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

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fat and Bald

"You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun."
-
Al CaponeUS gangster (1899 - 1947)
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Everyday the clinic gets busier and busier. The patients that are coming in do not just have minor problems either. One of the first patients that was seen was a police recruit that was shot in the hand by his instructor. I know, how ironic. You can not make this stuff up. I would love to show you the picture but it would be way too graphic. The first thing I said to the ER doctor was, "So, what do you want to do for him?" He replied, " I want to clean it, then sew it up." I then asked him, "What about if there is a fracture, don't you want to get an X-ray to make sure?" He agreed. Fortunately there was no fracture.
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Another patient came in with really bad dehydration. Apparently, the Dermatologist is helping out in the ER because they are short staffed. The U.S. nurse and I watched, almost covering our eyes, as he tried to start an IV. The nurse was able to step in and show him the right way to do it. Little by little, day by day, they are learning and improving the way they provide care.

We also did some trauma training today. The infectious disease doctor was my make believe patient. We applied tourniquets, showed them how to use oral and nasal air ways, and discussed a bunch of other trauma topics.

A couple of ANP Generals also came in for VIP care. They came specifically because they knew that an American mentor was going to be at the clinic. I wish I could have gotten it on film when the 3-star General was told that I was the American doctor that was mentoring the Orthopedist. You have got to understand the culture. One of the interpreters explained it to me last week. In addition to being an interpreter he is also an oral surgeon. He had to stop being an oral surgeon because he looked too young, so therefore, people did not have a lot of confidence in him and he did not have any patients. He said that you have to be fat and bald to be respected as a physician in Afghanistan. Forget about where you went to medical school or your level of experience, you have to have a spare tire and a shiny head to succeed as a physician. I have been told ever since I graduated medical school, back in 1999, that I look too young to be a physician. I am wondering if I will ever look the part.

The reaction from the 3-star General when he saw that I was the American physician was priceless. You would have thought that I just insulted his mother. I just looked too young to be a doctor to him. I did not say anything in response. I just smiled. Frankly, I really did not care if he did not want to be seen by me. One of his American mentors had to reassure him that everything was fine, telling him that I was very competent and well qualified.

He had an Orthopedic problem that probably required surgery. The problem is you probably would be better off not having the surgery in Afghanistan. Even if you were in the states surgery would not be a magic bullet. Pain is something that doctors, medicine, or surgery can not always fix.

Before I finish with the clinic I wanted to show you what one of the Canadian soldiers had in his ear. He said that it is acupuncture for his back pain. Like I have said before, just because we do it one way in the states does not always make it right. The Afghani Orthopedist probably thought that he was weird for putting pins in his ear to fix back pain (for the record, so do I). So before I ever criticize or correct them, I first think to myself does it make sense, and more importantly, does the habit need to be corrected.



I do not think that I spent enough time talking about the cookies that I got yesterday. The cookies were sent from "Cookies Direct" from Yarmouth Maine. A really wonderful "Angel" from Inyokern, California sent them to our team. She also sent the other gifts that were on yesterday's post. This is from their website.

"COOKIES DIRECT is a cookie mail order gift service specializing in truly homemade, fresh baked, hand-packaged cookies. Since 1991, we've delivered thousands of delicious gift packages to family, friends, students, the military, and businesses throughout the country and overseas as well. We operate this cottage industry from our 195-year-old home located in the heart of Yarmouth Village, Maine."


Here is a picture of some of the team members enjoying the cookies.



Today I received 3 big packages. One of them was a box full of Christmas stockings.



The other box was hats and gloves for kids.



The last one was another care package from a second grade class from Nevada.



I am trying to think of something good to send some of the students that write to me. Our next bazaar is on Friday. I plan to buy them something. I hope I can make in on time for Christmas.

There were more bombings today. Here is a link to a NY Times article.
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Thanks for reading.

16 comments:

svn said...

Just wanted to let you know I sent two boxes of sweaters/sweatshirts to the VCR. Would you rather have donations go there or be sent directly to you?

Livingoutloud said...

Did the Canadian soldier receive any relief from the acupuncture, or was his ear hurting so much that he forgot the back pain? By the way, I am Mrs. Ivy's daughter.

GP said...

Either way is fine. Sending them directly to the VCR is also a great way of doing it. I will probably help to distribute them on a mission. Thanks!!

GP said...

Good question. I think that he was too busy explaining why he was walking around with 3 needles in his hear to think about the pain.

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