you put it in that context? most likely not. Suicidal thoughts are almost always inward and not outward expressions. Try to catch the signs and just be there for us and not in a way where you want to talk to use like a therapist. Even the smallest of positive acts can affect someones life in a way that makes us realize that there is something worth living for. If we open up to you about things we did or experience, just listen closely. The best kind of therapy for most of us is being able to open up about our hardships. If you have any notion that someone is contemplating suicide then act, don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for them to play ball.

Every moment we have is a gift. Everyone can say it or agree with it but to really understand it usually takes some type of tragedy or horrible occurrence. Why does it take a lose to realize how much you’ve gained? Can we learn to be thankful before it comes to that point? I like to think it is possible. Once you do you’ll realize how fortunate you are. You’ll say something to someone you’ve always wanted to but never had the courage to do so, you’ll apologize for all the things you did wrong, and you’ll cherish the time you have which is what I think the root of happiness is.

Today I can sit here and I can sulk with ease. Last night I had a vivid dreams of running, only to be reminded of my reality when I woke. That’s usually how my day starts, and am reminded constantly of the things I can’t do when faced with some of the simplest of tasks. Do I get depressed? absolutely. Do I think about taking my own life? neve. Even though I woke up to the reminder of having no legs, I still woke up and I am fortunate enough to still be alive.

Cherish the time you have, reach out to the ones in need and send this to anyone you think it could affect in a positive way. As combat veterans we can be broken down but with the help of our brothers and the support of our family and friends, we will not be beaten.

 

To Bury or Stir Up the Past

I have been receiving therapy ever since I came out of the hospital. I’m still attending therapy because I’m not comfortable talking about what happened in Afghanistan. My mentality is to avoid pain if possible, which would only be achievable by avoiding discussing what we had to do over there. I still have nightmares  and flashbacks, which make it harder to recover by trying to forget. I believe Afghanistan will always be with me, and it changed who I am as a person for the rest of my life. Some ways it could be good and some bad, but forever changed none the less. When trying to bury my demons over time it’s become less painful then it was in the beginning. I believe that I’ve made progress despite my evaluation of PTSD from the military.

My record states that I have a severe case of PTSD and a disorder when it comes to going out into the town and dealing with other people. I can’t remember the exact name for the disorder but I believe the military diagnosis is so cut and dry, when in reality there are shades of grey. By uplifting and stirring up some of those memories that haunt  me, my therapist believes will help me cope with it. I can agree with that, but in my own time. They want me to do it now, everything is so rushed, when in my eyes I think this is going to take time. For instance this website and writing has helped me in many ways. Discussing things I never thought I would share with anyone. I know how to conquer some flashbacks and have learned how to prevent others. To the military thats not enough, so they want me to attend repetition therapy.

Repetition therapy consists of a few methods. One is by recording an event, that hurts me mentally and emotionally, in every little detail that I can remember. Once I have done that, I am to replay it 5 – 10 times a day, which in turn is supposed to make me numb to it. Another method is to replay sounds or clips that create flashbacks. For example, one of my worst triggers of a flashback is seeing or hearing a helicopter, because that is the last thing I remember after my injury. Staring up at those rotors rotating so slowly, losing the strength to stay awake on my stretcher. So, this is not something any person would want to endure. I want to overcome this but I believe this will only make it worse, so I declined the therapy. My doctor believes it’s, “The only cure.” to my PTSD but I don’t believe that, I am my cure.

My best therapy is writing and spending time with the guys who were there next to me through it all. I’m not going to rush my recovery, I’m going to figure it out along the way. Hopefully in turn coming out on top instead of taking steps back. I have the determination to better myself mentally, fighting my PTSD along side with my physical recovery. If you truly believe in something, you can achieve it.

Recovery

As most of you know I recently went through surgery on my right leg. I have not been able to keep up with my website and facebook page as much as I would like but I am still recovering from my revision on July 11th. So everyone better understands I figured I would explain the reasoning behind the surgery.

It all originated from something that happens 60% of the time when someone goes through an amputation. It is called HO (Heterotopic ossification), also known as extra bone growth to us normal people. The human body tries to reform the bone that has been extracted through surgery. Over time bone grows but soon realizes that it has no were to go, resulting in the HO to spread in odd directions throughout the body.

The HO in my right leg did not bother me for most of my recovery, up until a few months ago when I started the running program. After a week or 2 of running I began to realize it should not have hurt as much as it did but I pushed through it not knowing well enough the amount of pain that should be sustained. When I began to realize it was more than just extreme contact to the ends of my limbs was when it started to affect my walking as well.

Once I came to this realization I asked for x-rays to be taken on my right leg. Expecting the worst to not be disappointed, I actually received the worst news. A spike had formed on the bottom of my right femur, preventing me from being able to bear all my weight on my right leg. My right leg was supposed to be stronger considering my left femur is severed. I should be able to apply more weight to the right, but that was not the case. Therefore this led to the discussion of immanent surgery.

As the day of my surgery came I was very worried from the bits and pieces I could recall of my initial injury. The moments of absolute agony where I could not help screaming in pain. I knew that this was not going to be as severe as the first time because I am stable now, not fighting to stay alive. This didn’t change the fact that there were still several factors that could lead to needing more medical attention. Especially infection, which could easily lead to higher amputating.

The surgery went well and there were no complications my doctor declared, which gave me great relief. The surgery was a revision of 4 inches taken off to make my leg length even. They did not need to take as much off as they did but I went ahead and opted for it for a few reasons.

1. my knee center would be exactly where they used to be

2. I would have even weight distribution on both sides, possibly helping me walk without a cane

3. I dont have to be taller and have the option of being shorter then 6’1”, which is nice because if I fall I’m closer to the ground. It’s funny but also very true

4. cosmetic reasons, for those who know me well I’m OCD about things being even. So when I’m not even myself you could imagine how that would bother me. Even though my right leg is still not even visibly because of all the swelling, I still feel better about it from the length it is now

5. My thigh and calf length will be proportional and easier to sit in small spaces such as a booth or table, an airplane or others cars. It seems like a small reason but it happens more often than you would think.

It has been almost 2 weeks since my surgery and my recovery is going very well and no signs of needing further medical attention. The stitches should be coming out soon. At least it wont be as painful as last time my stitches came out because they removed over 200. The swelling has gone down but the pain is still apparent. I got out of the hospital sooner then they wanted to release me but I would much rather be in a little bit more pain then to be confined to a hospital bed. I have too many goals I want to achieve, which is very hard to do being stationary. The meds I’m currently on make that very hard though considering I’m on one the contains morphine, and several other strong narcotics. Even so I still will find a way to keep moving forward. I’m still trying to be able to do the Great Lakes Challenge  starting August 23rd, which consists of 500 miles over 7 days. It is a very high goal to set but that makes me want to do it even more.

So I want all of you to know things are going well and I’m in good health. I will be back to my normal routine and be able to keep up with my writing in no time. Thank you to those who were there for me through this surgery, I appreciate it very much.

Adversity

When adversity happens in your life, 2 things can happen. 1 – You can dwell on it, let it beat you down until you can’t get up and turn to self pity. 2 – You can learn from it, take the hit and fight back until you overcome it by becoming stronger then before.

A couple weeks ago when I was interviewed by one of the reporters, he asked me, “Where do you find the determination to keep moving forward from something so tragic?” I spit back with some mindless response along the lines of, “All you can do is move forward.” Yet in the back of my mind I sunk into it. I had remembered a time when I first broke down about being injured.

It was the first time I was able to go to the movies since I left the hospital. Still using a handicap van, due to the fact I was using an electric wheelchair. While getting out I instantly saw people staring, not just looking but even stopping what they were doing to see what was wrong with me. All I could do was hang my head low and not look at anyone because I was ashamed of my appearance. I go into the theater with my mother and once the lights were off and no one was staring at me anymore I was able to lower my anxiety a bit. I parked my wheelchair and transferred to a seat, just to feel as if I wasn’t attached to a machine. I enjoyed myself while the movie was playing and it was nice to actually get my mind off of everything, even if it was just a couple hours. Then when the movie was over and the credits were rolling, most everyone’s initial reaction is to get up and start heading out of the theater.,as was mine. I leaned forward, pushed off the armrests and was waiting for my feet to stand me up. Then it all hit me like a freight train, knocked me back down as I sunk into that seat and held my head low as I started crying for the first time after getting out of the hospital. I was destroyed inside, by one of the smallest and simplest tasks I could no longer achieve. I stayed there until everyone left the theater and had no desire to go back again.

It’s easy to have self pity, to let things get the best of you. It’s so much harder to overcome whatever lies ahead. It’s more painful, more mentally challenging, but also more beneficial in the long run. I don’t keep moving forward because “that is all you can do”. I keep moving forward because that is all I want to do. I don’t give myself the option to do anything but. What good will come of me looking back to a time where I had legs, nothing. This is who I am now and I’m going to make the best of what I have by pushing myself to be better then I was the day before. For some people new years is a way to come up with a resolution to try to change something in their lives that usually falls to the waist side. I make daily resolutions, giving myself goals every morning whether it be physically, socially, or mentally beneficial. A few months ago I made that goal to go back to that same theater on my own to fix what I got wrong.

I got out of my truck wearing my prosthetics. I walked up to the theater with my head held high and paid no mind to those who stared. Was it easy? no, but I didn’t give myself any other option. I went up to the ticket counter asking for not a specific movie, but a specific theater instead. I sat down in the same seat I did before. Once the movie was over, i leaned forward, pushed off the armrests and stood up. I walked out of that theater and drove home, never looking back.

I never told anyone that story before but I figured it was a memory I ought to share. Life can beat you down time and time again, you just have to have the courage to get back up.

The Switch

Whether you know it or not, if your in the military, you have one. It’s the frame of mind between when you are at work and when you aren’t. When your in the states it’s much easier to manage. To go home to your family, your wives, your kids, and be able to enjoy spending time with them and give joy in return. When you go to work, it’s almost just as routine as putting on your uniform. Flipping that switch on and your back to work, whatever that work entails.

Now your in Afghanistan, your surrounded by work wherever you go. You eat, you sleep and breath work. It is 24/7 even in the down times of a deployment, the switch is permanently on. Even more so when your out in the shit, and you are getting in firefights everyday. Watching every step you make, like walking on egg shells, always on guard. You worry about the safety of the brothers to your left and your right, even more so if your in a leadership position. It’s a heightened awareness that would drive any normal person crazy. The idea of normalcy is irrelevant in Afghan, no normal sleep pattern or consistent breaks. 7 months of this switch being on and your back to the U.S.. You may have a few days of travel to unwind but that doesn’t matter. Your back home, in front of your family, your friends, and your loved ones. As crazy as it sounds it’s almost hard to accept love. To have someone embrace you as if they thought they would never see you again, because in the back of their mind they didn’t know if they would.

To some it may be easy to move forward and be able to carry on with your day to day life, leaving the past behind you. To others like myself with PTSD, that switch is still on. Now when someone hears you say, “I have PTSD”, most would automatically think your nuts. When in reality your just stuck in the mindset of war, that paranoia of being safe and keeping the people around you safe. The feeling of vulnerability because you don’t have an M4 or SAW across your chest and a few grenades on your belt.

We aren’t crazy, we aren’t losing touch with the reality of being back, we are just lost. Unable to cope with bits and pieces of war that imbedded into our minds and cut deep in our souls. They shake you to the core of who you are, but you don’t have to let it define you. It may not ever go away, or the flashbacks less frequent and severe, but we can learn to conquer our demons.

Hopefully in time, we can turn that switch off and rest easily, leaving what was in the past behind and look forward to a brighter future.

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