Clif Bars

Clif Bars have become a huge commodity here at KAF. There is one dining facility in South Park, the one that you have to walk more than a mile to get to down an extremely dusty, dirt road. By the time you get there, your legs and clothes are completely covered in dirt.

One windy day, when I got back from eating in South Park, I could actually run my nails across my scalp and tons of dirt came out. It can be pretty disgusting. You have to shower as soon as you get back because you don’t want to drag all the dirt into your room.

Needless to say, Friday and/or Saturday nights are reserved for the long, chalky trek to South Park for American greasy-spoon type food and the coveted Clif Bars. One is only allowed two Clif Bars per visit to the Dining Facility, however, I know of many people the wear the Navy Sweatshirt with the big pocket in front in order to cram in full of Clif Bars until the women look pregant and the men look like they have a beer gut!

Every night at the Hospital, sometime between midnight and 1 am, food is delivered from this Dining Facility to feed the staff that has to work here all night. These dinner left-overs are referred to as Midrats. Occasionally, Clif Bars are delivered along with the take out containers of food. This results in a frenzy of staff members almost climbing over each other to grab their favorite bars from the box. Within the first five minutes of the arrival of the food, there is not one Clif Bar left to be found. People have to beg each other, or trade other desired commodities for these bars.

I remember during, my teenage years in the mountains of Southern Oregon, my father bringing home an experimental health bar that one of his former students had created. The first taste test I recalled involved eating something that looked, and tasted, like bark shavings held together by molasses. Little did I know I was eating something that would eventually evolve into one of the most popular energy bars in existence! I got to be a part of the creation of something that is now lusted after by coalition forces here in Afghanistan! I find that pretty amazing. Thank you Gary Erickson for making the Clif Bar. I eat one every day before I go to the gym for my workout.

And, I just ate one this morning before I ran another 5 K here on base! This time I ran the U.S. Marine Corps 235th Birthday Run, the one in which we ran in memory of a fallen Marine. I am very honored to have run in memory of CPT Trevor Yurista, who died in Afghanistan fighting in Operation Enduring Freedom in Fall of 2008. I believe he was there with me in spirit as I crossed the finish line just as the sun was coming up this morning!

Miracles and Frustrations

Recently, we have had several reporters from various newspapers here at the Role 3, however, we have yet to see many worthwhile articles on what we are doing here. I’m not quite sure if it’s because what we are doing here isn’t news worthy or because it’s not controversial enough. We recently had a soldier who was shot through his lung and, in order to save him, our surgeons spent 5 hours operating on him. They eventually determined that the only way to possibly keep him alive was to remove half of his lung. Amazingly, the patient survived the operation and came to the ICU afterwards. In the ICU, our nurses and doctors spent the next 14-16 hours, carefully monitoring and treating him, keeping him alive and waiting for a team from Germany to arrive with a special heart-lung bypass machine which performs ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. In the past, this device has been primarily used on neonates and children and seldom on adults. During ECMO, the blood is removed from the body and circulated through a machine outside of the body where the blood is re-oxygenated and then is infused back into the body. The blood completely bypasses the heart and lungs.

Here, at KAF, was the first time they have ever brought ECMO into the combat zone, so this case will make the medical history books. And if this patient survives, he will be a miracle. Unfortunately, the article ( says that the team from Germany operated on the patient for 5 hours, when it was really our surgeons who operated on him before the medevac team even arrived. I know that I shouldn’t be upset, because the most important thing is that this soldier will most likely survive. I’m just frustrated because we have yet to have a really good article about what we are doing here despite so many reporters coming through.

I have also been dealing with another frustrating situation, one that is heartbreaking for our unit. I have been caring for a 3 year old Afghan girl for the past few weeks who was injured when her family’s vehicle hit an IED. Not only are coalition troops being injured by the Taliban’s IEDs, but so are innocent civilians. Unfortunately, this little girl suffered not only two fractured legs which now lie flaccid with large external fixators protruding out from her skin, but she suffered brain damage as well. She will occasionally open her eyes, but she does not focus on anything and she only barely lifts her arms in response to stimulation.

Despite this little girl’s poor prognosis for any recovery from her brain injury, we have done everything possible to make sure that she is comfortable and well cared for. Sadly, we had to send her out to the local Mir Weis hospital because there was nothing more we could do for her. We hope that she will receive the care necessary to prevent her death, but they have limited resources and the staff does not have the same work ethic as medical staff in our country (they only show up for work when they feel like it). There, patients are only fed if the family comes in to feed them and the family has to bathe the patients and do the dressing changes as well. The nurses provide very limited care and they do not always have the oxygen and tube feedings available that this little girl will require.

The Role 3 hospital here at KAF is a combat trauma hospital whose main mission is to care for the injured coalition forces. Our admission of these children and all the surgical procedures and nursing care that we provide is purely humanitarian in the hopes of winning the hearts and minds of the people. Which I believe we are doing, even if it is just one Afghan civilian at a time. The parents of these children are very grateful for the care that we provide. One of our translators was telling us that they are glad to have the coalition forces here doing what they are doing because the majority of the people really do want democracy. As more and more civilian casualties are reported daily and more and more children are brought in to our unit, I hope the Afghan people continue to feel that way.

I have signed up for another 5K run. There is at least one a month around here, because there is nothing else to do. This next one is to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday. As part of this run, each person is given the name of a Marine whom has lost his/her life here in Afghanistan since the war has started. I will be running in honor of 1st Lieutenant Trevor Yurista, a 33 year old from Pleasant Valley, NY. Yurista was a ground intelligence officer with the 5th Marine Regiment, 1stMarine Division out of Camp Pendelton, CA. He was killed Oct 27, 2008 by an IED. Just last month, an intelligence compound at Camp Leatherneck here in Afghanistan was dedicated and named after him. I am honored to be running in memory of this Marine.

Navy Birthday

Happy Birthday Navy!

Today we celebrated the 235th birthday of the United States Navy. The U.S. Navy began as the Continental Navy , which the Continental Congress established on October 13, 1775 and consisted of two whole ships which were utilized to search for munitions ships supplying the British Army during the War of Independence. In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized October 13 as the official day of recognition for the Navy’s birthday. Every year since then, the current CNO has ensured that the tradition of celebrating the Navy’s birthday has been carried on.

Part of that tradition involves the cutting of the birthday cake by the most “seasoned” (oldest) member of your unit along with the youngest member of the unit. And, it is also tradition to reveal what year they were born! Our most seasoned member was born in 1949 and our youngest in 1990.

Can you believe they mad such a beautiful cake here at KAF? It was made by the ice cream shop on the Boardwalk! After the cutting and eating of the cake, each department of the hospital gathered together for group photos that will go into a Cruise Book which is like a High School Yearbook and will capture our experience here.

Today we also said goodbye to one of our ICU doctors as he is being moved to one of the Forward Operating Bases. We are really sad to see him go as he has been with us since we all met up for training at Ft. Dix. I know he will do a great job running the ICU where he is going, but he will be missed here at Role 3.


Care Packages and Letters

Moon over hockey at the Boardwalk



I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me care packages. I have received a lot of wonderful things to make life easier here! Recently, I have especially enjoyed the Halloween decorations from my Bellingham neighborhood. Most of the decorations are currently hanging in the ICU and they look great! I have also received lots of yummy Halloween candy that I have been sharing with my coworkers, making everyone very happy.

I have received a couple packages as well as letters from people involved with the Soldiers’ Angels organization. This organization is a non-profit, volunteer-led organization whose moto is “May no soldier go unloved.” Anyone can adopt a soldier through this organization. Thomas signed me up and I have now been adopted by a young Croatian woman who is working on her graduate degree in Cairo, Egypt. I have also received letters of support and encouragement from several other people associated with Soldiers’ Angels as well as a package directly from the Soldiers’ Angels headquarters and one from a young woman in Michigan. If you are interested in adopting a soldier or finding out more about the organization their website is

Two days ago I received a package from my sister and in it were approximately 30 letters from her 5th and 6th grade students. They arrived on a morning right after we had just packed up three injured American soldiers and sent them on their way to Landstuhl for further surgery and care. The staff was in much need of a pick-me-up when I opened the package and discovered the letters. I started reading one letter after another to two people sitting near me, and the next thing you know, I had a significant gathering of people listening to the letters. Some of questions in the letters indicated a morbid fascination with shooting and death by some of the children, mostly boys, but most of the letters were very entertaining and put a smile on our faces. The most common question among the letters pertained to what I eat or how I eat.

Below are some of the most entertaining quotes from the letters I received:

“Do you miss the taste of gum?”

“Have you flown a jet?”

“When there’s a war do people have to wake up fast? Are some people lazy?”

“How much do they pay you?”

“In what country do you live in outside the arited estate?

“Do you even like your lunch over there?”

“If you know someone is sick, what kind of soup do you make?”

“Your sister looks too pretty to be a teacher but she is.”

“One time when my mom was pregnant before I was born, my brother was born first.”

“My name is Chris, but I’m not the one that gets in trouble all the time.”

“Man, I bet your brave by going over there in the Jungle! Your lucky because maybe you could take some pictures of the jungle!”

“How is it in Afghanistan? I have heard that it has been a pretty chaotic war. Do you like Taylor Lautner?” (Taylor Lautner plays Jacob in the Twilight vampire movies, for those who don’t know.)

“Is the nurse thing huge or small and do you guys have a soda machine?”

“Do you think you would ever come here. It will be fun. I will sit up in front. I will help you out.”

“I hope you like this letter.”

Thank you, Jessica, for having your students write those letters. My co-workers and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them several times over and they have put many smiles on many faces.



Mohammad is a 6 year old boy whom has been with us for several weeks now. He was walking with his friend to a local market to buy new shoes for the three day event that occurs to celebrate the end of Ramadan. They were following behind a group of Canadian troops because the locals think it is safe to be close to the military. Unfortunately, a Taliban member, wearing a suicide vest, rode up to the military unit on a donkey and blew himself up. It was the children that were injured, not the Canadian troops.

Mohammad suffered a broken leg, a lacerated kidney and some other internal abdominal damage. He is an amazing little kid. He is so well behaved and very stoic for his age. I have begun to realize that the children of the Afghan culture are much less needy and even seem more independent than American children of the same age. He does everything we ask him to do even if it is painful or uncomfortable, like practicing deep breathing exercises, putting weight on his injured leg to rebuild his strength and letting us stick a suction tube down his nose into his lungs when he gets too congested.

I have cared for children in the U.S. when I worked in an Emergency Department and it was a much different experience than it is caring for children here. I frequently encountered tantrums, either as a result of a child being spoiled or because the child was outright scared to death. Here, I have only seen one tantrum and that was probably the result of the child experiencing what we call the “ketamine crazies.” Ketamine is a medication that is frequently used as part of anesthesia during surgery. Unfortunately, there are a few people who have psychological reactions to the medication including anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations and even occasional psychotic-type episodes. We think that the little girl who began throwing a tantrum and flailing her body all over the place was experiencing some of these side effects, because once it wore off, she was fine.

Despite the fact that these children wake up in a big place surrounded by tubes and wires, full of people with a different colored skin, speaking a different language, the Afghan children never start crying or even seem scared. Instead they look around at everything, with wide brown eyes, and cooperate with everything we do to them. They quickly learn how to point to what they want or need and, never once, have I had to tie down their arms to keep them from pulling out any tubes or lines. It’s almost like they know that it is important to leave everything alone. Now, the American soldiers, on the other hand, have to be held down and tied down frequently because they like to try to pull out everything and anything!

Mohammad has been very sick with infections and high fevers, so we have been trying to do whatever we can to help him feel better. He now has a cool t-shirt and his own pair of sunglasses! He likes to go for rides in the wheelchair around the hospital. He will point in the direction hewants to go. Even when he has just finished vomiting, he still wants to go for his ride down the hallways. I asked his grandfather permission to take his photograph and his grandfather told the translator to tell me, “Only if I can be in the photograph too.” I am working on getting the photograph printed so that I can give it to the grandfather. I showed Mohammad the picture on my digital camera after I took it and he started laughing. It was good to see a smile on his face!

He is transferring out to the Ward today, which is good because he is doing so much better, but we will miss caring for him and playing with him everyday. Today, just before we moved him out of ICU, I gave him a box of crayons and a coloring book. He pushed the Winnie The Pooh coloring book away, but took the crayons. He then proceeded to dump the entire box of crayons out on his bed and looked at me with a little smile at the crook of his mouth. I tried handing him a Mickey Mouse coloring book, just in case he had something against Winnie The Pooh, but he again pushed it away. Instead, he started picking up one crayon at a time and putting it back in the box. Once the last crayon had been returned to its home, he closed up the box and handed it back to me. I think we might have to teach him how to color, but it was interesting to see how the he was entertained, not by the function of the crayons as a coloring tool, but by the task of organizing and putting them away. I am learning a lot here about children as well as many things about the Afghan culture and the difference and similarities between parent-child relationships.

Entertaining Myself

The past several days, I have been making a point to try to find things to keep it entertaining around here. I was actually pretty sick for about 4 days and spent most of those 4 days in bed. By the time I started feeling better, I was so sick of being holed up in my room with the fluorescent lighting, I thought I was going to go crazy. So, on Tuesday, the 28th, I started by going to explore the new USO complex.

The United Services Organization (USO) is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to provide morale and recreational services to members of the United States military service. Theorganization just completed a brand new facility, here a KAF, where they provide all sorts of free services. United Through Reading is a program the USO offers where parents can pick a book to read on video and the USO will then send the video with a copy of the book to the child. They also have Operation Phone Home where military service members get 30 minutes free to call anywhere in the U.S. from a table full of telephones.

There are many people here at KAF that are living in tents with 40-80 other people, so they do not have the luxury of having access to the internet and Skype like we do in the NATO dorms, so they have computers with internet access available at the USO complex as well and each person is also entitled to 30 minutes free per day. This is a real nice program that allows them to communicate with their family members. There are also multiple gaming stations set up with Wii, Xbox and PS2 throughout the USO complex. They offer free coffee and hot chocolate and a few snacks in an area that looks like a café where there is a large screen television on the wall that shows the news. There are two other large screen televisions in the complex, each surrounded with several comfy chairs and couches to lounge in. When I was there, one television was showing a soap opera and the other was showing football. There are a couple private music rooms where people can practice playing their musical instruments as well. And last but not least, there is a movie theater with reclining leather seats; they were showing Iron Man II at the time I was there, but it was already half way through, so I didn’t stay to watch. I just relaxed in one of the comfy chairs while my room mate read a book to her son.

Tonight, Friday the 1st, I actually got to leave work early. I was so excited because I never get Friday nights off and Friday nights is Movie Night at the Dorms. Some of the IT (Information Technology) geeks here have rigged a system of extension cords in order to set up a really nice sound system with large speakers and projector from their laptop so that we can watch movies. A large piece of plywood with a white sheet stretched over it, serves as the movie screen as it leans up against the brick wall of one of the Dorms.

People bring out their folding chairs that they have ordered online (some people actually brought them from the States, squeezed into their duffle bag), while others sit on wooden benches or the ground. Some people brought snacks to share; my dad sent me popcorn from the Popcorn Factory, so I brought that out to share with everyone! They were all excited for the different flavors and the best part is what is printed on the side of the can, “Extreme Survival Kit.” Thanks Dad! Everyone loved it!

Tonight’s movie was The Expendables, an action film starring all the great action stars, Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren and cameo appearances by the Governator, Arnold Swarzenegger, and Bruce Willis. It is definitely a movie my husband would have loved, lots of action and violence! There were some funny lines in it too. At least it was entertaining!

Ground Hog Day

The best way to describe life around here is like Ground Hog Day because it is the same thing day after day . . . work, sleep, eat and the forecast is the same every day . . . hot and sunny with lots of dirt in the air. The smell of sewage is the same every day and the sounds of the jets flying over head as well. So how do you keep from going crazy or getting depressed?

Well, last night, two of our enlisted Corpsmen and a contractor from a company called Avenge, met up to play their guitars together. They played old-style country music while people gathered around to enjoy the music. The contractor, who led the makeshift band, was an excellent singer as well as guitar player. He could actually make up a whole new song right on the spot, the chords as well as the words! He would make up funny songs about being deployed to Afghanistan and the smell from the poop pond. He sang some Janis Joplin, Patsy Cline and Jonny Cash among other things. It was a nice way to break the monotony of things around here.

We also like to goof off in the ICU on slow nights. We do what’s called Deck of Card Physical Training. Everyone gathers around in a wide circle. Each person picks an exercise they would like to do; some do push-ups, some do sit-ups and some do squats. The dealer throws out a card to each person and the number on the card is the number of push-ups, sit-ups or squats you have to do. If you get a 5 or lower, you are dealt a second card to make it harder. Face cards are worth 10, Aces worth 11, and Jokers are 15! The deck has been altered so that there are 6 Jokers! Of course, if you get an Ace or Joker everyone moans because you have to do so many. If you are dealt several face cards in a row, you will be sore!

We do this every two hours throughout the night, as long as we aren’t busy. It has become so popular, we now have people come from other areas of the hospital to participate! By the end of the night, each person has done approximately 200-500 total push-ups, sit-ups or squats. I usually alternate between two different types of exercises because I am not strong enough yet to do that many of just one. However, if we keep this up for several months, I should be able to do more as I get stronger!

We also keep stuffed animals around the ICU to entertain us and, on occasion, the laundry delivers us the wrong scrubs. Instead of the military scrubs, we get brightly colored ones. I like to wear those when they are available, to try to brighten up the place a little! Here is a picture of me sporting an extreme weather hood. We were laughing because of how big it is compared to my head; it was made for a giant! I don’t think I will be wearing that around base when it’s cold!

The Bazaar

Every Saturday there is a Bazaar out on the edge of base where locals bring their goods to sell. A few of us night shift workers decided to meet at 10:45am in order to get to the Bazaar right when it opened at 11:00am, so that we would have time to go back and try to get some sleep in the afternoon. As we approached the area where the Bazaar is located, we came upon a line of people at least a ¼ mile long! We didn’t care though, because we had managed to drag our sleep deprived bodies out just for this, we were not going to turn back like we saw some people doing. Instead, we waited in line until almost noon before we were able to gain entrance. We had to show IDs and had Military Police verify that our weapons were not currently loaded before we were allowed into the area. The KAF Bazaar is set up very similar to a a market with each vendor’s wares carefully sprawled out for easy viewing either on the ground or across tables. I hadn’t seen so much color in one place since I arrived to KAF. Just like a flea market, the Bazaar was full of a combination of junk as well as treasures. Dealing with the Afghan vendors was just like going to Tijuana, Mexico. They start with an outrageous asking price, you ask for half that, they say, “No,” you begin to walk away and then they come running after you with a price somewhere in between your asking price and

their original asking price. At least I felt like I got some good deals.

They sell everything like bootlegged movies and fake brand name purses. They sell lots of jewelry and scarves made from many different types of textiles. There are machine made and hand-made rugs and most are very expensive. Marble bowls, cups and vases are a common item for sale as well. They sell beaded belly-dancing outfits, which their women would never be allowed to wear, and you have to be a size zero to fit in them! I don’t know who buys them, but they are very pretty. They also sell Hookas, the device one uses to smoke tobacco, or in the case of the Afghans, opium.

I also enjoyed the Bazaar because it was an opportunity to get a little more exposure to the culture, as we are not allowed to go outside the base. It is only Afghan men and some of the older boys, approximately ages 10-14, that you see at the Bazaar. If the women interact with people from the western culture, they are considered impure, so we never see them. They do not even come visit their children in the hospital because they are not allowed to interact with us. Only the fathers, and sometime just a male family friend, are the ones who come to see the child. However, they stay the entire time the child is hospitalized. They sleep on the floor just to be nearby. They are very dedicated in that respect.

Bitter Sweet

September 16-17 was bitter sweat. It was bitter because we lost our first American soldier in the ICU since we arrived here. We spent three hours trying to resuscitate the soldier after his MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected Vehicle) was hit by an IED. You probably ask how someone in an MRAP, which is meant to protect its occupants from things like IEDs, could end up so critically injured. Well, the problem is that the Taliban is getting smarter. We build bigger and stronger vehicles and then they create IEDs that cause bigger explosions. Unfortunately, the MRAPs are no longer invincible. Most of the occupants were only bruised up a little, but the driver and the Gunner were admitted to us in the ICU. The driver will be okay; he just suffered a concussion and collapsed lung, which was fixed by placing a tube into the lung, called a Chest Tube. We stabilized him and began preparing him for transport to Germany. But the Gunner sits up in the turret, manning the gun of the up MRAP, and is the most exposed, so when they were hit by the IED, he took the bulk of the blast right in his face and head. By the time we got him in the ICU his brain had herniated, shifting half of it over to the other side of the skull. This is not compatible with life. We still attempt full resuscitation and at least try to keep the person alive long enough to fly them back to Germany where their family is flown for free by the U.S. military so that they at least have a chance to say goodbye.

The sweet part of the night came later when it was time to load up the driver of the MRAP onto a C130 out on the runway to fly him to Germany. I was offered the experience of assisting the Air Force Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) with transporting the patient via what we call the amBusulance, because rather than transporting by ambulance, the Air Force uses an old bus that has been gutted of its seats. Instead there are metal rings hanging from the ceiling that the transport gurnies can be attached to, allowing for easy transport out to the plane.

The bus driver backed the amBusulance right to the ramp that led up into the C130. It was still dark out because it was only 2:30 in the morning. Four people line up on each side of the gurney to lift it out of the bus, then the two middle people on each side step away and four people, two in front, two in back, carry the patient up into the plane. The plane is set up so that the gurney slides right into a rack system running down the middle of the plane. The rack on this C130 held two patients, one on top of the other and then a gurney with supplies on the third level above the patients. The staff that makes of the CCATT sit in seats that line the walls of the C130 so that they are directly facing the patients during flight. It was really neat and I secretly wished I could have gone with them to see what it’s like. They fly around to the different Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), picking up patients; KAF was the last stop tonight after hitting 5 other bases.

The other exciting part of my shift occurred just as the sun was rising around 5:00am. We heard that there was going to be ramp ceremony out on the flight line for the Gunner we lost in the ICU. A ramp ceremony is a final salute to the fallen soldier as they load him into the plane to begin his journey back home. Everyone forms two lines, one across from the other, standing at attention and leaving enough room in the middle for the body to pass through on the gurney. The chaplain usually leads the procession and then the body passes through with a flag draped across. We perform a salute, slowly raising our hand to our forehead. The salute is maintained until the soldier passes all the way through the line. We then slowly drop our hand down to our side. The chaplain then says a prayer. Once the prayer is said, we are dismissed.

Several of us wanted to go pay our respect and take one of the survivors from the Gunner’s unit out to pay respect as well. We wheeled him out onto the flight line in a wheelchair only to be told that the flight had been delayed and that the ramp ceremony would not be until later in the day. The man looked so disappointed. I looked at him and he just said, “I am cold. Can we go back inside?” One of the Commanders who came out with us began pushing him back across the flight line toward the hospital. Just as dawn was beginning to break, down the runway came three jets. They were so close and so loud we had to plug our ears. As the jets passed by, I could feel their vibration rattle my insides and see the radiant orange glow of the engines as they took off! I couldn’t help but smile because it was so exciting to be that close, nothing you would ever be allowed to experience in the States due to safety regulations! Once the third one cleared the runway, I looked over at the Gunner’s buddy and I saw that even he was smiling and at that moment he said, “Wow! That was really cool!”

Dirty Laundry

Our first day here at KAF we were issued laundry bags. These laundry bags are only big enough to fit one pair of uniform pants, one uniform blouse, a couple t-shirts, a couple pairs of socks, bras and underwear, and one pair of exercise shorts. If you want to wash sheets or towels, you can’t have anything else washed because those items take up the whole bag.

For security reasons we cannot bring any bags into the dining facilities (DFAC), including laundry bags. This is frustrating because the DFAC is almost half way to the hospital, but if you need to drop off laundry, you have to walk all the way back to the Dorms after dinner to get your laundry and lug it the mile walk to the hospital. In order to get there before my shift starts at 6:45 pm, I have to go to the DFAC at exactly 5:20pm to be one of the first in line for when it opens at 5:30pm, take almost no time deciding what to eat, wolf down my food, speed walk back to the Dorms to get my laundry and speed walk to the hospital. You have to go behind the hospital where there are drop-off bins for the laundry. There you sign a list indicating when you dropped off your laundry. By the time I walk into the ICU to start my shift, I am drenched in sweat from all the rushing around. It really is a pain in the butt.

Approximately 48 hours later you can find your bag with your clothes all washed and folded in the pick-up bins which are next to the drop-off bins back behind the hospital. Sounds great having someone else do your laundry, huh? Only problem is, if you don’t write out a complete list of everything in your bag and submit it with your laundry, items will disappear. Also, they don’t separate whites from colors, so anything that is white eventually becomes and grayish-brown color.  Lastly, your clothes always smell like they were left wet in the washer for a couple of days, you know, with that musty smell. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the company handles the sewage treatment, porta-potty care and garbage disposal here as well.

I decided to Google the company, because there is nothing better to do with my free time, only to discover that Ecolog is a German company accused of smuggling drugs out of Afghanistan. Not sure what has become of this allegation except that NATO is investigating and, meanwhile, Ecolog denies it’s involvement.

There are self-service laundry trailers available on base where you can separate out your whites from your colors and use detergent to make your clothes smell nice. Some people choose to do all their laundry there, some choose to do some on their own and drop some off for Ecolog to do, and then there are those of us who only have one day off a week and don’t want to spend half of it doing laundry, so we put up with the stink. I will wash my new white and pink sheets that I received from my dad and stepmom in the self-service trailers so they smell nice and stay white, but otherwise it’s off to the drug-smuggling, poop-smelling, color-running launderer for my clothes!

Common site around the base