So at about the two week mark since the last post, I am ready to update you. I was ready to update you many times before the two week mark but…..northern life got in the way. The eight week contracts take on a rhythm of their own where as you ready to travel in, you don't really want to leave - kind of like looking at the last day off before heading back to the next set of shifts - but once you start packing and actually get going, it's not all that bad. Once you're 'in community' you just settle in and make up your mind to make the best of it and then….. I've found that the third week in of the contract is the longest, where it seems like I've been here a long time and still have a long ways to go - this feeling only lasts for a couple of days and is akin to losing sight of one shore while not being able to view the one I'm headed to. I am past the mid-point marker with only three weeks remaining and as the slide to the finish edges closer, the time seems to speed up. Such is the life of a transient person.
We had (another) blizzard last week and as we were in day two of what looked like four snow days….we delivered a baby at the health centre. A prenatal (who was booked to travel out the next week) having her fifth baby and was about 35 weeks gestation, slept through the labour and presented herself with regular contraptions about 5 minutes apart and almost fully dilated. I was giving a lady the antibiotics for her chest infection I'd diagnosed, when my roommate appeared at the pharmacy door and said "you're the maternity nurse, we're having a baby, come on" and….away we went to the OBS room. I decided not to share that it had
|5 pm sunset towards the airport|
It's well and truly winter now and the snow machines are out in full force. Still a few Hondas around as they'll still start, but the roar of skidoos is the predominant sound. Very disconcerting when you're first call to see and hear them whipping by. As I was walking home from the store the other day, the smell of snow machine exhaust from two that passed me caused me to feel 23 yrs old on the back of ourskidoo in Labrador. Smell is such an evocative sense isn't it? I went for a walk after work tonight (clearing my mind after wild child afternoon aka well baby immunization clinic) and the 5 pm sunset was beautiful, even at -16c with the wind chill.
One of the good things about working in a more relaxed northern setting is laughing WAY more than in a traditional 'southern' workplace. For example, as the A/SHP (acting nurse in charge) and I were standing outside the pharmacy door, one of the local staff approached to say there was a lady wanting something. We both heard "she wants some NIX for her knees" and responded in unison "What? Nix goes on your head!" but Edith clarified "NO, she wants some NIX for her niece". Nix of course being the treatment for head lice. The Mental Health Worker was explaining that he led with the things no one wants to talk about "hi I'm Femi, I'm 55 years old and I weight 220lb. now that we've got that out of the way we can get along". I explained that I wasn't telling anyone how much I weighed, but my age wasn't a problem. I am the STI (sexually transmitted infections) nurse - meaning I'm supposed to be testing, treating, tracking down contacts then doing test of cures. I was discouraged to find last week that there were enough new cases of STIs that I would need to take my socks off to count them, couldn't just use my fingers. There were several cases of 'the immaculate chlamydia' where married couples each named only the other partner as their sole contact…..ummmm I don't think so. On Monday, when I was first call (the health centre is closed for lunch and first call nurse puts on the answering machine and takes the cell phone home) I received an emergency call wondering if anyone wanted to buy sealskin kamiks. A coworker had a call from a rather slow person who babysits and she was describing the child's sore throat, when she was told to "come in to the health centre" she said "should I bring her?" Ummm yes I think so as she's the one you're calling about. It's not all fun and games as I got 1 hour and 45 minutes of sleep (not consecutively either) on Thursday night and had to work the following day. Mind you, Rosie the CHR (community health representative) often makes us bannock fried in a cast iron frying pan and served warm with jam at the end of the week and so we've come to look forward to Bannock Fridays.
We of course, as any employees do, look forward to paydays, especially those of us who haven't received a direct deposit since July. I am never impressed when I see the amount of income tax deducted but if I'm doing well enough to have that bother me…..it's a first world problem. We have been working short so with fewer nurses the call is closer together and it's been fairly busy so... lucrative. Next week with additional nurses arriving we'll be down to one in five. Since we're on the topic of the filthy lucre I should mention that I was casting about for various employment options and discovered that the agency nurses are paid according to the size of the health centre + a standard per diem. This translates to $650/day for a CHN in a two nurse centre, $620/3 nurses and $590/5 nurses per 24 hr shift (callbacks aren't compensated) which is comparable to the $600/day which my ACP (advanced care paramedic) buddy earns on contract in the oilfields. I have at times considered doing OHN work there as it sounds equally lucrative. I have applied for an 8 wk job share position in a small (140 souls) hamlet in NWT but am not sure if I'll go through with the process as a colleague tells me the pay will be about half of what I'm earning now. And speaking of money and contacts…. my roommate committed to a 9 wk contract over Christmas and her hubby (who was going to join her for 2 wks) can't get Aeroplan flights in - would cost over $4000 to get in and out from Ottawa. I haven't dared ask what their plans are. I know her long term plans include working in remote BC locations vs coming back here.
It's not as if I am without non work activities to fill my time. As I mentioned to my roommate today "your knitting is coming right along" and she replied "about the same as your crocheting". Meaning neither of the projects had been handled in any way except to move them from one side of the coffee table to the other. I did read a book I found in the nightstand entitled My Mountie and Me which was not even a long publication and have made a thank you card from my scrapbook supplies but….only one.
I am at present procrastinating from doing my pre-course assignment for the Diploma of Tropical Nursing course that I'm attending in about a month. The multiple pages of the over one dozen readings (381 page books, 165 page PDF documents and 18 page articles for example) are barely begun. One additional chore will be learning to use the Harvard referencing system, which in all the studies I've done is not one I've used (of course). I was eating my lunch and reading about worm burden (only a nurse can write that truthfully) this weekend and realized….this is a LOT of work….what was I thinking? I am using flash cards I've created with the various worm names on the front and I am sure there will be lots of discussion about EVD (ebola virus disease) in Liverpool as many of the lecturers at the LSTMH work in the field in Africa. I have decided as I watch events unfolding in the media that fear-bola is worse than ebola itself. I've tried to review a couple of webinars but those will have to wait until I'm in a location with more bandwidth. I ordered the two course textbooks from Amazon and they should be delivered this week at home. I did however register online for the University of Liverpool and uploaded a photo - likely will look like one of those distorted mirror shots by the time they get in on an ID tag. I am not concerned. My roommate was looking at photos of fruit in a third world food market and I told her the rule is….peel it, cook it or forget it….and she said "the lettuce looks great" and I screamed "lettuce and sprouts are THE worst" and she sighed and pronounced "this course is really twisting your mind". Now that I'm not arguing with.
The physician, her husband (who has been substitute teaching here) and their dog flew out today. They'll be back here in February for another locum but we already miss her. One of those great Dr. you not only trust but like and yes you can have various combinations of those two descriptors. When the little guy we delivered arrived for his well baby checkup as he was home from Yellowknife yesterday she had us take her photo with him. Nice to have someone like that be on the other end of the phone when you have to call for help.
So….I must get my act together and read another article as tonight I'm not on call and the days are slipping away.