October 24, 1944
Have just had lunch and for the first time since last writing, have not had a million and one things to do on Wally’s ward in the P.M. Yes, we’ve kept plenty busy and tho’ our team hasn’t operated twelve hours straight each of our shifts, there has been enough on the ward to keep us going up to supper time each day. We have elected to skip supper in just about all instances, however, as that extra half hour or more is much more profitably spent trying to get to sleep.
Things work out funny, too, for one night at 11:30 P.M. someone told Wally that all was quiet and he should go back to sleep, so he proceeded to take a Nembutal and turn over and go to sleep — only to be awakened an hour and a half later to go to work. He was one groggy person for the first few hours that A.M.
One night when we went to bed at 5:30 P.M., Wally swore up and down that he just knew we wouldn’t have to get up during the nite for our tour of duty, which began at midnight. We were second on call that night – i.e. if only one or two small cases came in the first team on call would do them all, rather than awaken all the teams to do one case apiece. As luck would have it, however, we were up for the next brain case, Gerbode’s team having done the last one and Smart’s team never doing them (he being primarily orthopedic specialist—not that he doesn’t do other things). So what happens but a brain case comes in and there we were the only team up from midnight to 6 A.M. What a case – a big piece of shrapnel that couldn’t have been more in the very center of the brain than it was. X-rays showed it in the middle from all views and when Wally felt it, the darn thing was so far in that he almost lost his finger in the skull. He was lucky to be able to get ahold of it and get it out. How the boy will be, only time will tell. But it really is amazing what things can happen to some of these kids, and in a matter of a few days they look mighty chipper and are in good spirits.
And speaking of brain cases, it has been surprising to us the number of these cases that we have gotten. I believe there has been one per every shift – except, of course, on those two days when we were not admitting cases at all. Actually, we’ve seen all sorts of things, and have consequently seen just about every portion of the anatomy, superficial and deep, and from all angles.
Occasionally, the smallest and most innocent looking fragments (with innocent looking external wounds) have done the most damage and then some of the large horrid looking wounds are actually the most benign.
Just as Wally was finishing one of the brain cases the other day – having taken a rifle bullet out of the side of a boy’s brain, one of the bigger-big-shots came around on inspection and we showed him the bullet. He suggested that the boy would probably want to wear the bullet on his watch chain. (Incidentally, we always save the pieces of shrapnel or bullets for the patients, as they usually want to cuss at them.) However, when the boy came to the next day, and we told him what had been said, he complained that he didn’t have a watch chain, and, in fact, he had even lost his dog-tag chain some time before. Anyway, he’s saving the bullet until he gets some sort of chain.
Serge and Ann are supposed to be getting married this week. Believe it to be on the 26th. Despite the fact that I room with Serge, I seem to see little of him, as we are so seldom in the room at the same time – i.e. in the room and awake.
Loads of love,