Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hey all, I guess it is time for another update for you all. Thanks again for all the emails, it is great to hear from home. Things here are pretty much the same. Still in Baghdad, still seeing some really sick and crazy patients. We have definately fallen into some type of routine here, for better or worse. The temperature, however, is changing. It is actually pretty chilly here now. Not as bad as back home, but enough to wear a jacket during the day, and to almost need long-johns at night if you are outside. Granted it only goes down to 40's at night, but it seems chilly when you start to get used to 100 degrees just a few weeks ago. The big excitement here was Thanksgiving. Not quite like Amy's cooking at home. Although we did have the usual Turkey fare including mashed potatos and stuffing. Our dining hall was weirdly, but nicely decorated with giant styrofoam creations of Bangladeshi interpretations of what American Thanksgiving is supposed to look like. An 8 foot styrofoam cut-out of George Washington, a 3 foot version of Abraham Lincoln shaking hands with people in Native American dress, a little weird, like I said. But I guess the thought was there. The food was probably made in the US last Thanksgiving, flash frozen and saved for the special day here this year. All of the docs in the hospital got together and brought the food in from the dining facility and had a nice little sit-down "dinner" out of styrofoam containers - complete with bottles of sparkling grape juice. At least it was a change from the routine. After the lunch we went out for a game of whiffle ball in the motor pool. Fun, until the local Iraqi's tried to get into the celebratory mood as well. They tried to have fireworks in celebration of Thanksgiving, but by mistake loaded mortars into their tubes and attacked the hospital instead of lighting up the sky. Luckily no serious injuries, but one of our orthopedic surgeons did take some shrapnel and a handful of other people had minor injuries. Just another reminder that we are definately not home, and that people around here really still want to do us harm. I am still getting to talk to Amy and the girls on an almost daily basis, although we haven't been able to get the webcam working. Amy has been sending me DVD's of home videos though to keep me happy. I know she appreciates all the support you all have bneen giving her, and I really appreciate it, too. Well, I hope you all are doing well and had a great Thanksgiving. Please continue to keep in touch. Jason

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hey all-
Time for the next update of my vacation in the middle east. Sorry ithas been a while, but thank you all for the emails. So we are prettymuch settled in to Ibn Sina Hospital. The 28th CSH (who we replaced)left at the beginning of this week and should be arriving in thestates within the next few days. It is a little scary to see howtired and burnt out they were prior to leaving, as I am sure it willbe a reflection of how we all will feel at the end of our 15 months.
Life in the International Zone (the Green Zone) is becoming more orless routine. While working we are kept pretty busy and luckily thetime passes by because of that. The off time is almost more painfulas there is a pretty limited amount of things to do, there are only somany times you can go the palace or buy bootlegged DVD's. Aside fromthe tanks and armor outside the hospital and the corrals of T-walls(the 10 foot high cement barriers that line the streets) - you canalmost be in any run down urban environment. Occasionally get blastsfrom IED's that shake the hospital - even though they are a mile ortwo away, but nothing within the confines of the International Zonefor several months other than the occasional random mortar round.When you stand on the roof of the hospital at night - it is veryweird, though, to watch out into the "red zone" of the rest of baghdadand see tracer fire and the occasional explosions. And of course thecontinual train of casualties reminds you that we are definately in awar zone.
Luckily, we are with a reaaly good group of docs and nurses and thereis a great sense of comraderie and support for each other. It is avery collegial atmosphere - excpet for the weekly Morbidity andMortality reports - but it is what you would expect from a bunch ofsurgeons.
I hope you are all doing well. And thank you again for the supportand emails to myself and to Amy. I know we both appreciate it.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Good morning- Just a quick update... Arrived in Baghdad a few days ago via just about every type of vehicle imagined... air plane, helicopter, armored bus... very entertaining. Got to land by helicopter on the parade ground by the "Crossed Sabers" and then bussed to the hospital from there. The hospital itself is pretty run down and dirty, but it is still a hospital. Luckily, things have quieted down here over the last month or so, and the people we are replacing are pretty burnt out and ready to go home. I can't really blame them and assume I will be feeling the same way in 15 months. Had dinner last night in Saddam's palace... what a whack job. Gold inlaid ceilings and doors, giant murals of himself, then the obligatory murals of him blowing up Israel andthe US. I am sure he is rolling in his grave knowing that a Jewish American soldier just went to the bathroom in his toilet. We have been spending most of the time since arriving, just learning our way around and how the hospital works. Will be working my first shift in the ER tonight on the overnight - should be a blast. I hope you are all well, and I will send out some pictures of the place in a few days.