Hello, another letter from beautiful Iraq!!
Yes and the weather is lovely this time of year – cool – only to the 100’s during the day, and 60-70 at night. They even turned on the boiler for the showers – the water is now too hot, instead of too cold – so, once again, you jump under the water to get wet, jump out to lather, jump in to rinse off - except now it’s to avoid burning your bum rather than freezing your nuts off…wait…do I have nuts? I’m in the army – army is supposed to have cajones….
Too much testosterone around here – I need to go out to lunch. Get my hair done. Nails. SOMTHING…
The mice have moved into the warm hospital. There is a contest every day as to the number of mice caught in what section. The winners this week are OR and EMT – 5 dead critters each. I, of course, tend to coo and name them. So heart breaking to hear the SNAP of the trap, knowing it could be George in there. Or Thomas, Or Frank. Or Rambo, Or…. I HAVE resisted triggering the traps prior to the mice though. They are getting sneaky – we have air assault mice coming from the sky. Really. I was sitting at my computer and heard a squeak, squeak and turned just in time to watch a mouse go plop from the ceiling. He looked around a bit, then scampered off. Air assault. I named him Rambo. (the mice get between the inner and outer liners of the depmed tents) Of course, now a few nurses are waiting for the mice to go plop in their hair. Eeeeek.
Been a boring week. Kinda
Got two into the ER with jackal bites. Jackal ran into their tent and did not want to leave. Unfortunately for the jackal, the decision to escalate to biting prompted the bittees to escalate to M16s. results – bitees 1, Jackal, 0.
We added the jackal to the weekly dead critter count.
Those wonderful, new, FLUSHABLE johns, have gone to the toilet place in the sky. They lasted all of 3 weeks before the pump mechanism burned out. This was JUST in time for a bout of gastroenteritis to hit the CSH. For you non-medical friends – the hersey-squirts. YES, back to the old portapottys – 7 of them for the entire hospital contingent (400 people) and patients (many of which were our own that week) all with the squirts. Unfortunately, these portapottys are about 200 yards from the sleep tents. Makes for a looonng walk when you really gotta go. As one finicky friend said – she didn’t care anymore HOW full it was – if the seat was clean she used it.
My other friend bemoaned the loss of the flush toilets “to be able to cop a squat with out the fear of something biting you in the bum…”
Along with the toilets went the sinks with the running water. AND there are NO hand wash stations set up here!!!! NONE!!
I, too, in spite of obsessive use of wet wipes and other precautions, managed to catch the bug. When I had people telling me I was an interesting shade of green, I knew it was time to throw in the towel and go to the ER for drugs and Imodium. Wonderful drug, Imodium, wonderful. I took too days off. Which is hard for me to do, as suddenly someone of higher rank has to work all night for me. Hee hee
The other day I was chastised for dumping my clothes wash water near the sleep tent, on the basis the water would attract insects and animals. The powers that be also ordered the removal of all plants from around the area, again to decrease the non-human population. Now, I ask you, what is the KNOWN BEST vector of disease??!! WE ARE! So if “they” are worried about disease transmission WHY are there STILL no hand wash stations outside the outhouses or the dining room????? Huh? HUH? Damn it, if there was I wouldn’t have gotten sick, as would not have 50% of the other people here!!!!!
This CSH has been in place for 5 months!! Hand wash stations are the BASIC tenant of field sanitation! I mean, there are supplies that come with you just for that purpose!!
Ok. That’s my rant for this part of the letter.
The mortars keep coming in – sporadically, sometimes none a night, sometimes one or two, sometimes 13. Well, the last barrage was 13 – about 0545 in the morning. When I am on during attacks I go to the TOC and listen to the comm. for any casualty reports, which I then go to the ER to prepare. It’s interesting listening to the reports from the guard towers “thee flashes 200 yards 1 o’clock position” Mortar impact 50 yards 6 o’clock. Especially last week when one of the towers reported being able to trace three mortars across the sky after the launch. Sure enough 20 sec later – BUMMP…BUMMP…………….Bummp. Creepy. Fortunately their aim was as good as ever – hit nothing. Knocked 2 guys over. Couple of scrapes. That’s it.
We are still firing back – I swear the tanks and artillery pieces are right across the street. So in the middle of the night BAWWAMP! And the tents shake. You feel the pressure wave inside. So much for sleep. I’m glad I work nights. We did get new bunkers for the mortar attacks. Concrete flat u shaped pieces, 12 in thick and stand about waist high. Which means you have to CRAWL into them. And they are not big – you aren’t supposed to touch the side with your body, as it will transmit the shock wave of any close hits.
Ok, picture this: dark of night. Sand. Rocks. Sand flies. Snakes. Scorpions. Camel spiders. And you want me to CRAWL into a tunnel??! Uh, no. I’ll use the milvan with the dirt piled up on the sides, thank you. The people who placed our new bunkers, in their infinite wisdom, put a set right on one of the groomed paths going to the showers. And some other high traffic areas. Did you know that if you hit one of those things in the dark just right it’ll flip you on your back? Which is actually less painful than when they park a 5-ton on the path in the dark…that’ll get you about face high…
Camel spiders are neat creatures, about as big as the palm of your hand and tan colored. Not poisonous but can inflict a nasty bite. AND they are aggressive! When you mess with them they’ll attack. They also crunch nicely.
Talking about attacks, two soldiers found out the hard way NOT to get drunk then go feed the tiger in the zoo. Raw meat. By hand. Tiger never heard of the saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” Of course the tiger didn’t stop at the hand. He took the whole arm. Soldier’s friend escalated to an M16 and shot the tiger. Turns out the tiger was a rare breed, and the zoo people were not happy. Line-of-duty, no. Oops. Explain that to the wife.
So, another human – wildlife encounter involving alcohol. Did you know 80% of snakebites also involve alcohol? And believe me – it’s not the snakes that are drinking…
Scorpions are another common cause of an ER visit – usually it’s the big toe – going to the shower or the outhouse in the middle of the night in flip flops (shower shoes). Kick one in the dark. Ouch
Just got up to check the doings in the ER. We have 6 ER beds set up. 4 were occupied – by sleeping ER personnel. I like it when that happens – slow night.
Yesterday was my night off. So I went “downtown” to the PX. Yes we have a PX! It sells batteries and TP and, if you happen to be there at the right time – diet coke!!!! Yes!!!! I’ve had to drastically reduce by diet coke intake here. It’s been a painful process of withdrawal. When it is available, I buy a case of it and drink it sparingly.
The Air force is moving in and taking over our airfield. Here to fore the army have been controlling flights in and out in coordination with the AF, now they will take over. I guess they came through a few weeks ago and designated what space they wanted for their operations. Everyone in that block has to move to make room for the AF. Turns out to be the block we partially occupy. Someone asked one of our higher-ups “so, when you moving?” His reply was huh? By doctrine, (which is developed at echelon far above this reality) this hospital should be able to be torn down in 72 hours, and set up in another 72 hours. In this reality, this does not include minor things like sleep tents, showers, communications, the big generator, the cables – (remember 13 lbs per linear foot at 400 feet each)? Nor does it take into consideration that no CSH has the heavy equipment mover assets to DO the move (we always have to borrow). So the bottom line is huh? We aren’t moving! And we are not. Which is both a good and bad thing – as the air force will bring in their 747s, 767s, and other people mover assets. Good ‘cause we might be able to get direct flights out of here to Germany or the states, bad cause, well, remember we are located just across the street from the airfield? When I say that I mean we get prop wash from the c130s as they idle along the field when they load and unload. The runways about 200 yards from us. It gets noisy. VERY noisy. Jets are loud. Maybe we can put up a “QUIET HOSPITAL ZONE” sign? Can planes read?
And the beat goes on….
Take care every one!!!