There you are, asleep safe and sound, at home in your bed.
I am also, every night.
Ever Wonder…What if You Were Attacked, Beaten and sleeping on the streets homeless?
Ever wonder….what if it was you, and you are not in your 20′s but you are in your mid 60′s? 66 to be exact.
The photos here are real. The person is real. It is taken in Clearwater, FL. The person is the 66 year old Vietnam Disabled Veteran STA has been assisting since 8/24/2012.
This man was attacked early in the morning while sleeping on the streets in Tampa, FL. as he has done for the last 40 years.
He was attacked by a single male with a steel pipe on approx 8/16/2012. The attack left this Veteran with a severely smashed right hand. The surgery left him with 4 medical pins in the hand. The hand has been in a lot of pain. He does not like medications or drugs of any kind.
Almost two months later the pins are still in his hand. The fracture is not healing. STA has taken him to the hospital 4 times and will be taking him again tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon to see the surgeon.
Yesterday, Sunday when i went to see this homeless veteran he informed me one of the pins had come out. Indeed it had. This is not good as again, the fracture is not healing. I contacted the VA Hospital again. They informed me to wait until Tuesday to bring him back in since we would be seeing the surgeon on Tuesday. The photo below shows one of the pins missing. You can see three to the right in the photo. Towards the left you can see the spot where the a pin is missing. He was in a lot of pain when we left the hospital on Saturday, did he pull the pin himself? Most likely.
The streets are not a friendly or comfortable place for someone with injuries of any kind. When you are what we call a “Rough Sleeper”, one who sleeps outside in the community in bushes, in the woods or near a building, then injuries like this are very difficult to manage and are very slow in healing. These are situations which take special handling and extensive hours. It must be done and more people need to be doing it.
In the case of this rough sleeper he also carries all his belongings with him everywhere he goes, so yes, of course he is using that injured hand much to much. He sleeps in front of a building structure, on the concrete in a corner. Never in bushes or on the grass, but always on concrete so he can sleep sitting up against the wall. This way he feels he can see if someone is coming to do harm to him or the like.
Those of us living in our homes, when we are injured like this or have had surgery of any kind especially a arm or hand or other limb, it is hard enough for us in the comfort of our homes. We are inconvenienced we feel. We ask our husbands or wives, girlfriends, boyfriends etc to get us something to eat, open that aspirin bottle or pour us that glass of milk or cup of coffee. Maybe even ask them to wash our hair for us.
Folks who are street homeless, rough sleepers and loners, have no one on a day to day basis to do such things as you and i are accustomed to, maybe even take for granted. No one to comfort them when maybe they need it most in the dark of night.
In the case of this homeless veteran we try to see him every morning and every night…every day to see what we can do for him, feed him, clothe him and make sure that hand is tended to or the status of it.
The hand right now is our main focus along with keeping him hydrated and fed. Once the hand is healed properly we can work on taking him to the next level, towards getting him off the streets. For now, he is not ready. For now, helping him is practically a full time effort. Hospital visits alone are at least 4 hours. We stay right with him even when he sees the doctor and we consult with the doctors regards his care.
His hand is not good. We are doing all we can to prevent it from getting much worse. As i stated above we have had him to the hospital 4 times since meeting him on the streets on August 24th. The last time was this last Saturday when we took him to have it looked at and the dressings changed as they had become quite dirty and he was in more escalated pain then on last Thursday when we went to the VA hospital. He is not the type to complain just so he can go to the hospital. Each time i have brought him it has been at my insistence.
Ever Wonder….what its like?
He is on the streets every single day all day and night, THAT my friends is bad enough. It is hot, raining, lots of bugs and he does not get to shower or bathe daily. But now, for the last two months he has been on the streets with a major injury, a smashed hand, and hauling 3 duffle bags of belongings everywhere he goes. Imagine if it was you.
Does he want to get off the streets? He says he does. We are working on that too. 40 years on the streets. It will be a tough one.
Ever Wonder…. What it is like to drop him off at night with his severely injured hand, 3 duffle bags, give him food and beverages, pray with him and then watch him walk off into the dark…alone?