Genesis 50:20

Genesis 50:20 - You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Battle For Mosul

Preface:  I wrote this while I was in Mosul in 2010 in Nineveh.  Now with the Battle of Mosul raging I thought it was again appropriate.

The glamor gone, the days go on and the rain, the ground does drench
Cool morning walks, 3 and one half blocks, to the gym's stuffy smelly stench.
But the run is great, makes me appreciate, the time I have on my hands.
Though the mud is deep, it makes good clay, for me to be in the potters plan.

Ancient town, now I'm in, the town where Jonah saw
His deep disdain just melt away after heeding heavens call.
Now today, 5 times a day, Islamic tongues now low
And conflict raises in my heart as it did in Jonah's soul

Why do they want to kill each other, like animals they prowl
And proclaim, "In Allah's Name" but instead the demons growl
But God is great and back then he gave compassion unto Jonah
And still today He loves all those that live in the mud of Nineveh


I picked up a new book of memoirs written by MAJ Dick Winters from the 101st easy company.  I read the preface and then later that evening found myself looking for a movie about surgeons in war.  I realized that I was longing for something specific.  I was longing for someone else to share my experience with.  I was looking to see if anyone had depicted the experiences of a combat surgeon.  Depressingly, I found several text books on combat surgery and educational material on surgery and the history of surgery, but never on memoirs of a combat surgeon. 

There are elements of deployment that anyone who has deployed and only those that have deployed can relate.  And as I have said previously, there are many things that my combat arms brothers share that I will (Lord willing) never experience.  These things make them a club unto themselves, a band of brothers.  Us medical corps types, although greatly appreciated remain outside of the circle.  But likewise, there are things that we experience that they will never experience…. save maybe the combat medic.  And even within the medical team, the surgeon alone bears tremendous burden and responsibility.  We are put on a pedestal.  We are expected and counted on to save the soldier.  If the solders survive long enough to make it to the FST, they are expected to survive.  They place their full confidence and trust in us.   It is with this sacred trust that they go out confidently into harm’s way, knowing that we stand ready, always.  And we surgeons, must always reflect that confidence to them so they know we are ready.  But here lies the problem for the surgeon.  We are human.  And in the moment that only the surgeon can see the laboriously exposed injury in the abdomen, or chest, or pelvis, and the surgeon is the only one who knows what must be done, do they have the commensurate skills to accomplish the task.  In that moment, the answer will be yes or no.  And if the answer is no, the soldier dies and the combat surgeon dies inside.  Every time an alert of a casualty comes through the lines of communication, the surgeon knows that once again he will face this painful, humbling question.   I must admit, it is out of fear of this question that, at present, motivates me to study.   And this too frustrates me.  I have told others that God has made them for a purpose and when they find that purpose, there is great fulfillment in honing their skills to better fulfill their purpose.   This creates a positive cycle that further motivates them to get better and better, as they feel more and more fulfilled.  But for me now, I am feeling more fear than fulfilment.  This fear I know comes from insecurity.  And this insecurity comes from placing my trust in the wrong thing.  Earlier this year I counselled one of my senior residents about this very thing.  He felt that the only way he could rest well was if he knew all the right surgical answers. My advice to him then, I now need.  I told him I thought it was interesting that, as smart as he was, why would he think that seeking all the right answers to the little things would bring him comfort, while leaving the truly important questions unanswered?  The question is true for me today.  As I, motivated by fear of not knowing how to face a problem, study, miss the answer to the question my heart is really seeking, “God, will you take care of this soldier through me?”   And the answer to this question is always a resounding yes!!!!!    That’s why the Paul emphatically writes to Timothy in 2Tim1:6-7, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”.

This is the struggle.  And my heart wants to connect with others that have experienced this too.  But as I read this, I realize that this is a struggle for all that are afraid.  Our fear is rooted in insecurity.  And our insecurity comes from misplaced trust; trust that is not rooted in God but rather in smaller things.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." -Matt 6:33

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reserve Parachute

There is nothing new going on at this point in the deployment. Things are very very routine now. This is the point in the deployment where it is what you make of it. You can squander time away waiting for the next day and the next day until the deployment ends. Or you can make the most of each moment.

I know that my experience here is much different than most of the soldiers' experience. They are out kicking doors in and supporting those who do. I have often described my job to those soldiers that see me sitting while reading on the front porch "doing nothing" as being a reserve parachute. I remind them that the soldiers' reserve parachute is hardly ever used, but when it is, it always saves your life.