Singing free from Covid: A Veteran’s Day Story

best vascular surgeon in youngstown

Dr. Lawrence Schmetterer, best vascular surgeonHe’s alive because he could sing.

I’d like to focus on a very unique and recent patient of mine named Frank, a veteran of the Korean conflict who suffers from end-stage renal disease, developed as a consequence of a severe Covid infection that almost ended him last December.

Frank has recovered well, but still needs hemodialysis to survive. To maintain access for hemodialysis, most patients require the placement of an arteriovenous fistula or graft. 

Frank is so much more than his diagnosis though. While Frank was in the Korean conflict, his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was 1766: light weapons, for which he carried an M1 rifle. 

Frank was singled out of infantry however because he had sung Glee Club in high school and possessed the ability to read music. He was diverted to high-speed radio teletype operator training where he became a codebreaker. Frank was instrumental in assisting with many important operations during the conflict. 

I say this to acknowledge that the tools and skills that we use in life, can take us to places we never imagined. It took him to war in a faraway land and myself, inspired by medical accomplishments, to the field of medicine in thoracic and vascular surgery.

Veteran care is being taken more and more seriously, as the United States, Armed Forces have recognized that by providing benefits such as physical and emotional respite in an emergency situation the patient’s chance for a speedy recovery is increased. With this being said, it is important to not only treat patients physically but also emotionally. This can be achieved through therapy sessions or counseling with trained professionals with the goal to reduce long-term problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Veterans are increasingly being studied by social scientists and mental health professionals as a better understanding of what veterans have experienced gives insight into how they will better adjust to society and their homes when they return.

At my practice in Ohio, no matter what issue or ailment my patient may be facing,  whether it’s vein and vascular issues, leg pains or swelling, arterial diseases, cancer, or covid, I always follow up with their months and years down the line. As a Doctor and a ‘humane’ being, I feel that it is truly important to check up on my patients and their family members to see how well they are doing after being treated by myself and my team. Regular follow-up visits prove effective in making sure that these issues aren’t recurring or develop further in a negative way.

So this Veteran’s Day let us remember our military heroes, those alive and those that have fallen.


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