Howdy All! So I was all set to write today about my Dorie Syndrome but that’s gonna have to wait until another time. I have the wonderful pleasure of living down in Corpus Christi, Texas – the town with the (almost) quarterly water crisis. We can almost set out clocks to it these days lol! I love trolling Facebook during these times to see all the comments and posts people in the community make about it and also the many really silly questions. I was with a group of my lady vet gal pals a couple of days ago (a day before the current crisis) and we were joking around as we normally do about “Us vs the Civilians” on various topics and the water issue came up. True to fashion, most of the comments from our peanut gallery included things along the lines of how much JP5 we routinely ingested during our careers! For reals! I’ve made this comment a couple of times in civilian company and get the strangest looks lol! But it’s true. Yes, I know that long-term exposure to harsh chemicals leads to cancer and other life-altering conditions and I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of that. BUT – the world is a screwed up place and S&*t happens all over the place all the time and if we get all spun up every time we have a “crisis,” well we’d be spinning constantly and that just isn’t fun. So instead of freaking out and making a big deal, we tend to use humor to lighten the mood. You see this with other occupational niches as well such as paramedics who make crude jokes about things they’ve seen. It’s not that they are insensitive to the lives lost, it’s just a way of coping. It is the same for us. While most women in our country went through their young adult years worrying about being part of the cool group or wearing the current styles – we were being pumped up with all sorts of hazards. Aside from the dangerous duty many of us served in, we were guinea pigs for the government. All of us got a cocktail of shots in recruit training, then depending on where we got shipped off to, another cocktail or 2. And for all the civilians reading this – WE DIDN’T GET TO OBJECT OR SAY NO THANKS!! That was just the beginning. Many of us served overseas and who knows what is in the air in many of the countries we tend to be in. And don’t get me started on liberty call! For this current water crisis, one of the possible health issues was gastrointestinal upset and respiratory issues. Well I think most of the Navy who has ever made a port visit anywhere outside of US territories has had their fair share of gastrointestinal upset! And skin irritation/rash? YUP! My first 6 years was spent as a diesel mechanic. I tended to be covered in fuel or lube oil and always had some sort of skin irritation! Also, for those who’ve worked in the field of engines and oil/fuel, what’s the quickest way to determine if you got fuel contamination in your oil? YUP! You taste it. Oh YES I did!! And we didn’t always get to “go to lunch” as most people do. In engineering and many other MOS/ratings, you eat on the go or you don’t eat. So yes, I would be turning a wrench with one hand and have a bag of chips in the other! The whole “wash your hands before dinner” was just not feasible. And not to mention where we laid our heads sometimes! I could literally fall asleep ANYWHERE!! Sanitation was NEVER on my list of priorities – only a 10 minute nap. I’ve slept in the bilge under the engines, on top of the engine (very good spot in the winter), and on the floor next to my rack – still in my greasy coveralls because I was too tired to take a shower and only had 3 hours until I had to get back to work – using a pair of boots as a pillow!
Now lets talk about this current water crisis. Unlike the others we’ve had this past year, we couldn’t “boil” our way out of this one. The water has some sort of chemical in it so we aren’t supposed to even wash our hands with it. So FB posts start with the “how am I supposed to take a shower?” and that’s gross that we can’t wash our hands. Seriously people! How many of ya’ll grew up in the country? We ate dirt and antibacterial wipes/soap/sanitizer wasn’t even a thing!! But did we die? NO WE DID NOT!! Now for us military ladies, we just look at these posts and shake our heads. Ever heard of wet wipes? How many of you military ladies (especially those that were out in the field) ever literally (GROSS ALERT!!!) poured a little water from a water bottle over your Antarctica to clean it out because there were NO SHOWERS and you didn’t have room for wet wipes in your backpack? I’m sure some of you ladies have some even worse (what’s grosser than gross stories LOL!)
Anywho, this is why many veteran women don’t really have many friends (unless it’s other veteran women). Because we literally want to just smack most of the people that speak! Our perspective on just about everything is so much different from those that have never served. We don’t dare talk about many of the nasty things we’ve endured during our service – not around Civilian women! But be warned when agreeing to hang out with a group of us for an evening – you can’t UNHEAR what comes out of our mouth and you might just be scarred for life LMAO!! But the point is – we survived. Again, I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of health issues related to exposure to chemicals. Yes that is a serious topic. But it is what it is and instead of always being mad or angry at the government or whomever, a little satire or dark humor can go along way in improving your mental health. And having a positive outlook and being optimistic has been proven to be beneficial to your overall health. Now, I took a shower last night so if ya’ll see me around and my skin appears to be peeling off, feel free to crack jokes at my appearance!!