S: 850 miles north
FC: 850 miles north
1: - Forest to Fort Albany and back in 78 days - - Bringing you the first hand adventures of a student nurse in the north - | Day 1: London to Toronto
3: Day 2: Toronto to Cochrane
6: Day 3: Cochrane to Moosonee
9: Day 4: Moosonee to Fort Albany | Welcome to Fort Albany
10: The Clinic | Emergency room | Clinic room | Supplies
11: Pharmacy | Lab | Ward | X-Ray room
13: The Northern Store
14: Old Fort Albany | Sturgeon fish
15: Fishing Trip with Alex
16: Practicing Sutures
19: Trip to Kashechewan
20: Trip to Kashechewan
22: Air Ambulance
26: Alex teaching us how to shoot and set up a fishing net
28: Dog Clinic with Dr. Rod Jouppi
30: Dog Clinic with Dr. Rod Jouppi
32: Band Office | Radio Station | Alex's House
33: Women's Shelter | Ambulance Base | Potholes
34: Last day in the Clinic
35: Cupcakes for the staff
36: Last day in Albany
37: Saying our goodbyes to Mika
41: Giant seal on the docks in Moosonee
42: Boat taxi from Moosonee to Moose Factory
44: Moose Factory | The Hospital | St. Thomas’ Anglican Church
46: Hudson's Bay Company cemetery
48: Centennial Park
50: Cree Village Eco-lodge
53: And the adventure comes to a bitter sweet end...
54: Well, for those of you wondering what the heck this is... to be honest, it's my weak attempt at a blog about my adventures this summer. The title of the blog is the distance between home (Forest) and my destination at which I will be arriving at tomorrow (Fort. Albany). And for most of you reading this, you know I am not alone on this journey. I have my dear ole pal Kate who I believe is also jumping in on this blog band-wagon. Now if anyone reading this is an avid blog reader let me tell you now, to put all those thoughts aside. I am new to this whole blogging world and will do my best to make it as interesting as possible but make no guarantees! And finally, if you are reading this I sure hope you already know why I am on this adventure, which is for nursing school purposes. However, this blog is dedicated to my social life in the north and the insights I may acquire along the way, which I must admit has already been quite eventful for only having left on Tuesday. So where shall I begin? Hummm... I left home on Tuesday to catch the good old greyhound. And, for those of you that know me, I am NOT, once again NOT, a fan of greyhound. Not too sure why? Maybe because my parents believe it is the greatest thing ever and love to send me to Hamilton on it for the low low price of $16.00 and I now have had my fair share of crazy greyhound experiences. But I will admit this ride was exceptionally better than expected. First of all, who knew greyhound has suddenly updated their buses and now have outlets to plug in your computer and leather seats? I was in shock. Also, I must add that I had quite a plethora of interesting people to gaze at during the 2 hour ride. First was the man who was composing an email that I saw to be quite lengthy. I was wondering where and to whom this email was going to? It was obviously quite important as he took the whole two hours to write and edit this message. The other interesting character was the girl near the back of the bus who was attempting to plan her wedding over the phone and was very stressed out about the whole situation. I mean how is a girl supposed to pick flowers over the phone? I was dying to know how soon this wedding was and whether or not all the stress was really that important. But just as fast at the bus ride started, it was over (boom! 2 hours). Day one of travelling complete! And so I lugged my humongous duffle bag across the road to union station where I officially began my journey with Kate. We quickly flagged down a taxi and it was off to the Super 8 downtown (we are on a student budget). On the way there Kate informed the taxi driver that he had missed our hotel, and he replied that he wasn’t up for jumping the curb today! Guess we are just small town girls in the big city! Haha! Anyway, checked into the hotel, had a quick online meeting with our tutor from McMaster and it was off to do some touring downtown and find some dinner. We found a great little spot, enjoyed a nice cold beer with dinner and headed back to the hotel to meet up with Marcail (our third musketeer) who begins her exciting placement in September. Lots of laughs to be had, but then it was time for us to head to bed. The 6:00 am wake up was fast approaching! We made it to Union the next morning with time to spare (no chance of us missing this train!). We stood in line anxiously awaiting the longest (and possibly most interesting leg of the trip). | TREE, TREE, TREE, LAKE
55: Side note... every time I say “leg of the trip” it makes me think of Amazing Race, and Kate and I have already discussed that we believe that we would make PRIME candidates for the show. I mean who can resist a student nursing duo? We think it would add an interesting touch to the show! Anyways, we met some great friends in line who coincidently were from the north, but soon moving to Hamilton. We had a great chat and she informed us that we MUST visit the giant tiger in Cochrane as it is a nice last pit stop before you become completely isolated. So, we boarded the train and quite possibly (no, let me re-phrase, certainly) had the BIGGEST suitcases. I also need to do another side note here. I am going to give some advice... NEVER EVER EVER, go on a 2.5 month trip and pack everything you need into a duffle bag that weighs roughly 50 lbs. It is a never ending battle with me and my suitcase, and my dear partner finds it quite amusing to watch me struggle as she straps her nifty backpack up on her back, does up the 10 buckles and off she goes like nothing is on her back at all! There have been a few nice people along the way offer to pick up my bag for me and load it into the train and such and I have a little chuckle inside as I watch them grab ahold and soon watch their shoulder DISLOCATE! Haha! I’m only kidding! No dislocated shoulders yet (Kate says there is none that we know of at least)! Haha! But needless to say a few people have been quite shocked with the weight of my suitcase (and this is not a new trend for me, my parents can attest that I have never been a ‘light packer’). Nonetheless, we finally got situated on the train and began the 11 hour ride (later to which we were informed would be longer due to construction). There once again was a lot of interesting characters on the train but I will spare you! I had my first experience with train food, something I won’t be rushing back to eat again. The train ride was interesting for the first while. You would be riding along and looking at all the trees and trees and more trees, and every once and a while a river or small lake would pop into view and catch you off guard which I might add was exciting, but this shortly becomes not as interesting. It was great when we would go through little towns though. There were just BEAUTIFUL! One, called Temagami which is worthy of mentioning! Also, it was fun to try to look at all the town signs and try to figure out where the heck you were. Towns with water towers were the easiest to figure out, but the other little ones with only a hardware store proved to be more difficult. So the train ride ended and I was feeling quite groggy from being couped up indoors all day, so Kate and I quickly dropped off our luggage at the STATION INN (yes ironic I know) and headed out to the famous Giant Tiger! Next stop... somewhere to eat food, have a few drinks and watch the game. Tim’s Tavern we were informed would be the best stop. However, upon arrival there we were greeting by 3 locals all deeply entrenched in the game and found out no food served there, so where to next when you are a complete stranger? Well, perhaps the building where everyone is standing outside? Good call! The Ice Hut was a happening place. We got some delicious wings and a beer, sat back and enjoyed the game amongst the locals! After the second period (and the awful score), we headed back to the hotel to relax and get ready for the next day. Kate logged on to her computer and once again google never fails... LUNAR ECLIPSE! Say what? Yep we ran to our window just in time to catch the orangey-red moon. Beautiful!
56: What next you might ask? Well.... Hello Polar Bear Express! Now there is a lot of hype associated with the polar bear express and I was certainly in on all this hype myself. However, coming from Forest, one can imagine that I am not that easily intrigued by lots of trees. I mean this was literally all you could see out your window the WHOLE time. If you are from the city and don’t get to see a lot of green spaces, this may be the thing for you, however for me, not as exciting as anticipated. So instead I made friends with all the children on the train, until they passed out and slept the rest of the way. Quick mention to possibly the cutest little girl I may have ever met, who had her 2 toy story dolls (Woody and Jessi) and had a toy story cow boy hat herself as she watched toy story on her portable dvd player! It was priceless. Back to the train ride... this trip was half the time of yesterday’s journey (only 6 hours), so I found it to go by quite quickly! Of course my dollarama Sudoku book kept me occupied! And before we knew it, I was saying hello MOOSONEE. And what a nice little place this is! By far the highlight of the trip thus far. We got off the train, and Kate informed me that the Bed and Breakfast we were staying was not that far away. But after lugging my duffle bag half way, we decided that next time we shall take the taxi. And what a difference there is between a hotel and bed and breakfast! This place is gorgeous! Almost feels like home. Kate and I were eager to explore the town, so out we went! First stop...the Northern store. Surprisingly, the prices were not as crazy and people had mentioned. I mean some things are expensive here, but not WILDLY expensive, it’s manageable. Wait for the post about prices in Fort Albany, it may be a different story! We also toured the corner store, stopped for some late lunch, and then to the river side to look at the water! An eventful afternoon to say the least, and everyone we encountered was especially nice! I’m having a great first impression of the north! So all in all the journey has begun on a good note... this must mean good things to follow! Adios till next time! Well, I’ve arrived alive! And boy, am I glad to be here! I left off in the last post with our afternoon in Moosonee and the night was equally enjoyable! I mean this bed and breakfast couldn’t have been more like home! Kate and I settled into the cozy living room with our computers...and we realized the common area is the best place to hang-out in while traveling, because we met most of the other people staying in the B&B with us. Lots of great stories went around and I am constantly reminded of how small the world really is. One man worked for CIBC and was in Forest once as a best man. Three other were men who have travelled all over the north while changing databases in all the ‘Northern’ Stores. | HOME SWEET NEW HOME
57: And for those of you who don’t know, Northern stores are pretty much in every northern community and they are what I like to call, mini Wal-marts. They are a grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, and clothing store all in one! So after lots of chatting Kate and I thought it was best to watch a movie and head to bed. The next day, the morning sun shone into our room and the birds started chirping quite early (around 5:30 am), which usually would make me extremely cranky, but nope, not this time! I’m in the north baby! This is what’s it’s all about! And I already am recognizing the difference in day light! It stays light much later into the night than down South. The next day in Moosonee we headed to the edge of town where the water was and walked along this bridge, I look down, and what do I see? A graveyard of bikes! Yes that’s right, I spotted about 5 bikes in the little river below the bridge. I have yet to figure out why these bikes were just tossed out, like they had no use what so ever? I mean I have a very special attachment to my bike. It takes me everywhere in Hamilton and is what I like to call ---personally customized by Greg Watson. So as traumatizing as this experience was I needed to carry on exploring! We explored a bit more but then I was time to head to the airport. We called a taxi and off we went! At first Kate and I debated whether we should take a taxi or not? I mean Moosonee didn’t seem THAT big and once again, we are on a student budget! But after one lift of my fantastic suitcase, the decision was easy. If I ever wanted to walk again we would take a taxi! So as we flew down the dirt roads it took us 5 or 10 minutes to get to the airport which was completely on the outside of town! Glad we took the more luxurious way! We arrived at the airport and anxiously waited for our plane. The most stressful part of flying for me is certainly not the actual plane ride; it is the weighing of my suitcase! I always slowly place my suitcase on the scale, cross my fingers, and hope for the best! This time I was pleasantly surprised that I passed with a final weigh in of 46 lbs! YIPPEE! So, I didn’t expect this airport to be all that busy, but once again my expectations were different than reality! The guy mentioned that sometimes they call it Moosonee International Airport... yeah right! It’s got nothing on Pearson, but quite busy for the north as it is the gateway to all the northern communities up the coast! Once it was time to board everyone starts heading out towards the plane and Kate and I, the tourists we are, were taking our sweet time snapping shots of the plane! Don’t want to miss a good photo. So as we walk up, the girl rips our ticket and I look down on my ticket for the seat number. And guess what? No such thing! Just sit wherever you feel most comfortable. And by this time we are the last ones on the plane and therefore, each got stuck on aisle seats with no such view of the beautiful terrain below! BUMMER! Oh well, we shall be pro’s the next time around, which won’t be for a while! So the plane landed just as fast as it took off and HELLOOO! We’ve arrived! I had the nice job of being the first off the plane. More advice for you here... If you are in a new place, follow and do what the other people are doing as much as possible. Because here I was calmly walking off the plane and then looking around thinking “hum, wonder where we go now?” There was a little building, but that certainly can’t be the airport I thought. But think again, that’s it! A single room building was the airport and after looking around like I was a deer in headlights another man took the lead and I resumed my tourist role and simply followed!
58: My friend Michelle was there to meet us at the airport. We took the nursing pick-up truck back to the clinic where we will be working and then walked to our living accommodations which are a mere 30 second walk from the clinic. Our living accommodations are great! We each have a room that includes our bed dresser and a bathroom. There are four rooms like this in the building and then a common kitchen, living room, and laundry room. There will be a lot of different faces living in the other 2 rooms as our “nursing residence” is used to house any short-term employers who are visiting the hospital for various reasons. I must inform you all now though that currently there is no internet in my place of residence. So I go to my friends place to use theirs. So if I am not responding to emails and such that is why! Anyways, we dropped off our stuff and headed over for a little tour of the clinic. We also got invited to a farewell potluck party for the Nurse Practitioner and were able to meet a lot of the staff from the clinic and eat lots of great food! Kate and I also checked out Fort Albany’s own Northern store. We got to meet the store owner who was very eager to tell us lots. The prices are certainly higher than down South, but not as high as expected. Side note here... I, for the first time in my life, get to explain where I live by saying down South! Yes, South! Haha! You know you are in the north when you describe living in Forest, Ontario as the South! I have always considered Florida, Mexico, and Cuba to be the southern region, but nope, not anymore! So yes, back to the Northern Store. Prices aren’t as high as I expected but this is because as of April 2011, the government has implemented a program called Nutrition North which provides subsidizes for healthy food. Because as you can imagine the cost of getting nice juicy apples up here is expensive! You must fly them in from quite a ways away! So the healthier the food, the cheaper it gets! This is good news for me! I drink milk like a mad woman and have found that the price now is probably only a few dollars more than at home. So yes, let my first weekend in Fort Albany begin! I’m sure it will be drastically different from my usual weekends in Forest or in Hamilton but I’m so excited to see what’s in store! So it’s currently Sunday night when I am writing this post and my first weekend in Fort Albany is coming to a close. And I can attest that it was certainly a relaxing weekend aside from my one hour of complete torture! So you’re probably wondering what the heck I am talking about and boy, let me tell you! I, Shelby Watson, have completed my first P90X video. Ahhh! I am in excruciating pain! For those of you that have not heard of P90X let me explain in a few short words. It is “the mother of all workouts!” My friend Michael has been doing the videos for quite some time and asked if we wanted to check out the relatively new gym for the employees at the healthcare clinic and join him in doing one of the videos. So Kate and I were all game! I shouldn’t even be boasting as much as I am that I completed my first video because we stopped before the video was even done! | FITNESS FRENZIE
59: And I might also add that I have had these videos on my computer for a few months now but have been too afraid to watch them! When Kate and I got wind that we would be doing the video we thought it would be best to lay on my bed and watch one of the videos just to see what we were really in for. So that was one of my most guilty moments in terms of laziness.... yes laying in bed watching a workout video! It’s so counterproductive that it’s not even FUNNY! But anyways, we started on the plyometrics video (supposed to be like jump training) and the crazy intense man who leads the video started out by informing us that it is by far the hardest one! Great, I thought to myself. And to add to it all, the man on the video thought that yelling “I CAN SEE YOU” would be a good idea, and Kate also felt the urge to scream back “NO YOU CAN’T!” But needless to say I can barely walk right now. Tomorrow should be interesting! Aside from the terrible video, the gym is fantastic. It has very nice equipment and it is situated just beside the hospital in a sort of trailer building thing. This is prime location because I will pass it every time I exit my house and will be constantly bombarded with guilt if I do not go regularly. However, don’t be fooled! This weekend was not a fitness filled affair by any means! To be perfectly honest Kate and I had to rush to the Northern store on Saturday to get batteries for our remote because there were all dead. The batteries were located behind the cashier and Kate and I cringed as the total rang up on the screen. Hellooo to $20.00 batteries! All to have the luxury of being able to laze on the couch as we cruise through the channels! However, we both think this is a fabulous investment while in the North! Next on the weekend to-do list was get a start on my research paper that has a fast approaching due date. Summer school never fails to disappoint! The nice thing is I get to base my paper on challenges faced by northern nurses, so it is very applicable. But writing my paper up here has taught me a very very valuable lesson which is from now on when I have a big assignment or test to study for I should completely disconnect from the internet! Since there is no internet in our place right now I have no distractions from facebook, online shopping, and anything else I manage to do in order to avoid actually doing my work! I think I may tackle my procrastination problem with assignments up here! But don’t get too excited, the paper is still looming over my head and has yet to be finished. And finally, the last major event of the weekend was our mini movie marathon which did in fact include the classic “Look Who’s Talking.” It was a nice flashback to say the least! So if you haven’t already picked up on a few things I will bluntly point them out for you! Thank me later! But there is such a different atmosphere up here! I mean take your normal lifestyle, toss the cell phones and internet, say adios to the traffic on the road and the constant obsession with what is next on your agenda and there you have it! Living in the north! I find the day flies by and I haven’t really accomplished anything but it doesn’t matter because there is always tomorrow! You just enjoy the moment and worry about the time later (or never). Also today, being Sunday meant that the Northern store is closed and that means that it is a lot quieter around town. In fact it is so quiet here that it has taken some getting used to. It could also be the fact that Kate and I are the only ones living here right now (aside from the tech guy who is never around) and therefore it is a big change from my 8 person student house in Hamilton. But nonetheless I am ABSOLUTELY loving it! That’s all for now! The work week starts tomorrow, and I’m sure there will be more updates to follow!
60: So I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m a working woman now! I’ve got things to do and places to be. But overall, it’s been a fantastic start to clinical this week. I was in the clinic Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all day learning lots and just keeping my eyes wide open so I can take everything in and try to get a good grasp of how things are run up here. I probably looked like I was walking like a fool for the first few days because my legs ached for what felt like forever from that stupid P90X video. They felt like rods of steel that couldn’t bend! It was awful. I did however find the time to head to the gym on Monday night I think it was and it did help a bit with the pain. Monday night when we were coming home from the gym Kate spotted a beautiful sunset that was just simply amazing. So picture us running around to different places trying to find the perfect shot of the sunset. People were driving by laughing at us. But hey, we got a good picture in the end. That’s all that matters. So Tuesday was Aboriginal day and this meant that most of the people in the community got the day off. But we didn’t at the hospital. And when I say hospital it really isn’t a hospital. Picture a clinic. That’s what it really is. On our walk home at lunch Kate and I were lucky enough to catch the parade that the community put on. It was so fun to watch and I’m not sure if many people were out watching the parade because everyone was so excited to wave to us, but it might also be the fact that EVERYONE knows we are new here! Tuesday night Michelle and Michael had us over for dinner and then we had to leave promptly because we wanted to catch the sunset again! And for those of you who didn’t know Tuesday was summer solstice day, meaning it was the day of longest sunlight. So for some reasons Kate and I thought it was going to be some magnificent sunset, but the day before was certainly better! Wednesday night was not as eventful. We got off work at 8:00 and then it was time for dinner! The greatest thing about living in the nursing residence here is that people kindly leave there food behind and leave notes that say “Please help yourself.” So there is no hesitation there for us. Although the note was only directed to the food left on the table Kate and I thought it was probably also directed at the magnificent frozen pizza left in the freezer! So what did we do? Just popped that bad boy in the oven and ate it right up! Thursday morning Kate and I got the chance to get a look at the Public Health clinic which is on the other side of town. Yes, I say other side of town but it is only a 15 minute walk, nothing strenuous. But this was a great experience and we are looking forward to going back there quite often. They run a bunch of really really neat programs for the community and we got the schedule for that and I’m hoping I can attend some of them! There are different things like sewing circles, kid’s gardening, family cooking nights and such. Also, this week there were two traditional healers in town for a couple days and we got to meet them while we were at Public Health. Then the one invited us to come out that night to the women’s sweat lodge. Now I know you are probably wondering what in the world a sweat lodge is and I will try my best to explain it! The ladies at the clinic described it to us as a time for prayer. What happened is that we got a ride out to this place located in the forest. There was a big fire burning there when we arrived and under the fire is a bunch of rocks. So the women must wear a skirt and remove their shoes and socks. | IT'S TIME TO BE REFRESHED
61: Also, it was advised that we remove our jewellery and anything else that may get too hot. We all entered into the “lodge”. The lodge is made from taking tree branches and bending them into a dome shape. Then different fabrics are used to cover this and the fabric traps the heat inside. The traditional healer was the, what I would call, leader of the ceremony. So there are four rounds. We all were sitting in a circle inside the small ‘lodge’ and the man who tends to the fire brought in 7 hot rocks. Then we did our offerings of tobacco and the lodge door is shut. At this time the lodge is completely dark. You cannot see anything except the glowing hot rocks. The leader has a bucket of water and dips in evergreen tree branches and splashes water onto the rocks. This then creates a lot of steam and the lodge begins to get hotter because the steam is trapped inside. People say prayers and songs are sung during each round. The first round we prayed for babies, second round was for youth, third round was for our parents, and the last round was for grandparents. Between each round the lodge is opened and 7 more rocks are brought in. The rocks are called grandmother and grandfathers. We were given the chance to get out of the lodge between rounds to cool off a bit. By the last round all the water has to be used so the remaining water is poured onto the rocks and it gets extremely hot. I can’t even explain how hot it was inside the lodge. I did have a slight panic attack that my skin was going to melt to my body, but I just kept reminding myself that if all these other women can do this, so can I! Also I should note that you are able to bring towels into the lodge and I was basically covering my face tightly the whole time because it was way too hot to breath in the air. It was the best experience I’ve had thus far. It was so great to be invited to this ceremony. And I have only briefly touched on what happens. There was much much more. But I must say it was the most refreshing experience. I’ve never felt like that before. I was literally dripping with sweat but it felt amazing. And what made the experience even better was how welcoming the women were to us. They knew that we had obviously never attended a sweat before, so they helped us out and told us what we had to do. They were also very concerned that it wasn’t getting too hot for us. I can’t say enough how wonderful these women were. And to add, there were hilarious! They are all such happy, beautiful women who just love life. This is the highlight of my trip! It’s going to take a lot to top this experience. So enough about that, I am just so so so pleased that it happened and I don’t even have the words to describe it all. What I just said doesn’t even give it the slightly bit of justice, but it will have to do. So now it’s Friday morning and I have today off along with the rest of the weekend. I’m on call tonight with my preceptor, so this will be a new experience for me if I get called in. I’ve never “been on call” before. But this weekend is devoted to my research paper which yes, is still not completed. I put in a food order from Timmins today so hopefully that will arrive by the beginning of the week. I went to the Northern because I hadn’t ate any meat since I arrived and they of course were all sold out of any fresh meat so chicken fingers were the only option and they rang in at a whopping $20.00. Weeeooo! Not too many big plans for the weekend yet. Saturday night Kate and I are going to attend volleyball at the gym, so that should be fun and I will hopefully write a brief post at the end of the weekend. I miss you all dearly and hope that summer is treating you well!
62: Ok so weekend number 2 in Fort Albany is complete. And if I was still at home I would probably think that it was a boring weekend, but now that I am up here and standards for a good weekend are different, my weekend was just fabulous! It started off on Friday with a nice long sleep-in day and then it was time to work on the paper and also do laundry. Looks like vacation mode is over. I’m actually living a real life here and that means laundry must be done! Side note, I’ve also officially changed my little desktop weather network to Fort Albany...this means I’m going to be here for a while! So three loads later and I finally have my wardrobe back! Speaking of clothes... we’ve heard that there a quite a few websites that have free shipping up here such as Gap, Old Navy, American Eagle and even LL Bean. Guess it really isn’t time to combat my shopping addiction quite yet! Friday night I went to Michael and Michelle’s for dinner again and then after, it was time for Kate and I to yet again have another movie night! Saturday morning I actually cleaned my room and skyped with my family. They thought it was appropriate to eat 5 cent candies in front of me (which for those of you who don’t know are one of my all time favourite candies), show me the nice cold Corona they just bought and also open the cupboards and show me all the great food at home! Geee thanks guys! That was exactly what I needed! But good news is that my food order should arrive this week! Pretty sure that’s going to be the highlight of my entire week. Also, I don’t think I mentioned that I was planning on using my cell phone as my alarm clock while I was here. But turns out, if you don’t get signal, then for some odd reason the alarm setting on my phone chooses when it wants to work and when it doesn’t. So after missing a few alarms and being woken up by the lady staying here who tramples around in her high heel shoes, I decided that I certainly don’t want to rely on some faulty piece of technology (or the neighbour’s shoes) to wake me up from my deep northern sleeps. So off to the Northern store I went. And boy was I lucky! One single alarm clock left in the whole store and it was only $20.00! High-five to that! And to add, we’ve discovered there are 2 single radio stations up here too! BONUS! But the Northern got the best of us in more ways than one. We wandered around the store looking for anything that caught our eye and you will never guess the latest investment is! SCRABBLE! Yep, that’s right! I’m going to work on my spelling skills while up here. Kate and I once again thought this was a worthy investment of our money! It’s going to come in handy, I’m sure! But, we have yet to crack it open because we have vowed that the papers must get finished first before we dive into the fun and games! I’ve always loved board games and it’s just killing me to sit in my room and write a paper all day as the big red box sits in my corner and stares at me! Saturday afternoon we needed a little break from our intense paper writing so we did a little walk around the other side of town! But the black flies were at their best and forced us to cut the adventure short and swear to never go on a walk again without bug spray! The bugs up here are persistent! Like they don’t back off! And for some odd reason I think they smell the fear in me because they swarm around me and let Kate walk along her merry way! What’s with that? Also, there are a lot of bees up here! And Kate (the bug lover) has informed me that they are attracted to black. And you’ll never guess what colour my only coat and sweater is that I brought. Yep, that’s right BLACK! | EVERY WORD'S A WINNER
63: Guess I really will need to do some online shopping if I want to combat the crazy bees. But anyways, back to the paper writing it was. However, Saturday night did prove to be a great time. Kate and I wandered over to the school because we heard that some volleyball might be happening! There ended up being about 10 of us which made for a perfect game of 5 on 5. Everyone was very nice and Kate and I were given a gentle reminder that after not playing volleyball for about 4 years, it can be a wee bit painful on the arms. Oh well! We found out volleyball is every Wednesday and Saturday night from 8:00 – 10:00, so that should make for some great summer fun! And finally it was Sunday which meant more paper writing! However, we did take a break to hit up the gym and tackle P90X yet again. This time though we stuck with the ab ripper video which was a little more manageable but still very difficult nonetheless. Tomorrow I will pay, I just know it! So tomorrow starts another work week, but I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to call it a work week as I’m only working 3 days! And, word on the street is that there is going to be Canada day activities happening on Friday! I’m sure looking forward to that! Also, I’m hoping to hit up a few community health activities this week. Perhaps a sewing circle and kid’s gardening! I’ll keep you all posted though! There is also something else I’ve been meaning to write about! Here in Fort Albany there is a program getting started where they are promoting people to raise chickens. The first chicken coop is being built right now. It’s going to be a chicken coop, green house and worm farm, all in one! What a fantastic idea. You can either raise chickens for meat or have hens for eggs (or both)! This will give locals access to food at a lower price and also they are hoping that some people will even make a small business out of it. I guess this has started in Northern Manitoba and it has really taken off there, so they are hoping the same will happen in Fort Albany. Just when we were arriving here there was a big event where people could come out and learn all about raising chickens, but unfortunately we missed it. Hopefully sometime we can stop by the coop and see how things are going! Just thought you’d like a little inside scoop on the latest happenings around here! Have a FANTASTIC week everyone! Catch you on the flip side! So all in all the journey has begun on a good note... this must mean good things to follow! Adios till next time!
64: WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER | So this week was a little less exciting than anticipated. But no complaints here, it meant that I had a lot of time to relax. Let me tell you, life takes on a new meaning up here it’s so wonderful and so completely opposite than my lifestyle at home. The best part of the week was getting that pleasant phone call from the airport that yes, our food had FINALLY arrived! I was like a kid on Christmas morning opening up our boxes! Cheerio’s, chicken, apples, bananas, and so much more! What more could I ask for? So that night I made Kate and I a delicious dinner. Our first real dinner since arrival and I must add that it was splendid! Food is a wonderful thing! On to Canada day which proved to be a pretty decent day. The community events were unfortunately cancelled, but this didn’t stop Kate and I from celebrating in our own Fort Albany way. This included a jam session with The Tragically Hip, Alanis Morissette, Avril, J.Biebs, Barenaked Ladies, and many more Canadian artists! It was great. You’ve got to remember that we create our own fun up here! Also tuned in for a little Canada Day festivities with Will and Kate, and might I add that she was looking stunning with the maple leaf hat! Side note here... I was sad to see that Harry did not accompany the royal couple because I’m still waiting for my proposal! Oh well, guess he is a little shy perhaps? Canada Day afternoon Kate and I visited the paramedic base with Michael and met some new people there which was nice! We also played a little Frisbee and enjoyed the beautiful weather by reading outside our place on a blanket in the sun! It was just an all around relaxing day! Also, this week provided some great quality time to spend with the scrabble game. Finally! We waited so long! Saturday night we were hoping to hit up Volleyball but it wasn’t happening this week, so instead we baked a little apple crisp that did not turn out as planned! I don’t think baking is one of my strong points, I guess I’ll stick to nursing! However tomorrow Kate and I are putting on our baking hats and going to make some bread. Let’s hope it ends up better than the apple crisp. Well, that’s all I really have to update you all on! It’s a short post I know but I’m really enjoying myself up here! Also not sure if I should have enabled that comment feature? I didn’t realize people were actually reading this (aside from my parents)! The pressure is on now! Haha! Ok so time for a real update! I’ve almost completed week three in Fort Albany. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! And, just in case I’ve forgotten to mention to anyone I’ll remind you all that I absolutely 100% completely love the north! I couldn’t be happier here! There is so much to learn and for the past few days my brain has been a sponge soaking up all the nursing knowledge I can possible take. | MEEGWETCH
65: It is so great. I can’t even explain how much I love it up here. To be perfectly honest, I’m already thinking about how much I’m NOT looking forward to leaving! But anyways, I think you all get the point. So I last left off with an un-exciting weekend shall I say. But that did not last long. Monday I of course slept most of the day away and just did school work and such. Also, finally got the chance to purchase my first souvenir! As you can imagine this place isn’t somewhere like Niagara Falls where everywhere you look there are souvenirs jumping at you. It’s rare to find something that is a so-called souvenir, but the security man at the hospital knew we were on the lookout for some tamarack birds and a man visited the hospital selling some, so he called us up and we went and got one! It was quite exciting! Tuesday was when Kate and I put on our big white chef hats and baked! Yes, it’s a crazy thought I know. But to be honest, the baking went quite well. After a pricey stop at the grocery store we had flour, sugar and all the rest! And as a side note, flour is EXPENSIVE! I think because it is so heavy. Most times the heavier the item the more money is costs because of the shipping charges that it would have taken to get it up here. Anyways, my first task was to of course call my Grandma. I needed to get the best banana bread recipe out there and that was exactly what I did! Kate however out did me by far and created a masterpiece of cinnamon buns. Say hello to the gym this weekend. I sat there in amazement as scoop after scoop of butter was added! So that kept us busy most of Tuesday and later on in the day we had a Mexican taco night and invited Michael over. There was nothing Mexican about the night besides tacos but it just makes it sound more fun! Wednesday I worked and after work headed out to volleyball at the school. It’s nice to get out and meet people. Everyone at volleyball is super fun and we tend to have a great time. Then today I worked again and now have Friday and Saturday off! Monday night I begin working nights! It’s the first time I’ve worked nights before so I’m guessing it may be a challenge! Oh well, it’s all part of the fun! But I can’t even express how much I am learning and how great the nursing aspect of this adventure is! Also, as a side note, I’m getting slightly addicted to the show called Modern Family. I’ve watched 12 episodes in the past 3 days! A little crazy I know, but it is just way too funny! Anyways, lots of homework to be accomplished this weekend. Kate is working nights so I’ll have plenty of time to keep quite in my room and work on homework. Tomorrow is Friday everyone and that means the weekend is on its way! Hope you are all enjoying the nice warm weather! Mine is much less hotter than yours but that’s perfectly fine with me, because I’m living the northern life and that’s what it’s about! Also, just thought I’d say meegwetch to you all for reading my blog. It’s thank you in Cree. I’m beginning to pick up a few words. Not many though.
66: Well week four is coming to a close! It was a month ago today that I left! It’s almost hard to believe! But anyways, I have completed my first night shifts and I must say it wasn’t as bad as expected. The first night flew by because it was busy and I didn’t even feel tired. I came home at 8:00 and did my online class till about 11:00 and finally was able to catch some sleep. Kate can attest that I was acting a little crazy by the end of class! But, the second night however was a different story. It was much slower and I was much more tired! It was still good though nonetheless. But I have been informed that when I am tired I slur my words! Great news for my patients! Hah! They’re going to have a hard time understanding me! This week we also hit up the one and only restaurant in Fort Albany. And I didn’t go just once, but twice! It’s actually has really good food too, but of course is much more expensive than a restaurant down south! It’s funny because you never really know when things are going to be open around here. Some days it’s open, some days it’s not! It’s sheer luck! Wednesday night we hit up Volleyball again, so we’re beginning to become regulars there and people actually know us! But I need to get to the real highlights of my week. First, was receiving my clothes that I had bought online! As you can imagine, I’m going a little crazy here with no form of shopping for clothes at all! I mean my bank account is probably loving it, but I however am not! So yes, new clothes for me! Hooray! The second highlight of my week was getting the care package from my family. I got a slip at the hospital on Wednesday that my package had arrived, so today I drove the hospital truck over to the post office. Keep in mind the truck is running on empty! And when you live with Kerry Watson, vehicles never run on empty, so I have no idea how long it has been on empty or how far I can drive it? But anyways, I walk in to find a sign that says they are closed because they are sorting mail. So I ask the lady when they will re-open. She tells me it will open in about an hour. So back home I go. Then I drive over about an hour and a half later (still on empty) and what do I find? Same sign still there! I once again ask when they’ll be open again and I am informed that not for another half hour. Finally I make my third trip over (yet again on empty) and see they are OPEN! Hooray! So I finally got my package and raced home crossing my fingers I would make it without running out of gas all the while just thinking of all the great things that are going to be in it! And I was scrambling to get it open so fast but not wanting to cut open any of the contents! I get it open and you would have thought I won the lottery! There was Kraft dinner, gum, goldfish, popcorn, chocolate bars, candies, and rice! All my most favourite things! Ahh I’m in heaven now! Thankfully I also asked mom to send up my workout videos so that will counteract all the great stuff I’m about to eat! So yes, as you can see small small things are exciting when you are in the north! I’m going to ration this food so it lasts a long time and I have it when I get cravings for food from home! Anyways, I start nights again on Friday till Sunday and then have a few days off so I won’t be updating again for a while! Kate and I have turned into real bakers and are going to attempt some cookies tonight! | MAIL MAIL MAIL
67: INSOMNIA | Well it’s currently 4am and I’m suffering from post-night shift insomnia! So lucky for all you blog followers a rather lengthy post is coming your way. I have lots of updates from the past weekend. As I already said, I worked nights Friday to Sunday but that did not stop me from having a jam packed weekend of Fort Albany fun. I didn’t let the extreme tiredness of working nights put a damper on my weekend. I’m only here once, so I gotta enjoy it while I can! Saturday was a beautiful day here. The hottest it’s been yet! I got to whip out some of my summer attire, which has sadly been living in my dresser drawer for quite some time! But, with the nice warm weather brings the crazy black flies and oh my do they hurt! I have however mastered the art of getting them just before the sink their teeth in! I’ll show them who’s boss. So to enjoy the nice weather we scrounged up a plastic kids kite and that entertained us for the afternoon! Crazy thought that something so simple is such a big deal up here. But keep in mind, the social life in Fort Albany isn’t their strong point! Saturday night it was back to work and one thing about being up all night is that you get to see things you wouldn’t normally see if you were sound asleep in your bed! It was weird because we started smelling smoke in the hospital and finally went outside to discover a sky filled with smoke from the forest fires happening in Northern Ontario. After some panicking on my part I was reassured that no, my house in fact would still be standing the next morning! Phew! I had a mental list in my head of all the things I would need to grab before the house burned to the ground! Sunday was the highlight of my weekend. The security guard from the hospital knew we were dying to get out boating so he offered to take us out on the water to check his fishing nets! Me, Kate and another girl from the hospital all went out together with the security guard named Alex. I felt like I was on Sarah Palin's Alaska show! The whole experience certainly tested my outdoorsy-ness I guess you could say. First task was to get the boat from the shore into the water. Easy enough you might think! THINK AGAIN! There was mud thick as molasses. It would completely engulf your foot and my suitcase did not afford me any room for rubber boots and I was therefore in some nice cute flip flops which were shortly covered in mud! You could call it exfoliation in the north, no need to pay for an expensive spa! So we finally get in the water and ready to go. We cruise out onto the water and head to the net! Anticipation was running high of all the huge fish we were going to find. We pull the boat up to the net and begin to pull it out of the water and what do we find you may ask? 1 lonely sturgeon! That’s all! And apparently they live by the expression “go big or go home” because he wasn’t big enough to keep and we set him free. This was after the fish got to chill beside me in the boat as he clinged onto what he thought were his last few minutes of life and he obviously was freaking out and thought it was appropriate to scare the living daylight out of me by flapping around like crazy! Needless to say a few screams happened! Next stop was to visit “Old Fort Albany” where the community lived up until the 1970’s. All that is left is the old graveyard which we travelled through. It was a different experience because the grass and weeds had grown up to the height of my neck and we made our way through stumbling on gravesites and crosses. Also keep in mind that at this point I was still in my flip flops as Alex, the guy who took us, mentioned that there was probably lots of poison ivy!
68: Great, I thought to myself! But have no fear; I did not get any poison ivy just a few little nicks and cuts from the sharp grass! After all that we headed to another part of the bay where we set up a new net for Alex. I was his right-hand man and was in charge of feeding the net into the water and throwing the anchor for the net overboard as he drove the boat. I’m pretty confident that my impressive skills are sure to have an influence on the number of fish he catches with the net! So if anyone is looking for fishing advice I’m your go-to person! But overall, the boat ride was a nice relaxing time and we all had our eyes peeled for some crazy wildlife, but only bald eagles were seen. I then headed back in for the final night shift of the weekend working on about 3.5 hours of sleep! I was pretty certain that I was going to die half way through the night, but to my surprise, I had no trouble staying up all night! So yes, another great week in Fort Albany has come to a close. With each day that I am here I wonder how I am ever going t re-enter into my life down south. I don’t even want to think about the fact of having a cell phone that is constantly buzzing with text messages or having to look at the calendar to see where I have to be and when. It’s going to be an interesting transition! But luckily for me I don’t have to worry about that for another 6 weeks! Well I suppose it’s time I fill you all in on the latest happenings in Fort Albany! I’ve hit my half way point of this trip! I’ve been here for 5 weeks and I only have 5 weeks left. I must admit now though that the thought of coming home does get me a little excited! I mean, getting to reunite with my family, friends and civilization is going to be a great thing. But I will be very sad to leave here! I know that already! But anyways, I need to stop thinking about the end of this trip and keep making the most of it while I can! So this past week was filled with lots of fun stuff in the clinic! One night after work the visiting doctor held a learning session where he taught us all how to do intraosseous infusions. Most of you are probably thinking what the heck is that? Well, it’s putting an IV into your bone! Crazy eh? You use this mini power drill to do it! It was very interesting to learn how to do this and it’s actually quite easy! If anyone wants to be my volunteer to practice on let me know! Hahah! You know you’re a nurse when this gets you excited! The next exciting event of the week was me doing my very first venipuncture (which means taking blood). Yippee! Kate and another guy at the hospital let me practice on them, so that was also an exciting day! But overall, the clinic is keeping quite busy which means I’m assessing, diagnosing, prescribing and documenting like crazy. I’m honestly learning so so so much! It’s great. Not too sure how I’m ever going to re-enter the southern healthcare atmosphere? Oh and a little update about the forest fires. Yes, know how I mentioned that they were no where near Fort Albany. Well, I was wrong! I’ve been informed by one of the fire fighters that they are a mere 10 miles up the river! But, have no fear! They’ve all been put out now! Phew! | FIFTY PERCENT
69: As for my weekend festivities, not too much happened. I got caught up on a bunch of homework, hit up the gym, and ate some delicious Indian food, prepared by Kate’s preceptor who’s from India! So yes, another week has come and gone. Time is going by a little too fast for my likings! But that seems to be the way life goes. Cheers to the long weekend! Hope everyone is enjoying the nice hot weather you’ve been having. The weather up here is starting to get warmer which is nice. It’s giving me a little taste of the southern Ontario summer life. It’s a weird feeling every time I go to write a new post I take a little glance at my calendar to see where I am in this trip and today I was a little stunned to see that I am now past the half way point! 6 weeks down, 4 to go. I guess I’m on the home stretch now? Not that I’m excited about that in any way. I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point when I’m so-called ‘ready’ to come home. But time stops for no one, so you’ve just gotta roll with it all. As for my week, I worked quite a bit and most exciting of all, I was able to start my very first IV line on one of the guys at work who volunteered and it went better than expected! It’s crazy how much I can learn up here every day in the clinic. I mean all other placements I’ve been at I seem to sort of hit a plateau at a certain point when things become routine and predictable. Things are far from predictable here, and I think that’s what makes me love it so much! You are challenged everyday! In terms of my long weekend festivities, they are most likely the complete opposite of yours! How many of you searched for a sewing circle to attend this weekend? I bet NONE! I must admit that Friday night I was a little envious of everyone at home who was enjoying nice a cold beer while Kate and I were out on the search to find the local sewing circle which I should mention was unfortunately not found. So with no sewing circle to attend, the next best northern activity was to play scrabble and watch a movie. However, I’m not giving up on the sewing circle yet! I’m going to call the organizer and find out where it exactly is and I hope to attend this week at some point. Saturday morning began with a nice hard workout at the gym, getting some much needed groceries and then out to the local photovoice project workshop. The photovoice project is this thing being run by 2 locals and Laurentian University where they are attempting to show what life is really like to live in Fort Albany. The guy running the workshop explained that they are trying to show the ‘true beauty’ of Albany. So Kate and I were the only 2 people who actually went to the workshop but it was really fun! The guy taught us the basics about photography and then we went outside and practiced what he taught us. He’s now going to give us each a disposable camera which we are supposed to use to take pictures around Fort Albany and then all the disposable cameras are going to be sent back to Laurentian and compiled into a book with pictures from other reserves. So Kate and I are glad we could help out with this project and hope it all goes well! | SNAPSHOTS
70: So as I sit here in Fort Albany today, my family is having a little celebration as the big sister gets ready for her very own northern adventure. And to be honest, if she has half as great of an experience as me she’ll still have the time of her life! I’m so very excited for her to experience this lifestyle, because it really changes you! Enjoy the rest of your long weekend. 1 month from today I’ll be back in good old Forest getting ready for the final countdown in Hammertown. Well I have lots to update you all on. I’ve been quite busy lately and the more I’m here, the more I love it! It was a busy week at work again and so I got to learn lots more which was great! I can’t believe that I am nearing the end of this amazing adventure! There is only 3 weeks left. In terms of my social life, I must admit that it has taken a turn for the best! The weather is getting much warmer and lots more people are out and about! Thursday night I went fishing with another guy from the hospital. We took out his canoe and a couple fishing poles and hoped for the best. Unfortunately no fish were caught, and all we returned with was one and a half fishing poles because one broke in half! But it was really neat where we went fishing because it was just beside the airstrip at the airport and so many planes were flying overhead the whole time. Friday night we had another intense scrabble night with a few people and I must admit that scrabble gets quite wild up here! We even had to consult the dictionary a couple times! Then the best day I’ve had here yet was Saturday. The security guard from the hospital, Alex, took us out in his boat again, but this time we went to Kashechewan which is the community further north than us. It took us 4 hours in his boat to get there and let me tell you it was an adventure. I’m not one who really likes manual labour, if you didn’t already know that! Haha! But the tide was out when we left so the water was super shallow and therefore about half the time we had to pull the boat. It was a tiring task but most of the time we were all just laughing our heads off! When we finally made it to Kash Alex took us around to meet lots of locals and many people were selling their traditional crafts and such so I purchased some nice moccasins and a few other things. Kash is much bigger than Albany and I was glad to have the chance to tour around. When it was time to head back home we all were curious as to whether the tide had came in enough that we would no longer have to pull the boat, but no such luck. The water was still quite shallow and therefore we once again were pulling the boat along most of the time. Just picture us 3 girls with huge rubber boots on that were filled with water pulling a boat all the while trying to stay standing because the rocks are so extremely slippery! It was quite a site to see! Then as we were walking the water suddenly started to get deep so everyone starts hopping into the boat and I was helping Kate get in because she is so short and then everyone was in the boat except for me. So I grab the side of the boat and at this point the water was up to my waist. | I'M JUST ANOTHER FISH IN THE RIVER
71: I tried to pull myself up but clearly all the working out I’ve been doing didn’t pay off because I got half way into the boat and then we hit a little wave and SEE YA... I flipped right over the side of the boat into the river! I was completely submerged into the water, my head and everything! And the whole time it was happening all I could think about was hoping the fish did not swim into my boots and squish between my toes or that I lose my sunglasses! And it was so great to see how loyal my friends are because instead of reaching their hand out to help me in the boat they both yell “OH MY GOSH! LET ME GRAB MY CAMERA!” Thanks girls! But I didn’t mind cooling off in the good old Albany river. Because did I really want to go home without saying that I was able to take a dip in the one and only Fort Albany river? Probably not! Next on the list of things I need to inform you about is my new northern baby. Yep that’s right I have a new baby! This morning we all woke up and planned on making some pancakes for breakfast, but you can’t make pancakes without chocolate chips so we were just about to make a quick trip to the store, when we opened our door to find the cutest puppy of all time sitting patiently waiting for us! It funny how down south you find a newspaper on your front step in the morning filled with the latest news and gossip but in the north you find a puppy! We all were so excited to find this puppy we just decided that she was going to be our adopted baby. We went to the store and got some puppy food and have been feeding her hoping that we can convince her to stay! So yes, such a nice surprise. As for my week I’m working lots still and tonight we are determined to find the sewing circle so keep your fingers crossed for us. And there are a few other community events were are hoping to attend this week so looks like my social northern life isn’t slowing down any time soon! I’ll be home before you know it! Can’t wait to see you all! Try to keep cool in all the hot weather you’re having! As you can see from the pictures below I’m still having a great time! The chopper made another visit to the hospital this past week and Kate and I didn’t miss out on another opportunity to snap some shots with the helicopter and get yet another tour of the inside! There is something about these bright orange aircrafts that I just love! I find the whole system of how they work so interesting! Planning out so many patient pick-up’s and drop off’s, it’s quite a comprehensive operation they run! And Kate and I held nothing back, showing our true nursing student selves running around snapping pictures looking inside and watching the landing and take-off! But anyways there was more excitement to my week besides the helicopter! | HAVE I CHANGED?
72: This past week was community week or something like that so everyday there was free breakfast, lunch and dinner, but unfortunately I was only able to attend one of the meals, but nonetheless it was enjoyable! A couple of people from public health also organized a farmer’s market which was probably the highlight of my week because Kate and I were able to snatch up some great apples, sweet corn, peppers, and watermelon! They all tasted like I had picked them up right from the farm! Such a nice change from the fruit and veggies offered at the Northern! And I also got to attend a community event put on by the visiting doctor. She spoke about the effects of prescription drug abuse and almost the whole community attended! It was nice to see a good turnout and I also got to hear the chief speak for the first time. So all in all it was a good week! Now I am just enjoying my three day weekend! I’m certainly taking advantage of the relaxing lifestyle as much as I can before I get home! I lazed around all day today until about 5:00 when I finally decided to get out of bed and hit up the gym. And after skyping with my family I think they are now officially convinced that I am a changed person! My mother even thinks I have “lost all my manners” simply because I didn’t pour my juice into a cup! But hey, no need to waste dishes right? Anyways, this is one of the few last weekends I have left here in Albany as I have changed my travel plans for the way home. Kate and I met a new nursing student who was in Albany working as an RPN. She lives in Moose Factory during the summer, so Kate and I changed our flights so that we will be able to spend the weekend in Moose Factory before we leave for home. After being in Moosonee on the way up, Kate and I really wanted to visit Moose Factory because not only is it an island, but everyone kept telling us how nice it is. So yes, we will be leaving Albany on August 26th which is less than 2 weeks away. Can you believe this journey is coming to an end? I spent over 7 months planning this and it has all come and gone so quickly! But they say all good things must come to an end! And this indeed has been a spectacular thing and I like to think that it isn’t coming to an end, but rather I am taking a break from the North but will be sure to return soon! Watch out everyone. Shelby is heading back to the homeland soon to see all of you! Can’t wait! Not too sure if I even remember how to use my cell phone or what a mall looks like, but I’m sure it won’t take me long to get back into the hustle and bustle of the southern lifestyle! See you soon! Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!
73: It’s what you say to greet people in Cree. It’s one of the few words I’ve learning during my time here. And I must say time is flying by and I have so many mixed emotions about coming home! It’s weird how you can be so extremely excited about coming home, but so sad to be leaving something so great behind. I haven't quite mastered the art of having the best of both worlds yet. So until I do, I must admit the fact that I have a mere 7 days left here and I need to soak up every last moment! I think my days in the clinic may be done as my preceptor left today to head home for a few weeks. I wasn’t exactly sure what the best way was to thank someone who has taught me so much? And I’m not sure she will ever really know the depth of information I gained from working here. But I indeed have learned more than I ever thought possible. As for the clinic this past week we had quite a few interesting and exciting cases, which kept me busy and still learning lots! My latest happenings have been quite relaxing. Today we went to a BBQ and got some great food and took Kate’s preceptor’s dog for a walk. We’ve also discovered that it’s quite enjoyable to sit at the airport and watch the planes land and take off. But I think today we were sitting a little too close because when the plane took off we had a nice sandstorm come whipping at us. We also spent more of our day outside reading, playing scrabble and just reminiscing about this whole journey. It really has been life-changing! As for my plans for the last week, they are still quite unpredictable. Next week there is a veterinarian coming up to run a spay and neuter clinic along with vaccinations and such so they are in need of volunteers and Kate and I are planning on helping out with that as it is actually going to help to provide really positive changes in the community on so many different levels. Other from that I don’t have a whole lot planned. I guess I’ll just be fitting in my very last visits to the northern store and doing a few last jogs around the community. I can’t say I’m really all that excited to return to the hospital setting. There is so much autonomy up here and nurses are really responsible for everything. I feel I’m going to have to gain back my patience as I will be waiting for doctors orders and such before I am able to do anything. But it’s all necessary to reach the final goal of being an RN... which I might add is coming faster than anticipated. Needless to say, I’m homeward bound soon and I am looking forward to it! I’ll just be sad that this adventure is ending, but it’s just going to make me all that much more eager to start a new one! Cheers everyone. It’s the weekend! | WAH-CHAY! WAH-CHAY!
74: WE’RE RUNNING A MASH | So as I had mentioned I wanted to make the most of my last few days in Albany and I’ve been doing just that. Saturday we went out in Alex’s boat again to set up one of his nets as he is hoping to catch some big white pickerel soon. It was just me, Kate and Alex this trip and we actually had a really great time! Alex is such a funny guy, we just laughed our heads off the whole time as he told some wild stories. Now I’m anxiously waiting for Alex’s fish update to see how successful our net was. Also, I’d like to inform you all that I did not fall into the water at all this time! Kudos to me! Side note here: I was at the airport picking up the veterinarian and his assistant when a local guy got off the plane and introduced himself to me. We got chatting and I was explaining how I was a nursing student here and such. Then he finally asked “Are you the one that fell into the river last weekend?” I laughed so hard! Guess I’m going to be remembered as the student who fell into the Albany river! My, exciting news sure does spread fast through the community. Anyways, after our boat ride I think Alex was bored so he asked Kate and I if we wanted him to teach us how to shoot a gun. Kate and I were of course eager for this and agreed that it would be a good idea. So we drove out to what is called “Anderson’s Point” and we brought our little pup Mika along with us so she could run around too. Once we got there Alex tried to teach us how to aim and hit a target. Of course, I could not for the life of me hit the target (which was a log in the water that was COMPLETELY still) but I nonetheless had a good time trying. I suppose there are still many northern skills I have yet to master. So next I must inform you all that I have made a slight career change this week. Instead of taking care of humans, I have switched to animals. As I said in my last post, there is a veterinarian here this week who is helping to control the dog population and reduce the number of stray dogs by offering free spay and neutering. They needed volunteers so I thought why not? I don’t have anything better to do! And boy am I glad I hopped on this band wagon. It’s probably been one of the best things I’ve done here. A local family from the community offered up their home to host the dog clinic. So we transformed their dining room and living room into a real operating room. We’re calling it Fort Albany MASH (Mobile Animal Surgical Hospital). It is unbelievable! And I’ve been doing so much! I get to prepare their needles, give injections to the animals, help keep them calm as the vet injects anaesthetic medications into their veins, help transport the dogs from the prep table to the operating table, and clear/sterilize all the surgical instruments. I’m also responsible for looking after the animals as they recover from surgery, so I have to clean their surgical wounds, wrap them all up in blankets, remove their breathing tubes, clip their nails and SO MUCH MORE! It’s just so fascinating to see how a plain old living room can be turned into a fully equipped operating room. We have an oxygen tank, anaesthetic machine, heart rate and oxygen saturation monitor, and even an autoclave machine (which sterilizes all the surgical instruments). It’s just really neat to see the similarities and differences in an animal surgery compared to a human surgery... and to be honest, they are really quite similar. So in two short days I think we’ve done just under 20 dog surgeries and even a cat and we still have 2.5 days of clinic! Also, I was so happy that Mika (our little puppy) was able to have surgery and get all her immunizations.
75: Now I can leave Albany knowing she is a happy, healthy puppy! Seeing this dog clinic come together, I was given another friendly reminder about how amazing the north is. I LOVE IT HERE! Anyways, I have two and a half days left in Albany before I head off to what will seem like the big city of Moose Factory. We are looking forward to our weekend there and exploring the island. Also, I was yet again given a reminder that the North is truly a different way of life when I called the train station to inform them that we would be taking the train a day earlier than expected and I was kindly told that they decided to change the train schedule and no longer run trains on the weekend. Guess I won’t be home till Tuesday morning! Oh well, more time to soak up all that Moose Factory and Moosonee has to offer. See you all soon! I’ll probably have one or two more posts before my journey comes to an end so stay tuned! Last night was our final night in Albany and I must say it was a chilling experience. Kate and I went over to her preceptors house around 12:30 to let her dog out and we look up to the sky to find the most incredible, breath-taking sky filled with the most amazing stars I’ve ever seen. The Milky Way was so clear! Then as we are standing in absolute astonishment we see a flashing light amongst the stars and sure enough, an ORNGE (air ambulance) helicopter was coming in for landing. Such a nice reminder of how remote I am, and why I chose to come on this unforgettable journey. The sheer beauty of the north never fails to amaze me! So here it ismy stethoscope is packed away, my camera is full of pictures, and my soul is filled with memories that I will never forget! Goodbye Fort Albany. Time to head to Moose Factory for the final weekend. Let the fun begin! See you all soon! | PERFECT ENDING
76: WELCOME TO REALITY | I’ve officially left Fort Albany and am now enjoying the drastically different Moose Factory life. I think after being in Fort Albany for 10 weeks it has skewed my vision of reality. The island feels bigger than Toronto, the houses seem beautiful and there are stop signs at every corner... culture shock is sure setting in hard! Before we left for the plane we said our goodbyes and I must say, people are so incredibly kind and the most popular question of the day was “When are you coming back”. My response was different every time, because I don’t know when I am coming back, but I do know that I AM coming back! So yes, as we walked to the airport many people were shouting out their goodbyes and bidding us farewell. It was a humbling experience! The plane ride when smoothly and we arrived in Moosonee without a hitch. I also should inform you all that I never fail to amaze Kate. We get into the airport and the same guy is working that was working the day we left for this adventure. So I of course go up to him and say... “Hey, do you remember me?” He of course didn’t but we had a laugh anyways and he informed us that there is a giant seal at the dock where we will catch the boat taxi and he advises us to go see it and shows us some pictures of the seal. At this point I have almost the whole airport interested in this seal and talking about it! But anyways, as we hopped into a taxi the driver asks “Where do you need to go?” and we hesitated to say “umm... the LCBO!” She chuckled and said “Must have been a bad flight eh?!” It’s been 10 weeks people... we were excited for a glass of wine or two...can you really blame us? But I am constantly reminded that I am in the north, because as we checkout at the LCBO the man simply says “are you nurses or teachers”... it’s so bluntly obvious that we are not from here, but people are still so friendly. It’s a nice feeling! So we get a few bottles of wine and then headed to the boat taxi that takes us across the river to Moose Factory island. Turns out the other guy in the van taxi is also the boat taxi driver. So we get him to take us to the dock with the seal and we snap lots of pictures and such and then he offers to get real close so I can take a video of the seal hopping into the water! Kate and I debated whether this seal was the best thing we’ve seen on the trip and it was a tough call! Our reactions in the video show how excited we were. But yes, we take this little boat taxi over to the island. The boat has a little wooden covering so you don’t get wet, but the driver must have thought that my duffle bag was not filled with my precious clothes because he stuck it at the front of the boat where there is no covering and it was pouring rain. The whole time we are going over these pretty big waves and I just sit in utter disbelief thinking my suitcase is surely going to whip off the boat and sink to the bottom of the river and there will be nothing I can do to stop it! So needless to say I was a little preoccupied the boat ride watching my bag instead of the scenery! But, you will all be happy to hear that my suitcase made it to the island intact! Soaking wet, but intact! Hooray! Our friend picked us up at the docks and gave us a tour of the island... and as I said above culture shock is setting in! We stopped at pizza hut and got some dinner which I might add tasted like heaven! 10 weeks with no fast food... ahhh my mouth is still watering as I talk about it!
77: We also hit up the Northern store that is quadruple the size of Albany’s Northern and I couldn’t believe how much food there was! It was overwhelming! Friday night our friend had to work so Kate and I watched movies as we played Jenga and enjoyed some much needed glasses of wine. It was a perfect night. Yesterday we hit up a Moose Factory garage sale and also did more touring around the island. We hosted a BBQ at our friend Chen’s house and that is something else I haven’t enjoyed in 10 weeks! I’m easing back into my original lifestyle! Then last night was a beautiful moment. We were all inside this guy’s house enjoying a few drinks when someone yells “The northern lights are out!” Everyone ran outside and we all stood there just watching them! It’s only the second time I’ve seen them on this journey but I absolutely love them! Tomorrow I begin the trek home! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and telling you more great stories!
78: Just like that the journey of a nursing student in the north is over. Hard to believe that I am back home slipping into my normal life again all so soon! I don’t really know how to sum up the past 10 weeks into one final blog post for you all but I will do my best by sharing with you all some things I've learned on this spectacular journey. 1. Time is not everything. Things will happen when they are meant to happen. Creating a strict schedule only adds stress to your life. ---Implement this at your own risk. In our society it may not be the best idea as you may have some people very angry with your tardiness. 2. Live for today because tomorrow is unpredictable and you don’t know what’s headed your way. 3. Stress is an unnecessary part of life. Stressing about something will not change the outcome in the end. So just stop stressing over things and VOILA ... problem solved! 4. Live conservatively and simply. I guarantee it will make your life more enjoyable. 5. Share what you are fortunate enough to have with those around you. 6. Laugh (or giggle) and do it often! It’s sure to brighten your mood and the mood of those around you. 7. Creating expectations only creates an opportunity for you to be disappointed. When travelling, have no expectations and everything will seem great! 8. Material wealth does not serve anyone well. There is really no need for it. Always remember ‘Money does not buy happiness’. The memories I’ve gained from this trip are going to be what stay with me for the rest of my life, not the dream catcher keychain. 9. Things don’t always go as planned so learn to ‘go with the flow’ and you just might be pleasantly surprised! 10. In order to live your best life you must do what you love and love what you do. Adios everyone! The journey ends here. Thanks for following along with me! | ONE’S DESTINATION IS NEVER A PLACE, BUT A NEW WAY OF SEEING THINGS
79: “ONCE YOU HAVE TRAVELED, THE VOYAGE NEVER ENDS, BUT IS PLAYED OUT OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN THE QUIETEST CHAMBERS. THE MIND CAN NEVER BREAK OFF FROM THE JOURNEY.” – PAT CONROY | June 14th - August 30th 2011