A Physician's Report from Iraq
Discussion Board on this Respect item
This past week I spent most of my time in the intensive care unit. Sometimes I feel like a utility ballplayer the way I am used. So far, I have worked in ICU, the Intermediate Care Ward, EMT(aka ER), and in the clinic. In the ICU, I gave thrombolytic therapy(clot buster) to a 48 year old Jordanian contractor having a massive stroke, took care of an overdose of antidepressants, cared for a gun shot wound to the abdomen, an IED blast with neck and extremity wounds, a number of concussions and some burns among others. There is very little cardiology going on here. My favorite patient Abbas, was transferred to an Iraqi facility this week. We treat them until stable, then ship them out. He was a 22 year old new Iraqi policeman who was blown up by a suicide bomber and sustained a spinal cord injury with resulting paraplegia (paralyzed below the waist). He was only recently married four months ago. In spite of everything, he always had such a nice smile for me whenever I would care for him or pass by his bed. I will miss him.
My time here has been enhanced by an extremely competent and dedicated group of medical professionals. I am attached to a reserve unit out of Massachusetts, but most of the physicians are just like me, plucked from the reserve scrolls. Most have practices that are on hold or have substitutes or partners that are taking up the slack. A good number of them have extended and stayed here for up to a year. Originally, the hospital was in Mozul, and I hear that they took mortar frequently. On this, my third deployment, I can say from experience that the reserve physicians give excellent medical care. Unlike other occupations in the reserves where you may be a cook in civilian life but an infantryman on the weekends, doctors are out in the civilian sector honing their skills waiting to be called. The military loves physicians because they don't have to train them to do anything. They are out there everyday doing what they come into the military to do. The military does slow you down though because there is an electronic medical record and everything you do, such as a history and physical needs to be in-putted into the computer by the practitioner. My two fingered typing skills are getting a work-out.
The characters I meet are something right out of a Frank Capra movie. Jim Dimaio is an Italian Long Islander, who is an internist with a very subtle sense of humor and a big heart. He signed up as the only physician boxer for the fourth of July boxing match at age 41, in spite of never having boxed in his life. Needless to say he was beaten by a stud 20 year old Marine but you had to admire his guts. Our radiologist is a Vietnamese-American with five kids who is an assistant professor of radiology at the University of Cinncinati. One of our orthopedists is a full professor at upstate in New York. He has extended his tour of duty here. The urologist is a West Pointer in private practice in Maine. These are just a few of the outstanding group that is taking care of America's warriors. You can rest assured, they are in good hands.