The Gauntlet

During the first week or two of boot camp for the Navy, we didn’t do much physical activity, but we did alot of medical examinations and tests. One day that sticks out above the rest was a day called “The Gauntlet.” In short, it was a series of shots given to everyone. We were herded like cattle, and prodded as such.

We arrived at medbay with our division, filled out some paperwork, and were given instructions. A medical worker let us know how this process was going to work. “There will be an assembly-line of sorts. You will step on the outline of feet in front of you, accept two pneumatic shots — one in each arm — step up to the next pad and the process continues until you complete that portion. After that, you will report to a separate room for a Hepatitis C shot in the rear end. Do not flex, or you will bend the needle and complicate matters.”

I was thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” I was one of the last people to go — one of the benefits of having a last name like “Wagenseller.” I stood in line, hearing the pumps and whizzes of the guns shooting the people ahead of me. Then I got to the first mat. I stepped up, closed both eyes, and felt the cold guns touch my skin, followed by a hiss. They said, “Step up to the next one.” I stepped up and the process continued. This went on for probably 8-10 mats. Once they were done with pneumatic guns, they switched to actual needles. There were 3-4 mats of needles in each arm. Lastly, we had the Hepatitis C shot. I won’t go into much detail, but they delivered about 10 of these shots at a time, all assembly-line style.

I can’t remember how I felt after the gauntlet. I do remember my arms and butt being sore, but that was to be expected. Luckily, we had about 2-3 days of no exerting ourselves physically. This was a huge blessing. The Hepatitis C shot created a huge lump at the injection sight, painful enough that I hated sitting down.

The Gauntlet was a unique experience, and I still don’t know what all they shot us with that day. For all I know, it was something experimental, or maybe everyone was just that far behind on their shots, but I find that highly unlikely. Either way, it’s not an experience that I would wish upon my worst enemy. Ever since that day, I have been terrified of needles, even passing out on some occasions. I guess these types of experiences change a person. Wagen, over and out.