Two days ago my time here in Afghanistan bled the reality my life has become. My fellow surgeons and I were headed to the DFAC at our usual time for dinner when from out of nowhere 2 rockets passed 100 feet over our heads and landed 50 yards away in a chilling intense explosion; a deafening white and red fiery aura surrounded us. Everyone in sight scattered in disorientation. After hitting the ground on instinct we sprinted to a nearby bunker and waited for the unexpected immediate future. Within a couple minutes the bunker was filled with the stench of sweating soldiers after being filled to capacity. The familiar sounds of Apache gunships filled the distance and with it comments of mal-tidings for those responsible from soldiers in my close proximity. A couple minutes later the sirens and audible message of “Code Delta” began.
We were not aware if any injuries were caused so after a short amount of time we sprinted back to the FST to hold our positions if medical treatment was necessary. We were held in a position of lockdown for probably an hour and fortunately no injuries were reported. We were informed the rockets hit positions just past major congregating area and left holes 4 feet in depth. Obviously the situation could have been much worse and my subconsciousness and others were alarmed. For the remainder of the night our security was coaxed with sounds of invisible Apaches keeping watch over us from the blackness of the sky above.
The following morning I awoke with my senses alerted unlike past days. The previous night’s rocket attack opened insecurities within myself I have not felt before. Lately, we have been informed that intelligence sources have increasing credible information of an impending attack on our base. With the recent foiled plan of 13 internal insurgents on our base and then yesterday’s rocket attack anxiety is becoming apparent in members of our FST and surrounding soldiers. We actually were given tentative dates the attack could occur on; very soon. All we can do is prepare and hope it does not come to fruition.
Today, I saw a 5 year old Afghan girl back who many past FOB orthopedic surgeons have been involved with. Two years ago she fell into her home fire pit and sustained severe burns to her hand. She has had multiple surgeries over the last couple of years to help regain motion and achieve separation of her fingers after they fused together following inadequate third world local treatment. This young girl has done surprisingly well and may potentially need only one more operation. Today’s appointment with me was to see how her hand was progressing. Unfortunately, one of her fingers has begun to flex further as the surrounding deformed skin has continued to contract. Through our interpreter “Max” I discussed the situation with the girls’ father. He agreed with my surgical plan and a tentative date about a week from today was set to surgically correct her finger. I asked Joey T to join me for the surgery as he will be pursuing a fellowship in plastic surgery in the not too distant future and skin grafting will likely be needed. I’m excited to make a difference in this young girl’s life and so is our entire Forward Surgical Team.
I love you Missy, Turin, Talon and baby Myla. Save some candy for daddy.