Sunday, March 1, 2009

Life continues

(Tow Truck?)

As an army base, the flight line is filled will all sorts of helicopters that fly missions around the clock. You never know what you will see up in the air. Picture # 1 was taken as I was walking back to the hospital after lunch. The HUMVEE must have broken down, so it caught a ride back from a "Chinook". Helicopters are also instrumental in transporting wounded from the scene to our hospital. There are always two helicopters, one being the “chase” helicopter that provides air support. The medics that provide care to the patients are incredibly brave (Picture # 2). These guys are part of the “cowboy dustoff.” They fly out to the scene, pick up the patients, and provide medical support back to the hospital. They are just two of a great group of nurses and medics providing care to the wounded soldiers that we treat. The landing pad is right across the street from the hospital. After the helicopters land, “litter” teams go out and pick up the patients and transport them to the EMT for evaluation (picture # 3).

(Litter team)

One of the best things about deployment is meeting people from all over the country. I have had the privilege of meeting so many great people, who are making tremendous acrifices to serve their country in this capacity. For example, picture # 4 is of me with two of the primary care physicians here at FOB Salerno. Dr. M (left) is a family practice physician charged with taking care of the aviation unit. She just graduated from her residency last July. She will be here for 12 months and will have the joy of celebrating her 1st year wedding anniversary here. Dr. W (right) is a dermatologist by training, but is the primary care physician for the rest of the base. She works tirelessly to make sure her patients are well cared for. She has 3 beautiful children at home and a husband who is in the last year of his surgical training! And I thought training was hard on my family! Only 1 ½ more months to go and she’ll get back home to them.

This was also a week of turnover. After 14 days of travel, Dr. V’s replacement finally arrived. Dr. D (picture #5) is a pediatric surgeon from Florida. He is in the army reserves and has previously been deployed to Iraq. How lucky am I. I actually love pediatric surgery and am planning on further training after my Air Force commitment. I’m glad Dr. D is here and I look forward to working with him. Capt G is pulling a face in the background. He just arrived and will be working here as a CRNA. Welcome!

(Dr. D, Capt G, Me)

The week was definitely interesting. An American contractor came to the clinic from another base complaining of a piece of steak being stuck in his esophagus. It had been there for about 2 days. He wasn't able to swallow and was choking on his own saliva. The weather did not permit him to be transferred to another facility for another 24 – 48 hours. Because it had already been in there 2 days, we didn’t feel like this could wait any longer to be removed. Usually, in the states this would be a rather easy problem to deal with using an endoscope. Here in the middle of Afghanistan, it proved to be a little more challenging because we really don’t have any advanced endoscopic equipment. We were however, able to find a single eye piece colonoscope (picture #5). I know this sounds gross, but we're somewhat limited in the middle of Afghanistan! Anyway, after it was cleaned and sterilized it was just another endoscope. We were then able to use it to push the piece of steak into the stomach (picture #6), thus clearing the obstruction. After a period of observation, he was able to eat and was subsequently discharged. Our week ended by treating a 15 year old Afghani boy who had been shot in the chest. We took him to the OR where we stopped his internal bleeding, repaired his broken sternum, and closed his chest wound. Picture # 6 is a picture of his open chest. Straight in is the sac containing the heart. The pink thing at the bottom is his lung. I’m glad to report that he is doing well and will make a full recovery. Take care.


  1. You, Dr. Fenton, are all of the descriptive adjectives you described everyone else with. You must be a marvelous team! My mind feels like it might explode as I try to wrap it around all the amazing experiences you must have on a daily basis. Way to be resourceful! We all think of you so often and remember you, and your team in our prayers. Stay safe and be well. We love you...yes all of you!
    Love,Mom and Dad

  2. Dr. F...
    Can't believe you do what you do!
    Love ya!