A Labrats Journey

This is basically the story of a 27 year old Navy Corpsman as she starts her journey to Iraq, leaving her son and husband 7000 miles away! Disclaimer: The thoughts, views, pictures, comments expressed in no way represent the Views of US Navy, Marines, Department of Defense,or anyone other than myself!(unless otherwise stated) I am not here to offend anyone. If you visit please leave a comment, BUT please respect my job and don't fill up my comments section with nonsense.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Well, for those of you who don't know I was MEDEVAC'd last Friday for my knee. First I went to Baghdad an army hospital. I got to see the President of Iraq there. Other than that they were pretty bad. They took my vitals and stuck me in a chair, didn't help me with my bags and left me there for 18 hours. There were other marines with me too! Most of them worse off than me. The one LCPL needed pain meds for a bad polynidial cyst, I had Mortin the good corpsman I am and some percocet to relieve his pain just a little. I ended up nurturing this LCPL all the way til yesterday! Then from Baghdad I flew on a Blackhawk (pretty neat) to Balad. Baghdad was bad, but quiet. Balad was the air force, they took really good care of us. I was given a litter on the ward, they helped me shower with my bum knee and fed me well. There was incomin rounds there too. The staff there was pretty new to Iraq and the sound of incoming scared them all to death. That is when I realized how immune I was. I just layed there watching forest gump with my new friend the LCPL. He and I giggled at them running around with flaks and Kev's on. They wanted us to get under our litter, we didn't comply, but they were to busy to notice. In Balad it was tents. In Baghdad it was a nice very nice hospital in the green zone. That night (Sun) I left Balad for a MEDEVAC flight on a C141 to Germany. We loaded up, I on a litter and the LCPL I recently adopted. It only took 45 mins for the red lights of darkness to turn to white. I feeling of relief went over us all, some even clapped at the fact that we were in the safe zone. I landed in Germany that Monday AM early. It was a long day of hospital check in and I saw another ortho doc. He agreed with my Ortho doc in Fallujah, the one in Baghdad, and the one in Balad. I have to have surgery for a lateral/medial miniscal tear. So Monday I leave for the states. First to Bethesda, then to Illinois, then to California. Yes stupid California. My CO in Corpus fought for me not to have to go there, but he called me and said he lost. So the marines want to see my face one more time, and I have to see ANOTHER ortho doc there. Geez after all these visits they better be right about my knee. I watch the news here in Germany and thank God I am not in Fallujah. I think about HM1 G everyday!! I wish I could have brought him with me. I sent him a box on my MEDEVAC, I wonder if he ever got it?? I hope so. It has been a long journey and still more to come. Eventually I will make it back though, more fortunate than others. They treat you like a hero here in Germany. They give you sweats and t-shirts. The Marines met me and that LCPL on the C141 and have helped us ever since. Unlike the other branches, coming here as really taught me about the corps and the brotherhood invloved in it. They gave me $250 and took me shopping. I got to go out once to eat too!! It is nice here. There is green grass, mountains, and changing leaves are so beautiful. The metal silverwear, unlike the plastic in Iraq was hard to get used to again. You can taste the metal. The sounds of doors slamming makes us all jump. The tornado alarm went off here giving us all a heartattack. Sounded just like the bomb alarm in Iraq. There is alot to get used to again. Crowds and loud noises are not welcome amongst any of us. The injured keep coming by the bus loads. Everyday there has been 50 or 60 patients arrive. Some are okay, but most go to the ICU and can't breathe on their own. Desert cammies separtes the heros from the zeros. That is what they say here. To all those who wrote me and sent boxes. I signed a memo to the commanding officer before I left. If the box was labeled Keystone, BFS, SOldier angels, ETC. Then it could be opened by the chaplain and passed out amongst the troops at mass. Thanks to everyone for caring about me. Leaving my compadres in Fallujah was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt like a loser, like I let them down. It helps to be here in Germany, they remind us daily that we are somebody.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

Today we learned about the Qu'ran, the bible for muslims. I don't know why we learned about it, but it was force fed into our little brains. We got to see their praying mats and learn their ritual of holiday routine for ramidan (sp wrong). Some of it was interesting, we learned about the 5 pillars to their religion. Other interesting points was that the marine corps birthday, which is in Nov., is their day that proves to them by God how the rest of the year will be. Interesting. Well, we have had incoming and outgoing, both patients and rounds. Recently we had an incoming rocket attack. Of course I was outside in the most inopportune place. The only way to get quickly into the building was to low crawl under that stupid constantina wire we had to put out only days earlier. I had just got a shower 15 minutes before that, too! Needless to say, my healing knee was far from healed and didn't agree with the crawling at high speed very well. Spoke to the ortho surgeon and he said definetly a torn lateral and medial miniscus. We are going to decide tommorrow when to do surgery, he was giving me time to soak it all in. They can't do the surgery here because the equipment necessary is to heavy to have in Iraq. So, who knows what happens next. I was so shook up from the rocket attack, as I took role, which I have to do every attack, I forgot people's names. It was like the info just jumped out of my head with the bombings. Since my last post we had a mass casualty, for those who know what that means. Yet, another image etched in my soul forever. One of the patients had shrapnel go through his eye, another lost legs, and yet another an arm. Pretty scary stuff. One of the patients brother is also out here and ran into the building, which at this point was not a pretty sight. The sand leading to the building had trails of blood, marines coming all ways, helicopter, tank, AAV, HWMMV, however, even walking left those trails in the dirt. The floors and walls were marked severly with blood from those marines that day. I felt so bad for the brother, it was so busy that by the time I noticed him, he had seen way to much. He was searching frantically throughout the building for his brother. I sat him down in another room and explained to him his brothers injuries and that he was going to have surgery shortly. I then took him to see him. They screamed and yelled, they cried together, they prayed together. While in surgery his brother gave blood for him. It was the most precious thing. The halls, even now that they are quiet, smell of blood and bleach. The smell just hits you each time you open the entrance door. One of my marines was in the bathroom (head) and so was an Iraqi Contracter, while he was leaving the Iraqi jumped him from behind and pushed him to the ground knocking him out just feet away from the clinic. I swear we are sleeping with the enemy. The mail has made its way this week pretty steadily. We received boxes from the USO to share. I also finally received two of my hubby's boxes. MP3 player from home with my home music already downloaded, beautiful pictures of Coda (he is SO big), food, and well needed flashlights! Good job honey! Thanks!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Have not written.

Honestly just haven't been in the mood. I am very down in the dumps. It has been crazy here. Not with patients, thank God, just with protecting ourselves. Tonight we had mass and a memorial for a marine killed in action. It was harder than even a regular funeral or memorial. His rifle and Kevlar (helmet) laid on the table with a minimal amount of pictures. Each Marine and Sailor one by one went to the table and touched his dog tags. Once again brought the reality of war to each individual's heart. Today we built fighting positions. They cleared the bottoms of all the trees and shrubs removed so no one can hide in them. Texas barriers were put around the building and we filled sand bags to fill in the spaces between, so no light shows. All the windows were taped and covered with plywood. We put constantina wire around everything!! We parked our 7 tons around the building and where we couldn't park them put spare large semi truck tires filled with sandbags....WHY you ask? Well, In light of what is going on out there in the city, the iraqis tried to drive their car through our building....Then they came barging in three days in a row--- we almost shot them....So now we have pulled out all the stops. .......There have been several attempts on a ground attack for the camp-- all were stopped less than a block down from us. So we are prepared to fight back. It was like building to play war when you were a little kid. At night it is like the fourth of July. Explosions and flashes from muzzles are heard and seen in the sky. The prominant sound of a plane always means a house is going down somewhere. Shortly after the plane flys over, the ground vibrates. You rarely hear the sound of the explosion, but the vibration is something that will never be forgotten. There has been a lot more outgoing lately, which seems to slow up the incoming mortars and rockets. Doesn't stop them though. According to the news we haven't gone into Fallujah yet, just the outskirts and we are threatening to. We will see what the future holds. Today we took a group photo, we all spelled out the words BRAVO with our bodies and an aerial shot was taken. They tend to use this for a holiday greeting card, one per family. I don't know why, you can't see our faces. My family wants to see me, not a bunch of cammies that spell BRAVO. Three semi trucks full of mail arrived today. It will be sorted out tomorrow, we will see what it has in store for us. This is the largest amount of mail yet. This may be all the mail for awhile. As things heat up supplies and mail tend to stop. The little pump that could decided it couldn't again. I did laundry today and finished in the nick of time. The pump stopped minutes afterward, my clothes were still wet on the line. The plumber flew the coup, guess he couldn't hack it anymore. So who knows when the little pump will again. Most people won't touch it, since there are leaches everywhere there is water here, even in the shower tiles! The mice population noticed the cooler weather at night and relocated to our hooch. Everyone has seen a mouse or two. Traps have been set. Last night we let a cat in the hall and locked it in there, he ran around like a fool most of the night. I was glad, cause they got a taste of what they sound like during the day when I am trying to sleep. I really thought it had cooled off, I was in sweats and a sweatshirt lastnight, when I looked up at the thermometer and it read 85 degrees!! Crazy, we all felt so cold. We are used to 130 degrees. I finally am caught up on mail, meaning I have written everyone that has written me. I got an envelope the other day with no letter, but One Green Body Armour shirt. It was perfect. I wanted one of those so bad, but they are rather costly. I was very grateful. Coda got his Halloween costume, he is going to be a Dalmation. Tony said it was the only thing that fit at the store, but he looks cute. Sent Coda a Halloween Care package. It was perfect for his age, there wasn't one thing that he couldn't use in it. Also, sent Coda a leapfrog Toad that sings and likes to be hugged. Tony says he loves it. He also said I sucked cause I did so good buying him a gift from so far away :) .

Monday, October 11, 2004

Keystone's Package

Well the mail truck rolled in this time. Everyone was so happy, there were so many boxes. I am still missing packages from my family and friends. I did however recieve a wonderful package from keystone. I did not see a card in there to write a thank you so I am posting it here. It was a small box filled and placed inside a larger box, covered with roles of toilet paper, YEAH! I became real popular when I opened that box. Luckily for the goodies we were extremely busy today, I didn't even get any sleep. I went to bed at 9 and then some idiot decided last night to steal 200 phone cards out of the gunney's desk. They made us muster at 1 so they could yell us as and make us find the cards. Then again at 3, 4, and 4:30. Finally the cards appeared on a table outside, even then 40 were missing they said. Nothing I hate worse than a thief and a liar, that is great for morale. Our punishment is no Internet usage for the whole company. You see the cards were in the Commanding Officer's office, where there are four computers that the enlisted staff can use at night. Now I have to lock them up and sit on the keys until morning. Makes me feel bad and guilty that I can still email when they can't. There is another place to email but it is a long, long, walk, and at night the girls aren't allowed out after 9 (another unfair rule). They only made the enlisted folks muster, not the officers. I really didn't appreciate that since that was my sleep time. I wouldn't doubt if an officer wasn't the one who took it to begin with, ironically found on a table outside of where the OFFICERS live. Maybe it is lack of sleep talking but that seemed unfair to alot of us. At 430 we had to take a mandatory photo, I am sure to look pretty in that one! Today is Columbus day, while America is off of work and Canada is celebrating their thanksgiving, I am here! So when all was said and done, I snuk the box down to HN Val's room and we rummaged through it happily together. She and her roommate don't have nearly the items most do. We split the box up between the three of us. Everyone was so happy. There are still a few that have not recieved any mail not even a letter, but for the most part everyone was happy. Val and I received 8 letters a piece from BFS and Soldier Angels. She was so excited about the letters. She read each one aloud to me at work, I didn't tell her that some of mine were the same letters, I just let her read. Keystone's box was filled to the max: batteries, phone cardS, toilet paper, gatorade, sanitizer, food, candy, power bars, granola bars, pop tarts, CEREAL, gum, CD, beef jerkey, sunflower seeds, deoderant, chap stick, etc. Some of those items no one has sent yet. Hot items here are hand sanitizer, TP, microwavable food, phone cards, batteries AA, powder gatorade, POP tarts and CEREAL! They did awesome. I shared as usual, but only with the junior guys (shhh don't tell). Tonight she and I are running on E. We are so very tired. Still busy, but right now it is slow, THANK GOD!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Thunder or Sonic Boom?

Well it has been quite eventful here the past 24 hours. We have been busier than I have seen since I got here. All is quite currently. While working there were several large explosions, which shook the whole building and the ground under my feet. Well I knew they were sonic booms, but I was so shook up I couldn't even remember what that meant. Instincts made me grab a flak and kevlar and take shelter. When a marine co-worker reminded me the laws of physics. Then while laying in my rack, I remember this noise in my sleep. Enough of the noise to finally fully awaken me. I laid there and listened intensely. It wasn't incoming. It wasn't outgoing. It was a flare or a sonic boom, just this rumbling noise. Maybe it was a truck going by over and over. No, it was...........THUNDER! How funny is that. It was thundering and lightening all evening. I went to mass tonight, and finally while at mass the rain came down and down. We all went outside to see it come down. Everyone stood in the raindrops in awe of their lost waterdroplets. The weather is changing rapidly here. The evenings and early mornings are much cooler. The days still reach green flag, but I haven't seen black flag in a week or so. This morning I recorded a video that will be played on the Jacksonville Jaguars game. I imagine it will be a commercial like scenario. The game is on Sunday, so watch if your in the area. I also recorded the Holiday greetings for the seasonal events to come, they will be showing in Jacksonville as well. As Iraq Turns

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Clean up, Clean up, Everybody Clean up!

Business has been booming here! No punt intended :) . The sound of bowling gives a whole new theory here in Iraq, especially when it is followed by a crackle, wiz and boom. The incoming rounds continue to rattle me out of my rack, some are controlled dets, but lately not. I sleepily put on my kevlar (helmet) which is on my bed, then hobble quickly to my flack and roll out into the hall. Usually I am right, it is incoming, but once in awhile I struggled out of bed for the wrong boom. Others do that too, which makes it funny. Today we was field day, which in the rear means clean every nook and cranny, well the cranny is no way getting clean here, so we just cleaned every nook. They (those sending booms and the higher ups) weren't thinking of the daysleepers today at all! The girls have the luxury of dorming with the doctors and surgeons. Only the enlisted cleaned. That left 5 girls cleaning and me with a bum leg the senior person. We mopped the sand up of the cement floors the best we could and scrubbed everything that could be scrubbed. We worked for three long hours. I let the girls go. When the walkthrough came, the in charge guys asked, "where is everyone at?" I guess they forgot that the other buildings have way more people enlisted and we were at 5. I said I let the girls go, because I knew they did a good job. Funny the girls cleaned way better than the guys and in a much timelier manner. THEN the sand storm came, so much for the clean floors, I bet they are dirty again. Visibility is bad, everything looks so cloudy. It isn't a bad sand storm, I am sure, but noticeable to all. Nothing like grinding dirt on your teeth or in your food. Things have been busy here. I have seen more images that will scar my brain forever. I watch the young guys go out on their big tanks and trucks, manning the guns so proud. If there mother saw them she would have a heart attack. I always say a silent prayer as the chain of vehicles drives past us, heading out to the unknown. Another mail vehicles bit the dust the other day, that makes two since I have been here. It was heading HM1 G's way, unfortunately. Sorry HM1, that could be what happened to your mail. The food truck finally came. So we are eating a little bit better. Still no fruit or fresh veggies. Thanks to hubby and canned fruit. I have managed to deplete the stock he mailed me. If you ever watched the movie GroundHog Day, it is similar to here. Everyday seems like the same thing, stuck in these walls like a hamster in a cage. Every now and then someone spins the wheel too fast while your running. These Are the Days of My Journey.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Chaplain's Stories

Well, today was okay thus far. The medical service corps board requested my package for review, ironically. I say ironically, because on Friday the board told me no way, all billets for lab officers were going to be civilians, maybe next year I would have a chance. So, with that said, on Monday the board requested my package and only mine. So we will see, I have no idea why, to my knowledge there are no more openings this year. So keep praying, someone is listening. I was walking today and fell, it was very humerous! However, I am paying the toll now, my knee is so swollen and pain behind it is horribly uncomfortable. Hopefully, by morning it will magically get better. Today mass was moved to an old theatre. It used to be about four blocks away in an really old basement like movie theatre, that was once raided by looters. The looters took everything, marble stairs are missing, carpet, light fixtures, the place looks like a construction skeletan. It has no A/C. Well we got bumped from that place, apparently religion was not as important as whatever they want to use that area for. The new place is WAY better, so who cares, it all worked out. The new place is a theatre too! It has carpet, squishy chairs, and A/C and one bat, but we asked God to help him find the door. The word did not get passed that mass was moved, so only three people came tonight, but that was enough. The priest from Jacksonville, FL, read us excerpts from his journal since he has been here. Yesterday he went visiting the prison and other hospitals. I hope he writes a book when this is over, he is a good writer. When he was done reading we all felt like such heroes. He spoke about a marine who gave his life, he was able to talk with him before he passed. The priest knew his wife and childrens names and the marine's name. He knew he went to heaven and one day his family would join them. He spoke about communion, and how he had once offered it to a marine who later came into the clinic spilling "the blood of Jesus." His descriptions gave us goosebumps, but no one argued his writings, because they were so truthful. It is hard to realize the things that happen here, really happen, we don't have time to sit back and look at it and analyze it. The preist spoke of the children in the hospital and how we are born of good but they already had such anger taught to them. I left there feeling like my job here IS important and somehow we all play a role to being a hero.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Controlled Det Causes No Sleep

Today was slower than slow, it has been for two or three days now (you loose track of days here). I attempted to sleep today, but all day long was controlled detonations. A controlled det is a big explosion that we choose to happen. Usually because we found something like and IED and we want to make it go away. It also happens because Iraq is full of ordinance or bombs just laying around in fields and in the dirt, some are really old, we blow them up too. So as soon as I would fall asleep, boom then I would fall back asleep and three more booms. So forget it - I just got up! I received lots of mail again, THANK YOU everyone who is writing and sending boxes. I received 4 letters today from non-family and friends and Two boxes. One box from Books For Soldiers and One box from hubby. I enjoy reading all the mail sent to me, and I am becoming quite popular. The box from BFS I gave to my roommate who has received no mail. It was small but good. It contained all snack foods. Yesterday I gave a BFS box to the room for us to share, good choice I made, because when we opened it, it contained razors, notepads, pens, face masks, nail polish, face cleanser, popcorn, hand sanitizer, thats all I can remember. The popcorn excited them, at night they have movie nite. The hand sanitizer was great, big bottle too! At the exchange or store they sell those teeny weeny bottles like from walmart for $3, instead of 80 cents. Speaking of the store, I went there yesterday, boy do they see us coming. Prices are crazy! I bought a tuna pack for $7! In the states its like $2! I bought a pair of headphones used tactfully to block out the world :) . I also bought some Halloween cards. Today I decorated the door with our Halloween Decor from the Halloween Express box. We as a battalion have been busy preparing this place to our likes. We have organized and prepared, rearranged, and built. We are almost settled in to things our way. We admitted another one of our own for kidney stones. Poor thing she is miserable! We had a corpsman here who was injured from an IED that was a donkey cart being towed by a child, he was here for two weeks and finally left for the states. Still have no food, but thanks to hubby tonight's dinner was chef boyardi, and canned fruit with crystal lite! Thanks Tony! He also sent me a REAL pillow, which I can't wait to sleep on tomorrow. He mails packages in the pampers boxes, I can spot my mail anywhere :). I hear we are kicking but taking over the Sunni triangle. I also heard that a volcano is erupting, wow! Keep posting, I look forward to reading them everynight! I love you all and thanks for the prayers, I am praying too. I trust God will keep me safe. ....As Iraq Turns

Saturday, October 02, 2004

HALLOWEEN EXPRESS

So, Halloween Express, was really express. It is here and everyone is enjoying it. I went and got it from my room and brought it to the clinic. Everyone is trick or treating. We have to pass it out, I could not hold it until Halloween due to lack of space. Everyone was pleased, especially with the little notes in each one. You would have thought it was fortune cookies. You could hear the guys saying, "What did yours say, mine said come home soon?" HHAHAHAHAAHA gave them something to do different for the night. The box is here in the office until the day crew comes on and then it will be gone. I gave two away to patients, but that is okay, because some of the marines are to manly for candy :) . That box was really special and you girls spent a lot of time preparing that box, everyone is enjoying it and the pumpkin has been lit for hours. It was nice to have a little bit of home in such a far away place.................As Iraq Turns............Stay tuned for the next episode!

MAIL CALL AND NO FOOD

Ironically, I have received a bunch of letters from wonderful people today. They are from all over the U.S.! I also received a box from Steph and Tracy, the box contained Halloween treats for everyone, a pumpkin that everyone loves, and decorations for our door, everyone was way excited!! I got two more pictures of my 16 month old! He is so big! In response to the last blog, for those who don't know, I applied for an officer commission and that is called a "package." So, since most positions are going to be civilianized, then it will be sitting there for a while, the package or the application. Today was interesting, I was in the shower and found the sudden urge to run, I am sure you can imagine. Needless to say, Tony please send me some flip flops, size 5 guys, because I lost one on my journey to a hard building. So we got mail, but the food truck hasn't came in four days. We are running out of food, and are resorting to MRE's. MMMM my favorite! I would rather starve. I really enjoyed reading all the mail I got, and I will try to respond to everyone. I wish those girls I lived with gave me some of my own space to hang pictures and cards. We are so crowded though I just put all my letters in an envelope and save them. My pictures are in a ziploc bag and when I am on shift I bring them with me to work and place them out and around me. I miss home bad, and I am not having a good time with this. Others are in the same boat as me. We have no electricity other than the clinic, so there goes my rice cooker and the community microwave. My son will be two when I get home and he won't even remember who I am. The school and my husband keep showing him videos and pictures. The mail helped today. I could really use some plastic bins that will hold stuff, something that will slide under the bed, like a shoe box size. We use tons of Febreeze, thank god for Frebreeze. The exchange is out of Frebreeze, more Frebreeze would be nice, too. Tuna snack packs the ones with mayo, spoon, and all the lunch kit. Hubby sent one of those to me and it was great. Well, we have had incoming patients and mortars, we have had VCIED's and IED to close to us for comfort. Things are crazy and sometimes you feel like you are really at war and sometimes just for a minute it is like you are at a bad girl scout camping experience. Thats today's verdict for These are the Days in Iraq............

Friday, October 01, 2004

Military Downsizing.

Not much to write today. I am totally bummed about the military changing lab officers to civilian government employee positions. So for those who were praying, of course you can continue to pray for a miracle, but the package is just sitting there. The military is changing alot of officer postitions to government positions.

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