Sunday, August 30, 2009

Teens, Take Note

If you are a teenager, please note that updating your "mood" on MySpace to "suicidal" is not a good idea. You might just end up in my world via police escort. Once you arrive, you get stripped down, and you can lie in a psych room with questionable stains on the wall for hours before the doctor can see your lame ass. And your mom will be very, very pissed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting

Sometimes, my patients just baffle me with their requests. Such was the case recently, when a pregnant young woman asked if she could be admitted to the hospital because, "All I have for food at home is peanut butter and Goldfish."

She was a young, newly-married Army wife, and the request made me look again at her ID which listed her age as 16. Her medical complaint was easy enough to deal with; both her and the fetus were fine. She hadn't gotten any prenatal care yet, as she said that she didn't have any insurance, which also made me do a double-take given her social situation.

I asked her where her husband was, and it turned out that he was off doing pre-deployment exercises in another state for the next several weeks. During their training, the men are unavailable by phone and the only number she had was his cell phone. I asked her if she had any money at home, and she said that she didn't. Apparently, her husband had taken their only credit card with him.

The more questions I asked, the worse it got.

I asked her who their unit chaplain was, and she didn't know. I asked her what unit her husband was in, and she didn't know. I asked her how she'd gotten to the hospital and it turned out that she had called an ambulance and that she didn't know anyone in the area to come and pick her up. And wouldn't you know it, her husband had left his vehicle behind, but she doesn't even know how to drive. The nurses were also muttering something about her not having any furniture in the apartment and sleeping on the floor, but at that point, I really didn't want to hear any more.

So Social Work got involved, and I ordered the woman/child a dinner tray. They actually contacted the runaway teen hotline because her whole story was kind of bizarre. Typically, the military does a very thorough job at providing resources for family members, particularly wives and children of active duty soldiers. This child just was completely clueless, and without any kind of foresight about providing for herself. In the end, the staff duty officer of the night had to come in and make sure she was set up with insurance, food, and resources. I'm sure that her husband got quite the talking to about the whole thing, but for all I know he's probably barely 18 himself. It was quite the contradiction to see someone with with access to nearly unlimited resources and not enough knowledge to use them. At this rate, I don't know how she's going to make it through the winter.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Gone Country

Having been raised in a very small town, I figured that I would have no problems fitting in here. After all, here there is an actual mall, a Starbucks, a hospital, and several chain restaurants. I guess I have become accostomed to all of the creature comforts that come with living in a city with a large University- theatre, museums, sports, active downtown life. Most of that I don't miss, especially as I have yet to make any social contacts here.

My mail is delivered by a man in a minivan with a flashing light on the roof. When I go to my actual post office, there is an Amish roadside vegetable stand, and several times I have seen a horse and buggy on the side roads.

Several of the gas stations here do not have pay-at-the-pump. When you go inside to pay, they try to force locally made ice cream on you. As if I didn't have enough bad eating habits without having $2 hand-packed pints shoved at me whenever I buy gas!

There is no branch of my bank here, or even an affiliated ATM. There's only one major bank here, and otherwise it's all city banks and bizarre credit unions not affiliated with anywhere else. I don't really understand this since there is such a large military contingent here, with people moving and relocating from all over the country. Most of my banking is done online anyway, so it doesn't make a huge difference, except I try to time getting cash with visits to the city to avoid ATM fees.

I guess I just need to slow down a little. Everyone here is extremely friendly, with strangers saying hello to you on the street, but the drawback to that is that it seems to take just a bit longer to get anything done. Lines are slower because cashiers inevitably have side conversations with their patrons about how so-and-so is doing or whatever, but I can't complain because it does seem like customer service is better.

Things might get a little more desolate around here in a few months based on the Army's activity. Three brigades are stationed here. Usually one brigade is deployed, one is preparing to deploy, and one has recently returned from deployment. AG's brigade is scheduled to return the beginning of next year.

According to news reports, the other two brigades are going to be sent to Afghanistan before the end of the year. Unless there's a fourth brigade being formed that I'm not aware of, that means it will be pretty empty around here for a month or two. To me, sending two brigades out at once seems kind of strange, because they won't be able to keep up with that schedule unless a big expansion is made, or they have more brigades somewhere else that they can pull from. Typically the brigades are deployed for 12 months and then home for about 15 months. Not only will it not be time for AG's brigade to go out again, but they won't have any other brigades left to deploy from here to replace them at the end of 2010.