Posts Tagged ‘grocery store’

Ketchikan to Metlakatla

April 12, 2016

We came across on the ferry

At leisure, and then we could tarry.

Some food we bought more

With a trip to the store

And we found some good prices on dairy.

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 (EMR) system I can get along with. I spent last winter in Nome, Alaska, followed by assignments in rural Iowa. The summer and fall included a medical conference in Denver, working Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania, and Thanksgiving in Virginia. So far this year I worked assignments in western Nebraska and southwestern Alaska; I just arrived in southeast Alaska.  Any specific patient information has been included with permission.

We took the ferry from Ketchikan to Annette Island, the only Indian Reservation in Alaska. In 1887 an Anglican missionary, motivated by doctrinal differences, led a thousand Canadian Tsimtshians on a search for a new home.  They found this island, moved legally, and in 1906 petitioned for, and received, reservation status from Congress.

Fortunate enough to have no mineral wealth that economic interests wanted to steal, they maintained their reservation more or less inviolate until WWII, when they got an air base, and a promise to build a road to the other side of the island so as to link up with the Alaska Marine Highway system. The road took eleven years to build and finished 8 years ago.

We learned these things from the Security guard who drove the 15 miles from the clinic to pick us up, and also took us on a tour of the town.

Falling timber prices shut down the logging and sawmill operations.  The salmon cannery, the casino, the school, and the clinic provide the most jobs.

We passed the gas station, the schools, the churches, but no bars or liquor stores.

Perhaps because of fewer freeze-thaw cycles, perhaps because of better maintenance, the roads lack the crater-grade potholes we find back home in the spring.

The guard helped us drag the luggage up the stairs to the apartment. We unpacked briefly.  We ate the snack that Bethany had the foresight to bring, then we walked to the grocery store.

We hadn’t expected a well-maintained, well-stocked, brightly-lit facility.  The prices, a big higher than Ketchikan’s, didn’t look so bad compared to what we’ve paid for the last two months.

Then we settled in. We tried the TV and found no service, and we had no idea whom to call about the Internet password.  We played Scrabble, ate some salmon we’d brought, and found ourselves exhausted when the sun went down.

In the same time zone, but we definitely faced jet lag.

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A walk to the grocery store at thirty-five below

January 20, 2011

We walked in the snow and the ice,

The moonlight was ever so nice,

     Ignore all the clocks,

     Watch out for the fox

Who goes out eating lemmings and mice.

The intense arctic cold doesn’t stop Bethany and me from going outside.  Under a full moon, with clear skies, we walked out to the airport last night; the wind chill dropped the effective temperature to -35 degrees Fahrenheit.   My breath condensed on the faux fur ruff of my parka as well as my beard, which led to our evening discussion of hoods trimmed in fur.

Hunters eagerly seek the wolverine here, but I also see wolf, beaver, lynx, otter, arctic fox, grey fox, and red fox on outer wear.  Tanning skins taken locally falls to the women and the women get the best of the furs; men, for the most part, get the trimmings. 

Most arctic fox in this area carry rabies.

Snow crunches at high frequency in this weather.  Barrow receives little precipitation, less than five inches per year on average, so when snow falls the wind blows the ground bare between snow drifts.  Nonetheless moonlight here on a clear night comes in with a “very bright” rating.

The afternoon clinic ran busy and ran late; I worked through the dinner hour and finished fatigued.  Both yesterday and today I took care of four people in one family in one room.

The outpatient area of Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital has six exam rooms and an ER with two bays.  The first patient of the afternoon was quite ill and needed a good deal of medical care, staying in the department for three hours.  Patients who signed in at 4:30 didn’t get seen till after seven.

Most patients today had cough with or without fever; the circulating syndrome apparently started on Friday, and the virus has gone ripping through town.  As usual, those sickest before the epidemic  suffer more during the epidemic.

I find great pleasure in the side conversations I have with the hunters here.  I can pick out whalers most of the time by the glow on their faces.

Two days ago Bethany and I walked to the store.  It wouldn’t rate as an adventure if it hadn’t happened with -45 degree wind chills, and a full moon that didn’t set.  Our glasses grew layers of ice, as the wind whipped wisps of snow along the ground.  We found good traction on the hard dirt roads that have been snow-packed by vehicles but textured by machine.

The grocery store ranks as a medium-sized supermarket.  The ammunition section comes well stocked with common calibers like .223, .45 ACP and 7.62×39.  The presence of a good selection of .22 Hornet surprised me.

The fact of nectarines from Chile in the produce section at $4.50 a pound astounded me.  I can remember saying my mother saying that a hundred years ago kings couldn’t get what can be commonly found in a grocery store; stone fruit in the middle of winter ranks as a triumph of modern man.  I said, “Bethany, I’m buying some.  Contrast is the essence of meaning.”

The worst part about giving free advice is that it’s not taken, even when it’s asked for.

September 7, 2010

This evening I went to the store

I won’t call the person a boor

    Nor would I scoff

    At the problem of cough,

I smiled and walked out the door.

I walked into a grocery store this evening, looking for the weekly circular, hoping the competition would match a very good price on prime rib, as Bethany had found them out of stock earlier in the day.

The circulars were not to be had. 

Sioux City is a small town by US standards.  I can’t go anywhere without running into people I know and former patients.  In the short time I went from the automatic IN door to the OUT door, a person stopped me.  I will not disclose age, gender, or other identifying data because of confidentiality. 

Actually, I recognized the person as a former patient and waved; the person hailed me and bid me come closer.

“You used to be a doctor, right?”  the former patient asked.

“Sort of,” I said.  The whole truth, including locum tenens, non-compete clause, changing practices, and wanting to slow down so I didn’t burn out, would have taken too long and would have been outside the person’s understanding.   Nor would the former patient have comprehended the word sabbatical. 

The existential question of being a doctor was left completely alone, the person wouldn’t have understood that few who have been through med school and a year of internship can ever stop being a doctor, much like Marines never get over being Marines.

I shook hands and started to move away. 

“How come I’ve got this cough right here?”  The person aimed an index finger at the throat, two inches below the voice box.

“I’m taking a year off,” I said.  “I’ll probably back in practice next June.”

“Same place?” the ex-patient asked.

“No, someplace else.”

I forcibly extracted my hand, and smiling, quickly backed out.

Many people value their privacy, and I hear a lot of docs grouse about such encounters. 

I don’t mind them.  It’s part of who I am and it reflects my place in society, it’s a good place and I enjoy knowing it.  My father, a cardiologist, never had an unlisted number, neither have I.  In the thirty-one years since I graduated medical school exactly one patient abused the listing.

I don’t mind people asking me for free advice; I resent it when I give my best counsel and it isn’t taken. 

So when people walk up to me at a party and say, “Doc, I was wanting to know if you’d give me some free advice,” I say, “If you follow my recommendations, the advice is free.  If you don’t do what I say, I want you to send me a check for $75.”

 No one has sent me a check so far, but I don’t delude myself