A limerick isn’t a poem
A blog sure isn’t a tome
This thing they call jet lag
Comes out to big drag
But happiness is being back home.
Synopsis: I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. I took a sabbatical to dance back from the brink of burnout. While my one-year non-compete clause ticked away, I worked in Alaska, Iowa, Nebraska, and Alaska. I had a lot of adventures working in out-of-the-way places. Now I’m back home, getting ready to start my new job.
When is a trip home like a spider? When it has eight legs.
Our trip home lasted thirty-eight hours and left us with the worst jet lag we’ve ever had. We slept badly even before boarding the plane in Dunedin. From Dunedin to Christchurch to Wellington to Auckland (thirteen hours) we might have napped on the plane, but we didn’t get restorative sleep.
Turbulence, related to the recent Chilean volcanoes, dominated the twelve hours spent flying to Los Angeles. I ignored the bucking airplane and watched three movies, and didn’t sleep.
By the time we deplaned in Phoenix’s late afternoon the temperature exceeded anything we’d experienced in New Zealand.
Omaha at midnight had darkness and thick, sweet summer air. Long detours necessitated by the Missouri River flooding added an extra forty-five minutes to the drive home. By the time we actually walked into the house the clock came close to 3:00 AM. Our trip had lasted thirty-eight hours, if you don’t count the travel from Bluff to Dunedin.
Jet lag hit us hard in LA and didn’t get better as we progressed. Both aware that neither of us could process information well, we showed immense patience with each other; I doubt either of us could have negotiated the trip home alone.
We suffer not just from the time difference but also from the abrupt change of season. We departed for New Zealand near the equinox, when day and night all over the planet approached twelve hours, but we returned home just before the solstice. Dunedin’s shortest day would coincide with Sioux City’s shortest night a mere eight days after we landed.
Our body clocks have been thrown into chaos. I have been on the ground for three days and only now am I starting to write again. I awaken at about 4:00AM and crash hard at one in the afternoon.
Of course I went to my new work place less than twenty-four hours after I arrived; I needed to discuss my upcoming schedule.
Unlike a lot of the family practitioners these days I enjoy hospital work, rubbing elbows with the specialists and providing continuity of care. My new routine will start with hospital rounds for the group Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. If things go according to plan, after lunch those days I’ll do clinic, and I’ll have an evening clinic on Mondays. Those twenty-eight hours, combined with my share of a one-in-eight call rotation, add up to 45.7 average hours per week, which, for a doctor, means part-time work.