Novel

Two factors had an impact on Michael in the ensuing months. The first was the ongoing conversations with Father Ray Aumack about the purpose and value of the conflict. His deep belief in the righteousness of the war had not waned, but he could not readily dismiss the impact of Father Aumack’s beliefs.His respect and admiration for Father Aumack was so deep that it forced him to examine his own reasons for defending the US involvement. At the end of the day, the daily treatment of the wounded and dying continued to be the foundation for the commitment to his belief in the value of fighting for freedom against the forces of evil..

The second circumstance that somewhat concerned Michael was the visible impact that the daily Triage had on members of the staff.Frank Ziegler a cardiologist from New Jersey appeared to be wearing down emotionally, and there were a series of incidents that gave Michael a feeling that Frank was on the verge of coming unglued. In the past he and Frank had a series of conversations about family and religious beliefs which had been sources of bonding. Frank was a practicing member of the Lutheran Community, and served on the board of Directors at the Somerville Lutheran hospital. He was a man of deep and abiding Christian faith, and neither smoked nor drank alcohol. He was a gracious gentleman, and known to have a sharp wit . He had a degree of fame due to his one liners which often alleviated the tension in the Triage process.

Lately Frank seemed more aloof ,and there had been a series of shouts from him during the night which obviously were caused by dreams or nightmares. Michael noticed in surgery that Franks hands would tremble ,and though the OR was very humid Frank was often drenched from perspiration even before surgical procedures. Michael had tried to probe his concerns, but Frank waved them off with the statement that ‘he was just physically tired.”

Michael received the news one morning at breakfast that Frank had been reassigned overnight to a hospital in Japan.This seemed rather strange and abrupt to Michael so he visited Colonel Bultz’s office and inquired about Frank. Colonel Bultz never ducked a direct question from a staff member, and shared with Michael that Frank had experienced a difficult period ,and in his opinion was a classic case of “battle fatigue.” “ He was on the verge of a mental breakdown, and I would appreciate your keeping that information under your hat.”Michael assured Colonel Bultz that he would honor his forthcoming statements but added” I knew that he was having some difficulty, but not to the degree that he would have to leave.” Colonel Bultz poured himself a cup of coffee and said” Michael if any of us stays here too long we may wind up in the same boat.I am at the stage where I hope that in the next few months I will be reassigned to the states Colonel Bulttz hesitated and then asked”.Are you Ok and handling the job without any of Frank’s symptoms?” Michael paused and reflecting on the question answered.” The downsides are obvious but what we do has such value that at least for now I think that I can continue to handle it. Though truth be told I realize that I only have four more months here and then back to the states.”

“Alright Michael but if it ever gets out of hand don’t hesitate to let me know.”.Michel rose and for some reason both men extended both their hands in a double handshake.

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