Hey Guys, Hope this letter finds you all well and happy.
A lot of things have changed since I've been here. The camp now generally employs a lot of Iraqis for various jobs - its a good way to start an economy boost - including hiring out someone to empty and clean our portapottys. Of course the company's idea of clean and ours differ. Basically, they suck the stuff, then spray the bottom half with water - and, they're done! Anything IN the portapotty gets soaked - including the toilet paper - which doesn't have any holders anyway to keep it off the slanted seat platform, so it tends to roll onto the floor. Or get placed on the only flat area right beside the urinal. Now I tell you, would YOU use that toilet paper then, knowing how well men tend to aim and miss the urinal? I ask you, what is it with them? Here they have a urinal that is below waist level, they're using an instrument that they can AIM, for God's sake, and they STILL can't hit the damn thing! These are the guys who would be the first to tell you how skilled they are at snow writing!! I just hope they can shoot their weapons better! *sigh* I did suggest several ways of keeping the toilet paper dry - like putting the new rolls in the pottys AFTER the "cleaners" have gone through, or bending a hanger to hang off the vet s to the top - and putting the rolls on the hanger, but nothing changed. I DID discover they if you wedge the TP high behind the vent stack it stays dry and off the ground. Still it's better to bring your own. Dad sent me some Charmin in his last shipment - mmmmmmm soft....
We did get hand wash stations next to most of out portapottys, and the dinning tent. YAY!! Of course there is none next to the pottys directly in front of the hospital - which the majority of us use when at work. So I come through the ER on my return trip and wash there. No one complains - at least not too loudly.
Those brand new stainless steel flushable toilets we got in September, which broke down in October, are STILL broke. Supposedly the pump part has been ordered at a hideously expensive price, and has not arrived as of January. (3 MONTHS now). Hey, they worked less than 6 weeks - shouldn't there be some sort of warrantee? Perhaps the company figured we'd be in and out so fast we wouldn't care that about parts and repair. So now we have a fancy storage area.
The contractors that manage a lot of things here (like the dinning facilities, etc) have put in shower and toilet trailers across the street from the hospital. We dug a hole in our berm and moved some of our concertina wire to make it very accessible to us for use. It's WONDERFUL. Clean. Warm. Running water. Flushable toilets. SOMEONE TO FIX THE TOILETS. It came just in time as the crew that run OUR showers want to pack up the shower duty and book it home. Can't imagine why.
The food is getting better - when you can get to the main dining halls to eat. Food is still brought to the hospital each day to feed our crew, but it's usually kinda cold by the time it gets here. I'm tired of cold French toast. And as all or our microwaves have bit the dust, (an appropo ending in this land of massive dust) there's no way to warm it up anymore. No one is ordering new microwaves because we are leaving soon. Unfortunately, there have been 3 incidences of food poisoning in the main dinning halls - the last one brought in 36 patients to our ER in a 2-hour period. We lined them up in the halls with their buckets (liberality used) and IVs - criteria for admission was - can you tolerate sitting up and have you stopped throwing up? - We admitted quite a few of them.
Yes - it will be good to leave here, which will be soon - Guys - the replacement hospital is on it's way!!! The personnel are in the air - or in Kuwait!! And the advance party is due here today! YES!! We have OUR first contingent leaving for home early next month - I'll be in the second contingent - oh, happy days!
Of course that means that the replacing advance party will want to inspect the hospital today. So everyone started to make it pretty. Of course then it started to rain. A heavy rain. I think I've mentioned before the problem with rain around here - the hospital tents leak in spots. And nothing can prevent the water from running THROUGH one of the tents. ER entrance ended up under a foot of nasty smelling water, in spite of a runoff trench and sand bags - turned out the water flowed INTO the area from the runoff trench - oops. So instead of making pretty, we worked at keeping things dry. I did move one power strip onto higher ground when the river began its run - felt it was bad enough without the added shock value. I'm sure our replacements are not going to be impressed when they see the place - we have fought a running battle with dust and dirt our whole time here, and I tell you - the dust is winning.... of course after a few weeks, they too will begin to tolerate a level of dust over everything -
I've watched our little airfield go from having 2 sets of floodlights to having 5 sets AND ground guide lights for the planes. It's great to see helicopters and jets actually using their navigation lights as they fly about at night now - never did before as, for some reason, they didn't like to advertise their location - go figure. The C5 is a regular visitor, and maybe we can fly home straight from here? nnahhhh.... We have a decent gym - in a building as the tent it was originally in blew down in our last storm (oh, by-the-by - I got a couple of nasty looks when I pounded a tent stake back into ground the other day and woke someone in the tent - now, of course, they are happy I did it as our tent Didn't blow down in last night's storm. ahhh, vindication!). We have a PX here now - started out a chaotic mess with boxes on the floor - now it has shelves, and 8 cash registers - but the line to check out still takes about an hour. So, we can get some basic supplies - yay! Not necessarily the BRAND we want but - something. Of course AAFES tend to ship EVERYTHING in the SAME ship containers, dry goods next to the laundry soap - so everything tastes like soap. What a unique experience - at least my mouth was clean for a while. Stopped buying things like crackers and Oreos there - terrible, yuck - oh, the deprivations we suffer! Now in the states this would be a no, no. I love Iraq!!
I keep telling myself that - maybe some day I'll believe it. Ok, one more month, one more month. I'm beginning to pack and send stuff home by mail - so Dad, when the boxes get there, just leave 'em - I'll unpack them when I get home. I expect the new hospital command will evict us from our living area at the end of this month and we'll have to join the masses in "tent city"- a transient area - while we wait for a plane. We aren't manifested for a flight yet, I'm told the problem is that we are using most our air assets already so not only must we manifest on a plane - the plane itself has to manifest. Then there are the little details - the 21st CSH itself is from Ft Hood. There are personnel attached to the unit from the 10th CHS who have to go back to Ft Carson (with their weapons) - and then there are the individual replacement that have to go back through Ft Bliss (and, again, with weapons). The weapons are the problem - for some reason, commercial flights don't want us caring weapons onboard.... gee, golly. So, somehow, we have to get from Ft hood to wherever... I suspect we'll end up on a greyhound bus. Only the best.
OK, Just got back inside from rescuing some plastic bags from our environmental control unit (ECU - army speak for heater/coolers) - seems someone put them down right next to the big intake pipe. And the unit - as advertised - took them in - sluuup, sluup sluup.
Well, I had to go wade through the mud to the unit, turn it off and take it apart to get the bags before they broke it. I am now covered in mud and dust. The things I do for my country. At least tomorrow is laundry turn in and I was scheduled to put on a clean uniform anyway...the dust DID make my uniform...uniform - it's entirely tan now - no camouflage.
Hope to see you in February!
Love Major Pain