Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Specimen bottles and life hacks

To begin the quote of the day:

Only 8% of what we worry about comes true

Now the pessimist will say "but which of the things falls in the 8%?". I prefer to consider it pretty good odds and not mess up the present with things that can't be changed. Which is how I'm choosing to think of the situation as I'm first call tonight. Less than two weeks remaining so not many call shifts left. 

And no, I don't have a Dr.
Helicopter for recovery
daughter roommate so instead of cleaning up on Sunday, I went for a walk out to the airport and the beach. I discovered a helicopter and a charter airplane being used to collect a scientific weather balloon which had landed about 43 miles north of here in the tundra. It had been launched from Sweden and gathered data,
Charter being loaded
taking photographs of solar flares for five or six days. The crew had taken about five days to recover the equipment with the helicopter and then load it on to the plane. It was being flown to Yellowknife and repacked for shipment to the USA. Apparently this had been done a few times before with good success as the equipment is extremely pricey and they don't want it landing in the ocean. The crew will come back to recover the balloon as well, they're getting it down to a smooth operation. 

Have been dealing with all kinds of sorting, cleaning out the office type activities during the 'slower season' here. With so many transient staff the drawers are a dumping ground for materials - anything older than 2009 is gone! Have cleaned/organized the bookshelf, drawers of the desk and now the 'read me' binder. Next I need to tackle the CDC (chronic disease clients) binder. We see patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension on a regular basis such as every three or six months, schedule them for bloodwork the week before, do a medication review then an office visit for B/P, weight check, teaching etc. It usually works out to a few per month as there aren't many elders - the oldest male in the community is 76 - but it's tough scratching to fill the appointments with everyone camping. 

Today was a day to have some chuckles through a miscommunication which sounds as if it were a Saturday Night Live skit. The past few weeks while our regular 62 yr. old caretaker has been off we have had a new, young (well the age of my son) fellow working as a casual. He is very eager to please, keen to learn and likely hoping to replace the soon to be retired caretaker as he has a young family. He's gotten more comfortable and now asks a few questions but figures many things out on his own. He is particularly careful to try to do exactly what the nurse in charge - Nellie asks of him. We have been thrilled with his quiet manner, and enthusiastic work ethic. He's pretty easy on the eyes too as he's tall (for an Inuit) well built with good teeth (unusual in the north) and it's fun to watch him mop the office floor for example. 

Outside the door of the public washroom in the waiting room there is a high shelf where patients put their labelled urine specimens for the nurses to collect and test - yes we use dipsticks regularly here (sorry inside joke for former coworkers). This afternoon as I walked past on one of my many trips, I spied a bottle half full of urine and noted with surprise our caretakers name. I asked my coworker if she was seeing him and she shook her head, looked towards the shelf and offered "perhaps he's seeing the Dr." A few moments later I walked into the front office to find my coworker and two of the front staff in hysterics! The explanation is....There were no urine specimen bottles in the public washroom so Nellie tells our caretaker to fill up the orange topped bottles. He thinks she says to fill a urine specimen bottle so provides a sample, leaves it on the shelf and then goes about another chore. Nellie checks and sees there are still no bottles in the bathroom so says very shortly to Rita "tell him to fill up those bottles". Rita protests she doesn't know where he is "well then page him and get him down here". I hear Rita summoning him to the front. My coworker overhears part of their discussion where Rita says "I'm not joking that's what she said you have to do" and his reply"I don't think I can do anymore".  Apparently he thought Nellie wanted an even bigger sample. Howls of laughter from the three women and a bemused but relieved grin when our caretaker receives a matter of fact Nellie clarification. I get an instant replay as I enter to put away a chart and join in the laughter. I later tell our caretaker that he didn't realize that random drug testing was a part of the job when he took it did he? He chuckles and says "I kinda wondered".  Just goes to show what some folks will do to keep a job. 

Yesterday a 440 lb.  patient was waiting to see the Dr. and as I went over to talk to him I said "oh you got a new haircut, I didn't recognize you" as his hair was buzzed off and he grinned (as he has a pretty good sense of humour). When I walked to my office I noticed my coworker slumped over in her chair shaking and realized she wasn't having a seizure but was laughing silently. It took her a while to collect herself as she kept gasping "he's the only one that size in the entire community, you can see him on his Honda for miles on the tundra" and such comments which would start her off again as he is also tall so reminds one of Gulliver on his travels. And no (I asked the travel clerk) the government does only buy one seat when sending him out for medical appointments, so they sure get their money's worth. 

Clouds reflected
Although the weather was cooler with a few showers today - one of the patients told the Dr. it was dust remover. Since the physician is from BC where the floods have been a problem he said "yeah, and bridge and house and boat remover too". It has been pretty dusty here lately so it was welcome. The day I walked to the airport I headed down to the shore which makes me think of the maritimes and it was a glorious day. It must be really balmy by next month, mind you the bugs will have found Taloyoak by then. I am hoping that the ticks will have slowed somewhat by the time I make it east. Apparently there has been a black bear mother and cub snacking on the green bins in our community at home. I asked one of the DNR (no for all you nurses not a no code or do not resuscitate) but Dept of Natural Resources employee to ensure my dog and dog walker were safe and he could only promise for the dog he said. 

I've been looking at a creative writing course online as my alumnae newsletter mentioned various courses available. It is geared towards writing your memoirs, runs for six weeks, is only $150 and I don't have to travel to do it. My only decision is when to take it. I'm thinking that the summer at home may afford me more time than north in September. Decisions, decisions: 

And while on the literary topic, I must mention Read by the Sea. Perhaps I'll be able to convince someone to take a road trip with me. I'd love to meet Vincent Lam and hear the other authors read. The Feast Fest is SO good that it alone is worth the drive to River John:

With the floods in western Canada the Red Cross disaster relief teams have been busily responding and there are calls for volunteers but.....I don't think I'm up for a trip back out west just after I get home for the summer. This week the local teams are helping out with a call centre doing R & I (registration and identification) in the metro area. Would be good experience if I were around. All those we know are managing fine out west but the photos are pretty disturbing. 

To end this post on a more upbeat note I offer the definition of a life hack:

An adaptation which simplifies or makes ones life easier for example....lying in your hammock while puling on a cord attached to the post in the veranda to make it rock. Here is a video of one example of a life hack - how to fold a shirt in under two seconds. 

Let me know how you make out with it will ya? 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ahhh, life is good

Clearly in the last post I was bragging about being paid to have a quiet on call shift and this is something which a woman of my age and experience should've remembered as in the 'not to do' category. I awoke to a 4:30 am call for abdominal pain, which was likely menstrual related. "it's a 10/10" when attempting to rate it but after the toradol IM (my on call go to friend) I had to wake her to try to get a urine specimen "drink lots of water" so she gulps back about 500 ml quickly and can you guess what happens? Oh yeah, power puke of the previous night's supper and "I feel lots better now" but still can't pee so she suggests "maybe I need an IV" this is quickly vetoed because if you are a frequent flyer enough to know this as an option then you are going to have to be seriously dehydrated before that happens! To rate the pain "it's 7/10" so I check her Hbg only 85 hmmmm then I draw bloods, and she says "I just want to go home to bed and sleep" Oh really? You think I don't want to crawl up over those stairs and get even an hour of shut eye myself? I think this but refrain from saying it out loud, however I do tell her that she has to pee in the jar or can't go home. At 6:45 am I wake her and firmly insist on a urine sample - negative - and send her on her way - across the snow covered ground, lots of big winter wonderland flakes during the night. Just time to shower and breakfast before the day. Lovely. I confer with Nellie, who was my second on call and ask if she can think of anything I missed and she says "only about two and a half hours sleep you're never getting back" and grins. 

Health centre construction
So the day was painful with the sleep deprivation. The usual booked (both office and lab) and walk in visits for the morning and multitudes of immunization and well baby examinations in the afternoon. The construction zone just outside my office (and apartment) windows creating our new health centre is drilling rigs anchoring metal posts into the bed rock for 12 hours a day so you can imagine not conducive to listening to newborns lungs. It will be worth it in the end a couple of years from now when there is a wonderful new health centre and housing. In the meantime it is a blessed relief when they stop for lunch or end their work day. I'm as pleased as the departing Inuit workers when the silence sets in. 

Writing of tradesmen reminds me that the nurse daughter's carpenter boyfriend received word of (as he's already half way across the country so won't be attending) his graduation with honours from the programme he completed. Had messages from the baby daughter as they settled in to their new place in North Battleford, Saskatchewan as I paste here:

Made it to north battleford :)  our place is soooooo nice so much space and our stuff arrived today so we're actually pretty moved in.  It seems great so far,  small but about 20000 ppl I guess and has a lot of things (stores  etc).  We're super excited to start our new chapter here and couldn't have done it without yours and everyone's help :)
Had some messages back and forth with the electrician daughter as I was concerned about the flooding in Alberta. She wasn't enjoying the wet and mud at the workplace and it sure doesn't seem as if water and electricity should be mentioned together but apparently all was well with her and hers. When there were evacuation orders issued and the Calgary Saddledome and Zoo were flooded , then Red Deer declared a state of emergency, I was concerned. She assured me that all was well and they were 5 km away from the worst area and hadn't known about it. She said the kitties had their backpacks packed with toys, family pictures,treats and their blankets and were diligently looking out the window (as is their way) for any developments. She is heading over to visit with her Saskatchewan sister who she hasn't seen since New Years. She was also rather upbeat as she'd been doing a few days for a company which apparently has global jobs, one country is……..Cuba! The rotations are one month on and one month off in the northern area where there is oil production which would lend itself nicely to visiting on the south coast (aka our home away from home) in the month off. And of course the language and cultural knowledge would only be an asset. What a perfect set up if they allow apprentices.
Yesterday was another full day as there were lots of last minute requests for meds (shopping I call it) as folks readied to go 'out on the land' to their cabins. It had begun earlier in the night for my coworker as there were lots of inebriated locals who had started drinking early to celebrate Aboriginal Day or 'drunk people' as our caretaker described as in "did you hear the drunk people yelling last night?" as opposed to drunk dogs I guess. Someone who was drinking, had a fight with the boyfriend and overdosed on benadryl. Which incidentally I had been the most recent one to dispense but I console myself with the thought that she can purchase these at The Northern Store. So my coworker had a repeat of my night on call and the resultant sleep deprived day. Gotta love those holidays. Although Friday afternoon is supposed to be administrative time and there are no booked appointments the waiting room was constantly full until after 5 pm. 
Geese overhead
I was too cranky to go for a walk with my coworker as I was fighting with the internet. It appeared that I had 'some' conductivity as I had a really slow connection (about 1/3 of the speed she had next door) so I finally disconnected the airport express modem and connected the direct wired one I brought as backup and voila! Connected with my umbilical cord to the outside world. Since the modem is worth $100 and only has been used since April, I am not impressed. After I got my online issues resolved I headed out for a walk - as walks aren't regulated by such parameters as hours of sunlight. Out towards the airport, left to the dump road and then I decided to take a detour down to the beach. What a lovely spot.
Down by the bay....
It reminded me a bit of home with it's white sand beach and scrubby vegetation butthe rocks were different and oh yes there was the issue of the large chunks of ice. And the skidoos towing qamatiks going by on the sea ice offshore (which is still about seven ft thick) to their cabins. Must be pretty in the summer down there. As I was walking up the road I heard some honking and swish of wings and got my camera up in time to capture a flock of geese. One of the patients asked me, when I mentioned walking, if I'd been collecting eggs from the nests  so I explained I had no idea what the nests look like and she said "well they're starting to hatch now anyway". There were lots of critter skeletons on the sand which are well preserved in the frigid winter conditions.
Caribou skull with horns
A group of preteen boys were 'golfing' in the roadside sand and when I asked who was winning the chubbiest lad identified himself as the champ while his buddies agreed. Lots of Hondas going by to the lake cabins as well, loaded with groceries and kids, even saw one towing a sled. Birds flitting about with beautiful songs and the community very quiet as it is for the most part deserted. So after a glass of butterscotch schnapps and an early bedtime….the world looked like a better place this morning. 

Direct line from lobby
I was up in time to plug the clinic phone in for 9 am as I'm first on call. Sort of had a little walk in clinic with an otitis, UTI and a dental pain in a series and then up for lunch. It's a nice day and that sometimes leads to less (or more) calls - no way of telling. I haven't picked up the phone to hear "Good afternoon, how are you doing? I'm in the foyer and I've got crafts to sell" yet today. The foyer is a rather grand term for the entryway I assure you. I have had a request for tylenol which went like "we've been to both stores and there's no tylenol to buy, we need some as we're going back out on the land this evening". Call me weak and don't tell Nellie but I did go downstairs and get it. We are to tell such shopping expeditions that they will be called if we go downstairs for an emergency and only then. My thoughts are 'out on the land, one less call' at this point.

Trying to get ready for the Dr.'s visit next week with referrals, prescriptions to be signed, chart notes, and organizing of the office. Nellie manages both but she is a firm believer in order and cleanliness being next to godliness so we all pitch in. If the Doc brings along his first year medical student daughter to get some clinical experience she will be rooming with me I'm told. Sure wish I'd listened to him when he was telling me if it was June or July he was hoping to bring her with him. Oh well, will be nice to have a few days of company if so. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What is ex-lax?

As I sit being reimbursed for a call shift, with the only call being one asking what ex-lax is for as someone wondered after seeing it in the stores - and no, no one had eaten it. And yes I reinforced that it "makes you poop a lot, don't take it". I find it helps if you say "emergency line, nurse on call" very quickly with urgency, so often the only sound is a click or a stammered "oops, sorry, not an emergency".  So I shall begin the update. 

The nurse daughter has arrived at her new digs in Saskatchewan. They made the Fredericton to North Battleford trip in only five days. Anxious to get settled, the furniture had arrived and the movers are booked to deliver the house lot so.....It sounds like they all (animals included) survived the road trip but I'm sure they'll be glad to be out of the car. I am thrilled that the 2004 Sebring delivered them safely and pleased with the photos posted along the way. The goose statue in Wawa brought back memories of the reverse trip her father and I made in 1976 from Regina. Sigh. 

The RCMP officers (all two of them) here dropped in to the health centre today to put up a poster for the BBQ they're having on Friday the 21st which is Aboriginal Day. And yes, they told me, they were serving hot dogs, they didn't care if they weren't healthy, when I protested. The Cst was congratulated on his baby daughter born in his home town of Estevan, Sask. after I had left here this winter and the Cpl. was congratulated on his transfer to Lunenburg Co., NS. He is originally a western lad as well, but the fiancee is a NS gal. When I mentioned that my baby daughter had arrived in North Battleford today they both had comments. The Cst said "I used to live north of there, well North Battleford itself isn't too bad" and the Cpl. said "I put a drunk on a bus once to North Battleford, I'm guessing he was ticked when he woke up" and they both chuckled. My coworker and I discussed how to arrange it so we could get to the BBQ while doing our administrative duties booked for Friday afternoons. I'm sure Nellie has other ideas than that for us.

This week has been cold, grey, windy, dusty or snowy (from one moment to the next) and not at all as balmy as the first week of my stay. Yesterday my co-worker and me headed out for a stop at the Northern Store and then off on a jaunt into the hills towards Long Lake. It was bitterly cold with the wind stingy my face, ears and numbing my thighs, as if I were struggling in March in Nova Scotia besides the ocean. She kept promising it was going to get better as we rounded the corner, then when we got in the shelter of the rock cliff etc. Finally I said "I'm over 50 years old and I don't do things that I don't enjoy anymore so I'm heading back" and I turned around, not even concerned if a wolf ate her. She often walks this route alone (she is the one who hiked the pilgrimage of El Camino in Spain) and set off without a backward glance. It started to snow that sharp stinging snow that cuts your face as I headed into the wind on the return trip. That has cured me from being her walking partner. 

Today after work we had a slideshow of the El Camino hike as the (very tall and attractive) German she met while hiking, sent her a CD of the photos. He had a real eye for composition and the photos were truly wonderful. I felt as if I had done the trip (without the foot blisters or sore knees) as I viewed all the wonderful architecture of the cathedrals, the quaint small Spanish towns, the beautiful countryside and all the hikers. It was a wonderful gift. As I reminded her "European men can be so gallant". Sigh. 

I have been baking to use up my supplies as I have reached the half way point of my contract. The staff are pleased with my efforts as they've had brownies, chocolate chip, jam and oatmeal cookies this week. I've been crocheting some dishcloths and potholders as well and that's good too for using up supplies. Less to pack. 

Tonight my coworker (after she hiked and I baked - do we see a pattern here?) and me called my roommate from the last contract here. She's in Aklavik, NWT and is heading home on Friday after 16 weeks of contract. Home for a couple of weeks and off to do acute care in Rankin Inlet in the Kivalliq region. Lots of talk of the three of us finding a three nurse health centre and being together. Since she's been the nurse in charge twice over there, and the two of us here are either too young or too old (in our minds) we have her pegged as the SHP. The community here knows us again as the old nurse, the young nurse and Nellie so all is good. 

The pace is very different at this time of year in the communities as the majority of folks are 'out on the land' so less people and less infections circulating. Apparently there was a gastro bug circulating in the community after I left in March - this according to Nellie is traditional  - so memo to not extend contract into March. Ick. Today was minor stuff, program management, prenatal clinic....It's a nice lucrative way to ease into 8 weeks of vacation. I'll take it. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

How do you spell your last name?

Pitsi or dried arctic char
Catholic church

It is the weekend and so it seems time to catch up on the blog. Today was a day off, as in a weekend day and not on call. Tomorrow I am first on call and not sure what the pace will be. School is always dismissed by the first week of May as families are out on the land, so Taloyoak is rather depopulated at present. Odd to have 'summer vacation' be mid May to mid August but it appears that this has been the case for some time here.

Out for a weekend stroll
Qamatik across the channel
Went for a stroll about the hamlet today - it was a beautiful, sunny 7 c day here and spring has truly arrived. I offer a photo gallery here from where I ambled in to the Northern Store to pick up a few things and thought it was odd that the automatic doors didn't open so I strolled in through the open manual door to the left, noticed the 5 p.m. closing time, picked up my eggs, discounted yogurt and raisin bread ($20 total) while thinking there weren't many shopping and headed to the cash. The local cashier who was closing her cash looked up and said "we're closed, it's 5:15 pm" but the manager called me over and rang in my purchases saying "well the door was open" in apology. I stuttered that I was capable of working as a nurse at the health centre (always important to promote your position of importance - and nurse here is a respected position - when seeking favours), I just didn't have my watch on. She was gracious and I was grateful. 

I meandered back down the dusty street and met an elder coming with his walker. I reintroduced myself as having been here in the winter and he asked when I had returned? Felt yet again as if I had come home. This past two weeks has been a series of exclamations over the babies who were small and ill this winter now having grown large and healthy, the prenatals who have delivered babies and the new list of same. I've been busy answering the question "when did you get back?" I am often surprised to see my notes on the chart as the last visit to the health centre. I was making a list for the nurse in charge of women ages 17 - 35 years for well women clinics and was surprised that there were large numbers of people we never see at the health centre (and of course the regulars as anywhere) and also by the names and spelling of them. Quite an anthropologic exercise.  It was a week of ear aches and allergies, twisted ankles from bikes and walking on the tundra, a run in with a rude ER Doc -  I was trying to send a patient out for consult with an infected finger and she lectured me on MRSA and refused to take him, told me to trial some IV antibiotics and call the next day - what a bad attitude! After firmly stating I was concerned the patient would lose the function of his index finger joint (she assured me VERY confidently that one day would make no difference - citing those two little letters after her name) I asked how to spell her name for the chart citing those two initials after mine. When I called our referring physician the next day he was still ticked as she was rude to him. Apparently it is NOT okay to be rude to another Dr., now a nurse.....

At any rate, today I had an all in all great day off. Began with checking up on the baby daughter who began her cross country move early this morning. They were making their way through Quebec according to the FB update. Enjoyed a skype date with the electrician daughter who had just returned from the farmers market (and her fur children). The cycles of construction, vagaries of being a female in a mostly male industry and the opportunities she has at her finger tips were amongst the conversation topics. She is planning to head over in her little black pickup to Saskatchewan and help her sister move in next week when they arrive. 

My coworker (who I refer to as my adopted daughter - custom adoption up here it is called - due to age and first initial matching) and I watched a hour or so of videos from a comedian/video blogger, DJ, musician called Flula Borg. If you are in need of some endorphin release you just have to search for his YouTube videos on line. He is a German who is adjusting to life in the USA and it began as  a joke since the coworker became involved with a German while she was hiking on a pilgrimage (El Camino) and is receiving correspondence in German now. She tried a recipe he'd sent for supper and since she'd translated there was a bit of uncertainty as to whether it was correct - it's delicious at any rate, especially with a glass of wine from the large box of rose she brought. Our favourites of his various videos were Jennifer is a Party Pooper, Bees Knees and Butter Your Butt? But there were moments of hilarity with every one of them. - we gave it two thumbs up. 

Ended the day with online chats with several former coworkers as it was my old shift rotation working tonight back home. Don't miss the work, but it will be good to reconnect over the summer when I'm home in......three weeks. I can hardly believe that I've been here two weeks - time DOES fly here.

As I post this, the clock has turned past midnight so I am thinking of the baby daughter who has her birthday today. Hard to believe that 24 years ago I was going to the hospital to be induced for a
beautiful baby girl to complete our family. And today she is on her way to beginning her new career. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'll get the popcorn

As today was Monday, coworkers asked me how my weekend was and I was able to reply without hesitation "great!". 

I was first on call Friday night and had only one phone call at 11 p.m. which was the lab reporting a critical result - on a patient we'd already settled - and nothing, not a peep the remainder of the call shift. I had to pick the phone up in the morning to make sure the line was still operational. The community had pretty much emptied as all went 'out on the land' to hunt caribou and geese and fish for arctic char. I saw two kids on bikes go by on the street all evening. Nice to be reimbursed to sleep. Saturday, I was second on call and had only two phone calls - neither from the first on call looking for assistance - one from the Mental Health Worker inviting me to supper at her house and the other from the teacher daughter updating me on the job fair outcome. Although she had very little seniority and was at the end of the day for appointments she managed to score her first choice of P/1 French Immersion at the school she desired. The HR folks conducting affairs were a bit surprised to see boisterous celebrations from her and the principal at such a late point as there were teachers being given positions but not their first choices, just thanks I've got a job and walking away. The position is a permanent one meaning that when daughter #2 receives her probationary contract next spring (please, please let us be heading into an election so those politicians won't cut anymore positions) the job is hers in perpetuity. Fingers crossed. Supper was lovely and it's always nice to go to an indeterminate (permanent) employee's home as they have all the trappings associated with permanent living such as art, photos etc. 

Sunday was a rainy day and I used it to laze around (it was my completely free day off) have a long phone chat with my friend who is recovering now at home, bake some cookies, do some online research, crochet a dishcloth for one of the front office staff and go for a walk with two of my coworkers in the evening. We walked up the hill over towards Long Lake as we had last winter but it was certainly a more comfortable temperature and the mist reminded me of the Maritimes. 
Ice starting to melt

Lots of snow left
Arctic willows?
Purple saxifrage

Today wasn't too bad as a start to the workweek, just minor things really and we were able to keep up. I was on call and fielding the requests such as "I've had this for two years but I want to come and see you this morning". You likely don't need me to tell you what the answer to that one is do you?

The afternoon was pretty straight forward except for an email from the Nurse Manager saying that casual contracts will not be booked for any less than six weeks and if anyone has shorter ones booked they will be given the option of extending them to meet requirements before being cancelled. This is of no direct concern to me as I've arranged myself to do eight week contracts but rest assured there will be fireworks. I told my coworker today that I'd bring the popcorn if she got the drinks and we'd pull up some foldable chairs because there's gonna be a show. There are a number of Maritime nurses coming for two to three week contracts at fairly significant cost to the employer so the line is drawn in the sand and the sides are positioning.

If you need a smile to perk you up, let me share an anecdote with you. The previous stay here in Taloyoak, I lived in the apartment across the hall and that is where most of the baking supplies had migrated as my long suffering (and eager to consume my baked goods) roommate would source equipment from this apartment as in baking sheets, pastry cutter, pie plate etc. So yesterday when I considered making biscuits I realized the pastry cutter was 'across the hall' and the occupant of the other apartment keeps to herself so I didn't want to disturb her. This morning as we were about to begin the morning meeting I mentioned to her that I was looking for the pastry cutter and would get it from her one of these days. "I certainly don't use it" she said. This afternoon when I came back from downstairs I found on my door handle a............candy thermometer. Hmmmm. 'I don't use one of those either', I thought, 'but I sure do want the pastry cutter'. I'm guessing none of the baking supplies are getting much of a workout in that apartment.

This evening I spent a couple of hours downstairs at evening clinic, but it was all manageable. I did miss a chance to Skype with the electrician daughter due to the calls though, boo. And now I am considering dragging the phone with it's two km of line (there are no cordless phones here) down the hall to the bedroom. Night all. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The nomad returns

As promised, an update from Taloyoak. Although I'm first on is a beautiful spring evening here with the majority of the community heading 'out on the land' for the weekend to go to their cabins, enjoy fishing for arctic char and hunting caribou, so fingers crossed. When I was explaining to my sister online that the Inuit were nomads and have only within our lifetimes been settled into communities she said "well, you're a nomad too so you fit in" which is a rather pleasant way to describe my present lifestyle. 

The travel in is getting to be fairly routine, so goes along as smoothly as two full days to reach your destination can. A foggy drive to the airport and in to the terminal quickly and no, not because of any emotional goodbye, but because of the following dialogue as I picked up my duffel bag from the curb:

Me: Do you know what tomorrow is?
He: Yeah, June 4th
Me: No, the correct answer is our 36th wedding anniversary
Long silence with direct stare from me
He: Catcha around
Me: If you're lucky

Fast exit through the revolving door without looking back. Now the electrician daughter says that her father should be given credit for knowing the date. All I can say is that it's a good thing there's five weeks before the return trip. 

Chef Phil
Halifax to Toronto to Edmonton without a hitch as I travelled with all those blue collar workers heading back west. You can pick out the various generations in the departure lounge - the older, sitting quietly, no ball cap, conservatively dressed, no pension man, the middle aged, sports ballcap, tshirt and jeans, on the phone with the kids or wife guy, and the early 20s, aeropostale tshirt and skinny jeans, designer ball cap, txting on the iPhone dude. Sometimes you find them in first class as they have so many frequent flyer points they upgrade. I don't mind the travel but I'm not up for doing it every couple of weeks. This time it felt like I'd just left Pearson the day before. Speaking of's always good to see the third year apprentice electrician when I land in Edmonton. This time I got to see two as she and her guy came to pick me up at WalMart, where I'd picked up my grub order. We headed over to Japanese Village for supper and enjoyed a wonderful meal - steak, chicken, veggies all prepared with flair by Phil our table grill chef. We waddled out to the car. Back to the hotel to throw my provisions into the action packer, a quick goodbye as we're both leaving early am and time to catch a few zzzzs. 

I have worked out that in order to make the 8 a.m. flight from Edmonton to Yellowknife without excessive stress it is necessary to have a 5:15 am wake up call. Get myself together, a dash to the lobby for a luggage cart, wrestle the tote pan and duffle bags onto the cart and down to the lobby about 5 to 6. Stand outside with the cart and insert myself as first in line when the shuttle comes, have a tip in my hand for the immigrant driver and push my way forward. That way when he says "this load is full, I'll be back in 15 minutes" I'm looking out through the van windows not standing on the sidewalk. Over to the airport and another dash for a luggage cart while the driver wrestles my bags down for me to the sidewalk. Then it's in through to departures and check in at Canadian North. Chat with the agent (who has a nurse daughter) and charm my way past the extra 1kg in the action packer. Whew, thanks. Direct the cart to the overweight luggage section and put the bags/bin on the conveyor belt. Ahhh that feels better to only have the knapsack. Through security (mercifully quiet this am for some reason) and in to the departure lounge with an hour until the flight leaves. 

Leaving Kugluktuk
Now I'm sharing the departure lounge with dudes going north to work in the diamond mines surrounding Yellowknife or the MacKenzie Delta oil and gas fields. Flight to Yellowknife during which I'm seated next to a guy almost ready to retire from the Feds - does contaminated site cleanups in the north. Interesting dude. Strange to see ice and snow again as we're coming in for the landing. In to the terminal and a delay (never did find out why) of an hour for our flight. Then it's Yellowknife to Kugluktuk. Still lots of sea ice and snow in the hills there although a LOT of melt in just the week I've been away. We land and I see the husband of one of  the health centre staff signalling us in - the north is large in geography but a finite number of people. We deplane (almost every stop is a refuelling service stop) and I find one of the health centre staff at the terminal to pick up the homecare nurse who was on the flight. We catch up on the events of my week away and I'm back on the plane. It's very mild in Kugluktuk but with its microclimate it is known as the banana belt of the Kitikmeot. There are gardens here in the summer. Over to Cambridge Bay and a quick service stop to refuel again. This time when we attempt to leave there is a problem with an engine light so a complete shutdown, check it out and restart. Not a sound from anyone on the flight - as their way to exit the communities, they are well used to such. situations.

Approaching Taloyoak
Over to Taloyoak and really quite a bit of snow and ice here - they're still using snow machines outside of the community. It's hard to explain the feeling of 'coming home' as I landed in Taloyoak and saw the health centre SUV parked with Nellie in it waiting for me. Sunny but cool and a few minutes before the half ton drove across the tarmac with the bags to catch up on the news. Ahhh. Dragging the groceries and bags up to the apartment - the one across the hall from last contract - and getting the perishables stowed. Down the hill to the COOP before it closes for milk, eggs and meat and back to make the bed. The only slip was arriving with pop corn seasoning popcorn. Not to worry, an email to the soon to arrive coworker solved that dilemma. An early bedtime (grateful for the aluminum foil on the windows and blackout curtains) so a good sleep after all the travel and settling in. 

Down to work in the morning and it reminds me of the days when I used to work in a home office and so went upstairs to the office to start my day. Catch up with the support staff and remainder of the team and after the morning meeting it's into the routine. It's been three months since I was here so it takes a few moments to remember where everything is. The Dr. is in on clinic so that's a good way to start although it makes for a busy spot. 

Wednesday is the day the baby daughter wrote her RN exam and she sent along this message when she finished:

All done!  I didn't have a breakdown and i made it

6 weeks is unbearable

And I would have to agree that the wait for exam results is an eternity and certainly unjustified when you consider that the exams are multiple choice and scored by computer! I well remember the elation of learning I could write RN after my name and I am sure that she will feel the same in August. The excitement was heightened by the receipt of her temporary 'Grad' license from the Saskatchewan RN Association as well as the plans to move into a new rental home only a few blocks from the hospital in North Battleford. So, things are coming together and very exciting to be starting out on a new adventure. Ahh, the kids never think us old folks remember how it felt....but we do, we do.

Taloyoak from the lagoon
Boys + boots = puddles
 Out for a walk the past evenings so some photos of spring in Taloyoak. It was very mild with temperatures in the mid teens and the locals were complaining of the heat. Doesn't take long for the white stuff to melt with the 24 hours of sunlight. A few days in to the contract and all is well with the routine. The five weeks will slip away for sure if this first one is any example. We have been attempting to catch up on some cleaning and paperwork this week in anticipation of the Nurse Manager's community visit. I know she's not following me around but......

Just waiting to hear tomorrow from the teacher daughter as she has been invited to the school board job fair and so will at least know she has a position and where it'll be, not just the week before school begins. This one should take her into a probationary contract.

So, enough yarning. Off to sleep with one ear listening for the phone, kind of like having a sick child across the hall. Later. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Well that felt like a week....oh wait, it was

All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go.....I'm leaving on a jet plane - tomorrow at noon that is. But there's no taxi waiting and blowing the horn as the shore captain is driving me to the airport in the morning. I've told the usual little fib that is required to get anywhere on time with him (moving the departure time ahead at least half an hour) and have all the last minute details I can think of taken care of. I'll be in Edmonton shortly before the electrician daughter is home from work in just enough time to get some grocery shopping done before we meet up and head out to Japanese Village - yum. Then in the morning it's off for Yellowknife and on to Taloyoak via Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay so I should be in by sometime in the afternoon. Arrival times are always approximate in northern travel. 

It's been (as expected) a busy visit. We traveled to Fredericton on Tuesday and enjoyed ourselves immensely as we celebrated the big life event of the baby daughter. Out for supper at Naru, which was a great sushi/tempura place and awarding of much appreciated gifts from family and friends. A short night at the Fredericton Inn, family breakfast and off to the graduation. It was a beautiful sunny day and the grad processional was lovely. A very swish University of New Brunswick graduation ceremony with lots of pomp and latin and suddenly she was walking across the stage - my baby. How did this happen? I was just holding her in my arms as a newborn last year it felt like. As she said afterward "I liked it that you cried" and I replied "I've cried a few times over you, but tears of joy are good!" Felt like my Mom, a grad of 1938, was there in spirit and I wore her grad pin on my sweater just to reinforce that. Some photo ops with the proud parents and her boyfriend on the beautiful grounds and a pub lunch before the movers arrived at their apartment to pack up their life and move it to North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Ahh, we remember those days and the excitement, nervousness and 'just can't wait to get this started' feelings associated with it. A retracing of the road trip with (futile) stops at two WalMarts to see if I could locate a scrub top for one of the staff in Taloyoak and we were home. 

The new grad remained in New Brunswick to study for the RN exams being written on Wednesday and has been saying goodbye to her friends as the days go by. Her cat Pous Pous has remained here awaiting pickup after the exam. We have had some territorial issues as in "oh yeah, you want to play with those cat toys? those are mine buddy! I'll fix you - there I sprayed the basket - no ones going to play with those now!" Such are the situations involving a household with two male cats where a third is introduced. Very difficult without DNA testing to know who the offender is and perhaps it is all three of them. What can you do but throw out the basket, disinfect all solid surfaces and wash the soft ones?

Thursday was a catch up, last minute packing and organizing day. Friday I spent the morning getting groceries and hiding from the cleaning lady so she could get her work done. Stopped to visit a friend who has has pneumonia and has really lost a lot of weight - wish I could give her some of my excess to build her back up again. Friday and Saturday were sunny and warm ( 25 - 30c temps) as if it were August so I enjoyed some rays on the deck. Ahh, got to get the vitamin D in when you can.

Saturday was the local town wide yard sale and I got myself into town as things were getting set up. Managed to score a new retractable (and very sturdy) dog leash, a pair of YakTraxs (grippers for my boots) which were my size, some lovely bakeware and dishes as well as visiting with lots of folks I hadn't seen for a while. A quick stop at Frenchy's to check out the deals, Sobeys for cleaning supplies requested by the cleaning lady and then sourcing some beverages for the festivities planned for the evening. Potato salad, biscuits and cinnabon cake put together when I got home and the shore captain steamed lobsters - a simple but well received menu. Had a great evening with good friends and conversation - what more could you ask for as you pack eh?

Today was a foggy, cool day and lots of time to catch up on the last minute tasks and some downtime before the travel day. Next stop Taloyoak - will be in touch.