Monday, August 29, 2011

Sharana General Hospital:

A day in the life of the intrepid officers and enlisted personnel who are serving the medical needs of the army, one overblown drama at a time

All characters in this production are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead is coincidental.

Cast of Characters:

Captain Lardman Clinic medical director by virtue of being most senor physician, not particularly competent, very lazy

Captain Fearce Other physician, sassy black lady, swears like a sailor, marginally better physician than Capt. Lardman

Captain Paynes PA, overeager and hyperactive, always hungry, has a heavy southern accent and stumbles over his words

Captain Bogan Brigade nurse and OIC of anything that isn’t being done by someone else. Overworked and underappreciated

Captain Moss Dentist, extremely sensitive, takes it personally whenever something goes wrong

Captain VinDiesel Physical therapist, tall muscular lady, has a creepy laugh that can be heard while she tortures her patients

Captain Smokes Psychologist, fires finger guns at people at random times, does not listen to anything they say

Captain Gunderson Company commander, has a creepy smile. (This is not a speaking part)

Lieutenant Corn Clinic OIC. Frequently seen stumbling around with a bewildered look on her face.

Captain Caca Brigade surgeon. She is high strung and nervous, seems to always be on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Various medics Played by lobotomized mental patients. Most lines are meaningless gibberish

Act I

Setting: Sharana MTF, in the Doc Cave. The three providers and Cpt. Bogan are sitting at their desks. Cpt. Lardman has his feet on the desk and is staring at his computer screen with headphones on, apparently watching a movie. Cpt. Fearce is on the phone, swearing profusely and waving her finger back and forth in front of her face. Cpt. Paynes is reading a medical journal and polishing his bald head with head wax. Cpt. Bogan is typing furiously on her computer, muttering under her breath.

Enter Private Bolero, a medic, who stands at the door with his hands in his pockets

Private Bolero: Hey, uh, guys, there’s a person in the lobby.

Pvt. Bolero starts t to walk away

Cpt. Fearce Putting down phone @#$%&, I know you didn’t just give us that @#$%& message and then just walk away. Get your @#$%& back here. As she says this she makes a Z in front of her face and snaps her fingers at each corner

Pvt. Bolero shuffles back to the door and stands with his hands in his pockets, slouching

Cpt. Paynes Putting down a chicken bone and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand Now boy, you git back out there and ask him what it is the @#$%& he wants. Now move along, boy, ‘fore I take a switch to your hide.

Cpt. Lardman Taking off his headphones Did someone say something? When there’s no answer he shrugs and goes back to watching his movie

Enter Private Doobie, another medic, who is carrying a clipboard with an SF600 on it

Pvt. Doobie Uh, I have a patient. The providers ignore him. Cpt. Fearce continues to talk on the phone, swearing loudly and gesturing. Ahem. I have a patient. Uh, he’s a guy, and he’s been, uh, coughing. Uh, his mom has a history of some kind of plasia I think. And, uh, his eye hurts. He waits expectantly

Cpt. Paynes Puts down a Cliff bar and wipes his hands on his pants Well, boy, how old is he? Is he a soldier?

Pvt. Doobie Uh…

Cpt. Paynes What do his breathering sound like? I mean, when he’s takin’ a breather, what are the noises ya’ hear?

Pvt. Doobie Uh…

Cpt. Fearce Putting down the phone Were his pupils reactive? Don’t you bring your white cracker @#$%& in this @#$%& room without doing some kind of physical. You tell me his @#$%& eye hurts you better tell me you did a @#$%& eye exam.

Pvt. Boobie Uh…

Cpt. Lardman Taking off his headphones You know, there was a study done by, um, Dr. Barnes and, um, Dr. Noble, I think, where they studied eyes in rats with lung cancer and found that… Cpt. Lardman continues to drone on, obviously making up everything he says, while everyone else ignores him

Cpt. Paynes Now boy, ya’ gotta listen up here. When a guy’s got a problem with his breathering ya’ need to take a good listening. And if he tells ya’ that his eye hurts ya gotta take a gander. Now git back there and do some lookin’ and listenin’. And here’s a book to help. Gives him a thick physical exam book Now don’t you come back in here lessen ya’ done did everything in that there book.

Pvt. Doobie shuffles off

Cpt. Fearce Rolling her eyes @#$%& medics.

Cpt. Lardman, realizing no one is paying attention to him, goes back to watching his movie.

Cpt. Paynes opens another Cliff bar and starts to eat noisily.

Pvt. Bolero Standing in the doorway slouching with his hands in his pockets Uh, the guy is here to see Captain Bogan about the toilets in the men’s room. Um, I think they’re clogged or something. Shuffles away

Cpt. Bogan Slamming her hand down on her desk WHAT?! Why am I still the toilet OIC? I told Captain Gunderson two weeks ago that the toilet OIC slot is only supposed to be filled by an O-3 74 zulu. He needs to get a combat plumber to do that job because I am not doing this anymore. As she speaks her voice gets louder and more shrill.

Cpt. Lardman Taking off his headphones Need some help? Not waiting for an answer and putting his headphones back on All right. If you need anything let me know.

Cpt. Bogan Grabbing a plunger from the corner behind her [Sarcastically]That’s fine. I don’t mind doing it. It’s not like I have other responsibilities. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like this job and all, but I’m a nurse, not a plumber. Looks around, realizes no one is listening, and stomps out of the room with the plunger

Pvt. Doobie Shuffling to the doorway Uh, I have a patient to present. Uh, he is a 23 year-old active duty male complaining of two days of runny nose and cough. He also has some left eye irritation and drainage. The coughing started… Gives a detailed and very professional presentation of a patient with a mild upper respiratory infection and conjunctivitis.

Cpt. Lardman puts his feet down from his desk, takes his headphones off, and pretends to be busy

Cpt. Fearce Waving her index finger in front of her face @#$%&, did you look in his @#$%& eyes this time? Did he have an afferent pupillary defect or an efferent pupillary defect? Speak up, @#$%&.

Pvt. Doobie Uh…

Cpt. Paynes If it’s all right with you all, I think ah’ll take this one.

Cpt. Lardman Trying to look busy Yeah, I guess you can take this one.

Cpt. Paynes wipes his hands on the physical exam book he’s reading and runs out of the room

Cpt. Lardman Sighing That was a close one. Puts his feet up and starts watching his movie again

Fade to black

End of Act I

Act II

Setting Front lobby of the MTF. There are fifteen or twenty soldiers lounging in chairs around the lobby. There are five soldiers lined up in front of the desk clerk waiting to be checked in. Pvt. Bolero, the desk clerk, is on his Facebook page and is ignoring the patients who need to check in. Through the door to the physical therapy room Cpt. VinDiesel is visible putting her knee in the back of a patient while she pulls back on his head. He is making gurgling, choking sounds.

Cpt. Moss enters and walks to the door of the dentist office, where he stops and stares in dismay

Cpt. Moss To no one in particular [In heavy New York accent] Why isn’t the light on? It’s nine o’clock, which is when I’m supposed to start seeing patients. How am I supposed to see patients with the light off? I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I specifically requested to Captain Flake two weeks ago that he ensure that my light is on every day by nine o’clock. So why isn’t it on? All I want to do is to see patients. I just want to serve the soldiers. And yet there is no light on. How is this possible?

Cpt. VinDiesel lets go of her patient, who collapses to the floor and moans. She walks to Cpt. Moss’s office and turns on his light, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

Cpt. VinDiesel To Cpt. Moss Frances, you could just turn on the light yourself, you know. [Laughing] Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck.

Cpt. Moss I’m sorry, where is it written that this is my job? Tell me where in army regulation does it state that dentists turn on their own light? Yes, I could do it myself. I do have the knowledge and skills to do this thing. But there is a person who is supposed to be assigned to do this. And he’s not doing it. So what is he getting paid for? What is his function?

Cpt. VinDiesel Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck, are you sure you told Cpt. Flake to have your light turned on?

Cpt. Moss Yes, I’m sure, I told him three times in three different ways. I put a sticky note on his bedroom door two weeks ago. It was bright yellow. It is not possible that he didn’t see it. It said quite clearly, “Lights by 0900.” It is not possible that he did not understand my message. Is there some other light on post that needs to be turned on by 0900 every morning? Where are all these dark lights that are so confusing to Cpt. Flake that he doesn’t realize that it’s my light that needs to be turned on? Then two days ago in the chow hall I saw him across the room, and I shouted “Lights?” and he nodded.

Cpt. VinDiesel I hate to say it, but I’m not sure that was a very clear message. I might have misunderstood it too. Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck.

Cpt. Moss For the sake of argument, maybe he misunderstood my first two messages. Only a schmuck would misunderstand what I was saying, but for the sake of argument, let’s just imagine he misunderstood. Yesterday I sent him an email saying, “I need lights in the dental clinic by 0900 tomorrow.”

Lt. Corn, stumbling past with a bewildered look on her face, stops and hears part of the conversation

Lt. Corn Uh, sir, Cpt. Flake stopped by this morning and checked all the lights in the clinic. He turned them all on and off a couple of times and they were all working.

Cpt. Moss He checked to see if they were working? I could do that myself. I’m a dentist; I know how to turn lights on and off. Does he think I’m incapable of turning lights on and off? Now he’s treating me like I’m stupid. Where’s the respect?

Lt. Corn stumbles away, looking bewildered and confused

Cpt. VinDiesel Walks back to her room, shaking her head and chuckling to herself Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck

Cpt. Gunderson enters the MTF and begins to wander aimlessly around the lobby.

Cpt. Bogan enters the lobby from the back of the MTF. She is carrying a plunger that’s dripping brown water on the floor

Cpt. Bogan Cpt. Gunderson! I need to talk to you right now!

Cpt. Gunderson continues to walk aimlessly around the lobby.

Cpt. Bogan Standing directly in front of Cpt. Gunderson so that he has to stop Cpt. Gunderson, I told you two weeks ago that you need to get someone else to be the toilet OIC. Have you found someone yet?

A soldier crawls out of Cpt. VinDiesel’s room, moaning “I can’t feel my legs. I can’t feel my legs.”

Cpt. VinDiesel To the crawling soldier You need to follow up tomorrow for more range of motion exercises. Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck. Turns and walks back into her room, and a moment later there is a scream followed by another Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck.

Cpt. Gunderson stares at Cpt. Bogan, his eyes slowly getting bigger and his smile widening.

Cpt. Bogan Voice starting to rise and get more shrill Cpt. Gunderson, look right behind you. There’s a combat plumber sleeping in that chair Gestures to a soldier sleeping in a chair with his hat over his eyes and his feet up on the chair in front of him All you have to do is walk over and tell him that he’s the toilet OIC.

Cpt. Gunderson continues to stare blankly at Cpt. Bogan with wide eyes and a big smile

Cpt. Bogan Cpt. Gunderson, he was supposed to be the toilet OIC. Gestures with the plunger, flinging brown water everywhere That’s why he was deployed here. Just tell him he’s the OIC.

Cpt. Gunderson continues to stare blankly at Cpt. Bogan with wide eyes and a big smile

Cpt. Bogan Getting more frantic and shrill Cpt. Gunderson, look, you don’t even have to…

Cpt. Gunderson Ha, ha, ha. Continues to stare blankly at Cpt. Bogan with wide eyes and a big smile

Cpt. Bogan Losing her train of thought Why did you laugh? What was funny? I was trying to tell you that you don’t even have to walk over there. I’ll walk over there and tell him myself. Just nod your head “yes” and I’ll do everything. Can I go tell him he’s the toilet OIC?

Cpt. Gunderson turns to the side and starts wandering aimlessly around the lobby again.

Cpt. Bogan drops the plunger and begins to shake and hyperventilate.

Cpt. Smokes strolls into the room smiling and firing finger pistols at everyone he makes eye contact with

Cpt. Smokes Walks up to the trembling Cpt. Bogan, winks, and fires double finger pistols at her What’s up, champ? You look stressed. You need to talk?

Cpt. Bogan Gasping between each word I just *gasp* don’t know *gasp* how much *gasp* more of this *gasp* I can take *gasp*.

Cpt. Smokes Winks, fires a finger pistol, spins around, and fires a pistol behind his back and under his leg That’s rough, babe. Take it easy. Stop by anytime. I’m here to help.

Another soldier crawls out of Cpt. VinDiesel’s office, dragging a leg behind him and whimpering “please no more.”

Cpt. VinDiesel To crawling soldier You’ll be fine. Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck. Make sure to come back tomorrow for more range of motion.

Cpt. Moss steps out of his room to say something but is interrupted by Lt. Corn who stumbles past looking confused and bewildered. She brushes against him and keeps walking.

Cpt. Moss [Angrily]Lt. Corn, is that how you treat superior officers? Points to the ground in front of him Stand at attention right here in front of me. No, not over there, right here. Continues to point angrily at a spot about two feet in front of him

Cpt. Moss and Lt. Corn maneuver in front of each other, Cpt. Moss getting more and more angry and Lt. Corn getting more and more confused, still not sure whether Cpt. Moss is joking.

Cpt. Moss Throwing his hands in the air Where’s the respect? I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Aye, aye, aye. @#$%& my life.

Cpt. Bogan I just *gasp* don’t know *gasp* how much *gasp* more of this *gasp* I can take *gasp*.

Cpt. VinDiesel Walks out of her room with a soldier draped unconscious over her shoulders and tosses him on the floor Hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck.

Fade to black

End of Act II


Setting Back in the Doc Cave, Cpt. Lardman is still watching a movie with his feet up on the desk and his headphones on. Cpt. Fearce is swearing to herself while she fixes AHLTA notes. Cpt. Paynes is rubbing his belly contentedly while he watches a video of a televangelist on his computer. Cpt. Bogan is typing furiously on her computer.

Cpt. Lardman closes his eyes, grunts, and noisily passes gas

Cpt. Paynes Now boy, Ah know it was you this time. You just cannot tell me that it weren’t your stinky rear end makin’ all the ruckus. And boy howdy do it smell in here now. It smells worse than a peck o’ dead possums in high summer.

Cpt. Lardman Looking insulted Why is it that every time there’s a sound that comes from my direction you assumes it’s me? There are a lot of things that could have made that sound. My chair might have squeaked or something

Cpt. Fearce @#$%&, why did you close your @#$%& eyes and grunt right before your “chair squeaked?” Don’t give us that @#$%& about ”My chair might have squeaked or something.” [tries to do an imitation of Cpt. Lardman, but can only manage to do an Indian accent]

Cpt Lardman rolls his eyes, sighs, and goes back to watching his movie

Cpt. Caca bursts into the room and begins to pace back and forth. Her hair is sticking out and her eyes are bloodshot

Cpt. Caca I just... I just can’t… I’m surrounded by… Do you know what they did this morning?

Cpt. Bogan Stopping her typing and looking up *Sigh* What did they do now, Cpt. Caca?

Cpt. Caca Still pacing The brigade commander this morning asked why the medics don’t carry bone saws for field amputations. Starts fanning her face with her hands I told him that had to be done in the FST by an orthopedic surgeon. Then he asked whether it would be harder to get thirty more orthopedic surgeons or to get all of our medics trained to do field amputations. She is now pacing and fanning her face at the same time.

Cpt. Paynes Lardman, I know ya done make that stink this time. Just own up to it like a man.

Cpt. Lardman Raising his voice I am not the only person in this clinic who passes gas. You cannot tell me that you have never passed gas in here, Paynes. When you can tell me that you have never passed gas, you can start accusing me of passing gas every time you smell something funky in here.

Cpt. Fearce Rolling her eyes Stinky @#$%& crackers

Cpt. Caca And then, when I went back to my office there was a leg on my desk. A LEG!!! It was covered with blood and teeth marks. When I screamed down the hall to ask who the @#$%& put it there, the brigade S1 walked by and said he found it outside the chow hall and figured I’d know what to do with it because I’m the brigade surgeon.

Cpt. Fearce Waving her finger in front of her face Sister, he did NOT say that to you.

Cpt. Caca Stops her pacing and addresses Cpt. Lardman Did you review that updated SOP I sent you about tracking ANA’s through the MTF?

Cpt. Lardman Sits up and takes off his headphones Um, yeah, the thing is, uh, I started to read it and, uh… Starts rifling through the pile of papers on his desk What I wanted to know is, uh, you know when you said “ANA”? What does the N stand for?

Cpt. Caca Speaking through gritted teeth It stands for “national”. The acronym is Afghan National Army. Did you read the SOP or not?

Cpt. Lardman Yeah. That actually makes a lot more sense. I was thinking it was short for ANAL or something. The thing is, well, uh, you know how you said “SOP”? Well, what does the P stand for?

Cpt. Caca Grabbing her hair and pulling on it, then speaking through clenched teeth It stands for Procedure. The acronym is Standard Operating Procedure. Look, Cpt. Lardman, just read through it and tell me if you need me to make any changes.

Cpt. Lardman Right. Um, did you mail that to me, or did you fax it to me? I’m not seeing it here.

Cpt. Caca grinds her teeth so hard they start to break, her eyes start to bleed. She turns and punches Pvt. Doobie, who has been standing in the doorway, in the stomach, and storms out

Cpt. Lardman shrugs, puts his headphones back on, and starts watching his movie again

Pvt. Doobie catches his breath and stands up, holding a clipboard with an SF600 on it

Pvt. Doobie Uh, I have a patient to present All of the providers ignore him [Nervously] Uh, he’s a 27 year-old DA civilian with infam…, inmatation..., inflation…, inflamatation…

Cpt. Fearce Wait, @#$%&, did you just say “inflamatation”? Ha! Ha! Ha! What the @#$%& is “inflamatation”?

Pvt. Doobie Getting more nervous I mean, uh, inflammation. He has inflammation…

Cpt. Fearce @#$%&, you just said “Inflamatation”. I never heard something so @#$%& ridiculous. Lardman, did you hear that? He said “inflamatation”.

Cpt. Lardman Taking off his headphones Huh? Did you say something?

Cpt. Fearce Laughing more loudly now Hey Paynes, did you hear this knucklehead? He said “inflamatation.”

Cpt. Paynes Laughing and slapping his knee Well now, boy, I never did hear such a word in all my life. Who learned you to talk like that?

Pvt. Doobie starts to cry and covers his face with his hands

The three providers are laughing so hard that Cpt. Paynes falls off his chair and Cpt. Lardman wets his pants. Cpt. Fearce is choking and gasping for breath. They continue to laugh until Pvt. Doobie runs away

The providers slowly stop laughing and Cpt. Lardman wipes a tear from his eye

Cpt. Lardman Ah, medics. Always good for a laugh.

Fade to Black

End of Act III

Some notes about the above production

First of all, I am very fond of all the people that the above characters are based on. This wasn’t meant to be mean, but to highlight some quirky behavior that many of my friends here exhibit.

I am not actually very lazy or incompetent. I portrayed my character like that so that people wouldn’t think I was just picking on other people. I do watch movies on my computer sometimes during sick call when things are slow. I also frequently have arguments with Cpt. Baynes (Paynes in the play) about whether I passed gas. As in the play, I always deny it. The conversation in the play is almost word-for-word what Baynes and I have said to each other.

Captain Pearce (Fearce in the play) is half black, which I didn’t know until several days after I met her. She has no habits or mannerisms that would be considered stereotypical of blacks. The joke in the play is that she’s acting like a caricature of a black person, which she actually doesn’t in real life. She does swear a lot, though. There’s an ongoing joke between us that every time she tries to do an imitation of someone it sounds like she’s doing an Indian accent.

Captain Baynes (Paynes) is very friendly and energetic. He speaks with a heavy southern accent and does sometimes get complex words a little confused. He is always trying to get the medics to do more on the physical exams.

Captain Cogan (Bogan) is the brigade nurse, and she is a very hard worker. When we first got here in theater she was put in charge of several things that weren’t really her job. The best example, and what most of her dialogue is based on, was her position as OIC (officer in charge) of the pharmacy. After being put in charge of the pharmacy she found out that the pharmacy OIC is supposed to be a doctor. She notified our company commander (Cpt. Anderson, or Gunderson in the play) that he needed to choose someone else to be the pharmacy OIC. All he had to do was send an email to one of the doctors (myself or Cpt. Pearce) stating that one of us was the new OIC. For some reason it took him almost a month to do it, during which time Cpt. Cogan became increasingly frustrated with him.

Captain Anderson (Gunderson) our company commander is a congenial, friendly guy, but tends to be kind of lackadaisical about getting things done in the company. He has an odd habit of smiling at people with his eyes really wide when he’s talking. He has another habit of randomly laughing while people are talking to him. He’s never done that while I was talking to him, but other people have reported it.

Captain Giesel (VinDiesel) is our physical therapist. She is tall for a lady (5’10”) and distinctly strong and athletic. She is pretty aggressive with the physical manipulation, and I’ve heard people groan while she’s manipulating their back or limbs. As far as I know she has never crippled anyone. She has a very distinctive laugh, which is more of a “hnee, hnee, hnee” than a “hnyuck, hnyuck, hnyuck.” It’s so distinctive and loud that once in the crowded chow hall I stood still and listened for a moment until I heard her and followed the sound to the table where our group of friends was sitting.

Captain Gross (Moss) is our dentist. He’s very smart, and a very hardworking dentist, but he has a tendency to take everything personally. The incident of the light not being on is a parody of his ongoing frustration with Cpt. Blake (Flake in the play), who wouldn’t fix a piece of dental equipment. After one piece finally completely stopped working he refused to see any more patients, stating that he had to teach everyone a lesson. He admitted that he could get the equipment working again himself, but he was so mad about it not being fixed that he refused to work until it was done. We all agreed that he probably wasn’t behaving in the most productive manner.

Captain Stokes (Smokes) is our psychologist. He talks to everyone in an overly-friendly, buoyant manner, and really does wink and fire finger pistols at people.

Lieutenant Horn (Corn) is our clinic OIC. She basically runs the day-to-day operations of the clinic. She is pretty competent, but she’s new in the position and is often confused by the shenanigans of the people who work here. The other day she did something disrespectful (unintentionally, I’m sure) to Cpt. Gross, who got very upset and made her stand at attention in front of him so he could chew her out. Witnesses (specifically Cpt. Baynes) say she was very confused, thinking at first that Cpt. Gross was joking.

Captain Baca (Caca) is our brigade surgeon. She comes down to talk to us a couple of times a week, and frequently vents her frustration with the brigade leadership, who cannot grasp simple medical concepts. The incident with the leg is only slightly exaggerated. She came to her office one morning and found her garbage can full of bloody rags. Apparently there’d been an accident involving some bleeding, and when it was cleaned up they put it in her garbage can because she’s the brigade surgeon and would know what to do with the mess. She was absolutely livid about it. So you understand, Cpt. Baca is a doctor, but her position as a brigade surgeon is purely administrative. She does not see patients, and she has nothing to do with direct patient care. Her office is certainly not a place to put spare body parts. In terms of my interactions with her, she has always been very nice to me, but I think she sometimes gets tired of how little I understand about the how the military works. She speaks in heavy acronym-ese, which is often hard for me to follow.

The medics we work with are quite proficient for the most part. When we first got here and they started doing patient screening and basic screening exams, they were abysmally incomplete, and when they came to present patients to us they were pretty much as Pvt. Doobie (based on a generalization of all of the medics, not on anyone in particular) did it in Act I. Since then their exams and presentations have improved a lot. Pvt. Bolero in the play is loosely based on Pvt. Cordero, who is our desk clerk, and still tries to give us messages like he did in the play. They are completely useless messages, and we always have to send him back to find out who the person is, what they want, which of us the person wants to talk to, etc.

The incident with the medic saying “inflamatation” is real, though a bit exaggerated. We weren’t mean to the medic, and even though we laughed a bit, it was with her, not at her. It’s still one of Cpt. Pearce’s favorite jokes.


Since I wrote this I forwarded it to everyone parodied in the play. It has been universally appreciated. Last night I could hear Cpt. Giesel’s loud, distinctive laugh through the concrete walls of our building for almost two hours. This morning when I came in to work the medics were standing outside of our office wondering why Cpt. Pearce was laughing so hard that she was choking. Cpt. Baynes has started using lines from the play in his conversation (he asked a medic what a patient’s “breathering” sounded like). They are now demanding a Part II, which may or may not happen.

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