Sunday, August 5, 2018


Fulfilling my civic duty and obligation to vote, even while deployed.  Thankfully, Arizona makes it very easy to do this electronically.  Mail is WAY to slow here to even think about an absentee ballot!


Monday, July 30, 2018


You might have thought I got injured or worse since I have not posted anything lately...… NOPE!  Still here.  I think the Iraqi internet was blocking us for a while and then, well, I have just actually been busy!

I was worried that I might get bored after a few weeks here.  Definitely not!  Between my 3 a day workouts (before and after every meal), instructing spin and yoga classes (shout out/thanks to my spin instructors Cheryl and Jordan back home for sending me some of their playlists!), writing a book chapter on emergency care for working dogs by non-veterinarians, teaching/training with our folks, teaching the Iraqi medics, reading, and occasionally sleeping and seeing a patient with a minor injury or illness (no sick traumas, thankfully), I have been quite pleasantly busy.  I was also recently selected to be the Specialty Leader for Emergency Medicine for all of Navy Reserves so now I can add a monthly newsletter to my busy days.

My roommate recently bought a smart TV, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and soon to be cable, so I got to have a nice movie night last week when he was on call in the hospital for the night.  I watched the old version of Murder on the Orient Express.  Drank an O'douls and ate some corn nuts!  Nice night. I can't wait for college football to start.  Go 'cats!

We also have pancake breakfasts every other Saturday (the hospital group does, as I don't eat pancakes-  I just go to socialize and tried a hookah the other day with one of my corpsmen).  Not sure if that was worse than a pancake but I think it might have been!

Our kitchen where we cook the pancakes is a weird connex box on the outside but the inside is a normal kitchen (my fellow ER Doc and one of our OR corpsmen were cooking:)

It's way past my bedtime (it is 9 pm and I usually go to bed about 8 but I figured I needed to put something in my blog since I finally got it working after almost a month of silence), so I am going to sleep. G'night!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July from Iraq!

Happy 4th of July from here in Iraq!  It was actually hotter here than it was in Phoenix today (over 130 in the sun).  My run at 0430 was still cool in the 80's, however.  I also had the opportunity to make a quick flight home to support my sister-in-law Kelli in the Arcadia parade.  Luckily the fast military flights got me there and back before I was listed as AWOL!

We are able to remain social here as well as keep up the Navy tradition of drinking to celebrate events, both social and ceremonial.  For example, we enjoyed a beer pong tournament tonight at our 4th of July celebration…..

We also enjoy Friday pizza nights (made in an actual brick oven out in back of our hospital) followed by a movie.  Our first movie was Jumanji (the remake) three weeks ago followed by Black Panther last week.  Steph commented that it "really does look like M*A*S*H !"

Movie/pizza nights on Fridays are followed by Pancake Saturdays, which, of course, include wonderful and delicious Mimosa's!
Finally, as I said at the beginning, even Navy ceremonies, such as the promotions we had this week, had to includes drinks.  A nice refreshing beer float in my case!
It is nice to remain social and keep some semblance of the normalcy of home, even where we are across the globe serving our country.  Everywhere around the base were patriotic flags, letter, colors, and reminders of what our families are celebrating back home.  Please remember those in harms way over here and around the globe and keep us in your prayers that our medical skills will never be needed, but that if they are, may we be ready and able to skillfully take care of those who risk their lives everyday so that everyone back home can enjoy the lives we enjoy and all too often take for granted.  Happy 4th of July and God bless America!





Monday, July 2, 2018


Well, just like in Afghanistan, it has become like Ground Hog Day for me and my daily routine.  Luckily, I have regular things to do to keep me occupied during each consecutive day.  My days consist mainly of working out, reading, sleeping, eating, teaching, and, well...…… teaching!  Not necessarily in that order.  I am enjoying teaching the nurses, my corpsmen, and even some of the physicians as well.  As I teach in my civilian job at both Maricopa Medical Center as well as in the Navy, it dovetails perfectly with my interests.  It also helps to keep both me as well as the whole group busy and focused on our mission- to be ready at all times to take care of our men and women in harms way as well as any other patients that come to our hospital with significant injuries and/or illnesses.  It is nice to have a mixture of both skills training as well as lectures going on.

Besides a significant amount of time dedicated to teaching and training, I spend a lot time as well working out- not just stay in shape, but to try to get in the shape I got in while in Afghanistan!  While I don't know if I can achieve that (I AM almost 50 after all!), I will be making a valiant effort to do so, averaging about 5-6 hours a day.  Combining reading (Kindle on my phone) while doing the elliptical 3 hours a day (before and after every meal) certainly helps, while allowing me to read a book or two per week.  In addition, I add weight lifting, P90X weight training, P90X YogaX, P90X KenpoX, P90X XStretch, and a daily 4 mile run around the perimeter of the base. I missed my spin classes from home, so I showed up to take the spin class listed in the posted cardio gym schedule but was sadly disappointed to find out there was no such class.  When I asked the gym manager from KBR what the deal was, she explained that the instructor for yoga and spin had gone to another base instead.  At that point, she suggested that I teach the classes I wanted to participate in.  Since my Navy colleagues were also asking about when I was going to do my YogaX as well, I reluctantly agreed to lead (not really teach) the YogaX.  We project P90X YogaX off of my computer onto the white gym wall with the lights down low and a loud speaker and Tony Horton leads us all in YogaX.  Since the projector version does not show up well in a picture, the one below is from my first class when we were all still trying to see in on my computer screen. At that point, I figured I might as well lead the spin classes if I wanted to add cycling to my workouts.  I don't really "teach" the spin classes like a traditional spin instructor, but I do spin at the front, provide the music, and occasionally tell the class to stand up, sit down, and increase or decrease the resistance on the bike.  Morgan suggested that I add a Hamilton spin mix to give everyone some history and culture along with their workout.  Will let you know how that goes.  I have also reached out to my favorite spin instructor from back home, Cheryl, to send me some more music so I don't bore my classes to death. So, now I am leading 6 hours of fitness classes a week on a voluntary basis.  It helps to keep the Navy in good graces with KBR (the company who runs the gym, the dining facility or "DFAC" as well as the MWR/USO tent).  They give us the ingredients for our pizza night, pancake breakfast, and other baked goods so I figure it is an even trade :)!  More on our social agenda in another episode.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Teasing my daughter from afar!

After seeing the following on our whiteboard, I could not resist getting Morgan riled up, even though it is well past April 1st!

For those of you who know Morgan, you probably know what a Taylor Swift fan (fanatic actually) she is.  So, when I saw the above on our whiteboard, I knew I had to send her the pictures!  I sent it early in the morning (AZ time, knowing she would see it the minute she woke up).  Steph happened to be up early, and warned me that it would probably get Morgan riled up.  Sure enough, Morgan quickly responded to my What's App family text and pics with "OMG's" and requests for autographs!  I did not make her suffer long, and pointed out that she should carefully read the caption above the notice (see closeup below). 

She did not notice the "RUMOR OF THE DAY!" notice at the top.  I only wish it were true that they were coming here (more for Ed Sheeran although I hear from Morgan that T Swift is great in concert).  Nevertheless, it was entertaining being able to tease my daughter from the other side of the world.  She was a great sport in allowing me to do so- THANK YOU MORGAN!

Hopefully we will get some entertainment from the USO here but I will not hold my breath as it is a small base.  I was spoiled in Afghanistan getting to meet Jordan Sparks (who is from AZ and my dad was actually her dad's dentist at one time- small world!).  We will see.  In the meantime, I will keep busy training, teaching, reading, working out, and sleeping (more on the teaching soon:).

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Finally.  Arrived in Iraq a little over a week ago.  Obviously not first class seats on the flight over from Kuwait J!  (It was so hot without any air circulation that I was happy to be sitting next to one of my corpsmen who happened to be fanning herself.  Needless to say, I “joined in.”).  We arrived safely, however, and were glad to leave the oppressive heat in Kuwait.  It is actually much cooler here at our base in Iraq- similar to Phoenix but it actually cools off at night (allowing for my nice cool runs at 0430 every morning). 

We had a few days with the outgoing group to complete our turnover and orient us to the base and our tent hospital and our jobs.  Despite the outgoing group not being very busy the last few months, we were fortunate to actually have a real patient during our turnover which allowed us to learn how things worked here with a real patient and how to “dispo” (come up with a final disposition) our patients.  The outgoing group was very glad that we are here now, allowing them to return to their families after a long separation. 
Our accommodations, although certainly spartan, ended up better than I thought.  Although we were packed 3 and 4 to a room initially during turnover with the outgoing hospital group, we got to go down to 2 per room for a few of the senior officers and leadership, and 3 per room for most others.  As a senior officer, I got two to a room.  My roommate is one of the other 0-5’s here, an orthopedic surgeon.  We live in a large tent, about 150 feet by 35 feet, surrounded by 12 foot concrete walls (“T–walls”). There is a corridor going down the middle with 10 “rooms” on each side.  The “rooms” are created with plywood and 2x4’s reaching about 7 feet high.  The floors are plywood covered in carpet.  Definitely better than I expected with air conditioning and outlets for all of us.  I have a semi-private “bedroom” (that I share with the A/C unit) and a small “living room” that is large enough to do my Yoga-X in.  We have shower “trailers” outside and porta johns.  Although porta johns are never nice and ours are very hot after about 0700, they are definitely the cleanest ones I have ever used (the contractors clean them and stock the TP twice a day).  Overall, much better than expected.
I got to enjoy Father’s Day at the gym, which is where I spend over a third of my waking moments.  They actually have two gyms, one is a weight gym and the other is cardio, with bikes, ellipticals, treadmills, spin bikes, and room for fitness classes (more on the last two in the next installment).

I also got to enjoy our 28th Anniversary back home with family for a lovely dinner.  Well……… at least “Flat Brad” did J.  More on life at Q-West in the next installment.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

MORE (training and travel, that is:)

So I made it to the Middle East, but still more travel and training was to be had before arriving at my final base/hospital in Iraq.  We had more than a week stopover in Kuwait.  Luckily, they have really built up our bases in Kuwait since the Gulf War and even since my last stop there in 2012 on my way back from Afghanistan.  Although we had to stay there over a week, we did very little paperwork and training (but the lecture by the Army Reserve Veterinarian on taking care of Military Working Dogs was excellent!)

We were able to celebrate a 50th birthday party (no, not mine YET) in the DFAC (aka dining facility) complete with candles on a (piece of) cake.  Probably not "technically allowed," in the DFAC but very fun and even the staff came over and helped us sing Happy Birthday (I think they thought it was like a TGI Friday restaurant or something).  They even served beer in the DFAC, although the non-alcoholic kind (O'douls- which I hate).   I had to have one, though, just to get a picture.  I was obviously the only one "drinking" at lunch and probably the only one who had even had an O'douls in the last 6 months in the DFAC!

They did, however, have beautiful sunrises (shown) and sunsets, although these were due to the ridiculous amount of dust in the air.  You could actually safely stare straight at the sun at sunrise and sunset without protective eyewear (at least I think it was safe :).

Most importantly, though, they had an amazing gym, a movie theater (that showed first run movies), and even a pool to help pass the time "productively."  I was able to do three-a-day workouts, including morning and evening run/swims with some elliptical, lifting, and P90X spaced out in between the two every day.  I even got to see four movies, including Ocean's 8, Adrift, Action Point, and Breaking In.  We left right before I got to try a spin class, though, which made me sad (it took me a while to find out where and when the classes were :(  The pool was AMAZING!  Now, off to Iraq!