Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Soldier

My home computer has gone comatose. I formated, reinstalled windows (grrrr), prayed, threatened. Now it's just confused, but just as useless. This explains the lack of blogging. In addition, I'm doing a rotation in the pain clinic in another hospital. It involves quite a lot of commuting, so by the time I get home I only have time to help the Mrs. with the three musketeers. Unless, of course I'm on call. So if I find a rare quiet moment at work, I can blog there.
Last Thursday I drove from the center of the country back to Be'er Sheva to be on call in the ICU. There was a lot of activity surrounding an injured soldier. Both Treppenwitz and A Soldier's Mother mention him in their blogs. My first thought was how I miss the action and adrenaline of the emergency cases. 14 hours later, this feeling would pass. The chief of the ICU and the deputy chief stayed on until the wee hours of the night. Army medical corps officers were on hand to help getting drugs that were running low. Four nurses never left the side of his bed. The flurry of activity lasted all through the night. We all knew that the chance for survival was almost non-existent. But we never stopped working. The problem was uncontrolled bleeding. The vicious cycle of bleeding, consumption coagulopathy (depletion of clotting factors), hypothermia and metabolic acidosis was full blown. Each limb feeds on the others and all must be treated simultaneously. Thus the intense effort to try to save this young man.
For all of us he could be a comrade, a friend, a son. All of us felt it, and it was implicitly understood and unspoken. In this small country, almost everyone has lost a friend or a relative in battle or in a terrorist bombing. So everyone's son is our son as well. We might not know the same pain as the parents of this soldier but we will be acutely aware of it. And so, we never gave up trying.
At five in the morning, he started to bleed again. I ordered another set of units of blood, plasma, thrombocytes and clotting factors from the blood bank. The technicians in the blood bank were, to me, just disembodied voices on the phone. But they too had worked around the clock preparing the blood products. And when the bank was empty, they had more sent by taxi from the central blood bank.
By the time I finished morning rounds the soldier had received over 50 units of blood and hundreds of units of other blood products. I went home exhausted. Another doctor would take over.
The next morning I was in the clinic. I called the ICU to find out how the soldier was faring. He had died just minutes before my call. The feeling was one of frustration combined with emptyness, as if a huge hole had just swallowed his soul. Despite this, I wouldn't hesitate doing it all over under the same circumstances. Because. Because another man's son might have been my son.


Unknown said...

...So everyone's son is our son as well. We might not know the same pain as the parents of this soldier but we will be acutely aware of it.

Perfectly articulated. I think we all feel this way these days....

כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה

Baila said...

Beautifully written. Keep on posting.

Lioness said...

I know exactly what you mean, and I often miss this feling that everyone is at most 2 or 3 degrees away from everyone else.

Such a sad thing to happen, it must make it hard to go on at times, and it must make it always impossible not to.

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