Fate has a sense of humor it seems.
My husband was planning a long winter camping/hunting trip into the arctic wilderness during my bi-annual shopping trip over the Christmas break. The night before the trip my husband and his traveling partner somehow started chatting about various collarbone fractures that friends and family had suffered over the years. Of course this meant that the next morning as he was finishing packing his sled, my husband slipped while carrying a 15 gallon jug of gas and slammed himself collarbone first into a grub box corner. He broke it into four pieces.
As it looked and felt like a major fracture at the time (though they couldn't tell for sure) the clinic here in Anaktuvuk Pass sent him to Fairbanks where I picked him up and we trotted over to the Native Hospital for a late night visit to determine what would happen next. We had been told that we were expected.
Anyone who is in the Alaska Native Health system knows that service is spotty and difficult. It can range from outright insulting and frustrating, to competent and amazing. It just depends on the waxing and waning of the moon. As someone who has spent their whole life in the system all I know is that it will ALWAYS be a task. And tedious. And will normally take a very, very, very long time. When I was teaching for the NSB I had the opportunity to enjoy my own health and dental insurance. It was like a fantasy science fiction world all clean and bright and shiny. I remember having that service as a wonderful and amazing dream. *sigh*
In reality we showed up at the Native Hospital at about 5pm and were greeted with a few grunts and puzzled looks. My husband sat in a chair grappling with the mind numbing pain that ensued from being jostled and bounced around in a tiny plane for an hour and half. I was informed that it was just a 'common collarbone fracture' (though this person did not even examine my husband) and that we should come back tomorrow morning for x-rays. I told them that he had only been given ibuprofen for the pain and that it was not helping, and if it was possible to get something a tiny bit stronger for the night that would be great. This person started sputtering about how my comment will 'red flag' us....etc etc. There was emphatic arm swinging and grandiose comments and other stuff I wasn't listening to. I sat there frowning, biting my tongue. They finally agreed to actually look at his shoulder, and once seeing it gave him something to help with the pain as it was a pretty impressive. The next morning we arrived early only to have to sit in the waiting area for six hours. In the end we were told that my husband would have to go to Anchorage for surgery.
I think in blogs people find it easy to use them as a pathway to complain about things, but this experience has left me dumbfounded. Mostly because once we arrived in Anchorage the experience was such the polar opposite. Again they knew we were arriving and we were helped and tended to during the whole experience. Our waits were an hour or less. The staff was professional and pleasant. The surgery went well and the surgeon and nurses were very kind and efficient. We stayed for a couple of days and then left, me clutching a thick pile of papers with various instructions on aftercare and my husband sporting a new metal collarbone with 8 screws.
I am adjusting to taking on most of the chores in the household and we are both recovering from that whirlwind travelling and exhaustion marathon. I'm currently fighting a sore throat and head cold, of which I will not discuss it for fear of it actually occurring. The hardest thing though is watching my husband figure out a way to survive 4 more weeks in a sling, as this is the season he usually does a lot of outdoor stuff like trapping and caribou hunting.
So I apologize for the future spotty blog posts this month! I hope this finds you and yours all warm and healthy and that you all had a amazing Christmas and New Years!