18 May 2013

Well, there were no flying colors...

...but I survived the Dosage Calc test!  Let’s just hope I fair as well on the ECG & Blood Administration exams – apparently there is a fairly high re-do-over rate for both.  I realized today I’ve never been taught Junctional Rhythms…and have reaffirmed that I don’t care about Junctional Rhythms!! Are you having an MI? Yes, or No? Are you dying? Yes, or No? Let’s stick to the basics. :-

Other survival moments this week...the “blood extraction.”  Everyone kept asking if I had “done the blood extraction yet?”  Thankfully I was only subjected to a regular blood draw.  Plus 2 vaccinations and a PPD.  “Needles” to say (haha), not the best part of orientation.

On a more pleasant note, I bought some real, live, green plants!  Not sure if I’ll keep them alive, but for now they are a Great addition.  Speaking of…how are all my plant-sitters doing?  I didn’t give you all that free TP for nothing!  Status updates please.  Feel free to include photos :)

It also turns out that I LOVE my abaya!  The abaya is the long, black gown I have to wear every time I leave the compound (which includes all these orientation sessions.)  Cultural implications aside, it is Wonderful!  I don’t ever have to decide what to wear, I can wear the same thing q’day, I can wear very little underneath, it’s black so I can spill crap all over myself…besides being a little hot, it’s Awesome.

Also, there is something about it…In my naiveté, I feel there is some mystery behind the gown & veil. (Not all, but many women wear the full burqa.)  S’times I find myself wondering what she looks like under there. Only her husband, family and a few friends know.  According to more than one (male) Saudi instructor, they wear the gowns/veils "to protect them" from the stares & potential advances of other men.  Of course I recognize there is much more to it than that, and I’m not saying I necessarily agree, this is just a peripheral pondering.  We place so many judgments on someone’s face or body type, the way they dress or carry themselves.  They’re not all bad judgments – some are just cues to help us determine what type of person they are and what we may have in common, etc.  I guess I’m just still fascinated by it.  Intriguing thoughts to help balance all the negative things you hear…and many folks assume.

Sooooo much to learn here!  I’m anxious to see how my initial perceptions change with time & further exposure.  Hopefully I’ll make some Saudi friends and have opportunities for first-hand perspectives.  For now, I’m looking forward to getting my buns out of the sit-&-listen mode and into the ER!

Hope you are all doing well – I Love the messages, snaps, texts, email, comments here...except for trying to rotate pictures, it’s all Super Fun!  If all else weren't so different I’d hardly believe I was on the other side of the world!
Take care ya’ll,

09 May 2013

Marhaba from The Kingdom!

After much deliberation, I've decided to attempt a blog.  I know, "Gasp!"  I hate the thought of shoving my banter down people's throats with mass emails...so I figured this was a more "optional" approach.  PLUS my technological prowess is progressing by such leaps & bounds I may as well ride the wave!  Anyhoo - keep your expectations at a minimum & this might work out fine :)

I am a fan of the bullet point, so let's try that...

* The Journey... It turns out zero good sleep for almost 2 days was a blessing.  I was so wiped by the time I arrived I slept like a champ & suffered practically no jet lag.  By the time we got from the airport to the compound it was after 6 pm...and we started orientation promptly at 07:30 the next morning.  Awesome.  But I get ahead of myself...
- The plane ride...obviously it was long.  Of course you had the obligatory screaming kids & folks trying to jam Super Large bags into the overhead bin - shove, twist, flip, try & shut the door, shove, flip, repeat...you know the drill.  There were also a number of men who were not happy with their assigned seats & were asking, while q'one was still boarding, why they couldn't move up into the better open seat - including the space where the flt attendants sit.  The incredulous look on their face was like telling the pt with abd pain in the WR that he shouldn't eat his Popeye's until after seeing the doctor.  Good times.  The lovely couple next to me apologized & begged me not to judge all Saudi's based on this.  I assured her this behavior was certainly not unique to their country.
- In-flight movies...of course the "inappropriate scenes" had been cut out, but they had also made all the women's bare skin blurry on the screen.  Upper arms, chest (cleavage of course) and bare legs were all fuzzy!  They put black boxes over the same bits in the imported magazines as well - quite distracting. 
- The hype about customs proved anti-climactic.  They didn't even open my bag let alone plug USBs into my computer or pod...this time :)
* The Compound... I could say more, but basically it's just a HUGE apartment complex.  There are probably thousands of ppl living here divided into sections:  Single Women, Single Men & Families.  My room/studio is a bit beat up but despite the rusty bathroom light (with water actively dripping from the bulb?!) it suits me well. Definitely an upgrade from my mud & thatch in Zambia.  There are also little shuttle buses that take you places - to & from the hospital, grocery stores, markets, Ridiculously Massive malls...Melissa C. you would be in heaven!

* When Saudi chooses your friends... Again I will refrain from too much description (online at least :)) There were 2 other American women who arrived at the same time, both from Florida:
Keisha is originally from Jamaica, lived & worked in Riyadh last Dec-Dec & is trying Jeddah after finding return to work in the US...distasteful.  She loves lipstick, has a long reddish wig & listens to Kenny G.  Very nice & not shy at all. 
Rohini is originally from India & is having a rough transition.  She was very dependent on her husband & children in the US & is finding it difficult to function (At All) on her own.  She requires constant reassurance & hand holding...but slowly I think she will find her own routine. Needless to say, this Mama Bear is being tested...thank Allah Keisha is more patient that I :)

The rest of my orientation group is comprised of an Irish lady, a girl from Malaysia, one from Jeddah, a large contingent from the Philippines and 1 dude from Lebanon who could pass as George's younger brother :) There are also many ppl here from South Africa & India with a small handful of Europeans, Australians & Kiwis.

Side Bar:  I have challenged myself to try & be a little more soft-spoken...you chuckle, as do I!  By "soft" I mean "lower volume"...and probably less cussing.  The rest will have to stay :)  We Americans, myself in particular, are embarrassingly loud.

* Death by Orientation... It may be worth NEVER having a new job again...just to avoid having to sit through another hospital orientation.  I am not joking.  Between the plane ride & this 1st wk my pressure ulcer can now be considered Stage 2.  Besides the expected redundancy of paperwork, it's Organizational Structure, Ergonomics, Infection Control, Fire Safety...you've all been there.  Actually, considering the state of my bathroom light, and the fact there have been 3 recent & major fires in the housing complex, I probably should've stayed awake for that last one.

We are now suffering through 2 wks of general nrsg orientation, which is at least more relevant...all the way down to BLS & the Dosage Calc test - UG.  That bears repeating.  UG!  I won't bore you with more details.  I will say, proudly, that I made it 4 full days before coming home & really feeling like I needed a drink - Warren, where is your stout?!!

* TGIF... I never thought I'd be so happy for a Wednesday afternoon!  Thurs & Fri is the wkend here & I'm ready for a wee break.  It'll be nice to settle in & grab a few more bits for the apt...hangers, a non-stick pan, a giant H2O jug, hand towel (I'm using the sock from the plane right now)...maybe I'll check out a souk downtown & chill a bit before orientation starts again Sat morning.

Well gang, there's an initial update for ya - here safe & sound, internet's set up, haven't melted yet - it's supposed to be 102 F on Sat!  I don't expect future posts to be so long-winded...soon the new interesting bits will peter out :)  I hope q'thing is going well on the home front.  Feel free to pass this link on to whomever I've forgotten...it's a work in process.  Please also forgive the learning curve - I've only smacked my computer twice!  Keep me informed on the latest...I have a feeling I'm going to miss those heroin addicted alcoholic psych pts!  There is a +10 hr time change & I'm SUPER connected...Skype, Face Time, email...for those who didn't get my Magic Jack #, it's: (503) 568-8454.

Take care & I'll write more soon!
Assallamu Aalaykom,