I was at a Brain Trauma conference on a Saturday morning and was invited to a"sweat lodge". The old man who invited me was the tribal Medicine Man. This old man knew who Sgt. B and I were immediately, I think Sgt. B pretty much gives us away everytime as he is black, and there are no black folks here. I could pass for Native American, but I still stick out like a sore thumb too with the way I dress. He knew we were the Special Forces guys, but he liked to call us the medicine men. He thanked us for our service to the country and our service to his community here. It was neat to talk with him. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it to the ceremony, but it was cool just to be invited. It wouldn't be the last time I heard someone call me medicine man here either.
The hospital staff has been incredible to Sgt. B and I. We've been floating between the ER, Podiatry, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Surgery, and Dentistry inside the hospital shadowing a physician in each department. We've also had the opportunity to go out into the community with a Public Health nurse and do some house calls. Lastly, there is a walk-in clinic, and on Tuesdays there's the diabetic clinic where the community's diabetics come in for a check up. I've only seen one life-threatening trauma come in since being here, and it was pretty hairy. A baby was at a daycare here in town and, supposedly, another child was stabbing this baby in the mouth with some keys. The baby's tongue swelled up and he lost his airway. The EMT's were unable to intubate en route, so by the time we got him it was looking pretty bleek. The ER doc on call attempted an intubation, but to no avail. He then tried to do a cricothyroidostomy, but was unsuccessful as well. I really don't know how this baby made it, to be honest. The Nurse Anesthetist (former Marine) arrived after being beeped and he saved the day with a miracle blind intubation. Sgt. B and I were assisting the whole time as the two ER nurses completely lost it, they froze up and freaked out because they knew the child and family. It was an "oh shit" moment for the ER as they don't get stuff like this often. The ER doc was pretty shaken up as well. Afterwards, upon inspection of the tongue and mouth we all thought it odd that there were no cuts or abrasions in the mouth if it were keys that caused the trauma. The ER doc concluded that there could have been some abuse, so it was promptly reported, and is currently under investigation. The police suspected a bottle being shoved in the baby's mouth forcefully and repeatedly. Sad stuff if true. Another sad moment was in Pediatrics. A young mother with a 4yo. girl came in because she suspected sexual abuse. The pediatrician did an assessment, as I was shadowing. I can't even begin to describe what I saw. It was the first time I've ever had to walk out. The mother was in tears when Dr. A confirmed her suspicions. It's the uncle, and this was the third time. It's been depressing working here to say the least. There are a lot of diabetics, I mean a whole lot. The elderly are plagued by it, and the young are plagued by Crystal Meth. While in dentistry I saw a lot of high school aged kids getting teeth pulled as well as young twenty-somethings. The dentist explained to me that several of them are meth users, and it wasn't the first, nor will it be the last tooth they get yanked. Apparently, meth destroys teeth along with every organ in the body. There are banners all of the place like a Just Say No campaign saying things like "The High is a Lie" and "Meth Kills".
On a positive note... on my house calls with the Public Health nurse, I have been able to interact with people at their homes, and enjoy some hospitality after ministering to their physical ailments and wounds. This has been quite enjoyable, it kind of brought me back to my missionary days, I wished I had these skills then. This is going to sound so cliche, but an old lady dressed with long grey hair in pig tails and traditional shawl called me a "great medicine man" after I redressed her diabetic foot ulcers. Like I said, it wouldn't be the last time I heard that. I've also had the chance to hang with some of the "local natives" out on the town. We've enjoyed some nights of dancing, playing poker, and just cutting up. I also went to a Catholic service on Sunday, which was very interesting. The music was really, really cool. The music was led by a los lonely guitarist who sang in the tradition of the old west with these weird tribal instruments in the background. The opening song made me feel like I was walking into a saloon for a gunfight except the words had to do with Jesus having victory over death. It was very Clint Eastwood movieish. That's the best I can describe it. The preferred modes of transportation here on the reservation are horse, fourwheeler, or some sort of farm vehicle. I am pretty sure there are more of these than cars. There is also a herd of buffalo on the res as well, but they're quite small compared to the ones I've seen in pictures. I don't think they're well nourished. There is a barber shop called "Scalp 'Em" and they don't play around. I went from cool guy SF hairdo to looking like a damn Hardy boy. The food around town isn't so good, but I've had a few homecooked meals which were quite delicious. Anyways, this is the first time I've been on an Indian Reservation, it's been quite the experience thus far. I think I'm going to try and go to the Badlands tomorrow if the weather holds up.
Have a great Memorial Day Weekend everyone!