I woke up this morning already filled with the excitement of having our May Birthday celebration this afternoon, but surprise after surprise made today just one of those red letter days, when your on top of the wheel. When my alarm went off this morning I rolled out of bed and headed for the bathroom. I opened my door to find an enormous box there waiting for me. It was a care package from my mom. Forgetting the bathroom I climbed back in bed with the box and proceeded to tear into it like a crazed toddler. I was cheered into wakefulness by the site of fudge, snacks, toiletries, the Sex and the City DVDs I had ordered from Amazon plus tons of supplies for our upcoming pool party including a Frisbee, water guns, goggles and an inner tube.
My day considerably brightened, I got out of bed again, this time to check my email. HOSPITAL VISIT TODAY (!) was the newest email in my inbox. I quickly skimmed the message and learned that the Colonel of our 47th Combat Support Hospital (CASH) had stopped by the office that morning and alerted our team leader that there were several patients who could use a morale visit. Not wanting to disappoint, I flew to the shower, got ready and then hurried to the office by 2:00pm where I dropped off the fudge and snacks, checked in with my team leader who indicated he needed the car by 3:30pm and then I was off to the CASH.
I wasn't really nervous for my first hospital visit knowing I could rely on my extroverted social skills to take over, but I also had no idea where I was going or who to report to. The CASH has a very complex layout. It is essentially a confusing series of interconnected tents and buildings within the confines of concrete T-walls and sand bags. I ventured into the maze and with puppy-dog eyes approached the first confident looking military human being. Turns out I got a First Sergeant (who, if you're unaware, is one of the highest ranking enlisted servicemembers) who happily guided me through the hodge-podge to the desk of the Colonel who contact us earlier. Unfortunately, the Colonel had just gone to chow, so the First Sergeant basically took me to the ICW (Intermmediate Care Ward) where the patients were located, told the Commanding Office (XO) that I was okay to do morale visits and left me to it!
So! Semi-confidently I went into the Ward and noticed there were about 5 patients lying on various beds so I moved towards the first guy that made eye contact with me. He ended up being an extremely chatty fellow who was in serious need of some company and after talking with him for 20 min I felt relaxed enough to move among the patients. I started my conversation with all of them by asking if they wanted company, that way they could easily say no if there weren't feeling well. Everyone was surprisingly friendly and conversational. I met a girl who was my age, a mechanic in the army who loved the military and her job and told me about her difficulties with her family support and her fear of having children. I met another fellow who was an Army brat and had lived his childhood all over the world including New Zealand while his father supported the US military in Antarctica. There was also a very formidable looking patient behind a cloth screen who, when I entered, was being visited by an entourage of Iraqi police officers. They had brought an extravagant bouquet of flowers and I was dying to know his story, but since the screen implied he was of some importance and he spent most his timing bossing around the staff, I didn't think he really needed a visitor ;-)
At 3:20 I had to drag myself away from the last patient so I could get the car back to the office so Peter could deliver another million pounds of Starbucks coffee to a requesting unit. Back at the office I made the final rounds through our birthday supplies and at 4:50 Deb and Peter came to the office to load up the car. Deb and I proceeded to the DFAC where we met the Air Force fellows who had volunteered to help us and hawk the event to people coming into the DFAC. We spent about an hour setting up, decorating the room, organizing our raffle and giveaways. The event began at 6:30 and we had a good turn out. We sang, and did our raffle around 7:10 and by 7:30 the Air Force guys and I were playing keep away with the zillion balloons we blew up.
Then it was back to the office to work the final three hours of my shift and to top it all off, my girlfriends and I booked out trip to Puerto Rico in August. We found a great deal at the Ritz-Carlton so I'm headed to bed with dreams of aqua-marine waters and twinkling margarita glasses!