CSH in, CSH out
OK, so we have been in the process of turning over the hospital to the 31st CSH all last week. Initially the personnel of the incoming CSH worked a few shifts with our personnel, then worked with a few of our personnel hanging around to give advice and help the new people work the system. During this time we continued to live in our own tents and cots while the incoming personnel lived in tent city. Well, on Saturday this all changed. In one mass movement we and the 31st exchanged living space. Suddenly we went from our "home" with heat, light, electrical outlets and drawers to a bare tent with bunk beds, no heat and no place to plug in my computer. It gets COLD here at night!!! And not being able to use my computer - oh, the agony of it all! I usually can tolerate the cold - but this was a damp cold and, as I had not been able to relocate my stuff myself to the new area (I was in an ALS class) my tent mates, who did move my stuff (which I heartily thank them for) gave me a top bunk. I haven't been in a bunk bed since I was mmmmmm - six. I'm old. The beds are high. The roof of the tent is a few inches from my nose. And it forms condensation. Which means you touch it, you get soaked. The bunks sway and creek at the slightest provocation. I swear, every time the person in the lower bunk rolls over, I get seasick. She rolls over. I wake up. I roll over, she wakes up. I'm tempted to yell "SHIFT!" so at least we wake up at the same time to move - maybe well get more sleep that way. I finally tied the bunk to a tent pole to decrease its movement (550 cord has so many uses). Here's another - use it to tie you bunk down. At least we are better off than another transient group near us - all their gear was palletized for transit, so they didn't even have sleeping bags at night! Burrrrrrrrr
The people who run this place came around with heaters yesterday - our tent was one of the first ones set up, courtesy of a few very pretty nurses calling (enticing) the Iraqi work group to "com' on over"! They took it in fun as it was intended - and we had HEAT!!! YES!!! Which lasted all of 2 days. The heaters froze up. Go figure.
*Sigh* I love Iraq (not) I love Iraq (not) I love Iraq (not).
The 31st was kinda surprised, disappointed, dismayed when they first saw the place. Of course it had just rained again and the whole place was a sloppy, nasty mess. They expected a place like they get at NTC, new and clean and shiny. Sorry guys. It took them a few days till they realized how much we had accomplished. And how much more they have to go. The exchange was smooth, and we tried to give them all of our lessons learned, but a lot they will have to experience themselves. The first thing they did was condemn all of the portapotties in the living area, on the basis they didn't get cleaned out. Well, they DID get empted everyday almost (sometimes the Iraqis didn't show up for whatever reason), BUT when you have 3 potties for over 90 women - it gets filled quickly. It was a smooth move to close them. Problem was it left NO place to pee in the sleeping area. Closest place was the 6 hospital potties, on the OTHER side of the hospital. Now I tell you, I had enough trouble making it to the potties on time in the middles of the night - I can't imagine going twice the distance. That lasted one day. Enough people pissing in the corners in the middle of the night convinced the powers that be that perhaps containing that piss was a better option - no matter how nasty the potties were. Of course the bright shinny new flushable toilets (which broke down 6 weeks after we got them) were still there - maybe the part will come in and they will get fixed. Maybe in a year. I'm holding my breath. Really. I am.
Stupid Human Tricks(Parental Advisory here)
Some people got kinda stupid and went out and had some alcohol. Unlike MASH, alcohol is one of the forbidden fruits in Iraq as is illegal drugs and porn (and intercourse - even between husband and wife if they are both deployed in the area) - it's always one of the first orders a theater commander gives to decrease the problems that drugs and alcohol (and sex) cause. The porn is more due to the religious beliefs of the area. Of course you end up with a lot of "muscle" magazines instead in which, while the women are "dressed", not much is left to the imagination. Our little PX makes sure they have a good supply of them. Now, a good friend DID take pity on me out here and sent me a plain brown envelope which contained a playgirl and a dildo (with extra batteries). I did do the right thing (eventually - hey, I'm human) and shred the playgirl, although it took me 3 days to wrassel it away from my tent mates. I still carry the shredded pieces of the best looking man in my pocket. I can't wait to go through customs and they find the dildo in my bag.
ANYWAY, these persons got dumb and decided to have a bit of a party. Unfortunately, one of the group proceeded to pass out and throw up on her bunk. YES, make it OBVIOUS you were drinking. She then fingered her co-conspirators - legal blood alcohol levels anyone? All were hauled to the hospital at 3 am and read their rights. Oops. This is a career ender.
*Sigh* Kids. Couldn't wait 2 more days.
A group of us are hanging around cleaning weapons, readying for turn-in when we get back. We should be leaving tomorrow. In a C17. Sling seats for 17 hours. I am looking forward to it. Really, I am. Dad better meet me at the airport with a beer (Kidding Dad - still can't drink till I get home, BUT have the bathtub full and the open case of beer next to it!!!)
That's all for now and all for Iraq (I hope!!!)
I turned on my cell phone and intend to call home as soon as I see a signal when we get into US air space. I'll try to let you know when I'm landing - which should be on 1/31 - maybe (ahhhhhh army planning - fluid to say the least, chaotic if you are honest - amazing that we have never been defeated. Might be due to the fact we never do the common sense, expected thing - keeps 'em guessing - us too, unfortunately?)
Take care all!
Love, Major Pain
Editor Update: That's not all! The Major was hit with a respiratory ailment just before her group was scheduled to leave (must be the excitement of coming home!), and has been delayed for a few days. She promises a new letter, too. See you soon, Major. Dad says the beer's chillin' in the 'fridge. - bear