A hospital room might not seem like an ideal spot for someone to tell their life story. There are all those beeping machines. Nurses popping in and out on their rounds. And the patients themselves have to wear those silly robes and no-slip socks; often they are feeling sick or tired… or both.

And yet, despite the interruptions and other little annoyances, most of the 5,000-plus interviews we’ve done with Veterans through the “My Life, My Story” project have occurred in hospitals. And that has proven, we think, to be a good thing.

Spending a few days at a hospital can be downright boring. Besides being unwell, patients are usually stuck in their rooms without much to do besides watch TV and rest. Chatting with a stranger about your life can relieve the tedium. Beyond that, we’ve also found that patients are often in reflective moods before we even talk to them. After all, when you’re sick, it’s hard not to get a little nostalgic for days when you felt a whole lot better.

This episode of our podcast features Zack. At the time of his interview, Zack was being monitored with an EEG for seizures. Attached to his head were a bunch of wires and electrodes. He’d hardly slept the night before. And yet, he agreed to be interviewed, and the story he told us was one of our favorites. We hope you enjoy it, too.

Seth Jovaag is a writer, editor and producer for the My Life, My Story project.

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