Saturday, May 3, 2008

Happy May Day

Well, I guess it has been some time since the last posting - almost three weeks by my watch. It is strange the way that time seems to slip by, and yet it doesn't seem to move at all. It is hard to believe that we have been here for over 6 1/2 months already - even harder to believe that we have 9 months to go. It is truly hard to express the full groundhog's day effect here. Even when we find things to try to keep ourselves entertained, the next day we are right back to the same routine, same people, same food, same patients... Even the rockets and mortars become routine - almost like they are more noticeable in their absence in the rare days that the early warnings alarms don't go off.
Anyway, got to do a few things in the past few days to try to stave off boredom a little longer. On a recent flight to the Air Force Hospital - our return flight got cancelled, so we got to hang out in luxury on the Air Force Base. It is just like being on a base back home - big dining facilities, PXs, indoor and outdoor pools, and a big Morale and Welfare building with many flavors of slushies not to mention pool tables, dart boards and karaoke. Luckily on the flight with me was one of our ER nurses - Kristi Bischoff so I had someone to play darts with and smoke cigars in their cigar shack. The Air Force does it right - nice digs and only 4 month tours...

Got to fly back during the daytime, though, so had quite a view of the greater Baghdad area and got some good pictures along the way. Even saw a train - or what used to be a train hanging out in a Baghdad neighborhood.
A little bit later, some of the other docs and I had to take a trip over to the Baghdad Airport and its surrounding FOBs for some meetings. Luckily, the work part only took about an hour and then we had the rest of the day to explore the area. There are quite a few of Saddam's palaces in the area -including one that he started building after the first Gulf War which he of course named "Victory of America Palace" to celebrate the Iraqi "victory" during the first Gulf War. Gives delusional a new meaning. There were many other palaces in the immediate area, mostly built for the lesiure of Saddam and his family with dozens of surrounding man-made lakes. We actually had the opportunity to pull up on the side of one of the lakes, put down the tailgate, and just relax and enjoy the wildlife (yes there is some local wildlife). We all agreed, just sitting, relaxing outside without fear of rocket attack, without the smell of the city or the local incinerator, listening to the birds - was the highlight of the day, and probably of the recent past.
So in addition to the palaces - and the famous Saddam's Throne - there was an area called Flinstone Village. It was apparently built by Saddam for his grandkids as a giant playground. The Flinstone's was the only US TV show allowed in Iraq before the war (don't know why) - and so, he built the playground to keep them amused, I guess. It was built - along with a LOT of other palaces while the UN sanctions were in place - giving you an idea of how Saddam used his country's resources.
Finally, as March was Moustache March - we needed some event to mark the passing of May - it became Bald or Bangs May. As the Army frowns on bangs in men - bald it was. Figured, we weren't going anywhere anytime soon, so why not. Besides, unlike my brother, my hair still grows back (sorry Brett), and this way I don't need to get a haircut for a while.
To celebrate our new found baldness - we had to celebrate in the ways of our mentors - Hawkeye Pierce and his cohorts from MASH. We have decided to try to emulate them as much as possible. Including the smoking robes - courtesy of Todd (one of the other ER docs) Baker's wife. While we wish the martinin glasses were filled with, well martinis, non-alcoholic beer had to be substituted.
Well, back to work for me, and same for all of you. Hope you are all well - and no, the fact that 120 degrees is a 'dry heat' does not make this
place any more bearable during the day.