Sunday, October 01, 2006

From the Front Lines

My young friend, an Army nurse, we'll call her Florence Nightingale, just wrote from Baghdad. I thought you should hear from her what life is like in the Green Zone at a military hospital.

ONE

The hospital is a fixed facility and was here prior to the war. We just took it over. It is quite different working in these conditions vs the states. I still haven't gotten in to the "conserve all supplies" mode of thinking yet, but I'm sure I will once I run out of needed supplies with no way of re-stocking or obtaining more for a while. I really am learning a lot here thus far. I took care of a patient the other day with 7 different iv medications/fluids running, a trach and ventilator, 4-5 drains, a big belly open wound with every 2 hr dressing changes and a whole lot more. Whew! They kinda throw you into the water and watch and see if you will sink or swim and the occasional life raft offer when you need it.

I'm working night and 12 hour shifts. It's hard right now to settle into a schedule as we have only been here for about 4 days or so. We have also had tons of stuff to do. For those of you non-military types, I get to wear body armor to and from the hospital everyday and if I want to go anywhere inside of our compound (it's surrounded by large concrete walls with checkpoints and guards. I carry my M16 with me everywhere along with a loaded( filled with bullets) magazine.

My living conditions are a little bit... well I'm not in a tent so I guess I can't complain. I live in a suite with 6 other girls. It's surrounded by tall concrete walls and concertina wire. It does need a lot of work though. We need stuff to make it more like home.

The weather here, of course, is warm, but not too bad. They say it gets cold here but the weather hasn't changed yet. Overall I'm well and things are going well. I'm working hard and looking forward to the experience. We haven't been too busy yet, but I'm sure our time will come.

TWO
So far all of us are getting along well. It's still early. I'm sure there will be some drama later as we get stressed out. So far we have been slow up in the ICU where I work. We have ICU's ICW's (intermediate care wards), plus our ER, OR, and misc other services. We are located in the Green Zone or International Zone. They say it's not really that much safer here than outside the walls. Actually one of our people got hit by a stray bullet today waiting outside the ER. Very scary. Also last night they had an alert and evacuated some of the living quarter areas for a suspicious package.

I wear body armor and a helmet everyday along with my M16 and a loaded magazine in my pocket. It is surreal being here, but I have friends that all look out for each other. I think it is going to be a good experience. I'm learning alot and trying to roll with the punches.


Meanwhile, this Gold Star Mom is sending good thoughts for all of our military serving our country, and especially those in harm's way.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are in my prayers Sweet Girl, may God guide your hand while caring for our children. Be safe, you are surrounded by angels all wearing United States uniforms.

Chancelucky said...

Karen,
thanks for sharing the letter. For someone like myself, it's one of the few views I get of "ordinary" folk stationed over there that's getting to me unfiltered or pre-selected.

I'm not religious, but I don't think any real angel would wear anyone's military uniform, just my take on what heaven should be like though.

GSMSO said...

Hey Chance-

I was hoping "ordinary" Americans would read her words. I'm sure we will all be enlightend.

I know what you mean, but I don't think the soldiers care what any angel would be wearing as long as they are hanging around.

Between you & me, I think there is a angel wearing Lt's bars somewhere watching out for our modern day Florence Nightingale and me!