A rough week, to say the least. One day left, to be spent on the road as most of the days have been this week. Not for saving the good of the nation or even for tasty enchiladas that I hear are somewhere on the other side of the country, but because of the usual examples of ineptitude in Army decision-making. As paraphrased from the Jewish Passover Seder, why should this week be different from any other week?
It was a short week, thanks to Columbus getting lost and finding the Carribean a few centuries back. I would like to point out that I am particularly grateful on that holiday, as they make very good rum on those islands. Moving along, Tuesday saw the Department of Public Works wandering into our office and blowing up half of our equipment, mumbling something that sounded like a German “Oopsie…” and then darting off again. Secure connections be damned, the telephones are finally working again two days later, and eventually the general magnitude of destruction will be discovered and hopefully remedied with some duct tape and a few paperclips.
Wednesday, after such a delightful time, I had to leave my house at an hour not usually seen by those accustomed to light in order to drive all the way across two or three German states in order to reach the only American hospital left in the region. Wednesday appeared to also be the day the Germans decided to rip up every road between the post upon which I work and the only American hospital left in the region. In order to mark the detours which sent me exploring far reaches of the country I never had a desire to see, the Germans put up signs which may be quite clear to them, but at 0545 in the morning I am not looking for a 6 inch by 6 inch sign directly at the turn I would have to make that tells me that I in fact want to go three miles out of my way because ahead the entire road has been ground into dust. My appointment was at 0930. My brain doesn’t hold much data these days so I thought it was at 1000, but knew I wasn’t going to make that, either. I almost threw the GPS out the window as she told me to turn around and go back to the blocked exit for the ninth time while I continued to yell at her. My Soldier, who was trying to get in touch with the hospital to tell them I would be late, had to remind me on more than one occasion that he was the one on the phone and the human and that yelling at the GPS probably wouldn’t do me much good, and that calling her those names really wasn’t very nice.
I get to the hospital. No surprise, they had cancelled my appointment. Roughly five hours in the car, no more need to be there. They could not reschedule before I left for the States. Try again in January. This is the only doctor in country that will do this type of analysis, sorry, better luck next time. There are OIF patients to see.
This is, actually, the real problem with hospitals such as the one to which I found myself all day Wednesday. It is woefully understaffed, having at last count one neuropsychologist, maybe three neurologists, one endochronologist, and that is just a rough sample. Then the Army, in it’s efforts to save money, closed every other major health facility in the country, so every Soldier that needs to be seen for something a clinic and the Germans can’t treat has to find an appointment. But they get bumped for anyone coming with an Iraq or Afghanistan injury. Schedules are usually full a month out or so, and the endochronologist is so busy even telephone consultations are not made.
I understand priority going to Soldiers coming from downrange, though I thought the hospital here was only supposed to be a staging ground to get the Soldier back to the States anyway. However, I do admit that it is much more difficult to understand when another Soldier feels penalized because even though at last count four doctors confirmed an injury was sustained in Iraq three years ago now, since the Soldier didn’t fly on the medical transport there they now get shuffled to the back of the line though they still have to drive anywhere from one to four hours without traffic to get treatment. Something about that is not fair to the tens of thousands of Soldiers in country who really just want to get someone to look at whatever malady was bad enough to get referred to arguably the most overworked hospital on the continent. It is not these Soldiers fault that the Army opted to close every major facility closer to their place of work, and then didn’t hire enough doctors to staff the one place it left open.
But tirade aside, I finally did get to see my neurologist, who was kind enough to squeeze me in since she knew I had driven several hundred kilometers to get turned around because of National German Road Work Day. She offered to take a needle, put some chemicals in it, and shove it directly into the back of my head to numb a stubborn nerve that she thinks might be bothering my brain. Having a nice, long drive back ahead of me, I declined her tempting offer and instead gathered two more perscriptions and instructions to see her Friday if the pills don’t work so I can get shot in the skull. Something tells me I will make those pills work.
Aside from all of that, I still have Soldiers, who are always just bundles of fun and joy in my life. I have now requested to relocate my office to a first floor setting just in case I decide to make good on my threats to toss subordiates out a window. I am not convinced that if they land on their heads it would do much damage, but a first floor option gives me more chances than upper stories to try my theory. Unfortunately, it is just too expensive to move the office. We will see how that works out for some people.
Tomorrow is another day back to the hospital, to see the one endochronologist in country. An honor, really. I should ask for an autograph. It will be an interesting visit, since they neglected to call me and tell me to get my lab work done a week or two back so I have a feeling tomorrow will consist of me wandering into an office to get the response of, “Hmm. Labs just went in. So… uh… how you feeling? Good? Not so Good? Gee. Too bad. Well, try to come again later so we can look at the labs! Have a fun drive home!”
The building doesn’t go higher than a few stories. If I can just find the roof access…