This account is written by Felecia Chavez, a Red Cross worker currently in Afghanistan.
A week ago Friday found me on the other side of our health care system here in Afghanistan. After thinking that I had a really bad case of food poisoning and hours of unbearable pain my co-worker drove me to the Emergency Room here on Bagram. After some tests and a lot of probing and poking a surgeon was called in. He read the CT Scan and a few minutes later I was quickly rolled into the operating room where it was determined that my appendix needed to come out immediately. I truly did not see that one coming and I think I was in shock. The surgeon, anesthiologist, and the operating room nurses were absolutely the best. Two hours later found me in the Intensive Care Ward in a room with 8 soldiers that had gotten hurt during the night in a pretty intense fire fight. (Beds and space are pretty much limited here).
Even though I was given space with curtains surrounding me I knew that these men had given their all and I felt very special being surrounded by them. Lying in that bed we could look at one another and they would give me the thumbs up sign and I would give them a wave. At one time I had to get up and this young soldier looked at me and his eyes got really big and he whispered “Oh my God ma’am they shot you in the stomach?” (my incision had bled so that I had blood on my gown) I told him “No, it was just my appendix, nothing major.” He said with all sincerety “It doesn’t matter ma’am it’s still a war wound.” When I came back to our room five soldiers including the one I had been talking to had been taken to be medevac’d to Lanstuhl, Germany.
I cannot say enough about the quality of care and a genuine feeling of tenderness that was shown me while here at Craig Joint Theater Hospital and there is no place in the world I would have rather been then right here to have had any type of surgery.
I was given the choice to be medevac’d back home or recuperate and finish out my tour here in Afghanistan. It would have placed an undue hardship on the rest of my team leaving them with only three people to continue our mission here, so I have chosen to stay. I am getting stronger every day and am back on light duty, my team members Susanne Harlandt, Michael Jowers, and Scott Grother have taken up the slack and have been there for me and I thank them. My husband Keith already knew the answer when he asked if I was coming home as did my children and family. My husband continues to be my rock and someone I can count on whenever needed and my children and family are always there with unconditional support.
Once again I have seen the other side of what some of our soldiers endure and can only marvel at their faith, strength, and committment. To the hospital staff that see some unbelieavable horrors day after day, it takes some very special people to do what they do and I can only thank them for being there and caring.