Medics are an odd bunch. We’re that strange mix of brains and Braun that is required to work on the Line but also to reasonably diagnose and treat a wide range of injuries and illnesses from food poisoning to traumatic amputations. We’re trained to look for the signs of combat stress and the good medics are always watching their companies (batteries and troops) for anything that might affect them. It’s a very stressful job, and we tend to blow steam off in very odd ways. We’re also odd in that most of the things that make you say “aw sick dude” we tend to say; “DUDE! That’s so freaking sweet!” We get a damn good laugh at some of the insanely stupid stories you come up with to explain the bizarre gambit of injuries you somehow inflict upon yourselves (I have pictures so don’t try to deny it).
We love our guys to death. Ask a good medic what he wouldn’t do for their guys and you’d be hard pressed to find a limit to how far they’d go for you. Usually this love is mutual. A good medic is worth his weight in gold to a line company, and we pride ourselves on earning that title you bestow on us, “Doc”. There is just one thing you all should know when dealing with those good medics, that I ought to give you fair warning. Don’t EVER piss them off. To explain exactly what I mean I will tell you two little tales to explain just why it’s such a bad idea to piss off your medic.
First comes from one of the NCOs that instructed me way back when real men wore green and Iraq was just won (the first time). You see my instructors hated how terribly dull the Death by Powerpoint slides were and it would often piss them off that some of the privates would fall asleep. So they would tell stories. So one day we’re going through a series of slides describing some of the treatments of ingestion of poison, and one of the slides mentions that you should never give syrup of ipecac to a person who’s ingested an alkaline solution. This seems to be a great time for an aside so he stops the slide show and proceeds with his story.
“You’re probably never going to see ipecac anymore, but it used to be something we carried all the time. It was supposed to be given in the event of poisoning and certain other emergencies and would cause a person to vomit.” At this point I’m pretty sure some of us sniggered about the possibilities to prank one another. At this point one of the trainees asked if he had ever used it. He smiled and said “once”
He proceeded to explain that a few duty stations ago, he had been a medic tasked to cover the pre-Ranger training his brigade did. While he never went through Ranger School himself he pulled coverage on the candidates all the time. He didn’t have to stick to only two MREs a day or less, but it was frowned on if he had a ton of POGie bait sitting around so he would always have an orange and an apple in his FLA, and would eat one or the other while following road marches or waiting for the candidates to move from one area to another.
Well once he noticed a few days in that both the apple and the orange would keep disappearing. He was getting annoyed, and knew it wasn’t the other medic because he preferred bananas (which he’d have in a cargo pocket). After a week of his oranges and apples going MIA he decided he’d had just about enough of this shit. He took the syrup of ipecac, drew up 30 CCs in a syringe, and injected both the apple and orange with this miracle drug of super pranks.
Word of advice if you bite into something and it tastes like it has maple syrup in it but it shouldn’t, spit it out and do not swallow it. Turns out there were two would be Rangers that suddenly came down with a violent case of vomiting, and the FLA was called out to treat them. There were two sad sorry sacks who were on their hands and knees vomiting their brains out and their squad hovering around them completely clueless as to what might have caused them to up chuck till they had no chuck left then keep going. IVs were started, and as soon as they were in the back of the FLA away from the cadre my instructor tapped the two on the shoulder.
“Now I know that you stole my fruit,” he says. “I put something in it to make you vomit, so I know it was you guys that did it. You’ll keep dry heaving for the next half hour or so and will be pretty weak for the rest of the day but you’ll be fine by dinner. I won’t say anything to anyone, so long as you never ever steal my fruit again.”
Unfortunately for all those intrepid pranksters out there, you really can’t find this wonder anymore. Apparently people would ingest it and the vomiting would be so violent that it would cause other problems, among other things dehydration, and apparently some people would do Family Guyesque moments where idiots would chug it and see who vomited last.
The other situation was actually something I did. This happened on my first tour when I worked in the battalion aid station for the support battalion. Well I happened to be OpCon’d out to an infantry unit in my brigade. Out at this Podunk little FOB, there was this guy who would always hang out at the aid station, and always try to bum food off us (we had a little back door deal with the cooks). He would sit there watch our movies and complain about things we did. Really we couldn’t get rid of the SOB. Worst of all we did actually need him to upload commo, and keep us apprised of MEDEVACs in our AO, so we couldn’t just whack him upside the head. But slipping him something in his food. . . that’s a whole other story.
So one day said offender just left the aid station after cutting loose a truly atrocious fart, and I say something to the effect of “What I wouldn’t give to get him back.” At which point my very big brained socially awkward neurologist Doctor pipes up “well, you could always turn his urine blue”. Say what now? Turn his urine BLUE? Yes in fact there is a pill that is sued to turn one’s urine blue to aid in the diagnostic of kidney functions (side note, eating a lot of beats will turn it red, and a lot of asparagus will make your urine REALLY stink). The malicious grin that sprang to two young specialist’s faces were enough to make him realize he probably shouldn’t have said that. After two hours of pestering him he told us the name, and told us that only the Aid Station back on the main FOB would have it.
A week later, said pills came on a LOGPAC, along with a few choice DVDs, and a month’s worth of mail. Needless to say we took the liberty of consulting the Nurses Desk Reference to make sure we got the proper dosing. Sure enough Sgt [name removed] comes to the aid station intent on watching our Stargate SG-1 marathon all the while complaining about the lack of good food, and consequently raiding our food. When he got up to piss I delivered the crushed up pills to his drink, a pop top coke then pretend nothing has happened. Said coke was chugged, and I began grinning like an idiot.
The aid station didn’t have to wait long. Perhaps an hour and a half and two episodes later we hear a scream from the bathroom. The high pitched girlish scream you expect out of your little sister when she sees a spider. He comes tarring into the treatment room and screams
“MY PISS IS BLUE!”
Most people would have bust up laughing at this point. I managed to keep my cool, but I couldn’t help a grin.
“Blue you say?”
“Did I F**KING STUTTER? MY PISS WAS F**KING BLUE!!!” he screams at me.
“Gosh, that doesn’t sound good, let me get the Doc.”
I didn’t have to go far. The screaming in conjunction with the trampling in the aid station had alerted the NCOIC and the Doctor that something’s up. My partner was off doing something with our ambulance so he was a no-show. I intercepted my Doc in the hallway, while the NCOIC went in to figure out what the hell all the screaming was about. I asked my Doc to play along.
I couldn’t stay in the treatment room because I was laughing so hard, and my Doctor who had given me the idea, and now had the responsibility for carrying the prank just a little bit further was absolutely brilliant, in one stroke suggesting the hapless Sgt wasn’t getting enough PT and was probably eating too much food. I’m not sure what he gave him but that Sgt left the aid station with wide eyes, and he never broke wind in our aid station again. I might have been literally rolling on the floor laughing. I might also have had to do a LOT of push-ups, and would have gotten an Article 15 if my NCOIC at the time didn’t want that Sgt gone just as much as I did, and she thought (after a day or so) that it WAS pretty funny.
The moral of the story is this boys and girls; Medics are an odd bunch. We love you to death, but that does not mean that we won’t embarrass the hell out of you if you try to act up with us. Laugh along with us, and don’t give us a reason to dislike you. Also it kind of helps to have us on your side because we tend to have connections. Love us or hate us, you can’t live without us.