The Nose Knows

Filed under: — lana @ 11:58 am

I hereby declare a few pointers to the German medical system:

1) Taping a large wad of gauze to the bottom of the septum effectively blocks the upper lip, resulting in less than a convenience than you might think.
2) A single piece of medical tape is not enough to secure a large wad of (blood-soaked) gauze to the bottom of the septum despite you taping one end to the bits actually stitched into the nostril and the other bit to the side of the nose high enough to constantly be in the field of vision.
3) No, drinking through a straw is NOT easier when you have coated cotton crammed into your face so you cannot breathe through your nose and can’t move your upper lip because of a large wad of (blood-soaked) gauze blocking the way.
4) A weird cornbread-type loaf with yellow soupy stuff (sauce, maybe?) and yogurt with peach-bits for the third time that day does not count as dinner.
5) If you want to remove stitched-in bits from inside someone’s face, try cutting the stitches before you tug.

And finally,

6) The brain you are poking while putting ointment in the sinus cavity is supposed to be there and was not a part of the bargain. Please kindly remove the cotton swab jabbing my frontal lobe before you discover just how uncomfortable a Q-tip can be.

Too little, too late, perhaps, but they reduced my sentence by a day for good behavior. They must have done well, as I did not get the black eyes or the swollen face that usually accompany such surgery, nor did my doctor get the aforementioned maladies from tinkering too close to my face without proper anesthetics pumped into my bloodstream first, and I have no need for painkillers though I did take the command up on their offer of ten days of convalescent leave to “get well,” meaning sit on my balcony with a magazine and a glass of wine and watch the cat chase flies all day.

All in all productive. I still snore, as I still cannot breathe for the time being as it starts to heal, but as I may have mentioned that is hardly my problem. What is my problem is trying to get through a 15 minute workout program without bleeding all over the floor and the cat to work off that bread loaf with undetermined yellow sauce… oh, and trying not to sneeze…


Breathing is for Suckers

Filed under: — lana @ 1:49 pm

So I couldn’t postpone it any longer, and Tuesday morning I go in for surgery. This is not for a lack of effort on my part, as I successfully rescheduled the surgery four times before my friend who works at the post clinic stepped in and made the appointment for me and told me she would not do so again and so if I wanted to change it I would have to deal with the angry wrath of the doctor myself.

The surgery stems from my ignorance of a little known rule: when flipping out of a moving vehicle, make sure your vest containing your ballistic protection is fastened securely and fits properly. This rule also applies even though “it worked fine the first time.” Those vests are wily: you never know when it will decide to slide up over your shoulders, get caught on your face, and then unfasten to flip up and slap you in the nose. Failure to obey this rule results in limited breathing, which can be a bit of a bother, and occasional snoring, which really sounds more like my husband’s problem than mine but I suppose it is for the best that it be fixed.

The fun part should be my sojourn in the hospital, where the food is German hospital food (think schnitzel in bite sized portions with seltzer water), there are no dividers between you and your roommate, the entertainment is in German (and you have to bring your own headphones), and few of the nurses speak your language. The added fun is that while in the States this would commonly be outpatient or at most overnight surgery, the Germans keep you for about three to four days lounging about with cotton crammed up your sinus and plastic stitched to your septum. Accounts differ on the quality of the drugs they give you when they attempt to remove any of these items happily packed into your face, but rest assured they will find out rather quickly if they have not given me enough. I get bite-y.

So in less than 36 hours the adventure begins. It was supposed to be sooner, tomorrow in fact, but for the fact that tomorrow is a German holiday so apparently hospital admissions and the anesthesiologist (undoubtedly spelled incredibly wrong, but I do my best) do not work. Woe be those that, say, have a tragic cobblestone encounter (of which there are many out here, with roughly half the population bandaged up at any given time) on a German holiday, I suppose. I am merely happy that it stalled the process one more day, allowing me to dust my apartment one last time without the nasty side-effects of sneezing every two seconds because of dust in the nasal passage. I might also take a drive to enjoy the local scenery before I can smell the manure covered fields that signal German springtime in Bavaria. I figure it is best to take advantage of the silver lining while the cloud looms overhead…


Doesn’t Anyone Talk?

Filed under: — lana @ 1:23 pm

My husband posed an interesting dilema to me yesterday when he called to report his military progress.

It seems that the Department of the Army, known as DA (which I have pointed out several times has numerous other possibilities for the acronym), seems to believe that my husband’s Get Out date has passed, and therefore have assumed that he in fact escaped the evil green clutches of the Army.

As such, they put a message into finance.

As such, finance cut off his pay.

Unfortunately, they failed to pass this message along to anyone else, namely my husband, who encountered a problem when procuring a new ID card to get on post because it seems the Army thought he was gone already.

Problem is, human resources command changed his date to sometime in late June. Why? No one knows. Seemed like a good date, I suppose.

But meanwhile his command thinks that he is on the Stop-Loss list and therefore will be in Iraq long before this new ID card expires, and in fact should be in the Army until sometime in late 2008.

The challenge is that none of these different organizations appear to talk to one another, but none of them will let him sidle on out of the Army, either. The command is trying to take him to Jihad. Human resources command and the ID card people think he has another month or two before he can clear. DA can’t let him go because, I have discerned, to them he is already gone and they can’t let him go twice so he has to stay (though without pay). Can’t fly if you are crazy, you would have to be crazy if you wanted to fly. Catch-22 rears its ugly head.

I gave up trying to figure it out the moment he told me that he had been put on the jump manifest for the morning and everyone gave him a blank stare when he reminded him that he just had surgery on his arm and couldn’t possibly fall out of an airplane sometime in the wee hours of the day. I told him to go get a sandwich, put on a movie, and take a nap instead of worrying about it all. Let the Army figure its own self out… which gave us both a good laugh and he got off the phone to make his sandwich.



Filed under: — lana @ 7:46 am

Sometimes it takes a bit for reality to set in. In my case, for instance, it has taken upwards of four years.

It occurred to me sometime last night that my husband is most likely heading back to make sand angels. They may be one-armed/winged for a bit, pending his injuries and the requisite physical therapy, but nevertheless his command is eager to have him out there. I might point out that no one consulted me when they planned this hair-brained scheme to take him, but that isn’t all that much of a surprise.

Now my options, as they have stood for a little bit now, are to reenlist to get some desired training, head to slightly more chilly yet still remarkably dusty and backwards parts of the world for a few months, or to cut my losses and get out. My retention NCO will get back to me this week, I still have no promises on Jihadistan, and if I get out I will more than likely take some sort of high-paying but less-than-desireable-to-those-not-as-crazy-as-myself job in the middle of a sand dune somewhere.

The reality comes in the form of two slightly obese, furry, and rather friendly cats. Fully compiled, my time with them has been only slightly more than that spent with my husband over the past four years, still well under the two year mark. They have had cat sitters, spent a year with my husband, and possibly eaten my landlord in my time away.

With my husband on his way out the door and with my extended sojourn in Germanistan, for the third time we are looking for someone to care for them. This time, it finally occurred to me that perhaps it should be permanent. Some may argue that I have spent more time with them than with my husband and so is it fair to find a new home for them when I have seen so little of him, but to them I respond that shipping him off to a new home requires a good deal of paperwork and PetSmart doesn’t have cages that big.

The acknowledgement that I have to give away my kitties is not a happy experience for me. I imagine it is much like a parent seeing their child apply for college, only if the child were shorter, fatter, furrier, and still required the parents to clean their poop out of a box once or twice a week.

But such is reality. I will more than likely not be home for any length of time for the next at least year, possibly longer. My husband can’t fit them into his bags to take to the land of jihad, and one of them has a tendancy to piddle on his Army gear when she gets angry at him anyway. Note she never came near my Army gear, only his. They have provided me with endless amusement since I brought them home upon graduating from college, but I know that what is happening is not best for them. It may, in fact, not be best for any of us, but at least their situation is something that I can help.

A sorrowful bout of reality, to be sure, and perhaps one that should have come awhile ago. I am in the search for a good home for them, and will miss them dearly.

Eat well, my kitties. As long as I am here, I promise that no terrorist shall knock upon the side of your litterbox…


Sesame Street for Army Folk

Filed under: — lana @ 1:02 pm

While it is my humble opinion that many things in the Army should be broken down in the style of Seasame Street (near… far… never had so much meaning as it does when you are talking to someone learning to fire mortar rounds or call in air support), today in particular appeared to have a certain public broadcasting feel to it.

For instance, my retention options appeared to have been brought to me by the letter K, as taught by my two reenlistment options, Kuwait and Korea, and my one deployment option, Kanadahar. We also got a little anatomy lesson when I explained to the retention NCO exactly where the two reenlistment options in particular could be stuffed.

We also had a little singalong today when I was informed that I had to send my soldier three hours away at some point next week for my unit to conduct a “fun run.” Aside from my commentary about the subjective nature of the word “fun” when used in such a context, I brought in a CD with cadences from the 82d Airborne Chorus, which I gave to my soldier and happily informed him that he would be calling cadence, so he better brush up. Despite repeated calls of “I wanna be an airborne ranger” and “all the way/everyday” and “one mile no sweat/two miles better yet,” he appeared to remain less than inspired. Particularly as the residents of the office downstairs came up to stand by the door and giggle.

Dance class was composed of me doing a little jig when I found out that my command will change soon as my unit restructures, which should cut down the time to get a piece of paper signed to about a 24 to 48 hour turn around, as opposed to the current record of the ten months it has taken them to finally file a clothing allowance for me.

The sad part of the episode was putting my husband on a plane to head back to the states as my single week with him ended sometime around 0500 this morning. This being the first (and potentially to be the only) block of time I have had to spend with him this calendar year, it reminded me once again that it ain’t easy being… er… wearing… green.

But since this was brought to you by the number 3, as in the time 15 minutes later than the time I woke up this morning to drive my husband to the airport because a motorcycle rally in the city containing said airport had all of the hotels booked solid, I feel that this would be a lovely time to sing our goodbye song. Until next time, this episode was also brought to you by readers like… you…

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