After some email traffic, and today's experiences, I feel that I need to make a correction. The description of OR5 from yesterday, and the earlier entry (Man Cave I) may provide an inappropriate illusion of comfort here in Sandland. These are examples of the ingenuity of some of my colleagues which has provided refuge, and solace in what otherwise amounts imposed confinement. There are efforts to enrich the experience, and provide minor conveniences. The reality, however, is that I am here, forbidden to leave our 10 square mile pile of dirt, away for my youngest son's first words, my eldest son's 9th birthday, and the other's entire first t-ball season. I am here expected to work as I did in my 5th of my 10yrs of post-graduate training, while my laboratory and practice sit in limbo. I knew all of this when I took the oath, and received my orders, but the worst part is that on days like today, I question the merits of the sacrifice.
I have commented that small patient volume and subsequent boredom roughly translates to less attacks by insurgents throughout Iraq, and thus, less injured soldiers. This is a likely correlative; so, in this way, boredom is a blessing. But boredom also breeds discontent (e.g. 'Idle time is the devil's workshop'), and, perhaps, a bit of overly aggressive introspection. After approximately a month here, you start to see the true colors of people you work with every day. Some remain vibrant, and cheerful, and allying yourself among these optimists, while keeping your mind at work, is of great value. Others are dark, miserably unhappy, self-interested and self-aggrandizing individuals. Sharing air with the latter has a profound effect on the psyche and is not counterbalanced by the former. [I would liken this imbalance to the far deeper amount of guilt felt after losing at the casino than the joy after winning equal amounts]. Such is the psychology in the communal human experience, I guess, but this is magnified when you cannot get away from people here... ...or on an island with no departing ferrys... ...or in prison.
I have daily interactions with an individual who edifies a particularly dangerous combination of attributes: arrogance, power, and incompetence. With a humble father, and a decade of post-graduate training filled with reminders of any slight deficiencies, I realized early the true virtue of humility. It should not amaze me that some people never make that discovery. They ascend their respective food chains, usually through attrition, and often avarice, and defeat the potential strength and symbiosis of the team they lead by ostensibly refusing to yield authority to make any single decision. They alienate themselves, fail to realize the attributes of their team members, and develop defensive postures which expand exponentially until they commit errors too egregious to be ignored, or suffer at the hands of a mutiny. I would prefer to let people like this live out their days ignorantly. But, in medicine, I egregious errors lead to death, and so, by virtue, one must intervene when it appears inevitable. This pending confrontation I see is unpleasant at best, but at its worst, in the context of confinement, isolation from family, and the reality of an eroding career 7000 miles away, misery.