Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Yes, it has been 6 months since I last blogged; and there are good reasons for that. But I'll just give you some highlights from the last 6 months -- other than the mundane everyday stuff:

*I did finally get my Christmas tree down before Easter.

*The Bataan Memorial Death march was AMAZING!! The outcome of that can be read here . Some pics of training and the event are below.

I was able to shake hands with some of the survivors, which was incredible. One 91 year old survivor marched the first 9 miles, as well as the 90 year old widow of another Bataan survivor. I have told people that even if they do not want to march, they should try to make it out to the event just to see these amazing veterans, whom are becoming fewer each year. 26.2 miles that day, I had never done anything like that before (I also did the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure 5K the day after an 18 mile practice march, I just walked that one.) I'm excited for the next year's March on March 27 for which I plan to do an all-female heavy team. My battle buddy Marsha won the female individual heavy this year so I'm sure she will prepare me well.

* I had 22 days of field training in the Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. I didn't really mind the majority of it. I didn't have AHLTA notes to do, I got more sleep, sunshine, and fresh air. Sure, it was over 100 degrees in the summer, and I was getting a little annoyed by the people who since the first day kept declaring, "It's hot!" Yeah, like whining about it is going to make it any cooler, quit contributing your hot air! Near the end I think I had enough of the drama and some organizational issues that I was looking forward to getting back to the real world.

* While I was in the field, I had my first mass casualty (the basic definition is when your medical resources are overwhelmed, which was pre-planned as having more than 4 patients). This happened to be on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon when all of my leadership (officers and non-comissioned officers) were gone and it was just basically myself and about 3 medics and an x-ray tech. There was a freak windstorm that pulled up our tent (the brigade aid station) from where it had been re-staked about an hour earlier. This tent, after knocking me over, flew over and knocked down the tent about 15 yards away that was serving as the patient hold area, and our company tent (serving as the medical support for the brigade) was knocked down as well. Everything was completely scattered as if a tornado had gone through, which was basically the case. Not even 2 minutes after this happened and I just barely picked myself off the ground, an ambulance pulls up and says, "You have two patients!" I verbalized my thoughts when I responded, "You gotta be kidding me!" We picked up a couple litter stands and proceeded to work on a guy with a concussion and a heat casualty. Another head injury patient is brought over and this guy was pretty bad. Word got out that there was a mass casualty and random people from the rest of the batallion came over. It was a blessing how everyone came together and that all of the people involved in the care were not hurt. I threw in people, including the chaplain and the social worker as well as other observers, to serve as human IV poles, hold stabilization, get ice packs, and other random jobs. 3 patients turned into 4, then a couple people who were injured or sick over the past few days were brought over. I admit that for a moment I was thinking, "C'mon, really? At all possible times, you decided NOW to get help?" In the end, all 6 patients turned out to be okay. The serious head injury who I wanted to get air evaced out had to go by ground, and he was in the ICU for a day, but recovered well and wanted to come back out. I sent back the other 2 head injuries as well and the other PA showed up in time to take care care of the last patient who had been sick for three days. Yay for mass casualties! I thought that we had filled our quota and would not have to do a mock mass casualty, but I was wrong. The last day and a half of training I was stationed at an ambulance exchange point with two of the medics. We had responded to a Humvee accident at 3 am that morning where 4 people fortunately had minor injuries but we did not get back until about 5:30 in the morning. At 7 am they decided to do a mock mass casualty with 40 infantry soldiers who had just completed a 25 mile overnight training exercise. Half of them did not know what their "injuries" were. Amongst them there were a few soldiers who really were dehydrated and a couple of them had some really messed up feet.

* Patients continue to keep things interesting for me. I have had some interesting ones. I had one week where I had to call patients up after 730 at night and tell them to go to the ER because one had a pulmonary embolism and the other an ectopic pregnancy. I'm sure the ER was wondering why I was still at work at 730 at night. One patient asked, "Can I eat dinner first?" I said no. He later came back and brought me and the other PAs a homemade macaroni and cheese dinner for his gratitude. This happened to be the same day that I had to be counseled because I got 2 patient dissatisfaction surveys over the last few months, which I actually fond to be kinda funny. I have had some moments where patients had tested my patience. I even yelled at and threw an E-7 (Sergeant First Class) out of sick call after I chewed him out for not holding himself accountable and disrespecting me. I'm still trying to build up my "mean" side. Army "customer service" is a lot different than civilian customer service.

*Oh, and to help me be a little more aggressive, I got promoted to the rank of Captain. Yes, I am now Captain Anderson. It's a rank I have to get a little comfy with because it will be a while beofre I will be a major. At least I won't be called "LT" anymore.

*I have been house/fish/cat-sitting for one of my co-workers since July. This involves taking care of four cats, three of them are females. You can bet there's a lot of drama that goes on.

*My last tidbit of news is that I am finally on "leave", a.k.a. vacation for 2 weeks. I'm spending it with my now three adorable nephews and sister and brother-in-law in Alabama. My newest nephew, Jacob Watkins, was born on July 20. He had some beautiful pictures taken already as seen here. More pictures to follow.