Broken Bodies, Shattered Minds: A Medical Odyssey From Vietnam To Afghanistan 2011
Leading up to this year's Veterans Day observances there were a bunch of stories in the media about the problems current veterans are facing as they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to recent statistics from the VA, more than half of the soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have medical and mental problems that need treatment.
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For veterans that are more or less physically intact, a host of problems exist; integrating back into society, coping with myriad family issues, finding employment, dealing with not so obvious PTSD. For veterans whose physical lives have been forever altered by combat injuries, there is all of the above plus an additional set of excruciatingly difficult challenges awaiting them involving the loss of limbs, and traumatic brain disorders. And, within this group are a subset of veterans forced to deal with the loss or mangling of an organ of their manhood; the penis. Drury, who has covered both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, pointed out that, "Most of these are built with the fertilizer ammonium nitrate, an ingredient widely available throughout Afghanistan.
The detonation, triggered either by a buried pressure plate or, less often, a command wire operated by a nearby enemy, instantly pulverizes the flesh, bone, tissue, and muscle of one or both of your lower limbs. In all likelihood the force of the explosion will sever the nerves in your leg or legs, and yet you will experience little pain. Surprisingly, as shock sets in and you lie in your pooling blood, you may not feel anything but a vague sense of pressure, as if a strong man were wrapping both hands around one of your calves and squeezing as hard as he could.
If the damage is bad enough, it could even lead to a full or partial amputation of your genitals. Although many believe that the war in Afghanistan is winding down, ironically, "In , the number of U.
Unless you work in a dangerous occupation or a workplace where body parts of all type may be subject to risk, you've likely never contemplated the question: How much are a person's appendages worth? There have never been so many injuries to the penis and testicles as is being seen in Afghanistan John B. Holcomb, M.
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According to Drury, Ronald Glaser, M. In Afghanistan, current Department of Defense numbers yield a ratio of 8 to 1 - largely a result of improved combat medical treatment. In fact, "the percentage of all our servicemen and women in Afghanistan who have lost limbs could be equal or greater than the percentage of limb loss that occurred as a result of the Civil War," Glaser told Drury.
And accompanying these kinds of injuries are infections. And then there are questions about how these injuries should be treated. For maintaining muscle mass.
For sexual desire. A lot of these kids with damaged or lost testicles are looking at a lifetime of hormone treatments. Yet each patient has different dosage needs. How much should you give them? Well, we're still trying to figure that out.
And because these medical issues are relatively new, "Nobody knows how to do this yet," Glaser added. We're going to have to learn pretty quickly. That's one thing wars do - turn medical techniques honed on the battlefield into standard civilian medical practice. Ali Esfandiari, Ph. This can speed up acceptance. Losing a penis is a private ordeal. There may be shame - a sense of inadequacy and an impact on self-worth.go site
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Psychological recovery may take longer. Thus far, according to Men's Heath, the VA has not listed the penis as an appendage to be compensated for.
When injured by an IED, doctors first try and save the victim's life: "Next they salvage damaged genitalia," Men's Health reported. It's the best way to save functionality and sensation according to Colonel James Jezior, M. If there is nothing left to be saved, a replacement penis can be created, but it "will never look, feel, or perform like his original equipment.
There are new developments in the way of creating protective gear "designed to defend sensitive regions. The Ballistic boxers "are made of double-weave silk treated with an antimicrobial agent that repels bacteria and fungus" to protect against infection. An American doctor and author, most famous for his best-selling book " Days", the pre-eminent Vietnam War book reviewed in the Washington Monthly and the New York Times.
Ronald J. Told in the narrative, and from personal experience, author traces changing nature of warfare from jungles of Vietnam to streets and mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan and the physical and psychological damage of wounds to troops in U. Army and Marine Corps. And what it has come to realize.