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

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Teaching Them How To Care

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
-
ConfuciusChinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC - 479 BC)
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Today is a significant day for 2 reasons. For one thing, I finally have internet in my room so I do not have to hang out in the office until midnight. The second thing is my replacement is probably at Fort Riley right now. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the same it is also kind of sad because we are really getting to know and like the people that we work with in the clinic. We are developing a genuine friendships.

One observation I had today, which is somewhat concerning for me, is the difference that the Afghan physicians have concerning a patient's well being. I am not sure if the difference between the U.S. and Afghan's mentality stems from a fear of getting sued, I would like to think not, but in the U.S. we legitimately want to do what is right. I can remember walking out to my car, after just finishing a long day at an urgent care clinic. It was after 5:00pm and the clinic had just closed. I saw a mom escorting her young son who you could tell had an injured arm. I knew that he required an X-ray and that we had just turned everything off and everyone was getting ready to go home. I could have very easily just driven off and no one would have criticized me for it, but instead, I had the staff open up the clinic out of a sense of duty to the patient. Over here, just from the limited patient interaction that I have witnessed, I don't think that they have developed that same concern for the patient. I hope that it is a teachable quality.
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For example, we had a guy come in with an obvious hand fracture. I had to go out of my way to motivate the ER doctor to act and to order and x-ray. There was another gentleman that came to the hospital yesterday with a life threatening condition and was turned away because the clinic is not quite up and running full speed. He died in route to another hospital. I think that I am going to spend some time tomorrow trying to ingrain this important trait. I can easily treat someone how to practice medicine. I am just not sure that I can teach them how to care.

When we asked why they didn't call their equivalent of 9-1-1 for the patient that came in yesterday with the life threatening condition, their response was, "There are 6 million people in Kabul. Do you think an ambulance would come?"

Today I had a long conversation with one of the police recruits that came to the clinic for back pain. I would love to post his picture but I won't for his security. We talked about how he is unable to go back and visit his family who live in the Helmond region of the country. He says that he has a huge extended family but if he goes back it would be very dangerous for him because everyone in his town knows that he is a police officer. The same applies to the interpreters and anyone else seen cooperating with the government or U.S.. I asked him what do the police officers that live in the Helmond province do them. His response was that they all live in a secure compounds and that they have lot of weapons.
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He was attending his first year of a four year police program. He came in with bad back pain and was just kind of asked a few questions in the front lobby then sent away. Oh, there is so much that needs to be fixed. Baby steps.

As much as I want to go home, I can still appreciate why the deployments have gone to 12 and 15 months. Making any progress in Afghanistan takes a long time, and unfortunately, developing good relations and getting yourself up to speed takes about 2 months.

I hear my replacement will be here for a year. A number of our teammate have already been contacted by their replacements. They have the advantage of having us over here to show them around. We had to somewhat start from scratch. The transition for them should be much smoother then what we had to deal with.

Here is a good picture that all of us took for a kinder garden class. This is probably half of the team.
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I posted another countdown and this time I hopefully will not get in trouble because it is plus/minus 7 days. I am really looking forward to Valentine's Day this year (hint hint).
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Thanks for reading.

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