Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Sometimes I think that I should focus more on positive things. Peoples accomplishments rather than their failures or pain. Someone reading my blog might get the idea that I am a negative person who delights in embelishing on the suffering of others. I want to say that this is not true. I am a very positive person. I am an optimist. And I do not enjoy watching people suffer. Perspective is what is needed here.

As a flight medic in Afghanistan, I see people at their lowest. The service we provide brings me close to suffering, injured, sometimes dying people on a daily basis. These people are innocent victims of cruelty, or brave volunteers who accepted the mortal risks of being a warfighter. Only a small percentage of our clients deserve to be in their situation. Being a medic can be really difficult sometimes. Pain is never funny.

Or is it?
Being able to compartmentalize makes things easier. I take one part of a situation and put it in the serious drawer, and another part of the same situation goes into the hilariously ironic drawer. Today for instance:

This afternoon my crew got a call to fly to Jalalabad and pick up a young woman with burns to her face, right arm and hand. On the way there, we were guessing how she got burned. We were pretty sure it didn't have to do with fighting because of the place and manner in which we were picking her up. Was it from a hot coffee spill, an accident in the shower, did her clothes catch on fire somehow? I found out when I arrived. Apparently she was trying to burn some pieces of wood, and they weren't burning as fast as she wanted. So she decided to dump gasoline on them and light it with her cigarette lighter. Um... duh. Back to that perspective thing. On the one hand- oh, sad. On the other- Friggen awesome with a side of serves you right. Taking into account that she's fine- no permanent damage, and she gets a free trip the Germany for recuperate for a few weeks. Like free leave! So yeah I think it's funny, and I'm sorry you were hurt because you did something super-retarded.

The story gets better/worse.

While the doc and I were getting her all ready to go, we got another call. There was a second helicopter on it's way to Jbad with a middle aged local guy for us to take to Bagram, with gasoline girl. He had some bad eye and face trauma and a big laceration on one of his arms. So I'm thinking- was in an I.E.D., a mine, some kind of industrial accident, or was he kidnapped and tortured by the taliban? Nope. And I kid you not... Mauled by a bear. I didn't find much funny about this one. But it brought a bunch of questions. We have bears here? How did he manage to find one? How do you get it to attack you!? Flying around the mountains out here I've never seen or heard of anything accept goats and camels. And the biggest question of all- How did I wind up with these two bizzare cases on the same day, even on the same flight?

I have no doubt that this is the weirdest job I will ever ever have. Good thing I'm so positive.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Will Never Learn

I got a call on my radio today to get ready for an urgent mission. When I ran up to my room to grab my jacket, gun and drug bag, I discovered that I had locked myself out.
My door is a flimsy sheet of half-inch plywood hung on two hinges. It is secured on the outside by a hasp and a little masterlock. I checked my pant pockets again to be sure. Then I kicked in the door, grabbed my stuff, and went out to the aircraft. The mission was cancelled before it started on account of bad weather. I went back upstairs to fix my door. I wasn't at all perturbed because this is the fourth time I have had to kick my door down. After the last time I started keeping a hammer and nails in my room just for this purpose. It only takes a minute to bend the latch and hinges straight and nail them back on the door frame. My key was on my desk, right where I always leave it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What just happened?

A couple months ago in a weekly servicemens group meeting we discussed the possibility of initiating an addiction recovery program. The group leader got in contact with some people at LDS family services to get some more info. About the time I got back into country he asked if I would spearhead the program and think about holding meetings during the week on days I wasn't flying.

The next day: somehow we were mentioned in the Church News.

Crazy crazy.