Another week has gone by. This week went by a little quicker than the last. Our census has finally dropped in the ICU and we were given some extra time for ourselves. It was nice to say the least and much needed. I feel like we have been working hard and trying to keep pace with our demanding patients. They are demanding in their needs and medical problems not necessarily in their wants.
I have seen deaths door too often since I have been here. It is again an unfortunate reality to the situation we are in. There is such trauma sustained to the body from IED blasts, GSWs, and everything else that the fact that the body can withstand some of that torment is incredible. It is even harder for some reason to see a child affected in this way by this war. It is not everyday that I get to care for sick and injured children, but here in Baghdad it is an everyday reality. Small children as young as 3 years old have crossed my path. They have suffered from gun shot wounds, IED blasts, and vehicle crashes just like the adults I care for. There is no differentiating between who the blast will affect and where the bullets will land. Their little bodies withstanding all that torture of injury and surgery to recovery and rehab. Some of them don’t survive and perhaps their deaths hurt more because they are too young; too young to have really lived and enjoyed life. They may simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time or caught in the cross fire. We had a family of 8 injured in the cross fire this week. Two children died on the scene, two were admitted to our ICUs, one was flown to Balad for a head injury, the father was cared for in the Step Down unit, and the pregnant mother was cared for on the ward.
How do you care for each of these injured souls? It is difficult enough trying to get better for yourself, but when your very support system is pulled out from under you how do you heal a broken heart?
So today on Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family, my friends, my fellow soldiers, and the gift of being a nurse. I may not always give myself the credit I deserve as I have been reminded so often by those that know me all too well, but I am a good nurse. It has taken this deployment for me to realize that. I have a gift of connecting with people when they are down and out and helping them get to the best place for them. It may not always be better or healed where they walk out of those hospital doors from where they first entered. It may be to die with ease and comfort or to find a place where they feel safe. I have my doubts that I may not always accomplish what I set out to do, but the fact is that I try.
On a different note, I took care of another fellow soldier tonight. I have a difficult time trying to explain the difference between taking care of soldiers than taking care of other types of patients. I was told once that soldiers fight harder, take more risks, and accomplish great things because they know that we (the medical assets) are here to take good care of them if they get hurt. I know tonight my patient must have thought I was crazy when I wanted to turn him and check his backside. Keep in mind he had multiple fractures and wounds from being in an IED blast. I gave him the rationale why and we screamed and fought through the pain to get him to move so I could check his wounds and his skin to assure he wasn’t going to “bleed out” without me knowing about it. He forgave me later when I let him brush his teeth and helped him wash up this morning. He told me that this was so embarrassing for him. He looked at me strangely as I offered him my explanation that “this” was my favorite part of my job. I told him that I love to help people and if helping them brush their teeth and washing them up is going to make them feel better then hand over the wash cloth and soap!
He may not even realize that even his bed bath is part of his recovery. He brushed his teeth today with his one good arm (2pts). He washed his face and torso (5pts). He washed his hair with a shampoo cap (2pts). He rolled in bed so much better the second time around so I could wash his backside and change his sheets (10pts). My point is all these little things add up. They double as physical therapy, they count as exercise and assist the blood to flow to those injured parts to facilitate healing, and they give him control over a seemingly uncontrollable situation. Everything I do has a purpose; they may not know that or ever learn that, but it is to help them reach a goal. That goal would be to walk out of Walter Reed or some other Army facility a stronger man or woman than when they came in. Beat up and broken initially, but stronger and wiser later.
This is how I fight this war. This is my part in making a difference during this deployment. I may not always know why I am here or agree with what we are doing, but I know that my mission is to take care of soldiers and this is what I will do.
I will end this here. I am well and in good spirits despite that the holidays are here and I’m without all of you. Again, I cannot thank you all enough for sending the wonderful packages, letters, and support on such a daily basis.
I wasn’t able to get any Thanksgiving cards this time and most of you know that I keep Hallmark in business by sending greetings for all the holidays. I want to wish everyone a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I hope that this season helps us all to reflect on what we have to be truly thankful for. Plus how can you go wrong with turkey and all the fixings!
Wishing you all well. Thinking of you often and missing you more! I’ll be in touch.