Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ho Hum

Because this base is smaller, everything is announced over a PA system (picture #1). Much like the movie and TV show MASH, all sorts of announcements occur. We are told about incoming traumas, at which point the trauma teams report to the EMT. Depending on how many casualties are expected will determine how many people show up. Additionally, we are given warnings about possible attacks, etc. Don’t worry, so far we have only had training exercises. No attacked since I have arrived. Additionally, the speaker announces when the demolition team will perform a “controlled detonation” (picture #2). This is usually followed by a rather large explosion. If you look close at this picture, you can see a smoke cloud in the background from the detonation.

This week didn't start out with quite the bang like the last. We started the week by performing a couple of elective surgeries on locals. Both were recurrent inguinal hernia repairs. Typically, I perform this type of operation laparoscopically. However, as mentioned, this is not possible, so I had to do it open. One man had a very large hernia that had previously been repaired 10 years ago in Pakistan. Both repairs went well and the patients left satisfied. The next several days were rather uneventful. I was able to go to the Haji-mart and pick up my custom tailored suits (picture #3). I think they look really nice and they fit very well. I’ll be shipping them home where hopefully the Afghan smell will be dry cleaned out of them.

On Friday night around 6 PM the speakers announced a MASSCAL was occurring. Over the course of the next hour, 6 wounded individuals arrived to the EMT. Two were critically injured enemy combatants. Both of these individuals required a fair amount of work over the next several days. One was taken emergently to the OR where the colon, liver, and kidney were repaired from a gunshot injury. Both of these patients survived, yet both also sustained spinal cord injuries and will never walk again. The other 4 men were Afghan Special Guard who had been involved in an IED blast. All four sustained non-life threatening injuries and are recovering well. In a blink of an eye, our hospital beds were full with plenty to do over the course of the next several days.

Finally, Dr. V's replacement arrived. Dr. V is a thoracic surgeon who practices in New York. He actually worked with Dr. Merrill Dayton, who practiced for many years as a colorectal surgeon at the University of Utah. Dr. Dayton then became the Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the State University of New York - Buffalo (SUNY-Buffalo), where Dr. V did his residency. Small world. Picture #4 is of where we usually can find Dr. V, surfing the internet about motorcycles, guns, random trivia, or news. He will be sorely missed, yet we’re excited for him to get back home after 90+ days in the sand. Safe travels. Take care.


  1. Daddy likes your suits...any his size? We love the detail of your blog. Thanks for taking the time and energy to let us be the smallest part of this amazing experience. Stay away from those drills! Daddy wants to know what you do with enemy combatants after you have worked on them? Who will take care of them?

  2. Would you like us to ship you a lime green recorder just like Dr. VonFricken's? I'm sure it's been fought over more than once.

    We miss you!!


  3. love the suits. you will be stylin' when you get always! :)
    good the hear the latest update.
    love ya.