spring time mania

So much has been going on here in Anchorage. I have already sent a total of thirty boxes to Jason. It takes about a month for them to get to Rochester, and with him coming here for my internship graduation I need all the boxes to be gone the first week of June. The people here are so incredibly nice. I make a new friend every time I go to the post office.

 

My Alaska Psychiatric Institute Rotation is complete. It was a bit overwhelming. More because it was so short and they tried to fit everything in. I really loved working with the adolescents though. It is so amazing to hear what a teenager’s life is like in the villages compared to what my life was like as a teenager. At times I find it frustrating, but then I remember it’s what they know and I am making a judgment and most likely if I had grown up in a village I would do different things and enjoy much different things. There is also a Baptist Priest coming to anchorage soon to protest outside the native center because he is calling the natives heathens. It’s so upsetting. I can honestly say that my experience with anyone from a Native Alaskan background has been a positive one once they get to know me and I get to know them. Many of them are religious now, and they went through so many horrible events. I know many of my patients and colleagues plan to go protest against the priest and I am seriously considering it too.

 

Spring is here in anchorage though, and the sunlight is increasing drastically. It is now well after ten before it gets dark, and when I wake up at 5 am it is lightish. We gain about 5-7 minutes of sunlight a day. I am having some trouble falling asleep now. The mornings are great though. There is still snow on the mountains but for the most part the snow and ice ha melted in the valley.

 

As the internship year comes to a close I am no longer taking on new patients and instead working on transfer summaries for my patients to go to the new students coming in. It’s sad too. I mean I’ve worked with some of them all year long. I wish the best for them all. In more personal news Jason is also spending this time interviewing for his fellowship. His Alaska interview will be May 9th and I am keeping my fingers crossed for that one. He has some good options though. They interview early for palliative care, so he won’t actually start until the summer of 2015. The places he has gone though have talked with him about helping me to find a job in the area if he chooses to come there. That is kind of awesome.

 

This week has also been kind of special for Jason and me. It was our first year anniversary. He sent me flowers and a stuffed animal. They were supposed to be delivered to my home, but ended up having to be delivered to work since the company doesn’t deliver after 3 PM. We also got to see each other after nine weeks. We went to Seattle and it was so amazing to see him after so long. I love traveling with him too. We always get a hotel with a full kitchen and do our grocery shopping and cook together. We also go to the gym every morning. I can run again! I am taking it slow, but I did three days back to back in Seattle. Plus we went on an amazing hike on a mountain to Bridal Falls. It was supposed to be easy, but we were jumping over streams and climbing up rocks. I was pretty sore after that. We also did some shopping, and I got some Kate Spade shoes for commencement. They are hot pink which I fitting since I defended my dissertation in a hot pink suit. Anyway just two weeks till I leave to go back for commencement. I am hoping the redwings are still in the playoffs, but they aren’t doing so hot. It would be great to go to a game though. Oh and I know what else is new. I have red hair again! Anyway, I hope all of you are doing fabulous and I look forward to seeing my Michigander friends in two weeks!!!!!april_red april_32 april_31 april_30 april_29 april_28 april_27 april_23 april_24 april_20 april_15 april_12 april_8 april_7 april_3

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Rural village reflection

So I’m back and have been back for a while. Of course I had difficulty actually sitting down to write about my experience right afterward because I was not only exhausted, but overwhelmed with work almost immediately.  So the night before I left Jordan had texted me because there was a bad storm heading to Anchorage and possibly to Nome. There was a question of us ever getting out of Nome to go to Stebbins to begin with. Of course things went smoothly though. The flight to Nome was pretty awesome. I could see Mount McKinley from my window. Nome was different. It was smaller than I had imagined and because of the rain it was grey and much like a Michigan winter. Ray (our supervisor) picked us up from the airport and let me tell you smallest airport ever. There is one terminal and one gate. There isn’t a rotating thing for luggage, it’s just pushed through a flap. We got a chance to see Nome including the behavioral health clinic and gold drudges. Then it was time for our flight to Stebbins. I seriously thought I would have problems on the small plane, but it wasn’t bad. It hurt my ears horribly though, and Jordan had the same issue.

Now Stebbins. It’s on St. Michael’s island and made of volcanic rock. The runway is gravel, and there isn’t an airport. People met our flight, and someone took our luggage on a four wheeler to the health clinic for us. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. For some reason I wasn’t expecting houses. Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t expecting igloos, but I guess I was expecting a more communal way of living versus families set up just like mine. Anyway, the houses all looked the same, and were small. The village is basically one or two roads made of volcanic rocks. Nobody really drives cars, there maybe are two in the village. Everyone has a four wheeler though. People were friendly probably because we were with Ray and he is like a celebrity there. I felt really conspicuous though being the only white person there besides the teachers. Not to mention I felt a little overdressed and let me remind you I travel in sweats. Of course they were lululemon and I had my new coat and boots.

Anyway, Ray forgot to arrange a place for us to sleep, so the first few hours were spent hunting people down to find a place for us. We ended up at the teen center with a woman who also was just getting in. She was there for headstart and comes to the village about once a year. Can we say obnoxious!?!?!! She had no social skills at all. She immediately offended me and Jordan and wouldn’t leave us alone to unpack. Jordan was awesome though, I was missing Jason and he let me use his phone to call him (yeah no Verizon cell service there). It really helped having Jordan there because he has been in a long distance relationship and was very supportive and understood the feelings. Anyway, the first night we slept on cots. The teens and kids were banging on the windows and screaming open up it’s the government. Of course Sarah had warned us about this, so I was expecting it. Plus earlier and the day we had heard stories of how the teens had blown up the supplies used to build sewers and equipment to get the town running water. It’s funny that they destroyed the things that would have gotten them running water and a flushing toilet. Oh yes they use honey buckets still. Anyway, the first night was miserably cold, so Jordan and I packed up our stuff and decided to opt for the floor of the health clinic rather than sleep in the cold teen building with the obnoxious know it all.

The first full day was spent kind of just hanging out in the morning. The village seems to go on their own time, and nobody seems to get out of their house before 10 or 11. Later that day we helped Ray with a mental competency assessment. This meant visiting a home. I can’t say much about that because of client confidentiality. I can say that seeing what some people are living in was eye opening. I would feel trapped if that was my daily life. The smell was so strong, and I am surprised I didn’t get nauseous. The person we assessed was so sweet though, and Ray was amazing with her. My heart broke hearing her story, and the abuse she is suffering from family members and possible abuse from people in her family who are in authority in the village. Nobody will go against that person. Basically in the village they have very little of what we use in modern day cities for entertainment. No malls, movies, gyms, etc. They have bingo every night, and a small store with junk food. I bought frozen veggies there and it cost me 10 bucks for the bag. When I heated them up they were a muted grey green. No wonder everyone fills up on sugar and frozen pizza.

Jordan and I spent a lot of time hiking. We climbed a volcano twice, walked along the beach, through the village. Basically we saw what we could. The jail is so small, and often when someone is psychotic they have to be locked in one of these sparse cells because there is no other place to hold them and they have to wait till someone can bring a plane in and get them to Nome, and from there they have to be transported to anchorage. We did get a chance to see the native dancers and drummers. They were very welcoming, and that was amazing to see. Its sad more children aren’t getting into their customs anymore.  It was also heartbreaking to hear how children are often taken away from their homes and sent away because of the abuse they are experiencing at home. The woman at headstart was also rude and demonstrated why these people are totally against white people. She wanted to diagnose all the children with ADHD um no. They’re kids. They have energy they want to play.

We left the village and flew back to Nome on Monday. I left saying I’m glad they make us do this as part of the internship, but I definitely don’t see myself practicing in a village. It’s so isolating. It wouldn’t work well for me at all. Ray enjoys being by himself and it would drive me nuts. We got Thursday to catch up with Sarah and Jason who are the intern stationed in Nome, and then we were supposed to catch a flight back to anchorage. I was so ready for my own bed and to have my phone back even though Jordan let me talk to Jason every night. We got through security and then they announced our flight was canceled. I almost broke down right there. They really scared me by saying the next day’s flight was booked, but they ended up bringing a full flight up for us the next day instead of half cargo. Since Ray turns his cell phone off Sarah had to go check out a company car and pick us up at the airport. We dropped our stuff at her house and then drove the car back and walked back. I definitely cried. I just was so tired, but honestly it was awesome being able to talk with Sarah and learn more about her. It’s been a while since our camping trip. It was amazing of her to let us stay at her place too.

Finally Friday we got home, and I went straight to the gym and then had a phone date with Jason. Seriously though I was exhausted for a week after that. I had my MOVE groups starting this week and so much to do given I am the one leading and supervising the master’s students. Plus of course millions of normal clinical activities. The sun doesn’t come up now to almost 9 am and is down around 6 pm. That’s making me tired too.

I did go to my first Alaska Aces hockey game and had a lot of fun. Met some new people too who seem awesome. My MOVE group went well yesterday, and now I’m starting to feel a little less busy although I still am booked all week in the clinic. I just have this weekend and then the next weekend Jason will be here, so something to look forward to! I hope everyone is well!

pavel and i boarding the small plane

pavel and i boarding the small plane

coming into stebbins

coming into stebbins

the "airport"

the “airport”

pavel with a volcanic rock

pavel with a volcanic rock

me and pavel exploring the island

me and pavel exploring the island

pavel with some weird fungus

pavel with some weird fungus

pavel and i on top of the volcano

pavel and i on top of the volcano

pavel and i on the volcano

pavel and i on the volcano

me hiking with jordan and stebbins in the background

me hiking with jordan and stebbins in the background

beach in a parka?

beach in a parka?

pavel and i on the beach

pavel and i on the beach

the dancers

the dancers

sunset

sunset

sunset

sunset

leaving stebbins, the lake is the volcano and nobody has found the bottom

leaving stebbins, the lake is the volcano and nobody has found the bottom

leaving stebbins

leaving stebbins

Nome the end of the iditarod!

Nome the end of the iditarod!

snow in september? what is this strange place

So since I last wrote I had a minor panic attack. Our first snow was predicted and everyone was busy getting snow tires put on. I freaked out because a)I don’t have snow tires yet and b) it sounded like every place was booked. So of course I set out to my family’s favorite store and main conversation topic Costco. They of course had what I needed, but were too busy to put them on for me. Jason called around and found a place to put them on. By the time I got there they said they were too busy. I explained my situation and how I would be out of town for several weekends, and they managed to squeeze me in. So my relaxing Saturday turned into a stressful Saturday and I didn’t get home till 9 pm after all was said and done. The snow of course came, but did I need snow tires? Nope. I’m still happy I got them though because I was in Seattle last weekend and need to prepare for my trip to nome this weekend. It’s really weird to see snow in the middle of well I guess not even the middle but the beginning of fall. I felt tempted to pull out Christmas music.

Last weekend was my trip to visit Jason in Seattle. We got in late late on Friday, but of course he was perfect making sure everything was taken care of and getting me healthy food before we went to the hotel. The next day was a relaxing trip to the gym and grocery shopping. We were going to hike but it was raining, so we ended up going to the space needle and then a comedy show. Afterward we made our healthy pizza in the microwave because well cooking in a hotel isn’t the greatest. Sunday included a gym trip and planning my Christmas flight to Detroit. Which actually looks like it will be a flight to seattle then the next day to Detroit then a drive to Dayton Ohio where his sister lives then back to Detroit and then a flight to Reno for a fellowship interview for him and then a flight to seattle back to anchorage. Exhausted yet? I am. I’m actually really excited for it. This will be my first Christmas away from my family, but I’m just really thrilled to be spending it with my amazing boyfriend. (yes I am sure I am making you all sick by now). Saying goodbye was hard of course, but he’ll be here first week of November.

Now I am freaking out about my trip to  Nome and then the chartered flight to the rural village Stebbins. I hate not working out in the morning, and I won’t have access to a gym. My foot still isn’t 100% so trying to run would not be good, plus its too cold outside now. I am taking my resistance bands and jump rope thought. Maybe we can get some hikes in too. Then of course Jordan brought up the fact our flight home from Nome is the most canceled flight. Grrrrr I want to get home Thursday night! Say some prayers! I am also kind of curious and excited at the same time. I mean this is not an opportunity a lot of people have. Ray (our supervisor there) has to go to the elders to ask for permission for us to even come. It’s kind of a big deal I guess. I think I have everything I need for the trip, but I need to get a compression bag for my sleeping bag and maybe some ski goggles. I plan to spend the majority of this weekend preparing, but I may be going to a festival with Jordan and his wife and then Sarah will be in town for her birthday so hopefully I’ll catch up with her at some point.

Okay all! Cross your fingers for me! In two weeks I’ll be back to normal hopefully.

(sorry there are no photos. I’m too tired to figure out why my computer won’t let me upload them tonight)

sick as a dog and a stalker

alyeska13

Time has flown. Sorry I’ve been absent friends. I got sick. So after my last post the guy I went hiking with that Saturday turned into somewhat of a stalker. He now shows up when I’m working out, and text constantly. My supervisors are concerned enough that they asked me to give them his contact info in case I don’t show up one day. Sooooooo since I was going to go to the shooting range with him, that never happened. I did go to Aleyeska ski resort though for the blueberry festival with Jenn and two of her friends. It was so awesome to see the glaciers and pick blueberries up in the mountains. It had been rainy all week, but it was gorgeous that day. Of course the drive out that way is amazing too. I always get a little shocked that I actually live HERE IN ALASKA!!!!!!!

The Monday after that though I got incredibly sick. I made myself keep going. I refuse to give up any of my sick days when they can be used later to see Jason. So I basically sat around last weekend recovering. I did stop by Jenn’s new place though, and she has a nice set up.

Work has been crazy busy but so much fun. I started with my palliative care rotation yesterday, so I get to participate in the interdisciplinary team meetings. It was awesome because one of the physicians has been in contact with Jason about him coming up here for fellowship. The guy new me from that, and seemed extremely excited Jason will be here soon and will be stopping by to visit. I also went on some home visits with Dr. Kam who is super sweet. The patients were in there 90s, but I felt like I was making a difference. Other than that there have been some kind of crazy warm hand offs from physicians wanting a therapist to talk to their patients when they show up for their visit with them. I am totally booked on my two clinic days where I provide individual hour sessions. Then I am starting a MOVE weight loss group. The Nome rotation sounds like it will be happening soon too. I am very excited and nervous for that.

In other exciting news this time next week I’ll be getting ready to pick up my amazing boyfriend from the airport. We are planning to do a glacier tour, hike flat top or baldy, take a helicopter ride to denali and so much more! I seriously can’t wait to see him. He sent me a care package this week and it made me happy, but also reminded me how perfect he is for me. I wouldn’t be making it through this drastic life change without him constantly checking on me and making me feel so special.

Going up the ski lift

Going up the ski lift

alyeska

alyeska

pavel and i on the ski lift

pavel and i on the ski lift

pavel and i on the ski lift

pavel and i on the ski lift

jenn and pavel on the ski lift

jenn and pavel on the ski lift

you can see one of the glaciers in the distance. At the restaurant on top you can see 7 of them

you can see one of the glaciers in the distance. At the restaurant on top you can see 7 of them

ski lift at alyeska

ski lift at alyeska

pavel after picking blueberries

pavel after picking blueberries

the blueberries pavel and i picked

the blueberries pavel and i picked

the gift jason sent

the gift jason sent