What a relief.
I did have to wait for what felt like an eternity at the visa counter in Najaf however. An hour can feel that way after a few days of airplanes, airports, and hotels. But I made it with a little assistance from my local contact. The same local contact provided me with a wild ride to our guesthouse…very glad that there were seatbelts in the car; I think we narrowly avoided three accidents during what couldn’t have been more than a fifteen-minute drive.
I arrived to find our beloved surgeon at our guesthouse, prior to heading into the hospital for the day, smoking a cigar and playing video games. He provided me with a synopsis of our trip so far and also a run down of how the last trip, Nasiriya , went just a few weeks ago. Also got an update on the whole Iraqi program and what the goals are for each site. So far, things seem to running quite smoothly here. We have a four bed ICU and most of the children have done well in the OR and been quickly extubated and sent to the floor. The TGA that was operated on yesterday apparently looks great and will be extubated today. This child had the fourth arterial switch ever performed in this country. The previous three have been performed by our team over this and the last trip.
After my briefing, the night crew arrived home and I got to meet my nursing counterparts from Washington D.C. and Australia, as well as a German intensivist. I am generally bad with names but the fact that I am here with two other nurses named Christine should make things at least a bit easier to remember. We ate breakfast together and then had a quick drink and visit before we all went to bed. I wasn’t anticipating sleeping all day but I didn’t wake up until my roommate started getting ready to go in for her shift. They all just left the guesthouse a bit ago and I am here waiting for day shift to return home. I’m excited to see my old friend Pasha (Pavel, Habibi…) my Belarusian intensivist friend, and Frank, a remarkable nurse educator originally from London. And then there are the new faces to be introduced to as well.
Not sure just yet when my first shift at the hospital will be, though I suspect it will be either in the morning or tomorrow night. So for now, time to relax and rest up for what will hopefully be an uneventful trip.