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JL: No, I actually thought they were taking me out to kill me, to hurt me. Once we got back, they told me, "We tried to deliver you to the Americans, but they started to shoot at us." They started talking to me about how they were wanting to give me back.
TIME: Was there any pain medicine they could give you?
JL: No, they weren't giving me stuff like that. There was this old lady, though. She would come, and she would rub my back with some kind of powder, and she would sing me a song. And that would kind of calm me down and make the back stop hurting for a little bit, but it was still so much pain.
TIME: At that point, what could you move?
JL: Nothing. I couldn't move either leg or this arm, of course, and plus my back. I couldn't sit up or anything.
TIME: Did you think you were going to die there?
JL: No, I wouldn't let myself think that. If it happened, it was going to happen but not because I gave up or because I wanted to die. There was no way I was going to give up hope that I was going to get back to America.
TIME: Were you trying not to show that you were in pain?
JL: Of course, they could see I was in pain--that was obvious--but I was afraid that if I showed them extreme pain and anger, that would show them that I was completely weak--I was weak in my head. I wasn't--I was bound to get out of there.
TIME: What did you think when you saw the American soldiers who came to get you?
JL: I was kind of scared, thinking, Well, maybe this isn't real. Maybe they're just trying to trick me to go with Iraqis dressed in our soldiers' suits that they killed, you know? But once the guy started talking to me, explaining stuff, I thought, Wow, yeah, it's true. It's amazing! And once that guy gave me his hand, I would not let go. I was not going to be left behind, not again.
TIME: Do you feel lucky?
JL: I do feel lucky that I survived or that I can even sit up, that I am not paralyzed or that I am walking. I mean, it's such a great feeling. I feel lucky that I am here.
TIME: How does it feel to be treated like a hero?
JL: Overwhelming. It's just unbelievable the things people want to do, to take a picture of my house or something that I own. It makes them feel good, and I don't know what to say. I'm still the same person, you know.
TIME: Who are the people you consider heroes?
JL: Well, obviously the ones that came and rescued me--they're my big heroes. And Lori. She could have gave up right there, said, "You know, I can't do this." But no, she stayed calm and cool, had everything together.
TIME: Has this all affected your view of women in the military?
JL: You know, women are equal to men. We may not be physically strong or something, but if women can't be in the military, you're going to have your son or your grandson or your father or your brother that's out there, who may not want to be there and who may still get hurt.
TIME: Do you follow what's going on in Iraq now?