September 27, 1944
Another breathing spell, so another letter. Have been kept plenty busy anesthetizing for the team of Armanini & Russell. They’re fun to work with as Russell has about the best and oddest sense of humor of any of the officers and Armanini is always the butt of jokes from every one of the officers. They make a good team (had worked together at Tulare County Hospital) but really Russell should be with Cressman, then there would be two real tall guys together. Poor Russell always has to be in the shape of a “U” whenever he is operating, unless he can sit down or if he can have a patient on stilts. We’ve been a pretty good team at that because I could anticipate what anesthesia they would want, when they were going to finish, and also help them in the operation at times. Then, too, I generally wrote up the charts for them on the typer while they were putting the finishing touches on the cases – and at times I was able to have the case written up before they had hardly started, depending on what kind of case it happened to be. When you have to write the same dope on 3 different pages, typer with carbons certainly speeds things up a lot.
There have been some interesting cases through surgery the last few days. One young soldier was sent in as a possible appendicitis and turned out to have a perforated peptic ulcer (diagnosed in our Shock Tent before surgery). Another “Possible appendicitis” which got into surgery as such, and which, by chance, was operated on by Mattie himself, turned out to be a severe intussusception. Mattie had to resect about a foot and a half of small bowel.
Another strange one was that of a German who was sent in as an “Exhaustion” because he wouldn’t get up and walk. The story apparently was that, after some shooting, he tho’t he was shot, but found that he hadn’t been, and yet felt he could walk no longer. Apparently his wound was amazingly small, and in the back, so that it didn’t bleed and he didn’t know he really did have a wound. He was found to have a bullet in one lung, which had transected his spinal cord. Bullets will do strange things! We had one that went in almost straight over the sternum and we found the bullet in the back of the shoulder and there was no damage to the lung, vessels, or anything except a slight nick on the sternum.
I did work with Mattie, assisting him as a surgical team with Paul anesthetizing for us, for a few hours the other A.M. You see, we have 7 surgical teams complete with anesthetists and have 4 working one shift and 3 the other. As our biggest load usually comes between noon and midnight the 4 regular teams work on that shift, and there are only 3 on the other shift – leaving room for the extra of either Mattie or Wally with either Paul or myself as assistant and with Chappell as anesthetist. It works out pretty well and we don’t get behind too many cases at any one time – always being able to catch up completely in not too long a time.
Loads of love,