Thank you to all of you who participated in our Prompt!
We selected Lily Cushman’s to share:
As I descended the crude man-made trail through the ruined city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guide me to the once safe haven to find a young soldier, very young, gasping for air on the ground, lying in pooled blood, though whether it was all his own blood I couldn’t tell. The smoke was thicker around here, reminders of the firefight we had interrupted with our medical helicopter mission.
I knelt beside him, QuikClot gauze in my hands and my jump kit heavy on my shoulders, filled with my field gear, IVs, medicines, bandages. Do you know how many pounds medics carry on a battlefield? I don’t know, but it’s a lot. A lot for my skinny person.
The soldier looked at me, fear and hope in his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he could see me. That was a good sign. If he started babbling about seeing lights and such I would worry more.
“Hey,” I said as gently as I could. “I’m a medic. I’m here to help you. We are going to help you so you can go home. You read me, buddy?”
He nodded vaguely. I gave him a small smile and then started looking at the damage. There were multiple gunshot wounds, and some lacerations on his hands and face. He was in bad shape, bleeding a lot, and his breathing was ragged. But I had seen worse. I started treating with QuikClot, a gauze that helped stop bleeding quickly, and then bandaged the small cuts on his face. The bullet holes, beyond QuikClot, could not be treated anymore effectively at this point. I started getting a 20 GA needle, an extension set and a saline bag ready so I could start an IV.
“I won’t – die?” He asked quietly.
I looked down into his face, and saw the hope taking over the fear in his eyes. You’re never supposed to lie to a patient or tell them something you don’t already know the answer to. But I had hope. Hope that he would pull through. Not just hope like ‘I hope it won’t rain this weekend.’ A genuine hope, like a ray of light piercing a dark cloud cover. A glimmer of good after so much evil.
“You’re going to be fine.” I said. I squeezed his hand and he squeezed back. “We are going to get you home. Home to your family. I promise.”
Hope filled his whole face, even during the pain.
Hope is a gift, and when you can give it, it gives you a little hope as well. Hope that the darkness you face every day in everything won’t win. Hope that life is worth living, it’s worth pushing through the hellishness to see a hurting person smile, a broken heart be healed, beauty pulled from the ugliness that is rampant around our world.
As I descended the crude man-made trail through the ruined city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guided me to the once safe haven to find hope. Hope even in the despair.