Another wakeup call at 2:00AM, this time an orthopedic consult from Charlie Company. I try to awaken and head over to evaluate the soldier. The U.S. soldier in question rolled over a John Deere Gator and injured his foot. As the only orthopedic surgeon I somehow have also been elected to be the base radiologist; the feeling I never left my residency is abundant at this moment. To my chagrin the soldiers X-ray is negative and I quickly picked up my dream where I left off.
I reawaken at 7:00AM, rehash my morning routine and head to morning report. The second I walk in the FST I’m hit with two consults; its official everyone on this base knows I’m here. The first consult was for a U.S. soldier who was shot in the hand during an armed conflict north of our location. Fortunately the injury was minimal with the exception of a small GSW (gunshot wound) fragment. No surgery was indicated so he will recover in theater and be back in the fight soon. The second consult was for an Afghan ANA soldier who sustained a severe blast injury to the hand. The original injury was 4 months ago but due to the severity the reconstruction and rehabilitation periods have been extensive. I removed a previously placed wire and discussed with the patient that one of his wounds needed to be skin grafted. Using our interpreter “Rocky” to communicate with the ANA soldier we determined the best time was after “Ramadan”. Ramadan is a tough time with the nutrition and fluid restriction. Skin grafts require excellent nutrition and attention so the plan will be to keep him for 5 days at the FST following the procedure for monitoring.
Just as I was turning to leave the FST one of the Charlie Company soldiers calls my name out. I turn toward her and expect to hear about another consult, but instead she says “You have a package that needs to be signed for”. Finally, the family package I’ve been waiting for since I touched down on the FOB. I wondered what my wife could have stuff in there. I gave her hints but I wanted to be surprised and told her not to tell me. It’s really sad but there is a small amount of jealousy when others on our team get boxes every other day. You can see it on most of our team members faces when someone is excitedly opening it in front of the room like “show-in-tell”. Were in kindergarten all over again with the exceptions of age and the fact were in Hell. I took the higher road; I grabbed my box, raced out the door to my shack and stared at it like a “New York Strip” cooked just the way I like it. After 5 minutes of intense staring I realized getting a knife and opening it was much more productive. It was Christmas in August here in Afghanistan when the box was finally opened. Cookies, pop tarts, protein bars, pictures, magazines, and a custom pillow with my kid’s pictures printed on it; I was in heaven. It’s the “little things” that mean the world to me now, unlike the life I temporarily left behind in the U.S.
I spent a moment of the day talking to my family on Skype at the MWR and then headed back to my shack. Along the way I decided to go on top of our FST to take pictures of the distant mountains since there was little dust in the air and the visibility was better than normal. While on the roof I noticed a Blackhawk approaching the FOB so I took pictures of it. The ironic thing was that the Blackhawk was slowly moving toward the FST and then the doors burst open and patients were transferred out of the bird to an ambulance. Shocked, I ran down the stairs and entered the FST to find the whole team ready for a trauma. I was quickly informed that five U.S. soldiers were being medevac to us from an IED incident about 15 miles from us. I quickly changed into my scrubs, grabbed my “game face”, and headed back to meet the trauma. 3 soldiers were gurney bound and 2 ambulatory. They were traveling in an MRAP when hit by a large IED. Most had mild facial injuries, two had broken jaws, all had back injuries, and 1 had an open lower leg wound which needed my attention. After the trauma resuscitation was complete and all patients were stabilized, I took the patient with the lower leg injury to the operating room to wash out his wound and fixate his leg. Once I finished the patients were medevac to Baghram for further treatment and advanced imaging. All were lucky today and will likely to return to the fight for freedom soon.
Live as vivid as a dream. Talk to you soon my friends.
P.S. Honey I already ate a box of blueberry fig bars, please send moreJ