Even now, ten years later, she can still recall the sound of the bombs and the heat of the attack on the frontline.
Dr. Tskhadadze remembers picking up wounded soldiers as the doctors moved closer to the frontline. Soon they were under fire as well.
“We followed the medical team. There were four of us – two men and two women. We had to defend ourselves because they [Russian troops] opened fired from a deserted house. We helped our soldiers,” she says.
The situation deteriorated once the Russians started firing from the air.
“It was a real hell in the city. They were shooting from everywhere. Soldiers arranged a defense line so we could reach the wounded. On the way back, we had to do the same for them and they helped us rescue the wounded,” Dr. Tskhadadze says, adding that the men were encouraged when they saw women on the frontline.
As they were heading away from the fighting, there was an explosion in the forest, Dr. Tskhadadze recalls. She can remember the calls for help and how she grabbed her bag to help a soldier with a broken leg.
“I stopped the bleeding and called for others to bring the stretcher. Right then the sky went orange. A wave shook me and I saw soldiers flying through the air. I fell over,” she says.
When she came to, everything was quiet and she saw dead bodies around her.
“Everyone around me was dead. I didn’t want to get captured and I started looking for my gun. I could not feel my shoulder. I thought I would not be able to get out of the woods.”
At some point, however, she realized that Georgian soldiers were already on the scene to rescue them.
“They helped me. These scenes are etched in my memory,” she says.
Dr. Tskhadadze was taken to the Gori hospital with the other wounded soldiers. The trip to the hospital was the first time in her military career that she felt afraid, she says.
“I was seriously injured but what I had witnessed was even worse than the physical pain. Since I survived that, I understood that I must continue living. A year later, I put my uniform back on and returned to the army,” Dr. Tskhadadze says.
The pain from her wound keeps her up at night sometimes, she says, and she has to wake up early to prepare for work – to prepare, she says, “to serve our country.”