Leon Tseng

I enlisted with the Army Reserve on August 23, 2002 and went to Ft. Knox, KY, on May 15, 2003 for Basic Training. Everything was going well and was what I expected. About three weeks into the training, a soldier had a high fever and a swollen left forearm. My battle buddy and I talked him into going to the hospital to have that checked out, which he did on the following day. But he never came back. He died of an unknown infection at the time. On July 5th, we did a training that required us to crawl in the woods. A lot of us scraped our elbows through the uniforms, including myself. On July 10th, I started to have fever and feel dizzy. On July 11th, the fever and dizziness became stronger. I started walking kind of tipsy. The following morning, my left forearm felt pain that I felt like muscle pain and I didn't pay a lot attention to. Until about 9:30 pm, I saw my left forearm was really swollen up which did not look like muscle pain at all. I told my buddies about my situation. They helped me to talk to the drill sergeant who was on duty in my company that night and had another drill sergeant to take me to the hospital. The nurses at the hospital on post checked my temperature for the fever. The fever was 105 degree. They were surprised that I could have fried my brain with that temperature and telling me that how lucky I was to be in the hospital right on time. The nurses also told me that my fever temperature was the second highest in the record within the hospital. The doctor in hospital on post didn't know what kind of infection in my arm and transferred me to Jewish Hospital in Louisville, KY, for further examination. The result turned out to be necrotizing infection. I had to have emergency surgery to remove the infection. The doctors put me under intensive care with whirlpool therapies, hyperbolic chamber therapies, antibiotic therapies, and dressing changes. They also kept my left arm straight since my whole left arm went under the knife. The doctors also used roman sandal technique to keep the skin close, where they operated on. The intensive care was 24/7. I had five surgeries in two weeks and I thought I might not survive at all. Jewish Hospital transferred me back to the hospital on post on July 29 for antibiotic therapies. The doctors put a cast left arm for the skin and the muscle to grow together. I was out of the hospital on August 14 with another cast for another two weeks. After two casts, I had three painful occupational therapies to bend my elbow. Someone in the hospital, whom I do not remember, told me the soldier who died had a similar infection. Due to the scar and lost of certain tissues in my arm, I cannot get my left arm straight or touch my my shoulder without a struggle. My left arm also has a hard time doing certain motions like washing hair and suffers pain and stiffness, especially in the winter. Besides what happened with my left arm, I had to take honorable medical discharge from the Army. My life has changed for what I have went through with Army and the injury. I restart college again and receive some disability benefits through VA. I begin to understand why the nurses said that how lucky I am to be alive and start to appreciate my life. For all the soldiers who serve our country, you've done more than just a job. You've given a lot and taken great amount of courage for this country and serve.