31 December 2008

New Year's Eve

We (Jill, Ray and me) went out for a lovely dinner at our favorite restaurant (if you visit us, we will take you there). Gaetanos. Fine Italian dining without the pretentious prices, and a great wine list. They had a special menu and we enjoyed sharing appetizers and entrees (and a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut).

30 December 2008


If you have never deployed in the military, here is a rundown of this process.

1. Get a check list from your UDM (Unit Deployment Manager).

2. Get ready for a scavenger hunt (you have to be at one briefing on Tues or Fri in the mornings, another is only offered Wed afternoons, and the small pox immunizations are only available Tue & Thur afternoons). You have to go to Biomed for gas mask fittings (Tue-Fri mornings or Mon-Thur late afternoon), Public Health (which sends you out to fill in their own list, including Mental Health and another trip to Immunizations), and multiple inperson training events (including the 3 day ECST I described earlier).

3. Get your uniform (three separate trips to the "store" this past month until all my items were available).

4. Did you get all your online training done? Print out all the certificates? Submit them to your UDM?

5. Time for the PRU (Personnel Readiness Unit) appointment - your UDM brings the 6-part folder and the PRU checks to make sure you have everything in the folder. Check!

6. Itinerary (when are you leaving and how are you getting there)?
Whoops! Hit a little snag here. One system didn't communicate with another system - am I attached to Nellis AFB or am I part of Robins AFB (ARPC - Air Reserve Personel Center)? Do I fly up to Sacramento, CA or are they sending me to Bangor, Maine (by way of St.Louis)?

7. Pack. Try to ship stuff because you're going to be shlepping these bags in and out of the aircraft all week.

28 December 2008

Updated Ribbons

If I were to put on my USAF blue uniform today, these are the ribbons I would be wearing:

Last Day at Work

It was bitter sweet. I'm excited to be off on an adventure, a chance to support our country and do the job for which I joined the USAF Reserves. At the same time, I feel like I'm letting down my coworkers. I know many at Sunrise Hospital have come to depend on me for so much. In pediatrics I have been the diabetes educator, the nutrition support specialist, and many times a problem solver. This deployment is also taking me out of the weekend rotation so the other dietitians (*cough* Medical Nutrition Therapists) will have to cover every five weeks instead of every six (I'm so sorry Administration did not approve a VSP to cover my FTE).

Here are pictures from my "last day" (not really leaving, just taking a very long "vacation").

The Medical Nutrition Therapy department: Doreen, Katarina, Judy, Kristen, Me, Lorna and Melinda

Pediatrics (Michelle, Veronica, Christi, Melissa, Necole, Darlene, Margaret

Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (Jennifer, Healther, Kathryn, Leanne, Alicia) Pediatric Social Workers (Shelly & Anne)

Pediatric ICU (Joanne, Valerie, Abu)

It was also a long day. I saw all my patients and then continued onward 3 more hours cleaning out old files, putting away old notes, and creating the pediatric education master notebook. See you guys next year!

27 December 2008

How It Started

It was a 6a phone call in October (whoops! Time zone difference between Florida and Nevada). The USAF was finally offering the opportunity to their Reserve Dietitians to go to the hospital at Balad AB. Did I want to go?

Less than a 30 min discussion with my husband, we easily had our answer. After 11 years in the Reserves it was a chance of a lifetime, to do the job for which I had been training, to serve my country and make a difference. Of course I want to go. My husband had pros and cons: He only just got back from his own six month tour in Afghanistan. But was excited that I would get to have a similar experience (hopefully not too similar - since he lived in the middle of an UN compound on the airport tarmack and there were rockets and morter fire).

The next two months have been filled with training, training, getting my uniforms and other supplies, and more training. I've learned how to fire an M-9 (shooting Expert!), self-aid buddy care, crawl through the dirt and man a guard post (hopefully I'll never have to do any of these skills in Iraq). My usual duties over there are suppose to be writing nutrition support for hospitalized patients, and helping support healthy eating/wellness with all our troops and contractors on the base. This is a 7 day/week job (but there is should be time for fitness training - I heard they have a couple of pools over there).

Here are some photos from my training:

In a few days I'll be taking off for a trip halfway around the world.

Here is where I'm going (upper left corner):

Here's a closer view:

As I begin my odyssey and this six month "working vacation", I plan to update my friends & family here on this blog with my thoughts, my emotions, my experiences, and photos of this journey of a lifetime. Thank you for joining me.