Star CityNovember 22, 2013
This marks my first blog on the VG website. I have done some travel blogging in the past for Healthline 2006-2010 about emergency medicine and wilderness medicine experiences (http://www.healthline.com/blogs/emergency_room/) and about Haiti after the Jan 2010 earthquake where I initially worked (http://gazingattheflag.blogspot.com/2010/01/face-of-freedom-dr-anil-menon-oregon.html). I’m excited to help and write with VG because it supports a mission that I believe in, and a mission that will benefit all who participate. My goal is to share some of the exciting destinations and activities that benefit our global community and also help foster growth in me.
This summer, I flew to Moscow with NASA to serve as a physician and help our space program interface with ROSCOSMOS. Together we are launching multinational crew members to ISS 6-month rotations. My background in wilderness medicine and aerospace medicine helped me add value to our operations by treating ill and injured people in Russia as well as working with the Russian doctors to make sure that our joint operations were running smoothly from a medical perspective.
For 3 months I stayed in a comfortable room next to the NASA office in Russia which also doubled as my clinic. It was located in Star City, outside of Moscow by a 1 hour train ride. Cosmonaut training for over 50 years had been accomplished there and the history was palpable as I walked around our training grounds. Though the grounds were covered in trees and foliage, the old centrifuge was visible, the statues to Yuri Gagarin where current parades take place, and the housing that held those famous engineers.
Language is certainly the key to understanding different people and cultures so I continued to study each day even if it was disheartening at times. No less that 3 months later, I could barely accomplish a basic conversation with my barber. It did make travel to Moscow easier, where on the weekends I had the opportunity to visit museums, restaurants, and old palaces. Though most of my time was spent in Star City it was interesting to put that work in the broader context of Russian history.
When I work at the large ERs in Houston, it seems that every day is an emergency. I am relieved to say that I didn’t encounter an emergency in Star City. "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best", as they say.