6 DEC 2007 Another volley
I’m back in my hooch after having spent the last three nights operating in the hospital. Today I am post call, and the B-Czar, so after a brief clinic seeing Iraqi postoperative patients, I bike back to my bunk in a light rain and haven’t emerged since.
It was a crappy afternoon. I lost a patient quite suddenly during surgery. We tried hard to bring him back, but once his heart stopped, we never got it going again. It drained me. We members of the team who had worked together on him stared numbly at his motionless body. The chaplain was very kind. He clasped me on the back as he spoke encouraging words. I didn’t want to dwell on it. I didn’t want to think about it. I told myself nothing ventured, nothing gained. We take risks with our patients every day when we put them through operations, but we can’t do nothing. We have to try.
I’ve been treating two children, a brother and a sister who were injured when an explosive device went off in their back yard. They have gotten better since their initial operations. Yesterday I did a second operation on the boy to reconnect his intestines, form a colostomy, and close his belly. He looked good. The hole in his bladder was closed and the repair to the lower end of his left kidney was holding tight. I closed his belly up and he should be breathing on his own soon. His sister is already breathing well by herself. Even though I had to take out one of her kidneys, she is making lots of healthy pee. She doesn’t have any appetite yet, but hopefully it comes soon.
After surgery, I stopped to talk with the children’s father. He was so worried, but was happy to hear good news of some progress. The family doesn’t live too far away. The father is a member of an Iraqi security force organization. He wasn’t here the first night we treated his children because he was employed in a security operation. He commands men. I told him about my own children and that I could only imagine how hard it was to see his children suffer.
As I said, the children were injured in their back yard. It is likely that the family was targeted because of the father’s work. Most of the family was together in the back yard when the explosion occurred. They were building a fire. It has been rather cold here lately. Everyone in the backyard was injured in one way or another by the explosion. (Redacted) of them were transferred to our hospital. The two most seriously injured were the boy and girl on whom my colleagues and I operated.
I told the man that the operation to close his son’s belly went well and watched the relief spread across his face. We talked about our families. I showed him pictures of our three boys. He told me about his two wives and 16 children. The nurses and I told him that we couldn’t imagine that he ever got any sleep! He laughed and said that he worked at night because he wouldn’t get any rest if he was at home. M. had sent me to Iraq with a pink blanket she had knit for a baby in Iraq. I gave the blanket to the man for his daughter. I hope that I get his children home soon.
In the past three days I’ve slept about four hours. This morning I stumbled and squinted through rounds in a Tweety Bird scrub top that I had worn for thirty hours. My underwear had been sweat through from operating with a lead apron last night while I helped Orthopedic Surgeon H. drill pins to line up the broken shinbone of an Iraqi soldier. I didn’t care much about the two-day stubble sprouting around my moustache. My throat was beginning to scratch with the cold that has been sweeping through the hospital staff. I headed back to the hooch for the three S’s.