Sunday, January 16, 2022

Everyman

Ezel reached out to me. We had lunch.

He pulled a faded letter and envelope from his pocket, fingered it. I had written him from Prague. Ezel said his wife had died. He said she enjoyed reading my letter, as she was dying. It spoke of hope and love. Overcoming pain and fear. Ezel gave me the letter.

His voice was grave, eyes moist. I updated him.

It had been years.

#

I lay on the operating table. I convulsed, vomited, full of New Year's booze. Pupils frozen. Ezel suctioned, wiped my vomit away.

#

I asked, "Did you actually touch my brain." Ezel nodded. "Yes."

###

The morning traffic was stop and go. It was sunny. Two cars hit. The man and woman pulled aside and stepped out. They backed-up to inspect the dents. They were hit. Ambulances came. They closed the highway. A helicopter landed.

#

This was my second rotation at the Emergency Department at the level one trauma center. My prior study comprised 12 observations ranging from care for patients with significant hypertension, respiratory difficulty, muscle laceration, substance use disorder, cancer-related disability, syncope, and psychogenic issues: as well as procedures such as male personal care, cleaning medical equipment, electrocardiogram, ultrasound, and computerized axial tomography (CAT). My preceptor gave me high marks, but he apologized that the round was “not very exciting.”

For my second study, I arrived at 6:40 AM and was assigned to emergency room triage. The initial observed cases included leg joint swelling, abdominal pain (suspected early pregnancy), severed finger (construction accident), severe hypertension (blood pressure 294/179 with acute abdomen), and a cancer patient with tachycardia (pulse 200). At about 9:00 AM, we were notified of incoming code yellow and code blue vehicular trauma patients, transported by ambulance and air, respectively.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Khe Sanh

Adapted from: George C. Wilson (1927-2014), "THREE DUMB WARS: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan Killed Millions of Civilians for No Good Reason," April 2012, unpublished manuscript.



“Hey, Mistah Reporter,” the tall, muscular Specialist Four shouted out to me in the spring of 1968 as he hoisted up his gear from the A Shau Valley floor in northernmost South Vietnam. He was preparing to move up the steep mountain trail to shoot dead or chase away any North Vietnamese troopers who had infiltrated through our lines on the mountainside during our first night. The bad guys might be lying in an ambush position at the top of the mountain.

“Does your newspaper say you have to go with us?”

“No,” I answered.

“You’re going with us anyway?”

“Yup.”

“Where’s your weapon?”

“There’ll be plenty of weapons lying around if we get in trouble,” I answered.

“So, you’re going with us even though you don’t have to go, and you don’t even have a weapon?”

“Yup.”

“Well, Mistah Reporter, all I can say is that you’ve got shit for brains.”