Dr. Milly Tarry’s day technically begins as the sun rises, considering she never really had a night in the “sleeping through the night” sense of the word. The fact is, during this round of active duty in the Combat Support Hospital, Milly has had few nights where she has slept more than three consecutive hours before being needed on the operating room floor. While this would enact a toll on many, Milly’s residency and years of experience have trained her to function on little sleep.
Currently, Milly is elbows-deep in the abdominal cavity of a soldier wounded by shrapnel from a roadside mine explosion. Luckily, the twisted bits of metal missed major organs and arteries, but there is still the task of cleaning up every shard before her support staff can begin stitching this soldier back up for the long trip home.
Right now she needs some extra hands.
“Nurse!” Milly barks. “I need suction and sutures here now!”
The operating assistant doesn’t hesitate. Milly is proud of her crew, they are smart and quick on their feet. They work together to complete the cleanup and closure of the patient. Vital signs are solid. It’s time for this soldier to ship out to a permanent military hospital for recovery.
This battle has provided lots of excitement in the triage unit. It doesn’t matter where Milly is stationed, she is always amazed at the creative ways human beings invent to injure and maim each other. Milly takes a certain sense of satisfaction from being able to reverse some of that damage.
Just as Milly finishes washing up from this last surgery, the radio begins to crackle.
“Combat Hospital Bravo, be advised we have incoming casualties from the field. Prepare the operating tables.”
Milly and her crew already have them prepared.
As the injured arrive, Milly begins questioning transport so she can perform triage and get those who need help the most what they need, fast.
“What are we looking at?”
“Doctor, we have four soldiers who were hit in their tank, multiple fractures and a couple with some serious burns.”
Milly thinks fast, assessing the needs. Everyone is breathing, which means hearts are still beating. No resuscitation needed. She and the crew perform a quick head-to-toe on each soldier, locating each injury from burns to broken bones. Burns first, fractures can wait.
Her crew brings over the burn stabilization kits and they begin cleaning and covering the worst areas with second skin. Once these are stabilized, they move on to setting fractures.
Milly’s anesthesiologist is scrambling, as these are some of the most painful injuries possible, but they all work for one goal: get everyone stabilized and get them out of here. Once the patients are stable, transport is called in and the operating room is cleaned and cleared for the next round.
The day continues to be busy, with occasional moments of peace. Dr. Tarry takes advantage of these moments by training her RN’s in unfamiliar procedures. She could spend the time taking a quick cat nap, but she knows that having a skilled staff will save time – and lives – in the long run.
As they train, Milly tries to lighten the mood.
“Did you hear about the doctor’s advice to the patient who thought he was a pair of curtains?”
The staff groan, knowing a bad joke is coming.
“Pull yourself together!”
Dr. Tarry and the staff continue the joke-telling, trying to balance their deadly-serious work with humor to keep the sanity.
The training and jokes don’t last long, as the radio begins to crackle again. Once again it looks like today will spill into tonight, but Dr. Tarry thrives on it.