20 October 2007

20 OCT Come see us at work

20 OCT Come see us at work

Ah yes, on call, and a moment's peace. We have enjoyed a temporary lull in the action and haven't had to run marathon days in the O.R. I've done a few operations today, admitted a few men to the hospital, but had time to enjoy three meals . That's a measure of a good day. I even had time to pee without having to wait for a break in operations. It may not sound important, but when there isn't time to visit a restroom, the day is too busy. It reminds me of one of the rules of residency. During a busy call night it is important to prioritize. Not just the patients, but also essential personal activities. They are, in order of importance, 1)Pee, 2)Call loved one, 3)Eat, 4)Sleep, 5)Shower. If you make it as far as #3 it is a good call night and you have nothing to complain about.

Yesterday's loss of the poor burned boy is a sad event that will stay with us, but we have to cowboy up and get back to work. Today was much nicer. Strengthened by kind wishes from home, I was able to get back into the fray. The morning had a great start with a smooth operation on a boy who was getting rid of his colostomy. I worked with Colorectal specialist J. who showed me some good tricks he uses in his practice back home. The boy had been using the bag on his belly to go to the bathroom for six months, after having been shot. Today was his graduation and we reconnected his intestines. Not only is it our victory, but it also is a credit to the work of the surgeons from the previous rotation who kept him alive at the time of his life-threatening injury. I visited him this afternoon to give him a coloring book and Crayolas sent to me from family at home. He was tired but looking good. He moved like a little old man in the bed , turning gingerly to avoid straining his sore abdominal muscles. I asked him how much it hurt and he held his index finger and thumb close together and clucked his tongue to tell me "just a little". It will be good to see him up and walking around the room soon.

I also worked on a girl who had suffered a serious penetrating head injury. She had not woken up, even after several days of treatment in our hospital. I put tubes in her to make it easier for her to breathe and eat while she was in this unresponsive state. She is still alive and I will maintain hope for her to wake up and start moving. I have been surprised in the past by children who have made amazing recoveries after head wounds that I was sure would kill them. If there is life there is hope. Children seem to have a remarkable ability to recover from injuries that would be hopeless in an adult. The young may not be immortal, but they try to be with every fiber of their being.

Later in the day, our general led a group of visitors through the hospital. Usually when a DV (distinguished visitor) tours through the hospital, we have some advance warning. One of the command sergeants walks ahead to make sure there isn't any embarrassing behavior going on. Most people take it as an opportunity to vacate the area and high-tail it out of there. When the advance warning came, I was entering patient notes into the computer, so I stood my ground and didn't flee with the rest. When our general entered the PLX, I rose to attention with the others present as he led members of the Congressional Armed Services Committee. They shook our hands, and thanked us for our service. There was nothing going on at the hospital at the time, so it looked like we were spending our deployment surfing the Internet. There was one trauma call during their visit, so the party relocated to the ER. It turned out to be a 10-month old baby who had been in a car accident the day before. He came to us escorted by six relatives. The just kept climbing out of the ambulance, one after another. He was crying vigorously, and had but a bump on his head. We ran some tests, comforted his mother and sent them all on their way back home.

I don't think I would recommend the trip, but we certainly do have a lot of visitors to the hospital. A few weeks ago I got to meet Adm Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He came with quite a security detachment and we narrowly avoided missing dinner waiting for the convoy to clear the exit. He was very interested in the hospital and asked us questions about the work we did and how we thought we were able to get our jobs done. He was kind enough to give us his coin as recognition for our work. He had a straightforward and open manner about him and showed a true concern for us. He is one man who has a much tougher job than I do.

Prior to that we were also graced with a visit from Poison front man Bret Michaels. He dropped by the hospital to visit injured troops.He was kind enough to pose with us for pictures. His security was a mountain of a man who could have bounced in any roadhouse. Later that night Poison gave a wailin' show in the Sustainer Theater. Troops had lined up hours before and the crowd was SRO.

We are very appreciative when we have visitors. It is always an encouraging vote of confidence to know that we are remembered back home. I'm impressed that people would choose to risk their own safety to schlep it out to Balad. I worry for them. I remember once I was in Al-Udeid when a different Congressional delegation was visiting. One of the Congressmen asked a Sergeant at the terminal if there was anything Congress could do for him. He replied that they could stop sending Congressional delegations to Iraq, putting themselves and the aircrews at risk! His answer holds truth, but the concern for us is still appreciated!

I wish you well, and STAY SAFE, STAY HOME!




lainy said...

What a wonderful blog you have. I came over by way oh Holly's Hystrionics.

Thank you for all you do. I pray for all of you over there doing such wonderful work. Thank you.Thank you Thank you!

Holly said...

I read a lot of MedBlogs, and that prob of finding time to visit the Restroom seems to be a recurring theme for a lot of BigCity ERs, too.
Glad to hear the kiddo with the Colostomy repair is doing well. The medical care being provided now to some of these Iraqi citizens must be amazing to them.
I am proud to be an American when I hear your stories.

When I read your phrase "Cowboy up", I knew you had to have been in Texas for a while. Somehow I don't think you learned that phrase in Conn. or elsewhere on the East Coast. *G*

Stay safe.

Chris said...

Dear Lainy and Holly,

Thanks for dropping by! I'm just doing my job over here. Holly, it was very nice of you to link to me from your blog. Yes, it took me over 30 years to get to TX, but I've absorbed as much as a stale old mind could. As for my kids, they are naturalized Texans and will have a little culture shock when we head back East!

Be well,