Monday, August 15, 2011


I woke up today thirsting for motivation. My body felt drained and attempts to leave the comfort of my fleece blanket were defeated.  Today I had to deal with the emotional aftermath from yesterday. If I try to hide it will find me; so I’m going to confront this demon face to face.  I know this is not the place to sit on the sidelines with my emotions because this scenario is likely to be on replay throughout my time here.  As I laid in bed I turned to the left, a large American flag on my wall was staring at me; I was inspired.  This flag is not just a representation of my country; it represents a diverse population with tolerance, strong will, compassion, and a focus which is led by a moral compass.  We believe in freedom for all and realize the decisions we make may not always be righteous but freedom is the destination we desire; so we drive on. We are not perfect but at the end of the day we are a good people who ”believe” in what could be; I believe.  I finally muster the strength to leave my bed and prepare for the day.
Morning report was as expected, a check on how everyone was doing. Most kept their emotions in check as shown in the stoic faces. Afterwards, I was hit hard with orthopedic consults from Charlie Company and via teleconference from FOB Bostik (a base about 100 miles away).  There is no orthopedic surgeon at FOB Bostik so the word that I exist here at FOB Fenty has spread like wildfire.   Today could have been labeled “National Pediatric Orthopedic Day” as everywhere I turned there was an injured Afghan child.  I wish I could fix every child myself but logistics are what hamper that especially at FOB Bostik.  Unlike the U.S. patients can’t just jump in a taxi or personal car and drive a long distance for medical care; IED’s, financial resources, and parental ignorance at part of it.  In these cases I end up being an orthopedic medical broker making deals with local Afghan hospitals to secure care in their local area or somewhere close.  When the patients are from my local area I can take care of a lot of them. Some cases can push the limits of my surgical abilities but I’m often the end of the road for this population; health care is scarce.  In addition I have to manage these patients within the need of our soldiers and trauma load and not compromise the readiness of our FST.  It’s a fine line that needs to be walked and there are many more details involved than just doing surgery.  There is the surgical aftercare, follow-up and nutritional deficiencies of this population.  In the end I will help anyway I can; I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t. 
Once I was caught up Joe J and I went to the gym to recharge.  It’s obvious to me deployments forge long lasting friendships. Not only are we having the same experiences but there is an underlining sense of understanding.  We talk about our feeling and deal with them partially together.  Many of these friendships will be formed; the more the better. 
Fortunately today was uneventful and we all had time take a big breath, reflect, and compose ourselves.   After a day of reflection I came to the conclusion that one soldier may have past but five other survived.  It could have been much worse but we dug deep, performed well and now five families will be reunited with their loved ones. I’m going to focus on the positive just like I do with everything else in my life.  If my emotions didn’t get involved then I guess that would be a hint that I’m in the wrong profession.  Every physician and medical personnel here is compassionate about being here, saving lives and making a difference.  We all “believe”.
P.S. Melissa, Turin, Talon, and Myla you give me more strength than you will ever know.


1 comment:

  1. Mark,David said,"man's life is like a piece of grass..."only one brief moment of time. The Gladiator said..."what we do in life echo's in eternity". You need to rest in the knowledge that as a man,doctor,and soldier you are writing on the pages of time well.

    I am so proud you are my daughters husband,and father of my grandchildren.