Saturday, August 9, 2008

Arctic Shopping

Bostonian in New York recently made a comment about obtaining fruit in the Arctic and I was reminded of a contract 2 summers ago working in Kugaaruk, Nunavut.
I had a three week contract there during a crazy RSV outbreak. It was just me and one other nurse manning the station in a community of about 800. It was pretty hectic and after a few days we got into the groove of trading off: I'd call the medevac, monitor the child while she went upstairs and slept, ate, brushed her teeth, and stared blankly at our one channel of CBC North. Then she'd come down a few hours later and we'd switch.

After two weeks of this we were sent a third nurse for relief who was a new NP grad lacking some basic assessment skills so we were forced to buddy her the entire time. Thus giving us no relief at all. It was a harrowing experience having 4 month olds come in with O2 sats of 76%, respiratory rates in the 70's and tracheal tugs you can see across the room. All this with the nearest medical facility hundreds of miles away by plane access only. By the end I could nearly do a respiratory assessment and peds I.V start in my sleep. I had also picked up my colleagues habit of yelling "cocksuck!" every time the on-call phone rang. Classy, I know. But it made us laugh.

I did get 2 days off in the three weeks there. One of those days I was able to get a paddle in with the mental health and addictions counselor. It was wonderful breathing fresh sea air and feeling the wind on our faces.

The locals were pretty cute.

But the "dairy section" left something to be desired.
(Note toilet paper roll in right corner).

And this was the fruit and produce section.

The local store had all but run out of any fresh food at all, there was no bread and no dairy that wasn't expired. That week the store manager did charter a flight however, bringing only the most essential item into town, Pepsi. No joke.

A week later some cottage cheese arrived, I bought several tubs and spent the rest of my time there surviving on cottage cheese and canned pineapple. It was to be the last time I traveled north without bringing my own food, despite the hassle and (occasional) heartache. Some trips my cooler would be left in an hot airport hangar for days and I'd get everything floating in 2 inches of thawed blueberries and their juice. Other times my food luggage would end up in -40 degrees outside, my soy milk frozen and exploded.

It's all part of the adventure I suppose.

Bostonian's comment brought me right back to the trials of healthy eating in the North. It's been almost a year since I was up there and had nearly forgotten that thorn-in-my-side to working there. And here I am, mindlessly enjoying all the local produce without a moments pause to really appreciate it.
Like strawberries that don't even need to be chewed, just pressed between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. I am reminded of the small blessings we take for granted every day here in southern Canada.


Bostonian in NY said... publicity!

Rogue Medic said...

And you are worried about a lapsed PALS card. You should be teaching the respiratory shock station.

Albinoblackbear said...

Oh go on...