Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fly out of here flu

Looking at only three weeks remaining….after the mid point the time slips by quickly.  The past two weeks were busy what with bidding adieu to my coworker who headed back to her long suffering husband, 12 year old (thinks she's 22) daughter and 10 year old son. She was not looking forward to the housework which awaited her. They were very much looking forward to her arrival. A number of calls, texts, video chats her final week over various issues that arrive with the developmental age of her youngsters. One afternoon a message said her husband was taking the son for stitches, texted photos and a video chat established that it could be steri stripped back together. Her husband was sourcing paper for a book report (due the next day of course) when she reached him, he sounded exasperated and said "how do you know it needs stitches anyway?" Apparently her son had fallen on his computer but the daughter added that it wasn't just a fall…a buddy of his had tripped him and finished dramatically with "he's too young to have stitches". I gently suggested that leaving (even for a month and with a great husband who works days) gets tougher as their puberty gets closer.  I told her I felt the need to wait until the nest was empty before I did the northern gig, the life partner can fend for himself and now that the dog is no longer with us I feel no guilt - cats certainly don't care as long as someone puts food in the dish. I fed her lobster chowder, biscuits and brownies as her farewell supper and she was ecstatic. I gave the leftover chowder to the clerk for her families lunch as I have pretty ready access to lobster and it's not such a luxury for me. 

There was a community meeting here to discuss the polar bear population, quotas and management plan and although I toyed with the idea of going, in the end opted out. The clerk gave me the overview the following morning, especially as it related to the hybrids (polargrizz) in the area. Some female polar bears have (for over a decade) mated with grizzlies (not racist as they like brown males a community member in Uluhaktuk said at the last presentation) which moved into the area with climate change. Actually, both populations of bears are pretty mobile as a mother and cubs were found walking down the highway in Deline this week and that's quite south in NWT. The hybrid offspring are studied / reported on by hunters and scientists and the polargrizz and grizzlies seem to live in the NE Banks Island and NW Victoria Island areas. The Inuit are respectful of polar bears but after centuries know what to expect from them, grizzly bears at least in this area are new to them and they are (with good reason) afraid of them. Samples are taken from every bear harvested - fur, meat, fat etc. to be tested for mercury, DNA typing, diseases etc. There are 77 tags in the region for polar bear harvesting and 26 of them issued to Sachs Harbour, so we are clearly polar bear central here. The clerk raised a good point when she asked why the hybrids are issued a polar bear tag as they are only 50% polar bear? Still lots of details to be worked out. 

Bureaucracy won the past week as I argued with HR, struggled with the MFU, fought with the computer and attempted to comply with various bureaucratic directives…as we hurtle towards the fiscal year end. 

Watching all the photos posted of March Break fun reminds me of past vacations with the kids from the most basic to more elaborate tropical trips. The teacher daughter and son in law have returned from Arizona so I guess the tradition continues. Some great deals on travel this year, whether it's the uncertainty of the North American economy, reduced fuel prices or just overcapacity in the market….consumers are benefiting. The nurse daughter and husband having just bought a house are shopping for a lawnmower…as I gaze out on lots of winter still remaining here and think of not having a lawn at all to mow at home the concept is foreign. Better them than me. 

I tried to have a FaceTime chat with the shore captain last Sunday who had returned from the Seafood Show with his annual viral illness and that was a performance I don't wish to repeat. He couldn't get the iPad to work, at one point it was sideways, his head hurt and he actually said 'I don't know how long I'm gonna last' his hearing was worse than ever, lots of sighing and moaning. I got the daughter to dial up with Skype and it was perfectly fine so clearly the operator, but even with a good connection….Clearly not a good call on his part to omit the flu shot this year. The chat today went much smoother except for a few reconnections. I noted that he had shaved for the 'other woman' in his life as the CFIA inspection due this week would require wearing a beard net if not. Ha! Always surprises me to see green and trees out the window when we chat. Texted with the boy captain on his way in from lobstering the other night and he said they'd been getting out about once a week due to weather…been a good year he said which speaks volumes. He'd been avoiding his father's bugs, but felt the plant employees had passed it on to a crew member so the bug was on the boat. sigh. 

The entire north has been ill as influenza makes its way across and this community didn't escape it, nor did I although perhaps a milder version due to being immunized. Of course being the solo nurse in community meant I couldn't even use sick time and go to bed (as did the clerk) but had to keep seeing people who weren't as sick as I was and watch them put a cigarette in their face on the way out the door….that dynamic never increases the empathy. Have had the weekend to rest up and feeling much better. Watched a couple of movies, crocheted, read - finished The Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton which was one of those well researched / written books he was famous for. Chased the carpenters working on the other apartments here as they need access to the garage occasionally. 

The time change makes for a lighter evening but messes with the head of course. The days are getting longer exponentially up here so we have more than 12 hours of daylight no matter what time it occurs this week. Locals are already discussing spring fishing and looking ahead to goose hunting. It was warm (relatively) here today at -23c and I had to put on my sunglasses to look out the window across the sea ice. 

Must get back to watching the media coverage of the Obamas in Cuba - pretty interesting developments as it's been 88 years since a USA president visited that country. And just think….we could be watching a Rolling Stones free concert in Havana next weekend if we'd played our cards right! The times they are a changing. 

I leave you with a link to a travel blog by a mature female traveller who is at present in Europe - Travels with the Red Suitcase:

Proving that travel at any age is how you make it!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

No hot water = cranky old nurse

For any healthcare workers reading this post I'm going to open with "must've been something in the air this week" and you'll know exactly what I'm going to describe. Not as serious as "full moon" or someone carelessly using the Q word but….silly season. There was so much ridiculous going on Friday morning that I phoned my job share partner (who is moon lighting on a home care gig in the other territory) and said "get on the plane, I'm not giving two weeks notice, I am out of here" and for a moment she took me seriously. When I described the shenanigans she agreed that it was tempting for me. Apparently there had been lots of 'sarsaparilla' shipped in on the flight Thursday night and the repercussions were ongoing. The verbal abuse from repeated inebriated phone calls that morning had tipped the scales. She agreed that today was not a great day but suggested I should sleep on my decision, I got the answers to a couple of end of month reporting bureaucracy questions and we signed off. You know you're struggling when…The clerk made an apple crisp for Fibre Friday (which is how we're presenting the Cancer Prevention information - high fibre low fat foods) and headed over to the COOP with it. If they won't come to you, then we deliver. It took a bit of persuading as folks were sceptical of the ingredients and their effects….but free food is free food and so it was consumed. 

Not sure if any of you have watched the animated movie Home which I saw last week, but it is a cute story of space creatures who come to earth. The main BOOV voice is Sheldon on Big Bang Theory as well as Rhianna, Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin. There was an email from the territorial Minister of Health (he doesn't usually invade my inbox) to all of us in health centres across NWT admonishing us to check for inappropriate stickers seen here on the right. There was an accompanying media story of a sticker handed out by a Dr in NB (who clearly hadn't looked at it) to an aboriginal child. Needless to say, the chief of the reserve was quite unimpressed. I was relieved to find we had nothing of the kind and sort of puzzled as to who thought these were a good idea. I don't remember the quote from the movie….

And speaking of ridiculous….last week as I was readying to head upstairs (after negotiating the leaving of cotton balls for a dog's ear treatment in the front entryway but that's another story) at 5 pm, my coworker appeared leading someone (not from the community) who introduced himself as a Census Canada employee. I had a great deal of trouble following the conversation and it wasn't due to his mild French Canadian accent, it was because he was wearing a crocheted horses head hat complete with mane!!! The theme from The Godfather was playing so loudly in my head that I couldn't concentrate. When we finally established that I would be at home in May and likely no one at my house would deal with census forms without my urging, reassured I would not be counted twice, he took his leave. Not sure why my colleague let him in after we locked the door but she seemed as gobsmacked as me with him. Apparently there is no dress code for census workers. 

We (described as my coworker, myself and the DPW maintenance dude) have been struggling with the hot water boiler. Three days of the last week there have been cold showers in the morning. Yes, I realize that large portions of the developing world would be grateful for running water, even cold but….this is Canada, no matter how far north, and it sure makes this old nurse cranky to start her day out that way! Apparently this is an ongoing issue but I made it clear to the hapless DPW employee that ongoing was coming to an end as my patience was wearing thin. He looked suitably worried so hopefully that will result in a solution. Clearly end of year DPW budget cautions were not on my list of concerns. 

I finished up a Future Learn course I was doing on Strategies for Healthy Aging. Overall it was quite good, not a lot of new information but interesting, and some of the participant comments were funny. Someone in the group posted a nice article on emotional retirement planning (vs financial) which I insert for your reading pleasure here:

There was an amusing story in one of the videos about 'crystallized intelligence' which apparently us older folks have in abundance. Described as putting together information gathered from various sources to solve a puzzle even though you've not been in this exact situation. The anecdote was from a researcher who said his in-laws arrived in Washington for a visit as a blizzard raged, emerging from the train station the roads were terrible so they couldn't find a taxi. The father in law decided they would cross the street to the take out pizza shop with delivery, ordered a pizza to their daughter/son in law's address and convinced the driver to take them along. I loved it! One of my resolutions is to write more, thus attempting to get my act together with this post. 

Since today was a -41c day I spent it inside on the sofa crocheting and watching a movie…Mud, any opportunity to see Matthew McConaughey with his shirt off is a good movie and Reese Witherspoon is always fun. I also watched a video on mindfulness (living in the present moment) where the lecturer (who unpretentiously described himself as a card carrying human being) advised the audience to "check your watch, it's now again". The intent was to remind us not to rush from one thing to another thinking the future will be better as now is the future of a few moments ago. Ahhhh if only. Both screenings were better than viewing folks tropical photos on FaceBook. 

I shuffled the few steps over to the school one afternoon muttering to myself into the fur of my parka "never lose an opportunity to immunize". Usually vaccines require an ice pack to ensure maintenance of the cold chain (2-8 c) but in this case I put the medication in my inner jacket pocket so it wouldn't freeze with the wind chill. Adaptation to the conditions. 

Mind you, Nova Scotia received a dumping of snow today with gusty winds, so a bit of winter left there. The shore captain headed over with some like minded businessmen to the Seafood Show in Boston who this year opted for a direct charter flight out of Yarmouth. Travel is usually longer than their stay as it takes three days return when you factor in the winter roads, ferry and two nights hotels enroute with only two days at the expo. Those travelling on regular flights out of Halifax were delayed, routed through Montreal and not arriving until late tonight. Just think I'm missing out on all that schmoozing and industry talk. 

One of the positives of this week was to be offered the bread pans from the coworkers apartment. She had attempted to bake brownies in them which (as might be expected) didn't work out well. The red river cereal bread turned out wonderfully, but I sure missed the Kitchen Aide mixer when kneading - haven't done that for a while. As well I found a recipe for molasses cookies which were just like my mother used to make….ahh a taste from my past. Made a large batch and I took them to sewing class and gifted the departing RCMP family with them. Baking is therapy but sharing the results is a better idea without a roommate to consume them.