Twenty-five years ago, I was a chief general surgery resident at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. Early on Christmas Eve morning in 1993, I was called to the Emergency Room to see a young soldier who had fallen several stories from a hotel balcony in Waikiki. Lee had multiple injuries, to include a closed head injury and blunt abdominal trauma. But, his most immediate problem was a transected (torn) aorta, the major artery carrying blood from the heart to the body.
I contacted the Army thoracic (chest) surgeon on call, who in turn reached out to one of the civilian thoracic surgeons in Honolulu. Together, those two surgeons fixed Lee’s torn aorta, with me playing a minor part as second assistant. Afterward, my team of residents explored his abdominal injuries, and then supervised his early recovery in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Once Lee was stable enough for travel to the mainland, he was airlifted out, and I never expected to hear from him again.
But, two and a half years ago, I received an email with the subject line, “Are You The Doc Who Saved My Life?”. Of course, I said, “Yes, that was me”! Nah, I didn’t. I explained that I was only one member of a team, which is always the case in surgery. But, I was thrilled to hear from Lee after all those years! Lee gave me permission to share this story, which I thought would be great to do at the twenty-fifth anniversary of our first meeting on that Christmas Eve morning in 1993.
Lee now lives in Virginia, and we reconnected in person during my last two trips to D.C. The following photos are from our first meeting in 2017.
One of the interesting, and certainly the most rewarding, aspects of being a physician candidate is reconnecting with former patients along the way. In the past several years, I’ve been delighted to be reacquainted with people I’ve taken care of in Hawaii, Georgia, Colorado, and, of course, in Iowa. In addition to Lee, there is Valeria, Dennis, Ed, Wilson, Ray, Stanley, and probably lots of others I’m forgetting.
Thank you all for your support and trust over the years, and especially your friendship! I am truly blessed for having known you all.
Until Next Year…
I received lots of positive feedback from my last entry, Snowflakes and Deplorables, so thanks for that! There is obviously much agreement that our politics is messed up, and that we need to try something different. I have some ideas of how we can move forward, but I’ve been busy with work and the holidays, as I’m sure is true of many. I’ll be back to you in 2019.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and my very best to you all in the New Year!