Last night turned eventful at 11:00PM when we were informed 3 U.S. soldiers were headed our way after an IED devastated their MRAP. As usual our team assembled; preparing for whatever was thrown at us. After 30 minutes 3 soldiers arrived as described and were transferred to our resuscitation area. There were no critical injuries but they were beat up. I focused on a sergeant whose predominant injury was a bloodied left arm in a makeshift long arm splint. After a thorough evaluation with x-rays he ended up having an open fracture to his elbow which I formally washed out and splinted. The other two patients had the “typical” cervical spine pain that we see after IED blasts and were prophylactically protected with c-collars; one also had facial lacerations which were mended by our surgeons. After about 2 hours all were stabilized and transferred to Baghram airfield for further treatment and advanced imaging to rule out spinal injury. I finally fell into my bed at 2:00AM.
Sundays are supposed to be our free day with no morning report, a time to sleep in and let our bodies play alarm clock; at least that’s the plan. 8:30AM was upon me but I was oblivious as I was escaping my current reality in a vivid morning dream. All of that changed when I was ripped from my temporary heaven to the harshness of my commander pounding on my door telling me I have another consult for Charlie Company. Bewildered I crawl down from my perch, get dressed and head out the door; no time for a wakeup call from Jimi H or the wings of a red bull. My patient this morning was a hard featured female U.S. soldier who injured her hand. This soldier was involved in a recent Chinook helicopter crash and had a determined demeanor to survive. Her hand exuded work ethic from the many abrasions and calluses. As I got more focused on examining her injury she was trying harder to hide her pain, especially with a master sergeant from her unit nearby. After a few attempts to gain information she finally described how she injured herself, but was adamant I give her a quick fix so she could continue her flight status. This soldier was obsessed with performing her part within the unit she belonged; it was almost inspiring. I wish I could have accommodated her fiery request but clinically I had to protect her for a likely injury that could worsen. Her stare after I informed her of my intensions cut through me in discontent. She was placed in a cast and held from flight duty until I reevaluate her next week.
Here I am again, dusk at hand and wondering if this evening will be a replay of yesterday. Trauma isn’t a 9 to 5 job so predicting when it will strike is a waste of one’s energy. In the meantime we wait with readiness on our sleeves; good night.
Talk to you soon.
P.S. I love you my beautiful wife.