The Stars Come Out

Last night was busy. I cared for a triple amputee, a U.S. Army soldier who had stepped on an IED. Despite coding once in the trauma bay and once in the OR and receiving 28 units of blood, he was surprisingly stable for me. Once again, the human body amazes me. In these younger, healthy people, the can suffer a lot of damage and still stabilize with the help of medicine. The human body normally holds 5 liters of blood. He had been transfused with 10 liters total of new blood, meaning that he probably didn’t even have any of his own, original blood left in his body. Yet, here he was with rock stable vital signs.

Later in the shift, we received a 14 year old boy who had been building an IED under the instruction of his Taliban uncle. While he was attempting to assemble the IED, it exploded and blew off the kids hand as well as resulted in fragment injuries to both of his eyes. Not only is the Taliban evil to us, they have their own children and nephews doing the dirty work for them. Luckily, U.S. forces were able to track down the uncle and arrest him. But now we have a child who was assisting with Taliban operations, so what do you do with him? Nothing except our security personnel will scan his retinas and take his fingerprints to place in a database. It is so sad that these kids are taught to kill at such a young age.

On a lighter note, last week, hundreds of people gathered at the center stage of the boardwalk and stood in the cold for two hours to watch a star-studded USO-sponsored event. The event began with a surprise visit from Admiral Mike Mullins, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking member of the military! He said some really nice things about how much we are appreciated back home for the sacrifice we are all making and that he understands the stress our loved ones back home are facing, especially this time of the year. I was very impressed with how personable and down-to-earth he seemed.

We also got to hear Lance Armstrong as he MC’d the entire event and told little stories here and there about how we accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn played his guitar and song a few songs and Kathleen Madigan, a popular standup comedian, made us laugh with all her great jokes! Lewis Black put on his comedy act, maintaining his reputation as the most negative person in the world. At last but not least, Robin Williams, who called out to us as he stepped on stage, “Good Evening Kandahar!” just like he did in the movie “Good morning Vietnam.” He told lots of sick jokes, but he also joked about his new heart valve as he recently had to have heart surgery. All of the celebrities commented on what a shithole Kandahar Air Field is and how they think they will have to have their lungs cleaned out when they get back because of all the dust. Oh, and the smell of the poop pond! Robin couldn’t get enough of that! Robin actually said that Iraq is a paradise compared to KAF.

I was really impressed by the presentation put on the other night, but what touched me most is that these celebrities didn’t just go to the largest, safest and most comfortable bases here in Afghanistan. They actually went out to some of the Forward Operating Bases and stayed in tents and breathed in the dust and felt cold, just like the military service members here. No special living quarters for them. My room is nicer than where they had to stay. It meant a lot to the troops that they were willing to sacrifice some celebrity comforts to come perform for them.

I have attached a link to the USO story about their tour and the main picture was taken here at KAF that night. I am out there somewhere in the audience behind the celebrities!




Kold in Kandahar

Okay, so now it’s really cold! The high yesterday was 46 and it’s currently 27 at 08:00 am. It’s amazing how it was in the 110s when we first got here! I have to wear gloves now when I walk to work and the sun goes down around 4:30pm. So in order to keep warm, I have been going to the gym. I kinda plumped up the past couple months because of all the snacks from my care packages! Not that I didn’t enjoy every one of them, but it is time to stop. I have no excuse not to be in great shape. The gym is just outside the door! I have made it to the gym the past 8 out of 10 days. Hopefully I will be able to keep up my routine. On my nights off, I have been waiting until around 10:30 pm to go because it is not that crowded. I have convinced one of my co-workers to be my workout buddy so that we can help motivate each other and hold each other accountable.

As far as work is concerned, the night before last night, when I arrived to work, the charge nurse told me that the ICU doctor had specifically requested that either she or I be assigned to take a 9 year old boy who had suffered multiple injuries. I guess he didn’t feel that the other nurses on that night were strong enough in their pediatric nursing skills. This was very flattering, especially since I never even had any pediatric experience until I came here.

The boy had picked up a piece of unexploded ordinance and it blew up. He suffered a brain injury due to a fragment entering the front right part of his skull and exiting the lower left out the back. He had fragments to both of his eyes and one of his eyes was completely destroyed. He had multiple jaw fractures, hand fractures and feet fractures. Multiple fragments went into his abdomen as well, puncturing his liver, bowels and one up towards his right lower lung, causing it to deflate. I received him from the operating room after 10 hours of surgery during which the surgeons put a drain into his head, fixed his jaw fractures, removed fragments from his left eye to save it, put a tube into his lung to re-inflate it, resected his colon, and fixed his hand and feet fractures. They also had to take a vein from his leg and place it in his arm in order to restore blood flow to his hand.

Amazingly, this kid stayed stable for me through the entire night with a rock solid blood pressure, no bleeding and eventually woke up in the morning, moving everything purposefully. Despite a fragment rattling through his brain, he appeared to not have any brain damage. It is absolutely amazing how resilient the human body can be, especially in these kids.

On a lighter note, I bought an 8”x11” handmade Afghan rug today! I had been eyeing a particular one in the rug store here at the Boardwalk for about two weeks now. Most Afghan rugs are primarily dark red with either black or dark blue designs, but this one had more browns and olive green, like the color of my dining room walls and just stood out more than any of the other ones. The rug vendor said that they don’t usually use these colors, so this is a rare rug to find. Out of the 30+ rugs of that size that he had available, this was the only one with a different look to it. It is 260 knots per square inch which makes the rug very high quality. Used Afghan rugs of this size with half the knots per square inch are selling on the internet for more than what I paid for. I was able to bargain the vendor down by $650! I thought that was pretty good. I found similar rugs for sale on e-bay for $5,000-7,000! Even a machine-made rug of that size from Macy’s will run you $1800. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what it cost, it’s the meaning behind it; it is something from here that I will always have and will be able to pass on to my family.