Many friends and colleagues have noticed that I have been updating Hanoudi Letter for the last few months with inserts about only one topic and that is the book. I have been working on recounting the story of the mistaken shooting of my son Nazar by a young American soldier on the morning of march 29, 2004 and the terrible nightmare we were plunged into as a result of that unfortunate incident when we had to take care of him after he was discharged from the American hospital in Baghdad where he was taken care of for six weeks after he was injured when they decided that they could not do anything more to help him that we could either let them stop his life saving devices and allow him to pass away or take him home and take care of him ourselves which could be for a very long time, so we took him home and started the very complex task his condition required.
The condition my son was suffering from, a vegetative state is a coma like state which is very strange and a relatively rare condition, patients are in a state of partial arousal rather than true awareness. it results from the deprivation for few minutes of the brain with vital oxygen it needs, those critical minutes usually result in a total damage of the uppermost parts of the brain which are responsible for the highest functions like movement and the ability to communicate but would leave the lower parts in the mid-brain fairly undamaged and allow the more automatic functions like breathing and heart beat to continue. We were told during our medical school years that the condition is irreversible ,there is no treatment for it and that all patients in such a state always die, but with the increasing understanding of the various aspects of this condition and the great improvements in the methods of nursing and physical caring of such patients a small number of patients in similar state are known to have survived and returned to a fairly reasonable state of health, so for all these reasons and for a hope that we might have a miracle we rejected the suggestion by the hospital and took him home and started the complex medicinal, feeding, nursing requirements and the 24 hour a day scrutiny his very unique medical problem required.
When we accepted the task of taking care of our son ourselves we were not fully aware of the complexity and the burdens and pressures his condition demanded because what followed was a very long ordeal, an eight years nightmare of suffering and agony and disappointments to all of us. It was an unbelievably difficult and exhausting journey during which we took care of our son for a year and a half in Baghdad and the when our country was disintegrating and everything there was rapidly deteriorating we took him for two and a half years to Amman in next door Jordan and then to Michigan in the united states for four years at the end of it there was no miracle and our unfortunate son died there on December 21, 2011 where he was buried.
Our eight years journey with our son as I have just mentioned was very difficult, very stressful and a terrible agony, it created a huge demand on our already very meager resources which left us at times in pretty despairing circumstances but during those gloomy instants we were helped very generously and compassionately by people who were very often total strangers , all of this has encouraged me to write an account of those eight years which I have been doing for more than a year now , a lengthy and sometime a pretty difficult task which has finally came to an end in a book which is called “The Hanoudi Tragedy, The Saga of the Hanoudi Family” which is waiting for a publisher to bring it out in a traditional classical readable form, a job I am perfectly aware of the difficulties involved in its realization, so for the time being I have uploaded the entire book in my blog as a link on the left hand side of the first page of the hanoudi letter, the link is called “my book, the Hanoudi tragedy”.
The book is about a 30 thousand words which are divided to begin with into two parts, the first one includes a letter to my reader and a forward by a very dear friend col. Eric Schwartz, followed by a small chapter about the history of Iraq from Mesopotamia to today and a last chapter on the recent 2003 Iraq war and its aftermath. The second half of the book is a recounting of the events which followed my son’s murderous shooting until his death on December 21, 2011. The second half of the book is four chapters, the first is called the fatal bullet, the second is called the long nightmare, and the third is called there was no miracle and a last chapter which is called the end which is about the last few weeks of the tragedy and a final small afterword and an acknowledgments which include a number of men and women who were very helpful and supportive in their various capacities.
But I am talking now about four people whose help and support has been absolutely unique and exceptional, they are Eric C. Schwartz a senior American army officer, Jacki Lyden a prominent radio personality and a writer, Dr. Vian Misho our family doctor and Dr. Angela Chmielewski a palliative care specialist , the director of the palliative care unit in Beaumont hospital Royal Oak and a member of the ethics committee of the Beaumont Group of Hospitals.
Colonel Eric C. Schwartz is 52 years old, is now retired from the army after serving for 29 years and during those years he served with great distinction ,he was the commander of the famous desert rogues and in Iraq he was a voice of moderation and fairness, he tried very hard to understand our country and its culture , and shared with us our dreams for the reconstruction of our homeland and creating a better life for our children after the devastating years of Saddam Hussein and he was greatly disappointed when things went the way they did. We became and are still very good friends in spite of what happened to our country later.
Jacki Lyden is a Host and Contributing Correspondent at NPR News, where she has worked since 1979. Lyden has extensive foreign experience, she has covered Iran, the first gulf war and the recent Iraq war and Afghanistan. She contributes to a variety of programs at NPR, and has produced documentary series, She is also a substitute host appearing on a variety of shows. We met this incredible woman few months after the end of the major hostilities of the last war and became very good friends and has been all the last years, she was greatly attached to our son and was terribly upset by what happened to him and was very actively involved from the beginning to the end in all the subsequent efforts to help during our long nightmare and suffering.
Dr. Vian Misho, I met this young doctor during the first few weeks after we have settled in the greenfield nursing home, I was standing at the door were my son was staying when a young very good looking doctor approached who wanted to check on my son, she went into the room, she was patient, very quiet and I knew later that she was the daughter of one of my colleagues from Baghdad and that she has been to my clinic in Baghdad’s medical city hospital school where I was teaching clinical ophthalmology, from then on we became myself and my family strongly attached to her and she continued her care of our son. She was an absolutely indispensable.
The last member of this impressive quartette is Dr. Angela Chmielewski, I met this astonishingly wonderful young woman towards the end of our son’s ordeal when he was under her care in Beaumont hospital which was a very difficult and extremely stressful experience during all of which she was always there assisting helping and very generously supporting us especially my son and myself and we became very good friends. She is very efficient, very intelligent and very kind. We continued our friendship after the passing away of my son and she has been absolutely indispensable during the time I was writing this book.
Sunday January 27, 2013