Doctors view of Marines

January 6, 2012 by  
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Doctors view of Marines

This is a Marine Corps Birthday message from a Navy Doctor in Afghanistan (for the civilians among you, he is stationed a major, non-Marine base). I have left some of the forwarding blog material below. The doctor’s comments are unedited. My apologies to the priests who are addressees but you would have been extremely suspicious of editorializing had there not been scatological opinion reinforcement of the Anglo – Saxon variety.

The Corps that we served and love lives on. May God Bless Them, Us, Our Corps and Our Nation.

Remember him (The Dr. and his staff) in your prayers. They are doing a great job for our wounded Marines.

Dr. Dennihy wanted me to forward this. I am following directions. Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 1:30 PMAs an IA or individual augmentee for the army, and being stationed on a NATO base, I planned on not seeing a lot of Marines. Their primary base, “Leatherneck ” is in Helmand province and combat injured Marines are close to another Role III run by the Brits.

When a Marine crosses my path I usually engage him in one form or another and when they are in my shop I can sometimes make what’s routine for me less daunting to the Marine. Marines don’t like medical, pure and simple.

Not that I want to see Marines injured but I just want to see Marines.

Marines don’t show up to sick call with I want my mommy complaints.

Marines don’t walk the base in PT gear or with their weapons slung hap hazzardly.

Marines seldom if ever, fail to note an officer passing.

Marines taking care of their own but are appreciative of those Docs that take care of them.

Apart from my medical degree, the award, honor, ribbon, or academic acknowledgement that I am most proud of is the “Fleet Marine Force ” warfare device I earned deploying with the 2/23 Marines to Ramadi, Iraq in 2009.

Marines do show up here at KAF though and I usually take the opportunity to mess with them. Two Marines were in the chow hall on their way to Camp Leatherneck and I ask if I can join them. The two lance corporals seem a little suspicious but after I put them at ease with some old man banter they swivel their heads around and ask me…

Sir, what the ___ is this place? Everybody’s got gym clothes on and it looks like their weapons don’t even work. What’s with the hippie civilians? I explain KAF and they are both happy that they will be leaving soon.

I see Marines in primary care when they come on a consult to see ophthalmology or our neurologist the TBI specialist. The LNO, an FMF Corpsman, will grab me if they have any wound related issues. I have had two Marines seeing those specialist for eye injuries or TBIs and I have seen them for the holes where shrapnel tore into their subcutaneous space and was subsequently removed, leaving a gaping open wound.. Lucky they had been, but they were left with a big hole that would take a month to heal. I offered a delayed primary closure to the two of them telling them that it had a fifty-fifty chance of not getting infected. Like all Marines, adventuresome and for the most part trusting of a Navy doctor… an FMFdoc, they said that if it would get them back to their unit they were good to go. I scrubbed their wounds, debrided margins and sutured them up.

I see Marines in my trauma bay and usually these Marines have not been as lucky. When I know they’re coming I have on my game face and I ask the Lord for my A game. A snipers bullet to the head, a dismembering IED blast and a Marine who I will call “Rocky”.

Rocky is a recon Marine, the toughest of the tough. His face, neck and upper chest were exposed to an IED blast. He is six foot two, two hundred and 45 pounds. He comes in on a litter with only an IV and a face that looks like hamburger. His left eye is ruptured and his right is swollen shut. Thankfully he can answer me and nods and gives one word answers. I tell him we will put him to sleep and square him away.

He tells me “Doc, do what you got to do” The blinded Marine shows bearing in the face of serious injury. After the CT scan that confirms his eye rupture but has spared his brain, we clean up his face the best we can while we wait for his time in the OR. My team takes out eight stones blown into his face and neck. The smallest being the size of a peanut M&M and the largest the size of a pecan in his forehead. We saved all the stones for him. At the same time in another bay, another Marine has been shot in the head.

Luckily he is awake and although speech comes with difficulty, the bullets tract is on the periphery of the brain. He will go to Surgery with our Neurosurgeon and blessedly do well. Before he goes to the OR, I need to squeeze his hand and wish him luck. On his chest is written: “My help comes from the maker of heaven and earth ” Psalms 121.2. The third Marine unfortunately, is a fallen angel.

I am also lucky enough to have two former Marines on my trauma team. One is a now hardened experienced ICU/ER nurse. He served in Vietnam as a Recon Marine in 1968. The other is a former grunt and Hollywood Marine and is also an experienced ER nurse. These two necessary components make my trauma team the best in Afghanistan….simple as that! Today I am not seeing any Marines at the hospital. I am among them however, during a 5K run on their beloved Marine Corps Birthday. The run was fast and I ran in honor of a Marine KIA in OEF. My bib has the name of LCPL Tyler O. Griffith. I ran for him today and all the Devil Dogs in Afghanistan. I ran for all Marines but I ran the hardest for the grunts, the infantrymen that will always be the definition of warrior.

Semper Fidelis,
LCDR Dave Dennihy MC, USN Diplomat American Board of Emergency Medicine

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