Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sometimes this war just kicks me in the head

I have been off my game all day today. I shouldn't have made that last post last night. It was the Wedding Day photo that Dr. Sardonicus posted at WTWC that did it.

I spent over two decades in healthcare, the last 12 years as a lab professional, and lab professionals are an integral part of the burn care team. Infections are the number one killer of burn victims, and fighting infections is a process that requires constant vigilance and painful treatment. One of the things that prevents infection is wound debridement, and the other front in that battle is plasma exchange. No one with a major burn is safe from the complication of sepsis (systemic infection) until the burn wound is completely grafted or has healed, all I.V. lines are removed, the patient is eating, all courses of antibiotics have been administered, and the patient has no fever for a few days.

Wound debridement is extremely painful, and no medication exists that can completely eliminate the pain a patient experiences during this process. I will never forget the first time I ever set foot in a burn unit, when I was in training. Those first screams I heard from the debridement tank will ring in my ears until the day I die. Last night, they came back as soon as I laid eyes on that photo. They have not abated since.

PTSD and TBI are getting a lot of press, but in a year or so, the real signature injury of this war is going to be evident, in a check-out line near you. In a conflict where the majority of fatalities and injuries are the result of explosions, you are going to see a lot of burn victims in the coming years.

And god-damnit, if you advocate another Friedman Unit now, don't you dare turn your face away then.

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