Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shot in the Foot

June 12

Left: imagine that hitting your foot at the speed of sound.

I mentioned the al-Jabari couple, the two old people whom the Israelis shot in the head in their home a few weeks ago. During the same “raid”, if that’s the right word for breaking into someone’s house and executing them, the Israelis also shot one of the al-Jabari's sons in the foot, his name is Kamil. He’s had surgery to remove the bullet and repair some of the damage. Today we changed his dressings.

I forget if it’s his left or right foot, I think it was his left. He’s a big guy, I’d imagine nearly six-feet tall when standing, with large overall features: big feet, big hands, a big head, etc. (what the locals call a "khalili"). He's one year younger than me. His dressing consists of multiple layers of gauze in two crep bandages, and all of this in a backslab P.O.P. cast. His leg is elevated, by which I mean it rests on the footboard of his bed.

He had obviously had his bandages changed before, because when we came he first asked us if he really needed them changed again. Iyad said yes, and so the patient told us to wait for a moment. He took a few deep breaths, closed his eyes and said a few words (I assume he was praying), took his pillow and bit down on it, and then said to go ahead. I didn’t understand why he expected this to be painful.

We took the backslab and crep bandages off to find the gauze soaked through and through with blood and dilute pus (or maybe ECF and plasma, I’m not sure how to tell the difference between them). He has a huge pair of sutures running on both the anterior and posterior aspects of his foot, with a drain inserted (why I’m not sure, I don’t actually know much about the pathology of penetrating trauma, if it even makes sense to talk about such a thing).

We cleaned the wound with saline and then povidone-iodine scrub, which didn’t cause him any pain. Then Iyad looked at Kamil and said something that must have meant “ready?” He nodded, and then Iyad and the other doctor started compressing his leg at the knee and drawing their hands all the way down to his foot. It was all Kamil could do to stay on his bed; it was obvious that he wanted to scream at the top of his lungs. The more they compressed the more fluid trickled out of his drain. Eventually they stopped. We replaced the dressings with new ones, and left.

In case you're wondering how he got shot in the foot: after the Israelis shot both of his parents in the head on their front steps, he and his brother Radi walked out of the house to find their parents on the ground in a pool of blood, surrounded by Israeli soldiers, and another one of their brothers beaten bloody. They tried to move their parents bodies, which the Israelis tried to stop them from doing; apparently old people can still be terrorists after they're dead. Radi pushed one of the soldiers away, and so the soldiers decided to shoot Kamil in the foot. Radi, 36 years old, then knelt down next to his dead father started crying. The soldiers decided to beat him for this crime, badly enough that he went to the hospital after the soldiers finally left two hours later. For a full account you can read a report on that night by al-Haq (the International Commission of Jurists, West Bank) at