M*A*S*H, Chagcharan style

I woke up this morning feeling better, until I tried to open my eyes, which I couldn’t. It’s an allergic reaction of some kind I’ve had before. I’ve never known what caused it and it’s usually gone away by itself. But not this time and this morning my head and face were so swollen up I resembled a puffer fish.

With some reluctance I decided to take others’ advice and go to see the PRT medics. I could have gone to the local hospital, which is supported by the PRT, but decided I’d be better off at the army base where someone would speak English. Unfounded thoughts of the desirability of clean needles were also in the back of my mind.

On a couple of occasions in the past, I’ve acted as escort for our female staff on visits to the PRT clinic, using my innate skills as a non-Afghan to get them past security. I’d been conscious then, as today, of taking liberties and our (nay, my) privileged position in relation to the rest of Chagcharan’s residents. But you take the best option open to you, right?

After a quick examination and barrage of questions by an army doctor from Georgia, I was taken into a room and told to sit down on the bed.

‘We give you two injections. One in your arm, one in your moscow.’

‘My Moscow?’

‘Your Moscow,’ he confirmed, pointing at his bottom.

I didn’t have time to ask about the meaning of this strange expression and its implied opinion of the Russian capital (or strange linguistic coincidence) from someone from a now independent country of the U.S.S.R. before the nurse made me undo my shalwa and lie down.

And concerns about when was the last time I’d washed were quickly replaced by my wondering if soldiers require particularly big and painful needles to be treated.

After several more doctors, disconcerting in their army fatigues rather than white coats, had dropped by to poke me in the eye and ask who the hell I was and what on earth was I doing living in town, I was led unsteadily to a small ward of five beds and told to rest.

A clean, comfortable bed in a cool room with a nurse gently wiping my brow with a damp cloth made me much happier that I’d come. After some qualms about wasting their time I was now glad to do as I was told and get some sleep, dozing off thinking I should have gotten ill before.

Later in the day the nurse returned, taking off her holster and throwing her side arms onto an empty bed. She missed, and they fell on the floor with a bang. She gave me five very large black pills and plugged me into an I.V. drip.

The drip, explained the doctor shortly afterwards by pointing to his genitals, was to help clear my body of toxins.

‘Toilet out there on the right’ he added.

By the middle of the afternoon the swelling hadn’t really gone down any and I was starting to think of the work I needed to finish and the deadline that had just been moved forwards by a few days, so reluctantly asked permission to be dismissed.

Eventually I was, and on the way out was handed two different sorts of tablets as a souvenir, the details written on them in Estonian or Polish it seems. The doctor told me how many to take of each, but I didn’t quite grasp his explanation of what exactly they are, or what other drugs I’d been given during the day.

Inadequately stumbling out my sincerest thanks to the doctor and nurse (Dankershun being the nearest language I could think of that she might know) I made my way back into town.

The swelling has now gone down just enough for me to type this, my face an inch away from the screen. So I must get back to work. But first I’m going to use Google to try and find out what the hell these tablets I’ve been given might be.


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9 Responses to “M*A*S*H, Chagcharan style”

  1. Peter Casier Says:

    Very funny!!! (ok.. let me rephrase it: it probably is not very funny sitting in the bush, being treated for an illness unknown, with medication unknown by a nurse carrying a firearm, but still it reads funny!).

    PS: my daughter had this once. it was a simple allergic reaction (to aspirine that one was). Have you eaten anything lately that you normally do not? Bitten by anything? Any known allergies?


  2. Frida Says:

    I’ve been in that medical tent, with my Afghan colleagues and always found it disconcerting to see them be treated by someone with whom they could not communicate. The control freak in me couldn’t stand that they were not being told exactly what they were being treated with and why. Turns out it didn’t bother them at all since no Afghan doctor had ever bothered explaining either.

    I have to confess I’m a little freaked out just reading about you taking needles and pills without full disclosure of what they were. But if they seem to be helping that’s a good thing. At least you got to lie down for a bit and have someone take a little care of you. I’m sorry I can’t be there to cook you a decent dinner at least.

  3. Frida Says:

    ps: can i use that phrase “my moscow”? i like it better than “my butt”

  4. ash Says:

    Moscow? Too funny!

    I have to say, this is a great example of how well you write. You’re very articulate and descriptive of your experience…as you are w/ others…but a fine example.

    Hope you keep feeling better.

  5. harryrud Says:

    Thanks all. Am glad it read as funny; it was supposed to be but I feel my sense of humour has recently gone a little more astray than usual so wasn’t sure. No idea what caused it, but did get the Doctor to write down all the things he pumped into me. Just in case I need to kick him in the moscow later on.

  6. PRT Doctor Says:

    How r u feeling now? Hope your allergy leaves you!!! If you’d like we invite you to our M*A*S*H again!! We’d like to see you again (with smiling face) and listen your funny jokes!
    Best wishes, PRT doctor

  7. harryrud Says:

    Wow, is that really my PRT doctor?! I don’t remember making any funny jokes but who knows. Excuse the liberty I have taken here, and thankyou very much indeed for your kindness and help. Am feeling much better now thanks. Stay safe in Chagcharan!

  8. PRT Doctor Says:

    We have lot fun, reading your post.. Everyone enjoy it!! your have pretty interesting points of view. Stay health with good feeling humor!

  9. Nurse Scrubs Says:

    It’s always good to find like-minded people. Thanx and I’m going to add you to my RSS feed.

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