Monday, June 18, 2018

Baby it's cold outside....

My apologies in advance for the formatting...there are gremlins in the system I believe...I've tried several times to correct the spacing and it made teeny tiny we're just going to have to live with this version....
Well, another week into the contract and past the half way point now (that is if I leave on the scheduled date – haven’t heard anything on the extension as the manager is away with labour relations) as it’s been over four weeks since I said goodbye to the kitties in the middle of the night. From this point on, the time will move even more quickly…if that’s even possible….

I’ve been minding the distance this past week as my youngest daughter’s 57 year old mother in law who was only diagnosed five weeks ago with advanced lung cancer, was palliative and then passed away. She was a kind, giving person who loved her family fiercely, handled her fate bravely, left much too young and gave back to her community, so will be missed by many. Yes, I know it’s a completely different diagnosis and scenario but….there is survivor guilt for those of us fighting the good fight as well as the helplessness of not being there to help as you see your child and her husband having to do such difficult, grownup tasks. They managed the situation with maturity and grace, honouring her wishes in a way which she would have been proud of. I’m thinking they will welcome the space and anonymity now of the urban life vs the rural area where everyone wants to express condolences and speak of the deceased. I found that so difficult when returning to work as a homecare nurse after my father had passed away…the patients were his cohorts and they all wanted to say they were sorry and speak of him. With time I welcomed the stories (many of which I hadn’t known) as a great memory, but those first visits were tough.  At the end of a very trying week my baby girl had her 29th birthday but I'm not sure how that happened as I'm only 29 myself....

I am writing this post in a document and expecting to have internet access at least by later in the day to post it. The server/satellite access was likely the reason I fought with Picaboo yesterday to upload photos for a book in order to use my voucher….Picaboo was the victor and I saved the organized pics to a flash drive for a trip to the library at home I think. At this point we have no network access on the system (and 30 minutes with musak from Yellowknife radio (where it is incidentally 26c today) in my ear is my limit for being on hold with the TSC helpdesk – why do they name themselves so, you would think they provided assistance?) as they were providing a security patch over the weekend so perhaps ran into troubles. A second phone call and I reached the TSC tech on call who after some clicking and muttering, confirmed that yes there is no external internet access across the territory, only the government system of email and EMR – so at least we can see and enter patient information. He put a ticket in to the geeks above him for as he said…a heads up that the calls will start coming in.  Temporarily this morning I couldn’t send texts although that function has returned and of course I can use my data for online access. I've been keeping track of my data usage as I wasn't sure I needed to temporarily add on to my 3GB plan as it's much cheaper to add 1GB than be billed for it, but if my calculations are correct, I’ll make it under that limit by the bill date. Good thing I downloaded my eBooks yesterday online. 
Perhaps it’s atmospheric conditions as the weather is nasty here, it snowed a lot Friday night and it's
been windy and -1c with snow flurries since (today's report says snow grains, whatever that is). The greenhouse here was being
planted this weekend and thankfully the heater is working so the seedlings didn't freeze. Nothing close to the wonderful greenhouse and gardent photos the shore captain is proudly texting me. ....will have zucchini next week he says, hopefully the 14 plants in various stages of development will ensure some for me when I arrive. 
 My trip to the COOP on Friday yielded milk with an expiry date of June 23rd which is truly impressive here as well as the not so impressive small container of $8.99 blueberries (this included the $1.04 nutrition north subsidy) and $3.49 grapefruit. I was
assured by the clerk that dragon fruit seen here to the left is delicious but…at $7 each I decided I’ll sample those at southern prices, mind you in hindsight a better deal than the berries. As I was waiting in the checkout line I offered to let a local person ‘go ahead’ as I had more items. Now, at home if I saw someone buying yeast, raisins and sugar I’d suppose they were making raisin bread…in the north you suspect …home brew. It takes a while for the fermenting so no hazard to my on call (this) Saturday. 

The work day continues to be quiet and yes this is a setting where a nurse actually dares to say the Q word out loud. One of the phone calls last week was this question “do you times it by 2.2 for pounds?” which I confirmed, this led me to believe that someone was entering the fishing derby. Did have a phone call asking if the nurses could do an injection for trigger finger? “Umm…no, that is definitely not in our scope of practice, the physician does it” To which the patient replied that “yes the Dr did it before, but I just wondered if you could, you nurses do everything” Despite the vote of confidence in our abilities, I assured that the Doc was just making it look easy, there are lots of nerves and blood vessels in the joint and it was best to have the qualified healthcare professional do the injection as losing the finger wouldn’t be convenient. The patient agreed and then disclosed a duty travel trip to Inuvik on Monday… ahhh, the point of the call – to see if I’d advise it was worth a walk in clinic visit “yes, go see the Dr there, if not we’ll put you on the Dr list and it may be a couple of months before we have a clinic here again”.  The EMR, although I will never think of it as a close friend is less of an enemy to me and I can usually manage the routine functions. 

 When the most exciting event in your work week was cooking two hams (I am known as the ham nurse here) slicing and delivering them to the school on Thursday afternoon for the Kindgergarten graduation and feast…you know life is good. The community turned out to see our two graduates march to Pomp and Circumstance (makes me teary every time) and receive new bikes for graduation presents. Prizes were handed out to various students from the school population of 11 – the only boy attending school received the male athlete prize and was pleased with his odds. Our most senior elder said grace in Inuvialuit and we feasted on turkey, ham, salads and more. 

Although I am well compensated for my work and expect to have deductions from my pay, being a nurse there have been VERY limited occasions when I relied on the unemployment system as in a 12 week maternity leave in 1984 and sick EI in 2016. I realize that I live in a system which is socialist based but…when I read this post online… EI reviewed the hrs and its still the same.630 hrs to qualify. 20000.00 insurable in 20 weeks or less gets u max ei of 547.00. more details to follow shortly…. It makes my blood pressure rise to think I am funding the camping vacations of those in the Maritimes who have planned this as seasonal workers grrr. 

Travel sites have been popping up with ‘how to travel to Cuba without resorts’ which is pretty much what we’ve done for 20 yrs now. This one isn’t too bad but I took the opportunity to correct the statement of inability to access internet in the casas as we had this service in both Cienfuegos and Trinidad. 

One of the tours was advertised as a catamaran tour to the ‘south coast’ and made it as far as Cienfuegos…hardly what I’d call the south of Cuba. Sure could use some of that warm right about now…

 And since we’re discussing travelling, here’s a link to an app you can download to find a bathroom worldwide but…I’m guessing it wouldn’t work in Cuba if American based but I plan to test it out in other areas for sure:

Crocheting play food continues and the box I’m taking home is stocked as well as a Stantons food
order. Hopefully the kids enjoy playing with them as much as I enjoy making them. I am planning to take them as carry on considering the time I've spent. I also created two hats for a former coworker who is adopting a baby boy and one is a polar bear hat with a nod to her Inuk heritage, the other plainer in case they're not as fond of ears on hats as my grandchildren are. I'll mail it on my out to them in Dawson City. So, I've had busy fingers.


Tonight at the edge of the snow flurries over the sea ice there was….a beautiful rainbow. Can’t say I’ve seen one in the snow, in June before…

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cheeseburger in paradise

Happy wellness anniversary to was two years ago today that I had my oncology surgery and began my journey down the path of recovery. I choose to remember 2016 as the year I was gifted with two grandchildren and my 60th birthday and not focus on the other 'stuff'. It makes one appreciative of the things which really matter and although I have survivor guilt as I remember some others on my way, it has made me understand those with cancer are all on different paths. We can't change the story endings and although we don't have to like them, we must accept how they roll out. I continue to live my life as if I have less than six months of it left....hoping for decades here people, don't think I'm whining...meaning not sweating the small stuff. 

Well...that is, unless your pay deposit threatened, in which case....take cover. In an effort to appear more positive, let me give credit where it is due and acknowledge that I did receive my vacation pay from September 2017, again with a heartfelt anonymous apology and by the end of the day last Monday off cycle deposit. A girl has to pump up her vacation account you know. This pay was again a struggle as there was confusion as to who was approving my time as entered. Ultimately it was the NIC (my former jobshare partner) working over in the next community but...since I had entered my time early in the week, so as to avoid a last minute rush (cut off for approval is noon Friday) I was punished by having it caught in purgatory, proclaiming 'pending approval' and unable to be approved - the irony is completely lost on me due to my annoyance. Ultimately my benefactor had me remove all the data, clear the program and then resubmit. Mama was not happy but with "do you wanna get paid? then this is what you have to do" ringing in my ears, I forfeited some of my lunch hour and complied. There had best be $ in the account on Friday morning, just sayin. Whining over. 

I have been attempting to assist a former coworker in navigating the maze of a northern casual position. Yes, the arctic is critically short staffed, but completely dysfunctional when it comes to fixing the problem. There was a CBC article this week about 11 nurses who earned over $100,000 in overtime (not base pay) last yr. the overtime payout for healthcare is measured in millions. After months of persistence, various approaches, provision of local contact info and a good bit of research my colleague was awarded a telephone interview on Thursday. She was nervous and sleepless for three nights before and then was surprised to find the interview was very basic and only 10 questions as she updated me afterwards. On Friday I received an anguished message from her telling me how disappointed she was, that she thought she'd done well and had really wanted to work north. I was surprised to think she felt she'd hear from them so promptly, stating that if she'd heard by the first of the week I'd consider that amazing and she shared that she'd been promised a reply by Thursday afternoon if she'd passed. I had a good belly laugh over that one "ha ha ha you believed her too" I told her. Yesterday afternoon I received a jubilant message that she had received acceptance. Well of course she did - they may be dysfunctional but not stupid, and recognize someone who they need. We had a lengthy chat today about some of the logistics and will get together at home for a Northern Packing 101 session in August. Nice to see someone on their way. I assured her that the time moved quickly as I'm at the contract half way point this week did that happen?

We managed to get the glycol pump turned off to the boiler and so the tropical temperatures necessitating fans at night, windows open and no blankets was mediated. Of course today it's -1c with snow flurries but we have opted to add layers vs return to the equatorial conditions. The spring is almost four weeks later than last year this time and an elder told me that this year is more like it used to be before the warming. The snow is receding, the roads are less crawly and there are huge puddles which kids wade in next to the snowbanks....hardy souls that they are. There are cracks and puddles just beginning in the sea ice, but it's still safe for skidoo travel. Maybe.....bug season won't happen until after I leave in mid July......

Today I looked out the kitchen window and saw a large flock of snow geese on the grass in front of
kitchen view
Allen's creek
the equipment garage, they walked away but weren't very concerned with my presence. So I decided to take the vehicle out for a spin down to the point and caused huge flocks of geese to relocate as I drove by. There were arctic swans, greater and lesser snow, specklebellies, ross, brandt, and Canada geese, longtail ducks (known at home by their former politically incorrect name of oldsquaw) eiders and cranes as well as snow buntings, ravens, seagulls and various shorebirds. The high arctic is truly a birdwatchers as well as hunters paradise this time of year. The shore captain sure missed a major hunt this year, most hunters have 60+ already. Almost the entire community is up at Egg River collecting this week. As I was dispensing a weekly ativan supply to a patient, I asked if Egg River was in the plans for this weekend and she said "oh no, I couldn't handle it with my anxiety, all that slush and the open creeks" and after she left I said to my coworker "I think I have anxiety too as I'm sensible enough not to want to do that on a skidoo either" so it's a matter of labels isn't it? The reduced population accounts for our light workload at present, such is the reward of a northern nurse with a spring contract.

This week I entertained the Doc and her hubby who came to the hamlet on a working vacation. She had purchased plane tickets in a community fundraiser and so they trekked to the neighbouring community overnight where my buddy entertained them and they explored Ulukhaktuk then caught the flight here on Tuesday pm. The flight was delayed and I received text updates from the Dr advising first the workers didn't know how to figure out the freight weight and then a baby needed to be changed (a task best done on the ground not the close quarters of a Beechcraft 1900) I reassured her this wasn't a problem. She disclosed that she was worried about getting the half & half (blend to us Maritimers) to me for the creamed lobster we were having for supper. I advised that the cream was the final step, no worries. We enjoyed creamed lobster on toast, carrots, some wine they provided and cranberry squares (the berries didn't do well on their trip in and had to be cooked). I had called the COOP for pickup of the physician and husband and was told "our truck is broken" so my coworker did the honours in the health centre SUV. In exchange for staying in the empty health centre apartment (vs the $280/pp per night at the B&B) for two days, our physician did a short clinic, a home visit and settled some paperwork for us. Her husband explored the village, we searched for the 4wheeler key and eventually found it, but not before one an Inuk elder advised that you could likely Google how to start it without a key...cultures coinciding. Our guest attempted to get the 4wheeler (which hadn't moved since my hubby used it last spring) running but it likely had water in the gas as it wouldn't run and had a flat tire anyway. He went for a walk after I assured him the polar bears were all busy keeping house out on the ice. The loan of the health centre vehicle allowed them to explore out to Mary Sachs, but the fog suddenly came in, limiting those incredible cliff views. The second supper we feasted on musk ox steak contributed by my NIC friend, baked potatoes, salad they brought, more wine and chocolate they had packed. The exercise addicts with protein shakes and food restrictions aka my coworker and her husband did not attend and it was their loss.

My NIC buddy was obviously having a rough week in the next community because on Wednesday
she phoned and asked me to have the Dr here (who was seeing a patient at the time I advised) text the Dr in Inuvik who was doing a telehealth to Ulu as he didn't understand how to work the volume. She also messaged me with other instructions and when I added if she still wanted me to do that task, she barked "I want you to ask the Dr stat because I've got three patients here for telehealth" I complied. My cohort is very fond of scones, in fact they are a part of the exit plan whenever I leave. On Thursday the flight stops in Ulu on the way to Inuvik so I baked cranberry scones at lunchtime, packed them in a box with a note that said "anyone who uses stat and telehealth in the same command is suffering and should take scones prn, good thing I love you" I had the Dr 'carry them across' as is the term here for parcels such as country food, babies etc to avoid paying freight charge or having them squashed. We've talked for some time about air freighting my baking and were pleased it worked. We had a chat about her scheme to come work here for a couple of days before I leave so we can hang out and plan our future. She's pretty sharp, it might come to pass.

My addiction with crocheting play food is continuing and it's getting in the way of creating photobooks before the voucher expires, reading any of the ebooks I've downloaded or studying the TB manual for my goal of TB nurse contracts as my month long quest has advanced from harassing the territorial recruiter to awaiting contact from the TB program hiring person....stay tuned. I posted some of my work on one of the online crochet sites and received compliments including "awesome" which stroked my ego. Just finished two waffles, designing pasta and am in the midst of creating a cheeseburger having accomplished the lettuce, cheese and hamburg patty, just gotta conquer the bun so must sign off now and I leave you with some links to explore for your entertainment.