I walked into the ICU when I was a second year resident to meet my new patient. “Sammy” had been transferred to my care from a different hospital overnight. She couldn’t talk because she was on life support and had a tube down her throat to make her breathe. I had all of her transfer records, but the data was not enough to explain why this 22 year old woman was so very sick.
Her mother was at the bedside holding her daughter’s hand. Sammy was an Airman in the US Airforce, like her two brothers. Sammy’s father, a retired Staff Sargent after 20 years of service including both Gulf Wars, was getting coffee in the cafeteria.
Sammy was five months pregnant and became ill. At the hospital where she was initially treated, the infection spread and she almost died. Ending the pregnancy would have improved her status, but the military hospital where she was getting care was not able to do an abortion for her because of the Hyde amendment.
She lost her pregnancy and her feet as well as multiple fingers, but did survive. Sammy’s mother had sent her husband and children to war, but had no idea the biggest threat to her family was not the enemy but rather the government of the country they served.