Thursday, May 28, 2009

An old injury resolves itself

I'm very pleased to read of the 'healing' of a World War II veteran, by the passage of time alone.

For 65 years, Alfred Mann didn't talk much about his war-time experiences.

Not that he didn't want to.

He had just given up trying thanks to a combination of old war injuries that made it difficult to speak clearly.

But now the 87-year-old veteran is relishing a new lease of life - after finding a half-inch piece of shrapnel on his pillow one morning.

The metal shard is thought to have suddenly dislodged from his jaw and fallen from his mouth while he slept.

Mr Mann had no idea he had been carrying the shrapnel or that it was behind his speech problems.

He has also had great trouble eating for many years.

'It's fantastic,' he said yesterday. 'I can move my mouth properly and I have been able to eat steak and lamb cutlets which I couldn't eat before.'

Mr Mann served as a nurse with the Royal Army Medical Corps and was injured in 1944 at the battle of Monte Cassino.

It left shrapnel embedded in his leg, shoulder and hands, although surgeons never spotted the piece in his jaw.

. . .

He told how his mouth had begun to swell up a few weeks before he discovered the shrapnel. 'I went to the doctor and I was referred on to the dentist who said I had an ulcer,' he said. 'Then I woke up one morning and felt something move in my mouth. I discovered a piece of shrapnel lying there.'

His wife Constance, also 87, said she had noticed a real difference in her husband.

'It's strange, he has never talked about the war this much before,' she said. 'I never knew half the stories he has told me in the last couple of weeks. It took him all these years. He seems happier - but the food bills are more expensive.'

There's more at the link.

I'm very happy for Mr. Mann, and I can understand how he feels. I'm still carrying around a couple of shrapnel souvenirs from my own military service. One is in a lump, just above my neck vertebrae, which can be clearly felt with the fingertips. At the time, the doctors decided they didn't want to try to remove it, because of all the nerves and delicate tissue in the area. Who knows? One day it may work its own way out, just as Mr. Mann's did.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had a history teacher, Mr Gavin, in 1972. He had pieces of metal from an explosion during WWII pop out about ever 6 months.

He thought it was a friendly reminder that he was a very lucky man.