By Tom Saal

The doctor at the military hospital in Japan was obviously (please check):
[  ]  1) Tired
[  ]  2) too busy and overworked
[  ]  3) impatient
[  ]  4) uncaring
[X]  all of the above

The soldier was (please check):
[  ]  1) seriously wounded from a land mine explosion
[  ]  2) taped from head to toe
[  ]  3) angry and afraid
[  ]  4) depressed
[X]  5) all of the above

Behind the curtain separating the doctor, corpsman and soldier from the forty odd soldiers on the rest of the ward, the doctor states firmly and directly that the bandages have to be cut away from the soldier. In turn, the soldier asks for some Demerol. “Please, can you give me something for the pain? These bandages have been on me for two weeks and I know because of the dried blood that they are glued to my skin. I’ve gone through this process in DaNang once before and the doctor gave me Demerol and wet the bandages with warm water before taking them off.” With no emotion, the doctor replies, “No, I can’t do that. I’m in a hurry and this won’t take but a few minutes. You’ll be all right.” With that, the doctor begins pulling the adhesives from the soldier’s wounded right arm. “Oh, my God!” cries the soldier, “Then at least wet me down with warm water first!” “I don’t have time for that. There are other soldiers on this ward who need help. You are not the only one in my charge.” The doctor once again commences tearing at the taped right arm and this time the soldier screams louder. “Please, dear God! Stop, please stop! Goddamn it, please stop!” The corpsman tries to hold him down and this time the doctor pulls the tape from the soldier’s left arm. He tries to wrench himself free screaming louder and louder as the doctor pulls the tape from his chest, then begins to move on to the badly mangled and blood encrusted legs which are the receivers of the most damage from the explosion. “You fucker! You gotta stop! I can’t take this shit!”  “Listen, you’re an officer! Now act like one! I expect you to behave in a more professional manner! There are enlisted men on this ward who can hear you! How do you think your screaming and cursing is going to affect their morale? Now stop your swearing and control yourself!” “I’ll stop cursing when you give me something for this pain.” “Oh, fuck, please stop!” screams the soldier as the doctor tears the tape along the soldier’s skin from the left and then the right leg. “You fucking bastard!” “That’ll be enough, lieutenant! Just a little more–one last pull. There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” The soldier is then taken from behind the curtain to his bed amongst the rest of the wounded where he passes out from exhaustion.