Tristan, a private first class in the U.S. Army, was stationed in Iraq in September 2003 when one day, a peaceful Iraqi protest turned violent and chaotic. Without warning, a grenade exploded right in front of him.
Tristan says he saw blood on his pants and tasted blood in his mouth. Then, he put his hand to neck and saw blood spraying onto his hand. Tristan remembers sticking his finger inside his throat "up to his knuckle" to stop the bleeding. After undergoing emergency surgery in a makeshift hospital, Tristan was moved to a hospital in Germany for further treatment.
A week later, Tristan says he noticed that the wound on his neck had swollen up to the size of a golf ball. "The doctors told me that it was probably just part of the healing process, but I knew that there was something more there," he says.
While in the hospital, Tristan flipped on the television. The only show "not in German is Oprah," he says. As his roommate slept, Tristan watched an episode about outrageous medical mistakes.
One incident in particular, "about doctors who leave surgical equipment inside of their patients on accident," caught Tristan's attention, he says.