Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This will be my 4th trip

But I have nothing on Dave Earney from Daves-Not-Here and flythemig29 of Those Wacky Iraqis, 4 years, 2 months, 2 days, 21 hours over in Iraq and that's just for flythemig29. I know Dave was out there before my first trip over and has only came home on vacation. Imagine.

They're both Contractor's who decided to stay. Go over and give them a warm welcome home.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas weekend

And I’m sitting at home reading. If you’re a reader, I’m probably one of the best kind of friends to have. If I get caught up in an author it’s not rare for me to buy everything they’ve written or at least an entire series.

There are few addictions in my life that have carried me as far along as reading. It started out when I was a kid and my mom used to ground me to my room for some offense or another and during one of those I picked up a book that I had brought home for homework. I was 7 or 8 and it was Where the Red Fern Grows. My mom told me that I could come out.

But I had no need to. I had found a new friend to play with who would never get boring and could always take me on new adventures. My eyes had became a window into another world and the pages gave me a escape, not just from pain but from everything. I could open up a page and fall into the book.

Over the years, it’s been both my greatest addiction and my savior, times when then it seems like the world is out to get me, I could step away and not have a care coming back refreshed. It’s also became a crutch that I had to control, there are times when I need not to disengage from life but did anyway because I needed to see the next page or go over the next hill.

This weekend, I’m giving in to that habit. I was going to leave town but my S10 is in the shop getting some driveline problems fixed and I can’t afford to road trip with the Suburban. Next weekend my son is coming out for a week and I need to save up my change for that trip.

Plus, I’m still far away from being a hundred percent physically. The bleeding in my lungs has stopped but I still have a nice case of pneumonia and don’t want to do anything that could tear whatever is plugging up that hole. I miss my wife and miss my family and it’s hard to believe that I’m here in the states and that this will be the first Christmas that I will not be spending with anybody.

At least I’m glad I have that shield to protect me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas S.O.P. for all Marines

TO: ALL Marines
FROM: Goode, U. B., Commanding Officer
RE: Operation Order 12-15-04 for: Official Visit of LtGen Santa Claus

1. An official staff visit by LtGen Claus is expected at your house on 25 DEC. The following directives govern activities of all Young Marines, during the visit.

a. Not a creature will stir without permission. This includes warrant officers and mice. Marines may obtain special stirring permits for necessary administrative action through the Battalion S-1. Officer stirring permits must be obtained through the Deputy, Post Plans and Policy Office.

b. All personnel will settle their brains for a long winter nap NLT 2200 hours, 24 December. Uniform for the nap will be: Pajamas, Cotton, Light Weight, General Purpose, OG, and Cap, Utility woodland pattern, with ear flaps in the extended position. Equipment will be drawn from the supply room prior to 2130. While at supply, all personnel will review their personal hand receipts and sign a Cash Collection Voucher, DD Form 1131, for all missing items. Remember, this is the "season of giving."

c. Personnel will utilize standard "MRE" ration sugar plums for visions to dance through their heads. Sugar plums are available in "MRE" ration sundry packs and should be eaten with egg loaf, chopped ham, and spice cake to ensure maximum visions are experienced.
d. Stockings, Wool, Cushion Sole, will be hung by the chimneys with care. Necessary safety precautions will be taken to avoid fires caused by carelessly hung stockings. 1st Sgts will submit stocking handling plans to S-3, Training prior to 0800, 24 Dec. All GySgts will ensure their subordinate personnel are briefed on the safety aspects of stocking hanging.

e. At first [sign] of clatter, all personnel will spring from their beds to investigate and evaluate the cause. Immediate action will be taken to tear open the shutters and throw up the window sashes. On order OPLAN 7-98 (North Pole), para 6-8 (c)(3), dated 4 March, this office, takes effect to facilitate shutter tearing and sash throwing. SNCOs and NCOs will be familiar with procedures and are responsible for seeing that no shutters are torn or sashes thrown in house prior to the start of official clatter.

f. Prior to 0001, date of visit, all personnel possessing Standard Target Acquisition and Night Observation (STANO) equipment will be assigned "wandering eyeball" stations. The Company GySgt will ensure that these stations are adequately manned even after shutters are torn and sashes are thrown.

g. The Battalion S-4, in coordination with the National Security Agency and the Motor Pool will assign on each Sleigh, Miniature, M-24 and eight reindeer, tiny, for use by LtGen Claus. The assigned driver must have a current sleigh operator's license with roof top permit and evidence of attendance at the winter driving class stamped on his DA Form 348.
Driver must also be able to clearly shout "On Dancer, On Dancer, etc."

2. LtGen Claus will initially enter house through the Company Office.
All houses without chimneys will draw Chimney Simulator, M6A2 for use during the visit. Draw chimney simulator on DA Form 2765-1 which will be submitted in four copies to the S-4 prior to 23 DEC. Personnel will ensure that chimneys are properly cleaned before turn-in at the conclusion of visit.

3. All SNCOs and NCOs will be rehearsed in the shouting of "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" or "Merry Christmas To All and To All a Good Night." This shout will be given upon termination of the visit.

Uniformity of shouting is the responsibility of each Company GySgt.

Semper Fidelis,
Commanding Officer

(h/t Gunny V)

I’ve been admitted (I wrote this in the hospital)

A while back, I came down with a cold, the normal sniffles and coughing, no big deal till about a week ago; I woke up in the middle of night in a coughing fit which felt like my lungs were covered in slime. I bent over the side of the bed and coughed it all up into a trash can and felt fine. I turned on the light and the trash can was covered in blood. Yuck.

But there were no other symptoms so I went into work the next day and told them in my understated way that I had coughed up some blood in the night. Thinking maybe it was a bloody nose or such. You know us medical guys, unless we’re really hurt, we usually don’t worry about it. No problems or coughing that night and my cold had been cured (somehow the blood in my lungs had cleaned out the cold is my theory).

The next night, I got a tickle in my lungs and coughed up another couple of teaspoons of blood. Each night was like that, my lungs would get gargly and I would hack up a couple of tablespoons of blood. Thursday, I gave myself a PPD test (test for tuberculosis to you non medical types) and talked to a few of my doctors (I’m working with 8 during this training).

I told them it wasn’t a big deal, get an X-ray on Monday and follow up with someone in San Diego when I got back. Well Saturday rolls around and I had an attack that morning and coughed up about a half cup of blood into the trash can. The PPD was negative at least. Clearly, this had my doctors concerned and we debated about going into urgent care, I told them to hold off and we could handle it on Monday morning. Maybe that would be the only attack that day, I went home after lunch, was doing my laundry and coughed up another half cup.

Mildly shaken by the loss of so much blood in a day, I finished my laundry and called the doc who was covering that shift and told her, "Yeah, I think it’s time for a visit to the emergency room". I caught a ride there checking in at 3 and was put into a room, they gave me a emesis basin which I immediately filled to the 100ml spot with blood and had a new EMT stick me for an IV (which I ended up using for my entire stay). Now I had something to count how much blood I’ve been coughing up, by the end of the night I had filled 4 basins to the 100 mark. They drew 10 or so tubes of blood, then did an EKG, a chest X-Ray, filled a bottle with pee.

Being the leading enlisted medical dude and nice guy I am, I’ve had tons of visitors and well wishers. In fact, a group of my folk came by late last night and serenaded me to sleep (a very tipsy group of doctors and corpsman, it was Saturday nigh). How can you beat that?

At one that morning they decide that they’re going to admit me and I’m to have a CT scan the next day and I can’t eat solid food and eventually stick a camera in my lungs. Our theory so far is that I’ve broken a blood vessel in my lungs and every time I do anything strenuous it breaks open and blood leaks down.

Update #1

Today my boss came by with the book I wanted to buy and later (when I can eat again) is coming by to give me a carnie asada burrito. My biggest complaint right now is that I’m starving, haven’t had anything solid to eat since yesterday morning for breakfast and am eagerly awaiting a yummy monster burrito. They came in this morning to tell me I can’t eat anything at all. I’m beginning to get why people complain about hospital gowns, trying to keep myself covered while moving around seems to occupy a fair portion of my ambulatory time.
It is a bit worrying coughing up blood and being on the other side of the medical profession. I think this is the longest time I’ve ever been in the hospital. Well hopefully I have something that can be fixed. Well I’m going to take a nap till someone comes to tell me to do something.

Update #3 Sunday afternoon

Just had my first CT scan, let me share the experience with you. They set you on this sliding bench that goes into a donut, I’m sure there are pictures of them online. It pulls you in and this female voice says "take a deep breath and hold it" and you slide out. The second time it pulls you in, all of this machinery starts spinning around and it feels like you’re in a time machine. Once more you hear, "take.." and you slide out.

Before the third time, the tech comes out and says she’s going to inject you with iodine dye and the common side affects are your whole body feels warm, feel like you’re going to pee, you get a funny taste in your mouth, pain in your arm or nothing at all. She hooks it up, runs behind the barrier and power drives half of a soda can’s worth of this evil fluid into my arm, I can see the vein change color and immediately I go hot and it feels like there’s molten lead in my veins, my groin feels hot like someone poured a cup of hot pee on me. The machine has slide me in and says "take a deep breath and hold it", I do with difficulty because the funny taste that I got in my mouth was one of my mouth watering which is a precursor to hurling. The tech come out and I ask, "is that all?", she says yes and tell her I’m about to vomit. She grabs a trash can and I throw up the 2 containers of Jell-O I had for breakfast and dry heave a bit more, this causes me to go into another bloody coughing fit.

Bleh, CT scans are for the birds, hope they found something.

(Doc brought me the carnie asada burrito from a place called Burrito King and Paul, they’re not all that, the burrito was huge but I’ve had better)

Update #4 Monday night at 11

The nurse comes in and tells me the doc can fit me in for the Bronchscopy sometime in the morning and nothing by mouth after midnight. Meanwhile, I’m totally caught up in Kevin J. Anderson’s Metal Swarm. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t go crazy in boring lonely places, as long as I have a good book, everything is peachy (thanks Doc Davis for picking it up for me). I pushed because well, I’m dumb and couldn’t stop reading, it was 2 when I finished went to sleep (I was already in bed).

Update #5 Tuesday morning at 5:45

The lights go on and I imagine I’m back in boot camp again, a bright and shiny nurse comes in with the most cheerful voice says, the doctor can fit you in right now. I say wait a second, brush my fangs and use the restroom and a pair of orderlies comes in an wheel me away. We get down there and I’m talking to the respiratory therapy nurse, she belongs to the local Navy League. People are coming in, an X-Ray tech with a C-Clamp shaped X-Ray machine, there’s a craftsman tool box full of medical stuff, one of the techs gets a syringe and tells me its lidocane and squirts it into both nostrils. It goes in my left nostril and stops because that nose is stuffed up so I make sure to let him know to use the right one. Finally the doctor comes in and shakes my hand says good morning and the nurse is preparing a to shoot something into my line and I say "is this where I’m supposed to start counting backwards".

Then I’m talking to her again and everyone is gone. I look around and it’s like I time traveled and my throat and lungs are sore. I look around in bemusement and they wheel me back to my room and I finally take them up on the offer for morphine, well since they were offering, I don’t want them to think I don’t appreciate it. This is where I make a couple of phone calls and remind people I work with how to pack things and call relatives and friends. But I don’t remember doing any of it. Doc Davis visits I think but I’m not really sure about that but I do remember my mom and my sister Crystal visiting that afternoon. I’m flying high but not that high.

Update #6 Wednesday

Three of the local Chiefs come by for a visit while my mom and sister are there. One of my corpsman has packed up my room in the suburban in hopes that I’m going to be discharged. The Doctor comes in and tells me the TB test is negative from the stuff he collected from my lungs and that I could be discharged for follow up care in San Diego. Mom buys us lunch and I drive the Beast (I'm afraid to let other people drive her because she bucks) back to San Diego where I sleep in my own bed.

Things I did during my time there, I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a extremely well written post-apocalyptic book about a man and his son. I can relate, the man spends most of the book coughing up blood. It made me sad and miss my son, very bleak novel, I highly recommend it. I also asked each of my nurses for a sponge bath, sorry, I've always wanted to ask for one now I had lots of chances. No I didn't really get one, I had a private shower in my room and I wasn't having any problems with my walking.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I was in the hospital

and my cell phone doesn't like playing with blogspot so I posted over at MySpace, have a larger post on my laptop but here is what I wrote from a small cell keyboard. Oh, I'm back home in San Diego, thank you Bethanie and Terri, two great nurses at the Yuma hospital for making my 4 day stay somewhat enjoyable. I'm out now and we never really did figure out why I was coughing up a cup of blood a day, just stopped bleeding one day. Hopefully it doesn't come back.

December 17, 2007 - Monday
I'm in the hospital
for coughing up blood over the past week. Maybe the years of hard living have caught up with me. No it wasn't that, I had a cold and the coughing most likely broke a vessel in my lungs. I came to the ER because I had coughed up a cup or so of blood in the space of a morning. By the way, this is the first blog post that I've made from my cell phone! Since Sat they have taken 20 or so tubes of blood with new samples drawn with new sticks every 4 hours, EKG's, X-rays and yesterday a CT Scan. My body did not like the dye one bit, they injected me and I turned hot and instantly wanted to hurl. CT's are for the birds. Anyhow other then coughing up blood I'm doing fine, they're planning on sticking a camera into my lungs and believe me, it doesn't sound sound like fun. Sorry about the typos if there are any I can only see 3 lines at a time and don't have spell check. Merry Christmas in case I keel over or some such thing, hopefully I get out of here before Christmas. A larger post on the laptop.

December 18, 2007 - Tuesday
Survived my Bronchscopy
and am still kicking despite being rather stoned, going to sleep now and stop worrying:-P
(side note, took them up on their offer for Morphine)
Might be out tomorrow
which doesn't mean I'm in the clear but it that I'm probably not going to bleed out. I went through a proceedure called a bronchscopy this morning, was up late last night reading because I thought that they would be scoping me before lunch but was woken up at 5:45 by the nurse saying that they were ready. Huh? So they took me down, brought in an X-Ray machine that looked like a c-clamp, the doctor came in and I was talking to the nurse when...... everyone except for the nurse disappeared and my throat was sore. Had I been abducted? They wheeled me back to my room and I took them up on the morphine they had been offering me all week. Whoowhee! Well I just got a 4mg shot of the stuff so I'm going to end this before I start getting wacky, have a good night everyone and thanks for the support.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bonding experiences

I’ve found over the last few years that I’ve fallen from the path of being the average military party animal but having lived in those shoes at one time, it’s given me a vast understanding of the lifestyle and now coming into a leadership role. Part of my job is protecting the people around me so most nights, I’m taking one for the team and being the designated driver.

I couldn’t count how many times in my past where I wished that there was someone there who would make sure I got home (there were nights when I didn’t make it). Being in the military and in a foreign city, most of the Marines and Sailors I know go out and tear up the town. This trip is no exception.

But unlike the years when I was a junior ranker, now if you get in trouble, chances are, it’s going to kill your career. This is where I come in, I don’t condone the over consumption of alcohol but I have been there and chances are I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if some of my senior leadership wasn’t there to cover my back when I needed it. Eventually, I outgrew the party lifestyle and settled down.

So we went out on our bonding experience as a group, running into people we worked with. One of my junior guys had a bit too much proving his manly hood to his doctor and needed a ride home early.

No problem, he was standing and talking, two good signs. I loaded him up and took off back for base, the entire time his slurring was getting worse and worse. I gave him a large plastic cup and said if he needed to throw up, to use the cup. He looked at the cup and threw it out the window then stuck his arm out and laid his head on it, proceeded to barf all over his arm. Great.

He was still talking and kept telling me the building number he lived in, I went down every street and couldn’t find it so went into work and grabbed the recall roster I had typed up and gave out to everyone (and gave out my last copy from my wallet to someone else) and found his building. Took him up to his room and finding someone to watch him.

Vomit all over my black leather jacket from manhandling his large body back to the room, check. Vomit down the side of Lexus, check. Vomit on my shoes, check.

I took the car to the gas station and washed off the side and my leather jacket. Don’t think the splatter marks on my shoes are going to come out though, sigh.

You know what this is?


I got back to the bar, told the story of the trip back to base and soon thereafter, I drove everyone home, checking a last time on the wayward one to make sure he was still breathing. He’s lucky it’s a kinder gentler Navy and I was acting the part of the responsible one or he might have woken up with a body part shaved.

In reality? If I have saved one life, one career or shown someone a better way to treat those around them, then I’ve done my job as a leader. I’ve seen lives lost and careers go down the tube over one dumb judgment call, one moment of craziness. Do I want that happening to any of my guys? No.

It’s better for me to reel that fish in now then having to go stand in front of the old man in the morning, explaining how I let my guy be such a dumb ass.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Doing Pre Iraq Training

It's funny to think that I have better internet connections when I'm forward in Iraq but it seems to be true. I'm in a sandy desert city where the only place where I can plug my laptop in is at a Boingo wireless booth which has a terrible connection (actually had better connectivity in Thailand). So if I don’t respond to emails or comments, that’s why.

It’s actually relaxing out here, my move is done, the paperwork for getting all of the supplies ready is over with which leaves me with just patient care and catching up on the basic admin stuff with being a corpsman. The cool thing about going to these multi unit training events is running into people from the prior units you worked with.

The days just keep counting down and soon I’m going to be at my second home on the other side of the world. It’s hard to believe this will be my fourth trip out there, well somebody’s got to do it I guess.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Moving out of housing is finally done. Whew, what a long and painful experience. I’m beginning to realize how much of a consumer society we are, even with selling my big furniture I didn’t realize how much stuff we had. Both of us come from a family of hoarders, I admit it. I was hoping to fit all of the rest of my stuff into an 8X10 storage room. That didn’t happen. I did fill the storage room up to the ceiling all the way to the door but discovered that I had enough extra stuff to fill up another storage room of the same size easily. Crappy chairs, busted up barbeques and piles of junk, all went into the dumpster. I hate to admit it I filled up most of a dumpster. All of the stuff I had left over from the garage sale went to the thrift store, 500 or so books and a couple of good sized boxes full of dishes and pots and pans that I never used.
My half sister just lost her house due to flexible interest rates and going into the hospital in the middle of it and I had invested a major portion of my time into helping her out. It all came together in the last few days. I was rushed, many late nights of packing and cleaning, trips to the storage room.

Finally on Thursday night, I got a crew of my guys, Joey, Allen, Marlene and Lukasz (thanks if you read this) to help with the last pieces of big furniture, I wouldn’t have been able to get it done without their help. I’m too old for an all nighter but I pulled one off anyways, from the back of the house to the front, bringing 3 additional truck loads of stuff to my new place, cleaning and packing up the rest of the junk then went to work in the morning where I had to drive to Camp Pendleton to pick up medical supplies for the trip I’m going on next week.

Got back yesterday afternoon, vacuumed the house and swept and mopped the laundry room and the place was inspected which I passed with no problem. I’m thinking I need better time management next time around (I say this every time).

After 11 hours of sleep, I’m back in full form, just have to unpack and get my truck cleaned out.