15 October 2007

15 OCT 2007 Give and take

15 OCT 2007 Give and take

Hi, all. I have quick moment now between operations. It has been a difficult morning. We come in each day, and we never know what sort of a wallop life holds in store.

Among the wounded we received today were a family that had been in a car wreck. There was a father, mother, and a baby girl. The father already had been intubated and sedated by the forward base. The mother was sore from her injuries, but fortunately they were not life threatening. Before them, the first one off the Blackhawk was the baby. She was unloaded first because she was the most severely injured. We had received advance notice that her head was injured and that the medics were using a machine to breathe for her. The crew rolled her into the ER and we secured her NATO gurney in one of the bays.

It was clear that she had suffered a major trauma to her head. She was swollen. She didn't respond to any touch or pain. Her eyes were dull and lifeless. Her monitor showed only a dying ripple of current in her heart, but there was no movement of blood through her veins. We gathered together surgeons and emergency doctors and agreed that she had no chance of surviving. We stopped the life support equipment and let her pass away. We thanked the medics for working so hard to bring her to us. We cleaned her body and removed the medical tubes that had been inserted.

I had to run tests on her mother and ensure that she had no major injury. Once I was sure that she was in no physical danger, I went to her with a translator to tell her that her child had died. A discussion like this rips my heart because it is a tragedy I cannot imagine for myself. I cannot even bear considering M. and I receiving such horrible news. I don't speak Arabic, but I did not need it to understand the news I gave this woman tore up her life . We brought her baby to her and helped her hold her close. Later we took the child to the morgue and admitted her mother to the hospital.

Such an event visibly shook the staff in the ER. We missed the people back home that we usually would have shared this with; those whose shoulders we would have leaned on. We didn't have much time to reflect because there were more patients to see.

There still are glimmers of happyness if you pursue them. We are caring for a young boy who was shot through the aorta, the largest artery in his belly. For days it was touch and go, but today he was stronger. He also gave us the surprise of showing us that he speaks English.

The newborn child has been able to spend much time with his mother as she gets better. The nurses on the ward have been calling him S., the same name as our urologist who operated on his mother. Today the mother told the nurses that she was going to keep that name, because she was so grateful for the care that she and her baby had received. Our hospital family and her family will be linked always, long after they have recovered enough to go home.

I'm off to start another operation. It has been a busy morning. I won't be so bold to wonder if that means the evening will be different.

Take good care of yourselves and love life,



Holly said...

Thanks so very much for sharing your life with us. And thank you for your service to our Country. Your sharing your skill and caring with these people is doing so much to really show them what America and her people are really about, I cannot thank you enough for the sacrifices you and your family are making.
I hope you and your comrades stay as safe as you possibly can.

Lauren said...

Hello! Came across your blog after it was mentioned in the NY Times. Thank you for sharing your experiences and for taking such good care of people. Odd question: Do you work with Col. Marcus by any chance? She's my mother. It was just your description of the col holding the baby blue blanket that made me think that maybe it was her.

Chris said...

Dear Holly and Lauren,

Thank you for dropping by! I really appreciate your kind comments. Lauren, the Colonel holding the baby wasn't your Mom, but maybe she stopped by too! I just heard her name paged overhead. You must be proud of her and miss her very much.

Best wishes,