Monday, August 23, 2010

Hard Times

Me: "So, the chart says that you cut yourself yesterday?"

Pt: "Yeah."

Me: "Why did you do that? Were you trying to hurt yourself?"

Pt: "Yeah. I thought that if I cut my hand deep enough, you could amputate it, and then I could get disability."

Me: "Do you work now?"

Pt: "No, I'm on disability."

Me: "So the idea was to get more disability?"

Pt: "Yeah."


No, the hand didn't need to be amputated, it was actually a very minor laceration. I guess the economy is hitting everyone pretty hard right now, even disabled schizophrenics. And for the record, I don't think that you get bonus diability money for further injuries, so don't try that one at home.

Friday, August 20, 2010


The other weekend, AG and I went to see the movie "Restrepo". I actually hadn't heard anything about this movie, and apparently it is only playing in certain theaters. AG had heard from one of his instructors that it was playing in Tucson, so we were able to catch it up there.

"Restrepo" is actually a documentary that follows an individual platoon during most of their 2008 deployment in Afghanistan. It was filmed by embedded photojournalists from National Geographic and won an award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

I was particularly interested to see the film as the platoon was in the Korengal Valley in the Kunar province, which borders Pakistan. AG spent the second half of his deployment in that province, and so I was curious to see what it looked like. Apparently, we abandoned operations in the Korengal Valley this past April. For me, it was interesting to see the things that we had talked about. During the first part of his deployment, he was at a small outpost and talked about establishing perimeters and building walls from HESCO's (large containers filled with dirt).

Most of the soldiers in the platoon were very young, and I guess that from dealing with a large military population at work, I have become somewhat desensitized to this. What did surprise me though, was seeing how much responsibility was put on this individual platoon. Most of the direct supervision appeared to be coming from one sole captain, although I think a lieutenant colonel did make an appearance at one of the meetings with village elders.

I didn't really get a pro- or anti-war feeling from the movie. A good bit of it features one-on-one clips with individual soldiers, and clearly several of them are dealing with PTSD and are yet unable to process their experience. I wouldn't say that the film is very graphic, although when one of the platoon's members is killed, it does show the varying coping mechanisms of the soldiers, ranging from rage to complete shutdown. I think that whether you are for or against our current involvement and Afghanistan, this documentary gives the viewer a good idea of just what today's individual soldier might experience during deployment.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Distance to Here

Well, so much for regular updates. Life has been a little complex lately. AG (Army Guy) and I have been married just short of four months now. We had about a month together after the wedding, but the last three months we have been apart. I suppose that it is not the most conventional arrangement, but we are making it work.

Basically, AG is at a point in his military career where he had to attend a six-month long officer course. AG was able to transfer out of the infantry and into an intelligence position upon redeploying from Afghanistan. We had talked about it a lot, and with his unit already slated to go back to Afghanistan in April, it just seemed like too much. The plan is for him to transition to his new base after completing the career course. I was still under contract with my EM group when he started the course. It also didn't make sense for me to apply for a state license and a position for six months or less, so I have just stayed on with my group.

Unlike his time at remote bases in Afghanistan, we have been able to communicate regularly by email, daily phone calls, and Skype. We made a road trip of driving him out West, and set him up with enough linens, kitchen supplies, and clothing to live comfortably with. My group at the hospital has been really supportive, and I have been working a compressed schedule. I still do full-time hours, but squeeze a month's worth of shifts into a 2.5-3 week period to accommodate me visiting AG for a week at a time, once a month. I won't say that it isn't tiring. I have been trying to revamp my exercise habits, but most of the time, I am just too tired after work. It has also been an expensive arrangement, between paying for rent and utilities in two locations, and monthly flights. In the end though, we have both decided that it is worth the expense to keep our marriage strong.

Currently, I am out visiting. I have been trying to be productive: doing job searches, applying for a medical license in a new state, but to be honest-- there's also been a lot of daytime TV watching and lounging around. Things were hectic for a bit when we were thinking he was going to start at the new base in January, but now it looks like nothing will happen until next spring.

This time around, I am taking my job search a lot more seriously. My current job I pretty much just walked into, but this time there are recruiters and job postings to try and decipher. It is also more serious as we are looking at spending the next 15 years or so in this next location, so I need to find a job that's a good match. I think that we both have a lot of exciting changes to look forward to, but it does kind of seem like we are currently in limbo.