Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"The Life I Left"

It’s been a long 2 ½ months since I left my family and previous life back at Fort Knox.  I left my new born daughter Myla when she was 2 weeks old and now she has past 3 month and her new smile doesn’t have daddy’s face for reciprocation. My boys Turin (4 yrs.) and Talon (2 ½ yrs.) are getting used to growing up without a father.  Phone calls and the occasional Skype is not the solution I thought it would be.  As time moves forward I see a disinterest in my children communicating with me.  Days have melted into one another and I am forced to become a single individual torn from established fatherly roots, who gets used to not being around his children; that scares the hell out of me. The social ramifications of family separation are all around me and no one is immune.  Time in this environment jades family lines within everyone in its grasp, especially soldiers with longer deployments.  When a person encounters a stressful situation they have two choices, adapt or resist the situation; most choose to adapt to lower the stress threshold.  When soldiers during deployment adapt the stress may decrease during the course of their commitment but eventually when the home environment is reencountered the adaption mechanism is called on again. This mechanism becomes a stress in its self and domestic issues can ensue; on both sides.  My wife who is an active duty U.S. army ER physician is slotted to deploy to Afghanistan soon after I return; I can’t imagine the mental, emotional, and family unit repercussions we are going to experience in the not so distant future. Kate Plus 8 isn’t a part of this movie; no Hollywood here just real life. 
The last 2 days have been relatively calm with light trauma and orthopedic consult galore.  I’ve sent 3 soldiers home for injuries that preclude them from preforming their missions; each one fighting to stay, but I have the fortune of seeing their long term when they only see today, right here and now.  It seems the volume of non-traumatic injuries is increasing as local FOB’s and aid station learn of my existence. 
Many of the trauma patients we see are under the diagnosis “traumatic brain injury” or also known as TBI.   This involves a head injury mild to severe which is usually caused by an explosion of some sort.  IED (improvised explosive devices) are the leading cause and their diagnosis is increasing.  In the past TBI injuries were poorly understood and treatments available were almost non-existent.  The high incidence of TBI’s in this war has lead the medical command as well as health care providers to better understand how to diagnosis them and also to find treatment modalities that will improve soldiers outcome.  Part of this investigation included a grant for a MRI at a major base within Afghanistan to research changes in effected individuals.  Early data from theater has found its way to the civilian side of life too. The NFL is also doing research on players with multiple concussions in a similar manner.  Together both the NFL and military will formulate diagnostic techniques and treatment plans for individuals with TBI.  We have a long path to follow but eventually our effort will be worth its weight in gold.
I miss my family J



  1. I found this site through Millbloggers.Thank you for your service and sacrifices both you and your family all make in being over there.
    I love your articles.I write to some of your US soldiers over there and know that if the unthinkable ever happens and they are wounded,they are in good hands with people like yourself at the helm.God Bless you.

  2. It saddens us to see a GI with a missing limb, or a badly difigured face from a fire, but since we can't see the effect of the TBI with our eyes, the people having them get shortchanged. Sitting here in the comfort of home, much to old to fear any sort of mil-service, I am elated to read more and more about TBI research and how to deal with it. One of the positives of these damnable IEDs will be that we learn how to handle another type of injury to us.
    As usual, great post, Doc.
    I have been reading mil-blogs for a few years, and appreciate the front line accounts, but yours show another facet of it all.