I started a new locums travel doc adventure in Rapid City, South Dakota yesterday. I was to report to the hospital for my “orientation”, a word to those in the know as “soul shattering meaningless tedium”. My schedule was as follows:
0645 – 0701: Lean up against the wall opposite the Medical Staff Office where I was supposed to report at 0700. Watched 3 (count them, 3) employees come up, unlock the office and ignore me totally, despite the fact that I was obviously the new doctor who was getting processed (much like the beaks and assholes that go into luncheon meat) and that I was holding up a wall in the hall out of sheer sleepiness and boredom. I did manage to get a picture of Traveling Guck sitting under the Med Staff Office sign, post it on Facebook, and email it to my daughter.
0701: They actually stick their heads out and open the door for me. Apparently they take the 0700 start time very seriously.
0701 – 0707: Introduction to the 3 dickheads who left me standing in the hall.
0707 – 0720: Taken to get a photo badge processed. When I asked them if they needed ID verifying my identity, they said no. Apparently they don’t mind issuing medical staff badges to random strangers. I was of course lined up against a blue wall without opportunity to inspect my hair, and allowed one deer-in-the-headlights shot with no Mulligan. I was told to go do something else; the badge was processing.
0720 – 0735: Taken to IT to get computer passwords and immediately change them. Since they wouldn’t tell me the criteria for the passwords (I swear, they didn’t know whether I needed capitals, lower case, special characters or numbers), I had several do-overs until I found a password that the freaking computer would accept.
0735 – 0740: Back to pick up ugly badge. Future spoiler: they set it up wrong and it didn’t open any of the doors that I needed it to.
0740 – 0815: The ultimate in mind boggling tedium. This is the same standardized spiel you are given at every single hospital that you work in: it is dictated by OSHA and JCAHO and a few other acronyms. Therefore I have heard this 3 times in the past 3 months. It involves: Hospital Mission – a retch-inducing phrase or two about Service, Teaching, Health Promotion and Other Grandiose Bullshit, Fire Procedures – seriously, who doesn’t know about RACE and PASS?, Infection Control – a list of all the nasty bugs floating around in the hospital and the special antibiotics used to treat them, if you are lucky and they can be treated at all (Flesh-eating bacteria included), HIPAA – letters stand for “you’d better not give anyone any information about any of your patients and it we find out you did, we will fine you, fire you and set fire to you”, Code of Conduct – they now must produce a written list about how not to be an asshole (official name: disruptive physician) because people apparently don’t have the sense not to be assholes and must be given a specific list of asshole things not to do, Peer Review – we will be watching you, new doctor, and auditing your charts because you are probably incompetent, and Software Use and Access – the passwords never work.
0815 – 0830: Ridiculously long-winded talk from the head pharmacist, who has a way overdeveloped sense of importance, and who gave me 8 (yes, 8) business cards of pharmacists who I would probably not encounter were I to work at the hospital for 10 years.
0830 – 0930: Computer training. This seems to follow a basic pattern – taken to a dark room where a pasty antisocial individual is hunkered down, sat in front of a computer and given a mouse to click on various things without explanation. This is all punctuated by, “oh, I don’t know why that’s not working – it usually works”, from the IT person who seems to have no idea about real-life applications of the material they are teaching. An hour of, “Oh, let’s back up, oh, no, no, no, we didn’t want to go there, OK, try clicking on that” where really, I would have done just as well playing with the damn program myself.
0930 – 1000: “Do we have anything else for her to do? I’m not sure, do we? Did she see the pharmacist? Oh, I guess we should try to show you the hospital.” Remember that I must see Medical Records for instructions for record dictation. Meet with sourpuss from Medical Records. Receive incomprehensible instructions and dictation cards.
1000: Phone call from the doctor who is already turning call over to you, explaining that you already have a labor patient to take care of, despite the fact that you haven’t even seen Labor and Delivery yet.
1000 – 1020: Taken at a gallop past the OR, doctor’s lounge, ER, radiology, and finally, Labor and Delivery where you are kindly intercepted by the chief MD of the Ob/Gyn department, who gives you an actually civivlized and useful tour of the area. You are introduced to at least 25 people, none of whose names you will remember.
1020 – 1030: Shown where the locker rooms, scrubs and break rooms are. Both the MD call rooms are occupied, so no place to sit there. Insructed to throw backpack on the floor in the nurse’s lounge.
1030 – 1040: Locate and change your scrubs to their scrubs, because the ones you have on (although perfectly functional) do not belong to this hospital and are thus assumed to harbor awful bacteria.
1040 – 1500: Sit around on Labor and Delivery because the patient in labor is having her third baby and it should come fast. It does not come fast. Chat with nurses (who are too busy to chat) and a Family Practice resident who is waiting to do a delivery and who is hoping you will let him do yours. You don’t want to let him do your delivery, because you don’t like how anyone does deliveries except for the way you do them, but you have to be a good sport, because that was how you learned back in the day, and people have to learn, don’t they?
1500 – 1530; Actual delivery of the baby. You let the resident do it. He does OK except for the suturing part, which is so slow and fumbling and incompetent that you want to kill yourself. You would have finished 20 minutes ago. The nurse is uncertain whether the stitching job is adequate. It is adequate and you politely tell her to bugger off.
1530 – 1600: Attempt to take care of strange paperwork and computer work, none of which functions the way you were shown by the creepy IT person in the basement. Swear under breath. Repeat.
1600 – 1615: Use Google Maps (which totally rocks, by the way, and it’s free) to find your way out to Bumfuck where the Ob/Gyn clinic is located.
1615 – 1700: Meet the doc you are working for and her office manager husband, who regale you with how awful and unfair the politics at the hospital are, and how they hope they will not make you suffer too much. Yippee.
1700-1715: Find way back from Bumfuck to the hotel using Google Maps, which by now has used up the battery on your phone. Pray that you get to the hotel before the phone dies and you are stranded forever.
1715: Collapse on the bed with the stuffed duck and eat an Atkins bar. Plan TV watching. Sulk because tomorrow the patient that delivered wants her tubes tied, a procedure you hate doing and you will have to get up early to do it.
I spent all day filling out a standardized application online for a state medical licensure. All day. It went something like this:
1a. Ha! Not that name, you sucker! Now list all the other names you use: the one you robbed that bank with a couple years ago, your ex-husband’s last name that you didn’t take… By the way, why DIDN’T you take his name, you deviant? Attach extra paper to explain here.
2a. Is that really your address? Why do you live in such a shithole? Attach extra paper to explain here.
3. Where did you go to medical school?
3a. Because we know you don’t remember,, we want the actual day of the week you started there, the street address, since you haven’t been there in over 20 years and haven’t the foggiest, and oh, we want their fax number too. Even though faxes weren’t even invented when you went there.
4. Where did you do your internship? Your residency? Never mind that they are usually both done at the same institution; we want you to fill out all the same information twice.
4a. What years did you go there? If you were ever absent for more than three days during your entire residency, attach extra sheet to explain why you are so self centered that you thought you deserved a 2 week trip to Vail. Because seriously, you should have been working. Explain yourself.
5. List everywhere you’ve worked since medical school. We want exact dates, addresses, contact names (even though they bulldozed one of the hospitals you worked at – we want to be able to contact them at the Home Depot they built over it), email addresses, and, oh, if there is more than a month gap between any work engagement, attach extra sheet to explain here. Vacation is not a real reason. What were you really up to, what sinister antisocial behaviors were you engaged in that kept you from work?
5a. Seriously, why weren’t you working that September in 1990? You know we don’t believe you. Enter your lame excuse and have it notarized. In triplicate. Send one copy to our office, one copy to your recruiter’s office, and one to the local paper so we can all laugh at you. Send it Fedex Overnight. On your bill.
6. Enter all licensing exams you’ve ever taken, the exact dates, the exact scores, and whether or not you cried when you left the testing room. If you ever failed anything, explain yourself. Attach extra sheets if necessary, but don’t make the ink all runny with your sniveling. Entries with sniveling runny ink will be returned, and you will have no opportunity to redeem yourself.
7. Have you ever: Pooped twice in one day? Been laughed at for being too fat? Been late paying a phone bill? Forgotten to brush your teeth? Made an illegal u-turn? Withdrawn your hospital priveleges (even though it was just because you moved and there wasn’t a damn thing sinister about it)? Been sued by some asshole? Hung up on a telemarketer? Missed church? If any yes answers, tough noogies, attach extra sheet for each question and waste the rest of your day explaining yourself. And don’t think we won’t check up on you.
8. List all states in which you have ever had a medical license. If you forget any, you are screwed, discredited, and we will hound you until you die. Now what were those exact dates again? Better not be a day off, or we will know you are lying.
9. Attach triplicate copies of: your state medical license, your DEA number, your residency certificate, your board certification and your med school diploma. Never mind that they are indelibly framed and sitting in your garage and you are somewhere in North Dakota. There’s no excuse for not having them copied.
10. Attach notarized originals of your birth certificate and your passport. We need them for our files. We will not return them. What? That’s your problem. Go out to the hospital you were born at 45 years ago and get them to give you a new copy. We’re keeping these.
11. Have you ever been diagnosed with sadness? Feelings of hopelessness? Inadequacy? Stress? Depressionbipolardisordermentalillnessobsessivecompulsivedisorderdissociativeidentitydisordermaniaanxiety? If so, attach notarized letter from your doctor and explain yourself, you piece of shit. Why would we let you work for us if you’re damaged? And don’t lie. We have friends at your insurance office.
12. Have you ever commited a felony? No? Feeling smug? What about a misdemeanor then? Parking tickets? Jaywalking? ATTACH EXTRA SHEETS AND EXPLAIN WHY YOU DESERVE TO LIVE.
13. What is your address in the state you’re applying for? We know you don’t live there yet. We don’t care. Fill in the address, or the app will be stuck on this page for the rest of the day. And you’d better not be making stuff up. We know where you don’t live.
14. OH, SORRY. YOU LET THE APP TIME OUT WHILE GROVELING ON THE FLOOR FOR YOUR MISSING BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Go back to Go. Do not collect $200. In fact, you owe us $200, one for each copy of the application. And you must fill everything out again, because our IT people suck so bad at building cheap websites, they don’t let you save as you go.
15. Welcome back. What was your name again? I’m sorry. That password is incorrect. You should have changed it the last time you logged in.
16. I’m sorry. The number you’ve reached has been disconnected. Actually, it was never connected. Sucker.
So let me just rant a bit here. I am here in this little town in North Dakota, and let me just say I have never been a small town gal. (Not crazy about the word “gal” by the way, but it seems to be the going terminology here.) Now I know, I’m only going to be here for a few weeks, but finding things to do has been remarkably hard. It’s too bad I don’t drink anymore, because this place definitely makes a stiff drink look better and better.
Now, I don’t want to be a hater, but things here are just bizarre. I’ve learned that with the fracking, this place has turned into a real boom town. This leads to serious weirdness when working in the Women’s Clinic. Every patient I see, just about, is new in town! They’re from Florida, or Utah, or Idaho, or New York, or you name it. They always say, “I just arrived here from X last week, and my doctor there said I needed an ultrasound after I moved.” Of course, those records are not available. And then I write them a prescription, and they’re all like, “Oh, where’s a pharmacy, I just got here.” And then I have to tell them that I just got here Sunday, and I don’t have a fracking clue where they should go. All I know is, the WalMart here is not allowed to have a pharmacy, because in these parts, pharmacies have to be owned by the pharmacist who runs them.
And speaking of WalMart, this is Sunday morning, and I got up this morning thinking I would hit the WalMart before all the church people got out and crowded the place up. It’s a Super WalMart, so it didn’t even occur to me that it wasn’t a 24 hour WalMart. Who in the hell has ever heard of a WalMart that doesn’t open until noon on Sundays? Seriously, WTF? I drove over there, thank goodness it’s close, and there were other confused people standing by the doors at the WalMart all looking dazed, because, seriously, who ever heard of a WalMart not opening until noon? One guy didn’t even know what time zone we are in. Of course, he and his buddies were in a big jacked up pickup, and were obviously oil workers who, yes, had just moved here out of town. And they were as bewildered as I was. So of course, when it opens, the parking lot will be packed with church people circling and snatching up all the good spaces, and the lines will be packed, and it will just be yuck. I’m not even sure if I want to deal with going back there.
And there is no snow. Of course, I brought all my camera equipment, taking up a large amount of space in my suitcase, thinking I was going to get some beautiful snow pictures of this quaint little town, and there is no snow, and everything is just brown and muddy and ugly. I don’t even see any snow predicted for the entire time I will be here. WTH? This is February people, and, not to bitch, but there is supposed to be freakin’ snow here right now.
There is a tiny little mall here, and of course it is basically a ghost mall. They have two department stores: JC Penney (barf) and some Hertzbergers place or somesuch that I have never heard of. And of course, it isn’t open on Sundays AT ALL. And all the tourist attractions (what there are, seriously, I have no idea why tourists would come here) don’t open until April. They have a dinosaur museum I would like to see, but of course, not open until April. And there’s a little shopping-type tourist town about 30 miles up the road, but, not open until April.
The movie theater, of course, only shows “blowed ’em up real good” movies that all the oil workers want to watch. If Jason Statham isn’t in them, seriously, they’re not showing. I can totally see why there are so many liquor stores here. I know I sound really intolerant; I like to travel, and I knew this was a small town when I came, but this place is seriously morbid. And it’s not like there’s an influx of college professors here, it’s oil field workers, and as far as the eye can see, there are young, rough looking men rolling their noisy-tired monster trucks around town. And they are bringing an influx of drugs here, and all the pregnant patients that are moving here are seriously unhealthy and obese and drug addicted.
So I am watching the clock and waiting to head for WalMart, because that will be my exciting activity for the day, which makes me physically ill, because I won’t even go to WalMart in the town where my family lives, because it is just too crowded and depressing. And here, it is potentially the highlight of my day.
There is my rant, and I apologize for the rantiness and negativity of it, but, seriously, a girl’s gotta vent. And it looks like my next job will be in South Dakota. Fortunately, it will be in Rapid City, which is much larger and has the potential to contain something entertaining. We’ll see. I’ll be there covering for a solo practice, and I may be so busy I won’t have time to go anywhere. At any rate, it’s getting close to noon, and if I want to get a parking space at WalMart that’s closer than the moon, I’d better go. Wish me luck.
Today is my husband’s birthday. It is also National Marguerita day, which is probably not a coincidence. Gosh, we’re getting old. He is 48 today, which is really close to 50, which is really old. Right? And I’ll be 45 soon, which is also really old. For me, anyway.
We are about half a country away from each other. Here I sit in a hotel room in North Dakota, surrounded by jewelry makings and sugar free candy. In honor of my husband I am watching Underworld, which I would probably not be watching otherwise. This movie serves my purpose, though, which is that it not demand enough attention to keep me from making jewelry, or writing blog posts. He is with my daughter in San Francisco. They arrived there today – he has a conference to attend and he has brought our daughter with him, since I am in North Dakota. He is speaking, so she will sit in the back of the room and read until he is done. Then they plan to visit the town, go to the zoo, ride a streetcar, you know. My daughter wanted to visit the “pretty jail on the island”. I told her maybe not. I’m hoping they will Skype soon. Today I have yet to speak with either one of them.
Seems like my husband and I always have a computer or two between us. Computers are his livelihood, specifically, data base administration. He can work from home a lot, but he also travels. We met online, through an online dating service. He was several years out of his divorce, which occurred because he wanted children and she did not. I was 34 and single. We exchanged witty emails, and eventually phone conversations. At that time he was at home because his father was dying of colon cancer and was living at home with him. We talked on the phone until the day his dad passed away; my husband couldn’t leave the house long enough to go out on a date until then. His devotion suggested to me that he would make an excellent husband and father. Any man who, alone, gives up his job for 8 months to stay home until his STEPdad passes away, has got some serious caregiving dedication.
We had a couple good (and funny) dates, and then we were dating. A year later, we got engaged. He chose me the most beautiful, the most perfect ring ever. I was unhappy with my present job and we moved to Alabama to be closer to my parents in case we had kids. We had a daughter, a wonderful daughter. My husband proved to be every bit the excellent husband and father I thought he would be. He found out we were pregnant online too. We were chatting between my office and his office, and I couldn’t get him on the phone after I took the test, so I typed it in the chat line: Oh, by the way, we’re pregnant.” My phone rang about 30 seconds after that. “That is NOT the kind of news we pass along on chat,” he said. “Oh well,” I said, “We met online, after all. I thought it was only appropriate.”
We’ll be married ten years in October. Wow, where did the time go? I just left my job of ten years, just in time, as the town’s Obstetrics and Gynecology service was imploding in the ugliest way possible. Two hospitals and two services were dumped together. Then the firings started. Nurses and doctors are being fired from the service every day now. I had a job if I stayed, but the circumstances were repugnant to me. Thus, I have decided to go adventuring, working as a travel doctor. It has always been a dream of mine. I love to travel.
But here I sit, tonight, in a nice hotel in a small town in North Dakota, and I feel just a bit lonely. I texted my husband a happy birthday greeting, but that is not the same. I haven’t spoken to him yet today. And I miss my little daughter. We will Skype tonight, and I will see their faces, and hear their voices, and I will feel better.
So, happy birthday honey. It’s been a crazy ride, these last ten years. We’ve moved, and gotten married, and had a baby, and here we are getting all old together. I sure do love and miss you! And I sure will have a lot of new jewelry to show you, since I’ve been sitting here making it every night since I’ve been here. Hope your Speaker’s Dinner and your ballroom dance are great tonight! Can’t wait to see you again!
I’m slowly getting settled into North Dakota. I’ve been here almost a week. They tell me this has been a very mild winter so far – I believe them and I’m grateful. It was snowing this morning when I got up, but not very hard and it was not predicted. There was just a little snow on the roads. It was a hard pellety kind of snow, almost like little styrofoam balls coming down.
I ate breakfast in the hotel this morning. They have a “free” breakfast every morning. It’s pretty nasty, especially because I’m still on Atkins and all I can eat are the eggs and meat. The scrambled eggs the other morning were like dried up little yellow goat turds – pretty gross. The only other alternative is to eat Atkins bars for breakfast, which I really shouldn’t do because I eat them for lunch. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that every single dish they make in the hospital cafeteria is loaded with raw onions just before it is served. Everything I have eaten in there has left a nasty taste of raw onions in my mouth. I can deal with cooked onions, but raw ones? The food there is pretty bad. The vegetables are overcooked and so mushy that they fall right off your fork. The meat and fish are dry and generally covered with some kind of coating I shouldn’t be eating. So it’s Atkins bars for lunch.
And I must feed my diet Coke addiction. I get a big one when I get there first thing in the morning and another one at lunch. At least they don’t put onions in that. I consume untold quantities of diet Coke. Except for the 12 pack I exploded in the trunk of my rental car. That’s there to stay. And it’s pretty cheap – 30 something ounces for $1.02. People understand the Diet Coke Imperative when I explain that I can’t drink coffee.
Clinic is pretty dang light. I’m not sure why they need to bring in all these travel doctors, seriously. A big load for clinic here is 5 patients in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Hell, back home I saw that many in about 2 hours. Today I had only one patient after lunch. The other two docs only had one or two also. So I went home at two o’clock and decided it was laundry day. I wore my last pair of Cuddl Duds today and must have fresh ones. They get kind of sweaty under those scrubs. Plus, I didn’t have time to wash them before I left home when I got them out of my ski box. They were kind of musty. So off I went to the laundry room on the third floor and now I have all soft fresh scrubs and socks and undies and Cuddl Duds. Nothing I love more than warm fresh laundry!
There’s a lot going on in the background with what my next job will be. I thought I had a pretty guaranteed repeat job here in N.D. but the way they’re hemming and hawing at the locums place, I really don’t know. They’re still unable to let me know if I have any days in April. And April is soon. I need work. Now they’re offering me a job in South Dakota starting in March, and I don’t know what to do. I only have 5 work days here in March, the fourth through the ninth. I can do two weeks at the end of March in S.D., but then I don’t know what to do about April, since I still don’t know about days here. They’re already wanting me to fill out paperwork for S.D. I have a bunch of papers to fill out and mail, but they’ve all been emailed to me and I don’t have a printer hooked up to my laptop, obviously. So I’ll have to figure out a way to download and print all that stuff from clinic. I feel very confused and disoriented. And I can’t always get in touch with my rep at the locums place when I want to, and I can’t always get in touch with my husband, and I always forget to ask one or the other one of them something that I need to tell the other one. Is it too much to ask for just a nice recurring gig? The new South Dakota deal is supposed to be that, but so was this one. They’ve got too many locums here.
I’ve been making jewelry in the hotel room with all my free time from clinic. Here clinic starts no earlier than 9:15 and the last patient is at 3:30. If that. Hell, at home, we started at 8:30 sharp every morning, sometimes 8:15 and ran till noon, and then afternoon was from 1:15 to 5:00. I don’t even have any patients here tomorrow until 10:00. So, wow, I can really sleep in, which I love. And I don’t have any call, which is good because I don’t have to stress over it, or be up all night, but which is bad because I would get paid a lot more if I had it.
I’m waiting to get some real snow so I can get out and get some pictures in it. I’m beginning to wonder if I should have taken up all that room in my suitcase with my camera equipment, because this little town is not all that picturesque. I think it will look better if covered with snow, but then there is the whole matter of driving in the snow in my tiny little Chevy, which is so not equipped for heavy snow and ice driving. I’d like to go out in the country a ways to get some pictures, but I’m scared I’d get lost in the cold or slide into a ditch. So for now, since there really isn’t any snow, I think I will stay in my nice warm hotel room and make some more jewelry. I’ve already made eleven pairs of earrings. I wore some of them today.
I’m just really confused with sorting out all the job possibilities and opportunities, and I feel like I need to be able to communicate more and better with my husband, so I don’t sign up for something that will mess us up or piss him off. For example, I called him about two hours ago to see if the attorney gave me a tax ID number for my new P.C., and he hasn’t called me back yet. And since I am now a P.C., and not just me, I need to have all the checks deposited into my new business account. But to do that, they need my tax ID number, and hubby still has yet to call me back.
So here it is, 430 in the afternoon, I’m off work for the day, have written a blog post and done all the laundry. Now I’m off to make some jewelry. That I understand. That doesn’t confuse me. In fact, I downright enjoy it. Then I need to recheck Facebook to keep up with all my nurse and doctor friends back in Alabama, because they are getting fired daily just as I predicted, which is why I left that crazy town anyway. They fired a great nurse last night, and I hear they let one of the doctors go today. So I’ve got lots of communicating to do. And then I don’t have to be at work until 10:00 tomorrow morning. I’m so glad they pay me by the day and not the hour!
Wow. Holy crap! What a day!
I arrived in North Dakota yesterday, in preparation for a 3 week stay as a temp doc (known as locum tenens). I have never been to North Dakota before, I don’t think. My parents did a lot of traveling when I was a kid, so maybe we went to North Dakota and I just forgot. I have definitely never been here in February.
My first day of work was today. I had to arrive at the hospital at 7:30 AM to start my hospital orientation. Even though my hotel is like, five minutes up the road from the hospital, I got up at 5:30 (ouch) to make sure I had time to shower, dry hair (so as not to become a docsicle), put on makeup (which I rarely do, so I wasn’t sure how long it would take), eat breakfast, deal with any ice situations, and find my way to the hospital on time.
I got to the damn hospital 45 minutes early. I hope they were impressed with my punctuality. Tomorrow I’m sleeping later. It was supposed to snow 3 inches last night, which was part of why I got up so early. Instead of 3 inches, there was just some loose snow eddying in the wind in the parking lot. I was unimpressed.
The lady who was to meet me at 7:30 was actually already at the hospital when I got there, so we went ahead and got started. I was photographed, rephotographed, processed for a badge, guided through several hundred pages (a somewhat abridged version, but still) of the hospital rules and regs, given a crash course in the hospital computer system, which I must say the IT girl had an alarmingly low understanding of, taken to medical records for dictation numbers and instructions, and given a full out tour of the hospital.
As I have no sense of direction, I have no idea where anything is. They took me to the clinic where I will be working at about 11:00. My first patient wasn’t until 1:30. I met the nurses, and some of the doctors, and became aware that the system is pretty much chaos. They have so many temporary doctors coming in and out of there, there are hardly any permanent ones. Maybe because, hmmm, it’s North Dakota? Actually, it’s because this place is a boomtoom. Hundreds of people are pouring into this little town because they are now fracking full steam ahead. I will have no office – I will just work out of whatever area they have available for me with whatever nurse they have available for me each day. It’s crazy.
Now here’s where the serious craziness comes in. Since I didn’t have any patients for a couple hours, I started asking questions. At the time I finished my residency and was looking for my first job, I interviewed with a woman who was a very strict Catholic. She informed me that she could not condone tubal ligations or basically any other form of birth control. So I thought, well, surely since we’re in the twenty-first century, that would no longer be the case, but this hospital is a Catholic hospital. So I asked. Holy crap, Fertile Woman! They don’t tie tubes. They don’t do IUDs, or Implanons, or Depo Provera shots. If you give a prescription for birth control, you pretty much have to establish a medical reason for it. Other than just not wanting any more babies, which appears not to be a valid reason. Shit, when I was working in Alabama, I put everyone on birth control. Seriously, I made sure my teens, and my patients without insurance, and my patients who wanted no more babies had birth control and plenty of it. Isn’t that kind of a big part of the job of an Ob/Gyn? BUT NOT THIS PLACE!!!! (Yes, I am screaming here). How can I be an Ob/Gyn and not help with birth control? WTF?
So I chewed on that bit of craziness over lunch. By time for clinic to start, I was pretty well convinced I wanted to go home and never see the place again. But once again, the patients won out. I saw some great patients, and after a little conference with the nurse taking care of me, I established that I could, in fact, prescribe birth control. We just don’t install it. So if they want a shot, or an implant, or an IUD, we send them somewhere else in town. So there are options.
By the end of the day, I was feeling better. The nurses were nice, the patients were nice, and I was learning a few things about how to get along in the clinic. I felt sufficiently energized at the end of the afternoon to go home and read and write a little and had a lovely Atkins dinner of eggs and cheese. And Mom called to see how my first day of work went, so I filled her ears with all the details of my first day at work. And now I’ve filled your ears (or at least your eyes, since you’re reading) and feel much better. And soon I’ll have a little Skype with my husband and sweet little daughter, and I don’t need to be in clinic tomorrow until 10:00!
Tune in tomorrow for more fun-filled North Dakota escapades! Beadstork OUT!
Well, here I sit, wore slap out. I got up at 3:20 this morning to get to a 5:30 flight on time. Today is Dickinson day! 5:30-7:30: in Atlanta. 8:30-10:30: in Denver. 11:30-1:30: in Dickinson.
Wow, that alarm went off early. My husband and I both staggered out of bed. I had taken my shower the night before, being unwilling to wake up early enough to wash and dry my hair. The last thing we packed up was my computer. I had my purse loaded up with money, ID, printouts of plane tickets, Hertz reservations and hotel reservations. There was also plenty of gum, and Atkins bars. My little quart Ziploc was loaded with various liquids under 3 ounces. I did a tight pack job on my backpack, which is designed to carry my laptop plus some other stuff. The other stuff was spare thermals, spare scrubs, clean underwear and socks, in case they lost my luggage, along with scarf, muffler and gloves. And more Atkins bars. We scooped our daughter out of bed in her footie pajamas and tucked her into the van with her blanket and a stuffed animal. And we were off!
I made it through security without being cavity searched, which is an acheivement for me. Well, I did get patted down AFTER I went through the little x-ray revolvy thing. The connection in Atlanta was going to be pretty tight, and I was worried that my suitcase might not make it. The suitcase contained my camera equipment in a hard case, about ten pairs of scrubs, about 20 pairs of underwear, a couple pair of jeans, my tennis shoes, a pile of thermals, some polar fleece and yes, you got it, more Atkins bars. Just in case they don’t have them in Dickinson.
I barely made my connection in Atlanta. I sank with relief into the airplane seat. I was actually so exhausted that I was able to sleep on the plane. I also discovered two great things about traveling with a big fleece jacket: you can wear it like a blanket when it gets cold on the plane, and you can wad it up into a ball and make a dandy pillow.
When I arrived in Denver, I had to go all the way to the A terminal. It seems the A terminal is kind of where the misfits go: international connections to Montreal and Cancun, and the dreaded Great Lakes Airlines. There is a basement in the terminal just for Great Lakes. You are at the level of the tarmac and have to walk out to your plane. Their fleet of planes are all twin prop jobs, alarmingly primitive and ancient in appearance. Then I got a nasty shock. A woman in a uniform came up to me and told me I would have to check my backpack; only one piece of carry on was allowed on these tiny planes. My backpack had my laptop in it! Unless, she told me, I could somehow fit my purse into my backpack. Impossible! My purse was very large, and very full, as there is no point in bringing a small purse as one of your carry on items. You have to pack as much stuff as you can. I started freaking out; they were going to smash my laptop in the cargo hold. I quickly discovered that it is amazing what you can stuff together when you have to. The woman did say that they wouldn’t say anything to me if the backpack was unzipped, as long as the purse was all the way in it. Well, I STUFFED that sucker in there. And no, it wouldn’t zip, but it was in there, and if I held it with both hands, it would hopefully stay together to make it onto the plane.
They let me on the plane. Then another awful shock! The overhead bins were so tiny, I couldn’t even fit the backpack in them. I started to panic, then realized that the gaps under the seats were pretty roomy. I stuffed that sucker under my seat and kept kicking it until it fit like a cork in a bottle. I sort of rested my boots on top of it, so the flight attendant couldn’t see that it stuck out a little bit. And seriously, she was the Carry On Police. She inspected each row on each side to make sure not even a tiny bit of anything was sticking out anywhere. I rested my fluffy jacket on my lap to make it hard for her to see down there. Somehow I passed muster. I made it on with my stuff and saved my laptop! The downside was, I couldn’t access my purse, as hard as it was stuffed into the backpack, which was jammed under the seat. So I couldn’t get to my Kindle and had no way to entertain myself.
The view out the window was not reassuring. I was right over the wing, with its rickety looking propeller, with warped looking metal and graying rivets. Now, my husband owned a Cirrus, and I am used to riding in a prop plane, but his plane was new when he bought it, and the whole plane is fitted with a parachute in case the engine goes out. This plane had no parachute, and seriously looked like a relic from the 1940’s. I closed my window because I did NOT want to see the engine when it caught on fire. I stuffed my jacket up against the window and buried my head in it. I woke up and we were landing. Yay for landing!
I was surprised to see there wasn’t very much snow on the ground. I had expected feet of snow just lying around from previous snows, but it seemed like most of it had melted. Today was a super warm day here too. I’d been following the weather out here before my trip, and had gotten used to seeing temps like -8, so it was at once a relief and somewhat of a disappointment that it was 44 degrees. However, it seems the weather is going to oblige me tonight with a blizzard of at least 3 inches of snow and a precipitous drop in temperature. I’ll be ready for it!
We trekked from the plane into the tiny airport. The baggage claim was a single slanted straight ramp. Lo and behold, my suitcase was on it! I went to the Hertz counter and they had my reservation all ready, with a packet of keys and instructions. He was nice enough to have a guy bring the car around, and gave me some directions to get into town. Frankly, navigating town wasn’t too hard as it is laid out with two intersecting main roads, and the population is only 18,000. I made it straight to the hotel and got checked in. No problems! The girl behind the counter said she was incredibly bored. I verified that they had an exercise room and a laundry room. I got her to give me directions to the WalMart, which turned out to be about six blocks north.
I decided to do the WalMart trip this afternoon, before the cold snowy weather set back in. I drove up there, and I think I have the only car in town. Everyone else has big pickups, vans, and four wheel drive SUVs. WalMart was WalMart. I’ve never been crazy about the place, but as far as I know, there’s only one other Mom & Pop grocery store in town and I’m not sure where that is. They sure are optomists in there, because they had aisles of Easter candy and little short-sleeved Easter dresses on display. I think Easter is in March this year, and surely these people are aware that it will still be freaking cold here in March. I was pretty amused. In this unseasonably warm 44 degree weather, I saw families and teens without coats and wearing shorts! I guess it’s kind of like a heat wave. But the snow is supposed to come in tonight, and by tomorrow night, the temps are going to be down around 3 degrees.
I’ve explored the hotel and unpacked my bags and written a blog post. I texted my hubby to let him know I made it OK, and I called my folks and chatted with them. They were anxious to hear all the details of the town; they’ve always enjoyed travel wherever it led them. They are considering coming to visit me while I’m up here. So I’m going to force myself to eat a frozen dinner (I’m not really hungry) and then I’m going to load up my backpack for my trip to the hospital tomorrow. And then I think I’ll go to bed, because I’m exhausted. So tomorrow I will post about the first day on the job in Dickinson, ND.