Sunday, May 14, 2017

Two for the money....

Safely settled in the high arctic and a bit of a challenge to figure out how to update the blog but.... no worries as you know that nurses are problem solvers....the dilemma is that in my over a year absence some (quite a few actually) things have changed (as they are wont to do) and one of those situations is accessing the internet. I have brought my MacBook Air and previously used a modem but, my partner has moved on to something on her phone called a mifi (no idea, don't ask) and so just using data on my phone is the plan for the month. This is fine for accessing email, short chats, posting photos and catching up on the news, however not practical for a long document. So....I have logged on to the network in the office, emailed myself / saved photos and signed in to blogspot so here we go.

I am being accompanied on this initial four week return to work rotation by the life partner. This is a perk offered by my employer to indeterminant (either full or permanent part time) employees as a family member is sponsored to accompany us to work, it's usually popular over the Christmas holidays and school breaks - my job share partner brought her daughter last summer - but the call of ice fishing / goose hunting was too much for the recently retired shore captain to pass up this year. Previously the lobster season at home has made for a busy time in May when the weather, 24 hours of daylight and game made it the best time of year to be north. Only minimal complications of traveling with a gun/ammo and hunting gear so it has been good to travel with a Sherpa for the stacks of luggage...just pile that on top and bring it to oversized baggage will ya?

We had minor travel complications with the Edmonton hotel clerk putting my vegetables in the freezer (this is NOT the first time it's happened so I confirmed three times to put them in the cooler NOT freezer...sigh) and the potatoes, celery and tomatoes especially were very unhappy and needed to be cooked up early. We were delayed by a blizzard here and unable to make it over from Inuvik on Monday so took a cab in from the airport, called the travel clerk who booked us a room at the Nova Inn and explored the most northerly town in Canada. Introduced myself (and hubby) to our Nurse Manager (who had changed in my absence) shopped for some souvenirs and stopped for supper/drinks at Shivers. Felt a bit guilty when I discovered the next day there had been medevacs that evening after the weather lifted. Check in with Aklak Air and prioritize the luggage - gun and perishable food first - manage to get all but two bags on the flight with us. It's a smooth trip up above the clouds and over to Banks Island, but unable to see the landscape. It's so good to be welcomed at the airport by my job share partner who has always believed in me and that this would be happening again. A quick hand off and she exits for the plane, we take the vehicle to the health centre.

I unpack the groceries, grab some lunch, send the man to COOP for milk and eggs, change into my scrubs and head downstairs doing my best to settle into the routine and get up to speed as the Dr is arriving to begin clinic tomorrow. I'm working with a CHN who is the age of my daughters so feel right at home. We decide that we're a good fit of young and old and I take call the first night, cautioning my colleague I may need her for backup as my brain is still rusty. One fairly routine call in the evening which gives me the chance to get back into the swing of things and a full nights sleep. It feels wonderful to be back!!

The next day is steady as we work our way through the Dr clinic and I receive lots of welcome back hugs. The physicians are using an electronic medical records system called WOLF (not sure what it stands for but a great northern name) with one of the main bonuses being the notes and prescriptions are printed out legibly, supposedly the consults make their way through the system as well but....being nurses who have seen lots of new technology fails, we opt to fax them in addition....just in case. The inhouse hunter spends part of the day getting the health centre snowmobile working. This requires a trip to COOP for sparkplugs, a (new) rectal tube to siphon gas to pour on the carburetor, my hairdryer and an extension cord to unthaw the lines and finally the custodian reported that "there's a strange man driving the health centre skidoo around the front" I assured her that he was pretty strange but we knew about him. He reported that $53 of gas filled the tank so "pretty expensive." He chauffeurs me over to the ENR office to pick up my fishing license and the machine is purring. We entertain the Dr and my coworker that evening for supper, enjoying gifted muskox which was marinated/braised by my colleague and must-be-cooked veggies, wine (always requested of the Dr when traveling here) and fruit (again from Inuvik) with gelato which the clerk made us before exiting to the lake to go ice fishing for a few days. Roughing it? Not a chance!

As the week moves along I manage to get myself together enough to draw bloodwork, process and package lab specimens to send off to Inuvik / Edmonton without too many questions, handle some paperwork, play with the new x-ray system (PACS) and get up to speed on peoples histories. The larger challenges are systemic (of course) with reactivating my email account then throwing out 462 messages from over a year with only two being needed, entering my time on PeopleSoft to get paid, ordering supplies and enjoying the pill dispenser of candies our manager sent for nurses week. She also generously gifted us a $75 purchase order for the COOP which we splurged on supper/breakfast to entertain the (fog delayed) physician. Have sure been less recognized on my 'special week'.

Had time to fit in a Friday evening run on the skidoo to the Mary Sachs / Cape Kellett area which is
Cape Kellet
about an hours run west of the community. The Mary Sachs was a ship from the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913 - 1916 which the hamlet is named for. It was a beautiful sunny excursion where we saw two geese, one ptarmigan (partridge) and two cranes, oh and some muskox turds, no polar bears. I had some refresher skidoo driving lessons on the return trip and feel comfortable now handling the snow machine myself. Took a hike up to the airport
and checked out the amazing white views from the hills of the community, Amundsen Gulf and lakes, this spot is breathtakingly beautiful! Ice fishing was successful for the shore captain and he
4.5 lb lake trout
Sachs Harbour
had a small arctic char the first time, a good sized lake trout the second trip in the evening where he arrived back at 1 am (those who know him realize this was well past his bedtime) but he is earning his keep - fish for supper this evening. The lake ice is well over five feet thick so will be with us for a while. The geese are beginning to arrive and by next week should be here in large flocks, with snow geese becoming a nuisance and ruining the roots of tundra grasses there will be no problem with permission from the HTC (Hunters & Trappers Committee) for hunting - that will keep him entertained. My job share partner returns on Tuesday evening and we have discussed sending the old guy over to the spare apartment if he acts up, so he will need to be on his best behaviour.

I have found myself startled a few times when mister enters a room because I'm not used to being north with him and it seems as if he is in the wrong place, but he doesn't require much minding as we've lived north before. He is starting to take my suggestions seriously as's Friday so you had better check on gas as I don't think it's open Saturday or Sunday....he couldn't believe there wouldn't be fuel available on the weekend....can you guess who was right that time? Be careful with the sewing machine if you're making that canvas shotgun attempting to find a Singer sewing machine needle. The reports of blackflies and ticks in Nova Scotia sure make the wind chill and snow more welcome as we're a ways away from that summer plague. The time moves so quickly here and with a week in, we are already 1/4 of the way through this trip.