Monday, June 28, 2010

The One Where He Lacks Inspiration

Once again, I have had no inspiration to write. With each passing day the end of this deployment nears and the team is beginning to focus on what they will do when they return. The discussions range from the first thing folks will eat (my favorite is Sharese White’s a hamburger and a Guinness) and where they will vacation to the simpler desires of Shannan Cook’s just wanting to use actual plates and silverware. Me? I am most looking forward to taking a nap under my Steeler Blankie (yes, I have a Steeler Blankie and I’m not afraid to admit it. I got it from Suzi Brannock and it is one of the best gifts I have ever received) with Judi in my arms and Cowher Doggie resting his chin across one of my legs. It’s probably my second favorite thing to do. Then I want to take Judi to Las Vegas. I know I’ve mentioned it before in this blog, but I can’t tell you just how much Judi and I love Las Vegas. I have been looking at the suites at the Venetian every day and checking out what shows we might want to see. Right now there couldn’t be two lamer comedians performing at the Venetian – David Spade (sorry Jordo I know you loved him as Finch in Just Shoot Me) and Wayne Brady. I hope that schedule changes. Ok, enough about home, time to refocus.

We continue to receive casualties and they continue to be mostly Afghans. Over the past few weeks it has been feast or famine. We may go two or three days without a patient (talk about looooooong days) and then we will get three or eight. Yesterday we had four – three from an IED (one gentleman died in the FST) and a young Afghan child who got her hand caught in a machine that makes bread. The young girl did not have any fractures, but she had a very complicated injury (her skin and soft tissues were severely torn) that required washout and repair in the OR. Had we not been here to treat her she would not have received the care she needed in this country. Our surgeons did an unbelievable job cleaning and closing her wound. She should go on to live a normal life. It’s a feel-good story and one that makes being here worthwhile. I almost forgot to mention that she was probably in the FST for 3 or 4 hours and I never heard her cry. She was very tough, but it comes with the territory. You kind of have to be to grow up in Afghanistan.

Speaking of the war, I’m not sure what to make of the "shake-up" at the top. I hear that some of the Rules of Engagement may change with General Petreus now running the show. Not exactly sure what that means for our team, but it may mean less casualties and that is always good.

To end on a high note, I received some good news this week when I was informed I was selected for promotion to Commander (Lieutenant Colonel for those familiar with ranks of the “other” services). The promotion, of course, comes with a bigger paycheck but it also comes with greater responsibilities. Judi and I are very excited about the opportunity. When my recruiter, HM1 William Jones (I still remember his name), came into my nursing class at IUP in 1993 and gave his spiel about all the Navy had to offer I thought it was an excellent opportunity and figured I would do my four years and come back to PA. But the longer we stayed the more we enjoyed it. I’m not sure how I was able to stay in for 15 years, but I’m certain I could not have done it without Judi. Thanks Baby! We are in for at least 5 more.

Finally, if you happen to be driving past 119 South Main Street in Carrolltown please don’t be alarmed. That isn’t a new zoo. It’s just Judi and her sister Becky showing their love for animals by taking care of eight, yes eight, stray cats in addition to the two dogs they already have.

Take Care,


p.s. thank god soccer is over! Only "33" Merril Hoge days until the Steelers open camp - can't wait!

Cowher Under The Steeler Blankie

Friday, June 11, 2010

Combat Darts Anyone?

***Editor's Note***
John's Blog is back. He had to make some minor changes to previous posts and comments in order to adhere to certain operational security and confidentiality rules. He would like to apologize to the followers of his blog for the brief hiatus and is happy to be back...bitches.

Every Thursday the FST has a "game night" as long as we don't have patients. Typically we have a dart tournament, play texas hold 'em, board games, or play x-box. We've been doing this since the beginning of the deployment and darts is, by far, the most popular event. Many of the team members have been getting pretty good at darts (not me) so last week I just threw out the idea of making it more challenging by forcing everyone to wear their body armor while throwing (never thinking that anyone would go for it). Well, everyone thought it was a great idea so this week's tournament was called "Combat Darts".

Just to give you an idea of how popular darts has become here we actually have a commissioner, Cheuk Hong, and Assistant Commissioner, Shane Lawson, and they have set some basic ground rules (see photo below). Even the Romanian Dentist, Doc Cris, plays.

Take special note of violation 2, hitting the wall. People often miss the entire board (especially me) and 5 pushups really isn't that big of a deal. However, imagine those 5 pushups with 40 or 50 pounds of body armor...not so easy.

Me Doing One of My Many Pushups

We also have a trophy that goes to the winner of each tournament. It's one trophy and it works sort of like Lord Stanley's Cup in that it is passed from winner to winner. As you can see from the pictures, Doc Z was the winner of the last tournament and he came to this week's tourney proudly displaying the trophy. Although, he had to give it up to the new Champion, Shane Lawson.


Z Presenting Trophy to Shane

Doc Funk Action Shot (note the commish observing in the background)

Speaking of Lord Stanley's Cup, what a great final game - ay? Too bad the Flyers couldn't have pulled it off. I wanted to poke fun at Jeremy Roenick for sobbing post-game, but I've bawled here much worse than that, so he gets a pass from me.

I also wanted to mention a very touching act from one of our corpsmen, Doc Funk. I mentioned in a previous blog how little the Afghans have and how guilty I feel about having to cut off their clothes. Well, apparently Doc Funk felt the same way so he petitioned a t-shirt company, "80's Tees" to donate shirts for the Afghans who have theirs cut off. The shirts arrived yesterday in the middle of a short lull between the 8 trauma patients we received and one of them was this awesome Steelers t-shirt. We were having a rough day so as soon as I saw the shirt, and how small it was, I knew I had to try it on; 1)Because it was a Steelers shirt and 2) Because I thought it would bring a smile to our teams faces. Here are a couple of pics.

When I wake up tomorrow I will only have 89 days until I see my beautiful wife and loveable dog again. Judi, I am too excited to sleep! And I love you more than you can imagine.

Take Care,


p.s. please pray for my brother Scott. He's a Captain in the US Army who has served his country honorably for the past 18 years and is going through a very rough time in his life right now.