Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting into the Routine...

Good Evening Everyone,

Before I start, I would like to say that today is Karen and My's 17th wedding anniversary. I have to be amazed at how well Karen has dealt with this crazy military life. She has travelled all over the world with me and just when we thought we would settle down in Danville, the war broke out and I have been gone from home more than I was when I was in the Active Army. So, to Karen, thank you for your love and for all of your years of devotion.

Well it seems that we have gotten into a routine. Our clinic has been turned over to us and our people have really picked up the responsibilities well. We have a little bit of a learning curve as the wireless record that we use is new to us. As a result, it is taking a little bit more time to chart on each patient. I am used to dictating my notes, but here we have to type them in to the data base which is a little more time consuming. Otherwise the days are becoming as close to normal as possible.

The type of patients that we are evaluating are very similar to what we see at home. Colds and runny noses, hernias and headaches, and lots of orthopedic injuries. The number of IED and sniper attacks have really decreased, praise the Lord, and our ambulance section is making routine runs.

We also see civilian contractors and foreign and local nationals who work here on base. It is funny but there are some cultural differences that we have to be aware of with each national that we see. We have people from Thailand, Uganda, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and people from all over the Middle East. Well, the other night I had a gentleman from Thailand, I believe, come in with a large laceration on his scalp. It was about 14cm long and bleeding quite heavily. I used some lidocaine with epi. as a local and to control bleeding. I then grabbed a surgical stapler to close his wound and when he saw that I was going to use a stapler he jumped off of the bed and started yelling, "I'm no paper, no staple, no staples." I couldn't help but laugh and when I explained to him that this is actually a very acceptable way to close a scalp laceration he looked at me as if I were some sort of quack. So, I went ahead and used some 3-0 Ethilon to sew him up. He was much happier after that.

Some of the other middle eastern cultural things are basically customs that many of you have already heard about. The left hand is considered off limits to use in public. It is offensive to wave, shake, or eat with the left hand. Dogs are considered dirty so they don't think it is appropriate to pet them. Under no circumstances does a man shake a woman's hand or even look at her. When entering a family dwelling, we are suppose to only address the man and ignore the woman as she has no role in public relations. Other more scandalous behavior like drinking, pornography, and gambling are of course strictly prohibited...(Although all three go on quite frequently, but it is as if their behavior doesn't correlate to their religious beliefs.) The people are friendly enough if you talk to them directly but they will not go out of their way to start up a discussion. So, often times a greeting will not be returned.

There are a great number of people who are working on this base from other countries. Many of them have paid large sums of money to come here and work. I think they feel that the contacts that they can make will help them to leave their impoverished homeland for a better country. One young man who works in our Mayor's Cell is from Tibet. His village collected five thousand dollars to get his name on the list so that he can come here and work. He makes 400 dollars a month and that is a lot of money for him, but it will take him a long time to pay that off. He is desperately wanting to come to America and he has made friends with some of our leadership, so hopefully he will get his chance.

Back to our clinic. We have a ping pong table in our enlistee's break room. All of the guys, wait in line to play each other. Well, the other night one of our females, Spc. Wilson, came up to play and everyone thought she would be a push over as she is petite and quite and has a rather soft nature about her. Well, she went out and proceeded to give our guys a clinic. She is a lefty so, she throws everyone off. We are all now getting together and coming up with some sort of strategy to beat her. Bryan played her the other night and when he lost he threw his paddle on the table, went to his room, and didn't come back. That just made us laugh even more. I saw him today in the office surrounded by a few guys and he was quietly offering a hefty sum to anyone who would be willing to accidentally break her left thumb. ;0) (just kidding on that last part, although I have been considering using her as our ringer when we play other units.)

Mike has got our Internet up and running, so we are all very happy about that.

We maybe having some additional duties for our medics that will require some less protected duties, so I appointed Travis as our Medical Director of our Emergency Management Section and Mike is going to take over the duties of teaching ACLS and maybe PALS. That is if it doesn't interfere with his other teaching duties at Butler. My duties as the Clinic OIC hasn't been too overwhelming at this point. I have some really good people working with me. My clinic NCOIC, who is the top enlisted guy for our troops, is SFC Kevis Lewzinsky. We just call him 'Ski'. He has set up a nice rotational schedule for the medics and has really made some effective changes to make the patient flow go much smoother. My treatment platoon leader is Lt. Doug Latino. He is a very effective organizer. He is the guy I go to when I need to have things scheduled. He arranges meetings, disseminates information, and makes sure that the other leaders are doing their jobs. The rest of the shift leaders are doing well and everyone has respect for each other. I am so happy with the cohesion that everyone is building right now. I hope it continues to grow.

In the war front, our base was attacked yesterday, again. We were mortared about 4 a.m. with a barrage. But no one was injured. I can't really go into details about some things but our military has some awesome counter attack weapons and we all feel very protected by our guys on the perimeter. God Bless all of them. I will have to say that the military surge that took place earlier in the year, did make a huge difference. I am not sure if it was the surge or if it was a change in strategy, but General Petraeus has been remarkable. He is a soldiers soldier. He is as effective as General Tommy Franks but just with a different leadership style. Both excellent leaders and it is good to know that we have had men like them to lead us.

Anyway, I am attaching some photos of our base and my room. It isn't much but it is home to me and I am thankful to have it so nice. I am not living in a foxhole and I am close to my work area. Tomorrow, I will take photos of our clinic and post them for you.

I am going to close for now as I have a sermon from Drew that Karen sent me to listen to. I had to work all day, so I was unable to go to church. I did make it down to the chapel the other day and one of the chaplains gave me a schedule and showed me around. The chapel is within walking distance. I hope you are all doing well and I will continue to pray for you all.

God Bless,


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