When a moose and mouse play hide-and-seek you never know where they may end up.
Recently “Mudgy & Millie,” the book by Coeur d’Alene children’s author Susan Nipp, made it all the way to a children’s ward in a military hospital in Afghanistan.
Air Force Col. Erik J. Nelson, an anesthesiologist and the son of Kay and JoAnn Nelson of Coeur d’Alene, recently shared the book with a couple of young patients at Craig Joint Theater Hospital where he is serving.
He writes to his parents: “There were two Afghani children I read to. Two of our CRNAs helped me organize the kids and took pictures. We found an interpreter for the children. It was interesting that the children spoke different languages – one Pashtun and one Farsi. There are up to 30 different languages spoken in Afghanistan. Another cool fact is that our interpreter was a general in the Afghan Special Forces and is now a Political Advisor.
“The one boy was very shy but the other, who I knew from several surgeries, warmed right up and had a fun time. The idea of a moose in the woods of Idaho having adventures with his friend mouse in Coeur d'Alene was foreign to them but they liked the pictures. The boy with all the smiles wanted the book and the stuffed moose so he has them and I saw him playing with it on ward rounds this morning.”
The boy, Muzamil Modaser, is in the hospital where he received multiple operations for a brain abscess and is recovering before returning with his father to their village.
Erik Nelson grew up in Coeur d’Alene and graduated as a valedictorian at Coeur d’Alene High School. He completed a chemical engineering degree at the University of Idaho before he went to medical school. He is deployed from Wright Patterson Medical Center where he serves as Director of Medical Education for the Graduate Medical Education programs.
He is Chief of Anesthesia Services at Craig Joint Theater Hospital.
“We provide anesthesia services in support of surgeries for U.S. service members, coalition forces and select local Afghan nationals,” Nelson said.
He notes the hospital is named in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig, 28 of Severn, Md., who died on June 21, 2006, in Naray, Afghanistan. Craig was a combat medic assigned to the 159th Air Ambulance Medical Company. He was killed when his UH-60 helicopter hoist malfunctioned while attempting to medically evacuate Pfc. Bradbury during combat operations.
Erik’s mother is an active volunteer for the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation, in support of which “Mudgy & Millie was created. Nipp’s book, with illustrations by Charles Reasoner, tells the story of Mudgy the moose and Millie the mouse playing hide-and-seek in and around downtown Coeur d’Alene. Nipp has signed over all her royalties from the sale of the book and “Mudgy & Millie” merchandise to the foundation.
The “Mudgy Trail,” was established in Coeur d’Alene with the cooperation of the City Parks Department and follows the route used by the characters in the story. Five nearly lifesize bronze statues were created by local wildlife artist Terry Lee and were installed along the trail in cooperation with the Coeur d’Alene Arts Commission.
News about the library and other city departments is also available on the City of Coeur d’Alene news blog: http://cdacity.blogspot.com/.