Problog

Hello and welcome to my blog. It is a blog about an Air Force Physician that was reluctantly deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan for 6 months.

I have to admit, I did not exactly volunteer for the deployment, and I was a little anxious about how it would all turn out. I ended up making the best of it, and surprisingly, I actually had a pleasant, life changing, experience.

I decided to keep the blog up and running because I kept on hearing, "Why is it that you only hear the bad news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan." I figured that I was helping spread a positive message about what we are doing over. Even more important, I wanted to continue to spread the word about the plight of the Afghan people, 99.9% of which are the most incredibly friendly people that you will ever meet. The title picture is a great example of that. I have never encountered such genuinely warm and friendly people. It was so strange to see so many people with so little material objects, yet at the same time, filled with so much of the joy that comes with close family ties, abundant friends, and a close knit community. We could definetly learn a lot from them.

You may notice, as you read the blog in its entirety, my arc. I shift from focusing on myself and my personal comforts, to shifting my focus on the Afghan cause. It is very easy to get distracted by the hustle of daily life and the comforts that the U.S. provides. It is really a challenge to awake from that coma and to start to care and think about the welfare of other people unrelated to you. I think it really took me about 4 or 5 months before I really opened my eyes and became personally affected by what I was experiencing. I hope I was able to recreate it.

I have tried to keep the blog squeaky clean so as to not offend anyone (or get me in trouble-I am still in the military). Even though I am a political junky with very strong personal opinions I have been steadfast in keeping this site free of any politics. I was called to do a job and I tried to do it to the best of my ability regardless of my political stance.

I recreated the blog to read more like a book, or should I say blook (get used to the corniness it only gets worse from here) just to make it an easier read. I have removed some names and pictures just to keep it more anonymous. I hope that it helps in making it less about me and more about the cause.

Lastly, in the spirit of the blog, I decided to include the Chipin Widget that I used to raise money for Nazia. If I get any additional money I will send the funds to The Women of Hope Project and someone over in Kabul will discretely give it to her (unless I hear otherwise). You can also contribute directly to the Women of Hope Project website. They are a wonderful cause. If you enjoy this blog then feel free to contribute. I am sure that once you read her story you will be very moved.

So kick back. Get ready to hopefully laugh and definitely cry.
If you like what you read then post a comment. I will be continuously editing this site in an attempt to improve it. Who knows maybe one day it will become a book!

Enjoy. Thanks for reading.

-Shazdoc

Today Show Clip

Chipin Widget

Saturday, May 17, 2008

CMA

"Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good."
-
Samuel Johnson, (attributed)English author, critic, & lexicographer (1709 - 1784)




Today we did a CMA (Community Medical Assistance) project in a remote village in southern Kabul. It was a great opportunity to give out a bunch of the donations that we received. A ton of 6 M.I.K. 2.0 readers have sent me medical supplies, toys, candies, and school supplies. I loaded a picture book on the right hand column where you can view a lot more of the pics from today. I encourage everyone to continue sending me stuff. I will personally hand deliver them and always include pics. These 2 children below were some of the ones that benefited from your kindness.

Seeing patients today was definitely a challenge. I heard an appropriate analogy yesterday that is very applicable to today's situation, it was like drinking water from a fire hose. It felt like the entire village came out to see us. I believe we saw about 3,000 patients. We expect to see the same number tomorrow. The CMA was actually suppose to be an Afghan National Army CMA. They were supposed to be running the show and we were suppose to just help out where ever we were needed.

There were 4 tents, 2 for women and children and 2 for men. I worked in one of the women and children tents. There is a real delicate balance that you have to strike when seeing patients in these kind of conditions. We were seeing patients in a dirt floor tent, with no labs, no x-ray, and a limited supply of meds. There is not much that you can accomplish unfortunately. There is a mantra in medicine which is first do no harm. You really need to understand your limitations and not try and overstep your bounds. For instance, just about every older adult had blood pressure that was through the roof (yes this is an official medical term). You will not be helping them if you just give them just 3 days worth of blood pressure medicine because hypertension is a disease that needs to be managed over time. It would be harmful to give someone medicine to abruptly lower their blood pressure just to have it rise again 3 days later when they run out.

Unfortunately, a lot of what we saw today were chronic medical conditions that really needed to be managed in a clinic with regular close follow-up care over many months. My goal was to alert them of the problem and to encourage them to seek proper medical care.The only problem is when I suggested this their answer was always that they had no money and therefore did not have access to care.

I saw some children that I would have referred to an ER right away if I were in the states, but instead, they were left to walk back to their home barefoot. For instance, there were a couple of children with serious heart problems, probably ventral septal defects, this boy pictured below was one of them. He was as cute as could be. He had the classic "machinery mumur" on exam. I am going to try and make an effort to see if I can get in contact with a charitable organization to see what we can do to help him. He really needs to be seen by a peds cardiolothoracic surgeon. If anyone out there can help, ie., if you have any contacts, please let me know. You would be saving a life.

I saw a number of cases that I have never seen before. I saw a bad case of spina bifida. I also saw a young child that had the after effects of infantile polio. Obviously, there was not a lot we could do for them but we still tried our best to show our care and compassion. When we could we referred them to a local hospital out in town.

Another interesting thing I encountered was attempting to interview and examine a patient in a burka. There is a strict custom that dictates that all women wear a burka or atleast cover their head when they reach puberty. How strict this is followed depends on where you live. Usually the further you get from the city the more strict they are. It was strange peering outside the gate and just seeing the sea of burkas. I can specifically recall this one patient that the Afghan interpreter saw. She was being seen for arm pain, knee pain, and stomach pain. The interpreter said to me, you see, this is osteoarthritis, it is because she weighs too much. I looked at the patient who was completely covered with only her eyes showing and I thought to myself, "how can you tell?" But again, we were not there to cure any diseases we were mainly handing out over-the-counter medications along with antibiotics and it was not meant to be a comprehensive exam.
I expect more of the same tomorrow. Again, I wanted to thank everyone that has sent in meds, candy, and supplies especially the Zonta Club of Marathon (Marathon is a city in Florida). They must have sent about 20 boxes full of stuff. Some of the boxes cost $30.00 just for shipping.

Take care and thanks for reading.

11 comments:

C Valentine said...

Wonderful pictures....and I'm sure your team did alot of good for many of these people.

If you have time sometime I'd like to hear about more of the beliefs/customs of the Afghan people. I have heard they won't use "American" latrines. And they won't use toliet tissue, but use rocks? I notice in the pictures, it appears the little, bitty girls have on eye makeup? And I see fingernail polish. It just jumped out at me as odd that they would be so poor and have makeup etc.

The faces of the little children, especially the eyes, are just haunting.

C. Valentine

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