This Is The Way...Getting Underneath the Skin

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This Is The Way...Getting Underneath the Skin

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Have you grown accustomed to the news that comes over the radio or television that there has been another homicide bomb blast in Israel? It’s something I haven’t gotten used to whatsoever. And I don’t think I ever will! Every time I hear that three or four or 15 people have been killed, my heart just sinks. How about yours?

The thought of “oh no, not again” echoes through my mind as I can only meagerly contemplate from such a distance such a devastating loss of life.

But what about all the others who were injured in the bomb blast? What about those who didn’t die immediately?

A little understood reality is that in the last 22 months, while 270 people have died as the result of 70 bombings, over 2,500 Israelis have been wounded—many with life-altering consequences. The incredible reality is that almost 10 times as many people are left in the never-ending state of the “walking wounded” as those who died immediately.

Let’s take a reality check and fully realize that terrorism’s ultimate goal is not simply to eliminate the living, but to physically damage and, more importantly, psychologically drive those who remain behind into a state of hopelessness even as the smoke clears.

Two recent articles identify this searing reality of man’s inhumanity to man. “Code Blue in Jerusalem,” written by Joshua Hammer, appeared in the July 1, 2002, edition of Newsweek.

A few weeks later, Tracy Wilkinson of The Los Angeles Times wrote a piece titled “Lives Forever Scarred After Suicide Bombings,” which appeared on July 21, 2002.

While the reporters interviewed different victims and medical personnel, a common thread runs through both articles. For one thing, our universal “Hollywood approach to violence” doesn’t prepare us for the reality that suffering truly lasts beyond a two-hour movie time frame. Secondly, and most importantly, there truly are incredible people who strive to make a difference in the middle of hellish mayhem. Let’s put some names and faces, hopes and dreams, heartaches and shared hearts behind the news headlines of “today, another bomb has gone off in Israel.”

The nuts and bolts of terrorism

Many of us are simply not aware of the devastating reality of what happens when a bomb goes off. Due to our Hollywood-conditioned mind-set of violence, we think of a bomb going off with a blast, swoosh, bang and smoke hovering in the air. And it is all over. But in reality, the sad story is just beginning.

Let me introduce you, via reporter Wilkinson’s interview, to one person, Motti Mizrahi: “Four months have gone by since Mizrahi was critically wounded in a Palestinian suicide bombing at a Jerusalem café where he was chatting with a friend. Steel nuts and bolts packed inside the bomb pierced his chest and the back of his skull. They smashed all the bones in his forearm and upper arm. His hand was nearly sheared off, held on by pieces of flesh and ligament.”

Wilkinson’s report continues: “Today, three surgeries later, a nut rests about one third of an inch from his heart. Nine nickel-sized holes are gouged in his arm. Mizrahi’s recovery, if there is to be one, takes five hours of body-bending therapy four days a week.”

Bombs show no partiality to age or gender. Reporter Wilkinson shares another story with us in the saga of 15-year-old Adi Hudja. Last December she picked the wrong evening to go strolling with friends in search of an eating place. Two bombers blew themselves up, killing 11 other people and wounding nearly 100.

Wilkinson reports that about 40 steel nuts bored their way into Adi’s body—two in her rib cage, six in the pelvic region. Photographs that night showed her legs looking like Swiss cheese. But then Wilkinson goes on to share an even more harrowing sequence in Adi’s misfortune.

“One of the bombers used rat poison in his explosive device, according to Dr. Avi Rivkind, head of Emergency Care at Hadassah Hospital. The poison works as a blood thinner and causes those exposed to bleed more profusely and die quickly. Adi ‘bled like hell,’ Rivkind said. He finally stopped the bleeding with a drug used for hemophiliacs.” Fifteen surgeries later, Adi will still never be the same.

Today’s terrorist battle is so different from anything the Israeli physicians have had to encounter on a regular battlefield. Today’s bombs are very different from ones previously used. Yesterday’s bombs of choice were high velocity explosives with penetrating small ball bearings. Now, the techniques have changed.

Today’s bombs often use nuts, bolts, screws, nails, scrap metal from construction sites and even rat poison, which are jettisoned with a lower velocity device that, in turn, leaves the shrapnel embedded in a victim. Today’s bombs often explode in small confined spaces like buses or pizzerias, which can amplify the effects on intended targets. They have sensitized the medical community to new understandings that indeed more than ever they have to “get under the skin” to understand what is happening to the person in front of them. New realities demand new skills.

More than meets the eye

The previously mentioned Dr. Avi Rivkind is the centerpiece personality of Joshua Hammer’s focus in “Code Blue in Jerusalem.” More than 1,800 Intifada-related victims, both dead and alive, both Jew and Palestinian, have entered his trauma section of Hadassah Hospital.

Dr. Rivkind thoroughly and now instinctively understands that not everyone in a bombing is shredded by shrapnel. The impact of the bomb’s shock waves bouncing off ceilings and walls can be just as deadly. Medical professionals are coming to terms with the fact that it’s not always what meets the literal eye, but rather the “sensitized eye” of the caregiver who understands what is going on underneath the skin.

To illustrate this reality, Hammer shares the encounter of Dr. Rivkind with Shari Nigari. Shari was brought into his unit shortly after a bomb blast in the annexed Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Seventeen people had died immediately. Now the wounded started to pour in. Shari was the first to arrive.

Reporter Hammer paints a verbal picture of a young 22-year-old woman who seemingly didn’t have a scratch on her body and was fully conscious. But Dr. Rivkind immediately saw something else. He recognized the signs of massive internal injuries caused by shock waves from the blast. How, you ask? He could sense the preternatural calm of eerie stillness he had seen in other bomb victims. He knew something she didn’t know, that few knew who haven’t been there. Rivkind recalled, “You could look into the face, hear the voice, see how she was slowing down. I knew she was burning inside.”

Hammer continues with the dramatic encounter by sharing how Rivkind inquired of Shari, “How are you?” She looked up at him and said, “OK.” He encouragingly replied, “Don’t worry, it will be all right.” He immediately asked for the insertion of a tube to create an open airway for her breathing, and stayed with her over the objections of another doctor. As reporter Hammer conveys the tenseness of the moment, the other doctor felt that Rivkind should be treating the more “obviously wounded.” Rivkind eyed the other medic, and stated, “Trust me.”

The dreaded white butterfly

Once in the trauma unit, Shari’s X-rays substantiated what Rivkind had feared all along. There before him was the obvious “white butterfly pattern” that plainly proved his hunch that her lungs had exploded as a result of the shock concussions of the bomb. As she was rushed into the operating room, 20 medical personal gazed in horror as she was opened up to find heavily damaged lungs and liver with blood rapidly filling her chest cavity and abdomen. They were finally able to stop the bleeding. But after two hours of frantic activity, Shari’s life slipped away at 10:10 a.m.

But more has collapsed than Shari’s lungs. The confidence of Israel is slowly ebbing away. Reporter Hammer quotes Ha’aretz newspaper columnist Ari Shavit as lamenting, “There is this feeling that we tried politics, we tried the army, we tried everything. What’s left?”

But the staff at Hadassah Hospital doesn’t have time to pontificate on the big questions of the day; they’re too busy just trying to keep people alive. Hammer highlights the preciousness of each moment in capturing the thoughts of Dr. Rivkind’s aide, head nurse Etti Ben-Yaacov, who says it like it is: “We work under the principle that we have one golden hour to save a life after a severe shock-trauma.” But the big question to ponder is, even so, what quality of life remains for those who survive “the golden hour?”

Los Angeles Times staff writer Wilkinson quotes Sarah Levinsky Rigler, a writer who serves with a Jewish relief organization: “The thing I learned is, it never really ends—the trauma goes on, the nightmare, the fear of vulnerability. We think ‘lightly injured’ or ‘they got off lucky.’” Rigler concludes with the thought, “They’ll never be OK. It’s a misnomer. Lives are ruined.”

Even as I write this article, news has just come over the Internet—news that I’ll never get used to hearing. Others have now just joined the stories of Mizrahi, Adi and Shari. A bomb has just gone off at Hebrew University. Again, the target is a crowded cafeteria where young people are likely to gather. The initial tally is seven dead and 85 wounded, but by the time you read this you will know the rest of the story.

When will it ever stop?

The staff of World News and Prophecy is dedicated to the reality that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth once and for all to save humanity from itself. Our goal is not simply to report the bad and sad news of today, but also to encourage our reading audience that real and lasting help is on the way with permanent and positive solutions for all peoples and nations.

God knows what He is going to do, and is about doing it. What He wants to know about us is whether we have the same level of concern that He does. That is why in Psalms 122:6 Psalms 122:6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love you.
American King James Version×
He asks us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Is that simply because He is only concerned about the Jews? Not at all. When Christ lands on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem as indicated in Zechariah 14:4 Zechariah 14:4And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
American King James Version×
, it is from that point of earthly contact that permanent peace is going to begin to emanate around this entire planet.

The words of Handel’s Messiah, which echo the prophetic refrain of Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
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, will be more than glorious baroque music. They will be the day-to-day headlines that will replace the bad news of today.

Banner headlines will boldly shout out, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

Until that time

At this time in our lives, we cannot control the events that are occurring in the Middle East. Yes, as I have mentioned, we can pray about it, but what else might we do? The bottom line of the Christian reality is that we can only be responsible for that which comes within our sphere of influence. Indeed those things give us more than enough work to do!

I couldn’t help but marvel at Dr. Rivkind’s insight in recognizing when Shari came into his trauma center that she was “burning inside.” Simply put, things don’t always appear as they seem to be unless we take a closer look and “get under the skin” of another human being.

I had to ask myself how often have I not picked up on the telltale signs of an individual who looks all right, seems OK, but is actually suffering from the shocking concussions of life’s steady bombardments, and is slowly but surely emotionally bleeding and spiritually dying inside. Am I, can I—are you, can you—be attuned to the outward signs of the inward realities of the “white butterfly pattern” before it is too late?

So many people today have had “life’s air” knocked out of their existence. It takes someone very special to move beyond the hectic moments of life and make the proper decision regarding who needs help first and foremost.

Dr. Rivkind is a very special person. It is in his words and actions in the crazy and frenetic environment of a trauma center in the middle of Jerusalem that the spirit of Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
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is captured. It is a spirit that beckons us to understand, “This is the way, walk in it.” This precious understanding moves us beyond what is dramatically visible to understand those needs which are hidden, so we can assure those in need, “Trust me, and don’t worry, everything will be all right.” WNP

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