21 NOV 2007 Sleepless in Balad
So here I am, in my cave, drinking chai, and watching “Sleepless in Seattle” on the TV. Isn’t this what chicks do? No matter, just being motionless for a spell is enough for me at the moment.
Post call is good, as long as things are cool enough that you get to leave the hospital. Last night finished up a little wild. The elderly woman who had been shot through the pelvis had a difficult night. Raw edges of broken bone tend to ooze blood. Throughout the night, ICU doctor V. watched her like a hawk, giving her transfusions, measuring her urine. He came to get me around dawn because he wasn’t happy with her blood pressure. We stood together at her bedside, like we had several times that evening. We reviewed her vital signs and the trends of her laboratory tests. She had held her own, but it was time to take a look in her belly again to see what disaster might be brewing there. The OR crew opened up a room for me. I removed the bloodied gauze we had packed into her the night before. There was some bleeding, but all in all, she was doing better than I thought she would. Thoracic surgeon J. took over from me to place new gauze and a dressing so that I could present the night’s patients to our commander.
Some US troops had come to us with broken bones and shrapnel wounds. They worked in a base to the (redacted). They had been working on a bulldozer crew, when a rocket streaked in and blew up next to them. One troop had his jaw broken open. The broken bone already had metal support bars in it from a previous injury to his jaw. The others had shrapnel buried in various locations in their body. We x-rayed them, operated on them, and by dawn they were winging their way north in a C-17 to the regional evacuation hospital in Germany. They will undergo other operations, perhaps in Germany, or perhaps in Washington DC. Two British troops who had been killed in a helicopter fire stopped here briefly. Their remains were flown home to their families.
After my duties were done, I changed into my uniform. I shrugged on my individual body armor, strapped on my M9, and headed out to get my flu shot waiver at the clinic. Back at the hooch, I decided to put my head down and suddenly it was 1500. Unfortunately I woke up in Balad again, but at least I was well rested. I did laundry, cleaned the hooch, and met up with the surgeons for family dinner. Laparoscopic surgeon S. had set up a golf ball net on the roof and they were driving balls. We headed out to the helipad to run some plays in preparation for the hospital flag football tournament tomorrow. Besides a pulled hamstring and some scrapes, we escaped relatively unscathed. It was seafood night, so even Ophthalmologist B. made sure that he made it on time for the Czar Car ride. The Kellog Brown and Root contractors from around the Indian Ocean were working overtime to decorate for Thanksgiving. They had constructed a miniature yacht in DFAC 1. I took a picture of Vascular surgeon M. in front of it. The boat can be his command since he is a former Marine and has boat back home. After dinner, I stopped by the Air Force recreation center to say hi to the ER staff taking salsa lessons, and then walked to the gym to work out. Sometimes I wonder if this base is really in a war zone.
Now it is 0300, Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Well there goes Meg Ryan, running to the Empire State Building to Find Tom Hanks. First time I saw this, I couldn’t understand why Bill Pullman wasn’t pissed. Then I realized that he knew the last thing he needed was a lady who was crazy insane for Tom Hanks. Nothing can stand in the way of two meant to be together. Nothing here can. Nothing here will. As the credits roll, two F-16’s and a Predator take off and fly overhead.