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staying positive

Guest dionna

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For as long as I can remember I have always dreamed of joining the military. Dream job... Military? Yeah. At the age of 15 I started working at a restraunt and by 17 I was making about $52000 a year, just watressing! Then on the side I was a part time model for hair magazines. But hey that wasn't good enough. I wanted to live my dream! So on my 18th birthday I went to the recruiting offices and I tried to join the Army. It was either Army or Marine Corps because those two branches were the toughest! Well I decided on the Army that way I be in the medical field. I tought I would be able to reach out and help more people that way. However I didn't meet the weight requirments. I was 4 lbs under weight. So I spent the next 4 months trying to gain weight. Yeah I only gained 1 lb. So I went back to the recruiting offices but the Army SSgt wasn't there so the Marine Corps SSgt called me into his office and told me that he could get me a weight waiver. 5 minutes later I was jumping all over it and signing the papers. I joined the Marine Corps on a 3lbs weight waiver and left for MCRD Parris Island, SC 3 weeks later. I was so excited! While I was at boot camp I out shot, out ran, and out did just about every female in my company. I graduated as 4th squad leader, got a letter of appreciation, and was meritoriously promoted. After boot camp all marines that aren't infantry go to MCT (marine combat training). I was again at the top of my class. After MCT, I went to my MOS (military occupational specialty) school for 2311 (2311 is the code for Ammunition Technician or in short ammo tech). The school was in Huntsville, AL at Redstone Arsenal. That is when I started passing out. The first time that I passed out I was standing in formation. The second time I was at the gym. The third time was when I was on a 3 mile run. The day I did the run... I passed out 20 times and was hospitalized for the first time. Since I missed too many classes I was held back to another class. If I had not been held back I would have been the top of my class again and had been meritouriously promoted again. B) oh well you win some and you lose some. My next orders were to Camp Lejeune, NC. I was doing okay the first couple of weeks I was there but when I ran 3 miles again I passed out at the finish line. They took me to the GAS station (doctors office) but they just said that I was dehydrated. Think nobody understands you. Absolutely right. You can't blame them. No one understands anything that they don't experience first hand. Try having the entire Marine Corps not believing you just because the had never heard of such a thing before. I couldn't even find a doctor to believe me. Try going through all the symptoms and pains and passing out and still being an active duty Marine training everyday to go to Iraq. Yeah I still my orders to Iraq but they cancelled them at the last minute. I am 5' 1" and weigh about 98 lbs. Everybody thought that I was just faking it to get out of the Marine Corps. So yes I definately understand what is gone through on that. I had been having my problems for 4 months at this time and nobody was helping me. Finally I passed out in one of my officers office and I hit another big oak wood desk with my head and moved the desk a few inches. I was out for about 2 minutes. That is what it took to make them believe me. My officers started getting me appointments at numerous hospitals and doctors offices in the state of North Carolina. Finally I had some help but no answers. It took more than half a year before they sent me to Bethesda's National Naval Medical Center. I did the tilt table test and it proved positive so I was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope and I was given propanoal a beta-blocker. The beta blocker just made everything worse. Everytime I sat up in bed I would fall right back down. My room mate took care of me as did the rest of my company. Everybody picked me up and carried me around any where I needed to go. They would get off work to get me something to eat and take me to the various appointments I had every week. Even my officers would go to appointments with me to be on my behalf in fornt of puzzled doctors saying I was just fine. Finally they sent me back to Bethesda but this time as an inpatient. I have been living as an out patient at the hospital for 6 months now. Any day now I will be medically retired from the Marine Corps. I get around in my wheel chair and depend on someone to be with me at all times to catch me if I fall or get sick. They have me on numerous medications but right now the treatment isn't working, only making it worse. The only advice I can give you... KEEP YOUR HEAD UP. One of my Big Brothers in the Corps told me that God looked down and saw a lily (me) in a brier patch (the marine corps) so He is plucking me up and putting me in a better garden. Don't get me wrong... I LOVE THE CORPS! It is the best thing I have ever done. If I could stay in I would! In fact, I am moving back to the Lejeune area to live with my old room mate just as soon as she gets back from Iraq. I truly LOVE the Corps. I am 20 years old and I will be retired any day now. I am just waiting on the orders. The best medicine for me is laughter and being around all these guys that got blown up in Iraq. Everyday I see the guys that had shrapnel tear there bodies, faces, and even eyes. I see the gun shot wounds and the amputated fingers, toes, arms, and legs. Even Brains. We all make fun of each other and help each other out anyway possible. The guys who need canes push me around as there support. I hold things in my lap for the amputees and the blind one would even push me around and I would be his guide. So if you volunteered to help other disabled people maybe that would help you focus on their problems and not yours. I do it every day. I fall over and they pick me up. And we all laugh about me taking naps all the time. My nickname is "Thumper" because that is the sound my head makes when the deck "catches" my head. Like I said... just laugh at yourself. Don't worry about the others. I take critisim all the time because I didn't go to Iraq or because I have only been in the Marine Corps for 2 year and I am getting out already. But at the end of the day I am still a Marine. I even have it tattooed on my lower back. NO one will ever get to take that away from me. We have this saying, "Once a Marine, always a Marine" and we say "Semper Fidelis" which means "Always Faithful". I know that I will always be taken care of. If ever you need anything or someone to vent to or anything... just write me at sarah_2311_usmc@yahoo.com. I have only had my POTS and other stuff for 1yr and 1/2. I have been told that the journey has just begun. I don't know if you believe this or not but God will never let you go through anything you can't handle. Which means you were carefully selected to endure this and He has a purpose for you. It's just you finding out what it is. I believe that God knew that I wanted to be in the military but that wasn't His plan. He gave me my short tour as a gift but He no longer wants me here and I am going to do something else to serve Him. I served my country and I have helped the others who have served. Now He wants me to serve another purpose and cause. The thing I am afraid of is the civilian world. They aren't going to understand me or my condition. I am different, but that will come in time. Just take one day at a time and enjoy the "good days". That way you don't become overwhelmed. On the "bad days" think of the "good days" or what you can do the next time you have a "good day". The days you can go out. Live it up. As far as being reminded of what you can't do... think about the things you still can do. Believe me I know its not much but maybe you can broaden your horizons and come up with something you've never done before. LOOK... I am use to going to the gym everyday and playing sports with the guys, going to the range and blowing things up with rounds and explosives, going to the beach everyday, doing obstacle courses, and everything else that goes with being being a UNITED STATES MARINE! I had nothing but fun. Passing out and all. I have woke up everytime so far. Mind over matter they taught us. Since August 2, 2004 I have passed out over 300 documented times and I will continue to do so. Good Luck to you!

Sarah Dionna aka LCpl Price, USMC.

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