Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

The community celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday. Combined with Sunday, this weekend is the only two-day weekend this season. Other than this weekend, we work 6 days a week. So you can imagine the excitement around the community for this weekend.

The festivities began with a party Friday evening: Freezing Man, a parody of Burning Man. The event was held in the big gym. Partygoers were decorated with all manner of attire, costumes, body art, jewelry and hair adornments. One band after another took to the stage to amaze the audience with an incredible array of musical talents. There are about 900 persons on station now, about the population of a good sized high school. Yet we have 4 excellent bands from within our ranks.

The actual Thanksgiving Holiday feast was celebrated on Saturday. Three seatings were offered: 3 pm, 5 pm, and 7 pm. Everyone had to sign up for a seating. The medical department all signed up at 5 pm. The dining facility was transformed into a artistic display of culinary esthetics.

The diners arrived in their McMurdo finest attire. This evening's dinner and the Christmas dinner are the two times that people really dress up for a meal.

I volunteered to work in the galley from 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm to give the dining assistants a hand. This news will probably come as a shock to my wife who has yet to see me volunteer for kitchen duty. My job was carving tenderloins of beef as diners came by. Just an aside, doing dishes here is almost fun. You wear a cap, long apron, and humongous gloves. Water goes everywhere. The dishes are cleaned of food residue by hand then are sent through a long enclosed dishwasher via conveyor belt. Reminds me of a car wash. They come out the other end steaming hot, sanitized, and sparkling clean.

Sunday evening, from 6 pm to about midnight, I was to go with a group of twenty to Cape Evans and the ice caves. Cape Evans was a outpost for Robert F. Scott, the Antarctic explorer. He had a wooden hut on the Cape that today still has all the original contents, perfectly preserved. Whale blubber, penguin carcass, cans of food, and supplies all sit exactly where Scott and his team left them nearly one hundred years ago. No spoilage, no rusting, no change. When guided through his hut, one gets the impression that they must have just stepped out for a minute and will be back soon. The hut is catalogued, photographed, and monitored by the Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand) and is well described on their website.

The ice caves are natural formations. Sliding in on one's bottom, you arrive inside the cave. Light filters throught the ice giving a variety of colors from pure white to a gorgeous azure blue. Simple digital cameras such as mine are not capable of showing the dazzling display of colors and ice crystals in the caves. This is what I saw:

Friday, November 21, 2008

On A Slow Day

On a slow day in the clinic I inserted a nasopharyngeal airway into myself. Why? During our recent mass casualty incident training exercise, Barbie Brittel, PA-C explained that a NP airway could be used on an awake patient. She told us she knew a guy who demonstrated this ability on himself. We were amazed. The more I thought of it the more curious I became. So, I tried it.

Please do not try this on yourself. I am a highly trained medical professional. Likely, you are not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crew Swap

The medical department at McMurdo is made up of a group of fine civilians complemented by a flight surgeon (Richert), flight nurse (Sapp) and aeromedical evacuation technician (Ray) from the Air Force. Our first contingent of Air Force medical personnel arrived with Mainbody and just now returned to their base or home. These are a group of well trained professionals who brought a wealth of experience, training and knowledge to our staff. We enjoyed meeting them and getting to know them better. We shared a lot of laughs.

Now that they have returned home, we say "until we meet again" in the sincere hopes that we will indeed get to meet them again (hopefully not as a patient!).

Pictured are (left to right): Captain Tracey Sapp, USAF; Captain Greg Richert, USAF; Master Sergeant Jennifer Ray, ANG.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sea Ice Dance

The ice covering the Ross Sea is, at times, feet thick. It melts in the austral summer and goes out to sea, just to reform later. When the ice is thick it appears solid and immovable.

This video shows just how powerful are ocean tides. They lift the ice every day. Also, you might notice the periodic appearance of penguins and a seal. Click on the image of the sea ice above to be taken to the gallery showing a time lapse video showing the incredible movement, melt, and breakup of the ice. In the gallery are also two pictures of our nearby penguin friend, Oswald.

Penguin Cartoon

Matt Davidson is a guy working here at McMurdo. He has been here before and has returned for another season. Among his many other talents, he is also an accomplished cartoonist.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dinner at Scott Base

Our Radiology Technician, Air National Guard Aeromedical Evacution Technician, and I were fortunate to receive a dinner invitation to Scott Base last night. The facility is very nice and the food delicious. Our hostess, Sharron, was very gracious. Sharron is the medic on station. When her people need medical or dental care, x-rays, lab work or physical therapy Sharron brings them to us. We were able to get a couple of snapshots while visiting. One of these pictures here is of their sitting room, just of the main dining hall. It is a very nicely appointed room with a working gas fireplace and bookshelves filled with games and reading material. The person with me in the other photo is our hostess, Sharron.

Mount Erebus is visible from Scott Base. It is the southern most active volcano in the world. Inside its crater is a churning cauldron of lava. Occasionally it will spew a lava bomb. There is a website that shows live streaming video from Erebus, including the base of the cauldron where, when the conditions are right, you can see bubbling lava.

Change of Subject: When our patients come to see us, they fill out a little section of paper where they describe the reason for their visit. We get some creative answers. Some of my favorite are:
  • Sick
  • Ill
  • Under the weather
  • Hurt
  • Soar throat [sic]
  • Crud (or sometimes Krud)

I am not criticizing our patient's spelling. I just get a laugh out of the way they describe their reason for visiting the doctor. Maybe this is our fault. I wonder if it would work better to have a check box for the common symptoms. By the way, is Krud (with a capital "K") worse than regular old crud?