Air conditioning sure kept us cold
While outside the hottest weeks rolled
The corn grew so tall
We’re coming up on the fall
But I’ve put the rhythm on hold
Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record System (EMR) I can get along with. I spent the winter in Nome, Alaska, followed by assignments in rural Iowa and suburban Pennsylvania. After my brother-in-law’s funeral, a bicycle tour of northern Michigan, and cherry picking in Sioux City, I’m travelling back and forth between home and Pennsylvania, where I’m working for an Urgent Care company. Any patient information has been included with permission.
This phase of my career has fallen into a rhythm. Two weeks in Pennsylvania followed by two weeks at home. Packing now takes 20 minutes, unpacking, whether at home or at the hotel takes 5. Leaving Pennsylvania comes on the heels of a long day at the end of a 48 hour work week.
I try to sleep late the departure morning, I rarely stay in bed past 7:30. Then we do breakfast, a drive of an hour or two, fueling at the Sunoco, dropping the rental car, shedding boots for security, and the wait in the boarding lounge.
We know our way around the airport in Pittsburgh. We know when to stop trusting the GPS, pull over and get out the map.
We have learned the relevant sections of Chicago O’Hare, and have gotten past that one section of bad signage.
If we arrive in Iowa in the daylight, we marvel at the growth of the corn and soybeans, now, respectively 10 feet and chest high.
As soon as we walk in the door at home, we unpack and attack the mail. With the exception of three magazines and four professional journals, I put everything exclusively addressed to me in the recycling. If we’ve made it home in the daylight, we pick tomatoes and green chiles from the garden. I roast the chiles over charcoal. Bethany checks the voice mail on our machine.
At the same time I have found the rhythm between home and Pennsylvania I have lost the rhythm of the week. The predictable patient flow pattern of the week in private practice, or even in the outpatient section of Nome, just doesn’t happen in Urgent care. It doesn’t help that I rarely start my work week on Monday and I never work Friday.
By the same token the shift in climate inherent in jet travel shattered the flow of the season. I catch the progress of the corn and soybeans between the airport and home, but two-week gaps account for a lot of change.
Working 12 to 14 hours a day with enthusiastic air conditioning removed most of the sense of summer.
In the meantime, work continues on my Canadian license, but very slowly. I finally got the College of Physicians and Surgeons to accept my $600. My residency program faxed my records but they haven’t made it to the right person’s desk.