We are nearing the end of our trip therefore the end of our blog.  After being home a bit and reflecting we think we will send a summary and maybe some opinions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that seems to have no solution.  It pervades all conversation and thought here.  When we are at the airport they are so nice to us until they find out we have been in Gaza and West Bank.

Ask surgeon how things are going and he/she will say too busy or not busy enough.   Yesterday Marty and Mark had two major surgeries planed, complicated lower extremity revascularization for black toes(gangrene).  We had been having 10 hour days of surgery so we went to bed early and were well rested and ready to go.  But both cases were cancelled with the patient on the operating room table by the anesthesiologist for rapid atrial fibrillation(he said 160), without telling us, he just wheeled the patient out.    The chart and our fingers said the pulse was 80-90 and there are drugs to control the rate.  Apparently the counting of the anesthesiologist is the official count in Gaza and there was no recourse.   So next visit I am looking for an anesthesiologist, to join the team and you can tell him they rule here.

The patient’s family transports the patient’s and family has access to surgeons as they come right into the OR


We still managed to keep busy seeing consults and discussing cases oh and drinking a fair amount of thick black coffee and tea. It also allowed us to make contact with several other organizations including meeting with the International Red Cross.


We then went to a restaurant with Suhail overlooking the Mediterranean Sea that may have been the best seafood I have ever had.  The Israelis recently (after the November 2014 war) changed the distance Palestinians can go out to fish from 6 mi to 10 mi.  Calamari, shrimp, and fish.


Then back to hotel and the usual, Marty beating Mark in yet another game of cribbage.  He is 5-0.

Today is a different story.  The long sojourn back home started.  I am currently at the airport waiting for our redeye to the good ol’ USA.  We got up early and went to see our patients and the pulse was great.  Then the necessary evil of going through the WALL at the only checkpoint in and out of Gaza.  It was like a rat maze of Plexiglas, cement , and steel doors.  It is harder to get back to Israel than leave.  It went like this.  First there is a series of just passport checks on the Palestinian side.  Then its the long 500 meter at least walk through the steel cage to the doors.  The doors are several thick steel doors that open only when activated by someone, and we must go through one at a time.  Next we have to go though a plexiglass door into a plexiglass cage where we sit for a little bit and then exit.  Green lights tell you when to enter and exit.  There is an unseen voice that will “help” you, “a little right” of how to traverse it.  Next are the metal pipe revolving doors that lead to the luggage search then through an xray machine and airport type screen.  Finally another plexiglass cage where an official questions you and then to a waiting taxi.  I’m not making this up.


Since our flight doesn’t leave until 11 pm we decided to do something.  Our vote was the beach.  But we were advised to see the main sights, Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  We went to the Old Jerusalem (East Jerusalem)  probably the most religious and controversial site in the world.  Once is enough.  It is extremely important to all three monotheistic Abrahamic religions.  For the Muslims its the dome of the rock which we couldn’t see as its only for muslims today, for the Jews the western wall which is the remaining wall of the second Solomons temple where brave IDF forces were massacred centuries ago, and the church of th holy sepulchre for Christians.  Marty said this is where Jesus was buried but I thought he rose to heaven.  It was built-in the 4th century.  The spectacle was amazing with the most pious of all these faiths kissing various stones or prostrating, amongst tourists from Mississippi and Amsterdam, the ever-present Israeli military with their automatic weapons, ant then the street vendors selling you whatever you wanted, silver orthodox crosses, western crosses, jewish stars, and muslim moon.  East Jerusalem is a functioning city as well with the most narrow of cobblestone streets and very very old buildings.  But too many people.  I believe it is considered part of Palestine but clearly in complete control by Israel.

Church of the Holy sepulchre
The Holy Sepulchre. One of thw two holies sites for Christians
Western(wailing) Wall, the holiest site for Jews
Damascus entrance to Old Jerusalem
Wide streets in old Jerusalem


Store of spices in Old Jerusalem

We are now at the airport settling in to the time hop.  The PCRF has already asked us back so I have been taking notes as to a return trip and supplies, including an anesthesiologist, ask around, and a new assistant as Marty will be in the throes of his internship, as well as a supply of instruments like US, castros, geralds.  One cannot feel for the Palestinians but it is a complicated story that maybe in a few days I can shed a little light.  Is there a solution?  I think it behooves all Americans to become informed as to what is going on in the middle east as this cauldron of people, who are basically like us, is a potential for a devastating war.  And I must tell you they are all aghast here that we would even consider electing a narcissist like Donald Trump.  (Not a paid political ad)


We have to board soon



Suhail, our fearless organizer. The man who put together the whole trip. He lives in Gaza and started the organization with Steve all those years back.



2 thoughts on “Feast or Famine The long road home

  1. Just read all the posts after seeing the “letter to editor” article in Wausau Daily Herald. I have great respect for the Drs. Asplund to share their talent and intellect with the Palestinians and then also share with the world their experiences. Great job. And you’re pretty good writers, too!


    1. thank you for the feedback. Since I know you were and exchange student in Iran you will understand the final goal we had and importance for Americans to understand the middle east. peace


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