Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 50

Today is day 50 of my contract (but who's counting) and I am ready to not be here. I am ready to be blissfully unemployed, walk my dog, put my dishes in a dishwasher, go on my planned vacations and generally empty my brain of all things work related until 2014. I don't want to be thinking of the photo to the right as a Hallowe'en photo. Only three more sleeps (should I be so fortunate as to actually sleep through the night tomorrow night which is my last day of first call. This evening I have been packing up the dry foods, winter clothes and northern equipment which will await my return as well as packing the artifacts and very few things I am actually taking south. 

I am getting a few things accomplished as I've been under the weather and mostly just lying on the couch until I go to bed at 8 pm which is extremely unlike my nite owl habits. I was suffering with tonsillitis which I haven't had for years, but certainly remembered from my teenaged days. Couldn't swallow, fever, had a huge lump in my throat  and couldn't even move my tongue to the side. By the time Friday came I got Nellie to look in my throat and she said "start yourself on an antibiotic" so by Sunday (as I tell patients, it'll take 48 hrs to work) I was finally thinking I was going to live. In the meantime I'd watched Men in Black 3 and attempted to watch To Rome With Love (a Woody Allen remake of the classic) but I had downloaded it in French!!! so instead watched Flight (Denzel Washington) which was excellent but likely not the greatest choice as I set out on two days of flights to get home. 

The word of the day today has been…..moose. The shore captain and his two buddies were off on Sunday to Cape Breton moose hunting where the season for his tag began today. The wife of one of the hunters having made a statement on FB something like "I'd rather pack up the entire family for a trip to Disney World than one man to go moose hunting" on Saturday evening. As I chatted online with her, she was waiting for the bread to come out of the oven and listed off a large cache of baked goods, so they were well provisioned. I breathed a huge sigh of relief to have missed that circus at my house. A friend in CB mentioned rain on the weekend but a bit cooler with a skiff of snow today in the hunting area so it sounded like a good first day for them. By the time I checked FB this evening there were multiple postings of MOOSE!!! Apparently the shore captain's employee had shot a large (1200 lb or so) animal with 24 points on a 56 inch set of horns. The shore captain who wasn't concerned about antlers (can't eat those) is quoted as saying that "likely the horns were the only tender part of him" but by all accounts there was much excitement. As I chatted again tonight with the employee's wife she said as her husband was talking to her he said he was sitting in the dark at the camp and  the other two (shore captain and more senior employee) were in bed and sound asleep at 7:30 pm. I told her that's what he got for taking old people with him, a lengthy drive the day before, all that walking in the fresh air and the excitement of the trophy well… what did he expect? I asked which vehicle they'd taken with them (the ton truck?) and she said "the half ton with an insulated grey wharf box" which made me laugh out loud. That will be quite the load getting back. She said they'd be going in with the pack horses tomorrow am and might have to make two trips but would likely be home late tomorrow night. So much for her week of solitude for her and the kids. Very efficient hunting mind you. 

I had a FB chat with my travel buddy over the weekend and we were discussing some plans for Atlanta. Would we see a Christmas show? Maybe a movie would be opening? She asked if I was a fan of Sinbad? I thought she meant the classic and agreed that I'd enjoyed it "back in the day" as a kid. Apparently I'm quite out of the loop as Sinbad is a comedian, so apparently I'm not a fan if I don't know who he is eh?

I was tasked with picking up the physician in to do his community clinic this week so on Sunday I found myself at the airport. I snapped a shot of Chuck who manages Canadian
North here in this community, and the C.A.R.S. (community aerodrome radio station) operator which is the local version of air traffic control at work. The only problem was that in the first photo I snapped, Chuck was bent over in a big sneeze just as I pressed the shutter so I took a second of him upright on the phone but by then the C.A.R.S operator had gotten up to check a screen somewhere so….I needed to combine the two pictures. Without taking a post graduate course in photoshop (and my hats off to all who can use this wonderfully large program) I found a link online which suited my needs - the website is called merge images:


You just plug in the first photo, then crop out what you don't want from the second and line it
up and…merge images. You couldn't tell I was doing magic unless I'd disclosed likely. And speaking of putting things together, the work on the new health centre continues despite flesh numbing temperatures with the rush on to enclose before the really bad weather visits. 

Today I asked the physician what he'd like to do about something on a prescription I was ordering and he said "what I'd like to do is retire early, in fact right now with a lot of money, but in fact I'm going to continue to keep on looking after people because that's not happening". I hear ya brother. Mind you, working one week a month and on call during the day for the other three weeks isn't a bad gig. 

I'm thinking of my little co-worker who is heading off to meet up with her brother in Italy tomorrow and tells me that she'll visit the vatican and light a candle so that all my flights will connect. I told her I thought a chapel in one of the airports she'll be hanging out in would likely work as well but I appreciated her support. This little jaunt of hers is pre- Antarctica in December so she obviously follows the advice to the left. 

So, hopefully the workload will remain manageable and the only frantic calls are something like the one from a mother asking if her three year old would be okay as he'd eaten some Ivory soap. Clearly she had never washed his mouth out for swearing with it! Since I'm getting to the end of the data on my internet, this will likely be the last posting until I'm in the maritimes which will be an almost tropical in itself type of weather for me. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How many cookies in a package?

I'm not sure why those post holiday work weeks are called 'short' because this one felt like a month. Could have something to do with the fact that although we're a three nurse health centre, we've been working with only two of us since October 2nd. Sure wish the third nurse would arrive, she started out Tuesday from Halifax and made it as far as Edmonton to overnight - Wed it was no flight attendant in Yellowknife, Thurs it was the weather here with a sudden ice fog, Fri it was no legal alternate which I think I explained before means the next community didn't have good weather and they don't carry enough fuel to make it up and back to Yellowknife so have to have a legal alternate to divert to, and today they were headed up and had an unscheduled stop in Cambridge Bay and the weather shut in so they turned back and never made it over here.  And I can tell you as the one waiting for a coworker, that it doesn't engender warm fuzzy feelings to see postings on FB stating they are drinking Strongbow cider in Traders Lounge. There is another nurse trying to make it in to Gjoa Haven as well so at least she's not having to drink alone. Mind you, flying all day, endless bags of chips, then ending up where you started, isn't that much fun when you're dragging all your crap with you which you bring for seven weeks. This weekend we split the call with Nellie doing first call until 1 am on Friday and then I plugged in the phone for the night (thankfully it didn't ring), today she was first call again, tomorrow I'm first. 

My main task of the day was to purchase the cookies and juice for the flu clinic which we start Monday (fully staffed or not) from the Northern Store. It was a challenge with the lack of flights lately as I depleted their stock of real juice boxes and still within date (good)  cookies on my mission. And while I'm on the topic....do you realize that packages of cookies don't actually state the number of cookies inside? They are measured by weight and this is a problem if you're trying to buy 200 cookies as instructed by your boss. Since I don't buy many packages of cookies, I was forced to fondle them and guess. I think I'll write Mr. Christie and express my displeasure. And don't even get me started on trying to find cookies and juice which will not trigger ANY of the allergies in the community. Add to this that the store staff were completely disinterested in their paid employment, busy checking out iPods, visiting with customers, eating, and generally ignoring using the cash registers. The line up behind me grew as the  intricacies of the purchase order were explored, I called Nellie for a number clarification and then I refused to pay $67 for twelve AA batteries (yes three packages of four) for the health centre thermometers. There were no cardboard boxes to be had (they are popular for carrying groceries on the Honda or skidoo and can be used to cut up seals or caribou and eat it raw - common joke is that it is an Inuit dining table) so it was quite a number of trips up and down the store steps and again at the health centre with armloads of juice boxes, felt like carrying in wood for the woodbox. A staff member (wearing gloves) is being tasked with serving the treats post vaccination as we don't want to be dealing with a gastro outbreak the following week from self serve. It's already rumbling around locally.

And speaking of shopping, especially northern shopping and shipping, this link to a blog from someone in Cambridge Bay:

by Simon Oleekatalik
Although it's been busy lately I did manage to arrange for a local carver to do a piece for a friend's summer neighbour. He does nice work out of caribou antler and soapstone, signed the piece and even made it to be disassembled for packing. He arrived in the middle of a busy clinic morning with the piece of art and I protested that I had to go to the ATM at the COOP store to pick up the cash. He was keen for the funds so I suggested that perhaps Nellie would man the phones and I would run over at noontime. He planned to meet me there. The morning (as many lately) was a write off and when noon came Nellie had to take the shipment of bloods we'd drawn to the airport for the flight - which didn't actually arrive but I digress. By then, I was putting a ring block and two 5-0 prolene sutures in the finger of an 18 month old who managed a triangular deep cut in his ring finger. Found the scissors his sister took upstairs to cut her Mr Freeze apparently. The mother wasn't keen on looking at the gash, so I told her to call in reinforcements and she phoned her husband who held the toddler tightly, she held the hand while looking away and it was a pretty quick procedure. I am getting faster and neater with practice. Before I started suturing I called the COOP and told the clerk to give a message to the carver that I wouldn't be able to come and he should come to the health centre to discuss alternate plans. I told him we'd try again after the clinic closed and he said "can't you go over at coffee break?" I laughed and told him that coffee break was not something that nurses get, he would be waiting until suppertime. He gave in. When he followed me to the store that evening and I handed over the money causing him to smile broadly, I felt like I was doing a drug deal or perhaps a ransom payment.

Had a nice FaceTime chat with my down the road buddy who tells me that she hasn't renewed her nursing license for 2014 so will work her last shift on Hallowe'en. I told her that not being licensed to work in NS was another thing we now had in common. Sounds like she's too busy in her retirement to work anyway. I know I certainly find lots to fill my 'time off'. My friend was telling me about going to walk the dog one day and finding her napping on her dog bed as it had been really rainy when the shore captain left so he'd let her stay inside and she woke up all discombobulated - kind of the way we humans do after napping. She quickly realized why she had company was very appreciative of the sprint. There apparently was a mink swimming along in the water when they walked (which she thankfully didn't see) as that could've ended badly with either a swim for all three, a tussle or worse. Sounds like the other dogwalker is enjoying her time volunteering at the animal rescue centre but reports she's been bitten by a squirrel, pigeon and ferret. 

I also (eventually) had a FaceTime chat with the life partner who was supposed to call me today. When it came 8:30 pm time in NS, I decided he'd forgotten (again) and tried connecting. It rang and rang, no answer, but a few moments later I heard my computer ringing. He admitted that he'd come home, eaten, taken a shower and fallen asleep in his la-z-boy chair. He got full marks for his honesty so was let off the hook. We discussed the details of upcoming vacations. The first being his redneck trip to 'back of Meat Cove, CB' the last week of October. The shore captain and the young fellow who manages things at the plant are going and have invited along a semi retired guy who works with them. He was told to "ask the boss" and apparently his wife let him go on the big excursion. As I said to the secretary "there'll be lots of stories, and some of them might even be true." They may or may not (depending on if/when they get a moose) be home before I arrive. If the shenanigans with flights continue, it will be me who is last in the door. Air Canada has already changed the flight from direct from Edmonton to Halifax to a stop in Pearson which increases the likelihood of issues and adds an hour to my day. 

Speaking of flights, there were some good seat sales this fall and the electrician daughter is coming home the last two weeks of November for a visit. Will be nice to have some time to spend together when I'm home and not working. And she'll get to take her own (and likely her sisters) lobsters back when she goes. 

And of course we're into the planning for the Mexico trip. The vouchers for the resort arrived in the email this week proving the shore captain had finalized the arrangements. It is a ways away but those March Break arrangements have to be made early or not at all. Looking forward to having the family all together in the sun for some fun. Nice to be thinking of the tropics while it's full winter here, the skidoos are becoming more plentiful every day. 

Speaking of fun...the young fellow who works as a janitor was called in last week and arrived after lunch. When I asked why he hadn't come in the morning he said "I went to bed at 7 am as we were up playing dare all night". When I asked for clarification it was explained as a card game called Elmo which included the concept of full house "oh, like poker, you were gambling!". This brought protests that it was called dare and that the loser had to "do a dare". Apparently his brother-in-law had lost and the dare was to "go to the Boothia Inn early in the morning wearing a hockey helmet and sell some leg hair on a piece of tape"(think waxing) and he giggled "it wasn't even his leg hair". When I asked if he'd been successful in his sales, the answer was "no" to which I replied "not a surprise".  The final statement of "I got it all on video, it's pretty funny" made me think of it going viral online but....I guess you had to be there. This is a culture of visiting, playing games, sharing and laughing - so used to seeing smiling faces, I've come to expect them.

Well, enough updating, going to crawl into bed a bit earlier than I usually do, just because I can. Less than two weeks remaining, looking forward to being a lady of leisure.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Yak Trax Required

Why is it that long weekends are never long enough? This one has included being on call every day and two out of the three have been first call. I think the community has been enjoying the holiday weekend themselves though as the call hasn't been too busy. I find the further on I get in the contract the less room I have for "I've had an itchy rash for two weeks,  I need you to look at it" kind of calls. This plea now gets you some benadryl in an envelope to pick up from the front porch. A couple of sick kids, some folks who tried unsuccessfully to get by my coworker (the nurse in charge) and have figured me for an easier (more insecure) nurse who's not comfortable telling someone with chest pain that's it a pulled muscle over the phone, even if they are 32, in no distress, lifted a boat over their head a few days ago and in great physical shape. Yes I'll see you but that does not earn you an EKG, just some advil. 

I even managed to watch one of the movies I'd downloaded to the laptop before heading up here and I throughly enjoyed Hysteria - it's about 'women's issues' in the 1880s in London - it's very funny and I highly recommend it. Think it was released in 2011 and stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Felicity Jones and Hugh Dancy - if you recognize any of those stars. Loosely based on the facts of the time. 

I went for a walk this afternoon just to get out and it was very brisk as I headed towards the airport. Definite error in judgement to not wear the snow pants. The Yak Trax (boot cleats) were sure a good idea as the roads are as slick as a glass bottle from the Hondas packing down the snow to ice. There was a sort of traffic line up on the way back from the First Air flight with passengers and freight being transported back into the hamlet. The snow which fell over the weekend will likely be here until June as last year this time in Cambridge Bay the 'staying snow' arrived. The sea ice is being pushed towards the shore and soon the NW Passage will be closed again. I was pleased to get a new Pang hat, seen above, as the previous one had stretched from putting it in the dryer. It's always nice when you can commission a new piece of clothing to match your jacket from one of the local crafts people. 

The days are getting pretty short here now compared to Nova Scotia as today sunrise was at 7:15
sunset at 4:45 pm and less daylight daily. My roommate who was looking out the window about 5:30 pm said "here comes a plane" which we don't usually notice, but with the darkness and their big lights on, it appeared as if it was coming to visit us. My apologies for the fuzzy shot but that's what you get by standing on a chair and taking the photo through the dining room window. It kind of looks like a UFO hovering over Taloyoak. Two planes in one day is a good track record for lately as the flights have been messed up with unsettled weather. The larger planes which can carry enough fuel to fly up and back from Yellowknife have a better chance of making it as they don't have to deal with the legal alternate - another local community which is safe to divert to if necessary - because the smaller prop planes refuel at each stop as they can't carry enough for a return flight plan. 

I usually try to include a few links for your educational pleasure and although I haven't completely checked out this micro lending site, it does at first glance look like a good idea. The premise is that you lend a small sum of money to a disadvantaged person and when the loan is repaid you can reinvest it again or take it back. Would be a good suggestion for a don't 'buy gifts for the sake of it' Christmas plan:

And on a kind of sombre note, a story from the Washington Post the speaks of tough decisions for elderly parents:

The other link which interested me is a bit more upbeat - a link to another blog - called Hyperbole and a Half - not sure if all the posts are as good as the most recent one on power, but I loved it :

And as there are a number of posts to this blog, and I've lost track of some of the links, I'm not sure if this link is a reposting, if so, it's good enough to say again:

Did the online check in as prompted for the Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Holland America, Westerdam next month. Had to have the travel partner look up the passport info when we had a FaceTime chat on Sunday, as he would not have the patience for the particulars, such as flight info etc. One of the questions necessitated a quick call to him today as the name of the hotel in Fort Lauderdale post cruise was required. I couldn't find the information as he'd booked the accommodation through Hotwire and printed it out at home. I'm not sure if it wasn't in his email or he couldn't remember the password to check it at the plant as he had put the phone down and was yelling "just give me a minute" from across the office when I was trying to tell him how, without access to the info I was managing fine as I saved info in my email and he should do the same. I was thinking the name of the little boutique hotel in Las Olas was a short name such as The Benches (I know, I know doesn't make sense) but when I Googled boutique hotels in Las Olas and The Pillars jumped out I had an aha moment and he agreed that was it - not too far off. Checked out the stateroom and balcony online, then printed the itinerary and luggage tags, woohoo all that sun and surf look pretty good when the scene outside the window is a winter wonderland - doesn't matter if it's October or February. 

The roommate and myself were invited out to supper at the mental health workers place with the SAO (Site Administrative Officer - like the CEO of the hamlet) and it was a great meal and good conversation. So since my turkey supper is settling on my tummy, it's time to get some shut eye and ready myself for a short work week. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lemons or Lemmings?

The title of this posting is from a patient (with a carbuncle which I was treating with antibiotics) who told me that when he was a little boy that his mother had treated these by putting the skin of a lemming on the boil and leaving it there overnight while it 'drew out the poison' as would a poultice. Took me a moment to realize he was saying lemming (as in small arctic critter that leaps over cliffs) versus the citrus fruit - I was sort of ruminating about how that would sting when I realized my error. Apparently it worked well. I told him that since I didn't have a lemming skin I would be giving him keflex and we both had a good chuckle. 

Speaking of small critters, my regular dog walker (who is clearly an animal lover) has gone to do an internship with an animal rescue centre called Hope for Wildlife www.hopeforwildlife.net and apparently she'd been bitten twice already by a squirrel - sure hope she comes home with more than seven fingers. Last weekend I looked out the window of the apartment and there was a huge sik sik (marmot) which I swear was the size of a small racoon calmly ambling around the bottom of the steps. Not hibernating yet and they apparently like to come inside so have to be watched. Rodents!

Personally, there's lots of effort required to keep up with the humans, let alone animals up here. As my cultural experience continues it occurred to me this week that when I ask patients about their symptoms they often give me what I consider vague answers, so I probe more concretely. For example "how long have you had this pain?" and the answer might be either "before" or "long time" to which I would say "a few minutes, days, weeks etc" as any nurse would and for this I receive the 'how stupid are you?' look and a quickly chosen number. So yesterday I asked two of the clerks the meaning of each and they were quickly definite in their answers that 'before' meant 10 - 15 minutes ago and 'long time' meant about a week to ten days previous. Could've knocked me over. I will have to add this to my translation of "where is your pain?" which a mother might say to a child "whare does it hurt - by here or by there?" The instruction 'you could' prefaces many statements such as "you could take it off" if referring to a sweater or "you could read?" meaning 'read that'. When I say "what is it like?" I might receive the reply "just like but not really" which I assume means 'sort of'. There is frequently the assertion that someone is 'trying to' as in "she's trying to catch a cold". Meaning, it's about to happen, or she's coming down with it" because no one would 'try' to do that. 

A lady came in for an appointment a couple of weeks ago for one issue and as she rose to leave she asked about having her bilateral tubal ligation reversed. I told her that I doubted this would either be funded or successful but I would check with the boss. When I asked, the nurse in charge flatly said "no, that is why they're told it's permanent and to be sure - the government won't pay for the travel or the operation". So I conveyed this message to the patient and she went on her way. The next week my coworker mentioned that she'd been in requesting a pregnancy test as she had symptoms (even though she'd had the BTL) and my colleague obliged by dipping the urine and saying "no, of course you're not pregnant" to which the patient brightly said "oh well, we'll just have to keep on trying then" and left. My nerves. 

Nunavut residents as a group are a fertile bunch with the youngest population in Canada having 57% under age 24 years. Over the weekend I had a lady in with her adopted 14 month old, she told me she was visiting the community to see her grandson and named him. We chatted about the baby he was fathering and I said "that will make you a great grandmother" she was pleased to learn the English name for the title. Something made me ask her age and she said "56" and I said "I'm 57 and I'm okay with waiting for grandchildren" and she said "you're old". Well, by definition up here I sure am. Mind you I read the latest TB Guidelines and they speak of elderly Canadians defined as age 55 and older. How rude. 

A few call nights ago (they are beginning to run together now) I had a phone call from a woman saying that her grandmother was unable to move her leg, was in pain and needed to be seen. Now when she named the patient I had an instant mental image of the short, rotund, limited English language elder the patient was. I attempted to coach the family through getting a chair, helping her to the Honda etc. to no avail. The granddaughter insisted on speaking to the nurse in charge and ultimately we made a house call - no ambulance or even first responders here. The elder had a knee which had 'locked' and was on the couch unable to straighten her leg or weight bear. We arrived with the SUV, the foldable stretcher (I made a return trip for the straps which I didn't realize were separate) and supervised the transfer to the equipment with the eight strong young men who had been summoned by the family. As I looked at them I realized that one of them was packing a baby (meaning carrying it in a packing vest on his back) of about six months. A few moments later the little one was bouncing in an exersaucer which had appeared and she and the three month old in the bouncy seat were being watched by the youngest infants sixteen year old mother. We coordinated the patient transfer out the door, down the steep stairs and into the back of the SUV. I was instructed to drive to the health centre and I did so slowly as the patient lay quietly alone in the back, my boss said "are you okay?" and she grunted "yup". I was horrified to think what would happen if I took a corner too quickly and tipped her over. When we arrived at the ramp of the health centre the crowd of young, strong men ( tried to not think of them as pallbearers) had materialized and were milling about as I backed up. They quickly retrieved the human cargo who was inside the centre before I had the vehicle back in the garage. We gave a pain med and xrayed the leg which had a happy ending as it spontaneously unlocked (of course while I was on the phone to the Doc on call) making my coworker ecstatic. Just the usual problem of no footwear to go home with when you've arrived on a stretcher and I scampered upstairs to get my boots but they were too small. She was pleased with the offer and her daughter translated the "I know where you live" retrieval joke to her. I told my coworker that I was pleased to have a dress rehearsal of a house call as there was no major bleeding, stopped breathing or unresponsiveness involved as would likely be the case with something more sinister. 

I had a FaceTime chat with the life partner who is struggling with preparation for the upcoming lobster season and all the angst that goes locally with putting all your eggs in one basket (or one industry) as many can't stand the pressure. He is diversified and so deals with various sectors but marches to many drums. He had gotten involved with the measuring for tonnage of a vessel for sale as a local trouble maker had told the buyer that this should be done. To quote the shore captain as he described the family this guy comes from "if they didn't start it, they're right in the middle of it". Sounds like he's having the kind of week I am here. I managed to put 9 4-0 prolene sutures in a finger this week in about half the time it would have taken me last contract and managed a very effective ring block, if I do say so myself. 
Tonight I made a cake with chocolate icing as one of the staff is moving to an office in another building - any excuse - for tomorrow. Bit harder to get the motivation to bake when you no dishwasher but I am using up the supplies. And just for the record, when you notice the price for 2.5 kg of flour, no I did not buy the flour here. Not sure how many will be around to share it if the major snowstorm outside doesn't moderate. It's as any workplace, if you take baked goods, they will disappear. 

It's a sort of freezing rain/snow combo that it is being whipped around with high winds. Reminds me of a Nova Scotia blizzard but that kind of forecast is months away down there. Three weeks from tonight I'll be storing my 'stuff' and getting ready to make a run for it. So glad that work is 'down the stairs' when I look out the window. No kids out there causing problems tonight. I'm guessing the
 security guard is drinking tea in the 'office' and not worrying about wolves in the dark. The construction crew will have their work cut out for them tomorrow if it is safe enough to get up on the metal framework. Sure hope that crane isn't over on its side when I get up. 

Time to take the apartment phone to bed, in case I have to back up my partner, and get rested up for tomorrow. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

How old are you?

Yes, yes I do still keep this blog it's just that......life got in the way of posting. I am always amazed when folks ask "what do you do to keep yourself from getting bored when you're up north?" Bored? I have trouble getting enough hours into the day. Mind you, that should mean I have lots to update you about from the past ten days eh?

To begin, I was abandoned yesterday by my coworker who at this moment as I type is asleep in a bed in Nova Scotia. This means that the SHP (nurse in charge) and myself are holding down the fort. I'm first on call tonight and she's second call, then tomorrow we reverse roles. This is the pattern until the third CHN comes in on October 16th. We'll sure be sure happy to see her by then. This will give me a taste of what it would be like to work in a two nurse station such as the one I was offered the job share for though. 

It has been a frantic week with four visiting consultants in to our little health centre. The GP who comes four days out of the month, the Pediatrician who comes twice a year and the Occupational Therapist and Speech Pathologist who visit quarterly. I am not sure why they all scheduled their visits together but it sure made for close quarters. I was working out of the storage / lab room since Monday and the waiting room was continually full of all ages. It also reminded me why I have chosen to work more independently and that I have no intention of spending that much time with 'the team' other than nurses unless I'm forced to, as we don't posture and show off for each other - no point in that!

Got Milk? No
Going back over the past ten days... let me see. The weather had been really unsettled for over a week with ice fog, dust, crosswinds and low visibility so flights hadn't been getting in or out. The ultrasound tech got stuck in the next community and then with us for a few days each. One of the nurses tried for six days in a row to fly into Gjoa Haven. Each day she packed up her stuff (remember she's flying in with her food etc) and flew around Nunavut but ended up back where she began. Kind of like that movie Groundhog Day. Someone from Cambridge Bay had posted on FaceBook "flew around all day, multiple bags of chips, back where I started from, try again tomorrow". The stores were depleted of perishable supplies (2 cartons of milk left) and those travelling for medical appointments were stuck in or out. Apparently there has to be something called a 'legal alternate' which means that once planes fly into the Kitikmeot the next airport has to be available to them should they have to divert as they refuel at every airport due to being so small. With the combination of no fuel in Kugaaruk (the fuel supply ship couldn't get in as the ice pushed it out) leaving it unavailable and other communities without visibility there was no legal alternate and they couldn't fly. 

There was a polar bear sighted at the airport and promptly shot and skinned - it was about six feet so not a particularly big one. My coworker got to suture the finger from that knife skinning accident. My evening began with a young fellow with hives who (his mother had diagnosed as his sister had the same) was allergic to narwhale. He'd been eating the mauktauk (whale blubber) for supper. There had been a narwhale entangled in nets and so shared amongst the community. I asked our janitor where the narwhale was as I wanted to get a photo if it was close and when I asked him if he'd seen it, he said "just the mauktauk" meaning it was already cut up. That same evening I got two lacerations in at the same time so I taped the first one and sutured the other, learning to do a ring block and putting three 4-0 prolene sutures in the finger tip. When I got the call I asked how old the guy who had been sharpening the ulu to cut frozen caribou was (I wanted to be able to find his chart) his mother said "he's old enough to go out alone". 

Actually, getting an accurate age out of anyone up here is a challenge. I had someone call about their sister and when I inquired about her age, she had to go ask the sister. Now, I might say my sister is 52 because she's just had her birthday and is 53 but to not even be able to hazard a guess? A coworker was able to top that as she said a mother asked her child how old he was? I also had a mother who was wandering in the hall, and my coworker thought she was trying to get us to examine the child (jumping the queue) but when I asked what we could do, she said "I got the medicine but he thinks he needs to be checked, you could tell him that he doesn't need to". I told the very earnest little guy of about seven that he was fine and they trotted away while I went back to my office shaking my head. Statements such as "I'm going out on October twenty-two or gazing thoughtfully at the calendar in my office and choosing a date of the last menstrual period or when the cough or pain started as if the numbers speak to them is not unusual. 

Last Friday night as first call I was awoken by the phone at 3:45 am so I groggily said "emergency line, nurse on call" and was informed by a strongly accented French voice identifying himself as Cpl. Stefan (something or other) that 'if someone should call about the red pickup truck with the window smashed out in front of the Boothia Inn that they would find out who did it after 9 am as they were going to sleep". I was completely confused and said "were there any injuries?" thinking that I might expect a call and he replied "no, no just the window of the truck but we're going to sleep so we'll deal with it after 9 am". By now, I was more awake and not impressed (although we do our best to stay on the good side of the boys in blue as they could potentially bring us trouble if we hassle them) so I said "who called you?" and he gave me the name William and a phone number but again said "I just didn't want anyone to call me as I'm going to sleep". So I promised not to call him and wake him up as he had just done to me. I went back to sleep and in the morning read my note and rushed over to tell the coworker who already had a less than positive impression of this dude as his only appearance at the health centre had been to drop off a form with specific instructions as to when it was to be completed and he'd be back to pick it up. Just to explain - you don't tell CHNs when to do things or you're going to get them done when they're good and ready, and it's good to keep the lines of communication open between the health and the law. This guy is clearly on his first trip north and lacking in the people skills department. When the GP came in for his clinic I was telling him as we closed for the day about the red truck as he stays at the hotel and told him to go all CSI on the situation and see what he could come up with. A few moments later he phones the health centre to tell me that the red half ton is in the hotel parking lot with plastic taped over the hole where the window should be. I told him not to give up his day job as I had that much info from my middle of the night call. The next day I got my chance to discuss the situation with the Cst. who is clearly raising Stefan while managing the community and he was completely unaware of the call and apologetic. He said "he teaches at RCMP Depot, hasn't been north and doesn't have a clue". Although I felt petty I asked him to relay my displeasure with Stefan's call and tell him that he was lucky it wasn't a week night. Josh finally said "you know, I bet he thought he was calling the communications centre and was telling them not to call him as their number is 1111 and the health centre is 5111". Now, a local, intoxicated person making that mistake is cut some slack but the RCMP themselves? Not amused. 

Mural at Netsilik School
Traditional display

Got tasked with ambushing some very reluctant to be immunized girls at the school so headed over to Netsilik School with a cooler of vaccine and the consents in hand. 
Alas, the girls were absent so I spent a few minutes checking out the mural on the wall and the collection at the front of the school which serves as a museum. Very interesting, will have to try to find my way back there. There was a large husky which I was unsure of waiting at the bottom of the steps but "Daisy" thought I had something good in the cooler and just ambled over to the vehicle. 

Had a FaceTime chat with the life partner and he was sitting in the veranda with a beautiful sunset over the harbour behind him so he was showing me the view and I said "what are those things on the right?" and he looked and said "what? trees?" and then laughed heartily. Little tundra humour there. 

The first born had her birthday and although she spent it at work, the guys on the project even remembered her special day. Spoke to her on the phone that evening and she is all settled into her new community of Bowden which is smaller and much closer to work with the kitties who are liking the new apartment although.....they killed a lamp the other day. Oh dear. I sent her the story of how the gorillas at the Calgary Zoo had broken in (for the second time) to the kitchen where the food is prepared and she was pretty certain the kitties would do the same. 

Speaking of animal collections the family of four continues to manage except that the baby daughter picked up a gastro bug at work, got dehydrated and ended up with some meds and two litres of IV fluid to rehydrate herself. She told the boyfriend (so he wouldn't worry and think it was too serious as in the Emergency Dept) that she was in ambulatory care and he thought she'd been brought in by ambulance and almost tripped getting over there. He doesn't speak nurse yet. 

Roadies setting up a concert?
The project at sunset
The construction project next door which will become the new health centre in two (more likely three) years is moving along swiftly as they work to close it in before the weather stops them. There are huge floodlights and the work continues on into the evening as sunrise is 6:30 am and sunset 5:30 pm today. Lots of construction crews makes for some jealousy in the local community with the 'visiting' of local girls. Kind of like junior high. 

Well, time to head for the bed as it has been silly season for calls this evening - is it a full moon? I didn't think so.....