A Victim of Outside Forces

I celebrated my eightieth birthday this year. As a registered nurse of 60 years, an infection control nurse of 17 years, and a family member of two Veterans, my son and late husband, I have seen the multiple uncontrollable forces that pose health risks to Veterans.

When I was a psychiatric nurse, I saw many Veterans who struggled with flashbacks, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts. I also witnessed many patients get infections, such as C. diff, which can have devastating consequences, especially for older patients. Antibiotic overuse and poor hand hygiene are two factors that can lead to infections.

My late husband experienced infections and was hospitalized a number of times. I myself was recently hospitalized for a severe infection. When I was in the hospital, I had no control. These forces were coming at me, and there was no way I could stop them.

About this comic: Lois Bence-Ehlke is a member of the Patients Engaged in Education and Research (PEER) Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She came up with the concept and imagery for this comic, which was illustrated by PEER coordinator Sydney Hoel.* *This project was supported by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), grant UL1TR002373. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.