Monday, November 21, 2011

Comfort Camping

My weekend in the woods was excellent. It rained cats and dogs the first day, and part of the first night. After that it cleared and after the first two nights it warmed up as well. I am not used to using a tent in the field, so I was a little surprised at how much of a difference it makes, but I think I’m probably going to invest in a hammock with a rain screen for my future comfort camping trips.

I feel like St. Paul, knowing how to get by with a lot or a little. I’ve slept in a torrential downpour with nothing but the clothes on my back, and I’ve slept in big tents, little tents, cabins, apartments, houses, guest rooms, hotels, airplanes, Humvee seats, and even cars.

The main difference between tactical camping and comfort camping is how quickly you can pack up. With tactical camping you have to be ready to go in an instant, which means that you don’t unpack anything you don’t absolutely need, you don’t bring anything you don’t absolutely need, and you go where you have to, when you have to. With comfort camping you can take your time picking up and moving, so you can spread out a bit. You can pitch a tent, start a fire (no need to worry about it giving away your position. You can sit around that fire and chat with the guys, or read a book. It is a remnant of my tactical habits that I don’t like to go camping with more than I can put in one rucksack and walk out with. I guess what I like doing is backpacking. On this trip, though, I brought my 44 Kg kettlebell. I can throw it up on top of the ruck and walk the whole thing out if I need to, although it would be slow. However, I needed to keep up some kind of workout routine while I was out there. As it turned out I had time to use it more than once, and time to go on a couple of runs.

Most of the time we just sat around and read books or talked. I finished Dubay’s “Evidential Power of Beauty,” and Nelson Mandela’s Autobiography, as well as both of the Little House on the Prairie books I brought, and started “The Brothers Karamazov.” That’s going to be quite a while to get through. It’s 900 pages long, and it took me hours of steady work just to get through the first 100 pages or so. I usually average 80-100 pages an hour. Russians! But it is good. I am enjoying it slowly.

I also started “The Image of Beatrice” by Charles Williams, a contemporary of C.S.Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. I’ve read two of his novels (“Descent into Hell” was easily the most understandable and terrifying portrayal of hell I’ve ever read.) I’ve also read his “Outlines of Romantic Theology” which was both beautiful and demandingly coherent. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I’ve never read more of Dante than “Inferno” and from reading Williams I am inclined to believe I have never really even read that much. Thus far I am especially impressed by his blending of supernatural, mystical and even romantic awareness, with rigorous, clear sighted realism. He does what I aspire to do, seeing and knowing the world with every faculty of his being, heart and mind, body and soul. His distinction between the way of rejection and the way of affirmation as opposite but complementary aspects of the Christian life is also a brave thought. It was kind of an en-passant thing thus far, but it rises from his holistic awareness of creation. It is a concretization of ideas I’ve been working through recently, but too much to go into at the end of a casual blog post.

Man, books are just not as much fun without someone to talk them over with. The trouble is, no one around here reads the same books I do. You miss something when a book doesn’t go through you. People are like rivers. We are meant to take in good things but not to hold on to them. If they don’t move through us and flow on in blessings to other people they stagnate and die. Fortunately there are many, many ways for blessings to flow on.

We also had a few patients, myself and the other medics: sprains, strains, muscle and joint aches, and even a stick in the eye and FOOSH (Fall Over Outstretched Hand). A lot of ibuprophen, ice, ace wraps etc. A couple of ER transfers for x-rays. Nothing too spectacular. And of course, there are the feet. The never ending cycle of dirty feet after every event with blisters to be trimmed and dressed, nails to be cut, advice to be given, an occasional lecture about proper foot care. Really, if you maintain your feet properly you should never need to see a medic for them. I never have, although I have been gifted with very hard feet. On the other hand, I like doing foot care. It may sound strange, but I do. I like all aspects of patient care, but there is something about feet, hands and eyes that really appeals to me. I marvel at the amazing coolness of these structures. I also learned that I’m never going out to do med coverage again without my iris scissors. Trauma shears are just not the right tool for trimming blisters. As a matter of fact, once I get my whole minor surgical kit assembled, it is going to be my constant companion.

This is me and one of the other medics out in the field, chilling out. Someone got this with a cell phone while I was doing my morning bible reading and making oatmeal. Notice the product placement I am doing. SF soldiers use domino sugar.

Should I get paid for that?

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