Somehow the base is managing to run out of water even thought it's the winter, this is something that in three deployments i have never been unfortunate enough to witness. Several days ago they reinforced "combat showers", a method that always stood by it was kind of an unspoken rule that no one actually followed. A "combat shower" basically means you get wet, turn off the water, lather up, turn on water, and rinse. At max, you are to use 3 minutes of running water. Try shaving your legs in that, it sucks. Then toss in the fact that the water alternates scalding and freezing, so 90 of those seconds are spent pressed up against the fungus filled shower wall trying to stay out of the unpleasant spray. Well, no need to worry about that now, ALL showers have currently been suspended until further notice. That means NO showering! For anybody! ShowerCon Delta. Oh, no laundry either. LaundryCon Delta.
I suspect this won't last long. What I am afraid of, however, is their plan to reintegrate showers on a bi-weekly basis. Tuesday and Sunday showers just isn't going to cut it! The ONE time out of three deployments that I fail to bring baby wipes from home. Blast. Of course the BX/PXs sold out approximately 3 nanoseconds after the email went out. One of our girls was fortunate enough to get her hands on some waterless shampoo, even if I could track some down, not really sure if I trust that stuff. It just sounds suspicious.
Speaking of -cons that we are in, we are also in MudCon Yellow. That means there is mud everywhere. You have to take two pairs of shoes to the gym (not as relevant now that we can't shower, I suspect gym usage shall be dropping shortly).
In other war-related news, I volunteered at the hospital tonight. I don't think I am allowed to give details on this, but there was a whole slew of American GIs there. I volunteered in the ICW (intermediate care ward) which is a step down from the ICU. There is an Iraqi side and an American side, but they are all in the same area. Basically these folks in the ICW are more coherent and are on their way out to Germany in a short while (the American ones, not the Iraqi ones..they stay at the hospital until they are better). The ICW injuries are not as substantial and they are not unconscious. To me, it's not quite as depressing because they don't seem as near death as the folks in the ICU ward. And they're not as bloody as the ones in the ER. Being in the ICW and not the ICU or ER is my way of retaining my sanity while still volunteering. It's my way of lending a helping hand while not losing all faith in humanity. Some of that stuff from the ICU and ER last time really threw me for a loop.
So these Army guys, a good number were in good spirits because they were getting out of Iraq. Also some were not as badly off as others. Some guys were pretty ok and other guys were not so ok. They hadn't eaten in over 24 hours, because they had been out on a mission all day and then got hit on their way back. So we brought them food. But it was only like 500 calories and of course they were still starving. So me and this other AF sgt go to requisition some more calories from the DFAC. Well of course this has to be an ordeal. KBR has come under a lot of fire for inflating their numbers lately. So when one person comes in and asks for 50 meals, you can't just do that. Even though it's like a all you can eat type system, you can't just grab 50 meals. Not even in the hospital. So the poor SE Asian guys running the DFAC don't have the authority to give us that much. My Sgt starts to get real pissed, and goes up to the translator to see if he can help. Except, the translator (Also an Iraqi M.D.) obviously translates ARABIC. And the DFAC workers ARE NOT IRAQI, but this point was lost on the SGT who asked the Iraqi to translate. A lot of raised voices in broken English ensued. Eventually we requisitioned some sandwiches, muffins, doritos, and gatorade, all in bulk. Like I rolled pans of roast beef back to the ICW to feed these poor bastards. So I spent a good while making up sandwiches for the Army guys and dishing them out. It was kind of fun, they joked about the full service hospital and said they wish they could spend more time there.
I spent the rest of the time changing beds and helping take vital signs. I measured an Iraqi guy's blood sugar levels. I talked for awhile with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal guy from Illinois. The only thing he knew about Madison was that we have the Oscar Meyer factory here, heh. Some other stuff happened but I guess we aren't supposed to really talk about what happens at the hospital. Also I think some bad pictures must have leaked because there are signs all over that say "NO PHOTOGRAPHY!!!!" Interesting. At any rate, the hospital no longer resembles M*A*S*H. It's a hardened facility now and from the inside it doesn't even feel like Iraq, it looks like a real ward in a hospital.
Katy and I made the mistake of counting down our days. If you look at how many days have passed and how many are left it feels unreal. But can't complain. Our Army gate guys (the ones who run the gate into our MSA, munitions storage area) are here for a year. If I was an Army gate guard for an entire year, I would start slamming the gate down on top of vehicles to spice up my day.
Feel free to send me baby wipes :)