Today was my halfway point. Three months down, three to go. The actual date I leave isn't really known yet, but it was still kind of a symbolic milestone. Because today had a little bit of everything in it, and was a good sample of "A Day in the Life of Matt in Afghanistan."
0900: Local Afghan Clinic. Busiest day since I've been here: 139 patients, all seen by one doctor. Recent orders came down that I can't see non-trauma patients as a provider of medicine, so I took blood pressures and sorted pills for the Afghan doctor. Two of the nurses, Melissa and Amy, help me make hygiene kits with toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, washcloth, soap and lotion to pass out to patients on their way out.
1115: radio call comes out that a wounded soldier is coming. We walk quickly from the clinic 1/2 mile to the trauma unit.
Am I crazy yet, or did I just see a goat on base? Apparently capturing a goat is the Army's way of telling the Navy they are going to beat them in football today. No time try to make sense of that now, so I continue back to the trauma bay. Only one patient with a minor injury. Ryan, the other anesthesiologist, was on call and took him to the operating room.
Mail has come in the mean time. Pretty darn good day: 17 boxes! Yes! Can't wait to open them when I have some time. Some goodies for me, lots of donations for the clinic. But now I have to get ready for the next event of the day.
1300: It was Denise's birthday, which we celebrated at FOB Ghazni's only alternative to the cafeteria, "Oasis." It is and Indian restaurant with some Afghan influence. Like Tex-Mex, only...Indiafghan? I had the the tandoori chicken, and garlic naan. Pretty good eating for $7 a plate.
Yes, those are facial tissues being used for napkins. As soon as our food is served, another radio call "FST all, report to duty station." We quickly box our food and prepare the trauma bay again. Three casualties, one of them in shock from and IED blast. He gets a breathing tube placed, a chest tube on each side, and lots of blood, then to the OR. But he keeps oozing blood. Nothing beats warm, freshly drawn blood from healthy volunteers with plenty of platelets.
I took this picture 2 minutes and 39 seconds after the call for a blood drive over the public address system.
By 5 minutes, I counted 80 people with this patient's blood type lined up to give blood. You can see people running to us to give blood. This is the kind of response you get when people hear there is a fellow soldier is in trouble. Luckily we only needed a few units of blood, but we thanked them all for coming.
1730: patient stabilized and transferred to Bagram. Time to clean up the trauma bay and OR.
1800: move furniture, entertainment center, and TV into our new building so we can watch a movie for Denise's birthday. Connect wires, and drill hole through walls for TV wire so we can watch college football after the movie.
1845: I sneak off to the iso-shelter, take the toaster oven with me, and make clandestine chocolate chip cookies with the hand mixer and ingredients my wife and sisters have sent me. This is a bit of a risk, because this is where the blood drive took place, and since Denise is the nurse in charge of blood transfusion, she's liable to come in and look at records or something. I give Caitlin, another nurse, strict orders to keep Denise occupied whatever it takes.
1925: Ding! Birthday cookie checklist: Surprise? Check. Denise has no idea that I even had ingredients. Warm cookie smell emanating from plate? Check. Milk to go with cookies? Check. Time to go create some magic. "You made WHAT!? How?" Pretty sure I gained some leverage in the friendly turf battle Denise and I have had over what to do with the space in the new building (she wants yoga space, the guys want some gym equipment). And yes, I make baking cookies manly, because I did it while wearing a 9 mm pistol in the middle of a war zone.
2000: Movie time. Denise has been asking for weeks to watch "Elf." I persuade the guys that for her birthday, even college football can wait a little bit. It is the first movie to be seen in the new building we have been working very hard on.
2140: Man time. This is a special, almost sacred time where a few men get together with football playing in the background and discuss what construction projects need to happen next. Internet cable for the Wii for sure, we'll need some state flags and sports banners, maybe a neon beer sign for the new lounge. We'll need to barter our extra heating units for some more flooring material, build some benches, fix the sliding door, and so forth. Of course, these important isuues are best discussed with drill and hammer in hand, even though it's late and we have no intention of using the tools anymore tonight. Years of rich man tradition dictates that the one holding the measuring tape gets his turn to talk, and it would be a serious breach of etiquette to interrupt him until he puts it down.
2230: Family is getting their morning started back home, so time to Skype and see what Jen and the kiddoes are up to. Jen is taking Maya to the Nutcracker, then making cookies, then bringing them to the church Christmas party, all while battling a cold. Maya showed me her new cookie book she got from Olivia, Luke is playing Frogger with horribly chapped lips, and Seth bounced around a lot excitedly and says some things that are very important, if unintelligible.
0000: Midnight, past my bedtime. But if I don't blog the day now, I'll forget it tomorrow.
0056: OK, seriously time to go to bed. Good night, Ghazni. I'm on the downhill slope of the deployment now, because Hump Day is in the books!