31 May 2009
30 May 2009
28 May 2009
Today's CrossFit workout was YOGA!!
Felt so great getting into the poses and just concentrating on breathing and how my body felt. Yoga is the only time my mind forgets the people, place and job out here in Iraq. The stretching was very much needed as well. Wish this class was on Friday instead of the Fifty coming up (it's going to be tough tomorrow).
27 May 2009
Which means it's "blast your eardrums and vibrate your chest" night.
Those of you who hang out in the unfiction chat room with me know the bane of my Wednesday nights, the LOUD salsa music. Apparently the DJ thinks that the only way for dancers to enjoy it requires the music to be VERY LOUD. Yet most nights there aren't many dancing (especially the first hour or two). Many of us have complained to the Rec Center desk to no avail. I even emailed the OIC (Officer in Charge) of the MWR (Morale, Welfare, Recreation) and got "We'll look into it" (regarding the DJ starting the music too early and keeping it too loud - so far the only change has been the DJ not starting early anymore).
At first I would just wear ear plugs and suffer. When I got wifi access in my room I would just stay there on Wednesday nights. And then I started thinking about hearing safety (afterall, we are required to wear hearing protection on the flight line, we shouldn't have to need it when off duty). So I contacted Bio-Environmental Health (conveniently a part of our Med Group). According to the regulation, recreational noise should not exceed 98 decibels over 2 hours.
Tonight I'm sitting here, ear plus and head phones as protection, wearing a decible measuring device. Red box clipped to my waistband, and the microphone clipped to my shirt collar near my ear.
Two hours of this. Ugh! But it's for a good cause, just wish I had thought to investigate this earlier in the year. But if it helps people in the next rotation to save their hearing, it will be worth it.
So it's been 90 min since the music started. No one is dancing tonight.
Edit: a little after 10p there was one couple that danced during one song. The DJ increased the volume when they showed up on the dance floor. Now they are done and no one is dancing again, but the music is still deafening.
Background: AFOSH Standard 48-20, Occupational Noise and Hearing Conservation Program, recommends that, for patrons, recreational music levels “should not exceed an equivalent continuous level, Leq, of 94 dB(A) [decibels, A-weighted] for any continuous 2-hour period,” assuming two hours of exposure once per week. Occupational exposures above 85 dB(A) Because exposure is not occupationally related and event attendance is the choice of the patrons, who can move to less noisy areas or leave to avoid exposure, “occupational noise exposure standards cannot be directly applied to recreational exposures.” Therefore, “94 dB(A) is a guideline and does not constitute a never to be exceeded sound level.”
Health Risk Assessment: As a patron of the MWR Recreation Center in H6 housing, you expressed concerns about noise levels during the salsa night activities held on Wednesday evenings at 2030; and on 25 May 2009, you attended the salsa night activity while wearing a noise dosimeter (calibrated in-house prior to use) that was programmed to log noise levels from 2030 to 2230. The noise dosimetry showed a 2-hr average noise level (Leq,2hr) of 83.4 dB(A). This is well below the 94 dB(A) recommendation. Some levels (logged as 1-minute average levels) were above the 85 dB(A) ‘hazard level’: 20 of 113 minutes logged were over 85 dB(A), of which the highest 1-minute average level was only 90.9 dB(A).
Conclusion: Brief periods of noise exceeding the 85 dB(A) were observed during the salsa night activity on 25 May; however, the average level over the two hour exposure period was well below the recommended limit for recreational music exposure. No action is required at this time.
26 May 2009
25 May 2009
6a - 5K run (yes, it's getting pretty warm earlier in the day). Haven't broke 30 min yet, this time was 30:24, so I'm getting closer.
9a - Find out I am getting a roommate for the remainder of my deployment. No more private room (I knew it was too good to last). She's a nurse in the ICU, works days, from Colorado. Tactical vehicles are on display in front of the hospital (took some pictures, will insert here in a day or two).
10a - Finally find the coffee hutch that was put in place when the Medevac unit moved their operations next door earlier this month. Nice soy mocha (it's paid for by donations).
3p - CrossFit class. 25 pull ups, 50 pushups, 50 deadlifts (55#), 50 kettledrum one arm lifts (squat & lift 4 kg), 50 floor sweeps (it's a core exercise where you lie on the ground with a bar fully extended like a bench press, then bring straight legs up and alternate right and left side of the bar), 50 box jumps (I used the 12" box), end with 25 pull ups. Took me a little over 26 minutes, and I still need the box to help with the pull ups. But I'm a little closer to my goal of doing a real pull up on my own before I leave JBB.
6p - Commanders Call (have to go across the street, all the way through our housing block, to get to Town Hall).
8p - Take the new roommate around the common areas and to the laundry drop-off. This is when we hear the big BOOM! Then a klaxon. Whoa! A few minutes later come into the Rec Center, get the roommate online so she can Skype with her spouse. Oooh, free pizza! Slight distraction.
8:15p - People buzzing a little. Two hits in the vicinity of our housing. Call into the hospital and check in with our squadron superintendent. Great, no one else from my flight has done so. Time to go knock on doors. Found 2 of 4 airmen but where are the others? One lives in another housing area, the other is supposedly at the movies.
9:15p - Accountability is cancelled. We got 3 out of 5 in our flight to check in (including me). So I didn't have to run over to the other housing area after all (phew - I've already logged 21K steps today).
9:45p - Yawn. What time did I wake up today? Oh yeah, 4:30a (just because it is light outside isn't any reason I *have* to wake up before my 5a alarm, but someone forgot to tell that to my brain). I hope my hips don't hurt tomorrow morning the way the are aching right now.
24 May 2009
Patient rounds and feeding the CASF = going into work on my day off. But today I was done by 9:30 and headed to the outdoor pool for a little lap swimming. I need to get a few pictures of me swimming next week. After my shower hung out in the sun reading and letting my hair dry. Only time I can have it down while being outside (all other times it has to be pulled back).
Walked back to the hospital to drop off my gym bag (can't take it into the BX) then walked back to the BX and the Beauty shop - got a mani/pedi and bought weight lifting gloves (the CrossFit class is going to give me blisters if I don't start wearing them). All the walking today = 15K steps according to my pedometer. It was a lot easier a few months ago. Now the temperature is rising it's a little more of an effort. It was 111 degrees at 2:30p today.
I had my first (and last) Iraqi Burger King Whopper today for lunch. No fries. That thing sat in my stomach like a rock for hours.
After cooling down I got my regular 3p massage (this was more of just a relaxing rub than a therapeutic massage - which I really could use after all this muscle work I'm doing). Snooze time. Then pickup my laundry, put it away, grab my laptop case and get over to the Rec Center. Cup of mocha to wake me back up.
Sunday is bingo night at the Rec Center. I haven't had much luck lately. Been more than 2 months since I won a game. And it looks like tonight is no exception. Oh well, it's free. And it's not like I need the money (prizes are AAFES gift cards for $25 or $35). This guy calls pretty fast. I'm trying to write this while playing tonight. What's nice is I also get to chat with my husband and sometimes even webcam with him (until the bandwidth gets too narrow from all the people in here playing WoW and Skyping.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. There will be some activities (I'm doing a 5K jog in the morning) and services around the base. Many folks back home will enjoy the holiday off from work. Maybe they'll watch a parade, or go to the movies. I hope they also take the time to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our nation's freedom. These folks out here, keeping us safe inside the wire, patroling the villages and the cities to protect the civilians from the radicals, training the local security forces to take over these duties, please remember all of them.
23 May 2009
It's not a glamorous job. We don't 'save' lives, we don't discover new diseases or come up with new surgical techniques. We don't spend hours with patients - in fact, they barely see our faces.
But if we weren't here, everyone would notice. Because feeding patients (and staff) is a necessary job. And we do it every day.
I screen all new patients for nutritional needs; sometimes I need to provide nutrition support - decide on the IV nutrition (aka "TPN") or a tube feeding. I do some diet education as well. All of us try to obtain food preferences from our patients. I also determine how many special Halal meals we need to order (Muslims only eat meat that is considered Halal).
We also order the meals for the CASF (so I have to review the census and projections twice a day to get adequate food but not way too much). We've been watching food preference trends in our staff as well, making adjustments to the hospital dining facility menu (although we are constrained by the pre-set 28 day menu that has some very interesting choices - i.e. not always menus or patterns of food options I would have created).
I've spent some time this deployment trying to improve the dining facility to give it some better flow, some items requested by our customers (i.e. Iced tea has been a frequent request all year), and do what we can within the limited space. We also have some policy restraints. For example, we cannot just get extra food for parties. And we only serve dessert on Sundays (no room in the facility to have a dessert table any other days).
And it's nice to surprise people.
We got our iced tea earlier this month (both sweet & unsweet). We got a nice table for the middle of the serving area for fruit & bars display (getting rid of a wobbly looking fruit stand). We got a bread dispenser (more sanitary than people reaching into open plastic bags). And today we started a new policy - Saturday ice cream at lunch (and midnight).
We sometimes get challenged. Like today. There was a power outage that affected the facility that makes our food. They were going to be late in delivery and with limited food choices. When it was time to feed our patients we had the Halal meals for our Iraqi's but we ended up making sandwiches and stuff for our other patients. For the staff it meant we were an hour late for dinner (so we stayed open later). And it meant I didn't go to the movie (Angels & Demons - theater had no power either). On the positive side I was available to help with the helicopters bringing in some patients. Eventually we opened and people were happy.
22 May 2009
Dusty morning helped to keep the day time temperature a bit more reasonable low 100s and not as bad as yesterday. But I keep imagining all this getting into my lungs (along with anything that is being burned in the burn pit less than a mile away).
21 May 2009
5th Brigade's Organizational Day 5K Fun Run this morning. My goal was to finish in the top 1000 (so I could get a T-shirt). And I wanted to break 30 min. I accomplished the first (can't wear it around here, but it's another souvenier from my deployment) and got close to the second (30:47). Maybe next week I can do better. There's a Memorial Day 5K on Monday.
This afternoon I went to CrossFit - thinking there would be more muscle work. Nope, 400 meter run OUTSIDE in the HEAT, followed by 50 air squats (that's squatting down far enough your butt can touch a medicine ball, so it's pretty low). Oh, do that 4 times! I've got a bottle of Motrin at the bedside if I can't get up tomorrow morning.
It's been a tough week at the hospital. We've had a rush of pediatric traumas. A few burns that look scary but they are recovering. The other week a child was run over by a truck - broke so many facial bones - good news is that he's recovering ok. But today we lost two kids. One was a burn that came in yesterday. Another was a victim of a bombing in Baghdad this morning. We have to remember that for every one of these, we are saving 97 others. And that keeps us going. There are some pretty amazing things happening in our hospital. Our surgeons and doctors and nurses and nurse techs are absolutely stellar. And all of the support folks really step up when needed.
By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press Writer – Thu May 21, 9:24 am ET
BAGHDAD – Three American soldiers were killed Thursday in a bombing in Baghdad, the U.S. military said, part of a burst of violence only weeks before American combat troops are due to leave Iraqi cities.
The attack was one of a series of bombings to hit Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least 66 people and wounding dozens more in two days.
The deadliest blast Thursday occurred in Baghdad's southern Dora district, where a bomb exploded near an American foot patrol, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
The U.S. military initially reported nine U.S. personnel were wounded in the attack. Later, the military said it could not confirm that number because the injured were still being evaluated and treated.
The attack occurred about 10:38 a.m. as the soldiers patrolled near an outdoor market, said Army Maj. David Shoupe.
Iraqi police said a suicide bomber was responsible, but Shoupe said the U.S. could not confirm that. He said four civilians died in the blast, but Iraqi police and hospital officials put the civilian toll at 12 killed and 25 wounded.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Earlier Thursday, another suicide bomber killed seven U.S.-backed Sunni paramilitaries as they waited in a line to receive salaries at an Iraqi military base in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Police Maj. Salam Zankana said the victims in the Kirkuk attack were members of the local paramilitary Awakening Council — Sunnis who turned against the insurgents and help provide security. Eight others were wounded, he said.
Awakening Council members, also known as Sons of Iraq, have been frequently targeted by al-Qaida and other Sunni groups still fighting U.S. troops and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.
Sami Ghayashi, 37, who was among the injured, said the local council members had been waiting three months to receive their salaries.
"While we were waiting at gate talking to one another a big explosion took place," he said from his hospital bed. "I saw several colleagues dead, among them my cousin. I have no idea how this suicide bomber got among us."
Also Thursday, a bomb exploded inside a police station in western Baghdad, killing three policemen and wounding 19 others, an Iraqi police official said. The bomb was hidden inside a trash can and carried into the station, he added.
The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Despite a dramatic drop in violence in Iraq, attacks still occur, although with less frequency. Bursts of attacks tend to be followed by periods of calm, only to have the violence spring up again.
The attacks came a day after a car bomb exploded near a group of restaurants in a Shiite neighborhood of northwest Baghdad, leaving 41 people dead and more than 70 others injured.
That incident was the capital's first major car-bombing since May 6, when 15 people were killed at a produce market in south Baghdad.It was also the deadliest in the city since twin car blasts killed 51 people in another Shiite neighborhood, Sadr City, on April 29.
The failure to stop the bombings adds pressure on the Iraqi government to demonstrate that it can meet security challenges ahead of a June 30 deadline for the U.S. to remove all combat forces from Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
A day after the Shula bombing, dozens were still being treated at an area hospital for shrapnel wounds and burns. The blast blew out the front of a building housing shops and restaurants.
Coffins draped with flags were carried through the streets near the bombing as funerals began for the dead.
U.S. troops are due to leave Iraqi cities under terms of the U.S.-Iraq security agreement that took effect Jan. 1. President Barack Obama plans to remove combat troops from the country by September 2010, with all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
Under the agreement, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could ask the U.S. to delay the pullout from the cities. However, the issue is politically sensitive in a country worn out by six years of war, and the government has insisted there will be no delay in the withdrawal schedule.
There is still a US Military Combat Surgical Hospital (CSH) in Baghdad. But it is possible we will see these soldiers at Joint Base Balad.
20 May 2009
Walked the H6 loop this morning (instead of jogging). In addition to the normal hospital rounds I worked with an outpatient this morning (lifestyle changes to postpone the eventual develop of diabetes for as long as possible). Throw in squadron meeting, intel brief, normal nutritional medicine operations, a visit across the street to the clinic, giving platelets, working on LOE (Letter of Evaluation) bullets, etc....I ended up staying at work until after 7:30p tonight.
Not sitting in the Rec Center tonight. Those of you who know me from the chat room are familiar with the bane of my Wednesday nights. At 2030 hrs (8:30p) there is suppose to start the Salsa Dancing. Problem is two fold. 1) the guy sometimes starts the music early (tonight he was 15 min early). 2) the music is WAY TOO LOUD..to the point where I have resorted to ear plugs if I stay in the Rec Center (but I cannot watch my DVDs cause I cannot hear the sound over the music, even through my earphones. Fortunately, I can now access the internet via my room. The wifi company came out, posted the router booster antennae on the roof and ran a cable through a hole in the floor. I've enlisted the help BioEnvironmental services and next week I'll be testing the noise level (decibels). I'll post the results.
I'm suppose to do a 5K "race" tomorrow. Hope my hamstring will cooperate. It's still sore from CrossFit.
19 May 2009
At least, that's what the research claims - you have to do something 21 days in a row to make a new habit. Today was day 2 for my morning jog around the housing area (it's 1.89 miles). I did the entire loop (sucks it takes me 20 min - but I wasn't trying to go fast). 19 more days to go.
Tuesday night is Mongolian BBQ at DFAC2. Tonight was rice, shrimp, green beans, carrots, celery, bean sprouts. YUM!!! I'll try to take a picture next week.
We aren't getting mail for the next few days. Something about Iraqi customs and non-military planes (USPS isn't 'military'). I hope it doesn't delay my boxes from home for too long.
I'm watching too much Stargate. The guy who plays Daniel Jackson is really looking quite handsome.
Not a cute as the guys who played George Kirk and James Kirk in Star Trek. Yowza!
18 May 2009
Finally did what I planned to do for the past couple weeks - go for a jog at 5am. Made it 1.5 miles then walked the last 1/2 mile to cool down.
Good thing I got that started, cause a Colonel's promotion at the hospital at 3p meant I couldn't get to the CrossFit class today.
I'm thinking of doing a 5K fun run on Thursday morning.
And I signed up for another biathlon (at the outdoor pool, sponsored by the US Coast Guard) next Saturday.
Flies are out in full force right now. Annoying buggers.
I got to see "Star Trek" last weekend, at Saddam's Theater here on base. One scene was totally not needed (on the ice planet, with CGI creatures chasing Kirk). But wow! There's some good looking guys on that show. Interesting direction of the characters - I think it has some good potential for a regular series of movies (maybe with a director who is better with a steady cam?).
16 May 2009
15 May 2009
Originally uploaded by konashark
I found this in my husband's flickr tonight.
He wasn't expecting it. He said he wasn't trying for it - cause his 20 years are up in March 2011.
But I'm so PROUD of him. Even though putting it on (probably in January) will mean an extension of his military career, and another separation (probably a year long remote assignment), he gets to retire as a MSgt.
We're going to have to plan a big party in January.
Way to go honey!!!!!
1. Wake up (5am), get out of bed put on PT gear for a walk on a treadmill in the gym (only time I can listen to ARGNetcast on the iPod is in the gym - not allowed to wear headphones outside).
2. Back to my room to change into my uniform.
3. Get to work and put on the purple heart scrub top (it's Man Love Friday).
4. Change back into PT gear to walk to Holt stadium (to get more exercise and since it's really getting hot outside it's better to sweat in t-shirt & shorts; and don't have to wear my weapon if I'm doing physical training).
5. Back to work and back in the uniform with the scrub top.
6. Change the scrub top for my uniform blouse to attend a ceremony honoring a hospital volunteer for 1100 hrs of service this past year (that's almost 20 hours per week)!
7. Blouse off and scrub top back on.
8. Back into PT gear to go to the gym and take the CrossFit class ("Cindy" = 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 air squats repeated over 20 min, I did 14.5, with 'jumping' pullups). Finished with a P90X abdominal program (I could barely do half of them).
9. Back to work again and about 2 hours later I take my shower and put on my uniform again.
10. After Sabbath Services I find my way to my room and change into my Rec Center PT gear (long sleep shirt under the PT t-shirt, long PT pants - cause the a/c in the rec center is set too low).
I think I at least tied my previous record. Have to check the archives.
14 May 2009
13 May 2009
1. We don't know when our replacements will be here. We have a supposed date but just like I wasn't here 'on time', it's very possible my follow-on could be late as well.
2. After our replacement gets here, there is suppose to be a 72 hr overlap for training. THEN we get scheduled for a rotator to Qatar.
3. We have no control over when a flight leaves Qatar. We might miss it if we don't get to Qatar in time for our original itinerary.
4. Once I get back to the states I have to wait for a flight back home (although of course I'll try to get on the earliest flight possible). My goal/hope/plans/wishes are to make it back in time for my wedding anniversary (July 15th) but considering the experiences of everyone who's been leaving lately, I'm not going to hold my breath.
5. After I get back to Las Vegas I still have to check in at Nellis AFB before I can do ANYTHING. But then the military owns me until mid-August. So I'll get a couple weeks to reconnect with my husband. But then they get to keep me working on special projects until my MPA (Man Power Authorization) expires.
6. At least I'll get to go home every night and sleep in my own bed for the last month of my military obligation.
Our instructors are Vanessa and Jim (this picture is from his blog).
"Ouch" is all I can say today (after two classes). I thought it would be my low back but it's my lower calf muscles that are killing me today. My goal is to do at least 4 classes a week for the next 6 weeks.
CrossFit is a system of workouts that emphasize "functional" fitness & strength training. Monday we did "Angie" (100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 pullups and 100 squats). Yesterday was "Punisher" (7 rounds of Deadlift, KettleBell Swings, Wall Ball Shots, Box Jumps). The picture above was taken after the class. I'm not sure why we are all smiling - must be because we finished.
This morning I was walking like an old lady. Once I managed continuous movement for about 10 min the muscles loosened up enough that most of the pain went away. But then I sat at my desk to do some work and got sore again. Hopefully tomorrow morning I'll be able to walk around H6 again (I'm not holding out to be able to jog again until this weekend).
My other goal? To do a real pull-up (at least 2 of them).
08 May 2009
07 May 2009
A "Passport Tour" of a few key sites around the base today. Stopped at EOD and played with the robot - ran it through a little obstacle course and picked up a mortar.
Then I put on the bomb suit and did pushups. Not so easy wearing 65 lbs.
Then I put on the bomb suit and did pushups. Not so easy wearing 65 lbs.
06 May 2009
03 May 2009
They are at all the check points, various entrances to wired off areas (like the hospital compound, the gyms/rec centers outside the housing area, the dining halls, etc. We have many inside our hospital as well. They are very friendly, all speak English (requirement for the job).
Ugandan guards in Iraq find solace in worship, cultural ties
By Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, May 3, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Swahili gospel chants backed with clapping, banging percussion floated through the humid, buggy night air, eliciting quizzical glances from troops walking to chow.
Men and women in khaki uniforms threw their hands skywards, beat together rough pieces of wood, and shouted words of praise as they circled a dimly lit gazebo tucked into a eucalyptus grove. A worshipper manning a cheap synthesizer wove a simple melody.
It was one of the twice-daily services for the Ugandan Christian Gospel Fellowship, conducted in both Swahili and English, and a small example of how the army of foreign laborers imported to U.S. bases carve out a little piece of home in Iraq.
Khaki-clad Ugandan ex-soldiers are ubiquitous in Iraq, with hundreds working for private contractors as guards at U.S. bases throughout the country. They act as gate guards, protecting dining halls, gyms and military exchange stores.
Almost all of the some 20 worshippers on a recent night worked as guards and all were Ugandan, though Atwine Robert, 40, a night-service pastor, stressed that all people are welcome to the services.
Working for long stretches far from homes and loved ones can be lonely and stressful and the church services are one way to escape, if only for a short time.
"It helps me to be connected to God, to be free, to stay out of trouble and stresses," said Moses Mwesigye, 28, who has worked for about a year in Iraq and has a wife in Uganda.
The Ugandan guards have also faced hardships in Iraq related to their work — some have alleged they haven’t been paid what they were promised; others have alleged that their passports were taken from them once they arrived. And a commission investigating waste and fraud in wartime found "serious deficiencies" in their training and equipment.
With everything from country and rock blaring on buses to Southern fried fare at dining halls to fast-food outlets — all aimed at making many large bases feel like a fortified piece of America — the distinctly East African feel of the religious service stands out.
The service also offers a chance to speak in a common language (Swahili is the lingua franca of Uganda, though a multitude of languages are spoken in the country) and hang out with fellow Ugandans.
"It’s really so comforting," said Denis Mwesigwa, 27, who also helps lead the night services.
The open-air environs are not ideal (sweating worshipers in a prayer circle had to unclasp hands from time to time to swat mosquitoes), but indoor space is limited and it’s the prayer, not the building that’s important, said Robert.
"It should not stop us from worshipping God because he is everywhere," he said.
02 May 2009
We gotten dozens and dozens of cards from around the world (a couple from Germany and Japan arrived this past week). The messages have been great to read (even if we have no idea who has sent them - amazing how many people don't put a name or their user name/avatar on the cards so it's just a fun mystery).
But we still have half a wall to cover. So I'm extending Operation Postcard into this month.
Standard US postage rates apply (if it's bigger than standard, extra stamp is needed)
332d EMDG/Nut Med
APO AE 09315-9997
Until May 31st.