20 November 2007

20 NOV 2007 Trying not to spill my latte

20 NOV 2007 Trying not to spill my latte

Man, I don’t know what it is; I just can’t hit my groove tonight. I’ve got no interest in eating, sleeping, watching a movie, or much else. I am on call, so it’s not like I could go anywhere, even if there was anywhere to go. I sat and stared at a group of empty chairs for half an hour. I read a SPIN magazine cover to cover because I could reach it without getting up. (I am actually interested to hear the Hives new album now; perhaps it has been lifted for the morale drive already) I’ve been told by three people today that I’m the only surgeon left who hasn’t gotten the flu shot. Guess I didn’t get the memo about the TPS report cover sheets. I don’t think Ali Baba is worried about his flu shot. I catch myself thinking that at least it would be interesting if a trauma came in. I can’t believe that I would actually appreciate a moment’s reprieve from my dysphoria because another human being had been injured. Disgusting.  


I took care of an old lady who got shot in the belly today. She was so thin and frail. I don’t know how old she actually was, but she looked to be about 170 or 180. Her eyes were sunken and I could see the curve of her eye sockets under paper-thin skin. The muscles from the base of her ears to her collar bones were raised up from the surrounding tissue like the number “11”. Either she hasn’t been able to find food or something inside is consuming her. She grunted softly with each breath. On her belly was a small red hole with a thin black burned rim where the bullet had entered her body. When we turned her over, we found some of her intestines hanging out of a hole that had been blasted through her tailbone as the bullet exited her body. We washed the blood out of her belly, removed the damaged intestine, and left sterile gauze and towels packed in her belly to control the bleeding from the splintered bone. Tomorrow we’ll operate again to try to reconstruct the separated lengths of her intestines. Why are people shooting old ladies?


Today we were able to send home a little boy and his father. The boy had a bandage on his chin and the father was favoring his left leg with the aid of crutches. They both had recovered from their injuries quickly. A few days ago, Al Qaeda fighters attacked a police outpost near their house. After killing the officers, they sprayed the surrounding family homes with bullets. The father leapt onto his son to protect him. The boy was shot once in the chin and the father was shot in the back of his thigh. He saved his son’s life. Before the Al Qaeda fighters left, they put a few of the bodies in a nearby building, opened a propane tank, and rigged the door to spark when opened. A responding policeman was burned when he opened the door to retrieve the bodies of his colleagues and the gas ignited. His burns were minor and didn’t require more than topical treatment.


Sorry I’ve nothing but ugliness to offer tonight. Rather than go on, I’ve provided “The top 50 reasons you know you are at Balad” which was sent by a friend. If you don’t get some of them, ask anyone who has ever been here for more than a day.


Sunny days,




(Author: Unknown)



TOP 50






  1. …. watching porn means catching Desperate Housewives on AFN
  2. …. you run in terror from a controlled detonation your first week then stand in the open

      and watch real mortars landing yards away a month later. 

  1. …. the most intimate contact you've had in months is with the shower curtain in the Cadillac.
  2. …. winning a dodge ball tournament is like winning the World Series or the Super Bowl
  3. …. your most successful pick up line is "I've got a vehicle".
  4. …..You’d trade a month’s per diem for an empty dryer that works
  5. …..All the Air Force people look like glow in the dark power rangers and you can’t see the army folks.
  6. .… your 6:00 am wakeup call is “Boom….Alarm Red, Alarm Red, Alarm Red”
  7. …. “We are U ready” is proper English
  8. …. they actually give the Air Force weapons
  9. …. you give directions using bunker murals
  10. …..you realize AAFES is there own country, and can print their own money.
  11. ….. The amount of sand in you’re boots is only surpassed by the amount in you’re nose.
  12. …… the F-16 wakeup call sounds like its coming from your wall locker.
  13. ….. KBR provides free purple tie-die t-shirts and short sleeve DCU service after each washing
  14. …..Something as simple as taking a shower or going to the bathroom at 2:00 in the morning requires preparation equal to the Apollo moon landing.
  15. ….. the Texas Style Brisket is not from Texas , is not brisket and has no style.
  16. ….. you are more worried about your socks showing while in PT gear then getting hit by a mortar.
  17. ….you are watching a “chick-flick” with 300 guys with machine guns.
  18. …you start sending out care packages to needy friends back home because you’ve received too many
  19. …..You attend several Services’ theme parties but you’re always in PT gear or DCUs!
  20. …your internet connection is twice as slow as your old dial-up connection back home
  21. …you’re lying under your bed in IBE saying to your spouse, “No, nothing exciting happened today” and you mean it
  22. ….You can buy vehicles from AAFES but paper towels are no where to be found.
  23. ….You use the term “War is hell” in the DFAC while watching a movie on the big screen TV and eating Steak, Lobster and Baskin-Robbins ice cream
  24. …. You know Army TOA is really code-word for “hold on to your stuff”
  25. …. Your lunch leftovers are covered with crème sauce and raisons and magically becomes the “dinner surprise”
  26.  …..You live in gated community and your home is still a trailer
  27.  ….your idea of PT is that morning sprint to the porta-john.
  28.  …. your idea of a road trip is going to the west side PX.
  29. ….your roommate drops his boot and you drive for cover
  30.  ….You are caught way over the speed limit and you are going 22MPH
  31.  ….Your helmet is referred to as a, “Combat cup holder”
  32.   …. incoming mortar fire at 0630 is your wake up call for morning chow
  33.  …. You’re idea of a night on the town is going to DFAC 4
  34.  ….. the Cadillac you are sitting in is not a car!
  35.  ….  DWI means driving while inhaling
  36.   …. the grass is always greener but you still wouldn’t want to be on that side of the fence.
  37.   ….. Dusting the furniture has a whole new meaning.
  38.   ….. ”Pimp my ride” means putting doors on your Hummer!”
  39.  …. “Your Cadillac seats are porcelain instead of leather”
  40.  …. U2 is hitting the charts again
  41.  ….  you start using Alarm Red as a reason why you didn’t you’re your wife/husband!
  42.  …. You put tick marks on your boonie cap to mark the number of Alarm Reds.
  43.  …. you buy a new PT shirt to update your wardrobe
  44. …. The local community holds fireworks displays everyday in your honor
  45.  …. Driving over curbs seems totally natural
  46.  …. The outcome of the war hinges on how you wear your reflective belt
  47.  …. you see a guy in full battle gear driving a humvee trying not to spill his latte’
  48.  …. It feels normal to dry your hands at the DFAC on toilet paper

No comments: