Part II

The big E

February 18, 1988 (1531) Every day is just like the next – living in this cave, as I am. My music is pre-recorded. I have no semblance of time but for what my digital TIMEX desk clock says. My “Far Side” desk calendar tells me what day it is – when I can remember to turn the page. (Didn’t I already do that?) Even when I go outside, it’s still the same: sky and water, the occasional gray boat on the horizon or the slovenly super tanker. I am in a time capsule. My hair even defies time. How long has it been since I cut it? A day? Two months? It’s still shorter than ever. As Glenn Reed, my childhood friend, found out after he shaved his head in college in order to “go back to the start,” you don’t build on a wreck. But I’m not calling it quits yet. My hair will grow, and I will someday be off this ship…. although I really don’t believe that right now. I spent today sleeping and reading old newspapers from Louisville. My parents bought me a subscription. The papers arrive about two to three weeks late. But it was still a pleasure to read them. Escapism. Last night Russ Ashford (the VA-22 Intelligence Officer) and I watched videos of shows Adele had sent into the wee hours of the morning. It was great. There was no launching of aircraft. It was almost like being home in Hanford, California staying up late on a weekend. The “Fighter Doc” Flight Surgeon, Mike, is going to Diego Garcia tomorrow with a patient with a sore leg. Literally! The guy has nothing else wrong with him except for his sore leg. The irony is that this patient was initially seen by me about a week ago. I was unimpressed. The next day he saw Mike instead. That’s OK though. I really don’t like working up orthopedic problems – lot’s of opportunity for malingering to get out of work with orthopedic problems. Well, it seems to me that Mike really overreacted by admitting this patient to our hospital ward and then demanding that we get him off the ship ASAP. On the strength of Mike’s overreaction -and probably because Homer (Chief Medical Officer) wants to offer Mike an “olive branch” by agreeing with his diagnosis- Mike gets to go with the patient to Diego Garcia! And get this, Mike is pretending to be pissed off about it. I would love to get off this ship for a jaunt to Diego Garcia, but Mike acts like it is a real sacrifice on his part. Geez.

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Ironically, I have a patient I am following who I have diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder who really needs to get off the ship. My patient is going to the Philippines and Homer is sending a coprsman with him. Corpsmen, and enlisted guys in general, have a profound ability to miss flights and other opportunities to creatively get back on the ship. Our corpsman will be gone for weeks! I could have been back in a day. (1600) Finally the clocks constantly moving backward (i.e. gaining an hour or work day as we transit time zones going west) came through for me. Let me explain. I woke up today at noon. And being the slug that I am I remained in bed and finished watching the classic Ally Sheedy movie “Maid to Order.”

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It was over at 1300. Rats! I missed lunch… But no, unbeknownst to me the clocks had been set back one hour to conform to the new time zone. I am now TWELVE HOURS ahead of Spuds Time (PST). I am exactly one-half way around the world from Adele… and not hungry. Maybe it’s not such a bad day after all.

(1607) There’s “Gonzo” singing some song on the television. That can only mean one thing… We’re in Muppet land: GONZO STATION (Gulf of Oman Naval Zone of Operations)… Heaven help us.


February 19, 1988 (2334) Your pay record may be all screwed up. The showers may not work. But you can always count on one thing: the good old salt water toilet flush -every time.



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