24 October 2007

24 OCT Just caching, officer

24 OCT Just caching, officer

Good afternoon. I've got a moment to chit chat before we go into conference. It is a warm windy afternoon in Balad. Already people are starting to wear the long pants of their physical training uniform. I don't use my air conditioner at night. The cold and rain is on its way.

Our famous Vascular surgeon M. seems to have momentarily lost his black cloud luck. He's gone from Eyore to Tiggr. He was on call last night and thankfully few were injured. One unfortunate story did however end in tragedy.
Last night a bunch of us worked hard to keep an eight month old girl alive after a head injury but she perished. My small part was to try and get a working intravenous catheter. Often in children this can be the most difficult task. Several of us were gathered around her, each of us armed with a needles, desparately searching for a vein. Eventually one of the anesthesiologists found the mark and we could start her therapy. Sadly, she had lost too much blood and we couldn't undo the damage. It is hard for me to care for children in this environment, so I can't even imagine how difficult and foreign it must be for my colleagues who are not providers for children back home. Fortunately there are a few awesome pediatric nurses scattered among the staff and they help the facility rise to the challenge.

Before the call to the hospital yesterday evening, I had been free to get some time away. I took advantage of the break in my duties to get out and cover some miles on my bike. I also got a good chance to put the worries of the hospital on hold while I went geocaching.

Not everyone has heard of geocaching. Before last year, neither had I. Geocaching is a sport where the player uses a global positioning satellite receiver to locate hidden items. Players hide items across the globe and then publish the coordinates on the Internet at sites like Geocaching. The boys and I have found a bunch around Texas, and when I logged on over here, I found that over 150 geocaches had been hidden in Iraq. After programming coordinates into my GPSr, I saddled up and hit the trail across base. I searched for five and found two. One other had been destroyed, but that's not surprising given the amount of construction and heavy equipment rolling around here. I've posted a picture of of one cache that was the size of a lip balm container and was hidden in a (redacted).

One touchy aspect of caching over here is that it looks suspicious when a suspect is walking around with an electronic device and poking into hidey holes around the bunkers. I have to make sure that I alert any authorities in the area of my presence, and it always helps to be social to curious onlookers. Plus, it represents an opportunity to share the sport with someone new. Often in geocaching, it is important to be stealthy, so as to not alert bystanders to the presence of the hidden cache. This is to prevent non-players from vandalizing it. If you didn't know the cache was there, you would never detect its presence. Who knows, there may be one on your own block! Just enter your zip code in at http://www.geocaching.com/ and I'll bet you find one within a mile of your house. I have reduced my stealthiness over her to avoid giving the wrong impression. But with my big biscuit head I don't think anyone would make the mistake of being threatened by me, anyway.

My father has questioned whether caching is actually a sport. He reasons that there is no ball, striking instrument, or time limit involved. I maintain it is a sport, and it can be physically challenging depending on the route you choose. On this last jaunt I biked about five miles, dodged a crane moving a barricade, and climbed up air conditioner conduit. If nothing else, it tops the aerobic output of darts.

Caching yesterday was a good way to take a mental break. I just wish I was back home caching with the boys! Soon enough. But then the call came in and it was back to reality, oops there goes sanity. The games we play to get us through.

Hope you find this post,



rlbates said...

I'm glad you have this activity to distract you. Hope you have a great day!

Chris said...

Man does not live by surgery alone! I learned cooking that the spagetti water will overflow if you don't turn down the heat when it begins to boil. Take care! C