Monday, December 29, 2008

Re: Latest Update

Well, finally it is here.  Sorry theree are no pictures on this one, and it is going to be short due to having to share the computer with a whole to of people who want to communicate back home.  But, in a nutshell, we are on our way home.  About a third of our hospital left in Mid-December, our replacements arrived about a week after that.  The we finally got to leave the walls that have confined us for the past 15 months late on Christmas day.  But fully decked out with Christmas hats, and plenty of good cheer to be getting out of there, we hopped a ride on some Chinooks (really big helicopters) and flew over to BIAP (Baghdad Airport).  In typical Army fashion of 'Hurry up and wait', we then sat around the airport until late last night when we flew off on some C-17s and arrived here in Kuwait (one giant pile of sand and porta-potties) early this morning.  We should be out of here in a day or two!  Then finally back to New Jersey and the girls about a week after that.  Despite the propect of returning to the state of New Jersey (sorry Lavemen), I am pretty damn excited.  As are most people.  Thankfully traveling with a good group of friends makes the torture the Army dishes out a little more tolerable.  It is hard to believe in a little over a week, this group of people who became my friends and family will scatter back to all over the world.  Some back to Hawaii, Texas, Germany, wherever.  There is a strong bond between us that I will truly treasure, but I am very happy to see farewell to them.  At least in the short term.  So I will update the blog with the final pics when we get back to the US.
I hope you are all doing well and are planning for a great New Year.  I know I am!  Thank you all for the support you have given me and the girls over the past 15 months;  and the support for the soldiers you see on a daily basis.  Those kids that are out there on the front lines, literally living in holes in the ground - have become my heros.  So thank one if you pass one on the street. 
Can't wait to see you all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Well, I know I just wrote in this blog a week or so ago, but I figured in celebration of the end, I would try to keep up a little better. At least for a little while longer. Besides, with the end so close now, I feel a whole lot more energized. As do most people here. The advance party of the incoming Combat Support Hospital should be arriving here today or tomorrow. We are very excited. In fact I can't remember the last time the entire unit was excited about the same thing at the same time before.

The first 'wave' or group of people will start leaving soon, to be replaced by the 10th Combat Support Hospital. Once the new unit is up and running, the rest of us will start our journey home. I hope the incoming group has a great deployment (it is at least shorter than ours by 9 months) and I hope they have as great a group as we lucked out with in our ER.
Again, to pass the time and to show some of our visiting ER docs around the International Zone, we took a lesiourly stroll to some of the sights. Found a few new interesting things, including a collection of old Iraqi aircraft that had been taken apart for spare parts (or maybe to make IED's, I don't really know). They were on the back side of the Iraqi Monument to the Unknown Soldier. I had been there before, just never been on the backside. It had been turned over to the control of an Iraqi Army Honor Guard, so you have to get permission to go onto the property, something not so easy since I don't speak Arabic, and they don't speak English. You basically point and grunt, and they grunt back and nod their heads. It doesn't hurt when you bring a female nurse along, either.
We headed over to another FOB, 'Prosperity', for some lunch and to check out the local shops. Luckily they were selling the 'Barbie' beach towel I was looking for. Found a few interesting areas, including another stone relief made by Saddam of the US killing children (sick man). And later, we got a chance to play on some artillery units that were parked nearby.

In between our explorations and adventures, we continue to do the healthcare thing. The mission that we were sent over here to complete. Thankfully, the amount of combat trauma continues to be low compared to months ago. It is definitly looking like a better Christmas and New Years season than last year in that regard. We do continue to take care fo the regular emergency patients, though. Including the recent birth of twins here (neither were named after me). Not the usual Combat support mission! In a twist of fate (maybe), we currently have a neonatologist (working as a general medical officer) here and a perinatologist (working as a researcher). Both of their skills were called into use.

That about sums it up since last time. I hope you are all doing well and that the winter season hasn't gotten too cold back home (I am sure my blood has thinned out over here). We will keep trying to have fun to pass the last of our time here, and I hope you do too.

(If you are wondering - we are trying to capture a small bird that had managed to wander into the ER. Very funny to watch a group of adults try this)